Friday, January 27, 2017


I like to use props as a DM and I was a bit dismayed by the coin weights in 1e AD&D so I used USA coins instead so that players could get a tactile sense of the numbers on paper that represent treasure.

Copper Piece = Half-Dollar = 2/ounce = 32/pound
Silver Piece = Quarter = 5/ounce = 80/pound
Electrum Piece = Nickle = 5/ounce = 80/pound
Gold Piece = Penny = 10/ounce = 160/pound
Platinum Piece = Dime = 10/ounce = 160/pound

So if you find 2,000 coppers you have lug over 60lbs of coins with you which has a value of 10 gold. The equivalent gold pieces weigh 1 ounce and take up the room of 10 pennies. 

I have found that rather being a fiddly way of dealing with coins it brings a sense of reality to the game. The player's get a sense of the coins, the feel, the weight, even a better idea of what jewelry and ornaments might be worth lugging out of a dungeon. Finding a goblet or crown of solid gold that might weigh a pound or two can be reasoned out in the weight of coin not just notes on paper. Higher level player characters begin to loathe the sight of copper and even lower level characters need to work out how to transport the stuff in quantity.

As a side note I also use alternate currencies especially spices. Saffron, I believe, was worth up ten times its weight in gold during the middle-ages. There was a time when Salt was a currency and one which you could use in the most rural hamlet or greatest urban center. A farmer might not want to sell his mule for gold but spices and other trade goods would certainly interest him.

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