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The General Store: Fantasy coins to US currency

I’m currently working on Black Powder, Black Magic Vol.4, which is the ‘delving’ issue. In addition to mine hazards, ley line nodes, and demon shrines, I want to include some new equipment (such as TNT), plus a list of the standard equipment with US dollar prices.

Looks like we’ll need a Fantasy Coins to US Currency conversion list, so here’s what I propose…

Fantasy Coins to US Currency

  • Platinum Piece = $100
  • Electrum Piece = $10
  • Gold Piece = $1
  • Silver = $.10
  • Copper = $.01

Copper coins would easily be confused for pennies. Silver dollars are a thing, so that’s a possibility. Gold is more complicated, due to multiple values, but in the late 1800’s the most common denomination of gold coin was the $20. In fantasy games, the gold piece is the standard, so let’s just equate that to $1 for now, and see how this compares to the standard equipment list in the Dungeon Crawl Classics Core Rulebook.

A regular horse is 75 gp, or in US currency, $75. My research uncovered that a riding horse in 1850 cost about $75. Amazing! A saddle and saddlebag was $25, and it’s listed as 30 gp in the Core Rulebook. A warhorse in the Core Rulebook is 200 gp, and a superior riding horse was $185. A pack horse was $25, which is comparable to the pony price in the Core Rulebook of 30 gp. Again, amazing!

So, if you wanted to buy a decent revolver, that’s going to cost about $25. A torch will cost just a penny, a small hammer is 50 cents, a lantern $10, and a backpack $2. Nine good cigars only costs 25 cents. If you consider a cowboy could make about $1/day in the 1800’s, this all seems to be a good equation. 

Now head on over to the bank and trade those clunky coins for some bills.

2 thoughts on “The General Store: Fantasy coins to US currency

  1. I have used the 1 gold = $1 rule for years and it’s worked out very well. I have several copies of old Sears, Roebuck and Co. Catalog & Montgomery Ward Catalogs I use for research. You can grab reprints from Amazon for cheap.

    They have added a lot of flavor for my fantasy weird west 1800s campaign Pariah, MI (in which I have incorporated BPBM). They are an invaluable source of information.

    1. I have a Montgomery Ward catalog from 1875, which has mostly home goods. A one-horse wagon went for as little at $30, and a two-horse wagon would go as high as $75. Brakes were optional, at $4.50 extra!

      I’ll take your advice and get myself a Sears catalog too.

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