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As I'm making my way through a campaign, I'm beginning to realize that I don't know what to do about money. My tier 2 (out of 6) players have 200 shins (gold in Numenera terms) between 5 of them. We don't know if that's a lot or a little, and we stopped caring about money altogether. Finding monetary rewards is not exciting and money is not a motivator. I'm trying to price and offer some goods and services in order to create the desire, or incentive, for players to spend (and acquire) wealth.

Is there some generic guideline against which I can use to price things? I don't have a good gut feeling for how to price hiring a group of guards, or a spy for a month, vs a sack of grain or the price of a sword.

How do I estimate the price of goods and services?
Are there good resources to help me?

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    \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan Added a tag, although I'm hoping the guidance will apply anywhere -- since Numenera is just science fantasy. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 11 '20 at 20:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ @RuslanOsipov Well it's not really system agnostic because what gold can be meaningfully spent on very much depends on the system. In a Star Wars RPG you might use it to buy better blasters, in D&D you might use it to hire help, in Nobilis you can't do much with it because mortals and their money are mostly irrelevant. Some systems have very explicit wealth sinks that you must spend wealth on, some like Pathfinder where it's effectively a requirement... \$\endgroup\$
    – Cubic
    Jun 11 '20 at 21:16
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    \$\begingroup\$ Sincerely, while it's nice of you to want your question to have the widest audience and to help the most people, the site really wants to help you with your question, and a good enough answer will help everyone tangentially interested in the same topic anyway. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 11 '20 at 21:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Cubic Please don't answer in comments. We try not to do that here \$\endgroup\$
    – NautArch
    Jun 11 '20 at 21:37
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    \$\begingroup\$ I removed that tag because that made your question too broad. Now that your question is focused, it can get an answer. I know at least one user here (@Carcer) who has something for you. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 12 '20 at 12:29
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Refer to the core rulebook's Equipment section, and Ninth World Guidebook's economy section

The core rulebook's section on Equipment, pages 77-82, establish guideline prices for lots of items of significance to adventurers. For instance:

  • a dagger or knife is 1 shin
  • a broadsword is 3 shins
  • a greatsword is 5 shins
  • a basic meal is 1 shin, up to 5 shins for a high quality meal
  • a day's rations are 2 shins

The Ninth World Guidebook goes into much more detail than the core rulebook does about life in the various regions of the Ninth World, and on pages 30-32 it has a section about the economy of the setting. This section provides guidelines on roughly how much you would expect someone doing certain kinds of job to earn, and starting points for figuring out the value of goods and services beyond the equipment described in the core rulebook.

For instance, regarding the question of wages:

  • A guard, farmhand, or other such common labourer's typical daily wage is 1-2 shins
  • A skilled professional like a chiurgeon (surgeon) could earn 8-30 shins per day
  • A prosperous merchant might be dealing with a daily revenue measured in hundreds of shins

The Ninth World Guidebook here also clarifies that:

Setting prices for items in the Ninth World can be difficult because there is no centralized economy, and the cost of weapons, clothing, armor, and even the numenera is heavily affected by local supply and demand. When setting the price of an object, one should think about how common or rare the item is, whether it’s in high demand, and whether it has some special use to those in the area.

So you should feel free to vary the listed prices somewhat depending on the circumstances of the region. Food might be cheaper if you're in a farming community, or more expensive if it has to be imported from other places, for instance.

So how much is 200 shins? Well, "basic" lodging has a given cost of 2-5 shins/day, and a day's rations are 2 shins/day - so a person with 200 shins to their name can afford to live modestly in lodgings for 1-2 months without having to do any more work to support themselves. Alternatively, they could afford to purchase one or two aneens or similar mounts (100-200 shins each).

40 shins (as split evenly between your 5 players) would instead be about a month's wages for an unskilled labourer - or only a few day's worth of work for a professional engineer or artisan. Those funds can certainly ensure they are well-equipped for adventure as they can buy a lot of equipment with them, but they're a long way short of retiring on that fortune.

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