Steel Pieces

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Havard
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Steel Pieces

Post by Havard » Thu Apr 27, 2017 8:06 pm

Can someone sell me on this concept?

I am tempted to ignore this feature of Krynn if I ever want to introduce new players to the setting. What are your thoughts?

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Re: Steel Pieces

Post by Dragonhelm » Thu Apr 27, 2017 8:32 pm

Havard wrote:Can someone sell me on this concept?

I am tempted to ignore this feature of Krynn if I ever want to introduce new players to the setting. What are your thoughts?

-Havard
You might check out this thread. Gerrin has some great thoughts, and Cam Banks gives more of an official view.
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Re: Steel Pieces

Post by Ashtagon » Thu Apr 27, 2017 11:08 pm

tl;dr version: I'd just use gold as the Krynn currency standard, and ignore the steel piece thing they've got going.

I always thought it was slightly ridiculous that you could melt down a suit of full plate armour for the metal, strike coins out of that, and come out at a decent profit.

I get that "no gold" and "no orcs" were the setting's "identity", but the steel pieces didn't really add anything, and made for a bit of a headscratcher.

Regarding that thread from the DL forums...

If steel is modelled as a fiat currency in which people trust it because it is backed by a strong national economy, we need a strong nation and trust in the value of that nation's coinage. The entire economy is one good coin forger away from being in freefall.

This whole discussion also ties into two additional points. First, money is valuable because it is "rare" (that is to say, in a strictly limited supply, not that is is hard to find anywhere). Second, gold (and silver and copper) have been used to make coins specifically because they are not useful (that is to say, its physical properties mean that it had no industrial use). Iron (and as a consequence, steel) are among the most common materials on the planet. They aren't particularly rare, and it was sufficiently plentiful that almost anyone with suitable tools could acquire some. Additionally, since iron and steel are actually useful at an industrial level, quite often the supply of the material will drop. As such, the rarity will fluctuate often, making it a poor basis for a currency.

Gold, in comparison, is very rare, and in any real-world situation, the quantity of gold is extremely limited. There are very few sources of gold, making it unusual for the supply to increase, and because it doesn't have any industrial use, the supply will rarely go down. To be sure, gold does get turned into jewellery, but that has always been as often as not simply a way for people to wear their wealth instead of having it in the form of easily-stolen coins.

(Yes, I am aware that modern high-tech industry has found uses for these "soft metals". This is why it isn't really practical to go back to the gold standard; the industrial uses for gold has led to fluctuating levels of supply, causing the value of gold to be too unstable to use as the basis for a currency. Fortunately, this is not relevant to the discussion).

I am also aware that in typical fantasy settings, gold is about as common as muck. However, while it is a few dozen times more common than on Earth, it is still considered to be of no industrial use and with limited opportunities to bring new sources of gold into circulation, so the supply and hence value remains stable.
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Re: Steel Pieces

Post by AuldDragon » Fri Apr 28, 2017 1:35 am

I basically agree with Ashtagon, with one exception: Copper is useful, in the alloy form of bronze; but it is also relatively common, which is why it saw use as the least valuable coins.

One other important element: Gold, platinum, silver, and copper don't rust; iron and steel do (and making coins out of stainless steel is a more difficult process than you really want coinage to be). Steel was used as currency in modern memory in the US--the 1943 Steel Pennies. This was done because the copper was needed for ammunition production.

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Re: Steel Pieces

Post by Big Mac » Fri Apr 28, 2017 7:14 am

Havard wrote:Can someone sell me on this concept?

I am tempted to ignore this feature of Krynn if I ever want to introduce new players to the setting. What are your thoughts?
I've seen lots of people bring up steel coins over the years.

It does often feel as if many people are looking for ways to "disprove" things in certain campaign settings (including Dragonlance) instead of totally suspending their disbelieve, accepting that everyone within the world thinks this is totally "normal". I feel that, if people look at challenging things from the point of view of an in-character sage who "knows" that those things are true, they might be slightly more likely to get some useful theories.

So, lets start from the premise that it is logical. If we start from that premise and run into trouble, then maybe you might feel that you want to ignore the money, but I think that the money is actually part of the overall theme of Dragonlance. If you drop it, you are loosing something.

The second thing to bear in mind that Dragonlance is not about steel money. That's specific to a certain part of the Dragonlance timeline. The entire "collapse of civilisation" theme that Ansalon has in the post-Cataclysm era. The steel money fits into that context. You have other things going on in that era:
  • The clerics have all vanished from the world,
  • The people have turned against the Knights of Solamnia and
  • The people have lost their faith in gold coins (as well as the gods and the knights).
If you look at it in that context, rather than taking the steel money in isolation, you can see that the steel coins are some sort of response to the massive failure in the forces of good that led up to The Cataclysm.

I think that it's just as improbable that the clerics would all want to die early and go off to the afterlife. And I think it is just as improbable that all of the Knights of Solamnia would be so useless that none of them could figure out a way to work with the serfs in their area and grow enough food to keep people alive. But, that's what Dragonlance is.

It's some sort of "fantasy version of Mad Max". And someone has stepped into the power vacuum and created some sort of new civilisation that works without the nobility, the clergy and the gold standard.

I would suggest that, at a time when money became valueless, and could not buy food, someone came along who had power, and that that person wanted to get the continent (or part of the continent) away from returning to barter. If promissory notes can work in certain real-world cultures, then perhaps a promissory steel token could work in an area where civilisation is being reestablished.

To me, the question is not - "why" - it's "who". Who decided to start making steel coins? Who was backing up the money? Show me that and I can decide if I believe it or not.
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Re: Steel Pieces

Post by AuldDragon » Fri Apr 28, 2017 7:53 am

Big Mac wrote:If you look at it in that context, rather than taking the steel money in isolation, you can see that the steel coins are some sort of response to the massive failure in the forces of good that led up to The Cataclysm.
Yes, that's how it is portrayed, but it is still illogical. Gold and silver have always been the units of exchange because, as Ashtagon alluded to--they're rare, they're pretty, and they're worthless for tool use.

*IF* people "lost their faith in gold" then silver would be the unit of exchange (as it was primarily throughout history; gold was for the wealthy and national-level exchanges). Using steel would only make sense as a form of barter; i.e. trading material that the recipient would turn into tools in exchanged for finished products. But then steel *coinage* would be a tremendous waste of resources. Steel trade bars would be common, and there would still be lesser non-steel coinage for small purchases.

I'm all for suspending my disbelief; the problem is that the economics of the situation would require changes to the physical world that are not in evidence on Krynn. Steel would need to take on the properties of gold, and something else would take on the properties of steel.

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Re: Steel Pieces

Post by Lord Sheriff Takari » Sat Apr 29, 2017 7:59 am

the Dragonlance world of Krynn is a unique location in the AD&D Multiverse
the coinage used there offers a different "Feel" compared to other AD&D Realms <Forgotten Realms, Dark Sun, Greyhawk Etc...>

ultimately it is up to the DM as to the Coinage in play in "their version" of Krynn

but I feel the real fun comes when Adventurer's from another Realm find themselves on Krynn and suddenly realize
their Gold Coins are not accepted by anyone and Vise Versa when Dragonlance Adventurer's from Krynn find themselves in another Realm
and their Steel Coins are worthless save for their value as Steel for production into useful items

yes we all know that Steel will Rust
but there are easy ways to protect those coins that don't easily rub off during everyday use
it is this coating that restricts the influence of Forgeries as without this coating in place
the Fake coins will in short order <a matter of Days> begin to show signs of Rust on them denoting them as fakes
so one's only chance to get away with Forged Coins would be to Forge a quantity <this is not a quick or quiet method>
then spend them quickly and clear out of town
mind you
a Coin Press is a large and substantial piece of equipment weighing up to a Ton or more <the only way to get a proper Strike on your coins>
this equipment takes considerable time to assemble and disassemble and most of the parts are Obvious unless hidden in an enclosed Wagon

those caught conducting the Forging of Coinage face Death <usually by the most grisly and gruesome format available that is NOT quick>

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Re: Steel Pieces

Post by Ashtagon » Sat Apr 29, 2017 10:26 am

By removing gold (and presumably silver and copper too, unless we want to suppose steel is more valuable than silver), we come to another interesting unintended consequence. What is the position of jewellery on krynn? If gold has no value, then a lot of what makes jewellery valuable will be lost.
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Re: Steel Pieces

Post by Big Mac » Sat Apr 29, 2017 11:52 am

Ashtagon wrote:By removing gold (and presumably silver and copper too, unless we want to suppose steel is more valuable than silver), we come to another interesting unintended consequence. What is the position of jewellery on krynn? If gold has no value, then a lot of what makes jewellery valuable will be lost.
Maybe it isn't (in the specific time period when DL swaps from gold coins to steel coins).

In The Cataclysm a large part of Ansalon (around Istar) was totally destroyed and many other lands were damaged. I don't think that Dragonlance is as "broken" as Dark Sun, but when there is not enough food, you can't eat a diamond ring.

I think that one of the "values" of jewellery in a campaign setting is that it is something that you wear that you can sell (or pawn) to get cash.

I believe that a lot of bandits sprung up in the aftermath of The Cataclysm (and that some of the Knights of Solamnia turned to banditry too).

I think there are internal conflicts within Dragonlance canon. I don't think they are necessarily continuity errors, but I think they can look that way to people.

One the one hand we see idealised charts of how the Knights of Solamnia work (as a force for goodness) in Dragonlance Adventures. On the other hand, they are presented as a broken organisation, largely controlled by people who have no faith in the original aims of the organisation.

On the one hand we see idealised D&D rules showing how the Wizards of High Sorcery control magic, from their towers. On the other hand, we hear that some have been destroyed (or never built) and that, at least one, is not accessible to anyone.

On the one hand we hear that the gods have abandoned Krynn. On the other hand, they get brought back in the first adventure, and then we get a host of detail (massive detail) about how every religion works. (Bear in mind that we are talking of religions going from vanished to large, in a short amount of time.)

Steel coins vs gold coins is clearly something that needs to be looked at in this context, IMO. Instead of having an out of character conversation and then hand waving the steel coins away, I think it would be better to treat them as "bartering tokens" that sprung up some time after The Cataclysm and then have nations try to reestablish banking systems after the War of the Lance is finished.
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Re: Steel Pieces

Post by Falconer » Sun May 28, 2017 7:05 am

It’s a bit of fun. STEEL is the only thing that MATTERS! It’s just to hammer home how post-apocalyptic and wartorn Ansalon is.

Actually it’s only in the Seeker Lands (where you begin in DL1) that gold has NO value and that you see actual “steel coins”. As you get into Dragonarmy-controlled territory (DL3 onward), gold once again has value, though steel (by weight) is still worth more than it (though it has less buying power than it did in the Seeker Lands). And in Solamnia (DL8 / Dragon #94) they have gold, silver, and copper, and no steel being used in transactions at all. It seems that silver is of stable worth across Ansalon. My working theory is that in a DL s.p. is equal to an AD&D g.p. I’ll play with building some equipment price lists around that and see how it falls out.
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Re: Steel Pieces

Post by combatmedicreturns » Tue Jul 18, 2017 2:39 am

RE Jewelry, I'm pretty sure steel jewelry shows up in Tales of the Lance.

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