Saturday, March 8, 2014

Stop Printing Copper Pieces!

In the current economy, the typical copper piece will cost a Dungeon Master ~1.21 - 1.54 copper pieces to forge! Bending down to pick up a copper piece is not worth the free action it costs! The copper piece and to a lesser extent the silver piece often go underutilized in games of Dungeons and Dragons. The copper piece is useful in showing just how poor the peasants are, buying livestock, and purchasing some starting equipment. However, after just a few levels, the players never look twice at just how many copper pieces they have. They sky-rocket into many hundreds and thousands of gold pieces. Beyond 2nd or 3rd level it takes massive piles of copper pieces to be worth noting. No-one should be able to carry that much copper or would bother except to melt down into copper for building constructs, or as make-shift sling bullets. Silver pieces quickly follow the same fate as player wealth rises exponentially. By all means, the players should feel powerful and wealthy, but I have always felt that adventuring was just too good of a gig in regards to a return on investment. If you can strap a shield on and wield a sword to survive one dungeon, you can walk away with hundreds or thousands of gold pieces.
Treasure! Too bad it is 40,853 CP and 6,498 SP, just look at the last guy that tried to carry it out of here.

I eliminated the copper piece from my game. I rounded up every value to the nearest silver piece, for some items it was better to sell them in a group at 1 SP. Then, I demoted all values down one tier, except for labor costs and the wealth cap for cities. Everything previously valued in silver is now copper, gold is now silver, platinum is now gold, and tens of platinum coins are the new platinum. In this brave new world of a silver piece standard, adventuring costs and ratios of wealth to magic items stay the same while normal labor and skilled trades earn ten times more. Taking up the sword and the staff is less of a sure thing, and adventurers really become the risky and crazy folk, so desperate for glory and wealth, that reputable folk poke fun at.  A secondary benefit of this change is that players have one less coin tier below them and an additional tier above them. For the first few levels they will deal in copper pieces and silver. A few more levels beyond that and they start to accumulate large sums of gold and a few platinum. If you add in astral diamonds, worth ten to one hundred platinum pieces, the players can strive even higher in their single-minded pursuit of wealth.

A quick guide to how currency might be used in this system:
Copper is for peasants, tavern drinks, cheap tavern stays, small livestock, and making change.
Silver is for skilled workers, town merchants, moderate taverns, medium livestock, and green adventurers.
Gold is for experts, merchants, minor nobles, expensive inns, large livestock, and mid-level adventurers.
Platinum is for nobles, rich merchants, higher level adventurers, and magic artisans.
Astral Diamond is for wealthy kings, exceptional magic artisans, outsiders, and epic adventurers.

If you should decide to make the switch, your players will not see any change to their relative buying power. The gear they normally buy will scale with their lessened buying power but if they are looking for cows and chickens they might be disappointed to find them more expensive. Within this relative earning/wealth disparity, it makes more sense for a small town to be able to pay early adventurers, or a lord-ling to bank-roll higher level adventurers. At 10% of their former, relative wealth, players can more easily fit into the local economy and can bend down to pick up that copper piece without feeling ashamed.

What do you think of this house rule? If you use this house rule or something similar, how does it work out for you and your group?

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