Adventurers are in the small group of people who regularly buy
things with coins. Members of the peasantry trade mostly in goods,
bartering for what they need and paying taxes in grain and cheese.
Members of the nobility trade mostly in legal rights, such as the
rights to a mine, a port, or farmland, or they trade in gold bars,
measuring gold by the pound rather than by the coin.
The most common coin that adventurers use is the gold piece (gp).
With 1 gold piece, a character can buy a belt pouch, 50 feet of
hempen rope, or a goat. A skilled (but not exceptional) artisan can
earn 1 gold piece a day. The gold piece is the standard unit of measure
for wealth. When merchants discuss deals that involve goods or
services worth hundreds or thousands of gold pieces, the transactions
don’t usually involve the exchange of that many individual
coins. Rather, the gold piece is a standard measure of value, and the
actual exchange is in gold bars, letters of credit, or valuable goods.
The most prevalent coin among commoners is the silver piece
(sp). A gold piece is worth 10 silver pieces. A silver piece buys a
laborer’s work for a day, a common lamp, or a poor meal of bread,
baked turnips, onions, and water.
Each silver piece is worth 10 copper pieces (cp). A single copper
piece buys a candle, a torch, or a piece of chalk. Copper piece are
common among laborers and beggars.
In addition to copper, silver, and gold coins, which people use
daily, merchants also recognize platinum pieces (pp), which are each
worth 10 gp. These coins are not in common circulation, but adventurers
occasionally find them as part of ancient treasure hoards.
The standard coin weighs about a third of an ounce (fifty to the
pound). It is the exact size of the coin pictured in the illustration on
Table 7–2: Coins
————— Exchange Value ————
CP SP GP PP
Copper piece (cp) = 1 1/10 1/100 1/1,000
Silver piece (sp) = 10 1 1/10 1/100
Gold piece (gp) = 100 10 1 1/10
Platinum piece (pp) = 1,000 100 10 1
WEALTH OTHER THAN COINS
Most wealth is not in coins. It is livestock, grain, land, rights to collect
taxes, or rights to resources (such as a mine or a forest). Gems
and jewelry also serve as portable wealth.
Guilds, nobles, and royalty regulate trade. Chartered companies are
granted rights to dam rivers in order to provide power for mills, to
conduct trade along certain routes, to send merchant ships to
various ports, or to buy or sell specific goods. Guilds set prices for
the goods or services that they control, and determine who may or
may not offer those goods and services. Merchants commonly
exchange trade goods commodities without using currency. As a
means of comparison, some trade goods are detailed on Table 7–3:
Table 7–3: Trade Goods
1 cp One pound of wheat
2 cp One pound of flour, or one chicken
1 sp One pound of iron
5 sp One pound of tobacco or copper
1 gp One pound of cinnamon, or one goat
2 gp One pound of ginger or pepper, or one sheep
3 gp One pig
4 gp One square yard of linen
5 gp One pound of salt or silver
10 gp One square yard of silk, or one cow
15 gp One pound of saffron or cloves, or one ox
50 gp One pound of gold
500 gp One pound of platinum
In general, a character can sell something for half its listed price.
Characters who want to upgrade to better armor or weaponry, for
example, can sell their old equipment for half price.
Trade goods are the exception to the half-price rule. A trade good,
in this sense, is a valuable good that can be easily exchanged almost
as if it were cash itself. Wheat, flour, cloth, gems, jewelry, art objects,
and valuable metals are trade goods, and merchants often trade in
them directly without using currency (see Table 7–3: Trade Goods).
Obviously, merchants can sell these goods for slightly more than
they pay for them, but the difference is small enough that you don’t
have to worry about it.