Beyond the Shore: To Seek After Sadness
In an attempt to use real-world sources as a basis for this game, we will also be using real-world currency standards of the time (roughly 17th-century England)…which are much stranger and less “base-10-ish” than standard D&D currency. The three basic denominations of the time were Pounds, Shillings, and Pence. The simple solution to converting D&D prices would be to assume that Pounds = gold pieces, Shillings = silver pieces, and Pence = copper pieces. The problems with this are two-fold.
First, the conversion rates of Pounds, Shillings, and Pence are not base-10, and therefore do not match D&D currency exchange rates (unless you are playing in OD&D which did use such complex conversions). The official exchange rates are:
- 12 Pence (d) = 1 Shilling
- 20 Shillings (s) = 1 Pound
- 1 Pound (£) = 240 Pence
The second concern is that, in 1650, the average yearly income for most workers was only about £5. Most purchases were conducted, not in Pounds, but in Pence and Shillings. The Diary of Samuel Pepys tracks his life, and rise in social status at the time, and speaks (later in life) of having a net worth of £350 and a considerable (upper middle class) income at £40 per annum. D&D uses a gold-piece standard for prices, thus is £1 = 1gp, most characters would have zero buying power (they’d have to save up for half a year to buy a dagger). A typical tip or gratuity for a household servant was 1 pence.
Thus, it seems reasonable to set our base-line price conversion at 1gp = 1 shilling. This would give your average worker an income of 100gp per year (£5 x 20 shillings). At that rate, he would be able to afford modest room & board (1/5gp per night to rent a room), one or two trips to the doctor (at 1gp or 1 shilling per visit), and basic clothing and tools of his trade, with a little bit left over. Whereas Mr. Pepys’s £40 per year would equate to 800gp, allowing him to afford a home, family, and possibly a carriage, and wages for a maid. He could probably even buy himself a workhouse boy (white child slavery FTW).
Money in “Beyond the Shore”
Price Conversions: All standard Equipment is available. Prices are as listed. The prices listed in AD&D source-books are converted as follows. Note that, while we are using 1gp = 1s, other typical coin denominations have been adjusted for easier conversion, so some D&D prices (particularly for cheaper items) will have slightly higher or lower “real” prices. The copper piece has been set equal to the “Farthing” (1/4 pence) which is the smallest denomination standard currency of the time.
|Pathfinder Currency||Value in Pounds (£)||Value in Shillings (s)||Vallue in Pence (d)|
|Platinum piece||1 £||20 s||240 d|
|Gold piece||1/20 £||1 s||12 d|
|Silver piece||1/240 £||1/12 s||1 d|
|Copper piece||1/960 £||1/48 s||1 farthing or 1/4 d|
Money: Most exchange during the 17th and 18th centuries was still carried out in coins. Banks did issue paper “notes” in £5 and £10 denominations, but most people never accumulated enough wealth to need such things.
|10£||Paper||10£ (200s)||Issued bank notes|
|5£||Paper||5£ (100s)||Issued bank notes|
|Mark||Accounts only||2/3 £ (13s, 4d)||Used for real-estate transactions|
|5 Guinea||Gold||5£, 5s (105s)||A BIG coin, 1.5 inches in diameter, an once and a half of gold|
|2 Guinea||Gold||2£, 2s (42s)|
|Guinea||Gold||1£, 1 s (21s)||Standard slave-auction pricing, the auctioneer kept the extra 1s|
|†Pieces of Eight||Gold||8 s||Worth 8 Spanish reals, scored so it can be divided evenly|
|Crown||Gold or Silver||5 s||The most common coin|
|†Venetian ducat||Gold or Silver||1 crown|
|†Flemish gelder||Gold or Silver||1 crown|
|†French êcu||Gold or Silver||1 crown||“French Crown”|
|Shilling||Silver||1s||Also called a “bob”|
|†Spanish real||Silver||1s||Spanish, commonly accepted in the colonies|
|Bit (Thrupny)||Brass||3d||“Let’s get down to brass…”|
|Tuppence||Silver||2d||“Feed the birds…”|
|Farthing||Copper||1/4 d||“Wow! One whole farthing!”|
|Third-Farthing||Copper||1/12 d||Only circulated in the colonies|
† Non-Imperial coins are included as reference, as they may appear in treasure hordes.