In the civilized lands of the Amethyst Sea basin (Agthor, Callios, the Free Kingdoms, Gelendor, Malador, Port Vale, and Selenthea) coins are the primary means of exchanging wealth.
In the civilized lands of the Amethyst Sea basin (Agthor, Callios, the Free Kingdoms, Gelendor, Malador, Port Vale, and Selenthea) coins are the primary means of exchanging wealth. Barter is also important (and will be discussed in future posts), but coins are used extensively and at all levels of of society.
The Alliance Standard
Each kingdom and region mints their own coins, but all the coins in active circulation around the Amethyst Sea basin today are based on the old Alliance standard. Under this system, coins are made from one of three metals: copper, silver, or gold. They are all of a relatively similar size (around 18 mm in diameter) and weight (a median weight of 1.7 grams). The value of the coins in relation to one another is fixed at ten of one coin being equal in value to one coin of the next denomination.
- 1 Silver Piece = 10 Copper Pieces
- 1 Gold Piece = 10 Silver Pieces
Since coins throughout the region are based on the same standard, merchants in trading communities will often accept coins from other areas interchangeably. Outside of trading hubs, however, few people will accept coins that aren't minted locally. Wise adventurers will make sure to trade in their foreign coins for the local tender before setting out into the countryside. Coins can be changed at banks, although merchants and tavern keepers will often partake in money changing if asked. If in a trading hub (a market town, a port city, or the like) the fee is typically 10% of the value for the exchange. Outside of these trade centers, one may end up paying 20%, 25%, or even 30% for the exchange.
Counterfeiting and Clipping
Counterfeiting and coin clipping are problems faced by every kingdom in the Amethyst Sea basin.
Counterfeiting isn't as easy to pull off as one might think. It demands either the theft of an official die for striking the coins (a tricky proposition at best) or the creation of a counterfeit die, which demands a specialized set of skills. If the criminal overcomes these difficulties, there are two primary approaches to counterfeiting coins.
This first method is to use impure (and thus less expensive) metal to make the counterfeit coins. The result is a coin that looks like the real thing, but isn't pure silver or gold. Coin weight is dependent on the metal used, so it's relatively easy to spot coins made from impure metal. All it takes to reveal the problem is a properly balanced scale.
Another technique is to strike coins in base metals and and then plate them with a precious metal. This is a less expensive means of counterfeiting, since it doesn't require a supply of impure silver or gold, which is still quite costly. As with coins made from impure metal, a scale will reveal that the coins are counterfeit. Alternately, a merchant may strike the coin with a chisel. This will split the plating of a counterfeit and reveal the true material below the surface.
Rules for 5E: Creating Counterfeit Coins
If you want to start your own counterfeiting ring, here is what you need. First, you'll need a sample of the coin you want to copy. Ideally this will be a newly-minted coin with sharp features. If it isn't new, the check to make the die will be at disadvantage. Second, you'll need access to a set of Fine Engraver's Tools (see Equipment1) and the tool proficiency to use them. Third, you'll need the appropriate materials for making the die. Most dies are made from iron, so this shouldn't be too difficult. As long as you can find a blacksmith who won't be too chatty about your request for a die shaped piece of iron, you can pick one up for a few silver.
If these requirements are met, you can start working on the die. It takes 24 hours of work to make a counterfeit die. At the end of that time, make a Dexterity (Fine Engraver's Tools) check. The result serves as the DC to notice that the coin is counterfeit based purely on appearance.
On a critical failure, the materials are destroyed and the die is useless. Assuming you didn't critically fail, if you're not happy with the results you can make a single attempt to fix the die. This takes an additional 8 hours and allows you to re-roll the Dexterity (Fine Engraver's Tools) check. You must keep the new result. If you still aren't happy with the die, you'll have to start over from scratch.
Whenever a character tries to pass a counterfeit coin, the gamemaster should check the merchant's passive Wisdom (Perception) against the result of the check to create the die used to strike the coin. There is a always a chance, even without making an active check, that a merchant will immediately spot a counterfeit coin.
Clipping (or shaving) coins involves cutting thin strips off the edges of a coin. Clip enough coins and the criminal ends up with a decent pile of silver or gold shavings. Weighing the coins is the easiest way to prove they've been clipped, but a very fine clip might be tough to spot.
Rules for 5E: Clipping Coins
Ready to start clipping some coins? All you need is a file, blade, or fine pair of shears and a very steady hand. To clip a coin, make a Dexterity check. The result is the DC for an active or passive Wisdom (Perception) check to spot the clipping. You only get one shot at this. A bad clip can't be covered up, so you'd best be careful. It takes ten clips to get a full coin's worth of metal.
Punishment for Clipping and Counterfeiting
The punishment for clipping or counterfeiting coins is the same in every kingdom surrounding the Amethyst Sea: death. Perpetrators are often burned at the stake since hanging is considered too good for them. The most severe punishments for counterfeiting are found in the Free Kingdoms where guilty parties are dragged behind a strong horse until death. Exceptions are never made. Counterfeiting and clipping can seriously debase the value of a kingdom's coins creating a major negative impact on its economy.
Coins of the Realms
The following describes the different types of coins an adventurer is likely to encounter on their journeys.
Most people refer to the coins by their names, not their material. A merchant selling something for three Agthorian copper gates wouldn't say, "That's three copper pieces," but rather she'd say, "That'll be three gates."
Agthor and the Free Kingdoms
The appearance of the coins minted in Agthor and the Free Kingdoms exactly match the coins used by the Alliance. Each coin has a distinctive front based on its value, and the back bears the image or mark of the ruler who ordered the coin's minting. Old Alliance coins are still accepted in markets throughout the Amethyst Sea basin.
- Copper "gates" show a representation of an atlan world gate.
- Silver "axes" carry the image of a double bladed axe.
- Gold "horns" bear the image of a bull’s head.
The Alliance also minted a platinum coin (the "star"), which under the old standard would have been worth 10 horns, but the people of the Amethyst Sea don't have access to a supply of platinum today. Most surviving stars are melted down and used in jewelry or other art pieces. The star takes it name from the constellation of the bull which appears on its face. Incidentally, this constellation is not visible on Aetaltis. It is believed to represent a constellation from the sky of the atlan home world.
The first products for the World of Aetaltis campaign setting are set in Agthor, so Agthorian coins are the coins characters are most likely to encounter or own.
The coins of the Dalelands are minted in Gelendor by command of the ruling council. Each coin bears a distinctive image on the front and the date of minting on the back.
- Copper "loaves" have the image of a loaf of bread on them.
- Silver "vines" show a vineyard.
- Gold "gelens" bear the symbol of Gelendor: a golden plow.
The one Dalelander coin not in circulation are platinum "dragons." These coins are marked with the image of the Great Dragon Gelellynway. The Dalelanders haven't minted Dragons since before the Age of Darkness. After the fall of the dwarven deep mines to the Dark Hordes, it cut off the supply of platinum to the surface. Platinum dragons are almost twice the size of a modern coin. They're worth quite a bit, around 50 gelens, due primarily to their desirability among Dalelander coin collectors.
No matter which city-state a coin is minted in, all Calliosan coins of the same denomination bear the same image on their fronts (caravel, tower, or scales), but each city-state uses the back of the coin to display an exquisitely engraved representation of the minting city-state's current ruler. Despite the similarity of the coins, Calliosan coins are difficult to use outside of the state where they were minted. Trade wars between the city-states are all too common, so many city-states have strict laws about using another city-state's coins inside their borders. Banks and merchants know this, so the fee for exchanging coins can rise as high as 40% depending on the state of the market.
- Copper "caravels" have the image of the common ship used by Calliosan merchants.
- Silver "towers" bear a representation of the legendary Tower of Alantra.
- Gold "scales" have the image of a set of merchant's scales.
Deepland coins were minted by the dwarven kingdoms prior to the Age of Darkness. The dwarven kingdoms used only the purest ore, and as a result these coins are accepted almost anywhere in the region today. The markings on these coins can vary quite a bit, but in Agthor most of the deepland coins in circulation came from the kingdoms below the Donarzheis Mountains. These depict a distinctive image on the front based on their value, and the back depicts the image of whichever dwarven High King sat on the throne when the coin was struck.
- Copper "hammers" have a smith's hammer stamped on the front.
- Silver "anvils" have the image of an anvil on them.
- Gold "thrones" depict the throne of the High King.
- Platinum "fists" carry the emblem (a raised fist) of the High King.
Coincidentally, the difference in value between the coins is ten to one, just like their Alliance counterparts. Due to their unusual purity, however, they are worth twice as much as modern coins when spent or sold on the open market.
Scythaan (Wastelander) coins are marked not with realistic representations of places or objects, but rather with odd pictographs from the ancient form of the scythaan written language. The meaning of these pictographs is now lost, but by tradition the scythaas continue to use the symbols on their coins. Scythaan coins are also distinctive in that they have a hole in the center with a diameter equal to 1/3 the diameter of the entire coin. Since the names of the symbols are lost to time, the coins are simply referred to as scythaan golds, scythaan silvers, and scyhtaan coppers.
Newardine coins are marked with their denomination on the front in the Newardine alphabet and with the symbol of the Emperor that minted the coins on the back.
- Copper "Nemoks" are the smallest denomination.
- Silver "Kev Nemoks" have a value of 10 Nemoks.
- Gold "Bel Nemoks" have a value of 100 Nemoks.
Age of Magic
Occasionally adventurers recover coins minted during the Age of Magic. Like the Deepland coins, these coins are made from metal of incredible purity, and thus they are accepted universally. Most Age of Magic coins were minted in fey mints, and they are identical on both sides.
- Copper "lylyndrae" have the image of an open eye.
- Silver "silvysae" bear the representation of a Great Oak.
- Gold "allysae" are marked with the image of Lensae.
- Platinum "oryllae" have the image of a fey woman's face, although who she is remains a mystery.
Like their Deepland coin counterparts, the value ratio from one coin to the next is 10 to 1. Also like their Deepland counterparts, these coins are quite valuable, and may fetch up to three times the value of a similar modern coin.
As we're just getting started posting new material, there will be topics we haven't covered yet. In most cases you can easily read between the lines to understand the meaning, but we wanted to note some areas where we have expanded material that we'll be sharing.
(1) We'll share the full World of Aetaltis equipment list in a future post.
ART & ILLUSTRATION
- Art by Askley MacKenzie, Mitchell Malloy, and Mike Schley
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