User:Cuchulainshound/Alternative to Gold Bars

(Work in progress as of Nov '10...)
The money-keeping in BirthRight has led to more than one Game Master simply burning out or melting down. This approach trades away all those crushing fractions (except "halves") for bigger numbers while changing almost nothing of the relative income and costs - if that's attractive, read on...
A "Gold Bar" is worth about* 2000 gp. However, many things cost some fraction of a GB, resulting in a slightly hellish morasse of /10ths and /3rds and /64ths - and, for the Game Masters (if not the players) the burden of either constantly finding the lowest common denominator to create a rational final value after all maintenance and costs are paid, or ignoring the actual math and "faking it" to some degree.
(* It's important to remember that (in the canon setting) there really is no concrete thing as a "gold bar" - it's not a 40 pound (18 kg) bar of gold, but rather it is value worth that much. However, 2000 gp is the number we're given for purposes of game mechanics etc. It's like talking about "horsepower" in an engine - the power is what's important, not hundreds of actual horses.)
If the smallest fractions from each sub-section of the rules are found, then, by the rules, the lowest common denominator, the actual "unit" that most any accurate accounting will gravitate towards, are 1/1920th's* . Nothing smaller fits perfectly, and we're essentially back to using gold pieces rather than 2000 gp chunks.
''(* 1/3 GB for fortifications, shipyards and some roads, and players often make deals in /10ths of GB - 10% tax, etc. Maintenance for ships is 1/8 GB when in port, but 25% of that can be saved via Administrate skill, yielding 1/64's. 1/3 x 1/10 x 1/64 = 1920.)
Rather than go there, and in fact rather than use (almost) any fractions, it seems practical to re-work the "units" into something smaller so they don't have to be divided and are easier to handle from the beginning. So, rather than worry about a caravel that costs 3 GB and costs 3/16 GB/season in maintenance, we might be better served to have that same caravel cost many "gold units" and have a maintenance of 1 or 3 "gold units" each season. While the numbers added will be larger, there will be no fractions - and that's a good thing.
Now, it would be pointless (for many players) to revert to gp's. I would suggest the new unit be the "gold ingot" (abbreviated GI*) and be worth 1/16th of a GB, or about 125 gp (and at that value and size, could actually be a currency, if a rare one).
This would mean that, with the use of 1/2's, almost any in-game value could be represented or closely approximated - and if the difference is playing with /128th's and still not getting it perfect, I think this is an attractive alternative.
(* Altho' most appropriate, "gold "bar" is already taken, despite that fact that at ~40 lbs/18 kg a GB is closer to a "gold brick" - an "ingot" can be of any size. GS also works - gold strip, gold slab, gold slice - since this is optional, any term would work that is not abbreviated "GB" - which takes out billets and bricks.)
To change GB to GI, simply multiply the listed GB cost by x16, and round to the nearest half. Some of the new values in GI's (GB x 16) would be as follows, with the difference from the original in GB listed, if any...
1: Province 16 GI/Lvl 0%
2/3: Temple, Guild 10.5 GI/Lvl -1%
1/3: Law 5.5 GI/Lvl +3% (~1/32 GB)
Fortification (province) :
8 x level 128 GI x level
2/3 /Lvl 11 GI/Lvl maintenance
2, 1/6/ (plains, steppe, scrub) 32 GI, 1.5/ GI maint
8, 1/2/ (swamp, tundra) 96 GI, 8/ GI
4, 1/3/: Shipyard 64, 5/
25xLvl Wondrous structure 400 GI/
Units cost (seasonal maintenance, & in port/garrison)
Keelboat, 1 GB (1/16, 1/32) 16 GI (1, .5 GI/)
Coaster 2 GB (1/8, 1/16) 32 GI (2, 1 GI/)
Caravel 6 GB (3/8, 3/16) 96 GI (6, 3 GI/)
Galleon 15 GB (1 7/8, 15/32) 240 GI (15, 7.5 GI)
Player agreement: 10% of a GB 1.5 GI +6% (~1/16 GB)
With the exception of the "10% agreement" (which could simply be discouraged by the GM), the difference is minimal, with income from Holdings very slightly increased, and the costs actually identical.
A problem arises when it comes time to figure "25% maintenance saved" via the Administrate skill (altho' less of a problem than when using the original fractions!). Here, there are several simply solutions - round up, round down, or roll a die based on the % up or down.
The result is larger numbers, but no fraction more difficult to keep track of than "1/2".
Note that this opens the door for the creative gamemaster for two more options. The first is to easily tweak income, costs or maintenance up or down by a GI or two if they feel appropriate. Because fractions are not used, a single 1/16 GB here or there (or a 1/32, for 1/2 GI) is hardly a bank breaker one way or the other, and can add color to an otherwise very "formulaic" turn result.
Also, if desired, a GI can become an actual form of currency in the game world, a candy-bar sized ingot worth 125 gp that weighs about a pound and a half (.6 kg). These would traditionally be used only for large transactions, but are far more portable (and thus both more vulnerable and more commonly seen) than a 40 pd brick of gold would ever be.

As this is a work in progress, comments are welcome on the Discussion page.

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