Savage Coast Economics

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Cthulhudrew
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Savage Coast Economics

Post by Cthulhudrew » Sat Jan 02, 2010 8:43 am

The introductory articles to the Savage Coast, with Dragon 171's City States article, has a very different economic system from that which came along later. That system, created by Bruce Heard, is based around what I'll term the "Cinnabryl Standard" rather than the Gold Standard of the eastern countries (and, indeed, D&D in general). Which makes sense, given the importance of that metal to the region.

(For those not in the know, a brief breakdown of the Cinnabryl Standard:)

Code: Select all

		          DK	 DM	FR    BR    CI
Dark (dk)   =	1	  1/10 1/100 1/500 1/5000
Dim (dm)    =	10	 1	 1/10  1/50  1/500
Fair (fr)   =	100	10	1	  1/5   1/50
Bright (br) =	500	50	5	  1     1/10
Pure* (ci)  =   5000  500  50    10    1
A Bright is a mixture of undepleted cinnabryl (uc) and silver; a Fair is a mix of uc and copper; a Dim is a depleted Bright; and a Dark is a depleted Fair. Gold and Platinum (and other metals) are not highly valued on the Savage Coast. Pure Cinnabryl (100% uc) is not minted; if it were, this is what its equivalent exchange value would be.

However, the Savage Coast campaign setting assumes a rather more traditional Gold Standard economic system for the nations of the SC, complete with giving culture specific names to their equivalent currency. (The SCCS even renamed the coinage of Slagovich from the Dragon article names.) Presumably, this option was chosen simply for ease of transition between standard D&D gaming (and equipment tables), though it sacrifices some of the uniqueness of the region.

A few questions:

1) How have others dealt with the discrepancy in their games, if at all?

2) If adopting the Cinnabryl Standard, how would you suggest combining the Savage Coast rules? Would you simply reassign the names of the country specific coinage to their equivalent Cinnabryl Standard? EG:

Code: Select all

Coin Baronies Slagovich Eusdria  Robrenn Renardy Bellayne Herath Nimmur
DK   Centa    Stonik    Groschen --      Sou     Penny    Zet    Unu
DM   Dies     Viller    --       Groat   ƒcu     Shilling Rezhna Eshuk
FR   Medio    Levu      Taler    --      --      Quid     --     --
BR   Oro      Korun     Geld     --      Renár   Pound    Vaim   Ver
CI   Real     Halav     --       --      Roi     Crown    Rach   --
(The problem with this system, of course, would be that there are only four actual minted types of coinage in the Cinnabryl Standard; so the CI row would not/should not exist.)

3) How to deal with differing economics of differing rules systems? The Cinnabryl Standard conforms to the BECMI and AD&D Gold Standard (with the absence of a Platinum Piece, since Pure Cinnabryl is not minted as coins), but 3E and I believe 4E removed the Electrum Piece from circulation, and changed to a strict 10ths progression, eliminating the 5ths. Since the Cinnabryl Standard removes the PP equivalent, but has the EP equivalent as a major part of its system, should the exchange rates be maintained as is, or should one simply shift standards to something like the following?

Code: Select all

PP = BR
GP = FR
SP = DM
CP = DK 
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Re: Savage Coast Economics

Post by Ashtagon » Sat Jan 02, 2010 9:18 am

First off, Bellyane. A "pound" is a "quid". No exceptions. Using the two words for different units will cause confusion. Pound is to quid as dollar is to buck.

My normal rule of thumb when converting between game currency systems is as follows...

First, determine which coin is the primary currency for each currency system. This is the gold piece in most D&D games, but could be something else, such as the tael (?) from 1E Oriental Adventures, the crown from WFRP, or the "buck" from GURPS. Convert all prices into this primary unit.

Next, determine a primary currency unit in the new system, and decide on an exchange rate. At this point, its a simple maths equation to convert everything.

Next, identify those items that have an odd value, either because of recurring fractions, or because it would be better expressed in a different currency unit in the new system. This normally requires an eyeball check.

Finally, run an eyeball check to see if there is anything that looks wildly out of place price-wise and could potentially unbalance things if left alone. Adjust these by GM fiat as necessary.

The above system is the rule of thumb I adopted when converting 2E prices to 3E, which played around with the value relationships between silver and gold. It also works if you decide to adopt a silver standard, where the copper:silver:gold relationship is 10,000:100:1 (and silver is of course the primary coin on that standard).

However in this specific case...

Almost every piece of equipment is already defined in both BECMI/Dragon and in the SC boxed set. As such, with the exception of muskets and rotary hand crossbows, no conversion is necessary. The holes in the newer system from some precious metals being missing is far less important than you might think. The only caveat is that the treasure tables will need adjusting if you randomly generate a coin type that doesn't exist. For example, if you generate a hoard of electrum, just make it half that amount in brights, and if platinum, five times that amount in brights.

As for renaming coins, another approach would be to pick the translations of the coins (bright, dim, etc) into various languages. eg. Renardy would have (pure bright fair dim dark) pure, claire, juste, sombre, sombre (ok, maybe google translate isn't the best). Y! babelfish gives pur, lumineux, juste, faible, foncé.
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Re: Savage Coast Economics

Post by agathokles » Sat Jan 02, 2010 9:24 am

Note that in the AD&D 2e version, Cinnabryl coins would be difficult to use, due to depletion and poisoning -- and generally the need to use Cinnabryl to counter the curse. In the OD&D version, there is no widespread curse, and so Cinnabryl can be used for coins.

Moreover, since Cinnabryl is worth much more than silver or copper, a Bright is composed of circa 10% Cinnabryl and 90% Silver, while a Fair is 2% Cinnabryl and 98% Copper -- the real difference is in Cinnabryl ratio rather than in the other material.

Thus, the Dark and the Dim are to all effects Silver and Copper coins, with small quantities of Red Steel. However, if AD&D 2e Red Steel/Cinnabryl price ratios are used (1/5), then the values of Dark and Dim change a lot! A Dim would have a value of 0.2 Brights, or 1 Fair, and a Dark would be 0.2 Fairs (or 1 Silver coin).
But then, Cinnabryl/Gold ratios in AD&D are also very different (3/1 instead of 1/10), so the whole structure of the coins should change accordingly.

Thus, I think it's better to leave to each version its own system.

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Re: Savage Coast Economics

Post by Cthulhudrew » Thu Jan 14, 2010 5:12 am

I've got a working theory that I'm trying to flesh out further, but here's the gist:

Prior to the arrival of the Traladaran immigrants c. 450 AC, the people of the Savage coast consisted primarily of tribal nomads from the midlands (human and non-human groups), demihumans, and some occasional outposts of other settlements (such as Yavdlom, though I'm not currently clear precisely where they fit in the timeline).

The Traladarans arrived with their standard gold-based economy, but it was soon discarded once the value of the native mineral (cinnabryl) was discovered. The cinnabryl standard was soon adopted by the traladaran cultures that set up on the eastern Gulf of Hule.

As the Lawful Brotherhood set up missions and trading posts along the western shores of the Gulf of Hule and parts further west, they introduced the concept of money to the largely barter-based cultures. As those cultures developed, they largely maintained the same cinnabryl standard, though the further west one goes (and the more scarce cinnabryl becomes), they began to either make other admixtures of metals (ie, smaller amounts of cinnabryl mixed in) or else more traditional (ie, gold-based) systems of exchange. Gold and silver, of course, would have always maintained a certain degree of value if only for their use in crafts.

So some of the differently named coins will be the same as/equivalent to the cinnabryl coin system; some may actually be copper/gold/silver/etc. A lot of it will be determined by how far out from the main cinnabryl deposits around the Gulf of Hule the nations reside.
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Re: Savage Coast Economics

Post by Wuddy » Sat Jan 23, 2010 6:33 pm

I'm going to steal this idea. I remember a long time ago in the Princess Ark stories, some assassins were paid by the Master in what seemed to be cinnabryl coins, but then the setting seemed to say that ordinary coins took that hue naturally. I always preferred to think that the assassins had risked their lives for cinnabryl, not for an ordinary coin.

I guess somebody decided it would be silly for the coins to be made with cinnabryl, but I think it makes perfect sense.The governments of the Savage Coast will want to protect their people from the Red Curse, and distributing it in something like money is a very effective way to reach everyone. The draining effect will ensure that wealth will continue to change hands like a hot potato, as nobody wants to be the one holding the coin when it's devalued to 1/10 its value. It gives depth to simple robberies beyond personal greed, and I can see creatures who're immune to the curse making a killing as pawn brokers, paying out coins that're useless to them in exchange for the expensive material goods of the people of the Savage Coast.

Come to think of it, this also fits really well with the idea that barter is a widespread method of trade in the Savage Coast. If you sit on money too long it loses its value, but things like food continue to be valuable.

But when I use this I'm just going to ignore what the setting says about cinnabryl being poisonous to uncursed people.

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Re: Savage Coast Economics

Post by Ashtagon » Sat Jan 23, 2010 7:18 pm

One thing makes me rather unhappy about the "perishable" nature of cinnabryl-based currency. Historically, cons were invented precisely because they would not lose their value over time due to natural forces - unlike sheep, which died 9and needed feeding), grain (which could suffer mould), clothing (which could suffer from moths etc). Most trade goods suffer from either sheer bulkiness, or perishability. Gold and silver don't have that problem, but cinnabryl does. As a currency base, it just doesn't make sense.
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Re: Savage Coast Economics

Post by Cthulhudrew » Sat Jan 23, 2010 11:06 pm

Ashtagon wrote:Most trade goods suffer from either sheer bulkiness, or perishability. Gold and silver don't have that problem, but cinnabryl does. As a currency base, it just doesn't make sense.
That's certainly true, but when you consider that cinnabryl has a value beyond just being currency, it seems (to me) to make a little more sense. I'm hardly any expert on economy, mind, but perhaps look at it from the perspective of it being a trade good akin to medical supplies. It has an intrinsic worth that makes it more valuable than just gold or silver or whatnot.
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Re: Savage Coast Economics

Post by yellowdingo » Thu Apr 28, 2011 11:28 am

Ashtagon wrote:One thing makes me rather unhappy about the "perishable" nature of cinnabryl-based currency. Historically, cons were invented precisely because they would not lose their value over time due to natural forces - unlike sheep, which died 9and needed feeding), grain (which could suffer mould), clothing (which could suffer from moths etc). Most trade goods suffer from either sheer bulkiness, or perishability. Gold and silver don't have that problem, but cinnabryl does. As a currency base, it just doesn't make sense.

You need to think of it as a Narcotic trade. The trickle down economics of cinabryl amounts to Slavery through addiction. Every paladin in the Mystaran World should be questing for a cure...Somewhere there is a halfling who thinks 'ingesting Blackflame is the cure to cinabryl'.

And finally Nyx's plan comes to fruition...Having provided Blackflame to the Noble Hin, They will unleash a Blackflame inferno in the Savage lands that will consume all the cinabryl and replacing the cinabryl, turn the region into a Permafrost Continent. Its a New Ice Age... :twisted:

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Re: Savage Coast Economics

Post by Patrick » Fri Apr 29, 2011 5:15 am

Ashtagon wrote:Most trade goods suffer from either sheer bulkiness, or perishability. Gold and silver don't have that problem, but cinnabryl does. As a currency base, it just doesn't make sense.
I agree with Ashtagon here. In particular, I don't think it makes sense to mint cinnabryl coins or to create cinnabryl alloys. Minting coins that will lose their value in a matter of days doesn't make sense from a government standpoint: the volume needed would make the minting prohibitively expensive. Alloying cinnabryl with other metals would increase the likelihood of deceit, with potentially-deadly consequences. Everyone would want to seek out a jeweler or carry around their own precise scales before accepting payment of any sort. Additionally, if you use the idea from the Red Steel materials that the Inheritor orders tightly control the cinnabryl trade, cinnabryl coinage is just unworkable.

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Re: Savage Coast Economics

Post by stanles » Thu Jun 20, 2019 10:54 am

Cthulhudrew wrote:
Sat Jan 02, 2010 8:43 am
A few questions:

2) If adopting the Cinnabryl Standard, how would you suggest combining the Savage Coast rules? Would you simply reassign the names of the country specific coinage to their equivalent Cinnabryl Standard? EG:

Code: Select all

Coin Baronies Slagovich Eusdria  Robrenn Renardy Bellayne Herath Nimmur
DK   Centa    Stonik    Groschen --      Sou     Penny    Zet    Unu
DM   Dies     Viller    --       Groat   ƒcu     Shilling Rezhna Eshuk
FR   Medio    Levu      Taler    --      --      Quid     --     --
BR   Oro      Korun     Geld     --      Renár   Pound    Vaim   Ver
CI   Real     Halav     --       --      Roi     Crown    Rach   --
(The problem with this system, of course, would be that there are only four actual minted types of coinage in the Cinnabryl Standard; so the CI row would not/should not exist.)
If you adopt the cinnabryl standard then presumably the country would have to have brights and dims and/or fairs and darks, which, if we rearrange the table, it becomes clear that, apart from those countries that have all coins, that every one else is missing one part of the combination.

Code: Select all

Coin Baronies Slagovich Eusdria  Robrenn Renardy Bellayne Herath Nimmur
DK   Centa    Stonik    Groschen --      Sou     Penny    Zet    Unu
FR   Medio    Levu      Taler    --      --      Quid     --     --

DM   Dies     Viller    --       Groat   Écu     Shilling Rezhna Eshuk
BR   Oro      Korun     Geld     --      Renár   Pound    Vaim   Ver
You could try to say that all of the Robrenn groats are actually depleted Eusdrian gelds - though where does Herath and Nimmur get their zets and unu from? Though this does go to a different part of the question.
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Re: Savage Coast Economics

Post by stanles » Thu Jun 20, 2019 10:57 am

Cthulhudrew wrote:
Sat Jan 02, 2010 8:43 am
However, the Savage Coast campaign setting assumes a rather more traditional Gold Standard economic system for the nations of the SC, complete with giving culture specific names to their equivalent currency. (The SCCS even renamed the coinage of Slagovich from the Dragon article names.) Presumably, this option was chosen simply for ease of transition between standard D&D gaming (and equipment tables), though it sacrifices some of the uniqueness of the region.
Although, it wasn't just that the SCCS renamed the coinage of Slagovich. The coinage of the the Savage Coast was introduced in the Slagovich story but I got the impression that this was meant to be the coinage for the whole of the Savage Coast.

The question that comes from that is how far west is this meant to extend - are Herath and Nimmur with their zets and unu not having a corresponding undepleted coin (if you're trying to adopt the cinnabryl standard) only because they never had the cinnabryl standard?
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Re: Savage Coast Economics

Post by stanles » Thu Jun 20, 2019 11:16 am

Cthulhudrew wrote:
Thu Jan 14, 2010 5:12 am
The Traladarans arrived with their standard gold-based economy, but it was soon discarded once the value of the native mineral (cinnabryl) was discovered. The cinnabryl standard was soon adopted by the traladaran cultures that set up on the eastern Gulf of Hule.
I like where you're going with this, but I would suggest a bit of a modification.

Although the original X9 module had a number of the lead-ins to the adventure being the search for gold it's interesting that in the Voyage of the Princess Ark that none of the mines seem to produce gold - there's silver, there's copper, there's cinnabryl of course, there's coal, there's other stuff. But no gold. It seems that a cinnabryl mine was even confused as a gold one in one instance.

Were they always?

Anyway, the modification. The Traladarans upon arriving in the Savage Coast with their gold-based economy not only found cinnabryl mines, which they confused with gold for some reason, but they did find silver mines. They couldn't just mine silver and make coins out of that - it was valuable, but it wasn't as valuable as other minerals which they knew about. So why not mix the silver, and the copper which they had also found in this new area, with some of this new mineral which was unique to this new area? That would be a way to "make" it a viable basis for a local currency.
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