Silver as the Standard

I’d like to have silver as the most used coin in my campaign. I’m thinking of converting everything listed in GP as SP instead… PCs would start out with 3d6 SP… arcane casters must spend 1,000 sp per level to switch spells in thier repertoir… and so on.
Are there any pitfalls to doing this?

Anglo-saxon mythology and historical anglo-saxon kings prized golden treasures, The idea of a dragon guarding a pile of nickles and sitting on an old refrigerator doesn’t fill my heart with yearnings of adventure.
golden treasure was a sign of how great a hero you were. The silver standard is too close to the realm of papers and paychecks for my liking. The gold standard in a dungeon can be seen as an incremental approach to anglo-saxon treasure–instead of finding a golden warhorn in the cave of grendel (2000xp), D&D parcels this “golden treasure” out in increments. The silver standard gives us the historical age and not the heroic.
Other than that? Nothing.

Beragon, if you want a silver standard, don’t adjust any of the prices – just change the treasures to always give coins of one level cheaper, but ten times as many in volume.

  1. All the prices are already accurate to a standard of 1 silver penny (British) = 1 silver piece. It works out that 1 Pound is worth about 24gp. Converting them to a yet lower silver standard would actually make silver more valuable in ACKS than it was in the real world.
  2. The weight of coins in ACKS is 1/10th the weight of coins in B/X D&D and AD&D. So, if you took a 100gp hoard in B/X, it would weigh 10lb. In ACKS, a 1,000sp hoard weighs 10lb. 1,000sp = 100gp.
    So all you have to do to have a “silver standard” is just have the treasure be mostly copper and silver. The rest takes care of itself.

Thanks for the reply!
That seems sensible. I’d like to see silver used more in circulation by the PCs than gold at the lower levels of play. I’m just thinking of a monetary setup where all the coin denominations (copper, silver, gold, platinum) have significance more so than historical accuracy. But simply handing out treasure more in silver than gold (at least at lower levels) is likely the simplest approach.
By the way, just for perspective, how does the 1,000 sp = 10 lb. work out in relation to U.S. quarters? I’m thinking that when I roll my change up to deposit in the bank periodically, that set of coin is pretty heavy. I’ll have to weigh it next time to compare!

A quarter weights 5.7 grams, or about 0.01 pounds. 100 quarters would weigh 1 pound and 1,000 quarters would weigh 10lbs. So equating a silver piece to a quarter is reasonable.

Thanks for that info Alex. I really like this treasure system by the way.

I’ve always disliked the D&D gold standard (because it makes gold too common in the economy) and my long running D&D/C&S campaign used silver as the base. So the suggestion here seems like a good one.
I’d expect a lot of treasure to be in items rather than coin - including ingots and hacksilver. The Cuerdale hoard (found in 1840), dating from around 905-910, was about 36kg (80lb) was bullion, plus rest ~7000 silver coins.
I’ve been delving into a book I bought a few years ago on the mediaeval history of the town we live in - this was then a small borough and a manor owned by the Bishops of Winchester. The book uses information from the Pipe Rolls to discuss life and developments in the 13th and 14th centuries - so lots on money rents. commutation, crop prices, castle repair costs etc.

Arise, old silver thread, arise!

I’m running a campaign in a Viking age, with silver as the primary coin, and I really want to use the ACKS economic assumptions and demographics. The viking career will start as a raider/explorer on a ship, then gain your own ship and followers, and ultimately conquer and settle foreign lands - it’s a great fit for the ACKS campaign arc.

So I’m trying to understand Alex’s advice. Saying it another way, it sounds like he’s suggesting to keep a gold standard so the rest of the system hangs together, but make silver the coin of commerce and the most common coin found. 1gp is still 1 XP, but instead of a 1,000gp treasure, you probably found a 10,000sp treasure. A sword is still 10gp, but you’re probably buying it with 100sp as that’s the most common coin of commerce.

Is that about right?


I think what Alex is saying is that the ACKS prices are already strongly based on real-world prices, so changing them (and the underlying economic assumptions) isn’t really necessary for a realistic silver standard - it’s effectively already on the silver standard, but the prices of some expensive items have been converted to gp for convenience.

That's correct, yes!

Guys - maybe I’m just obtuse today, but I’m still not following how you are recommending to handle the currencies. In a campaign where gold is supposed to be rare and things are bought and sold in silver, would a sword be worth 10sp (essentially replacing the descriptor gp with sp and increasing the value of real gp when it appears), or leave gp value alone and make a sword bought and sold for 100sp because gold coins aren’t in common circulation?

Beedo, I believe they mean the sword would be sold for 100 sp (ie 10 gp), which is the same but just sold in the ‘lesser’ currency; if I read that right.

That’s the way I read it as well, yes.

That's correct. A sword would be 100sp.

Let me try and explain further. When people say "convert the game to a silver standard," they generally mean that the prices of wages and goods should be historical relative to the value of silver.

In ACKS, that is ALREADY the case. A silver piece in ACKS has, roughly, the purchasing power of an English silver penny. For example, a day laborer in Medieval England could earn a silver penny a day. A laborer in ACKS earns 1sp per day, or 3gp per month. The prices all work out on this basis, more or less.

Now, one a-historical note is that ACKS coins are a bit heavier. A Medieval silver penny would weigh about 1/300th of a pound, an ACKS silver piece weighs about 1/100th of a pound. The heavier weight of the coins does encourage use of gold, since carrying 1 pound of silver only has 33% of the purchasing power.

This was deliberate on our part. Mythic troves of treasure with tons of copper, silver, and gold both imply and necessitate that precious metals be slightly devaluaed. So if you want to make ACKS function on a historical silver standard, just reduce the weight of all the coins by 66%.



Thanks, I finally have it. It’s a factor of both value and weight of the coins. I’m glad no prices need to change, it makes it easy to be compatible with other works.

This doesn’t quite make sense to me. Leather armor is listed as 20 gp, but Delta on his site lists it as equivalent to 15 sp. Similar issues crop up all over the equipment lists. It seems to me that the equipment lists should be listed in silver pieces for a silver standard.

jwl: I don’t know what Delta is, but if you just take the equipment lists in the ACKS rulebook and convert them to silver, then you’re implying a “silver standard”. Then in-game, hand out lots of silver, and a lot less gold.

Delta is one of the earliest OSR bloggers and perhaps the most real-world-data driven. He's also a mathematics teacher and rock drummer who I'm fortunate to live in the same town as. I don't remember if he and I have had conversations about the silver standard exactly but after talking about a number of similar issues, my take-away is:

  1. Reasonable people can do a lot of diligent research and still reach slightly different conclusions either by choosing a different historical period to look at or by focusing on a different aspect to simulate.
  2. It can be as hard to figure out the assumptions that someone used to reach their conclusion as it would be to go back to the historical data and reach your own conclusion, because then your own assumptions are baked in.
  3. You won't go far wrong by trusting ACKS if you don't want to get that deep into it.
  4. There is always room for another retro-clone that presents this stuff in a different way if you want to get really into it!

Prices in ACKS are not necessarily going to match up to any other iterations of D&D's prices. Pricing will depend on various assumptions. In the case of ACKS, I started with a decision to equate 1 silver coin (e.g. British silver penny) to 1 silver piece, selected a price of grain based on the Assize of Bread and Ale, and worked up from there.

Our prices do deviate from history in many places, but when they do it was generally done for a reason - either precedent or gameplay. As far as armor prices, I discuss them thoroughly in this thread:



Thanks for the explanations, but I still see a discrepancy. His costs match yours but are less by a factor of 10. His view of real-world prices seems to be an order of magnitude less than yours. Does it possibly originate from the 1 silver penny equals 1 silver piece?