Generally, lands near each other, sharing a common group of people or a common
language have very similar economies. The countries of medieval Europe traded
with each other regularly and so developed very similar coins and values.
Kingdoms also tend to imitate the economy of the most powerful country in the
region. The Byzantine Empire had a stable gold currency, and its coins were the model
for rulers from Baghdad to Denmark.
The value of a foreign coin was based on the weight of the coin, but also on
the power of the issuer. The Byzantine besant was not only limited by other
lands, but it was highly valued in trade. An English merchant would accept these
coins from a Venetian trader because he knew their value. His price might
increase if the trader paid him in Persian dinars. To the merchant, the dinar was
simply not as valuable as the besant.
You can add color to your campaign by choosing to have different systems of
trade in different lands. By creating different currencies and ways of trading,
you make your players aware of the different kingdoms in your fantasy campaign.
This makes them pay attention and learn about your world. A traveling merchant
who trades in besants becomes a wealthy trader from the rich lands of
Byzantium, while one who deals in hacksilver is a northerner from the cold shores of
Scandinavia. These names and places create images, images more compelling and
exciting than those created by the plain words "merchant'' or "trader."
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