"As I understand it, coins in your pocket don't make a
adventurers who are not part of a community probably don't have a
at all, just a bunch of valuable posessions. To have a wealth rating,
to have some or all of the following: reputation, prospects, relatives,
friends, rights to clan lands, political clout, etc."
Just to strengthen this point, in the earlier years of
the Frankish kingdom that evolved into France (a good
"barbarian" society that was moderately well
documented by the catholic church), it was almost impossible to sell land. You see, even if the land was a free hold, rather than a feudal grant, it was considered to belong to the family, rather than the individual. So even if you were tired of trying to scratch out a living on your few spare acres of ancestral land and wanted to sell it off and take up a different life, you couldn't unless all of your relatives within a certain degree agreed. Just because you didn't want to farm it didn't mean that your brother or nephew or somebody wouldn't gladly take it over.
I imagine much the same is true in Orlanthi society. Just because you were rewarded with three cattlebeasts (the generic terms for cows and bulls), it doesn't really mean that they are yours to do whatever you want with. They go into family, and to some degree clan, herds. Decisions will be made about breeding them, someone will be herding them and milking them, eventually they will die of course, but your wealth won't decrease--your wealth comes from the fact that you increased the wealth of your family and clan. In most cases of making a major purchase, you won't go shopping, you will be telling your family and clan that you want it, and a whole chain of negotiations will start. So you want a chainmail shirt. Does the clan have a smith that can do the work? Yes, well someone will work out with him payments and schedule. Probably working on the shirt means he isn't working as much on something else, so perhaps your family gives some sheep to another family that is going to have to wait for a new plowshare, and provides some labor to help another family build a new stead that is going to be delayed because certain metal fittings will be late. And a clan trader is commisioned to find the necessary fine quality bronze (maybe drawn bronze wire--anyone know if Orlanthi mail rings are hammered or drawn?). The trader is paid with surplus goods for his or her effort, and makes certain promises to the other party about payment for the bronze. But maybe the promise included a fine bull of three or four years of age, and your family has none, so you deal with another family for their bull, promising them both a male calf next Sea season but also stud from your older bull this year, and other considerations. Then you pay someone to deliver the bull and other goods and to pick up the bronze, and.......
At least, that's what I imagine your wealth contest represents.
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