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When bartering for goods and services no longer meets the needs of commerce, the sentient beings of the Realms turn to using items with a more universal value, namely precious metals, gems, and some minerals. Metals are rarely found in their pure form in nature and require significant energy and effort to refine and purify them. In general, the rarity and the amount of effort it takes to produce a given metal determines its worth. Sometimes this formula is modified by a particular property of the metal, or by a widespread use (and therefore greater demand). The penalty for counterfeiting is death in most places because cities, kingdoms, and nations rely on the acceptance and trust of their currency.[1]

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.

1st Edition Currency

In the 1st Edition Forgotten Realms Campaign Set the kingdom of Cormyr is used as a representative example of a location with a standard system of currency. The names and values of the various coins are: Template:Currency table This valuation system is prevalent but not ubiquitous throughout the Realms.[1]

Cormyr

The royal coinage of Cormyr is stamped with a dragon on the obverse and a treasury date mark on the reverse. There is 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.[1]

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[2][3]: Template:Currency table

Copper

Copper coins are known as coppers, copper pieces, or, in Cormyr, copper "thumbs". Sembia released a square iron coin called the steelpense which is similar in value to the copper. In the south, Amn mints copper fanders and Calimshan produces copper unarches, radas, niftens, and spanners.[3]

Silver

Silver coins are known as silvers and silver pieces. Cormyan silvers are known as falcons and Sembian silver coins are triangular and called hawks. The two coins are used interchangeably. Amn mints silver tarans and Calimshan makes decarches, espedrilles, and the ochre-tinted red worm of Memnon. Red worms are cast from silver and then coated with a dye. Old coins with the dye worn off are called "skinned worms".[3]

Electrum

Electrum coins are not as popular and gold, silver, and copper, but do exist and are commonly called blue eyes throughout the heartlands of the Realms. Cormyan eyes are round, Sembian electrums are diamond-shaped. Amn produces electrum centaurs and Calimshan has tazos and zonths. The electrum moon of Silverymoon is an exception, being worth 1ep throughout the Realms but double that in the Silver Marches.[3][4]

Gold

Gold coins are the most common coin used by adventurers and are often called golden lions although only the Cormyan coins are stamped with the figure of a lion. Sembian gold coin designs vary from year to year but are always a distinguishing five-sided shape. Amn mints the gold danter. Due to upheaval in Tethyr, Tethyan gulders, moelans, myrats, and zoths are only worth 60-90% of their usual value.[3]

Platinum

Platinum coins are called tricrowns, plats, or pearls (in particular the Southern versions, which are officially named roldons). Sembia produces no platinum coins but readily accepts those of other nations.[3]

Other Currency

  • A Waterdhavian toal is worth 2gp in Waterdeep and practically nothing elsewhere.[3]
  • 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.[3]
  • Bela is paper money used by barbarian tribes to the east in Kara-Tur. In western Realms it is worthless and occasionally offered as an insult.[3]
  • Blood notes are 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 can be offered by individuals, adventuring companies, or countries and cities to cover debts. In common usage the debtor is legally obligated to pay when the note is presented. Blood notes from deceased individuals are not binding.[3]
  • Trade bars from (Mirabar) are made of black iron and shaped like rectangular spindels(sic). They are worth 10gp in Mirabar and 5gp in the rest of the Realms.[3]
  • Trade bars from merchants are thin silver bars marked at one end with the value, typically 10, 20, or 50gp, and the other end has the symbol of the trading institution or coster which created it. An increasing number of these bars bear the mint mark of Baldur's Gate. Trade bars of the Iron Throne trading group are not honored by other trading organizations because this group is considered disreputable. Broken trade bars have no value but most merchants will continue to honor the trade bars of defunct institutions.[3]
  • Trade bars from Sembia are ingot-shaped silver bars dotted with copper and the Sembian symbol. They are considered "face value" and typically come in 5, 10, 25, and 50gp denominations.[3]
  • Trade bars from Lantan are flat envelope-shaped bars of worked steel marked with the great wheel of Gond. They are worth 20gp each and used primarily along the Sword Coast.[3]
  • The Sembian steelpense was introduced by the Sembian government to replace the silver piece but was overproduced and the value has dropped to 1cp.[3]
  • Shou Lung copper is any copper coin which is not immediately recognizable and therefore declared to come from the mystical East and is given a value of 1cp. Only a small number of these coins actually come from Shou Lung, or any of the Kara-Tur nations, but the name stuck.[3]
  • Shou Lung silver is similar: any unknown or badly worn silver coin given a value of 1sp.[3]
  • Trade bars from Shou Lung are slender bars of silver, definitely oriental in origin, that have made their way to the West. Shou Lung trade bars are worth about 40gp each.[3]
  • a Letter of Trade is similar to a Blood Note and calls for a delivery of a particular item or items to the bearer.
  • Tharsult Statues are small art objects used in trade. They are made of ivory, jade, or serpentine and are used as coinage in that region. Most of these that reach the North are treated as curios and are worth around 15gp. In their native land they are worth about 5gp each.[3]
  • Shaar Rings are made of sliced and bored ivory and hung on long strings by the plainsmen of Shaar. Rings will be found in bundles, and each ring will be worth 3gp each.[3]
  • 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 enclose a loose ornamental stone which causes it to clatter. Each is worth 10gp on the open market or 20gp if traded to a church of Gond.[3][5]
  • 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 company. The reverse is usually a handwritten scrawl from the troop's paymaster authorizing payment. These become currency by being found in loot caches, won in card games, or stolen from the unwary.[3]

3rd Edition Currency

Sembia

The triangular silver coin of Sembia is called a raven. The five-sided gold coin is called a noble. Iron steelpence are used instead of copper pieces.[5]

Silver Marches (Luruar)

Silverymoon mints its own coin, the moon. It is valued at 2gp and is accepted throughout the Silver Marches.[6]

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.[5]

3.5 Edition Currency

4th Edition Currency

The platinum coin of Waterdeep is known as the Sun.[7]

Notes

Sembian coins have the arms of Sembia on one side, and the denomination (above) and the date (in DR) curving around a proof stamp [mint mark] on the other (yes, curving, regardless of the shape of the coin). Sembian coins often have a bluish tinge to them from being cleaned (of the grease they get on them from the stampings) by being held in a flame. The grease is deliberately "cooked into" the iron coins, to inhibit rust (it does a fair, not foolproof, job).

3. Modern Cormyrean coins bear the monarch's face and name on side, and a date, denomination, and mint mark [almost always a full-on bearded, hatless wizard's face, known as "Old Vangey," which denotes the Royal Mint in Suzail, but in about ten percent of coins two parallel crescent moons, horns to the dexter, denoting a High Horn minting] on the other. There's only been one minting since the death of Azoun IV, and these Regency coins bear the Purple Dragon royal arms with five parallel bars on its body, rather than the face of the infant monarch or of Alusair. Elder Cormyrean coins (eighty years old and older) don't have dates, but instead "first minting," "second minting," and so on, these numbered mintings denoting times during the reign of that monarch that coins were issued (there were eight mintings in the reign of Azoun IV, but three mintings is as high a count as most of the early kings got). They are otherwise identical to more modern coins of the Forest Kingdom.

Cormyrean coins are of very pure metal and heavy weight, and age well, Sembian coins slightly less so -- but the coinages of Waterdeep, Luskan, Mirabar, Silverymoon, Amn, Tethyr, Cormyr, and Sembia are considered the best-made in Faerun, and are most highly valued in trade.

Acceptance of older coins depends on condition and metal: gold coins are accepted everywhere at face value unless they're broken, unusually small, or obviously impure. Silver coins that have tarnished to black are seldom accepted, but if PCs clean them WITHOUT highly abrasive means that take much of the markings off, they'll probably be accepted, too (again, unless broken, impure, or small). For everything else, yes, go to a moneychanger (most cities on any coast have several).

Tradebars are widely accepted, because they MUST conform closely to a given size and weight to be accepted at all. They are the best way to melt down and re-use "suspicious" coins, because an existing tradebar can be pressed into clay to easily make a mold for the new one.

A 25-gp tradebar is a "brick with rounded corners" (squared corners broke off too easily, and unscrupulous persons deliberately broke off corners whenever they could, so the custom of rounded corners became the norm) of just over an inch thick, three inches across, and six inches in length. Calishite tradebars (also used in Tharsult, Tashluta and the Tashalar, and other Southern trade) are seven inches long, but both 'long sides' bow smoothly inwards half an inch on each side, making the bar easier to grip.

50-gp tradebars are the same dimensions around their bottoms as 25-gp bars, but are three inches thick, and taper inwards as they rise (to look more like our real-world 'ingot bars'), so their top surfaces are a half-inch smaller, all around. There are no (legal) bow-sided 50-gp tradebars.

A 75-gp tradebar is an inch thicker (taller) than a 50-gp bar, with no taper to its sides at all.

A 100-gp tradebar is two inches thick, three inches across, and nine inches long, with a central hole (for carrying or for passing a cord through, to tie into bundles). The hole shouldn't be much more than an inch across.

Proof and ownership marks are commonly stamped into the bottom surface of a tradebar, and don't affect value.

Very earlier tradebars vary widely in dimensions and value, but are either weighed and valued at that time when traded today, or melted down when they must be transferred from one owner to another.



So let me provide just two coins here, that are widely used in Chessenta, the Vilhon, Border Kingdoms, and Tashalar (primarily for trade convenience, among traveling merchants).

These are the authokh [pronounced "OTH-awk"] and the belbolt (usually known merely as the "bolt"), and they began as the coins of a single city of Chessenta (which one is now forgotten).

An authokh is a square coin stamped out of delmed silver ("delming" is an alloying process that stops silver from tarnishing by combining it with copper and certain white metals in precise proportions that have the side effects of turning the silver a translucent green, and making its surface incapable of taking a high shine, no matter how polished), with a small central hole to allow it to be strung onto a pay-thong or wire loop. On one face, it bears an engraved ring of twelve leaves encircling the hole, and on the other a ring of twelve radiating daggers. Although originally worth 12 gp in Chessenta, authokhs today are universally valued at 5 gp.

Belbolts are thicky, heavy gold coins of curious shape: a circle with two shallow, matching cut-outs in its edges, so the result looks like two axe-heads fused back-to-back with curved blades outermost. Bolts are worth 20 gp.

Authokhs and belbolts are accepted in Amn, Scornubel, and Westgate, but not in Cormyr, Sembia, the Dales, the Dragonreach, the Moonsea, the Sword Coast lands, or Tethyr. In Calimshan and Waterdeep, an authokh is considered simply a silver piece and a belbolt is classed as "a heavy" (a gold piece worth 2 gp rather than just one).



As for your measurements questions: many different local systems are in use (though "miles" is NOT one of them!), but common trading and therefore widespread measurements are: fingerwidths; "hands" (handwidths, of a mature human male); "arlshanks" (formerly the length of the Uthgardt barbarian hero Ar's thigh, now a standard measurement exactly equivalent to the real-world "yard" or three feet; Ar was a big guy; a Waterdeep merchant made flat metal plate replicas [stamped with his complicated proof-mark] of Ar's thighbone after the hero's death, and these now see wide use up and down the Sword coast and east along the Heartlands trade routes); wagonlengths; bowshots; halfday-rides, day-rides, tenday rides and halfday-hauls ("haul" refers to one horse and laden wagon, as opposed to "ride," which is one rider on a fast riding-horse), day-hauls, and tenday-hauls.

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Template:Cite book/Forgotten Realms Campaign Set/Cyclopedia of the Realms
  2. Template:Cite book/Player's Handbook 2nd edition
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 3.11 3.12 3.13 3.14 3.15 3.16 3.17 3.18 3.19 3.20 3.21 Template:Cite book/Forgotten Realms Adventures
  4. Template:Cite book/The Savage Frontier
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Template:Cite book/Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 3rd edition
  6. Template:Cite book/Silver Marches
  7. Template:Cite book/The God Catcher
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