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  • #31
    One of the most-used specie currency was actually not a metal, or any sort of coin. It was the cowrie shell, used in Africa and throughout the Pacific and the Indian Oceans. It makes sense: they're durable, fungible, common enough to serve as currency but hard enough to obtain that you can't get rampant inflation, useful for decoration and games, and readily portable. In consequence, the money cowrie (its actual name) was the single longest-used and most widely used specie currency ever. According to Wikipedia at least, the word for "money" comes from their word for the cowrie shell.

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    • #32
      Exalted has those too, but the exchange rate for jade and siver puts them a little high for low-level transactions. I think. It's a bit confusing because they deliberately give them a different one for each because the west favour the guild, and I'm not entirely sure the ones given in the book get the bias the right way round.

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      • #33
        From Debt on the topic of Chinese cowries at least:

        "... In most places, long strings of cowrie shells figure prominently, but even here , though we often hear of 'the cowrie shell money of early China', and it's easy enough to find texts in which the value of sumptuous gifts are measured in cowries, it's never clear whether people were really carrying them around tu buy and sell things in the marketplace.
        The most likely interpretation is that they were carrying the shells, but for a long time markeptlaces themselves were of minor significance, so this is use was not nearly as important as the usual uses for social currencies: marriage, presents, fines, fess, and tokens of honor. ..."

        I'll dig it up but there are places where social currencies do become actual currency. But you probably still endup with people doing something with them to make them more dividable. Probably something local you cash them in into and then get ripped-off when you try to cash it back itn oshells. Or vice-versa I guess.

        And stuff.

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        • #34
          I'd probably just go with all the small kingdoms having their own independent currency (coins, skins, whatever. It varies) with Silver, Jade and Cowries being a sort of universal exchange currency depending on where you are.

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          • #35
            The West and its cowries are a good case to look at, because a lot of the West-- the majority of the West, really-- consists of tiny little islands populated by fewer than two thousand souls in total. Often way, way fewer. Let's take the isle of Alabaster* as an example. It's a tiny little mountain poking out of the sea that has been settled since at least sometime in the Shogunate era, and is parked on a trade route so it sees ships pulling into its one harbor semi-regularly to take on water and anti-scorbutic fruits or to ride out storms. As a result the island's single town (also called Alabaster) has all kinds of loose currency rattling around in it thanks to simple trade and sailors looking to gamble, whore, drink, or buy a monkey to bring back to their ship, because that is the kind of thing sailors do (especially after the drinking part).

            Moving away from the town, there's a temple compound on the slopes of the mountain. This temple, Hanno Daira, is consecrated to the ancestor cult, and, unusually for the West, acts as a graveyard. The dead of Alabaster are hauled up the mountain and given into the care of the half-dozen monks who tend the grounds for interment and ongoing propitiation with prayers and burned incense and whatnot; or the monks are commissioned to create memorial markers for those lost at sea. Sometimes ships will pull into port and also commission for their dead to be interred at Hanno Daira as well.

            The cost of such a burial is one cowrie shell for incense and ritual, or three if there's to be actual interment and upkeep of a grave. Holy shit, that's a lot. How could poor tropical island farmers and artisans afford such a thing?

            Well, the answer is that no local resident of Alabaster would ever dream of paying money to the temple. Instead, periodically, those with folks buried up there will head up the mountain with a couple of goats, or a wheel of cheese that they made; or a carpenter will go up and see to the temple roofs, or, ha ha, foolishly, it turns out we brewed too much beer for the festival, and so here's our five excess barrels, you guys take 'em, we TOTALLY can't drink this much. It's not a barter exchange because the goal is not to ever square up accounts. If someone were to simply pay the temple the value of the services rendered, that would cancel the ongoing relationship between the temple and that member of the community-- it would say "okay, we're quits now." That is not how a community acts or behaves. The constant ebb and flow of debt ties the place together.

            The guy who brews beer for the festivals, likewise, I can assure you has never been paid for doing so. But he's also never paid anyone else on Alabaster for shoes, chickens, hats, fish, or help putting his house back up after a hurricane knocked it down. Within the closed cycle of the community, there's no barter-- there's just the symbiosis of communal living, enforced by the simple mechanism that anybody who starts taking advantage of the system is going to be snubbed and left out of it. Money? Money is for dealing with strangers, sailors, outsiders. What do you need (or want) with money to deal with your neighbor?

            The West provides good "purist" case studies because its communities are so cleanly separated geographically, but this is the general pattern you see across much of Creation when you're dealing with the issue of "these currency values are way too high for people to use to buy shoes or a papaya, what the hell." The answer is, generally, either that they don't use money at all to obtain those things, or they're strangers and so, yes, they either barter work for those things, add them to an ongoing line of established credit (the Guild favors this method since the entire organization can act as a single debtor in this fashion), or they get overcharged to a hysterical degree, because there are very few places that have sufficient "urban anonymity" to need the concept of small change. Nexus and Chiaroscuro are two examples.

            *Alabaster shows up briefly in a story that you will hopefully get to read in the next year or so, if I ever manage to scrape together the time to finish it.


            Exalted co-developer.
            Currently Developing: Arms of the Chosen, The Realm, Dragon-Blooded: What Fire Has Wrought
            --
            Holden Reads the entire classic World of Darkness
            Follow my Exalted ramblings on Twitter.

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            • #36
              Originally posted by Holden View Post
              Alabaster shows up briefly in a story that you will hopefully get to read in the next year or so, if I ever manage to scrape together the time to finish it.
              I'll keep my eyes open. Great explanation, by the way.

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              • #37
                And just like that, not only was a concept I'd been struggling with described, a location I could use in a game was described too.

                Awesome.


                Leetsepeak's Ex3 Homebrew Hub - Hub of homebrew for Exalted 3rd Edition that I've made.

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                • #38
                  Huzzah thanks Holden! It illuminates some specifics I was having about small communities!


                  It is a time for great deeds!

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                  • #39
                    Originally posted by Holden View Post
                    What do you need (or want) with money to deal with your neighbor?
                    Well, sometimes your son wants to marry into his family. Or you want your neighbor to forgive you after his daughter got kicked by your horse and died. But neither of those is a pair of shoes, yeah.

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                    • #40
                      Originally posted by TheCountAlucard View Post
                      Well, sometimes your son wants to marry into his family. Or you want your neighbor to forgive you after his daughter got kicked by your horse and died. But neither of those is a pair of shoes, yeah.
                      Then its likely you wouldn't be making the money needed to satisfy it anyways. And you may have earned some chickens and seeds for a garden through making folks shoes, maybe that will do.


                      It is a time for great deeds!

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                      • #41
                        Well, no, but you'll borrow it from the people who do have actual hard currency, and, much like with the priests on the mountain, you'll pay some interest in the form of occasional eggs or shoes or whatever because they were able to help your son get married or defusing a potential feud.

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                        • #42
                          Originally posted by TheCountAlucard View Post
                          Well, no, but you'll borrow it from the people who do have actual hard currency, and, much like with the priests on the mountain, you'll pay some interest in the form of occasional eggs or shoes or whatever because they were able to help your son get married or defusing a potential feud.
                          Can't you do that without money? Anything they likely would want money for you could get an equivalent from debts from those who have it.


                          It is a time for great deeds!

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                          • #43
                            Well, in theory you could, but many places in real life established currencies that were required to buy certain things, often to put you in debt to the person issuing the currency (for instance, how some items in the Realm can only be bought with jade).
                            Last edited by TheCountAlucard; 01-23-2017, 10:51 AM.

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                            • #44
                              Ancient societies generally had ritual currency for major social events, especially weddings and funerals, that wasn't used for a whole lot else, although it hypothetically could be just to reinforce the notion that it had great value. Usually this was something difficult but not impossible to obtain locally-- such as, say, beautiful and uncommon shells, like a cowrie.


                              Exalted co-developer.
                              Currently Developing: Arms of the Chosen, The Realm, Dragon-Blooded: What Fire Has Wrought
                              --
                              Holden Reads the entire classic World of Darkness
                              Follow my Exalted ramblings on Twitter.

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                              • #45
                                Originally posted by Eldagusto View Post
                                Then its likely you wouldn't be making the money needed to satisfy it anyways.
                                ​I think the mistake here is thinking in terms of making money, as though people are working a job that gets paid a regular wage. It's not something that people are strictly being paid with, it's just a kind of token that exists in the community.

                                Originally posted by Eldagusto
                                Can't you do that without money?
                                Probably, in about the same way that you can keep records and history without writing.

                                But having some kind of tangible token to be accumulated and exchanged in the course of these relationships is fairly convenient, and removes a lot of ambiguities. It can help everybody to know where they stand.

                                ​It's like the idea of giving somebody some ritual money after some kind of offence to offset a feud. That's something that kind of approximates the idea of compensating them with something that has a transferable value, but really it's more like an elaborate form of apology embodied in a form that everybody can observe and recognise and so everybody can move on from it.

                                ​Anyway, one thing that the amount of circulating money, even in the smaller denominations (perhaps especially so) would correspond to is how free a population is.

                                ​Take a village in 14th century England. In many ways, it would operate in the manner that this unwritten island community would, in the sense that everybody knows each other and there's a certain degree of mutual cooperation. However, right above them is the landlord (probably represented in most instances by an appointed surrogate), and social values of the time will hold that everybody in the community owes the landlord something. A lot of the time, the landlord is operating on a stage in which hard cash (which has become more prevalent by this period) is more convenient, so that's going to be something that the landlord will want from his tenants. To whit, landlords will want as many avenues to extract this wealth as possible, not just the familiar payments for rent or in lieu of performing services on the lord's personal land, but also from the fact that lords will have local authority on justice (both punishment by fines and charging people to bring their grievances forward), ownership of areas within the estate such as forests and rivers or ponds that people can be charged to make use of (not only to acquire some extra food to supplement their diet, but also because you need access to the forests in order to get fuel) and, perhaps most damningly of all, monopolies over the capacity to produce bread by virtue of control over mills and ovens, and outlawing people from producing flour or bread anywhere other than the mills and ovens.

                                ​These are liable to get a community that could often function fairly well on its own to need to be involved in markets, and probably occasionally even needing to go into debt in order to acquire currency, which is often less of the "everybody in the community is interdependent on each other which binds them together in perpetuity" form and more of the "the rest of my life is spent in a state of obligation of my labour and resources to somebody a lot more powerful than me" form.

                                ​It can be a question of whether or not money is being used for the sake of transactions that are familiar to us, or if it's just being stockpiled against the next occasion in which you need to pay off the boss. From an economics standing, I believe that such things may constitute a net less of value for the community, if they need to sell crops that they put effort into creating in order to fulfil these obligations that aren't necessarily used to benefit them.


                                I have approximate knowledge of many things.
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