Posts Tagged ‘fantasy economy


Gold pieces are absurdly huge: do you like it that way?

Each of these coin sandwiches is the size of a single D&D gold piece; shown next to a US penny and nickel for comparison. Click picture for link to waysoftheearth's explanation.

Do you prefer a silver standard for your fantasy economy, such that gold pieces are more valuable and the weight-to-value ratio of a treasure hoard is much reduced? Or do you like the situation in OD&D where gold pieces are huge and encumbering, and hauling a valuable treasure out of the dungeon is a difficult endeavor?

richardjohnguy, aka richardthinks, has a characteristically funny and erudite blog post about historical coins, some of which are almost as big as 1/10ths of a pound, some of which are even larger. But it’s clear that most coinage in the real world is nowhere near as outsized; here we’ll let the equally erudite and analytical Delta’s D&D hotspot give the rundown.

As part of thinking about Adventurer Conqueror King, I’m trying to decide which is more important: historical versimilitude or fidelity to the game’s legacy. Here is a comparison of what each implies:

Implied Setting

  • Historical: Common people and ordinary commercial transactions use silver pieces similar in size to most modern or ancient coinage
  • Legacy: The ahistorical practice of coins being minted in huge discs reflects a fantastic world with premises like “Lawful societies follow the god’s standard for coinage, and coins are huge because the gods made them for their own hands”



  • Historical:  95% of the adventures written for fantasy roleplaying games will require some degree of conversion – at least changing gold pieces to silver pieces, and also increasing the proportion of low-value coins if it is desired to make the treasure hoard as difficult to carry as would originally have been the case. (Castle Zagyg is an exception written for the silver standard, I know, and I bet Harn is too.)
  • Legacy: No conversion is necessary, and the designer’s intent need not be considered – although after playing Jim Ward’s “The Pharoah’s Tomb” adventure whose summary is linked above I am certain that making huge treasures difficult to move is a deliberate design feature, it’s one I’m not usually aware of.

Continue reading ‘Gold pieces are absurdly huge: do you like it that way?’

Past Adventures of the Mule

October 2022

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