Currency In The Arm

One of the toughest things about writing a story or series in a new world is making that world feel like it actually exists. There are plenty of things that we take for granted about the modern world that simply aren’t true of science-fiction and fantasy worlds, and a lot that needs to be thought about in order to make that world feel like a living and functioning world. Things need to have a history behind them in order to feel real so that even the simplest things can take more work than some entire chapters. Of course, the bonus of taking the time to think about these things is that I know how they work when writing and can slip them into the narrative more easily.

The majority of the World of Cinders stories take place in the Enpee Arm, at the tail end of Dunland. This is a unique area with quite a bit of history behind it and that has a more interesting currency as a result. Like the rest of Dunland, it shares the common currency of pennies, florins and sovereigns. This basic currency system is operative all throughout Dunland and each coin roughly translates to the class of society that will be most likely found to carry it.

  • Pennies are small copper coins. A penny can probably buy you a loaf of bread, a block of cheese or a couple of apples if you find the right vendor.
  • Florins are silver coins worth twenty-four pennies due to their weight. Florins are mostly used to pay services and trade at a higher level. 
  • Sovereigns are heavy gold coins worth approximately ten florins. Only the nobles of the land are ever likely to see a sovereign nevermind touch one.

However, the Enpee Arm is different from most areas of Dunland. It spent most of its history as barbarian land, cut off from the rest of the country by a vast mountain range across the country followed immediately by the thick, uninviting and thoroughly dangerous Wildwood. For centuries the barbarians roamed the land freely, and those few that survived long enough to make it to the Arm were likely slain by them. 

It was the Bathor family, disgraced in their homeland on the continent, who finally settled the Enpee Arm. Old Enpee Bathor came with ships full of men and fought the barbarian king to subjugation a couple of hundred years ago, taking the Arm for himself and having it named in his honour. From that victory civilisation slowly filtered into the Arm and it became a key position in Dunland that is still ruled over by the Bathor family to this day.

While the currency of Dunland slowly filtered into the arm and became the standard, there are still coins in use today that were brought over from the continent by the Bathors and their men.

  • The “Thruppence” was originally called the Zenny. It was the basic penny of the continent but is much bigger than the Dunland pennies and worth about three of them as a result. It has been adopted by the lower classes as a larger copper denomination.
  • The Shilling is a silver coin that is smaller than the florin and worth around twelve pennies. Most unskilled workers can gain one of these for a weeks work.

And then there are the coins that were exclusively minted on the Arm itself. Of these, only the crown is still in use.

  • The Crown is a silver coin much larger than the shilling or florin and worth sixty pennies in total. These coins are still minted on the Arm today and are known as the Traders Hat due to the crown emblazoned on the coin and the fact that such large denominations are usually only carried by traders travelling between cities.

There is plenty more to reveal about the World of Cinders, but I hope this little look into the history of the Enpee Arm and how it has affected the currency in the area has been enlightening.

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9 thoughts on “Currency In The Arm

    • As the project advances I’ll be filling in a bit more here and there about the way this world works and what makes it unique. This was just to let people know how even something such as currency which is normally taken for granted can change according to the history you assign to it.

      In this case I know all this about the currency and can work those details into my books if I need to. Or I can ignore it. Having the information there and ready to work from gives me a deeper understanding of the world and should lead to a bit more depth in the books themselves. The land should feel steeped in history even if most of that history doesn’t make it to the page directly.

  1. Out of respect for your world and it’s people you have to do this. Even if you write semi-authentic stuff you will have to know much more about everything than any reader will ever know, also stuff that does not have any effect on the plot or the story. I always draw a map of the lifetime of the characters with highlights as well as odd details that they remember because of personal experiences. Sometimes I even draw a family tree and establish at least the trades and whereabouts of the closest ancestors, even though there might not be any mentioning of those in the narrative. As a rule I have just about 4 parts knowledge of the character’s past (and perhaps also the future) where I only use about 1 part in the story. The rest is not a waste, it’s background. Gives the characters dimensions, depth, contrast.

    • The short stories are actually helping there. Anything mentioned (towns, cultural details, creatures) goes into an encyclopedia of details on the world and this grows with every page. I’ve got sections set aside for geographic details, others for cultural details (ranging from currency through festivals and how chimneys are cleaned) beliefs (gods, the religions that form around them and how truthful those beliefs are) and an entire notebook dedicated to the limits and specifics of how magic works.

  2. I wrote a science fiction short story once. Just about twenty pages. It takes place in 2041. The plot is a company that has invented technology to keep people online after they die, introducing the 2Way Orb, a device that allows you to have conversations with the diseased. That’s the basic set-up. Two main characters and four ‘extras’. Very simple, you’d think. I had five books with notes on that one. Back then I used lined note books of the A4 standard, about 50 pages each, and additional paper enough to fill an entire desk drawer. All this for 20 pages of story. I’d say, on this one I knew 6 parts of everything, and in the story I only used 1 part. Thing was I had to know at least two generations, one, the diseased was my own generation, and the living was the generation being born now. So, I had to sort of splice present and future. I never thought I’d get fiunished with that one. Even had a deadline.

    • Now I doubt I could work with a deadline at all. I tried writing every day, even a line, and it didn’t work out. What I found was that if I leave it a couple of days then get to it, I write a lot more and at a higher quality. Still, I am always writing down ideas and expanding the lore so that I know my world.

      That’s mostly what these Insight category posts will be about. Showing the world I’ve created while I’m still excited about it and letting later readers see how much has changed since the early days as well as things that may not have made it into books they’ve read.

  3. A very good idea, I think. Also for you. It’s good to have some sort of log or diary where you put down what you did. It will help you later on. I sometimes regret I never did that, back when I was a professional, but everything went so fast in those days. I have to rely on what I remember, which pretty much means I have to start at Step One every time. I’m good with that. re-defining myself at each beginning of a new thing. It works for me. Or at least it worked the one or two times I tried it. It’s interesting to follow your work. It’s not every day you get a chance to look over the shoulder of a writer, and you actually do a good job reporting. I’ve told you before that I detect a reporter somewhere in you. reporting from The World of Cinders is just your choice of venue. Could just as well be Syria. I mean this non-sarcastically, by the way.

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