Sunday, May 18, 2014

Collecting Treasure - Even when it’s pay

There is a point at which the counting of money must be considered a chore in and of itself. Who cares - I think most adventurers do. Give me just a minute here to show you why. Well, Alexander Dumas claimed that Fouquet’s “treasurers” could count out a million coins in a day? Now I never fully understood the monetary system they were using, so they may have been using higher denomination coins to reduce the work. Also remember that they must count and recount to confirm the count, and at numbers that high would probably count a third time.

So if the party is to be paid a huge amount of money - unless the treasury has prepared for this by counting out the money, arranging it in some meticulous fashion, and preparing it for travel, then the adventuring party is bound to wait for it. This would most likely be the same even if the number were somewhat lesser. Assuming that you count one coin per second, and careful counters would be unlikely to do better, 50,000 coins would take 14 hours, or at least all day. Also figure, if one guy counts it all - assuming he arranges it on a table or something - then another guy will come in the next day and spend all day counting it. Then possibly a third guy on a third day and maybe a fourth guy to pack it all up. Even if the third guy packs it, it is still three days to get a 50,000 coin reward. Fouquet was assumed to have an army of guys working for his treasury office, so they went faster, but even still ...

But you don’t have to do that, right? I mean, you make one stack of coins and then line up the others next to it. Not in my world. Coins are minted by hand, and hand minted coins don’t stack like modern machine minted coins. You could weigh them, and just hand over a certain weight in coins or even bullion. That would probably be a lot easier to do and quicker, but you have to accept that even this would be a meticulous process. No one likes to give out money, even if it was fairly earned. Those guys with the money and their guys who handle it are going to be extremely slow, if for no other reason than they want to be.

Again - who cares? Well, if you return the princess to her father and expect that big reward - expect to be held up in the capital while they get your reward ready. Did you pull some trick that might be discovered in the four day waiting period? Do you have the cash on hand to live for four days while you wait for the king’s financial guys? Do you have the time to check their counts or could they short you 5% without you catching on? Makes you start thinking that checks aren’t so bad, huh?

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