JP On Gaming

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Gold is for chalices, Silver is for coins

The first time that someone drew my attention to how stingy and ridiculous payment in LFR was, I was at Enchanted Grounds in Denver talking to my good friend Wes about LFR. Our diverging views about the game I always found stimulating. Wes was telling me how ridiculous he thought it was to have an employer send someone to Zenthil Keep with a payment of 10gp per PC. I was stumped and could only laugh with him at the idiots who would do such a thing.

For the record, my ork Gurbaz was one of those idiots who headed to Gentile Keep a few months later...

Later, I sat down to write a MyRealms adventure set in the Moonshae Isles, Wes’ words echoed in my mind. MYRE1-1 Blades for the Moonshaes includes a trip from Waterdeep to the Moonshae Isles for the sum of... Yes. Fifty gold pieces per PC! I kept thinking. Man, is that guy cheap! He sends people across hundreds of miles for 50 gold pieces each! I’d never do it!

I certainly understand that there is a certain level of suspension of disbelief but still... Once the adventure was complete, the question of payment kept annoying me. I thought of a few things: have the employer renege on his offer and pay less (that did not feel right), offer one lump sum (PC x 50gp, although that did sound better, it was still unsatisfying) and offer payment in gems. None of those solutions felt right.

I did not like it but found no way around it.

I was talking to someone at Gamers’ Haven who always wondered why coins were minted in anything but gold in D&D. He said that in his game, everything was counted in silver. Silver being more common and harder than gold was better suited for coins. Gold and the fact that it is very stable (does not tarnish or rust) was better used as to create items such as chalices, cups and other items. It was such a revelation! He was right! I wish I remember his name, but I don’t. Silver coins!

So I got back home and looked at my adventure... Using silver coins allowed me to offer the PCs the same amount of money BUT increase the number, and therefore the sound of the man’s offer. Thinking about it... Silver makes great coins, leaving the rich to surround themselves in gold items.

Now, I can see some of you going I’m still getting paid 50gp to travel that far! The answer is: yes you are. But it sure SOUNDS better to be paid 500 pieces of silver to do so. Having run my MyRealms a few times by now, the effect is very noticeable and those PCs who are of a more mercenary nature feel they get a good share! The reaction of all was very positive.

Why not copper pieces then? It would give a bigger number but frankly... copper pieces don’t cut it. When people would offer 5,000 copper pieces to do a task, the word "copper piece" gets stuck in your mind as "worthless". Copper pieces are the Rodney Dangerfield of D&D... They get no respect.

Silver pieces are a good compromise. They increase the number of the payment and are still seen as valuable. So from now on, future Moonshae adventures will offer payment in silver pieces! You'll get a lot more coin for your services!


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