Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Q: How Much Is One Ounce of Mithril Worth?

My criminally under-used FLAILSNAILS pc is a 1st level fighter of no particular talent named Donnal MacDonnal (called Young MacDonnal back home, since his dad is also Donnal MacDonnal).  Donnal's first adventure was as a zero level farmer run under the Dungeon Crawl Classics rpg beta rules.  Since then he's had in his possession 1 ounce of mithril he found on a dead dwarf or something. There's not much else for Young MacDonnal to do with this stuff but sell it or trade it, so I've been trying to figure out what it might be worth.

If the value is in the DCC beta rulebook I can't find it, so I've been looking at some other sources.  The first place I turned was the AD&D Dungeoneers Survival Guide, recalling a mention of mithril in the mining section.  Unfortunately, this otherwise exhaustive tome only details how rarely you find the stuff, not what its worth should you actually find it.

Mithril Pieces are the high end coin in MERP and Rolemaster, replacing the platinum piece of D&D.  Mithril Pieces are rare and unlike other coins their value tends to fluctuate.  Intended to be worth 100gp each, mp are often traded at less than 'face' value, typically 50gp each but sometimes as low as 10gp each.  MERP coins are one quarter of an ounce each, so if Young MacDonnal visited Middle Earth he could probably get 40 to 400gp for his mithril.  That's a crapload of money.  MERP/RM money through me for a loop as a kid, because standard adventurers start out with 2gp, but prices for normal gear are normally in silver, bronze and copper.  Platemail costs 50sp, for example.

My last source is the Hypertext D20 SRD.  To purchase a miscellaneous item out of mithril costs +500gp per pound.  A pound of gold pieces is worth 50gp (fiddy coins to the pound), so 50gp made out of mithril would cost 550gp.  Yes, I know there's no such thing as gold made out mithril.  Therefore one mithril piece costs 11gp (Is that the same value as Impervium in Encounter Critical?  I'll have to check.).  Normally a coin weighs a third of an ounce, so I guess that'd mean Donnal owns 33gp worth of mithril.  That get's us within spitting distance of the bottom of the MERP valuation.

Of course the real answer is that the mithril is worth whatever the GM says it is.  Anyone care to toss out what they think 1oz of mithril is worth in their campaign?

By the by, the more I think about it, the less I am inclined to sell this stuff for cash.   If Donnal is dirt poor and needs to eat, that's one thing.  But otherwise, I'm thinking the better bet is to hold onto the mithral in hopes of trading it to some fantastic being for a non-monetary boon of some sort.