Currency in the Realms

Currency in the Realms

Ancient coins

Barter and coinage of all sorts are common in the Realms. The following system is that of the nation of Cormyr, and is typical of the other organized nations. The favored form of currency in Cormyr is the royal coinage of the Court, stamped with a dragon on one side and a treasury date mark on the other (the penalty for counterfeiting in Cormyr and most other similar nations is death).

There is no paper currency save for I.O.U.s, which are known as blood-notes, as they must be signed in blood by both (or all, if more than two) parties involved and taken to the local lord for the affixing of the royal seal.

Coinage throughout the Realms is customarily valued as follows:

1 platinum piece (pp) = 1 platinum piece (pp)
= 10 gold pieces (gp)
= 20 electrum pieces (ep)
= 100 silver pieces (sp)
= 1000 copper pieces (cp)

In Cormyr, coinage terminology is as follows:
copper pieces are called copper thumbs
silver pieces are called silver falcons
electrum pieces are called blue eyes
gold pieces are called golden lions
platinum pieces are called tricrowns

In Amn, a major trading nation on the Sword Coast, the names are:
copper pieces are called fandars
silver pieces are called tarans
electrum pieces are called centaurs or decimes
gold pieces are called dantars
platinum pieces are called roldons or pearls

In Calimport, the largest city of Calimshan, the coins are:
copper pieces are called unarches, radas, niftens, and spanners
silver pieces are called decarches, espedrille, and red worms
electrum pieces are called centarches, tazos, and zonths
gold pieces are called bicentas
platinum pieces are called kilarches

In the city of Silverymoon, the coinage is:
copper pieces are called bits
silver pieces are called stars
electrum pieces are called moons (and are equal in value to a gold piece in Silverymoon, but a standard electrum piece elsewhere)

And in Waterdeep, City of Splendors, the coinage is:
copper pieces are called copper nibs
silver pieces are called shards
electrum pieces are called moons
gold pieces are called dragons
platinum pieces are called suns

In addition, Waterdeep has two special coins not found elsewhere: the toal and the harbor moon. The toal is a square, flat brass coin with a hole in its center. The toal is worth 2 gp within the city of Waterdeep, but is worthless outside of it. The harbor moon is a 50-gp coin made of platinum fitted with electrum and carved into the shape of a moon, again with a hole in the center. Outside of Waterdeep, a harbor moon is worth only 2 gp.

Sembia maintains a similar coinage, but it is instead differentiated by shape. Gold coins (eagles) are five-sided, silver (hawks) are triangular, iron steelpense (replacing copper here) are square, and electrum are diamond-shaped (ravens). Steelpense are worthless outside of Sembia. Sembia issues no platinum pieces, instead using silver and copper trade bars in 5-, 10-, 25-, and 50-gp denominations.

To most adventurers, the name of the coin is unimportant, and the face depicted on the coin is incidental to its true importance —immediate personal wealth.

Local city-states often mint their own copper, silver, and gold pieces. Electrum and platinum pieces are rarer, and are usually minted only by the more powerful states such as Cormyr, Waterdeep, and Amn. Smaller states, such as the fractured regions of Damara, use coinage borrowed from other nations and looted from ancient sources.

Merchants throughout the Realms make use of trade bars, either of silver or (for the more profitable caravans and costers) electrum. These trade bars are generally ingots of the particular metal in 10-, 25-, and 50-gp denominations. They are marked with the trail mark of the merchant or company that uses them. There are even (particularly in the South), trade bars of 500- and 1,000-gp denominations. Trade bars are regarded as bulk coins of the denomination they are made in, and are checked by weight.

Ingot-shaped bars of silver dotted with copper and marked with the symbol of Sembia are produced in that nation. These trade bars are considered face value and backed up by the money of the Merchant Kingdom. These trade bars come in values of 5-, 10-, 25-, and 50-gp.

Merchants of the city of Mirabar, in the Savage Frontier, produce a wholly different type of trade bar. These trade bars are made of black iron and shaped like rectangular spindels. They are worth 10 gp in Mirabar itself, 5 gp in the rest of the Realms.

Trade bars are produced in distant Kara-Tur as well. These are slender bars of silver, definitely oriental in origin, which have made their way to the West with the occasional trader and adventurer. Shou Lung trade bars are worth about 40 gp each, on average.

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

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, or countries and cities to cover debts, and should the debtor still be around, they are legally obligated to pay when it is presented. Blood notes from individuals who are no longer alive are not binding.

Letters of trade are similar to blood notes. Letters of trade call for delivery of a particular item or items to the bearer. Only about 10% of these letters found by adventurers are worth anything, the remainder are 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.

Mercenary Cards are small cards of parchment about the size of a Talis card, marked on one side with the symbol of a particular mercenary unit. The reverse usually has some handwritten scrawl from the troopÂ’s paymaster authorizing payment. 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.

In adventuring, heroes will encounter all manner of treasure. In general, it does not matter where the coin originally came from, only its weight and value on the modern market.

(SOURCES: Forgotten Realms Campaign Set; Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting; Forgotten Realms Adventures; The Forgotten Realms Wiki; original material)

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Currency in the Realms

Daggerford and the North RobertThomson RobertThomson