Coins of the North

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Contents:

Introduction:

What follows is a customized description of the coins used in the major cities of northern Faerūn. I could not find official descriptions for the coins of Neverwinter or Luskan, so I had to make those up from scratch. The official descriptions for Mirabar, Silverymoon and Waterdeep were somewhat lacking, so I have fleshed them out in my own way. I'm not an expert on currency, and I know that I've simplified the issue by treating all specie currency as being worth its value in metal, but this is as much realism as I can insert into the game without making it overly complex.

I have given the value of the different coins in terms of the standard D&D coin, which weighs one-fiftieth of a pound. The value of a Neverwinteran 'cog', for example, is given as two standard gold pieces.

Luskan:

The currency of Luskan evolved from the practice of chieftains paying their warriors with gifts of rings and other jewelry. In the old days, such items would be of varying weight, purity and craftsmanship. By standardizing them, though, they have created a form of currency that serves them in the city of Luskan and the islands inhabited by the Northmen. Such "coins" are not readily accepted in the other towns of the North, though, and to conduct trade with other cities they use trade bars.

The Northmen do accept the coins of other cities as payment, but they will not necessarily accept them for their face value. Doing business with a northmen is essentially bartering, and a great deal of haggling should be expected. Coins must be examined, bitten, weighed and argued over before they will be accepted in payment. Merchants always keep scales on hand for weighing coins, and they are kept honest by a law that punishes dishonest weights with the loss of one's right hand. The northmen are known throughout the North as pirates and raiders, but they consider it contemptible to steal from a man by such cheap deceptions. It is only honorable to take his money after you have slain him in battle.

Platinum: The typical Northman does not value platinum, and will not accept it in trade. The captains of Luskan know its value in other cities and will not turn their nose up at it, but it is only valuable to them as a means by which to conduct foreign trade. They melt it down into trade bars for this use.

Gold: Gold is the most valuable metal to a northman. Goods can be purchased for 80% of their normal value with gold. For currency, the northman uses different sized rings. Finger rings are small bands of gold weighing one-hundredth of a pound. They are carried either worn on the finger, through the ear, or on a leather thong about the neck, and are worth .5 standard gold pieces. Bracelets, weighing one-tenth of a pound, are worn about the wrist, and are worth 5 standard gold pieces. A wider arm band worn around the bicep weighs one-fifth of a pound, and is worth 10 standard gold. These rings are often broken into pieces to make change. Once broken, the value of a ring is suspect, and it must be weighed to establish its worth.

Silver: Silver is of considerably less value than gold to the northmen. They would prefer to receive payment in gold whenever possible. An item paid for in silver costs 120% more than its normal value. Otherwise, the silver "coins" are precisely the same as gold ones: rings worn about the finger are worth .5 standard silver pieces, bracelets are worth 5 standard silver pieces, and armbands are worth 10.

Copper: Copper is held in low esteem by northmen. Goods paid for in copper cost twice their normal value.

Mirabar:

Platinum:

Gold:

Silver:

Copper:

Neverwinter:

Neverwinter's coinage is as solid and dependable as its citizens.

Platinum: Each year, the city mints a small number of platinum coins, called 'plats' for use in bulk purchases. They are worth 10 gold pieces each.

Gold: The city mints an octagonal gold coin known as the 'gear', which weighs 1/25th of a pound. The front is stamped with the likeness of Lord Nasher, the ruler of Neverwinter, and the back bears the image of a gear, representing the famous water clocks of the City of Skilled Hands.

The city also mints gold trade bars weighing .1 and .2 lbs valued at 5 and 10 gold pieces, respectively.

Silver: The most common currency of Neverwinter is a large, silver coin known as the 'crown'. A crown is 1/25th of a pound of sterling silver, and is worth the equivalent of two standard silver pieces. It is stamped with the crown of Lord Nasher on its front side, and two snowflakes on the back side, one each in opposite corners. These are often split into two 'half-crowns' by cutting the coin across the corners, forming two triangular pieces worth one standard silver. The are also sometimes split into 'bits' by cutting a crown into quarters, making four triangular shaped coins.

The city also mints a one-pound trade bar worth fifty silver pieces (or five gold). It is stamped with the city emblem and the silver content of the bar.

Copper: The city mints copper coins that are worth one-tenth of a crown, and are called thumbs.

Silverymoon:

As the namesake of the city, silver is in high demand for jewelry and decorations in Silverymoon and the surrounding area, known as the Silver Marches. Almost every public building is replete with white marble inlaid with the silver crescent moon emblem of the city. For this reason, silver is twice as valuable in Silverymoon. The currency is almost entirely based on silver.

Platinum: The city mints a small number of six-sided, star-shaped platinum coins called 'moonstars', which weigh .024 lbs, and are worth 1.2 standard platinum pieces.

Gold: Silverymoon does not mint a pure gold coin. The closest is its 'electrum moon', which is a crescent-shaped coin made from an alloy of gold and silver. It is worth the same as 1 standard gold within the city and surrounding region. Outside the Silver Marches, merchants are wary of the coin and will only accept it as worth .5 standard gold.

Silver: The city mints three different silver coins. As noted before, each is worth twice its standard value within the city and surrounding region. The first is a round coin stamped with the Lady Alustriel on the face side, and a rampant unicorn beneath a full moon on the back. Called , these coins weigh .02 lbs and are valued elsewhere at 1 standard silver piece.

The second is shaped like a crescent moon and is decorated front and back with elven script. Known as 'silver moons', they weigh .01 lbs, and are worth .5 standard silver pieces elsewhere in the North.

The third is a finger-nail sized coin that is stamped with the Dethek rune for '1' on the front side, and 'one' spelled out in Dethek runes on the back side. These tiny coins weigh just one-thousandth of a pound, and are worth .05 standard silver pieces elsewhere in the North.

Copper: Silverymoon does not mint a copper coin.

Special Coins:

Eclipsed Moon: The eclipsed moon is merely an electrum moon stamped into a large silver coin to make a round coin. It is heavy and unwieldly, and not very popular outside the Silver Marches. Within the Silver Marches, it is worth 2.5 standard gold pieces. Beyond the borders of the Silver Marches it is worth only 1 standard gold.

Waterdeep[1]:

The city mints its own coins from its treasury, which it uses to pay its soldiers and conduct business. The coins issued by the city meet the highest standards of purity and weight for specie, and can be spent for their face value anywhere in Faerūn.

Platinum: The city does not mint a platinum coin, preferring to use gold bars or harbor moons (see below) for bulk purchases instead. It does, however, create a small number of platinum trade bars each year worth 100 gold pieces.

Gold: The city mints a round gold coin known as 'dragons' and weighing 1/50th of a pound. The back is stamped with the familiar emblem of the city, a crescent moon over water, and the front is stamped with the form of a rampant dragon. The city also mints gold trade bars of 10-, 25- and 50-gp weight. The bars are stamped with the city emblem, and the weight and gold content of the bars.

Silver: The city mints ten-sided silver coins known as 'griffons' in honor of the griffon riders who patrol the city's skies. Worth one-tenth of a gold dragon, they bear the emblem of the city on the back and a rampant griffon on the front. Also in circulation are half-griffons, which are the same coin but with a round hole in the center making them half the weight of the griffon; and 'claws' which are griffons that have been cut into ten triangular pieces.

The city also mints a one-pound trade bar worth fifty silver pieces (or five gold). It is stamped with the city emblem and the silver content of the bar.

Copper: The city mints copper coins that are worth one-tenth of a silver, and are called coppers, or nibs.

Special Coins:

Taol: The taol[2] (pronounced 'tail') is a square brass coin with a hole bored in the center that is commonly used in the City of Splendors. The coin was issued after the Time of Troubles when Waterdeep was in dire financial straits. The city saw a great deal of devastation during that time, and there was much rebuilding that needed to be done. To raise money for reconstruction, the city minted the brass taol and sold them for one gold piece each, promising to redeem them for four gold pieces each in the year NR 351 (DR 1383). The value of the coins has fluctuated over the years, and at first shops would not accept them. It is now worth 2 gp at any shop in the city. Its value drops by half once one passes beyond a day's ride of the city, though, and outside the Waterdeep region it is totally worthless.

Harbor Moon: This coin is struck in the shape of a crescent and made of platinum inset with electrum. Issued by a consortium of banking and moneylending houses, this coin is used to make bulk purchases within the city. It can be redeemed for 50 gold dragons at any of the participating banking houses, and the shops of the city will also accept it in payment. It retains its value in the shops of the adjacent towns and villages within a day's ride of the city. Beyond that, one can find select merchants who will redeem the coins for 40 gold pieces anywhere within the greater Waterdeep region. They ship them in bulk to Waterdeep and make a profit redeeming them at the banking house of issue. Outside the Waterdeep region, such trade is more risky, and it becomes harder to find merchants who will accept it at any price. In such places, its value drops to the value of its constituent metal, the equivalent of two standard gold pieces.

Summary:

The tables below summarize conversion values for the various coins. The values given are the worth of the coin in its city or region of origin. Where that value differs outside the region of origin, the alternative value is given in a footnote to the table.

Platinum Coins:

CountryCoinWeight (lbs)Value in SCPValue in SSPValue in SGPValue in SPP
LuskanN/A----------
Mirabar
NeverwinterPlats.021000100101
SilverymoonMoonstar.0241200120121.2
WaterdeepN/A----------

Gold Coins:

CountryCoinWeight (lbs)Value in SCPValue in SSPValue in SGPValue in SPP
LuskanRing.01505.5.05
"Bracelet.1500505.5
"Armband.21000100101
Mirabar
NeverwinterGear.04200202.2
"Cog.005252.5.25.025
SilverymoonElectrum Moon.02100101.1
WaterdeepDragon.02100101.1

Silver Coins:

CountryCoinWeight (lbs)Value in SCPValue in SSPValue in SGPValue in SPP
LuskanRing.015.5.05.005
"Bracelet.1505.5.05
"Armband.2100101.1
Mirabar
NeverwinterCrown.04202.2.02
"Half-crown.02101.1.01
"Bit.015.5.05.005
Silverymoon*Unicorn.02202.2.02
"Silver Moon.01101.1.01
"Tear.0011.1.01.001
WaterdeepGriffon.02101.1.01
"Eye.015.5.05.005
"Claw.0021.1.01.001

*Silver coins minted in Silverymoon are worth half as much outside the Silver Marches.

Copper Coins:

CountryCoinWeight (lbs)Value in SCPValue in SSPValue in SGPValue in SPP
LuskanBracelet.15.5.05.05
"Armband.2101.1.01
Mirabar
NeverwinterThumb.021.1.01.001
SilverymoonN/A----------
WaterdeepNib.021.1.01.001

Special Coins:

CountryCoinWeight (lbs)Value in SCPValue in SSPValue in SGPValue in SPP
LuskanN/A----------
Mirabar
NeverwinterN/A----------
SilverymoonEclipsed Moon.175250252.5.25
WaterdeepTaol.02200202.2
"Harbor Moon.045000500505

Footnotes:

1. I depart from official sources by refusing to have Waterdeep issue anything other than a respectable coinage. The taols and harbor moons of the sourcebooks do not appear to be backed by real specie in any way. People won't accept a brass coin as the equivalent of two gold pieces unles either a) they have a gun (or sword) to their head; or b) the coin is readibly convertible into gold. If it is easy to convert into gold, then what makes it preferable to gold? I've come up with my own explanations for the coins, and I think it makes a little more sense.

2.The name of this coin is rendered in some sources as 'toal'. It was spelled 'taol' in the City of Splendors Box set, though, and that is the spelling I've always used. The 3e FRCS has it as 'toal', so that is probably the correct spelling, but I like 'taol' better... no pun intended.