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    Canonfire :: View topic - Real World Coinage Equivalents
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    Real World Coinage Equivalents
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    Adept Greytalker

    Joined: Sep 20, 2004
    Posts: 545
    From: British Isles

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    Fri Apr 19, 2013 4:52 am  
    Real World Coinage Equivalents

    I was wondering if anyone tries to equate the copper through to platinum pieces with a rough modern world equivalent to help maintain some consistency in prices for items and services et cetera?

    Sometimes when I look at the values listed for various items they seem pretty arbitrary.

    I appreciate that many things won't have the same value in our world as they would in the Greyhawk setting (for example tea leaves might be much harder to come by in some regions as well as things we take for granted like ground black pepper and chocolate), I also appreciate that objects will vary depending on where you are, time of year and so on.

    So for example (using GBP equivalents) maybe;
    1cp = 10p
    1sp = 1
    1gp = 10
    1pp = 50

    or maybe in USD (I know that the exchange rates between USD & GBP aren't 1:1);
    1cp = 10c
    1sp = $1
    1gp = $10
    1pp = $50

    Applying this to a couple of items from the 2nd edtion equipment list at random;

    a dagger would be say 20 which doesn't sound unreasonable but 150 for hide armour or 40,000 to 100,000gp for plate armour - maybe not!

    Maybe trying to equate the coinage to current times just doesn't pan out!
    GreySage

    Joined: Oct 06, 2008
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    From: South-Central Pennsylvania

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    Fri Apr 19, 2013 7:48 am  

    I've never tried, because I don't think it would work very well. Are you familiar with the American phrase: "The dollar just doesn't buy what it used to."? Confused

    The "original" J.D. Rockefeller used to pass out dimes (10 cents) to kids. Economists have stated that, for a wealthy man to equate that today, he'd have to hand every kid he saw about $2 USD.

    I'm sure the British Pound falls into the same predicament. Evil Grin

    I'll say this, in the computer game "Icewind Dale II" your character is paid 1 gp every tenday. Given today's wages, that single gold piece would equate to about $250 USD @ Minimum Wage levels.

    So, by today's standards your 1gp = $10 is WAY off! Laughing Laughing Laughing
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    Adept Greytalker

    Joined: Sep 20, 2004
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    From: British Isles

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    Fri Apr 19, 2013 7:58 am  

    ...but maybe not as way off as we'd think.

    Today you couldn't live on a dollar a day but perhaps in a setting like GH you could. Food isn't packaged and processed in the same way, people don't have or even need as much as we think we need today.

    A gold piece per tenday would be 1sp a day - that's enough to get food to live on each day. You can survive on a lot less food than people today seem to think. Let's face it, you'd be hungry but you don't even need to eat every day as long as you have water.

    I do agree though that overall the conversion thing probably doesn't really work!
    GreySage

    Joined: Oct 06, 2008
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    From: South-Central Pennsylvania

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    Fri Apr 19, 2013 8:26 am  

    And I appreciate your position, but consider: In Icewind Dale, your character is not a "commoner." A commoner does not earn a gold piece every tenday.

    Also:

    Wolfling wrote:
    Food isn't packaged and processed in the same way . . .


    True, but it's the packaging, processing, preserving and refrigeration that put an end to famine. Without these things, most food -- and especially milk, eggs and bread (the basics) -- would never reach today's grocery stores. They would spoil long before they ever got there.

    The people of the medieval gaming world wouldn't stand a chance, just as the people of our own middle ages didn't. In a World of Greyhawk based just a tiny, teeny bit on "reality," people in the City of Greyhawk starve to death. And they do it every day. Wink

    The vast majority of people in our "real world" don't live anywhere near our sources of food. Do you really think the immediate environ of London grows enough food for everyone in the city to live on? Neither does the environ for the City of Greyhawk, it's "commoners" and beggars and destitute and disenfranchised starve to death all the time. Sad

    The 1 gp per tenday pays for food and lodging in the game . . . that's a lot of money. In the old west, a cowboy earned $30 a month and went to town once a month. In that one trip to town, he managed to spend most, if not all, of his money.

    The cowboy received the dollar a day you talk about. But, if it wasn't for the bunkhouse -- supplied by his boss -- and the chow house -- also supplied by his boss -- he'd have slept on a park bench and starved to death. Why? Because he went to town once a month and drank nearly all of his money.

    So, I don't think the modern conversations will work. Well, you were asking for opinions . . . there's mine. Cool

    But stick around, because there are a whole bunch of people about to show up who will disagree with me. But as I'm always saying, my game has a touch of reality . . . because where there's smoke, there's fire.

    Of course, there's always the "mirror" aspect. Avoid "smoke and fire" altogether. Place a 10th level wizard in every village. One magnanimous enough to preserve all the food they ship to Greyhawk . . . free of charge!
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    Paladin

    Joined: Sep 07, 2011
    Posts: 833
    From: Houston Texas

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    Fri Apr 19, 2013 11:34 am  
    Re: Real World Coinage Equivalents

    Wolfling wrote:
    Maybe trying to equate the coinage to current times just doesn't pan out!

    yep, to further add to the "muddy water", is the state of "capitalism" in the area and quality of the goods as well.
    The more useful comparitive (if one wanted such a massive task) would be to take the average equipment list and factor it based on availability / quality from region to region. That Would be a useful game tool.
    Journeyman Greytalker

    Joined: Jan 21, 2010
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    Fri Apr 19, 2013 11:48 am  

    Mind if I oversimplify things?

    I think the value of the gold has been universal and fairly stable throughout the history of mankind. If you want to measure worth regardless of era, and in a civilized society, gold is your best bet. Morever, the gold piece is made of gold, obviously.

    One pound of gold is worth 50 gp in D&D 3.x.
    One pound of gold is worth $16,310.37 (source: http://wiki.answers.com/Q/How_much_is_gold_per_pound).
    So, one gold piece could fetch you 326 dollars today. The thing that the gold piece won't be pure gold, so we are talking about maybe 200-250 dollars.
    Apprentice Greytalker

    Joined: Jun 24, 2008
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    Fri Apr 19, 2013 12:17 pm  

    In 3rd ed., a silver piece was indicated to be the daily wage for unskilled labor. A silver piece is also the daily wage for the linkboy in the previous editions - a relatively unskilled occupation.

    The "daily wage for unskilled labor" is one benchmark I return to when trying to estimate prices. The other benchmark is the cost of magic or the magical substitute for the mundane product. The cost of magic is completely arbitrary of course. By referring to the cost of a magical solution, I make sure the mundane alternative costs far less (for medieval tech level items) or far more (for more advanced tech level items so that magic is preferred).
    Grandmaster Greytalker

    Joined: Jul 09, 2003
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    Fri Apr 19, 2013 2:03 pm  

    Mystic-Scholar wrote:
    ...True, but it's the packaging, processing, preserving and refrigeration that put an end to famine. Without these things, most food -- and especially milk, eggs and bread (the basics) -- would never reach today's grocery stores. They would spoil long before they ever got there...


    -'Nuff said... Wink

    Sutemi wrote:
    Mind if I oversimplify things?

    I think the value of the gold has been universal and fairly stable throughout the history of mankind. If you want to measure worth regardless of era, and in a civilized society, gold is your best bet. Morever, the gold piece is made of gold, obviously.

    One pound of gold is worth 50 gp in D&D 3.x.
    One pound of gold is worth $16,310.37 (source: http://wiki.answers.com/Q/How_much_is_gold_per_pound).
    So, one gold piece could fetch you 326 dollars today. The thing that the gold piece won't be pure gold, so we are talking about maybe 200-250 dollars.


    Caveat: I'm using 50 coins per pound.

    1) FWIW, the last I checked it was $1,500-something an ounce (troy). Anyway, gold varies against a fiat paper currency. For a while, I've used a 1 gp = $100, based on the following:
    Between 1837 and 1933, when gold and the dollar had a direct relationship, an oz. of gold was worth $20.67. M-S seems to be using a 20:1 The Consumer Price Index for then versus the time I came up with this about ten years ago was about 20:1 (the same figure M-S seems to be using). That made an oz. of gold $423.40. If a coin is 1 /4.166 oz. then that equates to $101.58 per 1gp.
    Of course, that's rough, since the 20:1 figure wasn't precise at the time I came up with this (ften years ago?), and the CPI has marched on since then, but it's at least $100 per 1gp now. I use this for conversions for most things like food, clothing, etc. If you want to use Sutemi's $326 per 1gp, it's not completely out of line.

    2) I use around $20 to 1gp when trying to calculate values related to fancier stuff. A common room today might cost $80, and 8sp/night would be OK for an equivalent standard of room IRL vs. the Flaneass. If I'm trying to get a straight up comparison, i.e., a room that has a latrine that doesn't smell like urine and feces, hot water for bathing, clean water for drinking, clean sheets, an entertainment "system", and a time-telling piece, an ice box, and lighting which isn't likely to set you on fire (continual light stick), a person in the Flaneass would have to pay at least 4gp/night.

    That would make the 1sp/day standard the equivalent of at least $10/day, which isn't bad money in the third world.

    If a Middle Lower Class (MLC: about half the population) person spends about 3gp/month (mostly on food), then that's at least the equivalent of $300/month.
    Paladin

    Joined: Sep 07, 2011
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    Fri Apr 19, 2013 4:10 pm  

    Still think this is subjective.....
    Anyone that has traveled to various places overseas would know that even the cost of "identical" items .. say blue jeans, gasoline, and even a big mac could greatly vary place to place. All of it not just subject to differing local wage rates or currency exchange rates.
    IMO
    To give it a more real feel, if thats the goal, it would still seem prudent to have "real world" parallels not only for metal values, but commodities as well.
    For example if an exceptable Californian Merlot =$25 or a Fine one =$50 maybe their GH equals are a Velunan fullybody or Celene Fey? But the "Wine Connoisseur's" of the Pomarj might think them too "sweet and fruity" heheh and thus value them less so.
    Adept Greytalker

    Joined: Apr 11, 2009
    Posts: 343
    From: Aspedri

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    Fri Apr 19, 2013 5:30 pm  

    Quote:
    Mind if I oversimplify things?

    I think the value of the gold has been universal and fairly stable throughout the history of mankind. If you want to measure worth regardless of era, and in a civilized society, gold is your best bet. Morever, the gold piece is made of gold, obviously.


    Hmmm, not quite true actually. While hard currency has an appeal due to intrinsic value, the currency itself can end up being treated like fiat currency. Imperial Rome was pretty notorious for debasing the coinage in the 3rd and 4th centuries. Also, inflation affects precious metals as well. Witness Spain after gaining the treasures of Mexico and Peru... there did not exist a theory of inflation at that time, but it still occurred, and is large part of why their vast hard currency reserves actually damaged them economically in the long run.

    A few things to consider:
    Commoners do not use currency for transactions, as it is rare. A peasant my horde a sack of silver coins away for an emergency, but day to day, he using barter, and likely paying his taxes in kind as well.

    As the Captain Barbossa said:
    Quote:
    The costs in the Players Handbook are more like guidelines than hard and fast rules.


    I think they do a great job of showing a relative cost for items, but I have always felt at liberty to adjust them to reflect the local environment.
    Journeyman Greytalker

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    Fri Apr 19, 2013 9:07 pm  

    jamesdglick wrote:
    If you want to use Sutemi's $326 per 1gp, it's not completely out of line.


    Just to clarify my previous post: I believe that the gold piece is not 24 carat gold. Quite far from it, actually. Maybe dwarves could have the $326 gold piece, but otherwise I'd be inclined to value the gp at $200 or maybe even $250.
    Grandmaster Greytalker

    Joined: Jul 09, 2003
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    Sat Apr 20, 2013 8:23 am  

    Dark_Lord_Galen wrote:
    Still think this is subjective.....
    ...For example if an exceptable Californian Merlot =$25 or a Fine one =$50 maybe their GH equals are a Velunan fullybody or Celene Fey? But the "Wine Connoisseur's" of the Pomarj might think them too "sweet and fruity" heheh and thus value them less so.


    -Exactly. Just as Item "A" might vary from place to place IRL, Item "A" will vary from place to place in the Flaneass.

    Sutemi wrote:
    jamesdglick wrote:
    If you want to use Sutemi's $326 per 1gp, it's not completely out of line.


    Just to clarify my previous post: I believe that the gold piece is not 24 carat gold. Quite far from it, actually. Maybe dwarves could have the $326 gold piece, but otherwise I'd be inclined to value the gp at $200 or maybe even $250.


    -When precious metals and money have a direct relationship, seignuerage assumes (or almost always) assumes that the coin is valued as if it were pure, even though it rarely is. Seignurage is how governemnts make a profit on coinage. When people try to exchange the value of the coin for goods and services, they might take that into consideration. The Roman Empire did that so much that their coins were virtually worthless.

    For most lands, I assume that the coins are 90% pure, 10% lead. Iuz tends to be 50% / 50%... Evil Grin
    Adept Greytalker

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    From: Aspedri

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    Sat Apr 20, 2013 6:30 pm  

    I was incorrect in my previous post... the Romans did not debase their gold currency, but the silver denarius, the medium of everyday exchange.

    Of course, the intrinsic value of gold coins depends on their fineness (purity). Historically, they were actually quite pure:

    Aureus: 24k
    Solidus: 24k
    English Sovereigns: 23k
    British Sovereigns and American Eagles: 22k
    Florins: 24k
    Imperial German Marks: 21-22k

    What is most interesting, though, is that even during the Roman Empire and until paper money appeared, silver coins were the real medium of exchange... gold currency was rare, seldom minted, and kind of like carrying a $100 bill around: fun until you want something out of the vending machine. It is interesting that the gold coin is the medium of exchange in AD&D.
    Apprentice Greytalker

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    Sun Apr 21, 2013 12:47 am  

    You may also to have a look at this, assuming the following:
    1 British pound equals 1PP
    1 english mark ou 1 french livre tournois equals 1GP
    http://www.hyw.com/books/history/money__i.htm

    A few examples of what one may learn here, based on a division by 600 ducats

    Annual income of a mason: 23 GP
    Annual income of a yeoman archer 10 GP

    Duke of Lancaster 57000 GP
    (Mid-14th C)

    Average Earl 14400 GP

    Laborer: Florence 9GP

    England 8 GP

    Artisan: Florence 18 GP

    England 12 GP

    You may like to compare colossal sums amassed by wealthy adventurers,

    Just my 2 cents...
    Master Greytalker

    Joined: May 12, 2005
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    Sun Apr 21, 2013 8:15 am  

    I play 1E, and I find the following holds up pretty well:

    1 cp = 10
    1 sp = $1
    1 ep = $10
    1 gp = $20
    1 pp = $100
    GreySage

    Joined: Oct 06, 2008
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    Sun Apr 21, 2013 9:59 am  

    DMPrata wrote:
    1 gp = $20


    Ahh, the old $20 gold piece! Those were the days . . . worth hundreds today. Cool
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    Apprentice Greytalker

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    From: Yeomanry

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    Wed May 01, 2013 9:17 am  

    I agree with your value breaksown of the coins DMPrata - with roughly 50 coins to the pound - its a faily simple way to keep things. Its important to remember that the value of items varies widely from region to region. example - in a area with much mining (the Little Hills for instance) the value of gems the party has is considerably less than they think them to be because of the abundance of certain gems in the area. They might actually be used more as a currency than the minted "freegold" coin of the land in said community. As a result the odd adventuring item needed by a party might cost considerably more than the handbook states.
    I remember reading about a San Francisco woman in the 1840's who made a forutne selling fresh cherry pies to miners coming out of the gold fields for $5 each. (not exactly sure what $5 1840 cash would be worth today but sure its quite a bit more) She sell em all each and every day at that price because there was lots of gold around and very few women baking tasty treats. Anyway I enjoy messing with the players wealth a bit with things like that.
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