Friday, 29 October 2010

Money Matters

Exchange Rates:

As an established game world, Harn has it's own currency system that doesn't quite jib with that of 1st AD&D or OSRIC. For one thing, Harn currency is based entirely on one type of coin: the silver penny. Only a very, very rare few gold coins ever make an appearance.

Alas, this doesn't quite work with OSRIC, where the difference between gold, silver and copper coins is often quite important to the gameplay. Luckily, although Harn only has one denomination of silver coin, it does have certain terms which are ascribed to a certain amount of these coins.

For example:

  • 4 farthings = 1 penny 1d
  • 12 pennies = 1 shilling 12d
  • 20 shillings =1 pound 240d

So one pound is 240 silver penny's. A farthing, by the way, is just a quarter of a penny. Quite literally, a penny that has been cut into four. In the real world, a pound, was (apparantly) the number of silver penny's that could be made from a pound of silver. But don't quote me on that one.

For OSRIC-Harn, I'm going to extrapolate the above model, but instead of a penny representing 1 silver piece, a single penny is actually going to be a copper coin. A shilling will be represented by a silver coin and the pound will be represented by a gold coin.

However, the term “pound” sounds too modern to British ears (we still use pounds and pence over here after all) so we'll change the term “pound” to something more evocative of the past. Crowns are made of gold, so we'll call a gold piece a crown.



  • 1 penny = 1 cp

  • 1 shilling = 12cp = 1 sp

  • 1 crown = 240cp = 20sp = 1 gp

Of course, this doesn't quite match up with the OSRIC system, meaning that some items will become relatively cheap and others relatively expensive. Iron Rations, for example will cost 480cp per day. Enough to buy a ridiculous number of candles. On the other hand, the price lists in D&D have been askew for years, and no-one's game has been ruined by them yet. So, the standard price list in the OSRIC rulebook will remain unaltered, even if the relative value of the coins concerned has changed quite a bit.

Coins and Encumbrance:

One thing that will be greatly effected is XP progression. I may have mentioned before that in OSRIC-Harn I want to encourage an Old School style of game play; where characters actually avoided random encounters rather than wringing their hands together in glee at every sighting (as many do now). Therefore, I will either only be awarding XP for loot (at the rate of 1GP=1XP) or else I will drastically reduce the amount of XP gained in actual combat.

Needless to say then, this new currency system will make the humble copper piece even more of an encumbrance nuisance than it is now. I fully intend to abandon the old rule that 10 coins weigh one pound. Instead, 100 coins will weight one pound while still taking up 10 pound's worth of carrying capacity in any given container. A small pouch, which has a carrying capacity of 2.5lbs, could therefore hold 25 coins (and nothing else). However, these coins would add only 1/4 of a pound to the characters encumbrance value. A large sack, with a carrying capacity of 40lbs, could therefore hold a total of 400 coins. These coins would take up the entire volume of the sack, while still weighing a mere 4 pounds for encumbrance purposes.

Obviously, this means that the money carried by a PC will have far less of an effect on his encumbrance value than it once did. It will not, however, allow a character to carry more coins that he could normally, because these coins will still take up the same amount of space in his containers. A character can (realistically) only have so many pouches or sacks on his person at one time. What it will (hopefully) help to prevent is the ridiculous situation where an armoured character of average strength, carrying only a plain wooden staff, a dagger and a few hundred coins (and remember, ancient coins were the size of a pinkie nail) can be so encumbered as to slow his movement to a crawl.

So, to recap:

  • 240 coins (any denomination) = one pound of weight for encumbrance purposes.

  • 10 coins take up one pound of carrying capacity.

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