Flintlocks & Fireballs
Money is a big deal in D&D, but it is generally balanced for the benefit of adventurers. In this setting, we’re going to try and make it make sense from the point of view of the man on the street as well.
Pennies, Shillings and Guilders
The Empire’s moved beyond the stage where coins need to contain a set quantity of rare metal; currency these days is in Pennies, Shillings and Guilders. For simplicity’s sake, these are pretty much equivalent to D&D’s copper, silver and gold pieces (right down to, except for pennies, the first letter); really, the change here is just for the flavour of the thing.
What the money in your pocket will buy you
The intention here is to illustrate the kind of different levels of money that the poor and the rich tend to have to play with:
- Basic sustenance (oats, black bread, and a vegetable): 5p
- A simple meal (bread, cheese, stewed vegetable, maybe some sausage): 2s
- A decent meal with meat: 1G
- A lavish meal — roast chicken, fine food: 5G
- Awful, watered ale: 5p
- Simple ale; a finger of spirits: 2s
- Fine wines, good spirits: 1G
- Vintage wine: 5G
- Rent on a slum room: 1s/day, and sleep in shifts.
- Rent on a single room in a shared house: 5s/day; disapproving stares from landlady.
- Rent on a house of your own in the poor quarter: About 1G/day/bedroom.
- Rent on a house of your own in a decent area: About 3G/day/bedroom.
- Communal room in an inn: 5s/night, and watch your valuables.
- Single room in an inn: 1G/night.
- Fine bedroom in a hotel, with a maid: 5G/night.
- By rail to a city: 2G/day; you can cross the Empire in about a week.
- By stagecoach: 1s/day; you can get from a town served by rail to a nearby village in a day or two.
- On foot: It takes about a year to walk across the whole of the Empire. Really, don’t.
- By teleport: 50G/person gets you anywhere in the Empire that they’ve constructed one.
- Crossing the Barrier Wastes: 3G; it’s a big deal.
Regular Work and Wages
The poor are generally being paid about 3s-5s for a day’s work. This is hard, tiring stuff like moving boxes at the docks, picking fruit, gutting fish, selling newspapers, toiling in a factory, or waiting tables. It’s hard to save up when you’re in this kind of a situation, so the poor won’t often have more than 3C in savings; two or three Crowns will thus be a pretty substantial bribe.
More skilled work, like pushing a pen, building a railway (navvies are in high demand) or serving in the armed forces, can net you more like 1G-5G a day. If you’re really good you might walk home with as much as 10G for a day’s work. The kicker is that in these circumstances you’re also more able to save up, so might be able to have as much as 100G stashed away for a rainy day.
It’s a lot harder to have a rule of thumb for the incomes of people in more lucrative enterprises — factory-owners, mobsters, that kind of thing — because so much of their money is tied up in the resources their enterprise runs on. A factory might be worth a couple of thousand Guilders, but that’s no good to you if the assassin you’re hiring wants to be paid in gems, not factories.
Of course, adventurers don’t often work day jobs, or legitimately.
The going rate for mercenary work where you’re bodyguarding someone or serving as part of the armed forces is about 10G/day for guarding a train, 100G/day for bodyguarding a person who’s expecting assassination.
Actually going out and killing someone is usually done on a by-results basis. Taking out a drug dealer who’s causing your employer problems will get you around 50G; an important gangster with underlings 500; assassinating a moblord could be as much as 5000G.
Dealing drugs: Isn’t that lucrative; like the real world, it’s basically a pyramid scheme where you sell your stock to a bunch of people who mix it with catnip and sell it to some more people, who add even more crap… Everyone adds a premium on at their stage, so while you might be selling your stuff for a song, you’re also paying through the nose. Of course, if you handle the whole business of getting your cargo through customs in the first place, you make more; you also risk more.
The most expensive thing in the D&D4e economy is magic items, high level examples of which cost enough to keep a country in food for a month.
Consequently, in Flintlocks and Fireballs, Magitech items can’t really be custom-bought: there’s no shop you can go into, slap 2000G onto the table, and say “Two suits of barkskin armour, please, my good man”. There are people who sell magitech under the counter, and you need to make a Streetwise roll to find them. They will have a number of items for sale from 100G to 500G each, which will generally be around level 1-7; some Arcana rolls will be in order to identify them.
To get an item custom-made via official channels you need something like 1000G and a lot of paperwork, and you need to be in a place that will have the kind of people who do that kind of work.
To get an item custom-made via unofficial channels, you’re likely to need to obtain some of the materials yourself, as well as finding someone who can make the thing if you don’t have the capability yourself.