Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Center Cannot Hold: Coins and Currencies

Currencies in Crux
Most precious metals and gems can't be alchemically reproduced, but the ease of finding them through planar travel or conjuration has long made them not the most reliable basis for currency.  The first coins on Orphos came from Rruk, before its devastation.  Ursyklon spurned coins initially, but even they adopted the practice of using them.

Othebean Banks first emerged in response to the Ithic Dollar and the various combating Ainesian
currencies.  Arcane magic made markets collapse during the Othebean Crusades.  Magically replicating the silver or gold in the coinage introduced large economic stresses.  Those who used coins didn't trust gold or silver in that age.  Othebean Monarchs, vigilant against such arcane manipulations, banned the use of gold or silver as the basis for currency altogether.  The Othebean Banks emerged to facilitate the use of a new standard, one that helped solidify Othebea's place in trade.

The Adamantine Standard made use of the fact that Conjuration magic couldn't replicate it.  Further,
planar excusions to find more of the material were just as hard as ones on Orphos.  Adamantine proved difficult to find no matter the world, magical interference or manipulation.  It became a bedrock standard for Othebean currency.

The base unit for Othebea is based on the weight of a whole Pound of pure Adamantine.  The Adamantine Pound is then divided into twenty Shillings.  Each Shilling is then divided again into twelve Swords.  Any coinage below a Pound is an alloy of Adamantine, blended with electrum or steel.  Since only highly skilled and magical smiths can separate or combine the adamantine with other metals, producing counterfeits is hard work.

However, the use of adamantine limits the number of actual coins that can be in circulation.  Lowering the content in the coins has often been used to free up money for the Othebean crown, albeit a risky one because it often lowers the value of the coins in the process.  The Bank of Othebea has taken to producing copper and steel swords instead of adamantine alloys, as well as banknotes representing pounds, to help with this problem.

Othebean coins are easily found throughout the Maru Sea.  The use of copper and other nonadamantine metals has caused the rise of various counterfeiting outfits.  Because the Othebean Pound is highly regarded in trade, its value attracts attempts to counterfeit it.  Othebean agents always look out for ways to catch such efforts, even devoting an order of Paladins to the matter.

The First Sorcerous Congress adopted the Salish adamantine-milled Dollar.  Used as tender throughout the Ithic City-States, the Dollar adopted was based on 451 grains of Adamantine.  Unlike Othebea, different city-states have their own mints and currencies.  The federal government of Ith issues coins based around the dollar.  The Sphinx, which is worth ten dollars; the Wand, worth a fourth of a Dollar; the Cent, worth 1/100 of a Dollar; and the Half-Cent, worth half a Cent.

Ithic coins and banknotes differ from Othebean ways other than just denomination.  Because each are printed or minted by local banks, those who print them tend to add cheap, yet effective arcane additions to their higher-value currency.  Ithic Standard & Loan enchants Sphinxes with illusion spells that make counterfeiting harder; in Ithspan, divination runes on banknotes scream aloud when the banknote is stolen; in Southern Ith, coinage often is marked with runes that burn the Unsorcerous if the touch them with their skin ("A wand for a mage, not one without the gift.")

Wealth in Ith tends to be controlled by monsters, such as Dragons or Liches, whose banks help form the basis of much finance.  They rarely deal in raw coinage, using a credit exchange between themselves.  Their banks, however, hold their hoards.  This major change from past collections, has resulted in massive bank vaults, like the Vault Imperialis in Crux.  Hoards of adamantine, gems, gold and silver, as well as other stored goods, make the potential strength of Ithic Banks vast.  But international exchanges, especially between Ainesia, Othebea and Ith, continue to undervalue the Dollar versus the Othebean Pound.

It isn't a trusted coin.  Despite any wealth to be found in Ith, only further development may yield an increase in its value in the markets.

The Maliphi have no specific single currency of their own.  Each Khan maintains their own adamantine coinage.  Most of these are known as Khani.  Specific Maliphi coins are unique in their designs and weights. There are rarely other denominations; often goods or commodities are used for large exchanges.

Some Maliphi Khans have adopted foreign currencies instead, relying on foreign banks for more stability versus the internal problems within the Maliph Khanates.  The lack of a single currency between Khanates, the vast differences in adamantine content and the use of commodity goods as currency, adds instability to local economies within the Khanates.  Often these lows spur on slave raids or internal conflicts between Khans.

Unlike other powers, the Maliphi rarely separate banking, mercantile and political powers.  The ruling Khans often are also the wealthiest persons in their khanate.  Although this centralizes their wealth, it also prevents the rise of competition.  It causes stagnantion.  Worse, it makes some of the Khanates inflexible to sudden change, in that so much of their wealth is tied to specific individuals.

Maliphi Slavers and Pirates result from lack of stability in their own currency.  Being the most abroad traveling, their exclusive use of Othebean coins speaks volumes.  Trusted because, unlike the Khani, its exact nature isn't nebulous.

At the Revolution, Ainesia went from a hundred different currencies to one.  A single new currency, one based on Revolutionary values.  After a dozen iterations, Empress Krasnysang's rise force the Ainesian Government to settle on a single solution.  The main denomination for Ainesian currency is a banknote, the assignot.

The Assignot's value is controlled completely by Krasnysang's government.  Within Ainesia itself, prices are set by committee.  Although highly experimental, it has remained a stable way for Ainesia to create infrastructure.  The assignot is divided into a hundred Obles.  Theoretically based on the Adamantine Standard, the paper lacks the secure aspects of currency made from adamantine alloys.

Within Ainesia, the use of foreign coins is outlawed at large.  Even then, most tend to trust the Othebean Pound over the assignot.  Ainesia still has been able to make their currency as secure as other currencies, a concern they continue to experiment with.