In the Ninth World, traders and merchants are some of the bravest folk around, for they are willing to move goods from one community to the next. Travel is dangerous and communities are often unwelcoming. Merchants typically travel in bands with guards overland or in sturdy craft along the coast or in rivers. In some places—particularly in the Steadfast—they have organized into trading companies that help get the right goods to the right places, more out of the need for security than anything else.
Shins and Coins: “Shin” is very old slang that started in the Ninth World’s earliest days as “shinies.” It speaks to a time when humans scavenged for most of what they used rather than crafting their own goods. Shins in circulation today are often from that time—bits of an ancient numenera device of metal or synth, sparkling crystals, or colored glass.
As time goes on, more and more localities try to create a more formal coinage. But shins remain the standard currency in most places. It’s not that shins themselves are important. They are just an easily understood unit that often represents barter. In other words, when the butcher tells the woman in the dairy that a certain amount of meat is worth 2 shins, she knows to give him 2 shins’ worth of cheese in payment, even though no shins or coins of any kind are exchanged.
When actual shins are used in trade, the party accepting the payment often refuses a small percentage of the objects as being worthless. A particular merchant, for example, might accept some synth pieces but reject a few dull crystals as being just “rocks.” The next merchant, however, might accept those crystals. As a result, traders usually make sure that in any given transaction, they offer about 10 percent more than what’s being asked. They don’t throw out rejected shins, though—those items are saved for the next transaction because you never know what someone will take. (Communities that have actual coins avoid this issue.)
Wages: In heavily populated areas like the Steadfast, people might earn a daily wage in shins—anywhere from a few shins for a peasant to a few hundred shins for a merchant. Many people, in both populated and rural areas, work for something other than money, such as housing, food, livestock, or other necessities.
Prices: 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.