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Coins and Trade

Precious metals are relatively common in Thule, my King. Every major city—and a few noble houses, temples, or especially prosperous merchant enter- prises—mints coinage in copper, silver, gold, and occasionally bronze, electrum, or platinum as well. In general, the value of the coin is dependent on the weight of its metal; denominations aren’t widely used, simply because the intense rivalry and com- petition between cities means that coinage marked with a value higher than its physical worth may not be honored outside the boundaries of the city where it was struck.

Some of the more notable coinage that circulates in Thule includes:

  • Atlantean sunburst. Made from orichalcum, the red gold of Atlantis, a sunburst features a many-rayed sun emblem. It is valued at 20 gold pieces in most large cities.
  • Quodethi double peacock. A gold coin of twice the normal weight, the double peacock is stamped with the royal emblem of the city. It is worth 5 gold pieces in Quodeth, or 2 in anoth- er city.
  • Margish kraken. These large silver coins are emblazoned with the image of a many-tenta- cled kraken. In Marg, their value is fixed at one healthy field slave, fifteen to twenty-five years in age, and they can be redeemed for such at any civic auction. For a slaver, the kraken’s value is about 10 common gold pieces.
  • Nesskian fang. These small, triangular gold coins occasionally turn up in forgotten ser- pentman hoards and date back to the serpent- man empire of Nessk. They are accepted in some cities, but in Quodeth they are known as “snake’s gold” and regarded as bad luck.

While a purse heavy with gold pieces can see to many needs in civilized regions, not all the peoples in Thule care about money. Savages have little use for coins; they can’t be eaten, they aren’t tools, and they can’t be used to make clothing or shelter. No matter how many coins a merchant offers, a savage won’t part with something tangible and useful such as a pelt that might keep one warm or a hunting spear. However, coins are pretty, and many savages are happy to trade pretty things of their own such as uncut gemstones or ivory carvings. Your Supreme Majesty may find that savages are more than happy to trade their trinkets for civilized goods that are clearly useful, such as bronze spearheads or warm garments.

Barbarians have a better idea of what coins are worth, even if they rarely use them. They are more likely to measure wealth in terms of the livestock they own, the houses and halls they build, or the weapons and tools they craft. Bartering with one’s neighbors for goods or services is more common than paying in the coins of the cities. Most barbarian tribes have at least occasional contact with civilized traders or encounter trading posts during their trav- els, so they tend to save what coins they do collect for the occasions when they’ll be useful in trade.