Most peoples worry about small amounts of coins, but merchants and nations often have to deal with sums of currency so large that no single wagon every built could carry them. Gold bullion is heavy; a million gold coins equivalent in bullion would weigh over 13 tons, and transporting that kind of bullion is expensive, as well. In addition to transportation fees, there are often customs fees when crossing borders. Add on an exchange rate from one coin to another, or silver bullion translating to gold, and whole dyansties can be made or broken when dealing with large sums of money.
Avard Karatika came to power in the north of Gaeleth in the year 0 Avard, and began adding close to a new nation every year (for the first few decades of his rule). The Karatikan Alliance, as it became known, understood the value of currencies and currency exchange, and went through considerable troubles to standardize their money system so that each nation could trade more easily with the other member nations of the alliance. Their twelve-sided coins became recognizable the world over for three quarters of a millennium.
When the alliance fell due to the Storm Wars, in 762 Avard, the church of Lul took on the task of standardizing the currencies. Each church became a repository for bullion, with a writ from one church acceptible at any other, provided the writ was divinely sealed. The powers of the priests of Lul became such that they could tell the weight of gold, silver, and copper in a coin – and they knew counterfeit coins when they saw them. Holy warriors of the church helped to stamp out banditry, and were called in when too many coins were counterfeited or clipped.
Clipping is the taking off of the edge of a coin, and then using those tiny clippings, en masse, to make new coins. The clippings are often melted down and then stamped with a die to make them into new coins. In many places, the coins are so clipped and counterfeits so common, that weights and scales and water displacement tanks are a necessity to conduct semihonest business.
Each coin turned out by the Church of Lul, regardless of shape, contains a set amount of gold, silver, copper, and other hardening agents. The 'chits' of Vridara are triangular, while the 'crowns' of Karanal are circular, so the exact shape of the coins can vary considerably from place to place – but not the amount of gold in each coin.
The value of gold can still vary from nation to nation or church to church, but the value of the coins remains fixed on standard – though the locals can use a standard of gold or silver or even copper, depending on availability. The usual exchange rate in pure bullion is approximately 13.3:1 for silver:gold, and 11:1 for copper:silver.
Some nations and regions create their own currencies independant of the Church of Lul, or have their own currencies linked to those of the church. Rakore, for example, uses cast quartz pieces for high values of gold, rather than ship bullion from point to point within the country.
GP (Gold Piece): weighs 12g (with 10.8g of pure gold)
SP (Silver Piece): weighs 9g (with 8.1g of pure silver)
CP (Copper Piece): weighs 6.75g (with only 4g of pure copper)
1,000gp weighs 26.5lbs; 1,000,000gp weighs 13.25 tons
1,000sp weighs 19.8lbs; 1,000,000sp weighs 9.9 tons
1,000cp weighs 14.9lbs; 1,000,000cp weighs 7.45 tons
1gal holds roughly 5,951gp, and weighs 158lbs
1gal holds roughly 3,078sp, and weighs 61lbs
1gal holds roughly 5,047cp, and weighs 75lbs
True gold mines are common enough, and gold can also be found in rivers, but the amount of gold found in mines and rivers is rather negligible. Even a 'rich' vein of gold might yield one ounce of gold per several tons of ore mined. Copper mines are also relatively common. Silver mines, however, are much more rare; silver is more often taken from tin, lead, gold, and zinc mining, and smelted out of the other products.