I'm beginning a major delve into the Iron Kingdoms and very quickly I've discovered that the conversion rates on the various coinage in the setting are giving me conniption fits. A large part of the problem is that the money conversions aren't given to me in a format that my brain can quickly convert. That's a me problem though, and not some issue with the book. All the same as I'm working with the conversions I started thinking about the various settings I've played in and it occurred to me that I've never played in a setting where the coinage required conversion. Let me restate that: I've never played in a setting where converting the coinage between the various currencies mattered in a way that went beyond their names.
Now it's entirely possible (and even probable) that the problem has been that the various Dungeon Masters I've played under had no interest in dealing with the headache of converting and just glossed over the whole thing. -- But I don't mind dealing with those sort of things because it's an opportunity to overcome the problems I encounter. So why haven't I done it before?
Thinking back over the last decade of being a Dungeon Master it seems that my players have rarely chosen to go outside their starting nations. I think that comes from the fact that I tend to have them starting either in island nations or on the borderlands away from the majority of civilization. While the borderlands could certainly have multiple currencies floating about I usually have them playing with coins that matter by their weight so having a Golden Orb, Drab, or whatever doesn't really matter so long as it's actually gold and meets the standard weights.
Reading the Iron Kingdoms Character Guide makes me wonder if I haven't been missing out on an opportunity to introduce a little bit of verisimilitude to the game that would actually make the game more interesting. I can certainly see the negotiations being argued for the most valuable currencies and my players converting their bulky, lower value, bulk coinage into the higher value currency and investing in foreign banks. Lots of room there for underhanded dealings and intellectual robbery . . .
What about you cats? Do you use currency conversions that go beyond name only? Does it bog your games down or does it make things more interesting?