Monday, April 4, 2011

C is for - Common, Coinage, and Courts

Trade tongue (also called tradespeak, Trade, or - rarely - Common), as it is generally known, is the equivalent of “Common” in Malaster. Its roots devolve back to the Old Countries, where it was the language of a semi-nomadic group of halfling and human merchants, now believed extinct (or nearly so).Trade Tongue has an easy structure to learn, is understandable when spoken by a wide variety of different mouth types, and seems eager - even aggressive - to absorb loan-words and phrases from other languages (although, as Elves are wont to exclaim, exact pronunciation rarely survives contact with Trade tongue).

 This makes it highly suitable for a trade patois with a focus on mercantilism and exchange, but is less useful for certain highly esoteric or precise topics. For these subjects, various other languages - Elven, Draconic, etc. - are used instead.

 Trade tongue is probably the most commonly spoken language in Malaster. It is nearly always the second - and sometimes the first - language learned by most "civilized" races, and more than a few "uncivilized" ones - while the lesser servants of the Unseele Court rarely deign to learn tradespeak (or little more than enough to give commands to slaves, and understand their responses), goblinoids, many giants and giant-kin, and other humanoid (and semi-humanoid) species will speak at least a smattering of tradespeak.

Coinage is broken down into three primary groupings, with two being in common usage. The mints of Isderay produce a series of coins known as Sovereigns, in bronze, copper, silver, electrum, gold, and platinum, which are legal tender on the isles, but (officially) are not to be traded further than Isderay's holdings. This makes the Sovereign a fairly stable coinage, but hard to get ahold of.

Most coinage in Malaster in common circulation is minted with the blessings and auspices of the city-states of Aldyrin. Such coinage can be produced in any fashion or denomination, with any kind of decoration, but must use blanks purchased from the Aldyrin mint, and copies of every coin created must be turned in to the Aldyrin Assay Office in Myrashelle. This produces a regularity and trustworthiness that is unmatched even by Isderayan coinage - coins minted in this fashion are of known purity and weight, and are standardized in a way that makes them popular with merchants and customer alike.

Aldyrin-templated coins are minted in brass, bronze, copper, silver, electrum, gold, platinum, orichalcum, and mithril, although the latter two are highly uncommon. A variety of designs are possible, but most common are a coin which can be broken into four quarters - these are known as "bits", and have one-fourth the value of a whole coin.

The last pool of coins commonly found are heirloom, heritage, or foundling coins. These are available in an amazing variety of styles, options, metals, and designs - especially when foundling coins (which are "found" in ancient tombs, dungeons, and the like) are considered. While some, principally those from the Old Countries, have some level of numismatic value beyond the value of their materials, most - particularly foundling coins - are sold to assay offices, to be melted down and turned into blanks for minting.

Although coinage is the main form of wealth, some countries do use alternate forms of currency - paper monies, magical options, trade goods, etc. And many areas, particularly those on the fringes of civilization, trade is as much a matter of barter and negotiation as it is raw wealth.

Although the pantheons of gods are far more complex than two simple courts of "good" and "evil", the Seele and Unseele Courts are certainly important parts of the sophisticated web of godlings, spirits, deities and entities that rule over - or at least influence - the world of Malaster.

The Seele Courts 
The gods of the Seele Courts are, for the most part, gods of Good or those with Good tendencies. Many - though by no means all, and perhaps not even most - are Lawful by nature. They are promoters of civilization, and the patrons of humanity and demi-humanity (in general). Despite their seeming beneficence, there are those who claim that the Seele court holds humanity back - that their patronage of humanity is seeded not in some munificent desire to help, but rather to retard humanities progress - they point to the examples of human champions that have ascended to the Courts - and the lack of them in recent centuries - as proof that humans can become Gods, but that the Courts have no interest in this becoming a more common occurrence.

The Unseele Courts 
Where the Gods of the Seele Court are primarily gods of Good and (to a lesser extent) Law, the gods of the Unseele Courts are primarily (but not exclusively) those of Evil (or self-interested Neutrality), and Chaos (although a number of Lawful deities also make their home in the Unseele Courts). Strangely, (some of) the Unseele claim to be promoters of humanity just as strongly as the Seele do - they assert that only through trial and tribulation are people tested and made stronger - or found to be wanting and discarded or destroyed.

While the Unseele Courts are largely seen as inimical, capricious, and even cruel, they are by no means heartless (it is said, anyways), nor are they without redeeming features - most, it must be stated, are loyal (to some degree or another) to their worshippers and servants, and all of them take their Aspects seriously. For although they may be Evil, they nonetheless play the game-that-is-all that AO created in the Beginning of Things, and they dwell not in all-that-is-Beyond, but in the Heavens Above.

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