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.