The known civilizations all use coins made of copper, silver, gold, and platinum. There are peoples and places which use other items, such as gemstones, for currency. And there are primitive societies that have a basic barter system and coins are used for decoration. The main “civilized” lands have certain standards which vary from land to land. When dealing with the merchant guilds or governments they consider a gold piece to be of a certain weight and purity. Some kingdoms and lands add value above and beyond the mere value of the metal of the coin backed by their treasury.
The standard DND 3.5 rules recognize only the, “Copper Piece,” “Silver Piece,” “Gold Piece,” and “Platinum Piece.” Because this campaign world dates back to the 1st edition and they play can play an important role in the game; the “Electrum Piece” exists as a relic from a dead civilization.
During the beginning of a gaming group it makes it easier to call all gold coins, “Gold Pieces,” but would dozens of nations all call their money by such a generic term? It's good for a basic level game but for a deeper roleplaying level the coinage of the various realms should be identified.
The money of the Kingdom of Argos, home of the largest merchant guilds, and homeland to countless colonies, can be found scattered all across the known lands. The Argosseans, being the profit-minded folk they are, begin their currency with the brass, “Piffle,” which is worth about one tenth of a Copper Piece (CP), which is known as a, “Zincat.” Argos also has the, “Ilar,” which is a copper coin worth 5cp. (Ilars are becoming rarer as they have not been minted in quite a while.)
The Argossean Silver Piece (SP) is known as a, “Ducat,” while a, “Rhekaro,” is a silver coin worth 2sp. The Argosseans also have three Gold (GP) coins: the “Shilling,” (1gp) the, “Haba,” (5gp) and the, “Shilko,” (10gp). The Argossean money system is capped with the Platinum (PP), “Rylla,” (1pp) and the highest denomination in use: the, “Voral,” (100pp).
Like the present day American dollar: the Argossean coins retain their value in most lands.
Now to compare to a different monetary system, the Kingdom of Ternach: one of the lands colonized by Imperial Dosade.
The Ternachan money system begins with a copper coin known as the, “Distal,” worth half of a copper piece (½cp). This is followed by a copper, “Helic,” (1cp). The silver piece is called the, “Prolix,” (1sp) and is the lowest demomination of the three silver coins: the, “Vicat,” (2sp) and the, “Zincat” (5sp).
The Ternachan Gold piece is called a, “Crown,” (1gp) followed by another gold coin, the, “Eagle” (2gp). Above that is the gold and platinum, “Royal,” (10gp) the platinum, “Helix,” (1pp) and the platinum, “Jodo” (25gp).
Some names for coins have different values in various lands. A Ternachan, “Distal,” is worth a ½cp and is made of copper while a Choam, “Distal,” is made of bronze and also worth a ½cp: at least in Choamonous.
A Choam, “Bit,” is made of brass and worth but a tenth of a copper while an Eindhovener, “Bit,” is made of copper and worth a copper piece.
Large Realms, Kingdoms and Empires, are not the only entities to mint coins. Some smaller Kingdoms, and even some Baronies, mint coins to celebrate events, people, or activities. The Kingdom of Utrecht minted a gold coin from 230-230tc called the, “Marlenus,” ( or slang, the, “Marl.”) while the Kingomd of Gravenhage minted a gold coin in 235tc, the, “Rakell,” to commemorate King Rakells' victory over King Marlenus.
Merchant Guilds, Free Towns, Temples, Orders, and even some of the colleges have minted coins over the centuries.
It can be a plot hook as to where coins have come from, how old they are, and what lands they may have found themselves in. Next time the adventuring party kills several orcs while on patrol in the hills they may find the creatures had an assortment of small change but also a money pouch with 12 newly minted Shillings in it instead of just 8cp, 3sp, and 12gp.