1. BallerGamer
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    BallerGamer Active Member

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    Currency for a city state

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by BallerGamer, May 3, 2012.

    I'm pretty sure this gets asked a lot. In my world there's a lot of different countries and all that. The countries all share the same currency, except for one, and that's because decades prior the government was overrun by barbarians so the cities basically govern themselves. I've looked into trying to research ancient Greece before the Persian invasion when the cities were states of their own, but from what I can tell they're too advanced for my liking. The city I have in mind isn't advanced nor poor; they just can't make trade with other cities because those barbarians still terrorize the country. They're well off enough that they can at least be satisfied with their lives and many are not starving. I'm wondering what currency would be used in such a situation, if it's currency at all rather than just internal trade?

    To mix it up even more, although trade is difficult, it's not near impossible, but since it is difficult, resources and items that are imported from other cities or countries are highly expensive and can only be afforded by the very rich of that city.

    I kind of have an idea of how I want to go with this, I just wanted some feedback on what I could possible do with this.
     
  2. James Berkley
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    James Berkley Banned

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    so we are talkint about a bronz age civilization. they whould likely use coins that are made of a material to have a value in and of themselves. examples whould be silver or gold coins. as far as a name. are their any really important historic figures? or perhapse the name of the city state
     
  3. BallerGamer
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    BallerGamer Active Member

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    If what I'm describing is resemblance of a bronze age civilization I will look into that further. As far as historic figures goes, when the country fell, the king abandoned it because to put it simply, he was a coward and thought it would eventually fall. His daughter the princess took charge of the country, but fell. However she was seen as the greatest hero of her time, even more than the Bane of Carnage (in my story the "Bane" is a once in a generation warrior who leads humanity to a period of prosperity).

    You know, not related to this at all, I've just came up with a new story idea, thanks for that :D
     
  4. Nakhti
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    Nakhti Banned

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    Ya know, once in a generation is a REALLY short time span for a civilisation to go through the cycle of presperity to crisis (either through war, conquest, economic downfall - whatever) and then build itself back up again. A generation is typically considered about 20 years, but in an ancient or undeveloped civilisation with a high mortality rate and low life expectancy, you can drop that to 15.

    And if a super warrior appears in every single generation, then they never have a period without one... as soon as one dies another comes along, so they wouldn't really be all that greatly anticipated, would they? Give it 100 years MINIMUM between saviours and then they each have a bit more significance.

    That was just a random tangent, sorry...

    As far as currency goes, you need to decide that for yourself based on the level of development in your society. It could be barter, coinage, or simply measures of valuable commodities, i.e. whatever the society really prizes. That could be precious metals, it could be grain, it could be slaves or horses. All those things have been used as 'currency' in various societies.
     
  5. BallerGamer
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    BallerGamer Active Member

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    To be honest I said that without knowing how long a generation is. The cycle is between 30 to 100 years, but on average 50 years. It's random depending on the need for the warrior to appear. As for the currency, yeah that's what I was thinking, I just wanted to have some concrete feedback before I continued on and you guys really helped :D
     
  6. Kay Lesgo
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    Kay Lesgo Member

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    I like the idea of a generational cape pass-off. Sort of like the incarnations of the Dalai Lama. However, Bane of Carnage is an oxymoron - if he is a warrior he will be a killer. A bane of carnage would be the opposite of that, which would be a very cool premise.

    What about salt (or water) as currency depending on the geography
     
  7. BallerGamer
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    BallerGamer Active Member

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    The "Carnage" in the name is actually referring to what is described in my world as the three biggest dangers in the world (witches, dragons, barbarians), not really the definition itself. I've actually been trying to come up with a better name just cause it sounds too corny imo, but I haven't really came up with one yet.
     
  8. Jowettc
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    Jowettc Contributing Member

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    Just go with coin - bronze, silver, gold, wood i you want to so long as the generation of the coin is controlled by the stat i.e stamped to some degree. Everyone udnerstands the idea of using coins and it's not central to the plot, it's a minor detail. Tick coin, move on.
     
  9. Nakhti
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    Nakhti Banned

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    So basically you're saying just go with the lazy option because it's 'not an important detail' - I don't consider that very good advice, tbh. And how do you know it's not important? For all you know, huge plot points could rest on this very matter. If you're going to get blase with your advice, why bother giving it?
     
  10. Nakhti
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    Nakhti Banned

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    Hmm... does it have to have 'bane' in the title? Because as prophetic titles go, that's a bit cliche. It's almost as overdone as 'the chosen one' :D

    It's difficult to be original, because these warrior types are really quite a fantasy trope. Just about any cool sounding name you can think of has probably already been used. Maybe something better will come to you as you write it :)
     
  11. Man in the Box
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    Man in the Box Active Member

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    Coins made of a valuable metal. You can invent the name of the coins and, if you don't want to go with gold, even the metal.

    IIRC in the feudal age they didn't use currency at all because each feud was its own political unit. Cities grew around feuds. This is a lot more recent than the Bronze Age and also worth researching.
     
  12. live2write
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    live2write Contributing Member

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    I would agree with coins. My question: "Is this how the currency exchange started?" Some countries a bronze coin is with half of a silver, and what is worth more in silver is twice the amount or something like that.

    Aside from coins what about barding exchange. One country might have a resource that could be used as a form of currency. Unless I am getting too technical?
     
  13. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think that a common currency shared among many countries is a pretty modern concept - we haven't achieved that in our own time. I'm having trouble imagining such a large success of communication and diplomacy in a relatively primitive world.

    And your idea of a country having trouble with trade due to being overrun by barbarians suggests an assumption that the currency is government backed rather than simply being backed by the inherent value of the metal of the coin; that's a fairly substantial worldbuilding assumption. I'm not saying that it's wrong - I see to my surprise that "representative money" is a very old concept - but it is definitely an assumption. (As is the assumption that the entity backing the money is a government rather than some non-government organization.)

    As my first guess, I'd guess that different countries/cities/nobles/merchants/etc. would be creating different coins, where a coin is merely a chunk of metal of a standardized weight with identifiable markings. And I wouldn't expect the currency to depend on any government backing - the value of the coins would be based on the value of the actual metal of the coin.

    And people wouldn't necessarily use coins for exchange - they might use any commodity widely held to be valuable. Salt, wine, butter, oil, thread, fabric, ivory, jewels, pepper and other spices, tobacco, seeds, grain, fur, wool, grain, nails, furs... any number of things could serve.
     
  14. BallerGamer
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    BallerGamer Active Member

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    Just to clear it up, I did want to have a scene somewhere in the book where a character from a very rich city came to this isolated city somehow and due to the circumstances of my world where it's not safe to travel without an "escorter", basically trained warriors that guide groups of people from city to city for a price (I've also been pending on a better name for that title), he's stuck there for at least a month because there isn't going to be another escorting job until that time. He tries going around buying food with a currency that can' be used in that city and is of course shocked that his riches are being refused. That is pretty much the basis for why I asked this question lol

    As for coming up with a better name, yeah I really have tried, though I've really wasted a lot of time on it and came up with nothing but blanks. Sometimes I would sit there for an hour, not think of anything, and without knowing I find myself on Facebook. I figured that I would just sleep on it and allow my subconscious to develop one at a random time (always happens to me, I have like 100 notes on my iPhone saved of ideas I just randomly came up with).
     
  15. BallerGamer
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    BallerGamer Active Member

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    I'm still in the middle of my world building process and this is something in my story I haven't really gotten around to concentrating on as much, though the form of government has always been in my mind, although it may not help that I've never taken an econ or government class. What I've settled on for now is that because the city is closed off to itself with no connection with other cities or countries, its needs were always exclusively within to themselves. Over time I guess you could say the importance of government dissipated and it slowly became more of a mutual understanding amongst a large group of people than the kind of government we know today, if that makes sense.
     
  16. Jowettc
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    Thanks for the rant.

    My advice is neither blase nor lazy and I stand by it. It is not a critically important plot point what the currency is and the coin has traditionally been a fairly universally adopted form of currency in most cultures due to it's simplicity and the ease with which it can be transferred - followed later by the promisory note which ultimately led to the bank note.

    Nothing lazy about it - it's sensible - why reinvent the wheel and end up with something worse that the reader simpy does not believe in.
     
  17. Pedro87
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    Pedro87 New Member

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    I’m going to have remind myself that as I am developing my setting. I get a little overboard sometimes with trying to come up with original names or terms for certain things that are better left alone. Things like firearms or machines within my story. A little off topic, but I like your advice. In regards to currency with my setting, it’s leaning towards bank notes. Still need to come up with a name though.
     
  18. sunwave
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    sunwave Member

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    I'm thinking about what you could also do. There are fantasy stories where they use coins, like bronze, silver, gold etc, but they are not all the same. Some cities have small coins, other have bigger coins, or square coins or hexagonals. Or some print a regent on one side or the other, to show when the coin was printed. Etc.

    This way, it is the same currency, but still different (if that even makes sence).
    Of course, you might come up with a name for the currency, so that it is not just "coins".
     
  19. Nakhti
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    Nakhti Banned

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    Ok, maybe flippant was the word I was looking for. Either way, you came off a little bit dismissive and condescending. Like 'well, this is a boring debate. Do what I say, end of.'

    It's about tone.
     
  20. Lazy
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    Lazy Banned

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    I think he's right. Why bother doing something different just because? Unless the currency is tied to some other aspect of their culture then there is no point in using anything other than coins.

    Probably one of the biggest reasons that people don't finish their stories is because they get hung up on this stuff.
     
  21. Nakhti
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    Nakhti Banned

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    Mmmhmm, because god forbid someone should use their creativity or be original...

    Think outside the box a LITTLE once in a while. Why does it HAVE to be coinage? Why does everyone HAVE to write about vampires? Why is it ALWAYS elves in fantasy stories???

    Make a decision because it fits your plot and story world best, not just because it's convention and you don't want to waste time thinking up a better and more interestng solution. That's just... well, lazy.
     
  22. Lazy
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    Lazy Banned

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    The point is, something as simple as currency is not going to enrich your world and no one will really notice or care unless it's a plot point or tied to other aspects of the culture, as I said. For instance, a religion that worships nature and the leaves of a certain type of tree are used as currency, valued because of their rarity. That would take some finagling to turn into a believable economy but that's just an example I thought of right now.

    While thinking about this earlier I actually thought of another idea for a currency different than coins, but I'm not going to post it yet because I plan on using it. Still, it's not really a big deal and my story would be pretty much the same without it.
     
  23. Nakhti
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    Nakhti Banned

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    Thanks for proving my point that it's not ALWAYS the best solution to just go with established convention, simply because it's easy.
     
  24. shangrila
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    shangrila Member

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    I just looked up old names for english currency in the victorian era and beyond. I ended up with crowns, which ends up working within my world, but just play around with things like that and see what comes up.

    I'll partially agree with whoever said not to get hung up on details like this though. Remember, it's the story that sells the book, not the world. Give your currency a placeholder name if you can't think of one you really like, then give yourself time to mull it over while the story continues. If you come up with something better then just change it in the edits.
     
  25. Lazy
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    Lazy Banned

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    Right, but it's not a detail of such importance that I would make a thread on the internet about it or spend any time thinking about it if I hadn't seen this one. And like I said, the story is the same whether it's there or not.

    It is pretty cool though, if I do say so myself.
     

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