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Currency-5e

From top to bottom: copper, silver, gold, electrum, and platinum pieces.[1]

When bartering for goods and services no longer met the needs of commerce, the sentient beings of the Realms turned to using items with a more universal value, namely precious metals, gems, and some minerals. Metals were rarely found in their pure form in nature and required significant energy and effort to refine and purify. In general, the rarity and the amount of effort it took to produce a given metal determined its worth. Sometimes this formula was modified by a particular property of the metal, or by widespread use (and therefore greater demand).[citation needed]

The penalty for counterfeiting was death in most places, since cities, kingdoms, and nations relied on the acceptance and trust of their currency.[2]

Gems are even rarer than metals and require great skill in mining, cutting, and polishing. Gems have great value because people desire them for their beauty and often wear them in jewelry. The arcane Arts also require certain gems as spell components which increases their rarity even more as they are consumed in the casting of powerful spells.[citation needed]

Standard Exchange Rates

The everyday currency of the Realms consisted mainly of coins and trade bars. With few exceptions, the standard currency adopted throughout the Realms made use of platinum, gold, electrum, silver, and copper pieces of equal value, so they could be used interchangeably across different regions, as well as trade bars of standardized weights with fixed conversion rates.[3][4]

The exchange rates between coins of different materials has changed through history, but their relative value across regions remained mostly unaltered.[2]

As of 1357 DR

By the Year of the Prince, standard exchange rates were the following:[2]

1 platinum piece= 1 platinum
 = 5 gold
 = 10 electrum
 = 100 silver
 = 1000 copper

In that time period, silver and electrum trade bars were available in 10, 25 and 50 gp denominations.[2]

As of 1367 DR

During the Time of Troubles, platinum and gold (and consequently electrum) saw an increase in value with respect to other metals. Around this time, standard exchange rates across the Realms were:[5][6][7]

1 platinum piece= 1 platinum
 = 5 gold
 = 10 electrum
 = 50 silver
 = 500 copper

In this time period, silver and electrum trade bars in the 10, 25 and 50 gp denominations were still available, as well as bars valued in 500 and 1,000 gp. Trade bars were always checked by weight.[6]

As of 1372 DR

By the Year of Wild Magic, the value of platinum increased and electrum pieces fell in disuse, no longer being commonly found as much as other coins. Around this time, standard exchange rates across the Realms were:[8]

1 platinum piece= 1 platinum
 = 10 gold
 = 100 silver
 = 1000 copper

Starting from this period, Baldur's Gate set the trade bar standards. This time period also saw the appearance of trade bars made of several different metals, including gold (although those were still rare at the time) and iron (although its value was not standardized outside of Mirabar). Trade bars were most commonly found in 1, 2, 5, and 10 lb weights (0.45, 0.91, 2.27, and 4.54 kg, respectively). Standard values were the following: a 1-lb silver bar was worth 5 gp and a 1-lb gold bar was worth 50 gp.[8]

As of 1479 DR

During the Spellplague, the relative value of coins remained unchanged. Around this time, standard exchange rates across the Realms were:[4]

1 platinum piece= 1 platinum
 = 10 gold
 = 100 silver
 = 1000 copper

During this period, trade bars made of gold became increasingly more common and supplanted silver as the weight standard for that form of currency. A one-pound gold trade bar retained its value of 50 gp.[4]

As of 1489 DR

After the Second Sundering, electrum pieces reappeared and were once again seen in trade. The relative values of other coins remained unchanged to those of a century before. Around this time, standard exchange rates across the Realms were:[9]

1 platinum piece= 1 platinum
 = 10 gold
 = 50 electrum
 = 100 silver
 = 1000 copper

During this period, silver once again became the standard for trade bar currency. Most common trade bars of this period weighed 5 lb (2.27 kg), measuring 6×2×1 inches (15.2×5.1×2.5 cm) and valued at 25 gp.[9]

Coinage Throughout the Realms

Nearly every major city-state and nation in Faerûn had their own denominations and minted their own currency. Not all cities minted every type of coin, however.[9]

Amn

Main article: Coinage in Amn

Amnian-minted denominations were the following:[7][9]

Calimshan

Main article: Coinage in Calimshan

By 1357 DR, Calishite-minted denominations were the following:[6]

By the Time of Troubles, in addition to the previous denominations, the following Calishite-minted coins were also in circulation:[7]

Of particular note was the silver-piece-valued ochre-tinted red worm of Memnon. Red worms were cast from silver and then coated with a dye. Old coins with the dye worn off were called "skinned worms".[7]

Chessenta

When this country was a loose confederation of city-states, most had their own currency. In the Year of the Fallen Friends, 1399 DR, the war hero Ishual Karanok unified the currency into one set of coins:[10]

1 bebolt= 1 "bolt"
 = 4 authokh
 = 20 gold "drakes"
 = 200 silver "talents"
 = 1000 bronze "bits"

The bronze "bit" was equivalent to two copper pieces elsewhere.[10]

Cormyr

The royal coinage of Cormyr was stamped with a dragon on the obverse and a treasury date mark on the reverse. There was no paper currency other than I.O.U.s which are known as "blood-notes" because they must be signed in blood by all parties involved and taken to the local Lord for the affixing of the royal seal.[2]

Cormyrian-minted denominations were the following:[2][7][11]

Although gold coins, the most common coin used by adventurers, were often called golden lions throughout the Realms, only the Cormyrian coins were actually stamped with the figure of a lion.[7]

Sembia

Main article: Coinage in Sembia
Silver piece-5e

The Sembian silver piece was triangular-shaped.

Sembia produced no platinum coins but readily accepted those of other nations. By the Time of Troubles, Sembian-minted coins were the following:[7]

Sembian silver hawks were triangular in shape. Cormyrian falcons and Sembian hawks were used interchangeably. Sembian gold coin designs varied from year to year but were always a distinguishing five-sided shape.[7]

The steelpence was introduced by the Sembian government to replace the silver piece, but it was overproduced and its value had since dropped to 1 cp.[7]

By 1357 DR, Sembia still minted the square-shaped steelpence, but no longer minted hawks or electrum blue eyes. The usual foreign copper pieces were also accepted throughout the city. In addition, Sembian-minted coins at this time were the following:[8]

  • gold piece: "noble"
  • silver piece: "raven" (still triangular).

Trade bars from Sembia were ingot-shaped silver bars dotted with copper and the Sembian symbol. They were considered "face value" and, besides the usual 10, 25, and 50 gp denominations of this period, trade bars valued 5 gp could also be found.[7]

After the Second Sundering, Sembia resumed minting electrum blue eyes and calling their triangular silver pieces "hawks". Steelpence and gold nobles were also still in circulation at this time.[11]

2nd Edition Currency

The 2nd Edition Forgotten Realms Adventures source book states that the FR uses the standard rates of exchange between coins as noted in the Player's Handbook 2nd edition:

1 platinum piece= 1 platinum
 = 5 gold
 = 10 electrum
 = 50 silver
 = 500 copper

Platinum coins were called tricrowns, plats, or pearls (in particular the Southern versions, which were officially named roldons).[7]


Shaar

Shaar Rings were made of sliced and bored ivory and hung on long strings by the plainsmen of Shaar. Rings were found in bundles, and each ring was worth 3gp each.[7]

Shou Lung

Shou Lung copper was any copper coin which was not immediately recognizable, and therefore declared to come from the mystical East and given a value of 1cp. Only a small number of these coins actually came from Shou Lung, or any of the Kara-Tur nations, but the name stuck. Shou Lung silver was similar: any unknown or badly worn silver coin given a value of 1sp.[8]

Trade bars from Shou Lung were slender bars of silver, definitely oriental in origin, that had made their way to the West. Shou Lung trade bars were worth about 40gp each.[7]

Silverymoon

The electrum moon of Silverymoon was worth 1 ep throughout the Realms but double that in the Silver Marches.[7][12]

Tethyr

Due to upheaval in Tethyr during the Interregnum period, Tethyan gulders, moelans, myrats, and zonths were only worth 60–90% of their usual value.[7]

Tethyr made use of two-gold-piece coins called "brakar". They also produced trade rings in 20-, 50-, and 100-gold-piece weights.[13]

Tharsult

Tharsult Statues were small art objects used in trade. They were made of ivory, jade, or serpentine and were used as coinage in that region. Most of these that reached the North were treated as curios and were worth around 15gp. In their native land they were worth about 5gp each.[7]

Zakhara

1 platinum piece= 1 platinum
 = 5 gold "dinars"
 = 10 electrum
 = 50 silver "dirham"
 = 500 copper "bits"
[14]

Waterdeep

  • A Waterdhavian toal is worth 2gp in Waterdeep and practically nothing elsewhere.[7]
  • A Waterdhavian Harbor moon is a special coin in the shape of a crescent, made of platinum and inset with electrum. It is used in bulk purchases in Waterdeep where it is worth 50gp. Outside Waterdeep the value drops to 2gp.[7]

Other Currency

Gond bells were introduced by the Lantanese and used in regions of the North, in particular in trade between worshipers of Gond. The small brass bells enclosed a loose ornamental stone which caused it to clatter. Each was worth 10gp on the open market or 20gp if traded to a church of Gond.[7][15]

Paper currency

Mercenary Cards were small cards of parchment about the size of a Talis card, marked on one side with the symbol of a particular mercenary company. The reverse was usually a handwritten scrawl from the troop's paymaster authorizing payment. These became currency by being found in loot caches, won in card games, or stolen from the unwary.[7]

Blood notes were scrolls, letters, or other carvings representing I.O.U.s and promissory notes from the listed person(s) to the holder of the note. Blood notes could be offered by individuals, adventuring companies, or countries and cities to cover debts. In common usage the debtor was legally obligated to pay when the note was presented. Blood notes from deceased individuals were not binding.[7]

Bela was paper money used by barbarian tribes to the east in Kara-Tur. In western Realms it was worthless and occasionally offered as an insult.[7]

A Letter of Trade was similar to a Blood Note and called for a delivery of a particular item or items to the bearer.

Trade bars

Trade bars from merchants were thin silver bars marked at one end with the value, typically 10, 20, or 50gp, and the other end had the symbol of the trading institution or coster which created it. An increasing number of these bars bore the mint mark of Baldur's Gate. Trade bars of the Iron Throne trading group were not honored by other trading organizations because this group was considered disreputable. Broken trade bars had no value but most merchants would continue to honor the trade bars of defunct institutions.[7]

Trade bars from Lantan were flat envelope-shaped bars of worked steel marked with the great wheel of Gond. They were worth 20gp each and used primarily along the Sword Coast.[7]

Trade bars from (Mirabar) were made of black iron and shaped like rectangular spindels(sic). They were worth 10gp in Mirabar and 5gp in the rest of the Realms.[7]

3rd Edition Currency

In 3rd and 3.5 editions of D&D, the currency system is in decimal form with each coin worth ten coins of the next highest value denomination:[16][17]

1 platinum piece= 1 platinum
 = 10 gold
 = 100 silver
 = 1000 copper


Silver Marches (Luruar)

Silverymoon mints its own coin, the moon. It is valued at 2gp and is accepted throughout the Silver Marches.[18]

Waterdeep

In Waterdeep a toal is a coin that is worth 2gp in the city but practically worthless outside the city. The toal is a square brass coin with a hole in the center to allow it to be strung on a string. A shard is the Waterdhavian term for a silver piece. Copper pieces are called nibs, gold pieces are called dragons and platinum pieces are called suns.[15]

4th Edition Currency

Coinage and Currency [in the Realms][19]
“Coins come in a bewildering variety of shapes, sizes, and materials, minted all over the world. Because such a variety of coins are in circulation, most people simply use whatever coinage passes by.”
“A coin’s value is expressed in the weight of the precious metal of which it is made. The current standard is:”
Coin Value (gp) Waterdeep Sembia
cp  1100 copper nibs iron steelpence
sp  110 silver shards silver ravens
gp 1 gold dragons gold nobles
ep 5 electrum blue-eyes
pp 10 platinum suns
“Coins are not the only form of hard currency. Many merchants prefer to use trade bars, which are ingots of precious metals and alloys stamped or graven with the symbol of the trading coster or government that crafted them. A one-pound trade bar of gold is valued at 50 gp, and heavier bars are worth proportionately more.”

5th Edition Currency

In 5th edition D&D the currency system follows the proportions of 3rd and 4th editions, with the exception of the electrum piece, which is again worth 5 silver pieces as in 2nd edition:[1]

1 platinum piece= 1 platinum
 = 10 gold
 = 20 electrum
 = 100 silver
 = 1000 copper

When trading, it was common for precious metals to be transported in bars. A gold bar weighing 1 lb (454 g) was worth 50 gp; the same weight of copper was worth 5 sp; 1 lb of silver was worth 5 gp; and a 1-lb bar of platinum was worth 500 gp.[20]

Standard Exchange Rates [1]
Coin cp sp ep gp pp
Copper (cp) 1  110 150 1100 11,000
Silver (sp) 10 1  15  110  1100
Electrum (ep) 50 5 1  12  120
Gold (gp) 100 10 2 1  110
Platinum (pp) 1,000 100 20 10 1

Instead of referring to the coins by their material, most people would call them by their original government-issued name, except for the ones minted at Zhentil Keep. The following sections specify the names and exchange rates of the most widely used and accepted currencies across Faerûn as of the late 1480s DR and early 1490s DR.[11]

Silverymoon

File:Silverymoon currency-5e.jpg
1pp= 1 "unicorn"
 = 10 gold "dragons"
 = 20 electrum "swords"
 = 100 silver "shields"
 = 1000 copper "glints"
[11]

In addition to these coins, Silverymoon also minted the crescent-shaped electrum "moon", valued at 2 unicorns (or 1 unicorn outside of Silverymoon); and the round "eclipsed moon", rated at 5 unicorns in Silverymoon and 2 unicorns elsewhere.[11]

Waterdeep

1pp= 1 "sun"
 = 10 gold "dragons"
 = 20 electrum "sambar"
 = 100 silver "shards"
 = 1000 copper "nibs"
[11]

Like Silverymoon, Waterdeep also minted special coins: the square brass "taol" was worth 2 dragons, but had no value elsewhere, so they were usually exchanged when one left the city; and the palm-sized crescent-shaped platinum "harbor moon", inset with electrum, was rated 50 dragons in the city, or 30 dragons everywhere else. Both coins had holes to allow them to be stacked in strings.[11]

Zhentil Keep

1pp= 1 "platinum glory" ("flat metal gem")
 = 10 gold "glories" ("weeping wolves")
 = 20 electrum "tarenth" ("hardhammers")
 = 100 silver "talons/naal" ("flea-bits")
 = 1000 copper "fangs" ("dung-pieces")
[11]

Appendix

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Mike Mearls, Jeremy Crawford (2014). Player's Handbook 5th edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 143. ISBN 978-0-7869-6560-1.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 Jeff Grubb, Ed Greenwood and Karen S. Martin (1987). Forgotten Realms Campaign Set (Cyclopedia of the Realms). (TSR, Inc), p. 9. ISBN 0-8803-8472-7.
  3. Mike Mearls, Jeremy Crawford, Christopher Perkins, James Wyatt (2014). Dungeon Master's Guide 5th edition. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 19–20. ISBN 978-0786965622.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Bruce R. Cordell, Ed Greenwood, Chris Sims (August 2008). Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 45. ISBN 978-0-7869-4924-3.
  5. David "Zeb" Cook (August 1989). Player's Handbook (2nd edition). (TSR, Inc.), p. 66. ISBN 0-88038-716-5.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Ed Greenwood, Julia Martin, Jeff Grubb (1993). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 2nd edition (revised). (TSR, Inc). ISBN 1-5607-6617-4.
  7. 7.00 7.01 7.02 7.03 7.04 7.05 7.06 7.07 7.08 7.09 7.10 7.11 7.12 7.13 7.14 7.15 7.16 7.17 7.18 7.19 7.20 7.21 7.22 7.23 7.24 Jeff Grubb and Ed Greenwood (1990). Forgotten Realms Adventures. (TSR, Inc), pp. 129–130. ISBN 0-8803-8828-5.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 Ed Greenwood, Sean K. Reynolds, Skip Williams, Rob Heinsoo (June 2001). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 3rd edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 91. ISBN 0-7869-1836-5.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 Kim Mohan ed. (2015). Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 13. ISBN 978-0786965809.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Brian R. James (May 2010). “Backdrop: Chessenta”. In Chris Youngs ed. Dungeon #178 (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 68–77.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 11.4 11.5 11.6 11.7 Kim Mohan ed. (2015). Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 13. ISBN 978-0786965809.
  12. Jennell Jaquays (1988). The Savage Frontier. (TSR, Inc), p. 7. ISBN 0-88038-593-6.
  13. Steven E. Schend (1997). Lands of Intrigue: Book One: Tethyr. (TSR, Inc.), pp. 14–15. ISBN 0-7869-0697-9.
  14. Jeff Grubb and Andria Hayday (April 1992). Arabian Adventures. (TSR, Inc), p. 85. ISBN 978-1560763581.
  15. 15.0 15.1 Ed Greenwood, Sean K. Reynolds, Skip Williams, Rob Heinsoo (June 2001). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 3rd edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 91. ISBN 0-7869-1836-5.
  16. Jonathan Tweet, Monte Cook, Skip Williams (August 2000). Player's Handbook 3rd edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 96. ISBN 0-7869-1551-4.
  17. Jonathan Tweet, Monte Cook, Skip Williams (July 2003). Player's Handbook 3.5 edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 112. ISBN 0-7869-2886-7.
  18. Ed Greenwood and Jason Carl (July 2002). Silver Marches. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 85. ISBN 0-7869-2835-2.
  19. Bruce R. Cordell, Ed Greenwood, Chris Sims (August 2008). Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 45. ISBN 978-0-7869-4924-3.
  20. Mike Mearls, Jeremy Crawford (2014). Player's Handbook 5th edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 157. ISBN 978-0-7869-6560-1.
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