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Electrum was a naturally occurring silver-gold alloy[3][4] with half the value of pure gold: 1 electrum piece (ep) was worth worth 50 copper pieces (cp), 5 silver pieces (sp), 1/2 of a gold piece (gp), or 1/20 of a platinum piece (pp).[3][4][5][6][7]

A standard electrum coin was approximately 30.6 mm in diameter and weighed approximately 9 grams apiece (or 50 to one pound). As a bulk trade good, it was worth 25 gp per pound.

Value and terminologyEdit

Most of Faerûn used "standard rates of exchange for coinage,"[6] based on the silver and gold standard, with 1 cp worth 1/100 gp, 1 sp worth 1/10 gp, 1 ep worth 1/2 gp, and 1 pp worth 10 gp.[5][7].

Electrum coins adopted various names throughout the Realms.

Throughout the Western Heartlands, most electrum coins from abroad were called blue eyes regardless of origin.[6]

There are two special coins valued more within the city they were minted in:

  • The original shining blue crescent-shaped electrum moon of Silverymoon, a coin worth 1 ep throughout the Realms but twice that within the city itself.[6]
  • The harbor moon of Waterdeep, a cresent shaped Waterdhavian coin made of platinum, inset with electrum, and punched with a central hole. It was used for bulk transactions, one coin being worth 50 gp within the city of Waterdeep[7][2] and worth 2 gp[6]–30 gp[9][2] anywhere else.

"In lieu of platinum pieces, Sembia mints electrum pieces (ep) known as blue-eyes, each equal in value to 5 gp."[8]

Other usesEdit

The spell Khelben's warding whip used a pinch of powdered electrum as a material component.[6]

The spell Leomund secret chest could use a chest fashioned from bronze, copper, or silver with fittings of electrum or silver.[10][11][4]

Magical morning stars known as storm stars were crafted from electrum-plated steel. They could unleash a chain lightning effect.

An electrum mounting allowed witherite to be worn as a protection to necromantic attacks.[12]

Two notable tomes—The Chambeeleon and The Tome of the Unicorn—had electrum pages, with the latter also having electrum covers.[13]

If one of the twisted bands of a shoonring was made of electrum, this usually indicated that the ring contained multiple powers and enhanced the effects of the magics involved.[14]

ConversionEdit

AD&D (1st Ed.)[10]
200 cp = 20 sp = 2 ep = 1 gp = 15 pp
100 cp = 10 sp = 1 ep = ½ gp = 110 pp
AD&D 2nd Ed.[11]
100 cp = 10 sp = 2 ep = 1 gp = 15 pp
 50 cp =  5 sp = 1 ep = ½ gp = 110 pp
D&D 3rd Ed.[4]
100 cp = 10 sp = 1 gp = 110 pp
Electrum is not mentioned in the core rules, and common electrum coins are not mentioned in the Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting.
D&D 4th Ed.
100 cp = 10 sp = 1 gp = 1100 pp = 110,000 ad
Electrum is not mentioned in the core rules, and only a Sembian electrum coin (worth 5 gp?) is mentioned in the Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide.
D&D 5th Ed.[15]
100 cp = 10 sp = 2 ep = 1 gp = 110 pp
 50 cp =  5 sp = 1 ep = ½ gp = 120 pp

BackgroundEdit

The word electrum comes form a Greek word meaning pale-yellow, used both for the alloy and for amber. Properties of amber led to to the modern English words electron and electricity.

Electrum alloys are primarily gold and silver (20–80% of each), with trace amounts of copper, platinum, and other metals. When used for Mediterranean coinage, the amount of gold (40–55%) was lower than local natural alloys (~70%) showing that the minters were adding silver to reduce the gold percentage. The color of electrum alloys (described as white gold, pale gold, or green gold) depended on the ratio of silver and gold (white- or pale-yellow) and trace elements such as copper (greenish-yellow).[16]

AppendixEdit

See AlsoEdit

NotesEdit

  1. Some of the local names for electrum pieces given in the AD&D 2nd Ed. Campaign Settingcentaurs, and centarches; imply the 100/1 (centa-) valuation between copper and electrum that existed in AD&D 1st ed., implying that in real life, Greenwood came up with the names before 2nd Edition was released.
    The name decimes, implies the 1/10 (deci-) valuation between electrum and platinum from 1st & 2nd Ed. AD&D.
  2. The 4th Edition value for a Sembia-minted electrum coin is one of the only references to ep's in 4th Edition and is wildly different then anything listed in 1st–3rd, and 5th Editions.

External LinksEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. 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 2.6 2.7 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.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Gary Gygax (1979). Dungeon Masters Guide 1st edition. (TSR, Inc.), p. 228. ISBN 0-9356-9602-4.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Jonathan Tweet, Monte Cook, Skip Williams (July 2003). Player's Handbook 3.5 edition. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 112, 247, 308. ISBN 0-7869-2886-7.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Jeff Grubb, Ed Greenwood and Karen S. Martin (1987). Forgotten Realms Campaign Set (Cyclopedia of the Realms). (TSR, Inc), p. 9 & 56. ISBN 0-8803-8472-7.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 6.6 6.7 Jeff Grubb and Ed Greenwood (1990). Forgotten Realms Adventures. (TSR, Inc), pp. 61, 97, 129. ISBN 0-8803-8828-5.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 7.6 7.7 Ed Greenwood, Julia Martin, Jeff Grubb (1993). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 2nd edition (revised), A Grand Tour of the Realms. (TSR, Inc), p. 26–27. ISBN 1-5607-6617-4.
  8. 8.0 8.1 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Gary Gygax (1978). Players Handbook 1st edition. (TSR, Inc.), p. 35 & 50. ISBN 0-9356-9601-6.
  11. 11.0 11.1 David "Zeb" Cook (August 1989). Player's Handbook (2nd edition). (TSR, Inc.), p. 66 & 169. ISBN 0-88038-716-5.
  12. Ed Greenwood, Eric L. Boyd (1996). Volo's Guide to All Things Magical. (TSR, Inc), p. 54. ISBN 0-7869-0446-1.
  13. Jeff Grubb, Ed Greenwood and Karen S. Martin (1987). Forgotten Realms Campaign Set (DM's Sourcebook of the Realms). (TSR, Inc), p. 64 & 92. ISBN 0-8803-8472-7.
  14. Steven E. Schend and Dale Donovan (September 1998). Empires of the Shining Sea. (TSR, Inc), p. 192. ISBN 978-0786912377.
  15. Mike Mearls, Jeremy Crawford (2014). Player's Handbook 5th edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 143. ISBN 978-0-7869-6560-1.
  16. Ternary plot of approximate colours of Ag–Au–Cu alloys at Wikimedia Commons.
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