In my current classic D&D campaigns, I’ve switched to a “silver standard”, and I describe the coins this way:
By Arichis at en.wikipedia [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons
- Gold is treasure
- Silver is money
- Copper is change
Which is really the whole point of the change. Having the PCs start the game with 100 gold coins to spend (even if it really only represents their net worth rather than actual coinage), dampens the impact of finding a coffer of gold coins.
But I find that the 1gp:10sp:100cp ratios (call it “tens, dollars, and dimes”) that I’m using—because it made converting from standard values to mine easier—don’t quite give that feel. I’m thinking 1gp:100sp:10,000cp (hundreds, dollars, and pennies) would better represent those distinctions.
One of the sources I like to borrow from is history. (Plus, it gives me an excuse to learn about history.) So, I took a look at the coins during the reign of Edward III and Roman currency. Neither of which really have anything close to a 1:100:10,000 trio to use as a model. Which is disappointing.
Maybe 1:20:400 would be sufficient? Although, failing the history reality-check doesn’t count 1:10:10,000 out completely.
Either way, it makes the math between classic D&D and my D&D values more difficult.