Money in the Grave New World

A quick guide to currencies in the Witch Hunter: The Invisible World game.
By Walt Ciechanowski For simplicity’s sake, all characters in Witch Hunter: The Invisible World are assumed to use English currency. This enables characters to easily complete business transactions without having to worry about such mundane matters as exchange rates. This also allows the GM to concentrate on more important and interesting matters than converting the price lists into Spanish or Dutch money. That said, variations in currency can play a large role in establishing the flavor of the colonial setting. In the Caribbean, for example, one might hear pirates refer to “pieces of eight.” Similarly, a Witch Hunter will realize that she’s left New England when the next town she visits uses the lion dollar instead of the guinea. Finally, one can learn valuable information from a person based on the coinage he’s carrying. This article is designed to marry the flavor of multiple currencies with ease of use in a Witch Hunter game. It takes the conceit that coinage of different colonial powers have been adjusted to work seamlessly with English currency. In the Grave New World, this is represented by the Charles Town Commercial Compact. In 1867, colonial representatives gathered in Charles Town to make conducting business between the colonies a stable affair. A compact was agreed to whereby the colonial governors would consent to a uniform currency exchange rate. While no sovereign is bound by it, the monarchs in Europe have generally let it be. Only English King James II objected to it, but upon his removal dual monarchs William and Mary were only too happy to endorse it. Because of the Charles Town Commercial Compact (or just “the Compact” amongst business people), it is very easy to use local currency for the price lists in Witch Hunter products. Simply substitute the British coin for the foreign equivalent.
British Guinea (1) Crown (1/4) Shilling (1/20) Penny (1/240) Farthing (1/960) Dutch Lion Dollar Guilder Stuiver Penning Denier French Écu Franc Sol Maravedi Spanish Doubloon Peso Real Cacao Bean Aztec Quachtli Cortes Quetzal

Witch Hunter: The Invisible World, and all related names and terms, are © Paradigm Concepts, Inc and are used without permission. Their use does not constitute a challenge to the rights held by PCI. Find out more about Witch Hunter at http://www.paradigmconcepts.com/witch_hunter.

Currency Notes
Cacao Bean Prior to European influence, the Aztecs used a barter system that used the cacao bean as a common unit of measure. While the Aztecs have started minting coins, the cacao bean is still widely used within the Empire. The cacao, a copper coin equivalent to the cacao bean, has just entered circulation in Tenochtitlan markets. At the urging of French traders, Emperor Acolmiztli agreed to mint an Aztec coin that was equivalent to the franc and the peso. He called the new gold coin a “cortes” and the cruel joke is not lost on the Spanish in the region. Still, Aztec gold trades as well as any and is begrudgingly accepted even in Spanish markets. A large silver coin.

Cortes

Crown

Denier

A silver coin equal to the British penny.

Doubloon

Écu

This coin is the “Spanish gold” that tempts many a pirate in the Caribbean and elsewhere. It is worth two pistoles, a more common Spanish gold coin in circulation in the Grave New World, from which it gets its name (doblón is Spanish for “double”). A large silver coin.

Farthing

Originally a copper coin, farthings are currently made of tin plugged with copper. These “tin farthings” are proving unpopular due to corrosion. Farthings are rarely used in the New World and worth so little that foreign currencies haven’t bothered to match it. Ironically, merchants all over the New World that sell cheap goods keep British farthings on hand precisely for this reason.

Franc

Guilder

While the franc has gone out of circulation in France, the city of Quebec continues to mint a “Colonial Franc,” which is equal to the new Louis d’or coin being minted in France. These silver coins are simply known as “francs,” although New Englanders disparagingly call them “shekels,” a dig at Catholic New France. A silver coin. Interestingly, the name is derived from “golden,” and both gold and silver Dutch guilders have been minted over the centuries. Currently, the silver guilder is in circulation.

Guinea

Lion Dollar

Maravedi

A gold coin equal to a British pound. The pound is more properly a unit of measure; if a character is said to be carrying three pounds in his pocket, then he’s likely carrying three guineas. Previous gold coins that were equal to the guinea (and may be in sunken English vessels or buried treasure) included sovereigns, unites, and laurels. This silver coin gets its common name from the depiction of a lion stamped on one side. Due to the influence of the Dutch West India Company, the Lion Dollar is as commonly used in Northern English colonies as the peso in Southern English colonies. These copper coins are minted in Hispaniola.

Penning

A copper coin. Dutch and English colonists frequently mixed-and-matched penning and pennies even before the Compact.

Penny

A copper coin. English colonists refer to “pennies” when counting coins and “pence” as the amount due. Thus, a shopkeeper will say that an item costs three pence and the customer will hand over three pennies. Also known as the real de a ocho or the “pieces of eight,” the peso is a large silver coin initially worth eight reales. The influence of other powers in the region has devalued its worth to five reales. A large gold coin. Acolmiztli named this coin after the lengths of cloths used to measure large purchases before coinage was introduced. Unlike the cacao bean, the original quachtli are no longer used. A silver coin introduced by Acolmiztli at the same time as the cortes, named for a local bird. A silver coin. Reales are the eight pieces that make up a “pieces of eight” or peso.

Peso

Quachtli

Quetzal Real

Shilling

A silver coin. Shillings are the largest denomination of coin typically carried by English colonists.

Sol

A copper coin.

Stuiver

A copper coin.