12 pence

Sugar, Spices and Money: The Thedas Cuisine Project

For the purposes of this project, using medieval money as a base, the following currency values will be applied:

Medieval Money vs Modern Day Money:

  • 1 pound (20 Shillings) = $650 / £530 / €620
  • 1 shilling (12 pence) = $32 / £26 / €31
  • 1 pence (4 farthings) = $2.60 / £2 / €2.50
  • 1 farthing = $0.65 / £0.50 / €0.60

Thedas Money Vs. Medieval Money:

  • 1 gold = 1 pound, 9 pence, 4 farthings
  • 1 silver = 2.5 pence (10 farthings)
  • 1 copper = 0.1 farthing

Thedas Money Vs. Modern Day Money:

  • 1 gold = $676 / £550 / €645
  • 1 silver = $6.5 / £5 / €6.25
  • 1 copper = $0.06 / £0.05 / €0.06


Sugar would be very rare outside of the nobility, due to its extreme cost. One pound of sugar would cost nearly 15 silver. In terms of real world money, you’re looking at an equivalent of about $98. The average lay-person would most likely make anywhere between 50 copper and 3 silver per day. Paying the equivalent of between 5 and 15 days wages on a pound of sugar was just not possible for most people. It should also be noted that a small two-person peasant home probably only cost about 3 or 4 gold.

To put that in perspective, that’s kind of like paying $98 for a pound of sugar when you only make $19.50 a day, and the cost of a house is $2000. Of course, most people would most likely rent their houses. The cost of renting that same house would probably be 1 gold per year, which would probably be payable per month like our own real-world rent. So most people would be paying the equivalent of $56 per month to rent their house. 

To put that in perspective, given current-era real world money, that’s like making $300 a week and renting a two bedroom house for $174 a month (you could also buy the house for $6200). In this same scenario, sugar costs $300 per pound. To put in perspective how HIGH that would be, a brand new BMW S-series would cost $1300.

Because of these reasons, liberal use of sugar (even among the nobility) would be very rare, and would be a sign of extreme luxury.

Because of these prices, the vast majority of the common peoples within Thedas would use honey and local fruit for their sweeteners. Contrasted with today, where honey is now much more expensive than sugar, it was the other way around in the middle ages. Whereas sugar would cost around 15 silver per pound in Thedas, honey would cost closer to 2 silver per pound. Bee husbandry was far cheaper than sourcing sugar or growing sugar, and therefore the end product was much cheaper as well. Many families would also keep their own bee-hives, and so most communities had at least one steady supply of fresh honey. Most communities would still use it sparingly, however, as it would mostly be sold to nobles, with the excess being used by the community, or farmers themselves.


Spices would be exceedingly expensive in Thedas, especially if you wanted to get spices that weren’t native to the kingdom you lived in. While these spices were cheaper in their native lands, cheaper did not always equate to affordable. The majority of people who used these spices were either in the small group of those who could afford them - or they knew how to forage or grow them.

Cinnamon, for example, would have been native to The Anderfels, parts of Nevarra, and Tevinter. Inside of these kingdoms, cinnamon would still sell for around 15 silver per pound. Outside of these kingdoms, however, the price would vary depending on how far they would be shipped. The end price for spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, or cloves would be anywhere between 50 silver to 2 gold per pound. While the end price could still be manageable, given that spices were sold by the ounce, it would still be a considerable expense.

The following is a list of example spices. The first price is the price (per pound) in their native habitat, the second is the additional price for shipment (per 10 miles). The third price is the estimated price (per pound) after their shipment from their native habitat to the other side of Thedas (average of 500 miles).

  • Cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves: 15 silver | 3 silver | 1 gold, 65 silver
  • Pepper, white pepper, peppercorns: 20 silver | 4 silver | 2 gold, 20 silver
  • Saffron: 75 silver | 12 silver | 6 gold, 75 silver
  • Sea Salt: 5 silver | 2 silver | 1 gold, 5 silver
  • Mineral Salt: 1 silver | 50 copper | 26 silver
  • Plant salt: 50 copper | 25 copper | 12 silver, 50 copper
  • Grains of Paradise: 40 silver | 10 silver | 5 gold, 40 silver
  • Anise, Juniper Berries: 2 silver | 5 silver | 2 gold, 52 silver
  • Star Anise: 10 silver | 5 silver | 2 gold, 60 silver
  • Allspice, Cardamom, Ginger: 20 silver | 6 silver | 3 gold, 20 silver

For spices not listed, just assume that it would have a similar price as to any spices that are similar on the above list.


Herbs would be much cheaper than spices, but not as widely available. Most herbs that were shipped would be their dried versions, which would of course be inferior to the fresh variants. Dried variants of herbs would, of course, be cheaper than fresh.

With the following list, the first price is the price (per bunch) for fresh, and the second is for dry. For herbs, the shipping cost would most likely be much more uniform when compared to spices. Therefore, assume a simple 50 copper per 10 miles when shipping an herb from its native habitat.

  • Leaf herbs (Basil, bay leaf, mint, lemon balm, etc): 1 silver | 50 copper
  • Root herbs (garlic, burdock, dandelion, etc): 50 copper | 12 copper
  • Flowered Herbs (hyssop, borage, lavender, etc): 2 silver | 50 copper


The following is a list of food basics, and their average prices. This is not an inclusive list of everything. It is merely a guide to give you an idea of what the average person would pay for food in Thedas.


  • Cheap Ale (per gallon): 50 copper
  • Good Ale (per gallon): 1 silver
  • Cheap Wine (per gal): 2 silver
  • Good Wine (per gal): 10 silver
  • Cheap Beer (per gal): 2 silver
  • Good Beer (per gal): 8 silver
  • Milk (per quart): 50 copper


  • Cow, alive: 50 silver
  • Beef, butchered (whole cow): 3 gold
  • Beef, butchered (per pound): 35 copper
  • Pig, alive: 15 silver
  • Pork, butchered (whole pig): 70 silver
  • Pork, butchered (Per pound): 45 copper
  • Sheep, Alive: 5 silver
  • Mutton, butchered (whole sheep): 60 silver
  • Mutton, butchered (Per pound): 40 copper
  • Lamb, Alive: 10 silver
  • Lamb, butchered (whole lamb): 50 silver
  • Lamb, butchered (per pound): 60 copper
  • Fowl, alive: 25 copper
  • Fowl, butchered (whole bird): 75 copper to 3 silver
  • Fowl, butchered (per pound): 15 copper
  • Goose or Duck, alive: 1 silver
  • Goose or duck, butchered (whole bird): 4 silver
  • Goose or duck, butchered (per pound): 22 copper


note: 1 bushel = 60 pounds

  • Wheat: 15 silver per quarter bushel
  • Wheat flour: 4 silver per pound
  • Barley: 12 silver per quarter bushel
  • Barley flour: 3 silver per pound
  • Oats: 5 silver per quarter bushel
  • Oat Flour: 2 silver per pound
  • Peas, Dried: 1 silver per quarter bushel
  • Pea flour: 30 copper per pound
  • Peasant’s Flour (mixture of barley, oat, and pea): 15 copper per pound
  • Local Fresh vegetables: Between 50 copper and 2 silver per pound
  • Local Fresh fruit: Between 1 and 4 silver per pound
  • Local Dried Fruit: Between 50 copper and 1 silver per pound
  • Foreign Vegetables (fresh): 6 silver per pound
  • Foreign Fruit (Fresh): 12 silver per pound
  • Foreign dried fruit: 2 to 4 silver per pound
  • Butter: 30 copper per pound
  • Beef suet: 40 copper per pound
  • Mutton or Lamb suet: 20 copper per pound
  • Pork suet (or lard): 15 copper per pound


  • Bread: 40 copper per loaf
  • Cheese: 20 copper per pound
  • Eggs: 1 copper each
  • Yeast: 1 copper per ounce

This post will most likely be referenced throughout the Thedas Cuisine Project. As you can see from the above, most commoners in Thedas would very much live day-to-day as far as food cost was concerned.

Money in relation to worldbuidling [part 1]

     [PART 2 is here]

    Now when I have your attention, let’s have some theory here! I will not try to load you with all stuff from university  economics course, but we will go over the basics. I hope it may help some of you in real life too.

   We all use money for many things but, have you ever thought, what exactly are they? Money is an item or verifiable record that is generally used to get for goods, services and pay debts. 

    Simple, right? Now, as well as many other things in the world money have functions. Which are:

  1.        Tool of exchange.
    This is the basic function of money as a valuable good. Basically it means that you can exchange money for things or services and the other way round. Or even money for money.
  2.          Measure of value.
    Different kinds of goods are equal and share with each other on the basis of prices (exchange rate, the cost of these goods, expressed in the quantity of money). Product price performs the same measurement function as the length of intervals in geometry or mass of the bodies in physics. You don’t really need to know what space or weight is to make a measurement, an ability to compare the desired value with the standard will be enough. Currency unit is a standard for the goods in our case.
  3.        Medium of circulation
    Money is used as an intermediary to handle the goods. This function is crucial ease and speed with which money can be exchanged for any other commodity (liquidity). When you use the money commodity producer is able, for example, to sell the goods today, and buy raw materials only after day, week, month and so on. In this case, he can sell his goods in one place and buy the required ones in another. Thus, money is a means of overcoming the temporal and spatial constraints in the exchange.
  4.        Instrument of payment.
    The money is used for registration and payment of debts. This function takes an independent value for situations unstable commodity prices. For example, some goods were bought on a credit. The amount of debt expressed in money, not in the amount of purchased goods. Subsequent changes in the price of goods have no effect on the amount of debt to be paid in cash. Money performs this function when we have monetary relations with financial authorities. Money plays the similar role when any economic indicators are expressed in them.
  5.              Storage of funds.
    Money, that is accumulated but not used, allows a transfer of purchasing power from the present into the future. Storage means function is performed by money that doesn’t participate in the money circulation. However, keep in mind that the purchasing power of money depends on inflation.
  6.             World money.
    Money functions as a universal means of payment, the universal means of purchase and universal materialization of social wealth. World money is usually considered reserve currencies. For direct cross-border payments money from different countries can be used.

   Now when you know what money is and what is their function, let’s move to more practical things.

   What amazes me quite often and not in good way, is how fantasy writers treat metallic money. People just don’t understand that you can’t go around throwing gold and silver like they are nothing but banknotes.  Why so?  You see, back in days things were different.  But before I move to explanation why it’s an atrocity, let’s have a brief look on the history of money.

     Money not always and not everywhere were, you know, coins made of metals. Hence our next thing to discuss: commodity money. It’s a type of money whose value comes from a commodity of which it is made. They consist of objects that have value in themselves, as well as value in their use as money. Things that have been used as mediums of exchange include gold, silver, copper, bronze, gems, salt, peppercorns, tea, large stones (such as Rai stones), decorated belts, shells, alcohol, cigarettes, cannabis, candy, cocoa and coffee beans, cowries, barley, animal pelts, cattle, bird feathers, carved bones  and many others.

    As a matter of fact, commodity money is to be distinguished from representative money which is a certificate or token that can be exchanged for the underlying commodity, but only as the trade is good for that source and the product. A key feature of commodity money is that the value is directly perceived by the users of this money, who recognize the utility or beauty of the tokens as they would recognize the goods themselves. That is, the effect of holding a token for a barrel of oil must be the same economically as actually having the barrel at hand.

  Representative money is something that is not in the physical form of currency, but represents the intent to pay money. For example, paper check from a bank. The check is not a physical piece of money, but it implies the intent to repay.

    Ok, done here.  Now in relation to worldbuilding you - most likely- will deal only with commodity money. Unless you have chosen a time period, when paper checks and alike are already in a widespread   use. Such as 19th century or 1950s,  for example.

    So now, I think you’ve made your mind with physical parameters of your setting, done with geography, flora, fauna and more or less sketched a couple of cultures. So probably, you have also set your mind on how and where your OCs are going to travel or at least where they buy food and clothes and weapon and other things. Or where they steal all the things, if that’s the case.

   Now, ask yourself – do the money my OCs use are coins?  Shape doesn’t have to be round and flat. This one actually came from the fact that first it was easier to make a metal rod and then cut it into little round slices. Russian rubles, for example, are called so exactly because this is how they were made. Ruble literally means “a cut-off piece”.

   Shape can be anything you want. Round with a hole in the middle, as in traditional Chinese money – it’s easier to carry it around. It can be shaped as their sacred animal (detailed or not) or a horse-shoe shaped like West African manilla. Basically, anything you want. So feel free to go wild. I will touch this more next time.

   Now, remember what I have said about throwing around gold and silver ?

    Okay, let’s apply common sense here:

1.      She might get herself in trouble – people might simply steal stuff from her, because fools and money part their ways fast. She can get herself killed in the worst scenario.

2.      People who throw money around attract attention and this is not what you want if you are on the run.

3.      She will look like spoilt brat literally bragging “look at how much money I can spend on a simple porridge, you filthy peasants” in the eyes of the local population or even her party.  Don’t know what is worse.

4.      Author didn’t do the bloody research.

   So for the sake of simplicity, let’s have a look at some prices in England and France. Money goes as follows:

·         1 pound = 20 shillings (s)

·         1 crown = 5 shillings

·         1 shilling = 12 pence (d)

·         1 penny = 4 farthings

·         1 mark = 13s 4d

    During the Medieval period, the major type of food consumed was cereal, such as wheat, corn, maize and so on, with meat and fish being relatively expensive and thus, more scarce. We can determine that the average annual consumption of cereals worked out at 300kg per person, or 1200kg for the average family of four. We also know the average number of working hours available annually, and with these two pieces of information it becomes easy to work out average wages - if we know food prices.

·         England 1320    160kg cereal cost 37 shillings

·         France 1339-69  100kg of cereal cost 50 shillings

     Thus in England the minimum hourly wage had to be 1.75 pence. Similarly in France it would be 2.5d. In most cases of course this food would have been grown by the family themselves, or in the case of labourers in cities provided by their employers. On top of this, there would almost certainly have been a payment in cash; to the farmer this would have been in the form of extra crops for barter. Such pay merits would probably have been on a similar scale to that suggested next:

·         Unskilled Labourer   Ѕd/day    3Ѕd/week

·         Skilled Labourer     1-2d/day 7-14d/week

·         Skilled Craftsman    3-6d/day 14-42d/week

    This gives an average conjectural weekly wage as follows:

                                           France       England

·         Unskilled Labourer    15ѕd     21d

·         Skilled Labourer      19-26d   24-31d

·         Skilled Craftsman     34-54d   38-59Ѕd

Those persons who are self-employed would have to pay for their own food as well as making a bit extra if possible out of their profits.

   I mean, why would anyone in their right mind pay money that can be used to buy a ton of stuff for a simple room in a tavern and some shitty meal?

    Okay, I hope I made this part clear. We will talk about designing money and working monetary relationships into your setting in the next part.


One of the difficult parts of being an American who watches a lot of British television shows is hearing characters talk about pounds and quids and whatnot, because we have no bloody idea how their money works. I think I’ve finally got it figured out, though, so here is a handy reference chart for you:

2 farthings = 1 halfpenny
2 halfpence = 1 penny
3 pence = 1 thruppence
6 pence = 1 sixpence (or “tanner”’)
12 pence = 1 shilling (or “bob”)
2 shillings = 1 florin
2 shillings and 6 pence = 1 half crown
5 shillings = 1 crown (or “penguin”)
6 crown = 1 cumberbatch
2 cumberbatches = 1 half rooney
3 rooneys = 1 pound sterling

Pounds are then distributed in bank notes, with common denominations being £5 (a “fiver”), £10 (a “tenner”), £25 (a “jammy dodger”), and £100 (a “great honking gooseberry”).

I hope you find this information helpful.