APPENDIX XXIX: Talents and Dinarii – cash or credit?
Money. To say “it makes the world go ‘round” doesn’t quite cover it. Money is the one thing that fuels a healthy economy and makes a fictional setting believable, whether D&D’s ubiquitous gold pieces, Shadowrun’s Nuyen or a gazzilion sci-fi setting’s “credits”; players want and need money to get what they need to adventure… so they can get more money… to get more stuff.
In many ways, the Legionnaire RPG is unique in the way it generates starting money; instead of a low range for starting characters using multiple dice for a fair average, 2d10x1,000 is used, with the addition that is doubles are rolled, the amount is monthly income, not a lump sum; this means that there is a 10% chance that any character has a stable income, with a 1% chance that this monthly income equals 20,000 Talents.
What? What it says on the tin.
20,000 Talents a month? Yup.
For a starting character? Yup. Read it yourself:
- TALENTS (T)
- This refers to the amount of money your character has available to spend. This is, in essence, your liquid capital or small change, depending upon your perspective. To determine the starting value, roll 2D10 and multiply the result by 1000. If you happen to roll doubles (the same number on each die) the amount is still multiplied by 1000, but represents monthly income from a family trust fund, a government stipend or some other source of money - possibly including payments from enemy governments or organizations.
So… there is a ton of money. So what? I hear you ask. Well, it does change the dynamics of the game somewhat; some pretty outrageous things become possible; from purchasing military-grade equipment to warships. But that is not what this article is about. This is about the money itself and how it is circulated at every level of government and across borders.
First things first; what the heck is a Talent?
The term “Talent” is well known as a monetary unit from the biblical parable of the talents told in Matthew 25:14-30 (look it up), which has led many to assume that a Talent is a coin of some sort. This is not true; a Talent is a unit of measurement throughout the ancient world, equaling the amount of water required to fill an amphora (those ancient clay jugs with the pointy bottoms). In time, this amount became standardized within each empire: in the case of ancient Rome, a Talent equaled 100 Roman Libra (1 Roman Libra = 328.9 grams or 11.60 oz), which equal 71 modern pounds or 32.3 kg.
With this standard unit, transactions could take place wherein the monetary units discussed were Talent-weights of silver or Talent-weights of gold; obviously not day-to day methods of payment to buy a robe, a pair of sandals or a jar of garuum sauce. For these day-to-day transactions and transactions where a Talent-weight of silver would be overkill, silver coins called Denarii (one denarius, two denarii) were most common, with gold coins called Aureus (later Solidus) used for higher value purchases.
Within TOG, the terms Talent, Denarius, Aureus and Solidus are used in reference to currency.
The Imperial Talent (formerly Republic Talent) is a unit of currency that exists exclusively in electronic form; every citizen, plebeian and slave has an account through which he or she (yes, females have accounts too) can be paid and can access their funds, usually through a perscomp or Imperial ID Card, though most businesses or services use biometrics (retinal and/or fingerprint are the most common) to confirm ID and withdraw funds. Talents are the official medium of exchange throughout the Empire; taxes and government/corporate salaries are paid in Talents and Imperial funds are processed throughout all senatorial levels. This, of course, creates an electronic trail that allows the TOG Imperial Reserve Bank to track every Talent spent in the Empire, which prompted (very early on) the Imperial Senate (Illustris, Spectabiles and Clarissimi, at different times) to establish alternative methods of legal currency transferal for both perfectly legitimate and surreptitiously obscure reasons.
Besides the Talent, most TOG subjects are familiar with the Denarius; denarii were established piecemeal throughout the individual worlds of TOG, with each Clarissimi Senator either creating a local Planetary Reserve Banks operating independently yet in conjunction with the Imperial Reserve. Denarii on many worlds are fully electronic; functioning transparently with Talents, but on the majority of worlds, denarii also exist in other forms: certified (in cards or ID chips), which are much harder to trace; physical, as plastic or metal cards, chips, coins or notes. The primary difficulty of denarii is that they have value only in the world (or system, in some cases) in which they are issued (though a black market exchange exists in most provinces).
At its most basic level, the Aureus (Au) is the provincial equivalent of the Denarius. Officially created (in most cases) to simplify transactions between provincial worlds, the aureus has become the medium of choice for high-level kickbacks between senators of all levels. Besides the electronic forms, Secured Aureus exist; hardened computer chips with a fixed encoded value (usually 1k, 5k or 10k Au) that act much like a cashier’s check. S/Au chips are the preferred TOG currency in provincial Free Trader worlds/enclaves.
First created by the Illustris (Imperial) Senate with the specific purpose of trade with non-TOG governments and individuals, such as the Naram Republic, the Magellanic Republic and the Free Traders, the Solidus differs from other TOG currency in that it is not electronic in nature; though equipped with a hardened RFID for inventory purposes, the solidus is a physical currency made from materials with intrinsic value, most commonly an exotic platinum alloy with an embedded Gennium-Arsenic laser crystal of precise size and quality, though other forms are common (gold with a diamond, for example, in low-value coins and strips), due to different preferences among trade recipients. Solidii are available in a wide array of shapes, sizes and values, depending on the minting authority (lesser senates may mint Solidii in Denarii or Aureus values, though they will still state their value in Talents in addition to their native value. Most commonly, a Solidus is brick-shaped, with a sealed recess which includes its basic information, the RFID strip and its embedded crystal; if any of these is missing, its value becomes wholly dependent on materials, which is generally a fraction of its intact value. Small coins (round or hexagonal) in 1/10, ½ and 1 T are uncommon, but well known, as these are often used by the military). Small strips or ingots in 2, 5, 10, 20 and, rarely, 50 and 100 T, are common. Larger ingots or bars in 50, 100, 500, 1,000, 5,000 and 10,000 T are used for large transactions, with the occasional larger bars used in equally unique situations.