CURRENCY

For most game purposes, a copper piece is the same regardless of its point of origin. The only thing that matters about a gem is how much the local jeweler declares it to be worth. However, there are situations where a particularly large or diverse treasure hoard could benefit from a little extra note: Instead of "200 gold, three gems worth 1,000 gp each, and an art object," the players find "200 lions from the Cormyrean mint, three black opals, and a golden comb encrusted with zircons.

Exchange Rates: The Forgotten Realms uses standard rates of exchange between standard coins as in the Player's
Handbook. Local situations may influence these exchange rates.

Copper Coins: The most common and least valuable of the various coins, copper coins are known as coppers, copper pieces, or copper thumbs (the last is of Cormyrean origin). Sembia released a square iron coin called the steelpense which is similar in value to the copper (see Steelpense, below). Several "coins" are used among barbarian tribes that are chips of bone, also valued as the copper. Southern city-states have all stamped a number of copper coins (unarches, radas, niftens, and spanners from Calimshan, and fanders from Amn).

Silver Coins: Silver coins are also called silvers and silver pieces. Both Cormyrean and Sembian mints produce silver pieces bearing the symbol of the nation on one side and a mint mark on the other. Cormyrean silvers are called falcons, their triangular Sembian cousins hawks, and the two are used interchangeably without difficulty. Other silver coinage regularly seen in the heartlands of the Realms includes the Amnian taran and Calishite coins such as the decarche, espedrille, and the ochre-tinted red worm of Memnon. Red worms are cast from silver but coated with a dye. Old coins with the dye worn away are called "skinned worms."

Electrum Coins: Electrum coins are not as popular as gold, silver, and copper, but exist in sufficient numbers to be represented occasionally in treasure caches or odd pockets. Electrum pieces are commonly called blue eyes throughout the heartlands of the Realms, regardless of origin: This applies to round Cormyrean eyes, diamondshaped Sembian electrums, Calishite tazos and zonths, and Amnian centaurs. An exception is the electrum moon of Silverymoon—this coin is worth 1 ep throughout the Realms, but twice that much in the northern city of Silverymoon.

Gold Coins: The most common coin of adventurers, commonly called golden lions throughout the Realms, though only the Cormyrean coins carry the figure of the lion on the coin. (Sembian gold coin designs vary from year to year but always retain a five-sided shape.) The Southerners use the Amnian danter, though there are a number of other golden coins from Calimshan, Thay, and Tethyr, as well as scatterings of private mints (including those of adventuring companies) and city-states. All are worth one gold standard, save for those from the cities of Tethyr. Tethyrian gulders, moelans, myrats, and zoths are only worth 60-90% of their listed value due to the upheavals in that land.

Platinum Coins: These coins are relatively rare but used by successful (and boastful) adventurers and merchants. Platinum coins are called tricrowns, plats, or pearls (in particular the Southern versions, which are officially named roldons). Sembia produces no platinum coins but readily accepts those of other nations.

Other Coins: There are a number of coins which do not fit into any of the standard categories of other coinage but which are still found with some regularity in the heartlands. These coins have a wide range of worth that varies by coin and location (the Waterdhavian toal, for example, is worth 2 gp in Waterdeep and practically nothing elsewhere).

Bela: A word for paper money used by the savage barbarian tribes to the east of the Realms, bela refers both to bills used in the lands of Kara-Tur and more recent script issued by the over-chief or khahan of the tribes of the Hordelands. In the western Realms, it is worthless and is occasionally offered as an insult.

Blood Notes: Blood notes are scrolls, letters, or other carvings representing IOUs and promissory notes from the listed person to the holder of the note. Blood notes can be made by individuals, adventuring companies, countries, or cities to cover debts and, should debtors still be around, they are legally obligated to pay when a blood note is presented. Blood notes from individuals who are no longer alive are not binding. About 20% of the blood notes found among treasure are still collectable, with one 100 gp value for every "other money" unit found (if 10 "units" of other coinage were found and proved to be a blood note, it would be a blood note worth 1,000 gp). Locating the debtor and convincing him or her to pay up is left to the individuals involved.

Trade Bar, Mirabar: Coming from the wild country north of Waterdeep, these trade bars are made of black iron and shaped like rectangular spindles. They are worth 10 gp in Mirabar itself, 5 gp in the rest of the Realms.

Trade Bar, Merchants': These trade bars are thin, silver bars worth either 10, 20, or 50 gp each. The bar is marked at one end with its value and at the other with the symbol of the trading institution or coster that created it. Broken trade bars are valueless, though most merchants continue to honor the trade bars of defunct institutions. The trade bars of the Iron Throne trading group are not honored by other trading organizations, as this group is considered disreputable. Merchants' trade bars can be manufactured anywhere, but an increasing number of them bear the mint mark of Baldur's Gate.

Trade Bar, Sembia: Ingot-shaped bars of silver dotted with copper and marked with the symbol of Sembia, these trade bars are considered to be worth their face value and are backed by the wealth of the Merchant Kingdom. The trade bars range from 5, 10, 15, 25 or 50 gp each.

Trade Bar, Lantan: A flat, envelope-shaped bar of worked steel marked with the great wheel of Gond, such bars are worth 20 gp each and are used primarily along the Sword Coast and in other regions where the Lantanna normally trade.

Toal, Waterdeep: The toal is a square brass coin with a hole bored in the center that is commonly used in the City of Splendors. In Waterdeep, it has a value similar to 1 ep (that of 2 gp), but it is considered worthless outside the city.Harbor Moon, Waterdeep: A harbor moon is a special Waterdhavian coin struck in the shape of a crescent and made of platinum inset with electrum. It is used in bulk purchases in Waterdeep, where it is worth 50 gp. Outside Waterdeep, its value drops to 2 gp per harbor moon.

Steelpense, Sembian: A coin introduced by the Sembian government to replace silver (which the government could then hoard), the steelpense was overproduced and dropped in value until its present value is 1 steelpense = 1 copper piece. The Sembian nobles have disavowed the coin's value, but still honor it grudgingly throughout the country. "Buying steelpense with bela" is a byword for fiscal stupidity.

Shou Lung Copper: Any copper coin which is not immediately recognizable is declared to come from the mystical East and is valued at 1 copper piece. Only a small number of these coins honestly come from Shou Lung or any of the Kara-Turan nations, but the name remains.

Shou Lung Silver: Similar to Shou Lung copper, Shou Lung silver refers to any unknown or badly worn silver coin and is valued at 1 silver piece. Some but not all of these coins find their origin in the East.

Shou Lung Trade Bars: These slender bars of silver, definitely oriental in origin, have made their way to the West with the occasional trader and adventurer. Shou Lung trade bars are worth about 40 gp each.

Letter of Trade: Similar to blood notes, letters of trade call for delivery of a particular item or items to the bearer. Only about 10% of these are worth anything; the remainder are written for organizations which no longer exist or for items which have since been sold or delivered elsewhere. Even then, the item (often not mentioned on the letter of trade) to be delivered varies from a small art object to a magical item to (in at least one case) a golem.

Tharsult Statues: Far to the south, the nation of Tharsult uses small art objects in trade. These statues of ivory, jade, and serpentine are used as coinage in that region, and have reached the heartlands of the Realms as curios.Typical statues are worth 15 gp each in the North, but only 5 gp each in their native land.

Shaar Rings: The plainsmen of the Shaar use rings made of sliced and bored ivory hung on long strings. Rings are found in bundles, and each ring is worth 3 gp.

Gond Bells: An odd form of money introduced by the Lantanna and used in areas of the North, in particular in trade between worshipers of Gond. A Gond bell is a small bell made of brass that almost totally encloses a loose ornamental stone which causes it to clatter. Gond bells are worth 10 gp on the open market, 20 gp if traded to a church of Gond.

Mercenary Cards: Mercenary cards are small cards of parchment about the size of a talis card that are marked on one size with the symbol of a particular mercenary unit. The reverse usually has some handwritten scrawl from the troop's paymaster authorizing payment. The payment is equal to 15 gp per unit of "other currency" found. If the mercenary organization still exists, its present paymaster will authorize the payment (and perhaps offer more work as well). Mercenary paymasters are accustomed to individuals producing cards that have been found in monster lairs,
stolen, or won in card games.

 

 

 

 

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