Abstract Money Musings

I’ve been thinking about money and items in Darkest Nights, my current campaign. I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t think money-counting really fits with the style of game that it is. Sometimes play doesn’t center around how much money you have, and thus I have been pondering how to make cash a little more abstract and quick.

So the thing is, I don’t really think actually counting individual coins and cash is fitting for this game. It’s not about resource management in that way (I assume that players will almost always have some money). It doesn’t especially add anything to know how many copper pieces you throw to the beggars, you throw them some bits. Darkest Nights is more about personal stories, struggle, and horror, than finances and economics. Sure, major buys should be accounted for, but I feel that eating out or getting a drink can be glossed over, as those are more set dressing than plot points. With that in mind, I’ll try to think up a method that still quantifies wealth somewhat, without counting every single piece of valuables your players have or use.

Cash Break-point Idea

This might be a weird one, but it works like this: you count your money as normal, but at certain points you can ignore small expenses. Say, anything less than 1% of your wealth is simply hand-waved. That means that if you have at least a pound, a penny or two is literally nothing to you (as 1 pound = 20 shillings = 240 pennies). It could work pretty well actually. The only annoying bit is changing between pounds, shillings and pennies. If you don’t use the silly old conversions but instead 1 = 10 = 100 or something, it’d obviously be much easier, but now this campaign is kind of historical, so no can do.

Here’s a reference for the old english system:

  • A single penny can be ignored for each 9 shilling you have. That could be rounded up to one per 10 for convenience.
  • A single shilling can be ignored for each 5 pounds you have.
  • After this it’s simple, as pounds are still pounds, 1 per 100.

It might be a decent compromise between keeping track and being abstract.

Wealth Roll Idea

This has been done before, but that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t work here. Having some kind of wealth roll when you acquire expensive items instead of actually just counting cash can work, though sometimes it’s a bit too abstract. Let’s see if I can twist it into something useful here. So, the price and wealth classes would be something like this:

  • (0) Dead broke
  • (1) A penny or two
  • (2) A few pennies
  • (3) A shilling or two
  • (4) A few shillings
  • (5) A pound or two
  • (6) A few pounds
  • (7) Several pounds
  • (8) Tens of pounds
  • (9) A small fortune
  • (10) An actual fortune

If you buy something, roll a d6. On a 6+ you don’t overspend. Otherwise you drop your wealth level one step down. For each level below your wealth, add +1 to the roll. You can’t buy anything more expensive than your wealth level. Maybe one could drop several levels at once but that takes some more thinking to balance out.


So that’s that for this. I still need to think this over more, so I’ll just stick with old-fashioned counting your coins for now.


2 thoughts on “Abstract Money Musings

  1. Woukd you call the monetary system base 20?

    If you had a table with treasholds? E.g. 1 pound –> 3 pennies 1%
    5 pound –> 1 shilling 1%
    Or maybe the one you wrote…


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