I’ve been working a tad more on my huge table of prices and stuff.

Then I thought… if the king of France was playing D&D 5e in 1385, how many plate armors could he buy? As it turns out, using the entirety of the kingdom of France’s capital (including all taxes etc) for a year one could buy 2700 sets of plate armor.

A knight banneret (an “officer” or higher ranking knight) would need almost two full years of pay to buy a set, using the 5e price of 1500 gp. (The higher figure I found had them making around 860 gp per year… in full year-long service, I think?).

Theoretically, one gp in 1385 corresponds to around $3500 today. So the cost of plate armor in 5e would correspond to maybe 5 million USD. That seems quite a bit too much, compared to the 3-18 “gp” (livre / pound) that’s in the sources I’ve found.



4 thoughts on “Ranting on the Gold Standard / 5e Prices

  1. Compare that to the value of gold in 1987, 1957 and 1927.

    Ultimately, it’s not a question of what makes sense in economic terms. There’s always been vast inequalities in wealth and social status throughout human history. What matters is the relationship between the gold you award the players and the things they spend it on.


    1. Yes, the relationships between costs are what matters… but there are still things that annoy me with these kinds of economic systems:

      1. When a laborer makes 10x per day compared to history and then some items cost 100x or more compared to their historical values. Sometimes it seems like someone grabbed some values from history books and then said to himself: “no, that’s too useful, it should cost 100 gp instead of 1 sp”.

      2. When they more-or-less use gold as the lowest coin from the get-go. Every lower value coin becomes useless, and a 1st level adventurer comes home with several kilograms of pure gold from his first scuffle with some goblins, for which he can barely get some better armor. It kind of ruins the versimilitude for me.

      I guess it’s a combination of starting with too big numbers (which makes everything silly very quickly, and causes the creation of “platinum coins” and “space diamonds” for currency that’s sometimes seen), and the enormous gap between cheap and not cheap things at an early level.

      Sorry for this fat wall of text…


      1. Concerning 2, what about the idea that just because the adventurer has the gold on-hand, he can buy a full suit of plate mail armor off-the-shelf? That could never happen because that type of armor had to be custom fitted. In other words, you’re never going to find verisimilitude in the “official” game books.


        1. Interestingly enough, there seems to have existed “off the shelf” full plate armor where you basically just changed a few straps and made a few minor adjustements. Possibly more towards the end of the plate era (15th-16th century).

          I’m all for everything not being easily for sale though. Though that doesn’t solve my problem with the worthlessness of money though. That’s most likely not a problem for everyone though, so I’m not saying using gold as a standard currency is always wrong. I’m just making my game more historical at the moment.


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