Coin and Equipment
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The system hand waves a lot of the minutiae of dealing with money and fantasy economies, while also giving the GM and players a solid framework to understand how the economy works. It is intentionally vague and a lot of pricing is left up to the GM, just as prices at the time might fluctuate from region to region. Coin represents hard cash gained from money-making ventures such as selling off artifacts, swindling a merchant, or rescuing a kidnapped princess. Coin is expendable. Wealth represents a character’s profession, investments, and businesses. Wealth is sustainable and provides characters with the means to maintain a lifestyle, hire staff, and even employ soldiers and guards.
There are five types of Coin – Silver Coins, Bags of Silver, Gold Coins, Bags of Gold, and Coffers.
A Silver Coin represents a purchase that a peasant might be able to make once a year if they saved up for it. The vast majority of day to day expenses are handled with bartering and copper coins. As long as a character has at least 1 Silver Coin or Wealth 1, they are assumed to be able to pay for basic daily expenses.
Each type of Coin is worth 5 times the type before it – so a Bag of Silver is worth 5 Silver Coins whereas a Coffer is worth 5 Bags of Gold. When characters reach 5 of one type, they should convert them into the next type of Coin. Characters can also break Coin into lesser types to make smaller purchases.
There is a denomination lower than Silver Coins that characters might interact with; Copper Coins. Copper Coins are used to purchase things such as a single loaf of bread or a walking stick. If a character ever reaches the point where they have no Coin at all they might need to begin keeping track of their Copper Coins.
Most civilized areas across the world use some standardized measurements which basically follow the above Coin values – so to buy a sword, you might actually give the merchant a Silver Coin. But currency systems vary greatly from place to place and the further away from major trading centers and civilization you get, the more different they can become. Some use other valuables such as commodities and gems as currency and many societies function on a barter economy. For the sake of simplicity, all of these are referred to as Coin and follow the Coin system. So a character might have 3 Silver Coins listed on their character sheet, but they may actually have 3 Silver Coins worth of trading beads in game.
When a GM rewards characters, they should make it clear whether they are rewarding them with Coin or actual goods that the characters will later have to sell or trade. Players should keep track of what kind of Coin they have on their character sheet.
Each type of Coin has two benchmark items that can be purchased with one unit of that Coin. These items are average, functional versions of that item. These benchmark purchases are also indicated on the table above and on the Character Sheet.
Prices for items are determined by the GM using the above benchmarks to compare against. If an item is roughly the same value as one of the above, it has the same price. A simple way of thinking about it is “This item is worth about triple the cost of a horse.” or “This guy would trade three horses for this item.” Therefore, if an item is valued at about three horses it will end up costing 3 Bags of Silver.
If an item costs less than a Silver Coin, characters are assumed to be able to purchase it with copper coins as long as they have at least 1 Silver Coin or Wealth 1. If they don’t have this, they are assumed to be flat broke and have difficulty making even simple daily purchases.
Many factors may also change the price of an item such as quality, availability, special customizations, discounts, markups, and so on. Each increasing factor usually costs an additional Coin while each decreasing factor usually reduces the cost by a Coin. The final cost, though, is up to the GM. The important point is to consider how much value things have in relation to each other and the situation in which they’re being bought and sold in.
For the sake of simplicity, Coin types are never mixed. If something is “slightly more than a Bag of Gold”, it just costs a Bag of Gold. If it’s “quite a bit more than a Bag of Gold”, it costs two Bags of Gold. It never costs something like 1 Bag of Gold, 2 Gold Coins, and 3 Bags of Silver.
Some tasks may be impossible to perform without the appropriate equipment. Other tasks become easier when characters have the right tool for the job. Having a knotted rope can make an Athletics CR: 5 roll to climb up a wall into an Athletics CR: 3 roll. This changes the basic nature of the task. Cutting a tree down with an ax is a much different task than trying to knock it over by pushing it. This is reflected in changing the CR of the task.
In addition to normal equipment, you can instead opt to buy Shoddy or Excellent versions of items.
Shoddy items decrease the Coin cost to the previous type of Coin.
(i.e. 1 Bag of Gold becomes 1 Gold)
Excellent items increase the Coin cost to the next type of Coin
(i.e. 1 Bag of Gold becomes 1 Coffer)
These never grant Advantage or Disadvantage to a roll, but can possibly have an effect on the narrative. Having an Excellent longsword might garner respect from other warriors while having a Shoddy shield may mean the character’s shield bursts apart in the midst of battle. These are solely the discretion of the GM, who should err on the side caution when rewarding/punishing characters for these purchases.
At the very upper end of the spectrum are Epic Purchases, which cost 5 or more Coffers. These are things like building castles, raising armies, or purchasing a dragon egg.
Wealth represents a character’s investment into a home, business, profession, lands, properties and so forth. It covers the maintenance of the properties and is self-sustaining. When characters acquire a Wealth level, they should describe where their Wealth comes from in detail to the GM. Do they own vast lands that are worked by peasants? Are they the head of a merchant company? Do they own a small tavern? Wealth ties characters to the world and while there are many benefits to Wealth, characters also have a stake in protecting your Wealth.
There are 5 tiers of Wealth – Modest, Comfortable, Aristocratic, Noble, and Royal. If characters have no Wealth, they are assumed to basically be living as a peasant or spending Coin to maintain a lifestyle beyond that.
Characters can start with Wealth through your Backgrounds, gain it from within the story, or invest Coin into acquiring it. Each tier of Wealth costs 5 Coin of the corresponding type and they must possess the previous tier as well. For example, acquiring Wealth Level 1 costs 5 Silver, acquiring Wealth Level 5 costs 5 Coffers and characters must have Wealth Level 4.
Wealth Tiers may also be rewarded by the GM as the result of in-game circumstances. If a character is suddenly given a noble title and lands, Wealth would likely come along with this. If a character spends a great deal of time setting up a merchant shop that runs itself, making connections, bringing in customers, and so on, the GM could reward them with Wealth 2 to represent the shop. Wealth can be built without Coin or with a lesser investment, but it takes a lot of legwork by the characters. In much the same way, though, if an earthquake were to strike that town and level it, the GM could remove the Wealth 2 or reduce it to Wealth 1.
Wealth comes with many substantial benefits, making it easier for characters to live a steady life and maintain their lifestyle. It can be used to buy items. Wealth is vague and there are no explicit rules governing what it can and can’t do. It is up to the GM to judge whether characters can reasonably use their Wealth to do something. The table above lays out many example professions at each Wealth level to use as a benchmark when judging whether characters can or can’t do something. The GM has the final call when it comes to Wealth.
With Wealth, characters are assumed to be able to maintain a lifestyle befitting that Wealth level – including owning a house, lands, and so forth. All of these expenses, including any possible staff they may hire at their home or businesses, are included as part of their lifestyle.
If characters have no Wealth, they are assumed to basically be living as a peasant – perhaps renting out a simple room, sleeping outside, or a wanderer staying at cheap inns. If they want to maintain a lifestyle beyond that, they must actively spend the Coin to do so. Anyone with at least 1 Silver Coin, though, is assumed to be able to make simple daily purchases and find a bed to sleep in each night.
If they have no Wealth and no Coin, they are assumed to be a vagrant. They have great difficulty getting meals and finding a place to lay their head. They struggle to make basic daily purchases.
Characters can use Wealth to make purchases. They are assumed to be able to make any amount of purchases that would be reasonable for someone of their Wealth. There are example professions in Table 7:2 to give a general idea of what kind of purchases might be possible. There is no set limit to this, but as a general guideline characters can make a somewhat expensive purchase once per in-game season and really stretch their funds to make a substantial purchase once per year.
Any businesses characters have are staffed and the cost of maintaining that stuff is covered by their Wealth. They may also have additional properties such as stores or ships that are required to run their business.
Characters can sell off a tier of Wealth quickly and receive 3 units of the associated Coin in return. Spending quite a bit of time and succeeding on an Involved Challenge CR: 4 can increase this to 5 units of the associated Coin. Any Skills involved with the characters business or assets are considered appropriate for this roll. Failure results in the character only getting 3 Coin.
Characters without at least Wealth 1 is assumed to be a peasant, serf, or other such unskilled laborers. While they may have a steady income, this affords them little flexibility with their money and they cannot make any substantial purchases.
For characters without Wealth 1, as long as they have at least a single Silver Coin, they are assumed to be able to make ends meet much as a peasant or serf does. They can afford very cheap meals and accommodation and the basic necessities required to live. However, if they do not have even a single Silver Coin to their name, they are flat broke and will struggle to find a way to pay for a meal.
Depending on the tone of the game the GM wishes to set, these Coin and Wealth rules can be implemented in a variety of ways. Some may choose to only keep the abstract Wealth system in place in a game where the difference between the rich and poor matters, but the characters won’t be counting every coin. The GM can then adjust the PCs Wealth depending on what happens in-game.
Other games may deal only in Coin, possibly living job to job and barely scraping by. It is also possible to do away with both and have money completely be in the background of the story or wipe the entire system and instead go with a custom economy structure that better fits your campaign. The rules presented here are merely guidelines, so GMs should take the time to choose what’s best for the campaign!
As the system simplifies many of the difficult details and realities of a medieval fantasy economy, some common sense rules are required.