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Gemstone Currency - assistance req

 
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Krusk
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PostPosted: Sun May 14, 2017 2:12 pm    Post subject: Gemstone Currency - assistance req Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I'm trying to come up with a good currency based on gemstones. Specifically, I need a unit of measurement that can be tied into the value of the gemstone, so I can say "This +3 sword, it costs 4 carats".

I'd prefer not to use a fantasy made up word people will forget, and I'd also prefer not to use carat, because its not accurate. It measures weight, but the Price Per Carat could be very different. That was my first instinct, but I think it would be super confusing if I were to say "this 5 carat diamond is worth 1 Carat."

Obviously i could say "this costs 5000gp worth of diamonds" but then I'm in a scenario where I may as well just use gold anyway.

Anyone have and ideas on a direction I should head?
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Ancient History
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PostPosted: Sun May 14, 2017 2:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Gemstones generally aren't a good measure for such things, because their value is largely subjective (except for certain industrial usage). The Four C's are clarity, color, cut, and carat weight. So it's not just how much ruby you have on hand.
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Chamomile
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PostPosted: Sun May 14, 2017 5:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

If you're not using gold coins than you need to pick a gem type that is going to be your replacement gold coin. Like agates or something. You're also going to have to completely ignore the fact that all gemstones have wildly varying values.
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jadagul
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PostPosted: Sun May 14, 2017 8:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Brandon Sanderson's Stormlight Archives series uses gemstones as currency (growing out of their use as, essentially, magic batteries). If you want to steal the system there's a writeup here; he calls them chips, marks, and broams in increasing order of size.
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Invincible Overlord


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PostPosted: Mon May 15, 2017 2:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Earthdawn used kernels of Elemental Earth as currency, since they basically look like gems and could be embedded in coins for ease of carrying, but that replaces mundane standards of gemology with arbitrary magical quantities.
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Thaluikhain
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PostPosted: Mon May 15, 2017 3:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

How would that be standardised? I mean, one silver drachma was supposed to be the same as another silver drachma, but if you are paying in gems, you'd need to have each and every one appraised when you are to buy something. And have some unit of measurement to judge them buy.

Now, you could run it by weight or volume, I suppose, and not worry about the appearance of the gems, whether they are big or small, just what they add up to...though as to why you'd want this, I can't think of a good reason that isn't susceptible to serious market fluctuations.
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Invincible Overlord


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PostPosted: Mon May 15, 2017 7:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Well, even with metal currency you have to deal with face value vs. material value (precious metal content).

The thing about gems is that because they are precious they are an easy way to tote around a large amount of wealth in very little space - but they are not very fungible, as you generally can't just pay for a meal by dropping a pearl or a diamond on the table; you usually need to go to a jeweler and cover them into cash, or at least get a reasonable estimation of their value with written guarantee. I could see an attempt at gemstone currency leading to paper currency...
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Krusk
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PostPosted: Tue May 16, 2017 2:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Thanks for the discussion. Helps me narrow in on what i am looking to do.

More context which might help. The gem/currency is intended to tie into what are essentially power sources for schools of magic. So its probably more like industrial usage might be a good model to steal From. So they probably dont care about cut. Color might factor in, but since its fantasy world we can do something special in the water mage magic table for rose quartz vs blue quartz effect and say "all quartz is the same price" for simplicity. Unless i research more and find out thats insane. For clarity i was thinking a simple "yes/no" binary to simply say its pure enough for spells or not.

Intent of the system.
Barter -> gold -> gems -> concepts (dreams and shit) -> souls
Cribbing a lot of ideas from economicon. This is the only one i cant make happen, but the others all fit in really neat ways and give rise to a lot of cool scenarios. Ex1 Farmer doesnt give a shit about your saffron because he cant eat it, even though you paid 100gp for it. Ex2 in barter, you want a castle of gold. In gold you want a castle made of ruby. Then one of dreams, then one of souls. But maybe thats just a fancy way of saying nothing is ever better and im in a 4e treadmill of its all the same...
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Invincible Overlord


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PostPosted: Tue May 16, 2017 7:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Okay, so you want reagents that are high-value enough that some people just use them as money, but are utilitarian. Keeping in mind the old adage that "bad money chases out good," for magical reagents to become a barter good, you'd need some standardized "money quality" amount of them, and for prices for things to be high enough that using just gold and silver becomes impractical - kind of like how drug dealers don't deal with five and one dollar bills because they seriously don't have room to store the mountains of small denomination currency they'd accumulate.

Economically, this isn't far off from when Japan based their money off of rice and stuff, only they used gold and copper for coins because hauling around cubic meters of rice was inconvenient. For a gem-based market to make sense, the value of the gems has to be substantially greater than the value of the gold - and hey, if you've got a lively magictech industry, the demand might be high enough - but it also means that prices for goods and services in that economy have to be high enough that gold is inconvenient. If you have to slam down the equivalent of a gold brick to buy a hot dog, you're going to switch to using lighter and more convenient gemstones (provided said gems come in some form of uniform designation - maybe reduce them to powder and press them into coins?)

As you level up, this can work for leveling up currency too. Most folks don't have a high demand for "concepts" - maybe dream-addicts or something, but for most normal folks it's going to be a high-end luxury good - unless you have a race or class of people that depend on concepts, creating a high demand while also ensuring a sufficient supply.

So in that case, you'd have shit-heel village, that grows sheep. They use barter, maybe a little gold.

Then you have a town, and the town has a mage/alchemist district with a local school where all the magically adept kids come to learn, and it churns out magical tradesfolk and craftspeople like cold forge blacksmiths and magewrights and hedge wizards, and develops a lot of sidereal industries like monster hunting and growing herbal ingredients for potions. The economy is mostly gold, but gems are in high demand and sufficient quantity that a lot of purchases between mages are just made with gems.

Then you have the city, and the city has a high density of magical industries, nobility, foreign traders like elves, and other people with money; it generates enough magical activity that it sees the occasional djinn or demigod come by on a not irregular basis. It's expensive to live there, prices are higher, and gold is basically small change; most people are paid and most prices are set in gems. The big spirits and gods do a small business in concepts, mostly among themselves.

Then you have a planar metropolis - someplace where humanity, if it exists there at all, can barely be called human, and the industries are based around a need for concepts. These are the guys that trade and shape dreams, who make swords of pure hate that can kill angels, creatures that feed on fear and are willing to pay to get it, etc. Gems are the small change, prices are set in what to humans would be abstracts - names, tales, a perfect kiss, etc. A lot of this will be service industry rather than making things directly from concepts, though - three nightmares and the fire elemental goes and burns down the kingdom next door, that kind of thing. A few of the more powerful and rarified entities will deal in souls, which they have their own uses for...
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Krusk
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PostPosted: Fri May 19, 2017 1:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

TLDR - I think my reason to move from gold to gems is simply weight.
Gold beats calorie because a coin is 1/10lb and 10 pumpkins is stupid.
Gem beats gold because 5 diamonds fit on my ring, and 10 wheelbarrows of gold is stupid.
Dreams beat gems because a single vial beats 10 wheelbarrows of emeralds.
Souls beat dreams because a single vial beats 10 wbs of vials (haven't thought about containment for abstracts phase yet)
---------
My running logic lines up with your last 3 paragraphs. Most small towns use barter. Farmers obviously, because the unit is the calorie, but so does anyone in the small town. "Hey fix my fence, sure give me a pig, and I'll also weed your garden every sunday for a month". Farmhands get daily wage in food/lodging/clothes, and thats about it. Same for people like the staff at the inn. The innkeep doesn't pay them. He feeds, shelters, and clothes them, and they snag tips in copper if he isn't looking. Most people have some copper/silver for the occasional trip into town.

In Town... Anyone who is a merchant uses gold. They pay for things in copper/gold/silver as per PHB. the innkeep himself charges copper, but you can totally barter with him. coins in dnd land weigh 1/10lb. Prices under ~1000gp are still reasonable to pay someone. I need a new house, here is a chest of gold. anything more than that, and you generally need a wheel barrow. They have a couple of mages who take wheelbarrows of gold or they will make it easier and take gems if you happen to have one. More often than not, they have to travel into Major cities and buy gems that are imported.

In Cities, you have people doing gold trade, but you've also got hogwarts, and a cathedrals and stuff. So this is where your miners take gems, and sell them for gold. They then go home, to their small town and use the gold for stuff instead of "worthless" gems that no one can use/make change for. In the town, you have gem traders, but you also have mages who just straight up trade in gems. Why? because even a big ruby fits in your pocket, and you don't have a 9 dudes to push wheelbarrows around. The archwizard who runs the tower can apparently just crap out gems or something, and he is willing to do it.. for a price. Apparently he lives so long because he is powered by memories, whatever that means. If you give him one of yours, he pays handsomely.

Planar metropolis - Everyone has essentially infinite gold, and gems too. they live in cities made of emerald, and don't even care about your gems. They want abstracts. (and im stealing your list to add to my own)

Gold - Buying general day to day isn't the end of the world, if they don't care about the calorie equivalent good you have, but if you want anything over ~1000 coins of any denomination, they begin to add on "pain in the ass fees" just to deal with it all. "OK, ill take 5000gp, but i need you to provide 19 chests for it, with locks". Naturally you move to something like a gem.

---
not a fan of putting the gems into a powder or coinage. Just as people use gold as currency, but also when rich enough jewelry, I'd imagine people do the same with gems. See platinum today. I love the idea of some adventurers throwing down the royal scepter of the goblin king, a merchant cracking gems from the settings, tossing the gold aside and giving the PCs a magic lamp.

So I think now you get the why of my idea, but I'm still stuck on the what. A term for gems. Looking at industrial values, they seem to pay per carat. is my answer really to do a Price Per Carat chart, and then put values in PPC with a look up table? I really think that would be annoying in play, but am stuck on what instead.

Also i just remembered my friend works in industrial something something and buys/sells raw elements (they make argon out of air, or something). He may be a good source. Ill post if he says anything useful.
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Hicks
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PostPosted: Sun May 21, 2017 1:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

So there's barter, copper, silver, gold, platinum, rubies (continual flame, 50gp), pearls (identify, 100gp), onyx (animate dead, 50gp), diamonds (stone skin, 250gp; or raise dead, 5,000gp), liquid pain (200gp, 3xp or +2 CL), and souls (200gp, 10xp or +10 vs SR) Those exchange rates aren't going anywhere.

It's important to note that in core and tome, souls are/mostly far less valuable than the gems that hold them. Magic Jar requires a gem worth at least 100gp, but you gotta use that soul within the spell limit cuz it leaves when the spell is over. Trap the soul and soul bind need a gem that's wa too expensive; like creature hd x 1000gp expensive. And thaumium costs at least 10,000gp for a light weapon. Souls in tome are worth more, but you need at least a CR 10 (100×cr^2) soul to even equal the gem housing it. And CR 10 creature's are not normally known for being chumps, and even then you gotta have them die to/holding a thaumium weapon because you don't normally have 8th level spells in the midgame. Oh, and seriously speaking the best quality gem you can get in the game is seriously worth AT BEST 8000gp, and you have a 1 in 1600 chance of finding one in random treasure generation. Really weird that 8 and 9th level spells can only work on 8hd creatures. Fine sized Thinaun daggers weigh 0.125 pounds and cost 10,000 + 100~40,000 gp depending on the soul and rule set.
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Krusk
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PostPosted: Tue May 23, 2017 3:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

He got back to me with mole or ailquat, and then said they just sell by weight. Modern alchemy is mostly gasses though.

Leaning much more towards listing in values in a Made Up Unit. Then giving each gemstone a value in muu. Magic swords are 18 muu. You have 45 carats in rubies and 1 carat of ruby is .1 Muu. Then a chart for each gemstones equivilent carat to muu value.

Then, if i dont hate it, and if others dont hate it, and i wanted to make it more complicated, i could conceivably tag clarity ratings. Flawless x2, if x1.5, vvs x1, vs x.75, si x.5, i x0. If we hate that i can drop it.

This would let me say "you find a flawless 3 carat ruby and 10 carats worth of vs diamonds scattered around it". And they can write that down. Instead of "you find a ruby worth x gold" which is immedatley turned into gold. Then when everyone breaks out item shopping books in town and tries to comission items, they can do a quick lookup table. Instead of selling gems for gold, and then adding to lumps sum of gold. Then shopping it becomes a conversion to muu, and shopping. That seems like less or at least the same steps.

It also lets me throw in regional variants, like the blood temple wanting red saphire and paying a bumped up clarity rating for it.
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Judging__Eagle
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PostPosted: Thu May 25, 2017 11:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

This "tiered" economies mechanics reminds me of the in-game economies at a Larp I used to attend.

At the "bottom" there is the food economy; it's assumed that most people don't starve to death during most events. However, if there is a famine in the setting; having food gathering skills will keep your character from suffering lowered HP (or even taking a death) before starting an event. Usual interactions within this economy is barter/service. Adventurers keep the farms safe from whatever trouble is going by. Farmers give the inn a portion of their crops. Any PC can have an "edibles" income, this requires a rank in an appropriate Life Skill, then ranks in Income. It will be 2 silver worth of goods every month per rank of income (i.e. the value that 1 rank of income provides).

The first economy with fungible currency is the "silver" economy. Any creature can have a "silver" income if they have any Life Skill. Most PCs don't get a lot of this, but it's a good long-term build with built-in anti-PK aspects due to how death removes skills if you don't have enough "loose" XP to pay off a death. The bigger you get, the more likely anyone who takes you down will try to not kill you; b/c the piñata's contents will get smaller next time if you die any time. With Life Skill: [Trashpicker/Noble], getting minimum combat skills and maxing out Silver Income will allow one to hire broke/bored PCs to work for you (a silver a day isn't bad to a starting PC, and might elicit haggling from those that've been around a while). The downside is that this will likely earn enemies (and this larp's setting is a DMZ between rival states; and the only land you can truly claim is that within the reach of your weapon, &or camp chair; w/e).

Now the real economy that most PC adventurers care about (even especially non-mage species/characters), and actively trade in is the "magic" economy. Colour-coded biodegradable birdseed packets represent the "fuel" expended for each spell that's cast (w/ 6 types, and limited cross-compatibilities, having barely enough for all of their own spellcasting will discourage them from casting the spell on/for others. However spellcaster will cast a spell "for the mana cost" thus PCs are highly incentivized to carry scads of mana they can't practically use. If they party up with an other adventurer (with player:cast ratios of 2:1 being rare and 8:1 more likely; you'll likely bump into PCs before NPCs) who can use your mana, it's little different than casting the spell yourself once your group is engaged with the enemy. The more extreme end of this notion that "you don't need to know spells to cast them; just the fuel, and friends who do" is seen with mana-brewing alchemists. Normally, a mage "might" be able to get as much as 10 mana of any one type per month (at a cost of 1 level of income per mana; which is consistent b/c NPC mana merchants price their mana ~2SP per prime, and ~4SP for pure mana); on the character sheet this costs 20XP (abt 2-4 events of playing; plus the costs of pre-requisite skills (quite a bit, at least 37 pts for basic Awareness and 5 tiers in an primal element; and that's 0 cost on spells, which cost the same as buying the tier the spell is at). While an alchemist can (with the right ingredients, equipment, and a working recipe) spend a 45 minutes to whip up to 50 units of mana for ... maybe 7-14 xp in terms of the income types necessary.

Up until this point, "who" has what doesn't often matter. Necessity will simply flow things from PCs with high concentrations of a resource, towards their allies who can best utilize them. While an alchemist who can make 50-200 units of mana can do nothing with the mana themselves; if they give/trade it away for alchemy ingredients/ alchemy/ corpses/ prisoners, they'll probably have made a profit. First when well-heeled PCs trade ingredients they can't use for mana they desperately need, and later when newer adventurers bring in corpses/prisoners/loot for mana/alchemy.

After this comes "collected ingredients" type stuff. If a PC wants a high end non-magic weapon; they'll need something from this tier. Almost always taken from a dead monster/enemy NPC. Fortunately everything is on a paper "tag", and tags have no expiry date; so a hydra's head you picked up last season is still good, and the giant bug carapaces you skinned haven't rotted. Unfortunately a lot of Alchemy ingredients are among this range of economic tier. Too rare to be sold for coppers, often too common/ghoulish to sell for gold. A wide range of body parts collected from specific professionals (never-dead, smiths, hunters, drowned man, elf hair, blood from all types of creatures & mages), the best way to get these is to gather/RP them yourself. While it's not likely that a Tag request to the Plot Team for several hundreds of corpse-harvested ingredients will be accepted without a query; the Plot Head who observes PCs methods/RP for such a request might say "give them as many as they want."

Then there are magic items. These are pretty rare; however weak non-combat ones might abound at times, but actual magic weapons are fairly rare, and are often campain McGuffins that are eventually given to PC adventurers who might claim power-reduced versions of them for future seasons (unless the player spends Creation Points to influence the Plot Heads otherwise). Magic items could be traded for magic items. Magic items can also be created with Mana; but this is going to take 100's to even begin to happen (I've heard it might cost ~900 fire mana for a permanent magic sword). Now, while permanent magic weapons might be less common, hitting with a magic weapon is really weight efficient (bypass almost all material DR a creature might have? Sign me up). Which is where the "blade oil" alchemy is handy, it makes a coated weapon to strike for "magic" for 24h.

Above magic items are powerful artifacts that intrinsically warp reality in their vicinity, and are constantly warping events in a wider radius. Like the white magically inscribed stone that the town (Carreg Wynn) is named after. In theory they could be broken apart for massive powerups, but that's probably going to retire the character; and probably force the surviving PCs to repair the damage. What is certain is that all of the season's dumpsterfire-grade Red Skulls want to take it or break it; when it's not dumpsterfire plotlines requiring a BS cleansing ritual).




Honestly, the mechanic in the Dominions games is pretty decent; and the Heroes of Might & Magic economic tiers/types aren't a bad idea. Frank did something similar when he wrote up notes on converting ACKS Hexcrawl; low-tier units are paid in Koku, mid-tier units in Gold (I'd be fine w/ Silver tbh), and high-tier units are paid in 'Magic' (which I don't recall being defined, I'm fine with either gems being inherently magical (and thus used in-setting for magical actions; or D&D-style fuel for ancient science-fantasy techniques. While low fantasy settings where the in-setting phlebotium is everywhere in the setting are interesting from a design pov; high fantasy where the "real" world is a larger part tends to be easier to introduce to new audiences.
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Krusk
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 03, 2017 7:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

did some charting and research into gem prices. Outside of the biased nature of gem dealers basically working off the barter system with prices purposefully obscured and made up anyway, I found some stuff that was helpful

https://gemval.com/chart.php
https://www.gempundit.com/gemstones
for pricing info

http://www.healingwithcrystals.net.au/crystals-a---c.html
for fake medicine that can help me associate gems with schools of magic.

My original plan was to get rough numbers for value of gems and try to group them. take the full list, find each ones value and give each gem a cost per carat value. Then I could make a rough unit the caratdollar. Each gem has a caratdollar rating conversion to MUU. 1 MUU is 10 caratdollars. I need 2 or 3 alexandrites (PPC of 209.30$ today) compared to 30 or so Azurites (PPC 3.22$). There was a whole table of Gem | PPC | 3.5 Value | Fun facts (fake medicine i could tie to fluff).

Then i realized i was doing something super complicated and time consuming, that i think will suck in play.

New concept - what if we just used carat. You need X Carats of this gem to do a spell. If the gem is full of inclusions and crappy, it might take double or "more". Anyone who has enough magic items that they are willing to sell one needs gemstones, not gold. So he charges you in those. Some magic dealers take whatever sort you've got. Some only take one sort of gem, because they themselves are a caster. Some spells take more than others. Some gems are worth more than others, in gold, but you don't care, because you can't buy things with gold. What actually gets written down is a rough price in gold for gems so you can compare costs one gem to another. Those with appraise can figure out how many rubies that diamond is worth. The appraise skill lists a rough PPC value for each gem on a scale of 1-10. How do we price magic item purchases? Great question. Items already indicate what spells it takes to make them. they are priced as though you paid some guy to make it. so if it takes 15 carat in azurite to make the item, the guy who sells it wants 16. So a potential Magic item shop list would say "flaming sword, 3c rubies. magic carpet, 11c moonstones, shoes of speed 25c alexandrite". Thoughts?

-- I am planning on including alchemical regents off of monster parts into codified values for stuff as well at some point.

-- Dominions - As in the card game? http://riograndegames.com/Game/278-Dominion its been a bit but i dont recall any sort of economy moreso than copper/silver/gold traded up. But its been a bit since i played.
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tussock
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 14, 2017 5:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Quote:
Then i realized i was doing something super complicated and time consuming, that i think will suck in play.

QFT.

That's basically the reason we've converted everything to dollars in real life, it's just easier. Also why D&D has mostly had everything you can find sell (if not buy) in denomination of gp.

If you want a 2nd currency, the trick is to not have it convertible. No exchange rate at all.

When you buy a magic sword it costs 250gp for the pretty sword, and 300kz for the magic. If you hire a spellcaster, they want 10gp a day for luxury goods and 1kz x spell level x caster level for spells cast. When you find treasure there's 2000 gp in coins and other valuables, and 500 kz in gems. You can totally tell a sword is magical because of the gemstones built into the handle and cross-guard.

When you buy a dragon egg, it costs 1000 gp and 1000 kz. When you harvest the testicles of a red dragon, they can be worth 1000 kz because it turns out that's what diamonds are, dried red dragon testicles.


Then you can have big gold things for adventurers to admire that can't actually be torn up and turned into magic items, but they will totally pull the gemstones out of the statue's eyes, which will probably wake it up and make it try to kill them because gems are only embedded in magic items. The crown jewels are magical battle regalia, and you can't exchange them for any amount of chickens.

--

But specific gems? Even computer games that track different gemstones for spell paths top out at 5-7, and you don't really want to be tracking that by hand. I think Ars Magica did something like that, but you have to remember no one played it because it was a bookkeeping nightmare. Dominions 4: Thrones of Ascension, is the game in question. Also Masters of Magic. But that shit does need a computer to keep track of the numbers.

--

The reason for a 3rd non-exchange currency is to have land and associated peasants that you can't buy and sell but totally have to pay for in some way. The king can be in massive gold debt, with almost no magic, and still own all the people, including you. You can't change that because you don't have enough land to generate the numbers to.

Maybe if the King of France gives you land in exchange for a certain rate of peasants in the indefinite future (to stop you being such a drain on his peasants), maybe you can build up your land currency over a couple generations high enough to eventually annex London. by "selling" your French possessions back to the King. If you don't want to do "being the king" then you don't need it.
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