Trade And Currency

The economy of Zenth is a varied and complex one. Elves and orcs trade through dwarf-controlled trade routes, and exotic goods flow like water all over the world. Such varied and wide-ranging trade has made for better lives for all of the free peoples of Zenth, and has also necessitated that the governments of many lands step in and institute organized currencies, and clear laws around the flow of goods and coin in their land.


There are three major currencies in circulation around Zenth. Two basic coin systems operated by the Padishar Empire, and the dwarven city states of the Daalands and Shaanges, and the far more complex and varied currency of the Elven traders. Elsewhere either people operate by a system of barter, often in a specific kind of local goods, or adopt the currency of their most influential neighbouring power, though only an elves can truly get the best out of a transaction in their own currencies.

Imperial Fiat

Imperial coins in the Padishar Empire are worth whatever the Emperor says they're worth. Quite literally, as the emperor is the heir of, amongst other deified ancestors, the goddess of trade: a sword-coin blessed by the emperor is worth one sword, and can be traded for a sword in any marketplace where swords are available; a bushel-coin is worth one bushel of grain, and so on. This means that it takes a great deal of bartering and conversion to buy, say, swords with bushel-coins, or vice versa. Most common and most easily convertible are Imperial Suns (worth a day's meals) and Moons (worth a night's shelter), but almost everyone has a few coins of a more unusual value handy for a special occasion, or just for the sake of collection. To 'earn your sun and moon' is thus to do a enough of a day's work to earn your room and board.

Rumors persist that the emperor's vault has coins worth entire cities, or that the emperor keeps the True Sun and True Moon coins (worth the Sun and Moon respectively, of course) on his person at all times as a symbol of his rule. Another rumour says that the True Moon coin was stolen years ago… but who would the thieves give it to in order to collect on its value? Goblin insurgents in the empire have developed complex devices for shaving down Imperial coins, rendering many in circulation in the west of the empire of dubious value, and allowing the goblins to fund their shadow-war.

Dwarven Facets

Dwarven currency takes the form of coins with holes punched through them, worn on a chain around the neck or wrist. They are valued not by material or weight, but by number of sides, and thus according difficulty to produce. No coin that is not geometrically perfect is allowed into circulation, so those with more sides that are harder to produce are fewer, and thus more valuable. This high standard of quality means that dwarven facets are the hardest currency around, and because of their constant size and lack of debasement they are used even by orcs to measure the weight and value of their own Imperial coinage. In many lands around the Daalands, especially the Clash, dwarven coin is preferred to orcish, such is their stranglehold on trade through their lands.

Elven Scrip and Salary

Elves, meanwhile, trade in multiple ways, with complex notes of credit issued by caravans and flotillas against their future profits, which are traded from captain to captain. To default on a note of credit would mean an almost economically fatal loss of face and trust for a group. Wages are paid in salt as well as board, and small trades between individual elves use bags and blocks if salt. Within the flotilla the elven traders may live communally, but outside in any place of business it is their way that everything must be paid for, even conversation, but traders will offer payment back to patrons for news, gracious conduct and the like. A trader will also also keep a supply of dwarven and orcish currency, using whichever is preferred in a given region, and trading with other Elves when they are short of the preferred coinage. Some large flotillas have even turned into crude banks, trading mainly in salt, high-demand goods, and foreign currency in return for notes of credit along the borders of foreign lands and around major ports.

Goblin Shells

The goblin economy is not very complicated: the Chalnfens are fruitful, and provide nearly all they could desire. The strong religious centre of their society also ensures that specialised craftsmen are more often than not prepared to work for the common good or at tasks set by the priesthood. Still, wealth must sometimes be moved and individuals may with to swap goods in a way more complex than barter can handle, so chhauri shells are used as currency. A species of swamp-dwelling snail that can grow from fingernail sized to larger than a goblin's head, the shells of chhauri, once the muck and dull outer layer are scraped off are marvelously iridescent, as bright and colourful as the nebula in the night sky. These shells are mostly used only amongst their own kind, however; every pragmatic, goblins are willing to use whatever system of coinage or barter other races prefer when dealing with them, and many a trader has found himself out of pocket after underestimating the mercantile nous of the 'primitive' goblins.

Dryad Hackiron and the Strange Wealth of Zaguristra

Like goblins, dryad society is very close-knit. As each community is usually the offspring of a single archon, most work and trade is done out of kinship rather than for profit. Between communities, the currency of choice is hackiron: small ingots of metal valued by weight, and cut up or melted down into smaller pieces to make change. When dealing with outsiders, dryads must typically resort to barter, as they have little ability to produce the precious metals other races desire, and the plenty of iron in other lands distorts its relative value. In the Golden Court, they will often use the monies of the sorcerers who dwell above part of their realm.

As befits a city-state of sorcerers, the coins of Zaguristra are… unusual. They taunt the metallurgists of other realms by minting coins of sky-metal, a lightweight, strong silvery substance that can only be smelted by harnessing lightning itself (what in other worlds would be called 'aluminium'), and orichalcum, an impossible alloy of gold, silver, copper and mercury. The oddest currency is shard-coins, which contain fragments of an ancient artifact that was long ago sundered into one million pieces - making it the most inflation-proof money in all of Zenth. Zaguristran coins are not exactly freely convertible; a farmer or innkeeper would have no use for them and would probably regard them with superstitious dread, but to the ambitious and powerful they are very desirable indeed, as they are the only thing that can be traded to sorcerers for the most precious resource of all: magic.