Table of Contents
The most commonly encountered coins in the world of Therafim are the three basics: copper, silver, and gold, with the occasional addition of darkly reflective platinum pieces. Each of these coins is worth ten of the one just above it in value (so ten coppers equal one silver in value, and so forth), as is normal for the game, to make the math of economics much simpler.
It must be noted, however, that beyond these basic rules of D&D economics, there are several variations of currency found all over Therafim. For the most part, these differences in currency are provided for setting flavor purposes, as gold and other precious metals are measured by weight, and most coins, no matter what nation, are of sufficiently similar weight that they transfer well in all trade situations. In a few instances, though, one nation's currency might have special significance, have special rules, or might even not be usable in other nations. Thus, it is a good idea for adventurers to have a general idea of some information about the different currencies extant worldwide on Therafim.
A question that often arises is: how can so much gold be available to adventurers? This is a fair question, but one that, on Therafim at least, is easily answered. The first answer is that most of a character's wealth is almost certainly in the form of property, rather than coin, even if coins are what are listed on a character sheet, and this answer works well for all settings. The next answer is one more unique to Therafim, which is that Therafim is a living planet, and because it is infused with the essence of Matra, the mother goddess, it is constantly regenerating itself. Because of this, provided that veins of precious minerals, such as gold and adamantine, are not completely mined out, they will eventually regrow themselves with responsible mining practices. Though this process of regrowth can take years or even centuries, depending on the value and rarity of the metal in question, since there is already a large quantity of precious metals available on Therafim for those that know where to look, this is not a terrible significant problem.
Coppers minted among the elves are called autumn leaves, and have a distinctive shape like the leaves of maple trees. Silvers are snowflakes and gold coins are sunbursts, each having an appropriate shape. Platinum coins are called Queen's Eyes, and each have an intricate etching of the eyes of the elven queen at the time they were first minted on both sides.
Council of Wands
As a nation founded on the value of magic and money, it is no surprise that money in the Council of Wands should have magical names. Sparks are coins with a copper core in the shape of a six-sided star contained within a circle of steel; since it has a distinctive convex shape, it has the same weight and value as a copper coin. Thanks to their almost perfect balance and rounded shape, sparks also made good projectile weapons, and can be used as sling bullets, though this tends to destroy them as the metal parts making them up fall apart under great stress. Wands are the silver coins of the Council, taking the shape of a small rod of silver with a loop on one end, allowing it to be easily attached to bits of string or leather for carrying, as is appropriate for the most common daily currency of its citizenry. Gold tomes are small bars of gold, about the size of a halfling's palm, worth a gold piece each, which have a convex curve on one side and a concave curve on the other, allowing them to be stacked edgewise. Platinum coins are staves, and are shaped like silver wands, except a bit smaller and with more detail etching along the sides, making them easy to tell apart from wands by simple touch.
Empire of the Iron Throne
The Iron Throne Empire likes to keep its citizens under control whenever possible. Because of this, paper money is in high circulation in the Empire. This paper currency, called "notes," are worth varying amounts of money, usually valued in kingmarks, the normal copper currency of the realm. It is most common to find coins worth five, ten, and a hundred kingmarks, with a watermark and intricate painting on especially high-quality cloth paper to ensure its authenticity. Paper money is required for most dealings within the Empire's borders, and must be bought at money exchangers, and cannot generally be used anywhere else, though it can usually be sold back. Coins are also in use, though mostly for trade with other nations. These are the kingmark (copper), the viceroy (silver), the monarch (gold), and the throne (platinum), each stamped with the face of a past Emperor (for coppers, gold, and platinums, as well as paper currency), or else with that of a prominent past official or military leader (on silver coins) on one side, and crossed swords over a shield on the other side.
Most currency in the Freeholds is made of money that lacks special markings, but are simple discs of the different metals, making for ease of trade. However, some of the freeholds do mint money with actual designs, and the coins of the Freeholds take their names from these, even when they lack marks of their own. Copper bulls (from Dukeras), silver wolves (from Carloft), gold stags (from Killian), and platinum falcons (from Surr) are names in common use. The use of gold stags from Killian's halflings has also led to many gold coins being called "bucks" generally across Therafim.
Among the savage races of Godscar, money is at a premium. However, there are some forms of currency available. Baked ceramic coins are the most common currency, called marks locally, orcmarks elsewhere, which have the symbol of a powerful individual etched onto them, indicating a certain amount of credit owed by that person to another, usually in the form of favors. Ears, dried and preserved, are also a form of currency, demonstrating the sheer toughness of the person who claimed them. A mark is roughly equal to about five copper coins to determine what it can buy, and a properly preserved ear of decent quality is worth about a gold piece, perhaps two if it is the ear of somebody who was well-known, but both of these are of value only among the tribes of Godscar. Money stolen from other lands is also extant in Godscar, and these forms of foreign currency are those most commonly used. Bartering for goods is far more common, however, as is simple raiding to take what others are not strong enough to hold.
Kardruin and Thardruin
Besides dwarfblocks (see below, under Other Monetary Types), the duergar and dwarves share currency types. These all take the form of small links of chain made of the appropriate type of metal, each link easily bent together with others to form longer chains, which dwarves of all types will often wear as belts and bandoleers, and which duergar will often use to bind slaves, forcing them to carry the heavy wealth. Copper links are called clinks, silver ones are shackles, gold ones are loops (and often take the form of simple circlets of gold, rather than proper chain links), and platinum links are called fetters.
Drow money is some of the most common in the Underdark, even moreso than duergar chain money, and is named the same no matter where one goes. Each coin takes the shape of a simple disc with a bas-relief spider stamped into the coin. Copper coins are called spiderlings, silvers are fangs, gold coins are venoms, and platinum coins are called webs (and have a web design with a tiny spider hidden somewhere in the intricate etching). Most drow money for use between other drow, however, takes the form of jewelry worn on the body, most often in the form of piercings, worn either by the slaves of an individual drow as well as by the drow herself.
Avalon City has its own mint, and is also home to some of the most powerful and wealthy banks in the world, as well as the home of the head chapter of the Commerce Guild. Thus, the money of Avalon City is considered by many to be a good gauge of the standard of exchange presently in use. Never prone to bucking naming conventions, coppers, silvers, golds, and platinums are also the names of the respective coins minted in Avalon City. Each of these coins has the face of a past member of the Council stamped on one side, and the date of its minting on the other.
Besides these coins, Avalon City also sells letters of credit, which are generally used for especially massive purchases, and which can be of essentially any value, redeemable at any bank in Avalon City, or banks allied with those in Avalon City. This is considered an especially safe way to transport large amounts of money without actually having to carry it. Unfortunately, there are only a few banks in the largest cities on Therafim that will accept letters of credit, and so the practice has limited use thus far.
Ababanissa and Gila Kingdom
The money used by the people of Ababanissa and the Gila Kingdom is almost never actually minted by the reptilian peoples of those lands. Instead, the coins of those lands are among the very earliest coins ever minted on Therafim, by the first servants of the dragons in the primordial past for their draconic masters, before and just after they rebelled. Thus, it is common to see a variety of truly ancient coins in common use among these peoples, each coin magically preserved with the very lightest of spells so that it will never tarnish or lose its brightness and beauty. Each coin of these ancient coins has a small gemstone in the center of a wide, thin disk, so that it has roughly the same weight overall as a modern coin of its type, but without its magical protection would likely never survive very long, though its wider size and central gemstone does make them easier for dragons to pick up, despite their large talons. Kapras are small copper coins with a lump of hard amber in the middle; sipaks are silver coins with a facetted crystal center; auraks are gold coins with a small rose quartz crystal in the middle; and platinas have a tiny diamond in the center of a wide platinum disc. See dragoncoins in the Other Monetary Types section below to see what other coins are used by these people.
The Coutraman Confederacy makes use of a unique system of coinage. The Confederacies base coin is the Coutraman dollar, usually just called a dollar, which is a large gold coin with the stamp of the Confederacy (common to all Coutraman coins), worth about a gold piece in value. Next are quarter dollars, silver coins with a gold outer rim, each one worth one fourth of a gold coin in value, or about 2.5 silvers. Lastly are pieces of eight, smaller silver coins with the crest of the Confederacy on them and a picture of Ross Coutraman, the Confederacy's founder, each of which is worth one-eighth of a dollar, or 1.25 silvers.
Alazarim and Necropolis
The Alazarim Trade Confederacy makes use of the same ancient system of coinage used by the realm of Necropolis, except that, where Necropolis is not minting any new coins (though it does accept coinage from other lands), Alazarim still is, indicating its strong and healthy economy. Money in these lands has a stamp of one of the gods on it, selected randomly at the time of minting, though the Forbidden Gods only have their symbols stamped on the ancient money of fallen Necropolis. The currency presently in use are copper centimes, silver shekel, gold rials, and platinum pounds. These coins are in regular use all over the continent, and the copper centime is also the source for many people calling coppers "cents."
Though the feline beastfolk of Anubast use many of the same coins as the rest of Crescent, they also make use of the copper claws, the silver dinar (which can also be found in use in Necropolis, as part of its varied mix of fallen races), the gold lira, and the platinum dirham. Each has the image of a feline's face in profile stamped on it, claws having cheetahs, dinars having leopards, lira having lions, and dirhams having an image of Sekhmet seated on a throne.
While a host of different sorts of coins make their way through Bazram, making the jobs of money changers very profitable indeed, Bazram does have its own currency as well. More 'normal' coins include the copper kani, the silver anna, gold rupee, and the platinum kori. However, Bazram also has the bronze damidi (worth half a kani), the copper paraka (worth five kani), the electrum beda (worth five anna), and the golden pavala (worth five rupees, or half a kori). These other coins are differentiated from each other by their obvious size and weight, besides their markings, as each is covered in bits of the holy texts of the Bazrami mythological past.
Copper scales, silver talons, gold goldskins, and platinum eyes are the currency in Butasta, based on ancient dragoncoins (see Other Monetary Types, below). Scales and goldskins take the shape of small reptile scales of either copper or gold, talons are small, flattened talons of silver, and eyes are round, flat, eye-shaped discs of platinum. These coins, however, are not in much use, being mostly older coins from when Butasta's city was first founded, and barter is the usual way to get things in Butasta.
As an empire uniting many different factions of people, the Cho-Lin Empire has a large number of different currencies floating around, but only a few that are officially recognized. The official currency of the Empire are paper promissary notes called feiqian (literally "flying money"), backed by actual coinage owned by the state and kept in its official vaults. This paper currency is called chao, and there are bills printed worth one, five, or ten silvers, but only within the Cho-Lin Empire. Despite the popularity of paper money, however, coinage is still in high use, and is also used on the Raider Steppes, among the rival Cho-Han. These coins consist of the iron fen (equivalent to half a copper in value), copper wen, silver jiao, and golden yuan (sometimes called yen, depending on dialect), as well as the rare platinum sycee or yuanbao. The iron, copper, and silver coins of the Cho-Lin Empire are noted for having a square hole in the center, allowing them to be easily strung together, while gold and platinum coins have a distinctive oval shape and are usually bound with paper in stacks for ease of transport.
Currency in the Spiderlands is the same as in Zenomael, above (see Autumn Land).
The money of the yuan-ti all has a unique curved triangular shape, which looks somewhat like the rough outline of a fang. Appropriately, their money is all named after dentition and other sharp-edged things, with copper barbs, silver bites, gold fangs, and platinum claws. Also in use are gold-plated whiphandles, each worth about 10 gold in value, and long, oval-shaped plates of mithril called mirrors, each about the size of a human male's hand, worth 50 gold in value (the mithril is diluted with steel, hence its lesser value than if it had been pure mithril).
Mankatan money takes the form of simple rings made of sliced, bored ivory, usually hung on long strings and kept in bundles. They can take the form of beads (often colored) worth a silver piece each, or larger bits worth 3 gold each. Most wealth in Mankata takes the form of jewelry, livestock, and land, with Mankatan rings being used for trade purposes.
Besides dwarfblocks (see Other Monetary Types, below), and chain money (see Kardruin and Thardruin, above, in Autumn Land's entry), the dwarves and gnomes of Obsidia also make use of smooth-carved, oval-shaped pieces of obsidian, called fists, each carefully acid-etched with dwarven runes, and each worth 5 gold.
Isle of the Mighty
On the Isle of the Mighty, coinage needs to be durable to survive the many dangers that often threaten. Because of this, instead of copper coins, the Isle makes use of steelpence, a copper-jacketted steel coin, each of which is worth roughly one copper. Silver tiercels, gold eagles, and platinum falcons round out the monetary units of the Isle in general. All of these coins are noted for being smaller but also heavier than coins of similar types elsewhere, mostly because each of them has a very tiny amount of adamantium mingled with the rest of the metal, making each coin (except for steelpence, which is only copper-jacketted steel) nearly indestructible through the normal wear and tear incumbent upon coins. The giants of the Isle are especially fond of these coins, and cloud giants are even willing to mint them at sizes more normal for smaller folk to encourage their continued use on the Isle of the Mighty.
Among some coastal peoples, especially in Heaven's Tear, and also in the islands of Panoceana's Cargando Confederation, the shells of cowrie and some other shellfish are used as legal tender. A cowrie shell is about equal to half a copper, but only in these societies. However, there are also shells (not all of them cowrie shells) that are made of copper, silver, gold and platinum, each of the same weight and value of a normal coin of their type, though these are exceedingly rare on the surface, most of them found in use along the coasts of Heaven's Tear, especially in the Cho-Lin Empire in its more remote coastal areas. They are most commonly used by the merfolk of Dwellfast. Sahuagin, when they use currency at all, use such coins stolen from the merfolk, or elfcoins stolen from the sea elves they so hate.
Cold Hold is noted for its primitive-looking 'hack-silver,' or coins made out of other jewelry that was hacked up to the appropriate weight needed for a payment, and then pressed into a more standard shape, often with rather crude tools. Coins in Rimevast have a distinctive octagonal shape, made from pressing each side of the edge of a coin against a hard surface until it was mostly flat. The base of currency among the people of Rimevast is the silver penningar, which is marked in ten places so that it can be easily cut up into smaller parts, called farthings, each worth a copper by weight. Copper farthings can also be found. The gold coin of Rimevast is called the aurar, and the platinum is called the mark, so called because it always has a runic mark of the gods placed on it, to indicate that it is genuine platinum. All coins in Cold Hold have such markings, but only the platinum is considered valuable and rare enough to actually be called a mark.
Deals among the humans and beastfolk of Rimevast (most of whom are illiterate) generally are made using tally sticks. A tally stick is a basic contract where two parties draw the value of an agreement on each half of a shaved, polished stick, which they then snap in half along a marked nick in the middle. Because wood does not break evenly, the two halves will only fit to each other, preventing breaking of the agreed-upon settlement once the two halves are brought together, and both halves are handed over to the party that pays the other.
Compared to the rough-and-tumble people of Cold Hold, the hobgoblins of the Hordelands are agonizingly civilized. Their coins are copper dupondii, silver sesertii, gold denarii, and platinum aureus, and each is stamped with the face of one of their many heroes and present leaders, all in the name of propaganda as much as monetary value. The aureus can also take the form of an especially large golden coin, hence why its name means 'gold.' Because the goblinoids regularly invade regions to the south, these coins are in common use in many places.
The money in use in much of the Shatterlands, much of which is minted in the domain of the Red Mark, is very similar to that of Ababanissa and the Gila Kingdom. Copper Kapras, silver sipaks, gold auraks, and platinum platinas are the currency in vogue, thanks to the relatively large number of dragons in the area. However, thanks to the instability of the continent, none of these coins have gemstones in them, and are instead more solidly-constructed bits of metal of the appropriate types in the shape of dragon scales, with draconic runes etched on their surfaces.
Terratos and the Great Arena
The money of Terratos is almost all minted using facilities located at the Great Arena, though it is then taken by each city-state in the rest of Terratos for their individual use. Terratos coin is noted for being highly colorful, with very strong dyes merged into the metal at the time of minting, which also help to preserve the metal itself, making it harder to melt or break. Copper greentints are the most basic sort of money, with their distinctive Lincoln green coloration, followed by silver red worms, which are colored ochre. Gold suns are almost bone white, with a hint of ivory yellow, and platinum blue eyes are a brilliant sky blue.
A common form of monetary unit found around the Terratos area, and especially at the Great Arena, are swordshares, which are long, triangular bars of steel with runes on them to provide an indication of their worth. While they do not necessarily have to deal with gladiators, swordshares represent a 'share' bought in a performer in the arena. Swordshares generally cost 20 gold each, but their end value after a performance varies up or down, based on how popular the performance was, which comes from the sales of tickets. To determine the value of a swordshare randomly, roll 1d12. A natural 1 indicates that the show bombed, and the swordshare is now only worth 5 gold. 2-5 indicates a poor showing, worth 15 gold. 6-8 indicates an average show, which is worth 25 gold. 9-11 is a good show, worth 50 gold, and a natural 12 indicates that the swordshare brings in money from an excellent show, worth 100 gold.
The dwarves of Deepforge make use of chain money, just like their brethren of Kardruin and Thardruin. However, the Deepforge dwarves also use polished quartz crystals, cut to a uniform size to fit easily into a hand, and then stamped on one facet with the Deepforge symbol for dwarves, and on an opposite-facing facet with the symbol for duergar. These Guild Quartzes are worth 10 gold each, or one platinum.
In his desires for domination, Lord Lichtmaner has also minted money with his face on it, showing his many moods, or else his many weapons and styles of armor. Lichthamner makes use of copper Watchers, with a guard tower on one side, silver sovereigns, gold guilders, and platinum tyrants.
The wild lands of Northermost used to base its entire currency off of furs and animal skins caught in the wilds. Furs still form a strong basis of trade in Northermost with other nations, though the beastfolk have finally acquired sufficient wealth to make their own money. The antler is a coin made from the antlers shed by the Great Prince of the region and his children that has been carved up into the shape of coins, with an official stamp of two antlers set onto it. It is worth about the same as a copper in other regions. Milkteeth are worth about a silver each, and are made from the milkteeth of wolfen children after they lose them naturally, stamped with the official crescent-within-a-full-moon symbol of the Alpha Chief. The gold unifier coin has the face of past Great Princes on one side, and Alpha Chiefs on the other, always pairing rulers who served together on the same coins. Northermost does not produce platinum coins, but happily accepts them from elsewhere.
Most trade in Northermost is done with furs, with small, easy-to-catch furs, like rabbit, being worth about 5 copper, while harder-to-catch small furs or medium furs like mink or fox are worth about 5 silver each, and larger furs and medium ones that are harder to catch like wolf and deer are worth a gold piece each. Large and dangerous furs, such as bear or cougar, are worth 5 gold at least, and sometimes more. In the case of carnivorous hunters, the value of their furs is sometimes supplemented by a bounty that can be quite significant for known killers of sentient races, and less so for those that kill livestock.
Other Monetary Types
These are scrolls, letters, and carvings with distinctive markings on them to identify their issuers. Blood notes are IOU's and promissory notes from a listed issuer to the holder of the note, and can be made by individuals, companies, countries, cities, or any other organization. They are legally required to be paid upon presentation in all major nations on Therafim by longstanding tradition (they were first used by dragons), though some blood notes may have specific requirements placed on them that must be fulfilled before their issuer is required to pay them, often in the form of some task or quest. Being able to write a blood note is one of the advantages of being literate on Therafim, though it can also be a detriment if others are able to actually read what was written.
The coins used by dragons, or dragoncoins, are truly ancient in date of their first making, dating back to the time when dragons ruled the surface of Therafim openly. These coins were made specifically so that dragons could handle them, even when they had reached massive sizes. Because of the necessary large size of such ancient coins, and their rarity in modern times, they qualify more as a form of jewelry among other races than coins. These dragons are called scales, made of dragonscales dipped in molted copper; talons, which are indeed composed of a dragon's shed talon that was then encased in smooth, solid silver; dragonfires, which is a large, heavy medallion about the diameter of a salad plate and an inch thick, with a coiled dragon figure inside of it, breathing fire that takes the form of a spray of tiny flecks of ruby set into the gold; and platinum dragoneyes, which take the form of a solid orb of platinum shaped in the form of a dragon's eye, and about the size of a large adult orc male's fist. Scales are worth roughly 1 silver apiece, talons are worth 1 gold piece, dragonfires are worth 7 gold each, and dragoneyes are worth 12 gold.
Simple fist-sized cubes of precious metals, dwarfblocks are sometimes jokingly called the toys of dwarven children. However, they are generally used by dwarves (including duergar) for purchases within their underground realms, seldom being seen or used elsewhere. They are worth roughly 20 coins of whatever metal they are made from, either copper, silver, gold, or platinum. Usually dwarves will only let non-dwarves have their coins, and outsiders will only see dwarfblocks in passing, or as parts of Underdark treasure hoards.
Mercenary cards are small cards made of stiff parchment that have been marked with a particular mercenary company's emblem, as well as a symbol of the Morrigan, and a monetary unit, the last of which usually being handwritten by a troop's paymaster. Each is worth about 15 gold pieces. Since mercenary companies are used to their cards being gambled away, stolen, traded, and otherwise slipping out of the hands of their employees, most paymasters of such companies are not terribly concerned about paying for cards brought in by others, no matter where the cards might have come from, just so long as they have the proper markings.
Trade bars are bars of heavy iron or steel which are made to represent an amount of value to be paid by its issuer, who has a series of official marks stamped onto the trade bar to make identification possible. Trade bars are intended for especially large purchases, and so are usually heavily insured against theft when possible, and mostly only used for the business transactions of larger organizations and especially powerful and rich individuals. Trade bars are usually worth about 20 gold each, though there are some that are worth 10 gold, and others worth 50 gold, each trade bar being clearly marked as to its proper value.