Only 161,000 Tons of Gold

Conversation with Smaug<br />by JRR Tolkien

Conversation with Smaug
by JRR Tolkien

Was flipping through the January issue of National Geographic when I noticed this:

In all of history, only 161,000 tons of gold have been mined, barely enough to fill two Olympic pools.

On the one hand, 161 thousand tons is quite a bit. That’s 3,220,000,000 gold pieces at 10 per pound. Gonna need at least several Tenser’s Floating Discs to get all that back to town…

On the other hand, though, given the piles of treasure, golden statues, and gilded whatnot present in the typical fantasy adventure game, the amount doesn’t seem quite so big. Particularly if you consider this:

More than half has been extracted in the past 50 years.

So without the conveniences of modern excavating equipment, transportation and logistics, and advanced prospecting technology (not to mention the skyrocketing demand due to rich and wealthy societies) only one Olympic pool of gold existed in use in our world in 1960. This seems to me to indicate that gold is far more common and accessible in RPG land than in our world.

And that all those dwarves have been busy.

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5 Responses to Only 161,000 Tons of Gold

  1. Restless says:

    How much silver has been mined? It might jade one toward the silver standard, too.

    I think part of this explains why I just like the idea of goods of value being treasures. Then again, I really, really hate when parties haul off EVERY single fixture at an adventure location for treasure. It makes the game pretty not-fun and almost unsuitable for recurrent adventure.

    As an aside, too — is there a way to get email notification of comments after commenting?

  2. Timeshadows says:

    & thus the inflated prices of most equipment lists.

    Great statics. Thanks. 😀

  3. bat says:

    How accurate is National Geographic, though? When I was shuffling about in S.E. Asia years ago I saw a LOT of gold and brought back what loot I could. A lot of people in Sumatra and Malaysia, Thailand have gold jewelry. And 24 karat at that, none of that 14 or 18 k stuff.

  4. ainatan says:

    I don’t believe it. In Die Hard 3 they stole trucks and trucks filled with gold.

    But serious, when i’ve been to europe, i entered in a church and everything inside was made of gold. Two olympic pools doesn’t look right, there are so many golden statues and big stuff made of gold around the world.

  5. Why many systems that purport to be realistic use the silver piece or bronze piece as their primary coin.

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