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What is the value of gold in FR?

I want to understand the value of money in Forgotten Realms.

For example: if we consider, that 1(one) gold per night in the inn without any comfort is NORMAL, what are normal costs for other things? Can it be a starting point, a basic unit? How much is the fish))?
But... in the same inn the cheapest ale also costs 1 gold. I don't think they are equivalent. For this reason, one night must cost about 4-5 gold.

Let it be ok. But we can see, that same persons drink every day. Let us assume, they drink 3 ales per day. With one vaction day in a decade. In this case, they spend 81 gold per month for booze. At the same time, they also must carry about families and work somewhere. So, their monthly paiment must be over 150-200 gold.
How much a common farmer can gain in a month in FR, does anybody knows?

And if we compare this to a true medival? What was a price for a common sword in relate of monthly income of a medival citizen?

If we meet Scar for the first time we enter Baldur's Gate, he offers us 2000 gold for the hard quest. I think, that must be very much, but by this time we have cash ten times bigger... And his money are no sense for this mission. We even couldn't buy any usefull stuff in exchange. So, the amount of gold, that may intrigue us, must be about 10000 gold or larger. But isn't this the same sum, that Flaming Fist officer earns for whole year? Or not?...

SmilingSword
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Comments

  • JuliusBorisovJuliusBorisov Member, Administrator, Moderator, Developer Posts: 21,128
    The prices in the game are wrong and don't follow DnD when it comes to things like a room at the tavern.

    I advice to look at @LadyRhian 's posts here: http://forum.baldursgate.com/discussion/32218/how-much-money-gold-does-the-average-npc-make

    According to her, the average peasant farmer makes about 3-5 gold per year. More prosperous farm may make 15 gold or so. Really prosperous farms may make, say 30 to 50 gold. Merchants can make more money, but bear the cost of having to actually ship their goods around.

    So, 10000 gp is a lot more than a Flaming Fist officer can earn in one year.

    Saigon1983MetallomanSertoriusNonnahswriter
  • Saigon1983Saigon1983 Member Posts: 156
    edited April 2015


    - a warship - 25.000G

    Great, my hero at the end of ToB can afford himself fleets of Waterdeep and Calimport at once))

    MetallomanJuliusBorisovSmilingSwordDJKajuru
  • MetallomanMetalloman Member, Moderator, Translator (NDA) Posts: 3,975
    yeah, theoretically you could buy all the ships mooring in Athkatla docks and blast Spellhold all by yourself in Shadows of Amn! XD

    Shadow Thiefs who?

    Saigon1983JuliusBorisovSmilingSwordNonnahswriter
  • GreenWyvernGreenWyvern Member Posts: 247
    bengoshi said:

    According to her, the average peasant farmer makes about 3-5 gold per year. More prosperous farm may make 15 gold or so.

    So when I'm going around and pickpocketing 1-3 gold from commoners, as well as sometimes getting the occasional 10-15 gold from a wealthier NPC, I'm taking about half of their yearly salary? Not to mention, going into their houses and nabbing more gold and "low" value gems? I have a feeling my Chaotic Neutral character has passively murdered hundreds more people than she knows about, in that case. Yet, I still give gold to beggers and such.

    "Steal from the poor, give to the poorer!" ~Peppernose

    deltagoSethDavis
  • deltagodeltago Member Posts: 7,634
    I jist pretend that an economy, income, civil service and taxes hasn't been developed yet.

    Most commoners own homes that they built from wood and stone they themselves collected and grow/hunt food just to sustain them and their families.

    Larger cities depend on merchants to get common goods to them, most of which, such as iron is a luxury.

    A blacksmith can be commissioned through larger factions such as the Flaming Fist, who provide more than enough iron to make weapons and armour for the faction supplying the material. The rest over he uses for his own wares to sell. Since he got the material for free, he will only charge for labour.

  • scriverscriver Member Posts: 2,056
    It should be noted that costs and currency do not make much sense in tabletop DnD either.

    Jarrakul
  • MetallomanMetalloman Member, Moderator, Translator (NDA) Posts: 3,975



    So when I'm going around and pickpocketing 1-3 gold from commoners, as well as sometimes getting the occasional 10-15 gold from a wealthier NPC, I'm taking about half of their yearly salary?

    Well, as said, economy in IE games is greatly simplified, I think that the same thing in a PnP FR session you would pickpocket some coppers and nothing else of more value from commoners, IF they have something in their pockets at all, as many of them hide coins inside their belts or shoes. XP

    JuliusBorisov
  • GrazokGrazok Member Posts: 2
    Well in normal AD&D campaigns there usually are fractions of gold pieces. Like 10 silver are one gold and 10 copper are one silver and 5 platinum are 1 gold. So a 1 gp/room inn would have its wine for a couple of copper or silver at best. I guess it was a headache to implement that in BG.

    lolien
  • Saigon1983Saigon1983 Member Posts: 156
    edited April 2015
    Well, the plot of this topic goes in not that way, that I meant)) I've suppose to understand what thing in FR can be consider as a basic unit, that costs 1 gold. And what must be costs of other things in game, based on this unit, compared to real medival culture of Europe, for example

  • Lord_TansheronLord_Tansheron Member Posts: 4,198
    Bread was always a popular measure, but I don't think there is bread in the BG games. Neither are there meals.

    One of the most mundane things I can think of that is available is staying at an inn. Or possibly alcohol.

    If you go with weapons, the price of a plentiful product such as arrows is probably a decent baseline.

  • MetallomanMetalloman Member, Moderator, Translator (NDA) Posts: 3,975

    Well, the plot of this topic goes in not that way, that I meant)) I've suppose to understand what thing in FR can be consider as a basic unit, that costs 1 gold. And what must be costs of other things in game, based on this unit, compared to real medival culture of Europe, for example

    Well, I gave you some examples to make your comparisons, even if these are from D&D 3.5 and not AD&D 2nd ED, but I suppose that not much changed between these editions, anyway these are some references to compare with real European Middle Age life, right? ;)

    joluv
  • hisplshispls Member Posts: 166
    Of course nobody really says what size the gold or silver pieces are.

    That said, I don't think a lot of realism went into the D&D monetary system. Some of it is pretty god, some makes no sense at all.

    Bear in mind that an ounce of gold today will buy the same amount of rice, bread, cattle, etc. as it would 2000 years ago

  • semiticgodsemiticgod Member Posts: 14,507
  • Lord_TansheronLord_Tansheron Member Posts: 4,198
    hispls said:

    Bear in mind that an ounce of gold today will buy the same amount of rice, bread, cattle, etc. as it would 2000 years ago

    I find that very hard to believe. Gold prices are fairly fixed globally, prices for comestibles are not; far from it, in fact. Also gold prices fluctuate at very different rates than the prices of other goods.

    I would assume that the same holds true within the world of D&D. There are markets after all, and things like shortages, surpluses, wars, famines, etc. Prices do not remain stable for long, least of all when viewed over a period of many centuries.

  • JarrakulJarrakul Member Posts: 2,029
    I just want to say that the average cheap beer from a bar is like $3 where I live. If someone offered me a hotel room for $3 a night, I would not sleep in it. In fact, there's probably even odds that I'd call the police, because that price does not make sense unless something very illegal is going on. At the very least, the health code violations have got to be pretty insane.

    EmpyrialDelvarianAdso
  • hisplshispls Member Posts: 166

    hispls said:

    Bear in mind that an ounce of gold today will buy the same amount of rice, bread, cattle, etc. as it would 2000 years ago

    I find that very hard to believe. Gold prices are fairly fixed globally, prices for comestibles are not; far from it, in fact. Also gold prices fluctuate at very different rates than the prices of other goods.

    I would assume that the same holds true within the world of D&D. There are markets after all, and things like shortages, surpluses, wars, famines, etc. Prices do not remain stable for long, least of all when viewed over a period of many centuries.
    Not at all. Read some about the price of cattle 200 years ago in the USA, then consider a 10$ gold coin was half an ounce and multiply by today's melt price to find pretty close to what a beef cow would sell for on-the-hoof today.

    Research the Japanese Ryu which was a gold coin. 400 years ago one Ryu (roughly half an ounce of gold) was = one koku of rice (around 150KG). So averaging about 2$ a pound..... or what you would pay for a pound of brown rice today.

    I'm in the maple sugar business and the price of a pound of sugar in the 1800's is quite comparable to what it is today when considering in 1800 you would be buying with silver.

    I had also seen prices (in gold or silver) of a fine set of tailored clothing in ancient Rome which is comparable to a good tailored suit today.

    Apart from great leaps in technology in production of some commodities, things like skilled labor and basic foodstuffs stay quite consistent when measured against their value in metals.

    Adso
  • JarrakulJarrakul Member Posts: 2,029
    The problem is, the amounts of precious metal available to the market change over time, most notably according to the rate at which we find new veins of the stuff. In order for precious metals to keep their worth, they're going to have to expand at the same rate as our general prosperity in terms of other resources. Of course these things are correlated, as greater resources allow us to pursue more expansive mining operations, but they're not tightly causal, and it seems questionable to expect them to follow any sort of strict pattern as a society's needs change throughout history. Sure, there are points where the values are comparable, and that's certainly interesting, perhaps even indicative of a very broad-level principle of resource-equivalence (maybe), but it doesn't hold universally true, and I certainly don't think it's reasonable to expect that it will for a given time and commodity-equivalence.

  • hisplshispls Member Posts: 166
    Jarrakul said:

    The problem is, the amounts of precious metal available to the market change over time, most notably according to the rate at which we find new veins of the stuff. In order for precious metals to keep their worth, they're going to have to expand at the same rate as our general prosperity in terms of other resources. Of course these things are correlated, as greater resources allow us to pursue more expansive mining operations, but they're not tightly causal, and it seems questionable to expect them to follow any sort of strict pattern as a society's needs change throughout history. Sure, there are points where the values are comparable, and that's certainly interesting, perhaps even indicative of a very broad-level principle of resource-equivalence (maybe), but it doesn't hold universally true, and I certainly don't think it's reasonable to expect that it will for a given time and commodity-equivalence.

    So barring advances in transportation, mass production, and similar, find me some exceptions where the price of basic food items, precious metals, and skilled and unskilled labor don't track pretty consistently.

  • Saigon1983Saigon1983 Member Posts: 156
    Wow. Didn't thought, that topic becomes so serious))

    DreadKhanelminster
  • JarrakulJarrakul Member Posts: 2,029
    So, this is an incredibly difficult thing to measure over the time spans we'd like to measure. There's the saying about buying suits, but "a nice suit" has a range spanning (for the most part) two orders of magnitude today, so I'm not impressed by that as a definition of "constant". If you can find any concrete data on the worth of gold in, say, the middle ages, I'd love to hear it. The problem is that it varied geographically and people didn't necessarily keep great records. Nor am I seeing a lot of scholarly citations from either side. The best source I can find is this:

    https://books.google.com/books?id=60X_1HjhIaEC&pg=PA92&lpg=PA92&dq=purchasing+power+gold+middle+ages&source=bl&ots=d7UcEs1W4k&sig=3u396G9f29eXarxgAaUQ8CRjgXM&hl=en&sa=X&ei=UnUxVaa9NMqNyASFo4GYBQ&ved=0CDgQ6AEwAw#v=onepage&q=purchasing power gold middle ages&f=false

    While we're at it, here's a chart for the last 50 years or so. There is one case where gold and Consumer Price Index increased at very roughly the same time, but in general the correlation looks pretty weak.

    http://www.macrotrends.net/1340/gold-vs-the-cpi-historical-chart

    This wikipedia page also talks about the massive inflation that occurred when Europe starting looting gold and silver from the Americas, driving prices up because there was more gold to buy things with.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Price_revolution

    Now, all of these could potentially violate your "barring advances" clause, but... frankly, I don't find that clause compelling. There are always advances in transportation, production (mass production being one such advance), and similar. Discounting them limits us to extremely small historical timeframes, which utterly fail to provide information regarding long-term trends of the value of precious metals.

    DreadKhan
  • DreadKhanDreadKhan Member Posts: 3,859
    One thing I noticed while digging around in some of the pseudo-economics of these games, people have a habit of not being really familiar with the actual relative costs of certain things, especially things like commodities, which are always going to move around a ton price-wise. Arms and Equipment in 3.5 really did a decent job though of explaining the basics, but most game systems really have huge piles of weird when you start running the numbers; this is because things have to work as a game, not as an economy. Which is fine, it's probably not going to be fun to actually work out a great economy for a fantasy setting which will be immediately disregarded; the basics is usually plenty (ie this region exports pig iron, this region exports timber, this region imports lots of food, etc).

    Really egregious example btw, Rye costing 10x what Wheat costs. Regardless of variety, wheat was/is as a rule more valuable than rye, and historically, rye was an extreme poverty food in part due to ergot which grows on it. Ergot has compounds VERY similar to LSD, and has caused some pretty unpleasant things likely in history, IE lots of witchcraft accusations and the like. Being spiked with LSD would be rather unpleasant, and being spiked with a strong hallucinogen when you are almost completely unfamiliar with psychotropics must be REALLY unpleasant. Anyways, for example, very poor Romans traded their wheat allowance for rye, as they could get more food that way, or some extra money and eat the same amount.
    hispls said:

    Jarrakul said:

    The problem is, the amounts of precious metal available to the market change over time, most notably according to the rate at which we find new veins of the stuff. In order for precious metals to keep their worth, they're going to have to expand at the same rate as our general prosperity in terms of other resources. Of course these things are correlated, as greater resources allow us to pursue more expansive mining operations, but they're not tightly causal, and it seems questionable to expect them to follow any sort of strict pattern as a society's needs change throughout history. Sure, there are points where the values are comparable, and that's certainly interesting, perhaps even indicative of a very broad-level principle of resource-equivalence (maybe), but it doesn't hold universally true, and I certainly don't think it's reasonable to expect that it will for a given time and commodity-equivalence.

    So barring advances in transportation, mass production, and similar, find me some exceptions where the price of basic food items, precious metals, and skilled and unskilled labor don't track pretty consistently.

    @hispls what exactly are you trying to say?? Ignoring advancement's effect on prices is frankly stupid, if that's what you're asking us to do.

    I had a longer and less polite bit I was going to post, but I'll simply point out that grain prices completely destroy your position. The price of grain hasn't changed anywhere near inflation, and varies immensely. Corn prices have had ~8 USD range of movement in the last 30 years, from a high ~10 USD, and a low ~2 USD. I doubt it was below 2 USD a century ago, despite a huge amount of inflation. The price of food has very little elasticity; if there is a shortfall, prices surge dramatically, even if its a very tiny shortage, while a surplus will absolutely tank the price. The US Department of Agriculture has over time made significant efforts to minimize volatility, including fudging numbers to keep things from getting too out of whack. End users generally don't care too much if the price goes up or a down a bit (the only people making big money on food btw are Food Processors), but the big swings are murder for bookkeeping, and can make life very hard on executives I suppose.

    Anyways, considering gold per ounce in my lifetime has varied comically in the last 25 years, due to India and China becoming wealthier, mostly India, where gold is EXTREMELY important to their culture. Take a look at the graph in this link: http://goldprice.org/

    CAVEAT! I suspect when there was still the old Gold Standard system, your statement was much more likely to be true. Even then, buying patterns effect price immensely, separate from availability, this is part of what Microeconomics is all about. You've heard about the Tulip Boom back in the day, right?

  • Lord_TansheronLord_Tansheron Member Posts: 4,198
    So in essence things cost the same - if you have very generous ideas of 'things' and very loose definitions of 'the same'.

    You can't tell me a cow costs the same in the US as it does in, say, East Asia. Or Africa. Or wherever. Whereas gold will be worth roughly the same (which is why it's so often used as a fallback currency in the first place).

    I'm fairly certain that prices fluctuate enough for there to be little to no basis for a claim that things "cost the same". 10% is a huge margin already, and depending on the period the gold price has fluctuated by a lot more than that over the centuries.

    And that's for products that are fairly comparable, like a cow. Don't even start with things like "a good suit" because that can be anything from $20 to $2.000 depending on global location and understanding of the term.

    DreadKhan
  • hisplshispls Member Posts: 166
    DreadKhan said:





    Anyways, considering gold per ounce in my lifetime has varied comically in the last 25 years, due to India and China becoming wealthier, mostly India, where gold is EXTREMELY important to their culture. Take a look at the graph in this link: http://goldprice.org/

    You mean because you have seen a period of hyper inflation you do not believe that precious metals have held a relative equivalent value.

    Suit yourself. It's a fantasy game and not worth getting upset over.

  • DreadKhanDreadKhan Member Posts: 3,859
    ...buddy, YOU brought up your theory of 'real world relative value', nobody else did. Everyone else was talking about gaming economics.

    Also, it's not a period of hyperinflation, its a period in which ONE COMMODITY, which happens to be the lynch-pin of your argument, had a huge increase in demand.

    Everyone I think though will be happy to go back to discussing the economics in the game. IIRC, some handbooks DO have examples of the size of a 'gold piece', and we DEFINITELY have a recommended weight for gold pieces; in the game, they are supposed to count against encumbrance remember! Some games even use GP as a unit of weight I remember. Seems dumb, but it had its pluses and minuses.

    So, just broke down the looked it up for 3rd ed, in which coins are supposed to weigh 1/3 of an ounce. So, in modern terms, a 3rd edition gold piece would be worth ~400 USD atm, which is certainly quite a bit of cash.

    Mind you, gold is considered to be higher value than it is really worth atm (I actually suspect it will keep trending slowly up longer term, due to demand for jewelry, and limited supply), and those people would claim 250-500 USD per ounce is probably more 'reasonable', which would suggest a gold piece would be worth about 80 to 160 USD.

    IIRC, Silver has actually risen MUCH faster than gold, as silver is a really great conductor, so as it has substantial industrial demand, silver might end up worth more than gold. Crazy!

  • Lord_TansheronLord_Tansheron Member Posts: 4,198
    It's all just fictional prices anyway, especially for things valued for abstract properties like beauty or desirability. Certainly rarity is a factor, but all things considered gold isn't that rare. Neither are diamonds (quite common actually). Most of it is speculative market influences and artificially sustained value based in some vague concept no one can really explain. I mean what the hell IS IT with gold? Why do people like it? It's pretty boring. Has some uses here and there, but nothing too exciting (@DreadKhan rightly said it, silver is a lot more useful).

    In the end, a commodity like gold is a collective lie. We agree that it's worth something because we want it, and we want it because we agree it's worth something. And as such, the lie can shift one way or the other, depending on many factors.

    Historically, gold prices have fluctuated considerably based on things like war, economic trends, fashion, heck even the whims of individuals (Mansa Musa spent so much gold on his hajj he destabilized local gold prices for decades wherever he passed, for example).

    It is entirely feasible, I'd even say likely, that such events would have occurred in the Forgotten Realms as well. One could wonder what kind of influence certain events had on markets. The fall of Netheril? The Spellplague? The Time of Troubles? Not to mention the myriad of smaller wars and conflicts that would no doubt wreak havoc with local economies. If anything, such events would be MORE common in a world like FR than they are in the real world - Trademeet genies anyone?

  • DreadKhanDreadKhan Member Posts: 3,859
    Diamonds are actually fairly common compared to many gems, as you note, but diamond sales are controlled by a very, very powerful cartel. AFAIK, they were the first true cartel. Diamonds are awfully pretty if they have little to no impurity (light travels EXTREMELY slow through diamond, and proper faceting will create an unsurpassed sparkle), and as everyone knows, they're extremely durable in many situations, and famously hard. They have significant industrial uses, and always will. Silver has been growing in value VERY fast for a good while, and with more advanced computers, I expect we'll see even more demand. Gold has value for computers too obviously, since it conducts and is pretty near noble (IE doesn't react to many common things). Gold is very useful for connecting things in circuitry because it shouldn't corrode, IE form a thick oxide layer. Aluminum, copper and lead for example form oxides almost before your eyes, they are VERY reactive, silver isn't a ton better for this, but is so conductive that it has special use.

    The thing about gold I suspect is a combination of tradition, and the fact that almost every culture valued it pretty highly. The American peoples valued jade higher, and at times I'm sure China did too, but gold was always special for some reason. An obvious one is that its easy to make very, very intricate things out of it, as its soft, ductile and not prone to cracking/shattering. Its easy to cast, and if pure, its soft enough you can shave off a piece of gold to pay for something, which used to be a major form of currency, you'd pay for good and services with scraps of gold or usually silver, especially when traveling. Modern gold prices are dictated mainly by India at this point, and the odd Western investor who has jumped on the bandwagon, but IMHO the Western investment has less impact than India's increased affluence has. Every girl in India wants to bring gold to her marriage, it's part of tradition, and it offers concrete proof of her value. A bit misogynistic I would say, but in many similar traditions, the gold is the property of the wife, IE among the Afar, women amass gold to support their families when times are lean. Sensible if you live in an extremely harsh climate.

    @Lord_Tansheron in Dragonlance, the fall of Istar gold lost most of its value, and steel becomes the standard currency. A funny twist. You'd think FR would have more variance with all the big cataclysms.

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