Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Silver Standard

I was going to write a long post about how I keep going back and forth on whether or not I should switch the Garnia campaign world over to the Silver standard for coinage. There are pros and cons to doing so, the biggest con being the work involved in switching prices over, but I have already done a lot of that in repricing things in gold anyway, and I had set at one point gold to silver at a different exchange rate than the 10:1 or 20:1 that it has been in different editions of D&D. Now I feel like I am just jumping on a bandwagon though, because I read they were switching all of D&D over to the silver standard in 5th edition. Any thoughts?


  1. Society on our world ran on a silver standard and I do like the silver standard, a silver coin being a days wage. However, we did use gold quite a bit as it made purchasing the 'high-end' stuff easier. Conversion as follows:
    1 Gold Coin = 8 Silver Coins
    1 Silver Coin = 4 Iron Coins
    1 Iron Coin = 5 Copper Coins

  2. I think it's a shame it wasn't there from the start, I say go for it.

  3. I had silver to gold at 12:1 by weight, with most coins being about the size of a US dime or penny. That lets me have some coins minted larger and be at a higher value. I also made greater use of bars of silver and gold, and wearable "Hack-Silver" arm bands or bracers of relatively little jewelry value used for their trade weight in silver; occasionally pieces would get cut off to cover small expenses. I got the idea from the vikings, but they did it more in theory than in practice. As I recall Dragonquest used silver pennies as their standard unit of currency back in the 1980s, so it's not like I am a revolutionary to suggest the more realistic system, I just like to have a little more verisimilitude added to the game world. The gold standard has the weight of D&D tradition behind it though, and players have come to expect hoards of gold.

  4. The gold standard has never been a problem for me because I tend to give out non-monetary treasure. Art objects, gems, etc. The only time I might introduce heaps of gold would be an iconic dragon's hoard, or perhaps a lord's strongbox being transported. People just default to saying GP and it's never been a battle worth fighting in my opinion.

    1. I try to use a lot of non-coin based treasure, not always successfully. That said, pretty much everything you have said here is one of the good counter arguments to using the silver standard. I do love a good debate! I have heard it said that Gygax went with the gold standard so he could give people those gigantic dragon hoards from literature without completely destroying the economy or the necessity for adventure. The Spanish economy was destroyed for generations after the conquest of the Aztec & Inca empires, so he kind of knew what he was talking about there. That said, there's no reason that a fantasy world has to be as gold poor as Earth is, there might be 20 times as much gold in Garnia, it'd still be quite valuable and used for coinage, and the coins could be bigger like D&D always wanted them to be.

    2. that said, the dragon's hoard is likely just going to be full of mounds of whatever coins are most in circulation, or were in the not to distant past - be they gold or silver...