20 July, 2013

Changes to the LARP currency system

Now that we’ve looked at the way the system works, let’s make a few modifications to the set up.

Instead of gold as the standard unit of currency, let’s switch to silver. It may not be very historically accurate, but we’ll work off a standard metric coinage to make it easier on our mathematics. We will also give our coins some names to add a bit more flavour to the system.

One Gold Crown = Ten Silver Ducats
One Silver Ducat = One Hundred Copper Pennies

Gold Crowns are issued by a central imperial mint. They are called a crown because they bear the symbol of the empire’s crown on one side of the coin. Gold crowns are the preferred currency of the nobility, since they are accepted everywhere and have a high value for their portability.

Silver Ducats are issued by the various dukes around the empire. Ducat means Duke’s coin, and each duke mints their own with distinctive heraldry. Ducats are typically only legal tender in the regions controlled by a duke, this helps ensure that a duke’s serfs and peasants do not flee to neighbouring regions…their money simply isn’t worth as much in other territories.

Copper pennies are minted in various towns according to a few fairly standard archetypes, a common weighting of copper is found in them. A peasant may carry pennies minted in three or more ducal regions. Pennies might be more common as a trade coin if it weren’t for the fact that they have such a low relative worth, someone would have to carry a small sack filled with pennies to get the same value as a small purse of silver, or even a single gold coin.

Under this system, the ducat becomes the typical unit of measure.

A single ducat is typically the price of meals for a week (or 5 pennies per meal for 3 meals a day = 21 x 5 pennies, you get a little loyalty bonus at the local inn because you eat there for the whole week, good meals might costs a bit more though)
A single ducat also covers a single room for a week (or 20 pennies per night, because innkeepers are less trustworthy of wanderers just passing through).
10 ducats will cover food and lodgings for a month at a regular inn, including stabling for a horse.

A peasant is typically paid a gold crown (ten ducats) a month, but they more commonly see this as food and lodging automatically covered by their employer/lord. They might only see a few pennies a day which they often gamble away or spend on alcohol and other things that make their lives a bit more tolerable.
Soldiers and competent tradespeople might get paid the equivalent of two or three crowns a month. Soldiers would tend to see their payment as a better quality of lodgings and food, perhaps staying in military barracks or in the local duke’s castle, and maybe eating well once a week at a feast in the duke’s great hall.

Thus a duke keeps account of the peasants, serfs, servants and professionals in their region by accounting for how much money is flowing through the area. Taxes might be imposed on these lower levels of society, but most don’t actually have much in the way of cash (taxes would be far more effective on the soldiers, middle classes, merchants and adventurers who actually have access to regular coinage).

With these changes to the system of currency, we can look at influences a bit differently. Low levels of influence aren’t meant to do a lot, just give people an edge in certain fields. Mid levels should give their wielders a significant benefit, pushing their potential beyond that of a single person. High levels should be the kinds of things that give Dukes their controlling influence over the region.

So a very low level influence action (lvl 1) would be capable of producing a ducat; or enough to cover a good meals and drinks for a week (and certainly make them favourable to you). A moderate level influence action (lvl 3) would be capable of generating a ten ducats; or the equivalent of expenses for a poor quality bodyguard/retainer/hireling for a couple of days. A high level influence action (lvl 5) would be capable of generating a ten gold crowns (one hundred ducats); or the equivalent of a highly trained bodyguard at all times. Nobles might be able to generate powerful influence actions (lvl 7) capable of producing squads of trained soldiers, or incredible influence actions (lvl 9 or higher) capable of maintaining standing armies.
With this in mind, let’s use an exponential scaling factor of around 3.

Lvl 1 = 100 pennies (1 ducat)
Lvl 2 = 300 pennies (3 ducats)
Lvl 3 = 1000 pennies (1 crown)
Lvl 4 = 3000 pennies (3 crowns)
Lvl 5 = 10000 pennies (10 crowns)
Lvl 6 = 30000 pennies (30 crowns)
Lvl 7 = 100000 pennies (100 crowns)

We want to prompt players to improve the levels in their spheres of influence, it helps move things forward, drives the story, and forces them into conflict with one another. It might take three months to spend enough influence actions increase from one level to the next, and a player might think it is just as worthwhile to spend their actions generating three times as many actions in the short term…but if they invest, they’ll be able to spend influence at triple the equivalent level for every month thereafter. Patient and careful players will be rewarded (as long as they can hold out long enough).
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