- On Neverwinter Nights
- Next Generation
When Raklin "The True" Diamoniar was crowned emperor of Layonara around the year 500 A.C. (after Cataclysm), coins were minted by anyone who could lay hands on the gold and a tinkerer and blacksmith to create them. The standard weight of a coin was one ounce of pure gold, but many unscrupulous individuals would shave gold off the edges of their coins in an attempt to cheat the merchants and tradespeople and until a coin was weighed, it was hard to tell whether or not it was fair currency. The practice of shaving coins became so common that the markets were filled with scales and arguments. Raklin decided to right this situation to encourage fair trade to flourish, both within his own kingdom as well as with other lands.
In an attempt to standardize the currency, Raklin created a coin bearing the seal of Dregar on one side and a portrait of himself on the other. He added a raised ridge around the outside of the coin to discourage the practice of shaving the coins. This ridge caused Dregar's coins to become the favored currency of traders both near and far, and over time Raklin's coin did become the standard. His gold piece became known as the True, both after his likeness on one of its faces and for the fact that all knew it was a true ounce of gold because of its raised ridge. Monarchs and lords around the world have minted their own coins but none have ever been as successful as the True.
The emperor who succeeded Raklin placed his own image on the coins minted during his reign, opposite the seal of Dregar, and started a trend that would continue for centuries. Each new emperor after him also placed his likeness on the coins, and there now exist a vast number of different True coins, though all bear the seal of Dregar on one side. Several emperors chose to put their queens on the coins, and one even honored a great hero who helped him gain the throne by immortalizing him thus. There is even a collectors' guild with a small museum dedicated to collecting all of the variations of the True.
While the True is indisputably the most common gold coin, there are several other gold pieces that made their way into official channels.
One of these is a coin minted by the former rule of Mistone, Queen Allurial, who simply called it Queen's Gold. These attractive coins bear a crown on one side and a rose on the other. Even though Allurial has passed away, the Queen's Gold is still used throughout Mistone. It is most commonly used by the elite for transactions involving luxuries such as paintings, sculptures, ceremonial armors, elegant furniture, and the like. Some of these coins have also trickled down into the hands of a few commoners.
Another common currency is the dwarven gold pieces that show a hammer or an axe on one side and the stamp of an ale mug on their other face. This coin is a staple of innkeeps and dwarves throughout the land, and some call it the Innkeep's Piece. Others less friendly with the dwarves prefer to call it The Drunkard's Coin.
The elves of Voltrex also mint their own coins. The elven gold piece is an attractive five-sided coin, larger than the rest but thinner, with a small hole through the middle to show the purity of the gold. One side of the coin depicts a small tower on each angular corner, each representing one of the five elven towers throughout Voltrex. The other face shows a sun rising above the edge of a forest. This coin became known as a Tower and is the only currency many of the Voltrexian merchants will accept.
While these other coins are accepted throughout the lands, the True remains the standard to this day. Walk through almost any market in the world, and one can hear merchants and buyers alike asking how many True or Truthes an item, ale, or trinket costs.
"A chicken for a Truth", the woman selling hens might call, or one might hear a dwarven weapon merchant tell a customer, "The blade be two thousand True." One might even hear a barkeep tell a thirsty customer that, "An Axehead Ale be 30 pieces of Truth, ser." Raklin's coin has a permanent place in history, as well as in the coffers and purses of the wealthy throughout the world.
The Pauper's Coins ~ Silver and Copper
When the True was introduced and became the standard coin, silver and copper coins were no longer included in large transactions. As more and more exchanges were completed exclusively in Trues, the nobility and rich merchants began to look down on the silver and copper coins of Layonara. The rich washed their hands of these lesser pieces, and coins of less precious metals were soon used almost exclusively by society's less fortunate. People began to refer to the silver and copper coins as Pauper's Coins almost as a joke, as no self respecting nobleman or merchant wanted to be seen with any of these in their coin purses.
The merchants and nobles viewed their status as higher if they could pay for all major transactions exclusively in Trues, and the True became an accepted sign of status and power.
Coins of less precious metals continued to exist, of course. Petty kingdoms and princedoms across the world minted their own versions of these pieces, but there was no standard weight nor size to the silver and copper coins. In theory, each piece was supposed to weigh an ounce, but in practice few did.
This led to a great variation in coins: some were eight-sided, some round, and one small kingdom even minted a square coin for a while, though that was short lived. These coins were paid to servants and farmers as wages, as the kingdoms sought to rid their treasuries of the embarrassing Pauper's Coins. This practice caused friction among the classes, and once even sparked a riot at tax time; kingdoms, it seemed, did not want to take the Pauper's Coins back when taxes were due. The dispute was resolved when Raklin "The True" Diamoniar declared that if kingdoms paid in Pauper's Coins they must also accept them back for taxes. This law of exchange holds true to this day.