Sunday, May 25, 2014

Highly Portable Treasures - Semi Precious Stones

If you are playing with the good old "10 coins equals 1 pound" default in your setting, carrying around treasure, even gold or platinum, is damn near impossible at high amounts (at least w/o bags of holding or portable holes).

I know when I think of gems in D&D settings, diamonds, rubies, sapphires and the like come to mind, although it is more likely the party will come across semi precious stones, such as the tumbled quartz and other stones pictures above.

Even if the gemstone were worth just one gold piece, it's still smaller and weighs significantly less than it's corresponding coinage. Maybe there is a society that avoids metal coins all together, and uses quartz of different sizes and colors for monetary transactions.

Broken semi-precious stones would, however, be next to worthless, whereas melted or bent coins still have the value of the metal that composes it.


  1. the prevalence of gold, especially coins, always seemed over the top to me in the default D&D implied setting. I always change the monetary system. nobody lugs around sacks of gold coins.

  2. I often run gene under the assumption that precious gems are used for currency alongside coinage due the same of convenience. I don't account for exact coinage, just assume these stones are exchanged as part of the transaction and negotiation.

  3. Problem with semi prescious stones is they aren't as uniform as metal coins in quality but are still cool treasure.
    I say shrink those coins down to 100 to a pound. Gold and platinum would be about half the diameter of a U.S. penny (if pure or near pure). Silever and copper would be about the same size as a penny.

  4. My characters tend to convert all but a few coins to gems if they are going to carry their wealth, precisely because they are lighter.

  5. In my opinion, the 10 coins to a pound is one of the only very clear mistakes in D&D.

    More realistic is between 100 and 500 to a pound.

    At our table, we presume a less than pure metal and call it 100 to a pound.

    Coins themselves developed as a medium of trade because they are a compact store of wealth.

  6. 500 seems on the high end, pennies weighed (unsurpisingly) a pennyweight, so 292 per pound. A grout was 4 times as big, so 73 per pound.

    And of course the Great Recoinage of 1816 put it all nicely at 66 shillings == 1 troy pound (of standard silver), so 80 to a pound.

    If I'm going for a vaguely realistic game in terms of coinage I go with a silver standard - call 1gp a silver coin - 80 to a pound. Have smaller larger and smaller denominations as needed - keeping the same value per weight. And then for the *rich* and the traders have some high value gold coins as well.

  7. I also don't use " gold pieces." every nation or city state of enough importance has its own currency and a coin from A doesn't necessarily = a coin from B. And currency exchanges will cost you if one place will even accept the currency from elsewhere.

    1. I basically do this it actually makes some of my players angry as math seems, to hurt their minds other love it because gp and sp are boring and unevocative to them.


Tenkar's Tavern is supported by various affiliate programs, including Amazon, RPGNow,
and Humble Bundle as well as Patreon. Your patronage is appreciated and helps keep the
lights on and the taps flowing. Your Humble Bartender, Tenkar

Blogs of Inspiration & Erudition