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Why is electrum worth more than gold?
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Author:  cthulhudarren [ Fri Oct 12, 2012 4:54 am ]
Post subject:  Why is electrum worth more than gold?

Electrum is an alloy of silver and gold, mostly. Why are electrum coins worth more than gold coins? I see this as a bug unless there is some other cosmic reason.

Author:  Raven_Crowking [ Fri Oct 12, 2012 5:04 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Why is electrum worth more than gold?

I don't know what the "official" answer is, but I am going with:

Electrum coins are ancient, have a higher content of precious metal than modern coins, and are a bit larger and heavier.

Author:  beermotor [ Fri Oct 12, 2012 5:09 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Why is electrum worth more than gold?

Electrum isn't supposed to be worth more than gold. It's worth more than SILVER. 10sp = 2 ep = 1 gp by AD&D standards... right? Haven't seen anything about ep in DCC but maybe I'm missing something.

Author:  cthulhudarren [ Fri Oct 12, 2012 5:40 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Why is electrum worth more than gold?

beermotor wrote:
Electrum isn't supposed to be worth more than gold. It's worth more than SILVER. 10sp = 2 ep = 1 gp by AD&D standards... right? Haven't seen anything about ep in DCC but maybe I'm missing something.


I don't have the rules with me but in the DCC RPG it something like this I think 100sp = 10gp = 1ep

Author:  beermotor [ Fri Oct 12, 2012 6:46 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Why is electrum worth more than gold?

Holy crap, you're right.

P. 70... it says it right there...

Joseph Goodman, WTH?!?!?! Gygax's ghost, man! :oops:

I'm guessing it's just a typo that will get corrected later on. I just cross referenced my 3rd printing AD&D PHB and noticed the monetary system was a bit different... 10 cp = 1 sp, 20 sp = 2 ep = 1 gp, 5gp = 1 pp. I like that much more than the 10:1 uniform ratios, which are admittedly easy to administer but lacking in flavor. I've been running things as a strictly barter kind of thing, though, which is kind of a headache for a DM. I don't think my players particularly care about it either... so I may chuck it and adopt the AD&D setup.

Author:  GnomeBoy [ Fri Oct 12, 2012 6:57 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Why is electrum worth more than gold?

Electrum conveys both phlogiston and ectoplasmic vibrations (among other things) much more readily than either silver or gold.

Or whatever other reason you prefer.

Or it isn't, and the sellers and vendors have been cheating you for years!


I'm not being facetious; I ran an eBay consignment shop for a few years -- many people will believe junk has some kind of astronomical value on a regular basis (oh, some of the things I had brought to me that folks thought they could make money on! Garage sale rejects, all...). It's not unreasonable to suppose folks believe it to have value for some 'property' it has, beyond it's metallurgical significance.

Or, yeah, just change it to being less than silver, or not use it at all.

Author:  cthulhudarren [ Fri Oct 12, 2012 8:05 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Why is electrum worth more than gold?

It is even codified into 3rd party publisher material, see Crawl!'s loot issue. I was looking through that last night when it hit me about how ep > gp and I did a double-take.

I'll probably house rule it to not exist and keep the coins as

1000cp = 100sp = 10gp = 1pp


Electrum can be some antique coin as Ravencrowking said..


Crawl! totes rules BTW.

Author:  beermotor [ Fri Oct 12, 2012 9:23 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Why is electrum worth more than gold?

I actually submitted a monetary system table to CRAWL! that randomizes the exchange rates. Here it is:

Money is merely an easy medium of exchange, and a way to keep that exchange portable. Most peasants, of course, exist solely in a barter economy, and as such are not very mobile. Adventurers are different, and currency in general (and coins in specific) are valuable because they are light and portable and can be readily exchanged for necessities: food, shelter, repairs, upgrades to gear, comfort, or placating an angry deity at the local shrine.

But coins are made of metal that can be dug up out of the ground and minted by the enterprising, and so there are, and should be, fluctuations in exchange rates. Here's a quick table to introduce a little randomness into the exchange rates of the various monetary metals, as well as a few possibilities for other, nonstandard coins and suggested exchange hierarchies.

1 copper piece (cp)
1 silver piece (sp) = 8 + 1d14 cp
1 gold piece (gp) = 4 + 1d16 sp
1 platinum piece (pp) = 8 + 1d24 gp

1 electrum piece (ep) (alloy of gold and silver) = 2 + d3 silver pieces
1 bronze piece (bp) (alloy of tin and copper) = 3 + d5 copper pieces
1 iron piece (ip) = 7 + d3 cp (thus, could possibly roughly equate with sp)
1 steel piece (*p) = 20 + d30 ip (highly unlikely to be used as coinage, unless silver / gold are very, very rare)

You can adjust these values according to your own campaign, of course, or you can roll them up fresh each time the adventurers walk into a new town. (Don't forget the local Baron's tax!)

Does this make things more complicated than 10:1 ratios? Of course, but it adds variability and realism, and, as always, you don't have to strictly adhere to it. Suppose you rolled that 9 cp = 1 sp, and 17 sp = 1 gp. Just because your PC wants to trade 304 sp for some gp doesn't mean you need to break out the calculator and make exact change for them... round it off at 15, or less, if the PC is pushy or has a bad personality modifier.

Author:  cthulhudarren [ Fri Oct 12, 2012 9:52 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Why is electrum worth more than gold?

THat's pretty nifty, beermotor!

Author:  ragboy [ Fri Oct 12, 2012 10:48 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Why is electrum worth more than gold?

beermotor wrote:
I actually submitted a monetary system table to CRAWL! that randomizes the exchange rates. Here it is:

Money is merely an easy medium of exchange, and a way to keep that exchange portable. Most peasants, of course, exist solely in a barter economy, and as such are not very mobile. Adventurers are different, and currency in general (and coins in specific) are valuable because they are light and portable and can be readily exchanged for necessities: food, shelter, repairs, upgrades to gear, comfort, or placating an angry deity at the local shrine.



Love it. Stealing.

I have the same philosophy -- The characters can really only sell their loot in a sizable town. They can trade for chickens and other commodities in the villages, but villagers have little use for silver/gold -- well...I should say they have a great desire for it, but devalue it as trade-able for their commodities and work.

As far as electrum goes -- you could rule that the coins are also much larger than standard gold circulating in the world. Or, as previously said, the modern coins are cut with base metals, while electrum coins (and other ancient coins found in tombs and such) could be worth more because they have more precious metal -- but the characters have to be able to determine that independently of the moneychanger -- the moneychangers in my campaign are all "thumb on the scales, this isn't worth anything to me" types. As are all merchants... :)

Author:  Thoom [ Sun Oct 14, 2012 1:44 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Why is electrum worth more than gold?

cthulhudarren wrote:
Electrum is an alloy of silver and gold, mostly. Why are electrum coins worth more than gold coins? I see this as a bug unless there is some other cosmic reason.


How about, in DCC, electrum is an alloy of gold and platinum?

It's funny how the brain works sometimes. We have no problems with the effects of most spells (pick one at random) but for something as mundane as the value of an alloy we must be realistic. I know I do it as much as the next guy, I'm just saying it's strange how we stumble on pebbles and walk through boulders. :)

Author:  cthulhudarren [ Mon Oct 15, 2012 5:09 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Why is electrum worth more than gold?

Thoom wrote:
cthulhudarren wrote:
Electrum is an alloy of silver and gold, mostly. Why are electrum coins worth more than gold coins? I see this as a bug unless there is some other cosmic reason.


How about, in DCC, electrum is an alloy of gold and platinum?

It's funny how the brain works sometimes. We have no problems with the effects of most spells (pick one at random) but for something as mundane as the value of an alloy we must be realistic. I know I do it as much as the next guy, I'm just saying it's strange how we stumble on pebbles and walk through boulders. :)


That is certainly okay, but the word "electrum" is a real word

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electrum with a meaning. It would be confusing to change that.

Author:  GnomeBoy [ Mon Oct 15, 2012 6:14 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Why is electrum worth more than gold?

I think Thoom was trying to point out how the rulebook has a typo, and misspelled elektrum... 8)

FWIW, 'funnel' (among other words) is a real word, too -- but I don't expect anyone to shove player characters through one...

Do I hear a boulder rolling rapidly in my direction...? :shock:

Author:  cthulhudarren [ Mon Oct 15, 2012 6:35 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Why is electrum worth more than gold?

GnomeBoy wrote:
I think Thoom was trying to point out how the rulebook has a typo, and misspelled elektrum... 8)

FWIW, 'funnel' (among other words) is a real word, too -- but I don't expect anyone to shove player characters through one...

Do I hear a boulder rolling rapidly in my direction...? :shock:


Many real world words are used in the rulebook! But would you use the world gold to mean silver or silver to mean gold? That's what you're doing with electrum.

Author:  TheNobleDrake [ Mon Oct 15, 2012 7:35 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Why is electrum worth more than gold?

cthulhudarren wrote:
GnomeBoy wrote:
I think Thoom was trying to point out how the rulebook has a typo, and misspelled elektrum... 8)

FWIW, 'funnel' (among other words) is a real word, too -- but I don't expect anyone to shove player characters through one...

Do I hear a boulder rolling rapidly in my direction...? :shock:


Many real world words are used in the rulebook! But would you use the world gold to mean silver or silver to mean gold? That's what you're doing with electrum.

Well, here's the thing - the world in the game is not supposed to be representative of our world... as a matter of fact, it most decidedly is meant to represent a world that is very much not ours.

In a world where dragons as big as castles are real, outer dimensions full of dangerous demons vie for your soul, and mortal men can harness the power of gods and magic... quibbling over whether the people that live there use the word "electrum" to mean the same thing as we do in our world seems a bit inane.

Here, I know our oceans to be blue and sometimes appear green - yet there in the game-world most of the oceans seen are purple, black, or the rare and mysterious deep red... and every being that lives in that world knows that to be true, but you could bet their disbelief at a blue ocean would be grand if they ran across one.

Author:  GnomeBoy [ Mon Oct 15, 2012 7:44 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Why is electrum worth more than gold?

True, randomly meanings the confusing of words would be changing.

But my point was we learn all these 'new' meanings for words in learning and playing these games... In some folks' campaigns, the real meaning of 'electrum' may not matter much. How many of us have seen or come in contact with, literally or virtually, electrum in the real world? Heck, even this spell-check doesn't recognize it! As a kid playing D&D, I didn't know it was a real thing, and thought of it as some 'fantasy' metal, along with adamantium, vibranium, and tin. I would suppose there is a very slim chance that Joseph is playing off of that "what the heck is electrum?" thing from kiddom (assuming he had a similar experience). Or maybe he's just playing with our heads, to see what creative reasoning we can come up with to explain it... 8)

Author:  Raven_Crowking [ Mon Oct 15, 2012 7:46 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Why is electrum worth more than gold?

TheNobleDrake wrote:
cthulhudarren wrote:
GnomeBoy wrote:
I think Thoom was trying to point out how the rulebook has a typo, and misspelled elektrum... 8)

FWIW, 'funnel' (among other words) is a real word, too -- but I don't expect anyone to shove player characters through one...

Do I hear a boulder rolling rapidly in my direction...? :shock:


Many real world words are used in the rulebook! But would you use the world gold to mean silver or silver to mean gold? That's what you're doing with electrum.

Well, here's the thing - the world in the game is not supposed to be representative of our world... as a matter of fact, it most decidedly is meant to represent a world that is very much not ours.


And yet you can say "In a world where dragons as big as castles are real, outer dimensions full of dangerous demons vie for your soul, and mortal men can harness the power of gods and magic" without having to worry about that "dragon" might mean "orc", or that "soul" might mean "2002 Chevy Malibu", etc.

Quibbling over whether the people that live there use the word "electrum" to mean the same thing as we do in our world is no more inane. It might only seem so if one comes to the table not knowing, or not caring, what electrum means in the first place. Jarring discontinuities are jarring discontinuities. It is not "quibbling" to desire to resolve them, nor do I think that it is it up to me to determine what constitutes a jarring discontinuity for someone else.

Yes, you can have worlds where "most of the oceans seen are purple, black, or the rare and mysterious deep red" but the odds are very good that the GM, judge, or narrator of such worlds makes certain to mention that these oceans are different because they know that the word "ocean" has specific implications for the players/readers/etc.

It is absolutely fine that electrum is more valuable than gold in DCC. Either the judge determines why this is, or decides that this is not the case. In the real world, electrum implies an ancient coin for circa Middle Ages folks, which is why I decided that would be the reason for its striking value in my own milieu.

Author:  beermotor [ Mon Oct 15, 2012 8:05 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Why is electrum worth more than gold?

I like having gold be the pinnacle, with platinum being stupidly rare, almost unheard of. Thus, I like having a middle between silver (common every day coinage) and gold (only for nobles). Electrum could fit that gap nicely.

YMMV, ofc.

Author:  Raven_Crowking [ Mon Oct 15, 2012 9:40 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Why is electrum worth more than gold?

beermotor wrote:
I like having gold be the pinnacle, with platinum being stupidly rare, almost unheard of. Thus, I like having a middle between silver (common every day coinage) and gold (only for nobles). Electrum could fit that gap nicely.

YMMV, ofc.


That obviously works, too, and has since 1e (at least).

But I am guessing that, at some point in my reading of Appendix N, electrum is going to come up, and that will answer the question of why it appears in both games.

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