NOTE: This article is rife with material for the particular D&D world of Orlantia, but the decimal system of coins itself - weights, dimensions, densities, compositions, etc. can be used in any game world that uses coins. The GM is encouraged to adopt and adapt the system for their own use, and definitely should feel free to rename the coins to add local color for their world. As with any coin system, prices in the rule books - particularly ones not list in GPs - may have to be adjusted, but many GMs fiddle with their own world's economy anyway.

Finally, while the Alodarian Empire may be able to mass produce these coins using various forms of magic, even low magic worlds may follow these coin standards as the intended mark. That is, each coin "approximates" the given values as closely as possible - under the condition of their manufacture - and may be hand stamped and a little rougher or cruder in craftsmanship, but close enough for game purposes.

So, with that said, I will now proceed with the article on Imperial Coins. Thank you.


General Nathan Becker headed the council of Becker, 0 A.E. He had been the son of a silver smith and was always interested in money. Also, he realized the importance of setting standards for coins. Finally, it just so happened that his friend, the wizard Greediest Kinoguy, was somewhat of an expert in the magic necessary to make an incredibly high standard of coin. Unfortunately, it would cost a bundle to set this up, but once done it should run smoothly and without problems.

And so it was decided the new empire should endure this expense and attempt to set the standard for the entire world. Furthermore, it was speculated that if the other realms of the world came to rely on the high Imperial standards that the empire might eventually be able to make a profit by selling out the service of minting coins for them.

Now I won't go into the details of how the empire actually mints coins. I'm sure it's accomplished using magic and something similar to a hydraulic press that is, of course, powered with magic. What I will say is simply this. The standards determined by The Council of Becker, 0 A.E., can be gleaned from the detailed write-ups of the metals below. Here, 10 coins shall be accepted as the economic equivalent of one coin of the next type of more valuable metal. That is, 10 copper coins shall be worth 1 silver coin, 10 silver coins shall be worth 1 electrum coin, 10 electrum coins shall be worth 1 gold coin, 10 gold coins shall be worth 1 platinum coin, and 10 platinum coins shall be worth 1 mithral coin.

0.01 MP = 0.1 PP = 1 GP = 10 EP = 100 SP = 1,000 CP

The decimally based coin system, for convenience, is summarized in the table below.

COIN (Metal Type)

Number of Coins/Pound

Value of One Pound Of Metal Type

Radius of Coin (In Inches)

Thickness of Coin (In Inches)



100,000 GP





2,000 GP





100 GP





20 GP





0.5 GP





0.1 GP




Sadly, cross platform issues make displaying images as actual size problematic, and these may therefore be off slightly. I have tried to adjust this by forcing the browser to enlarge the image, but you'll have to check it yourself. If you down load this image, it may print out properly. In any event, the given scale, or ruler image marked in inches, in the middle of the coin size images, should agree with your ruler when you view it. If it does not, then you must enlarge or shrink the image until it agrees with an actual ruler, and then you will see the actual coin sizes. If you don't have a ruler to check, just put a U.S. coin on the screen and see if it matches the appropriate denomination. If it does, then all is well. If it does not, then you know you must envision them as larger or smaller as the case may be.

For those who wish to use the metric system, another coin table is at the bottom of this page.

Metric Coin System


One of the first things the Alodarian Empire did was coin money. Thus, a standardized coin of the realm has been in existence for nearly 750 years. The standards used are so good that, if you have nothing but Imperial coins, you can readily count your cash by weighing it and dividing by standard weights. The following paragraphs give relevant information concerning money, metals, and coins.

MITHRAL: An alloy of platinum, iridium, silver, and adamantium (Adamantium is itself a mysterious alloy of iron typically found in meteorites as well as deep under the planet's surface). Mithral is highly sought since Magic adheres to its crystalline lattice structure more than any other known alloy or elemental metal. {Note: One effect of the enchantment process used to make magic items will transform normally soft metals like mithral, as well as platinum, gold, and silver, into unusually hard and strong metals. Also, the stronger the magic, the more multi-phasic the enchanted metal becomes. If the magic is dense enough, part of the existence of the item will be on other planes in addition to the prime material plane. Hence, magical items sometimes appear to be lighter and stronger than the metals from which they are constructed. [Furthermore, this multi-phasic existence tends to give all metals a silvery, steel like color no matter from what metals they are constructed. This is a side effect of the enchantment process for swords, armor, and other like "plus" protective devices, but is usually not a property of the enchantment process for rings, jewelry, and other similar items. Thus, even a gold sword would appear to be made of steel.] Magic adheres to mithral better than any other metal and this property, as well as the others mentioned, is why mithral magic weapons and armor are the best, as well as the most expensive, in existence.} (The reason why the various metals in magic weapons look like steel is because the aura reflects and/or radiates that color while absorbing others). Naturally, most magic items of mithral are only coated or layered in the metal, or perhaps bonded to a lesser metal (like along the hard edge of a steel sword) rather than items of pure mithral. (Or sometimes just alloyed with the mithral, that also makes a decent lattice structure and numerous magical bond sites).

Mithral's density is 22.15 g/cm^3 or 0.8002 lbs./in^3. The Mithral coin is worth 100 GP but is hardly ever used. The coin is very small and easily lost by the careless. Its dimensions are 0.0398 inches thick with a radius of 1/10th of an inch. The volume of each coin is 0.00125 in^3. This works out to be exactly 1,000 mithral coins to the pound, (A 100,000-GP value). Mithral is also cast in one pound bars, 1" x 1" x ~1.25", worth 100,000 GP each. The nickname for the mithral coin is a "Willy," but its use is so infrequent that most people don't know this.

PLATINUM: An alloy of platinum is used to make the platinum coin more durable. Magic adheres well to platinum, and platinum is a slightly better conductor of electricity than mithral. A Noble metal, platinum is also highly sought for the construction of containers and laboratory wear in alchemy work. Platinum makes up over 90% of the metal in Mithral.

Platinum's density is 21.45 g/cm^3 or 0.7749 lbs./in^3. The platinum coin is worth 10 GP and is infrequently used. The dimensions of the coin make it 0.0513 inches thick with a radius of 1/5th of an inch. The volume of each coin is 0.00645 in^3. This works out to be exactly 200 platinum coins to the pound, (A 2,000-GP value). Platinum is also cast in 25 pound bars, 1" x 4" x ~8.07", worth 50,000 GP each. The nickname for the coin is a "Clevy." Again, most people don't know this due to their economic status, but many adventurers do know this.

GOLD: An alloy of gold is used to make the gold coin, or GP as the standard is known, more durable. Like platinum, magic adheres well to gold and this Noble metal is an excellent conductor of electricity. Most alchemy wear is of this gold alloy due to economic consideration, but platinum is still the preferred choice of the obscenely wealthy.

Gold's density is 18.88 g/cm^3 or 0.6821 lbs./in^3. The gold coin is worth, naturally enough, 1 GP, and is used a little more frequently than $100 bills are used in U.S. society. Adventures, being millionaires by our standards, use gold almost exclusively to pay for most things. Shopkeepers and bartenders where adventurers frequent are always ready and able to make change (especially since they know that adventures frequently let them keep the change for good service or information. Or was it because that level of book keeping is rather tedious for most players?). The gold coin's volume is 0.0147 in^3. The thickness is 0.0519 inches with a radius of 3/10ths of an inch. This works out so there are exactly 100 gold coins to the pound, (A 100 GP value, naturally). Gold is also cast in 50 pound bars, 3" X 4" X ~6.12", worth 5,000 GP each and such a bar is the most frequently used item to pay for a Raise Dead Spell that cost 5,000 GP when cast by a cleric of the dead person's alignment and/or religion. The nickname for the gold coin is a "Benny." About the same percentage of people know this nickname as the percentage of people in our society who know which president is on the $100 bill. (That's actually a joke, for Benjamin Franklin was never the president of the U.S. but many think most bills have dead presidents on them).

ELECTRUM: An alloy of Gold, Silver, and Copper comprised of 20% Au, 40% Ag, and 40% Cu by weight. This works out to be roughly 1 gold coin, 1 silver coin, and 2 copper coins to obtain an electrum mixture worth a little more than 10 electrum pieces. Electrum is often used in jewelry because of its beautiful amber like color. It is also the traditional wedding band of young couples; the bride's ring being set with small blue sapphires, the Imperial Stone, the groom's, a simple band of metal. If their marriage last for a decade it is also traditional to renew their wedding vows and replace the rings with platinum, or even mithral rings, the bride's now being set with a larger blue sapphire. The old electrum rings are considered lucky, since the marriage "made it," and are highly sought by young couples who wish to share in the luck. These are often passed down for generations. Rings from marriages that didn't go the distance are, almost without fail, recast - even if such a ring had been lucky for many generations. It is believed that rings, which have lasted many generations, are so lucky they could ensure the success of a new marriage. As such, these rings could easily bring 10 to 100 times their normal value on the open market, but only when accompanied by their provenance.

Electrum's density is 10.69 g/cm^3 or 0.3863 lbs./in^3. It takes 10 electrum coins to equal the value of one GP. Electrum coins are the most frequently used coins by the masses. The coins volume is 0.0129 in^3. The thickness is 0.0458 inches with a radius of 3/10ths of an inch so, though slightly thinner, it is approximately the same size as the gold coin. There are exactly 200 electrum coins to the pound, (A 20-GP value). Electrum is cast in 50 pound bars, 4" x 5" x ~6.5", worth 1,000 GP each. The nickname for the electrum coin is a "Hamy" or recently a "Saw Buck" or even a "Ten Spot."

SILVER: An alloy of silver and iron, over 99.9% Ag, is the make up of the Imperial Silver Piece. Each SP is worth 1/100th of a GP. Silver is the most frequently used metal in fine services, cups, chalices, buttons, common jewelry, and fine hardware fittings for cabinets and chests. It is also the best conductor of electricity, as far as the metals in coins are concerned.

The density of silver is 10.50 g/cm^3 or 0.3793 lbs./in^3. It takes 100 silver coins to equal the value of one GP. The coin's volume is 0.0527 in^3. The thickness is 0.1049 inches with a radius of 4/10ths of an inch. This makes the silver piece the largest and heaviest coin of the realm working out to exactly 50 silver coins to the pound, (A 1/2-GP value). (This is slightly smaller in radius than an U.S. quarter, but it is almost twice as thick as the quarter). Silver is also cast in 30 pound bars, 3" x 4" x ~6.6", worth 15 GP each. The nickname for the silver piece is a "Georgy" or recently even a "Buck" or a "Montrose," the current Emperor (Philepe Montrose) whose face appears on the recently minted silver coins. It is, of course, a complete coincidence that the buying power of a silver "buck" and $1.00 in U.S. society is so similar that you can frequently estimate the cost of an item in the Empire by using the cost of the equivalent, if common to both worlds, in our world.

COPPER: An alloy of copper and tin, (bronze) comprised of 90% copper and 10% tin by weight. Each copper piece is worth 1/1000th of a gold piece, 1/100th of an electrum piece, or 1/10th of a silver piece, and has the buying power of about a dime. By value, it is the smallest official coin of the realm, but many copper coins are cut in half or fourths (or even eighths). Perhaps 5% of all copper coins end up this way, and the Empire, to ensure fairness, frequently does the cutting even though the coin is unofficial. Pound for pound, copper is used more effectively in many electrical and alchemical applications where bulk is needed. The results are still moderately good. The metal is also used in cabinet fixtures and heavy-duty hinges when iron or steel should not be used and in many flasks and small containers when glass isn't desirable.

Copper's density is 8.92 g/cm^3 or 0.3223 lbs./in^3. The coin's dimensions are 0.1098 inches thick with a radius of 3/10th of an inch making it identical in radius to the electrum and gold pieces, but just over twice as thick. (This makes the copper coin a bit smaller than an U.S. penny, though it is nearly twice as thick and heavier than a penny). Each coin has a volume of 0.0310 in^3 that works out to exactly 100 copper coins to the pound, (A 1/10th GP value). Copper is also cast in 10 pound bars, 2" x 3" x ~5.17", worth 1 gold piece as well as larger 100 pound slabs worth 10 GP. The nickname for the copper coin is an "Ikey." The nicknames for any fractional part of an Ikey are a "son" or "Ikeyson."

The radii of the coins remain fixed as a standard, and the given radii above are exact. The thickness can vary ever so slightly from time to time, and each given thickness is an approximation. (As such, if you should feel inclined to check the above numbers, and the interested student is encouraged to do so, you will find slight variations due to round off errors. Also, the densities used were approximations based on the pure primary metal as opposed to the alloy actually used). Due to the necessity of maintaining standard weights of the coins, when different images are stamped on them the thickness may vary slightly.

The magical process used to mint the coins is a closely guarded secret of the Empire. They do, however, contract out the service to other societies, kingdoms, and realms using whatever images are desired by said realm but maintaining all other standards. Nearly every civilized human society on Orlantia uses or at least accepts Imperial coins.

After the minting process is complete, a low-level spell is cast on the entire batch of coins. If you know how, and don't ask the Empire because they won't tell you, this magical signature can be read to determine the batch number and time and place of minting. No dates are stamped on the coins. The only way the masses can tell approximately how old a coin may be is by the image on it. Every time a new Emperor takes office 12 new images, one for each side of the six coins, is designed. The emperor's face is always used on the front of the silver piece. The emperor's full standing figure is always used on the back of the gold piece. The other images are usually associated with that emperor, but may be of anything a council of candidates decides upon.

The above low-level magical spell, however, is primarily placed there to give the coins a magical endurance. It is estimated the life span of a coin is increased by a factor of 10 through this process. This is pretty good magic for something that isn't strong enough to be detected with a standard detect magic spell. Akin to a mass continual light spell, the magic on a coin is lost if the coin ever loses its circular shape, as this shape is somehow necessary for the magic to endure. (In fact, the "Ikeysons" or fractional parts of a copper piece do not last very long at all. This is why the Empire frowns on cutting up the coins). All undamaged Imperial coins are hard to bend, even when using tools.

Imperial coins are only recast when the images are very worn or the coins become damaged. (This wearing down process probably takes several centuries of continued use). Non Imperial coins are usually collected and recast at the earliest convenience.


I remember it took the better part of 2 days of my free time to make the coinage system for my world. That is, it took 2 days to make it work. I had already made my coins in decimal fashion and had used them for years. Just like the AD&D standard systems (they changed it from 1st ed. to 2nd ed.), I, too, never really paid attention to the little details of weights, sizes, metal percentages, etc. etc. One day, again with far too much time on my hands, I set to work on my little money problem because I got tired of fudging over those considerations when asked: "How many gold coins in a pound anyway? How many copper coins? Why are all coins the same weight, that's stupid, isn't it? What exactly is electrum, anyway?"

I started by measuring some U.S. coins for radii and thickness. I wanted something similar and therefore believable and/or familiar. Not that any Imperial coins are the same size as U.S. coins, but they're comparable. (In fact, most of my coins are comparable in size to a nickel, a penny, a dime, or even smaller. There are no Imperial coins larger than 0.8 inches in diameter. This sometimes surprises my players. Typically they had envisioned something quite large, like a Spanish doubloon or a silver dollar sized gold coin. They are frequently somewhat dismayed to learn their horde consists of tiny coins slightly smaller, though much heavier, than a dime. Oh well. One final note about the size is that the images on the coins are necessarily on the small side, but they are of exceptional detail. Of course, standard size bars of metal are used by the obscenely wealthy, as well as gems. Naturally, though, the highest density value to space ratio comes in the form of magic items). After I had done some measuring I came right up against the problem of mithral. Of course, most campaigns don't have such coins, (I hardly see mithral coins in my own campaign), but many people use the metal anyway. So, what is this marvelous magic metal? In various places I've heard it is mithral steel; in others, mithral silver. I wanted something cool, but at the same time, something magical. I decided it should include platinum as its primary constituent, and iridium as well. Just like the metal used in the rod for the standard meter and the bar for the standard kilogram (for the length and mass standards of the metric system) kept in Paris, France; a platinum, iridium alloy was cool, and probably used for some honestly good reason that escapes me. (Perhaps a low thermal expansion and contraction property?) But I had to have more to it than that.

Adamantium, a nonexistent but real sounding metal, was pretty popular. Naturally, that had to be some alloy of iron. This would encompass both the mithral "steel" and iron "meteor" ideas I'd seen before, and therefore could be used by others who had already gone that route. The mithral "silver" aspects could be explained as silver colored for the platinum and iridium elements, or perhaps some silver actually exist in adamantium already. If it didn't, I could simply add a touch of silver. Taking all this into consideration, I pushed mithral's density above platinum's but below iridium's.

With densities in hand and after playing with arbitrary sizes for the coins, my tables began to shape up into something usable. I skipped electrum, for its density and composition varies, and I finished the other coins. Turning back to electrum was a real problem.

First, I had to consider electrum's density. Being a mixture of mostly gold and silver, and perhaps other elements as well, the coin had to simultaneously do several things: It had to be the right weight, the right mix, the right density, and the proper value of 10 SP or 0.1 GP per EP. Furthermore, the metals used for each EP coin also had to add up to about 10 SP in value.

Eventually, I hit upon the mixture of 20% gold, 40% silver, and 40% copper by weight. This was within acceptable definitions of "electrum." Thus, 1 gold coin, 1 silver coin, and 2 copper coins were not only the correct weight, but about the correct value when adding up the value of the metal. That is 1/100th lb. of gold (1 coin at 1 GP) + 2/100th lb. of silver (1 coin at 0.01 GP) + 2/100th lb. of copper (2 coins at 0.002 GP) is enough to make 1.012 GP worth of electrum metal that weighed 5/100th lb. of electrum. Ideally I should get 10.12 electrum coins. But, by value, I get only 10 EP.

I didn't let this small discrepancy bother me for several reasons:

First: The minting of real U.S. coins is somewhat skewed like that. That is, the values of the metal and the values of the coins are, in fact, quite different. The U.S. coins simply represent their accepted value and not their true value in the weight of their metals. (Actually, Imperial Coins are very close to both their real value and accepted value whereas U.S. coins are pretty different).

Second: They don't actually melt down 1 gold coin, 1 silver coin, and 2 copper coins to make electrum coins. So during the mixing process I guess a little more tin is added and a little less copper, and a little more silver and a little less gold. That way the value is closer to 10 SP per EP. Naturally, and let's face it, this was already more detail than anybody in his or her right mind would ever need. (Unless you actually tried to make some of these coins). I only went as far as I did because it was a challenging little problem and a good review of those sorts of calculations.

When I was done with the coin table, my greatest concerns were metallurgical. I really didn't know if the metals I was arbitrarily throwing together would actually make a viable homogeneous mixture, or if they would separate in an unusable form. Perhaps it simply depended on how quickly the liquid metal was cooled. I still don't know, but I'm not losing any sleep over it. And, as with other new "elements" in fiction, mithral, though an alloy, is still a mystery. An alloy of what elements? Listing some of them is fine, but we all know there is still a mystery to be solved there.

Suffice it to say that the decimal system of Imperial Money is far superior in every way to the non-decimal AD&D system of identically weighted coins no matter what their constituent metals or value. I like it, anyway. I hope you do, too.


I'll just mention here that I've also adopted another type of rare metals from a Runequest Campaign. These so called RUNIC METALS are metals of exceptional purity, unusual origin, and probably divinely blessed metals. For example, Runic Iron would be some very pure iron from the elemental plane of earth that was blessed by a deity or perhaps came in contact with something of divine power. Who knows, maybe divine blood was spilled on it during an ancient conflict? This metal, if found and brought to the prime material plane, would have unusual alchemical properties and would therefore have atypical magical properties. RUNIC METALS are usually considered holy. Naturally, they can come in a variety of metal types such as runic iron, copper, tin, aluminum, etc., etc., and a particular type may be considered holy by a particular religion.

Naturally, it is always possible the mysterious element in mithral is a runic metal (perhaps Runic Iridium). You may ask what the chemical difference is between runic iridium and plain old iridium, and you may even find some comfort in the alchemical explanations given on my WebPages on Alchemy. Thus, it isn't so much a chemical difference as a spiritual one, like the difference between water and holy water since these are chemically identical, yet still different somehow.

Finally, when enchanted by and used by people of the right religion, runic metals can be comparable to mithral magic items. That is, even though less actual magic can adhere to a runic metal (of a non-mithral variety), a type of divine quality may make up for it in such a way that the power of the item would resemble an item made of mithral. For example, runic gold may be used to construct a sword for a holy warrior of a sun deity. In anybody else's hands, it is simply a +2 sword, but in the hands of a paladin of that sun deity, it is a +5 holy avenger.

A Metric Based System Of Coins

ADDITIONAL: An interested reader wished me to convert my system of coins into metric standards. I could have done that, but then the clean English system based numbers would have been converted into sloppy metric based numbers. For example, 100 gold coins/pound became 100 gold coins/0.45359 Kilograms or 220.46 gold coins/kilogram. These numbers would miss the point of the decimally based system (ease of use and easily memorized). Therefore, it became necessary to make a new system of decimally based coins starting from clean metric numbers. The table below is not a conversion of one system to the other, but it is rather a new system of coins for those who wish to work in the metric system. I have NOT looked so closely at these that I can promise there are no mistakes, but they look fine to me. If anyone finds differently, I'd appreciate an email. Thanks.

This is true in either system.

0.01 MP = 0.1 PP = 1 GP = 10 EP = 100 SP = 1,000 CP




RADIUS (in cm)
































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© May of 1999
James L.R. Beach
Waterville, MN 56096