Saturday, July 28, 2018

Coinage - it's complicated

D&D coinage tends to be very simple.  1gp = 10 sp = 100 cp, with sometimes platinum and electrum thrown into the mix.

However, this is not very historically accurate.  Things were often much more muddled than that, and some games have attempted to emulate this.  Warhammer frpg for example uses a 1 crown = 20 shillings = 240 pennies, which does have some historical basis.

In my experience over the years, I've discovered that while a more accurate and complex coin system can be satisfying for the GM to research, design and use... unfortunately in actual gameplay, it's kind of a pain  (the above Warhammer example is about as complex as you want to get).  Your players probably won't like the bewildering array of coins and strange ratios, and it slows the game down.  

So what to do if you do want a complex coinage system anyway?  You use "a unit of account".   This is a unit of currency that is widely used to measure value, even though actual coins of that value may be rare, or non-existent even.  The actual specific coins used for this are not important, but the PCs know instantly what the value is.   This level of abstraction speeds up the game, and the various coinage can fade in the background *until* they becomes important because of a plot or logistical issue.

For example, a specific coin is being forged.  The PCs are investigating.  Or the PC found a fortune... in Oxide Ingot , the fortune weight tons, what to do?  

In my Yoon Suin campaign, the unit of account is the Rupee - a big fat silver coin that has a fair amount of prestige associated with it, but is rarely seen in circulation.   So if the party is offered a 10 000 rupee reward to undertake a dangerous mission, they will probably paid in a mixture of gold and silver pieces.

All the players need to know is 1 gp = 5 rupee = 10 sp = 320 cp 

The actual values:

1 mohur = 3 gp = 15 rupee
1 gp = 5 rupee = 10 sp
1 rupee = 2 silver pieces = 16 anna = 64 paise = 192 pie
1 sp = 8 anna = 32 paise = 96 pie
1 anna = 4 paise = 12 pie
1 paise = 3 pie

The coins

The Mohur is a large, rare gold coin minted in the Yellow city.  Being paid in actual Mohur is a privilege, and people prefer hoarding them than spending them, keeping them out of circulation

The "standard" gold piece is a small piece of gold, used by merchants and the wealthy, mostly minted in the oligarchies and the hundred kingdoms.  (3.84 g)

The rupee is a large silver coin, as noted above, and being paid in actual rupee has some prestige.  Like the Mohur, it is frequently hoarded.  A rupee/day is the "minimum wage" - what a free laborer can expect to get, although they probably will be paid in a mixture of silver pieces, annas and paises.  

The "standard" silver piece covers a large array of mediumish silver coins that have over the centuries being somewhat standardized to be worth half a rupee.  The half-rupee coin itself is uncommon but isn't seen as special.  A lot come from the hundred kingdoms, the oligarchies and the Mountains of the Moon.  These coins are in large circulations   5.4 g on average

The Anna is a very small silver piece, minted mostly in the Yellow City.  It's frequently debased and forged, and as such the anna is not accepted for large sums and is seen as suspicious.  "Being paid in annas" is a euphemism for doing unsavory deeds for money.  However there are many in circulation. (0.675 g)

The Paise is a large copper coin with a hole in the middle.  In the Yellow City, the majority (easily recognized due to the square hole) are imported by merchants from far away Xian.  This is a coin frequently used by the poor but unlike the Anna it is seen as "honest money" and is in very large circulation.

The Pie is a hardened lead coin of little value, seen as fit for children and beggars, and is minted in the Yellow city.  However it is rarely counterfeited (why bother?) and can still buy you a cup of tea, so it's worth something :)

Another form of "currency" is the tea brick.  A tea brick of "the third quality" (the most common) is worth 4 rupee and weights slightly over a pound.

Lastly, there are the is the silver and gold talents, an enormous mass of precious metal (26 kg!) that only the ultra wealthy deal with...  (1 gold talent = 6771 gp)    1 silver talent = 2 407 rupee, about 2 476 cm3)

GLOG class: the "Gish"

One of the great strength of the GLOG is how it invites customization.  This is especially apparent in class and race design.  Seeing a few is all you need to get a decent feel on how it should be done.

While it is possible to multi-class as a fighter-mage, there are no dedicated classes to the concept of  the "gish" (... that I know of.  There are many GLOG classes out there and I'm still getting my bearings!).  While this may not fit in every setting, I think that there are some players who would like it.

The Order of the Follower of Gishnard the Righteous.  

About 350 years ago, Gishnard, a struggling student who was more interested in dueling than studying magic, stole a number of spellbooks from a small college of the Orthodox order and decided to start his own school, where he would teach hopeful students to both fight and use magic.  This caused a huge scandal, but despite fierce protestations from the Orthodox College, Gishnard was well connected with the nobility and some other colleges (who enjoy thumbing their noses at the Orthodoxs) and managed to keep his school going.  He consolidated his position by supporting the King in the War,  and by promising the Church that they would help put down evil wizards.  After two generations of reasonably faithful service, the Order attained Chartered status.

Starting Equipment: spellbook (blank),  runesword, chainmail and a lump of beeswax
Starting Skill: see Backgrounds

A:  Cantrips, parry 
B: +1 MD, +1 Spell Slot, +1 Spell (1-6), smite 
C: +1 MD, +1 Spell Slot +1 Spell (1-6), spellbreaker 
D: +1 MD, +1 Spell Slot,  +2 spells (1-8) , life drain

Perks:  You start with a runesword, chainmail and a lump of beeswax
Drawbacks:  You have obligations - you can be called to War by the King and you are expected to dispatch outlaw wizards.  Orthodox wizards dislike you and outlaw wizards assume you are after them.  You have student loans, payable in gold, spells, dragon scales, or magical armor/sword.

CANTRIPS.  Gish know the following 2 cantrips
1:  Remove a bloodstain.  This takes 1 minute
2:  By carefully rubbing beeswax over the edge of your runesword, you can create a razor sharp edge.  The next hit you inflict with this sword will inflict 1 extra damage.  This process takes an hour, and consumes 1d4 cp's worth of beeswax.  (Inspired by Sorcery! by Steve Jackson)

RUNESWORD:  This blade is covered with runes and is keyed to the ghish owning it.  It is otherwise a normal sword, and has no special effect when wielded by someone else.  A gish who loses his Runesword will go to great length to recover it.  Otherwise, it can be replaced with a new sword and a week-long ritual that costs 10 gp to perform.  Gishes are fond of using large gems as pommels on their swords, but most of them can only afford orbs of colored glass. 

A sword that is already enchanted can be made into a Runesword, but this is a very delicate procedure and the ritual takes a month.

PARRY:  Once per day you can reduce incoming damage by 1d12 points. It should be noted that gishes rarely use shields as it interferes with their capacity to cast spells in battle.  

SMITE:  When hitting a creature with your runesword, spend MD to inflict [sum] damage on top of the sword's normal damage.  These MDs return to you on a roll of 1-3.  Smiting cannot trigger a mishap or doom

SPELLBREAKER:  If a spell has a physical manifestation (an illusion, a wall of force, a conjured creature), you spend an MD to shatter the effect with a blow from your runesword.  This method can be used to break an enchantment on someone, but is quite painful (inflict normal sword damage).

LIFE DRAIN:  When hitting a creature with your runesword, spend an MD to heal the amount of damage inflicted.  This *can* be combined with smite, but doing so risks mishap or doom.

SPELLS (half of these are from Skerples' list):  

1:  Bladeward
R: touch  T: creature.  D: [Sum]X2 rounds
The defense of the touched creature increases by 2.  This stacks with armor or dexterity.

2:  Enchant sword
R: touch.  T:  one sword or dagger   D: [sum]X2 rounds
The touched weapon becomes temporarily enchanted, gaining a +1 bonus to attack and damage.

3: Disarm
R:  50'.  T: [Dice]+1 creatures  D: 0
An invisible force extends from your sword, disarming opponents, who must save or have their weapons flung 30 feet in a random direction.

4. Grease 
R: 50' T: object, surface D: [dice]x2 rounds 
Can be cast directly on a creature or [sum]10' x 10' surfaces. Creatures moving across the area must Save vs Dexterity or drop held objects, or, if moving, drop prone.

5. Levitate 
R: 50' T: creature or object D: concentration 
You will an object to raise, lower, or hover. You cannot move the object horizontally, and you cannot move it more than 10' per turn. Maximum weight is [dice]x500 lbs. Lasts as long as you concentrate, but you take 1d6 psychic damage per round after [dice]x3 rounds.

6. Magic Missile
R: 200' T: creature D: 0 Target takes [sum] + [dice] damage, no Save. As an Gish, your magic missile is a twin beam of redish energy shot from your eyes.  

7. Sleep
R: 50' T: creature D: 10 min 
Target falls into a magical slumber, and can't be awoken by anything less vigorous than a slap (a standard action). Non-alert, unaware targets are not allowed a Save. Can affect creatures up to [sum] HD. If [sum] is at least 4 times the creature's HD, the duration becomes permanent (until slapped) and the creature no longer needs to eat or drink while sleeping. If you also invested 3 [dice] or more into this spell, the duration becomes permanent, and you can set the only condition that will cause the creature to awake (the sunrise before the apocalypse, true love’s kiss, etc.)

8:  Haste
R: touch T:  creature.  D: [Dice]X2
Your defense increases by 1, your move doubles, and  you can act twice a round (although you can only cast a single spell per round).  Casting this spell ages you a year.  

Gish can learn spells from other schools as a wizard could, but they are unable to master emblem spells.  They can use scrolls, wands and staves, but cannot book-cast or breed spells.


1. MD only return to your pool on a 1-2 for 24 hours 
2. Take 1d6 damage 
3. Random mutation for 1d6 rounds, then make a save. Permanent if you fail. 
4. Lose 1 MD for 24 hours. 
5. Agony for 1d6 rounds. 
6. Cannot cast spells for 1d6 rounds. 

Doom of the Gish 
1. Lose the ability to wield any weapon for 1 day 
2. Lose the ability to wield any weapon for 3 days. 
3. Lose the ability to wield any weapon permanently. 

This doom can be avoided by renouncing magic permanently, or by killing an outlaw mage in a spell duel.

I hope you enjoy it, and comments are welcome - I'm sure it could be improved with some feedback :) 

Friday, July 27, 2018

In the beginning


I'm Ancalagon.  I've been posting on the web about gaming for a long time, but it's always been on forums, message boards and other such formats.   The overwhelming number of these posts have limited value, at best. 

But from time to time, I like to think I come up with something decent.  And I told myself "maybe I should have somewhere to put those, before the forum crashes again or somesuch".  I also want a place to post some of the homebrew material I've been creating and maybe even share a small adventure or three.   So here we are.

On this blog I intend to talk mostly about Dungeons and Dragons - but that's a pretty wide topic I must admit.  To be more precise, I'll talk about 5e, a bit about the OSR (I've recently discovered "The GLOG" - look up and ), and also about Yoon Suin - a brilliant creation by David McGrogen, which you can find here: .  I'm also fairly interested by medieval economics - and perhaps more precisely, *fantasy* medieval economics.

I imagine that as time goes by, I'll come up with other topics of interest - let's see what those are shall we?