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Players' Guide: Currencies of Waterdeep

PostPosted: Sat Jul 27, 2013 11:08 am
by Jiriki
As a crossroads city, the destination and source of sea going vessels, caravans, and river barges, Waterdeep has a very diverse mix of coins minted for use within its walls. In addition, coins minted elsewhere show up quite often in the safes and businesses of Waterdeep, and knowing what this exotic mintage is worth is often vital in ensuring you're given a fair deal. Here is a brief listing of some of the more common coins and terms for them.

Copper pieces are known as bits or nibs.
Silver pieces are known as griffons or shards; a griffon is emblazoned on the front, and the city's emblem on the back. Half-griffons, also called eyes, have a round hole cut in the center and are worth 5 cp. The griffon/shard is the standard unit of trade in Waterdeep.
Gold pieces are known as dragons.
Toals are flat, square coins of brass. A toal is worth 2 gp in the city of Waterdeep and at any shops and villages within a day's ride, 1 gp within the greater Waterdeep region, and nothing beyond. Issued to bolster the city's treasury and help with rebuilding after the destruction wrought by events during the Time of Troubles, the coins are backed by a promise from the city that they will be fully redeemable for four gold dragons each starting 1 Hammer 1384 DR.
Platinum pieces are known as suns, but Waterdeep does not mint many of these, and they are quite rare. The preferred unit for bulk trade is instead the harbor moon, which is a crescent-shaped platinum piece inset with electrum. Issued by a consortium of the city's noble banking houses and moneylenders, a harbor moon is worth 50 gp in the city of Waterdeep, and at any shops and villages within a day's ride. Within the greater Waterdeep region it is worth 30 gp, but beyond that merchants do not accept the coin as worth more than its base metals (about 2 gp).

Coinage of Other Realms
Amn mints fanders (coppers), tarans (silvers), danters (gold pieces), and roldons (platinum).

Each city-state in Calimshan mints its own currency, and they come in widely varying imprints and styles, with some cities minting certain metals but not others. Many Waterdhavian merchants are dubious of Calishite currency, and Calishite merchants often convert their wealth to trade bars prior to bringing goods to the North.

Cormyr mints thumbs (coppers), falcons (silvers), lions (gold pieces), and tricrowns (platinum).

Sembia mints steelpense, a square iron coin valued at 1cp in Sembia and half that value beyond its borders, as well as triangular ravens (silvers) and five-sided nobles (gold pieces). They do not produce platinum coinage.

Silverymoon does not mint a copper coinage (which makes small transactions hilarious, as people get to exchange a lot of foreign currency). It mints a unicorn worth 2 sp in the Marches and 1 sp elsewhere, and a moon worth 2 gp in the Marches and 1 gp elsewhere.

Those of Thay, Zhentil Keep and similarly exotic/feared lands use local coinage in nearly all transactions, as the native coinage of those lands is thought by many common folk to be cursed, trapped, or magically tainted. That currency thus rarely appears in Waterdeep or nearby lands outside of black markets or the like.

Cormanthyr and other elven empires once minted thalvers (coppers), bedoars (silvers), shilmaers (gold pieces), and ruendils (platinum). This coinage is honored and accepted for at least face value all over Faerun (sometimes more if sold to collectors), especially among the elves, and is still common enough to see regular use.

Trade Bars
Mirabar and the merchant houses of Baldur's Gate mint most of the trade bars used in the North, which are used for bulk trade and large purchases between parties where one or the other is not native to Waterdeep. (Natives often keep to the harbor moon.) Mirabar's trade bars are spindle-shaped and made of black iron; they are worth 10 gp in that city, 7 gp in Luskan and Port Llast, and 5 gp elsewhere. Most Baldurian trade bars are silver, and come in 10 gp (2 lb), 25 gp (5 lb), and 50 gp (10 lb) denominations; these are considered the standard for trade currency. Sembia likewise produces silver trade bars; dotted with copper and stamped with that country's royal seal, they come in the same denominations, as well as a 1-pound bar worth 5 gp.

Lantan mints trade bars of worked steel, shaped like an envelope but slightly thicker. Stamped with the great wheel of Gond, these bars are worth 20 gp in Lantan and in cities along the Sword Coast, but are nearly worthless elsewhere.

The very largest merchant houses mint trade bars of gold or even platinum. They will be stamped with the denomination, the trading company's trail mark or merchant's symbol, and sometimes a date. When these are found, they come in 1, 2, 5, and 10-pound weights. Gold trade bars are worth 50 gp, 100 gp, 250 gp, and 500 gp respectively, with platinum bars worth ten times that total. These are very rare, however, as few transactions require such denominations, and all but the lightest will rarely be found outside merchant vaults (or in transit between same).