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Currency

Discussion in 'World Building' started by Androxine Vortex, Apr 30, 2013.

  1. Androxine Vortex

    Androxine Vortex Archmage

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    What monetary system do you use in your stories? I've seen the bronze, silver, gold approach I don't know how many times and frankly am getting tired of it. I've read many books where the currency is named after kings or rulers (elder scrolls : Septims)

    In one of my books the people live under a very big brother styled government where there is no actual currency, officials of the government give every household a ration of food, water, and other things. But if people get signed forms requesting additional provisions they must present them to a court for approval. Since this setting is post apocalyptic and provisions are very scarce, these wavers usually go unapproved or the officials accuse them of forgery and sentence them to harsh work camps.
     
    Sheilawisz likes this.
  2. Storm Kesocascay

    Storm Kesocascay Minstrel

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    In Kaiyumi, where the culture is based mainly off of alchemy, there are a variety of currency.

    The Kaiyumae believe heavily in alchemy. Provisions and goods are given alchemic values that the science calls Mana. Mana is then measured into units of tens, ones, hundreds, and thousands. (there is no million because the only alchemic value for more than 999,999 Mana is the near approximate value of living essence, which is impossible to be given a value or made by alchemy.) The lowest Mana cost is 5 Mana, and the highest allowed is 800,000 Mana. (that amount is rare)

    So, technically; in Kaiyumi, the currency IS goods. All goods in Kaiyumi come with a list of all materials used to make it (ingredient label) which allows fair trade. Mana is converted into (first) pearls then silver (later). One pearl equals 1 Mana (back when 1 Mana was possible) and one silver coin equals 5 Mana. Later, cloth was used, similar to the dollar bill. The currency amounts were changed to;
    1 silver (called "Mane" [mah-NEH])=5 Mana
    1 papyrus cloth bill (called Mana)=20 Mana.

    There is no real "conversion value" for Mana. Prices and values are determined based off of materials used. However, $0.10 is equal to 1 Mana (estimate). Later, the value changes to where $1.00 equals 2 Mana when more advanced technology is introduced and the value goes WAY up.
     
  3. Sheilawisz

    Sheilawisz Queen of Titania Moderator

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    That is a great question!!

    The currency in my Fantasy worlds is rarely seen, because most of my characters are Mages and they do not use money. When the currency is seen (when normal people are around) it consists of metal coins, and silver is always the most valued metal even above the price of gold.

    I believe that there is something really magical about metal and coins, but I have also considered the use of crystals as currency in my worlds.

    You know those colorful crystals used as currency in Hyrule, from the Legend of Zelda games?
     
  4. Nameback

    Nameback Troubadour

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    Hrm...I find this hard to swallow, from a plausibility standpoint. Now, to be fair, monetary policy is something I enjoy and read up on as much as possible, which can be said of...basically nobody. But realistically, even the Soviet Union had a currency. It's hard to imagine a society of substantial complexity that has no medium of exchange. And, historically, even where currencies are absent, there's at least a barter economy.

    A complete command economy that used no money whatsoever would be disastrous--and not just in a dystopian post-apocalyptic way, but in a this-regime-would-collapse-almost-immediately kind of way. The allocation of resources would be hugely ineffective and would result in near-constant catastrophes, especially if it was as monumentally bureaucratic as you describe.

    I mean, how do people procure clothing, shelter, transportation, etc?

    Such a society could be possible, perhaps, if there was a huge and vibrant black market that the authorities allowed to exist, unofficially, that satisfied at least some of the people's needs.
     
  5. Saigonnus

    Saigonnus Auror

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    I haven't really got into it actually, since many of the cultures in my story still use the barter system and the few cultures that do have currency don't really make an appearance in the story or in the case of the principal culture, the characters thus far haven't been in a position to buy anything; they have to scavenge what they have.
     
  6. TheokinsJ

    TheokinsJ Troubadour

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    In every society there is a currency, for as long as people have lived. Currency does not have to be something you 'buy' things with, it is something valuable that is exchanged for other goods and services. Before gold and coins were used as a currency, cattle and pigs were, because they were valuable (and a source of food). In a post apocalyptic world, there doesn't have to be am 'official' currency, but what do people receive in return for their work? There must be some sort of reward-otherwise people wouldn't do their jobs. For example; the government officials or the people who deliver the rations, they would want some payment for their work- so the most obvious payment would be extra food/water or something, something valuable that they want/need, and therefor those would be the currency of your world.
     
  7. Chilari

    Chilari Staff Moderator

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    In my WIP, I've decided to make the setting very similar to 8th century BCE Greece - so there are no coins and everything is based on exchange of goods. I think conceptually they'd be moving towards the idea of currency by using certain items and commodoties which have values that don't tend to fluctuate as a form of protocurrency - willing to trade for even if they don't want or need it. Probably things like useful metals - iron and so forth - by weight, or more valuable foodstuffs that don't go bad, like honey, by volume. Cloth, too. These can in turn be traded for whatever you want to buy if the person you're buying from doesn't have that stuff.

    So when my protagonist is caught out after curfew, part of her punishment is a reduction in her rations, because she works in the palace which supplies her with a room and food in payment, and usually she trades some of that food for other items like cloth for making clothes from, wine, etc. But for a while, she's down to survival rations only.

    I'm having more trouble dealing with an illiterate society than a currency-free one, though. I'm so used to having things written down in stories. Messages now must be verbally delivered; laws are remembered by individuals whose whole life and job is about remembering the laws and making judgements based on them. It's weird, words being so much part of my life, to have them totally excluded from the world I'm writing in.
     
  8. My currency goes as follows:

    Marks
    Crowns
    Florins

    Marks used to be gold coins that symbolized a nobleman's right to rule his demesne. These lands were usually named Marks (hence the name of the coin). Over time, Marks were used to get loans (as collateral) to buy armies with. Eventually, the Mark became the highest denomination and more Marks were created for high-end transactions. This also the reason why a lot of lands bear the suffix -mark.

    Crowns and Florins are the denominations used for regular transactions. Florins is the catch-all name for a number of different silver coins. The florin is the standard and these other coins fluctuate around it. For instance, the Lonmarker Shilling is worth three florins. This makes trade between the different states easier. Each state can decide to make their own coin and (for it to be accepted internationally) has to choose a proportionate amount of silver to make it. Depending on the amount of bronze used, the coin is worth one, two, three, four or five florins. The name "Florin" is the last name of the house of traders that started using this standard over the harder-to-use system that involved weighing coins. Crowns use the same system as Florins.

    Prices are usually expressed in "Crowns and Florins" and using easy and fixed conversion rates you can pay using any local coinage you have. Unlike with paper money, it's not possible to just print extra money. You need gold, silver or bronze to do that. If a country creates too much extra money (thus creating deflation for the entire system) it's coin can be suspended by the banks to preserve the standard. Instead of making the entire system useless, it only makes that one coin useless. This is of course a very drastic measure that has severe political implications and can easily lead to armed conflicts. That's why the system is only used in the Reich and several city states that have mixed interests.

    I'm not that good with economics so if this system is very impossible, please let me know!
     
  9. Rob P

    Rob P Minstrel

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    Currency is one of those aspects of world building that can have as little or as much importance as you desire. There has to be something that's used to help move goods and services around.

    Personally I don't think it needs a complicated system if it does not play an important role in the story. If it is just seen as a means to an end, ie buying something then coinage is the simplest answer. However if it is important and matters in being able to procure rare items etc then more thought can be put into it.

    I did have an idea about procuring magic, quite literally go into a magic shoppe and buy ten days of grade 1 magic ability. Something about it reminds me of Discworld, though not sure why. Most origins of magic start off with blood, ie sacrifices so the price for magic would be your blood.
     
  10. CupofJoe

    CupofJoe Myth Weaver

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    D&L Eddings used currency to highlight the differences in the countries/cultures around his characters. The Tolnedra silver crowns were worth slightly more than the Drasnian or Sendar coinage because people thought of the Tolnedran Silver as purer and it was backed up by the Imperial Legions... The money was linked to people's perceptions of the nation. so the Murgo blood red gold was always thought of as tainted because it wasn't the pure colour of that from the Cherek or Tolnedran mines and because the Murgos were deemed to be blood-lusting savages...
     
  11. Ayaka Di'rutia

    Ayaka Di'rutia Troubadour

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    My fantasy world uses a variety of currencies depending on the countries and regions. I've made up names for some, and use real-world names (like credits and dollars) for others. There's gold, nickel, silver, and steel metals used for coinage, and there's also paper money.
     
  12. Storm Kesocascay

    Storm Kesocascay Minstrel

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    The currency in Zelda is Rupees. (kind of fun to say...RUPEES~!) I'm not sure, however, if they are to be diamonds or rubies. I thought they were rubies by the shape and the name, but it still makes me wonder.....RUPEES~!
     
  13. According to wikipedia the Rupee is a currency that was used in several South Asian countries. So they kind of stole the name there, it doesn't really refer to diamonds or rubies. Or perhaps they used it as some kind of wordplay.
     
  14. Wanara009

    Wanara009 Troubadour

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    Well, my project has many currency names, depending on the country. Some, especially the mercantile San-Tzu uses paper money but most other still uses gold/silver coins (or at least, an iron coin covered in the stuff) though called different names. One set of culture (based Renaissance-era Italy crossed with steampunk) used specially manufactured and minted bolts and nuts as currency while another (based off America Wild-West era) uses vellum made from the skin of a particularly rare animal with coins.

    Here's the thing about why gold/silver is used for money in the old world: they can't get devalued that easily. Papers money is easily manufactured, so they could get devalued very easily. If a country want to use paper money, they better have a tight control over it, otherwise they'll be inviting disaster. The effect would be more pronounced in country that uses trade to supplements itself.
     
  15. Snowpoint

    Snowpoint Sage

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    My work in progress has a weird rule: Gold Does not exist. If something is made of gold, it is because a god is connected to it. It is too valuable to be used as currency. And it can't be melted down to be used as electronics or jewelry.

    My WiP has 4 cultures with 4 magics. One of them is a bunch of lawyers and bankers. They invented paper money already. However it is only acknowledged in a couple of nations.
     
  16. Lunaairis

    Lunaairis Sage

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    In my fantasy setting they mainly use trade, but in large cities they use Links (They look like toothless keys) in the people keep their Links on a chain or rings. Links are traded in the same way bronze, silver or gold coins are. Gold is super common so it's used in the place of bronze. while steel is used as silver and fossil's in place of gold. All the links are decorated with gems in certain patterns to show what lands they were made in.
     
  17. Nameback

    Nameback Troubadour

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    Well, coins with precious metals can be devalued pretty easily too -- just reduce the the purity of the coins. This allows you to mint more coins with the same amount of valuable/scarce materials. What you mean, I think, is that paper money is more easily counterfeited, which would of course devalue the currency if it became too widespread.

    Interestingly, you could posit a society where there was a need for more money (a shortage of currency, leading to unemployment and an inability to buy all the productive capacity of the society), but the political elite was against it (because they had hoarded a bunch of money and didn't want its value to go down, even if the society needed just that). In this case, a good ruler might actually encourage counterfeiting as a way to get around the aristocracy. He would need to be secretive about it, of course, but the counterfeiters could end up being the good-guy rebels working to save society from the greedy plutocrats.
     
  18. Nameback

    Nameback Troubadour

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    Well, gold isn't really special in any meaningful way. It's just as arbitrary as paper money -- the reason it was so widely used in the past as currency is that it was fairly scarce and therefore hard to counterfeit. That, and it was pretty and people valued it in small amounts. Iron holds value very well also (in the ancient world), but making coins out if it would be difficult because it was so commonplace and easy to procure. Also rust. Also you'd rather use iron for tools and weapons, whereas gold is useless except for decoration and currency.
     
  19. Asura Levi

    Asura Levi Sage

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    Well, as screwed up as the real. Each 'region' has its own kind of currency. Silver and Gold pieces/coin are far more valuable and sign of nobility/royalty. Exchange between territories goes according to those territories relationship. It might be one/one or not, the basic rule is, you always lose when you use money for country A in country B. Exception goes for the currency of really powerful countries, whose money is quite good accepted.
    That is also a few exclusive coins. Like Jadite, used only by member of a very respect/feared religious-military order. Only member of the order might use it and those who are not, cannot. As the coin is enchanted and lose its characteristics in 'unworthy' hands. This one is used in one coin by product/service (if you need to buy a horse: 1 jadite. If you need a week worth of travel-food: 1 jadide, fix your armour: 1 jadite, and so on..)
     
  20. Dio

    Dio Dreamer

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    In the world I'm currently building I'm using a plethora of different currencies. I'm not sure how much of a bearing it will have on the actual story later on, but it's something I like to set up. Each country has it's own currency, many use gold and silver coins, some uses wooden or stone ones, and I have a few small countries that still only use the barter system. My setting has an empire than has conquered a large chunk of it's respective continent, and as a result has been muddled up with all those different countries' own coins as well as it's own.

    If I can't figure out a decent way to weave it into the story I may just scrap it all and use generic coins, or a more simplified version of my current system. So in the end all my work may be for naught.

    To anybody interested, Spice and Wolf is an excellent fantasy Light Novel and Anime series that heavily focuses on micro-economics, currencies, etc.
     
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