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—Squidward, SpongeBob SquarePants: Bubble Buddy
Because many games have Money for Nothing economies, where the Global Currency becomes almost worthless halfway into the game, many RPGs also include an area where your regular money just doesn't work. It may be a gaming center that runs on tokens, an insular country that doesn't accept standard currency, or a city inhabited by monsters - but one way or another, your money is no good here. Sometimes there's a way to convert your normal money into this alternate currency (usually at an obscenely bad ratio), but often there's nothing for it but to complete sidequests and minigames.
Occasionally this area is home to the Infinity+1 Sword, though this doesn't make either any more useful.
- Star Wars
- In The Phantom Menace, Qui-Gon finds his Republic credits to be worthless on the Hutt-controlled planet of Tatooine. Watto refuses to accept them from him, no matter how much he waves his hands and says, "Credits will do fine." Apparently this large settlement full of traders have no money changers of any kind, or at least Qui-Gon assumes it doesn't since he makes no attempt to find out.
- Expanded Universe gives us the Corporate Sector Authority, a region of the galaxy run not by the Republic/Empire, but by an amalgamation of large conglomerates which are all generally headed by Corrupt Corporate Executives. In CSA space, standard credits are no good as-is; anybody in the Corporate Sector must either use Authority Cash Vouchers, or Crystalline Vertex chips. Fortunately, visitors can convert their standard credits to these currencies upon entering.
- In Lone Wolf the various currencies can usually be spent interchangeably ... but woe betide you if you try using the wrong currency as a bribe. Kika, the currency of the Darklands, takes this a step further: you can't spend it AT ALL. Basically, it's purpose is to take up space in your Belt Pouch and to convince the naysayers at the Kai Monastery that, yes, these fiends do have an economy.
- One tavern in the New Order series will only accept Gold Crowns or Silver Lune. The felt currency your companion carries is useless and the tavernkeeper will kick you out if you offer Ren from the Autocracy of Bhanar since Bhanarese soldiers killed the tavernkeeper's son.
- Dungeons and Dragons:
- Previous to 3rd Edition, there were some limits on what gold could buy directly. For example, it was possible to be very rich but unable to buy a magic item directly, according to the rulebook. In some campaigns this rule could be worked around: e.g. a rich player on good terms with a high-level magic-user could commission the creation of a magic item.
- 3rd Edition let players buy nearly everything with gold, but there was a special class of items called Artifacts that couldn't be purchased, only encountered through the GM's will.
- Final Fantasy VII has its Gold Saucer area, where normal gil doesn't work, and you need not one, but two kinds of additional cash — GP from finishing minigames (or by buying them from an NPC who is rarely present), and BP, which you get for battling in a Monster Arena.
- Final Fantasy XII has the city of Archades, where gil does work for the things you normally do with gil, but getting to different parts of the city requires a totally different, non-monetary currency called Chops, which you can only get by doing good deeds in a sidequest.
- Pokémon Red and Blue had this in the Slots minigame, where you could only get certain Pokémon by turning in a large number of tokens — which could be purchased at a ridiculous price (50 coins for 1000 yen), or won at slot machines. The tradition continued in the later games in the series, although you couldn't get Pokémon from them.
- Later games in the series included Battle Tower (or, in Emerald version, Battle Frontier) areas which used Battle Points (BP) to buy items rather than regular money. The same goes for the PokéCoupons in the console spinoffs.
- Platinum, HeartGold and SoulSilver have a currency only used during a Battle Frontier challenge: Castle Points (CP) for the Battle Castle. The currency rolls over between challenges but is emptied following a loss. Aside from assisting in the completion of challenges in the Castle, which reward BP, the Castle Points aren't used anywhere else.
- Some NPC characters also ask for Heart Scales to teach your Pokémon moves they knew in the past, but forgot. In FireRed and LeafGreen, because Heart Scales and the Pokémon that carries them do not appear, but these types of Move Tutors do in the Sevii Islands, they ask for Mushrooms instead.
- Diamond/Pearl/Platinum's Underground uses spheres (including the pointy Prism Sphere) to buy furniture.
- The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons has Subrosia, which uses ore rather than rupees. Fortunately, ore can be acquired in most of the same ways rupees can.
- The Land Before Time portion of Chrono Trigger uses a barter system of animal hides and horns, as you might expect from primitive cavemen. However, there is still an item shop that accepts regular currency even in that era; amusingly, the shopkeeper asks "Trade your shiny stone?!?" when you talk to him (he doesn't know what gold is, apparently, he just likes the shiny). The After the End portion features features two shops, both of which give the player a bit of a jolt by asking "You call this stuff money?". This being After the End, however, they then accept your currency because there's nobody else to sell to.
- Similarly, in the Millenium Fair, you can earn special Silver Points that can only be spent within the fair.
- Fallout series
- In Fallout: Tactics, your money is in fact no good almost everywhere. The Brotherhood currency is not accepted in the wastelands. And wasteland currency is not accepted in the Brotherhood. Good thing almost everyone is willing to take looted guns in trade, eh?
- Fallout 2:
- The game does attempt to have something like this in Redding - the owners of the mines issue pay scrips instead of cash to employees. The thing is, they can be bartered off for full price when trading with anyone.
- Also there's this quest in Broken Hills where you help a midget find a treasure. What's the treasure? Bottlecaps from the previous game, which are worthless nowadays.
- Fallout 3, you can find "Pre-War Money" in various locales which can't be spent outright but still carries its own inherent value and can be traded for the local currency of bottle caps or bartered as part of the value for other items. How much it's actually worth depends on your own bartering skill, of course.
- Fallout: New Vegas:
- There are different currencies for the NCR and Caesar's Legion, but you can still trade in caps with both of them. Later, you'll find that the Brotherhood blew up some of the NCR's gold deposits, forcing them to use caps again.
- Played straight in the Dead Money add-on. Taking place in a casino that was sealed just before the Great War, neither you nor the vendors have any actual caps to trade, though you can barter for goods using Pre-War money, loot, and Vendor Trash. Casino chips are also used as currency for the table games and vending machines, and collecting enough of them will ensure a large sum of them is deposited for you back in the Wasteland after completing the DLC. Which is great, because there's a conveniently placed vending machine that can be used to buy piles of stimpacks and weapon repair kits, among other useful stuff.
- Averted to the point of Lampshade Hanging in the Old World Blues and Lonesome Road add-ons. It is handwaved in Old World Blues as the scientist who created the only store in the DLC having observed post-nuclear society and noticing bottlecaps were the preferred currency. It is briefly handwaved in a document found in Lonesome Road that states that the automated commissary terminals accept bottlecaps because they are coincidentally shaped just like the "counterfeit-proof" pay scrip the military was using at the time. Though this doesn't explain why the Commissary has thousands upon thousands of them in reserve.
- Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga: When everyone heads off to the Beanbean Kingdom, Toadsworth gives you 100 coins. However, when the brothers reach Stardust Fields, a local monster informs them that the exchange rate means they only have the equivalent of 10 beanbean coins. This Mushroom-to-Beanbean coin conversion only comes up once more: a certain character bets you 99,999,999 Mushroom Coins he'll win at something only to reveal that Beanbean Coins are worth 1/1,010,101 of a Mushroom Coin, meaning you only get 99 coins for winning.
- Which either means at least one of the two people was just screwing with the bros, or the Mushroom Kingdom economy tanked ridiculously hard without Peach there.
- Kingdom of Loathing loves this trope:
- The Bounty Hunter Hunter sends adventurers to various areas collecting items for him. These items can be traded in for one Filthy Lucre per day, which is the only currency he accepts. They can't be traded between players either. Also, it takes about a year's worth of Lucre to get one of everything he sells. Yeah.
- The Hippy/Frat Boy War only takes dimes (dime bags, get it?) and quarters (as in the drinking game) respectively for their shops (these are also untradeable between players, and are not carried over into a new ascension, though the stores hold valuable Vendor Trash to enable conversion into the Global Currency).
- Also, Mr. Store only trades items for Mr. Accessories, which are given to players in return for a donation of real money ($10 each). In practice this is less of an example than some of the others, as Mr. Accessories are very tradeable, so with enough Meat you can buy one from another player. However, the market price for them tends to be roughly a month's worth of dedicated meat farming.
- Also also, Big Brother in the undersea area only accepts sand dollars.
- Also also also, the hobos in the marketplace in Hobopolis only accept hobo nickels (again, untradeable between players).
- Also also also also, for the 2009 Crimbo season (Crimbo being the Kingdom's Christmas equivalent), A currency called Crimbux was introduced for use in Crimbo Town. In 2010 a similar pattern occurred with "CRIMBCO scrip". In 2011, the pattern happened again with candy credits.
- The recently-added Elven Moon Colonies trade only in Lunar Isotopes.
- The longest-lived example is the Hermit, who only accepts worthless trinkets, gewgaws and knick-knacks as currency. He would not accept "valuable" trinkets, which nobody really want, but can be converted to Global Currency anyway.
- Casinos in Dragon Quest games tend to run on tokens. They can be bought using the regular currency, but tend to be quite expensive. This is so that to purchase the often quite powerful weapons and armor available as casino prizes, you have to first actually win at the casino games. And the more money you're likely to have at the point that you reach the casino, the more expensive the tokens tend to be.
- There are several different kinds of currency in the SNES RPG Secret of Evermore, ranging between talons, dubloons and credits, depending where in time you're located. Of course, each respective time has convenient currency trading spots, allowing the hero to trade his futuristic credits in for prehistoric talons at the local caveman trading post.
- The inhabitants of the underground city of Tzhaar only accept a special kind of obsidian currency (made from their dead) instead of the normal Gold pieces used everywhere else.
ShiloTai Bwo Wannai Village uses currency made of some unidentified vegetable material.
- Mos Le'Harmless (a pirate island) uses pieces of eight, and Port Phasmatys (inhabited by ghosts) uses ectotokens (pieces of paper smeared with ectoplasm).
- In Little Big Adventure 2, once the player reaches Zeelich, they will find out all the money acquired on Twinsen ("Kashes") is worthless, since the Zeelichians use their own coin ("Zlitos"). Afterwards, the player will encounter a ferryman who will only accept gems as currency.
- Beyond Good and Evil: The garage which provides upgrades to Jade's ship will only work for rare pearls. It's a good thing Jade needs Hal, Issam, and Babukar's services over the course of the game, because pearls (in spite of the fact that everyone and their brother seems to hand them out like candy to you) are illegal currency according to the backstory, making their refusal to take regular cash more than a little prohibitively bad for business. They still have vending machines on their premises that take normal currency, however.
- It's perfectly possible that they, being small business owners, prefer to take pearls, that are valuable in and of themselves, rather than the credits of the current government, which will be worthless if the Domz win the war. The vending machines are probably a concession of some sort, and run by a larger corporation.
- In Persona 3, the proprietor of the Shinshoudo Antiques shop only takes gemstones that are dropped by certain Shadows in combat for payment. Since she provides items that boost your Persona's power in exchange, it can be assumed that she somehow "harvests" some sort of benefit from them to make the power-ups. She also sells other items that may be beneficial in combat or in leveling up your Social Links as well.
- Gem traders are a tradition in Megaten games.
- Shin Megami Tensei smacks you with this perhaps a quarter of the way into the game, if that. Then again, after a Class 1 nuclear holocaust, it isn't like there's any government backing the yen you collected. The game does at least has an NPC who trades a fraction of your yen into macca, though.
- This is the actual message received when trying to use your money where it doesn't work in Quest for Glory I.
- Every Quest for Glory game except the 2 last ones involves your character having to find a money changer to change his money into the local currency.
- In Super Mario RPG, the currency Tadpole Pond's Frog Coin Emporium and a certain scholarly frog (as compared to everyone else) is Frog Coins, which can be used to buy some useful stat-boosting items. The catch: You can only get Frog Coins by (a) finding them in hidden or hard-to-reach boxes or (b) playing certain minigames, most notably Midas River, where you swim and barrel-jump down a river, collecting coins; only coins you collect can be exchanged, and the exchange rate is usually 60-80 coins = 1 Frog Coin. And each time you play the minigame, it costs 30 coins in and of itself!
- It is possible, if just barely, to earn a Frog Coin by making ten consecutive jumps on the head of a certain enemy called Wiggler. This must be done outside combat, each successful jump makes the enemy move faster. Later in the game there are ant-like enemies found in sand-whirlpools that grant a Frog Coin for three consecutive jumps, but it's still just as hard to successfully pull off. These are the only enemies in the game on which players may jump without starting a battle. An NPC in Monstro Town hints at this, but to get the message you have to jump on him instead of talking to him normally.
- Late in the game, there's an absurdly easy, very short, infinitely replayable minigame which gives out a Frog Coin every time you win.
- There is an even better way than the Bridge game. Every time you beat the Sky Troopa game under 11 seconds, it gets you 5 frog coins. As an added bonus, it's free, and to play again, you just jump down and start again.
- World of Warcraft
- Argent Dawn tokens, Aldor/Scryer tokens (e.g. Holy Dust), "fallen champion" tokens, and Badges of Justice, used to buy high-end gear and enchantments. Most of these cannot be bought with gold, but earned in dungeon runs and raids.
- As of Wrath of the Lich King, There are now so many different types of currency at this point that Blizzard has added a new tab to the character sheet to keep track of them all.
- There's also Sporeggar in Outland, in which the Sporelings only accept a certain kind of mushroom for money.
- In Cataclysm, most of the old currencies were consolidated into either Honor Points or Justice Points, depending on whether or not they were earned through Player Versus Player. There are also Conquest Points and Valor Points, which can buy new higher-level items.
- Star Wars Galaxies has several types of currency: the Galactic Standard Credit, which is used with most NPC vendors and for the player driven economy; Meatlump Lumps, used for Meatlump Themepark vendors; Heroic Instance Tokens, which you earn for completing sections of the Heroic Instances: there are currently six types of token, one type per instance (Mos Espa Token, Akxva Min Token, IG-88 Token, Black Sun Token, Exar Kun Token, and Hoth Token).
- Atelier Iris features a village of rabbit and bear monsters where your Cole currency is not accepted. The same goes for a merchant in the Land of Mana.
- Transcendence: This roguelike 2D space game requires the alien currency Rin for the more powerful items towards the end of the game when you normally have huge funds in the standard currency, with no possibility of converting it.
- Neopets: You need to use Dubloons instead of Neopoints on Krawk Island.
- Animal Crossing: City Folk has an Old Save Bonus: you can migrate your characters from the previous AC game Wild World, but your money doesn't come with you. Also, in the two previous Animal Crossing games, while looking into someone else's drawers, you'll sometimes receive the message: "You found 10 Rupees! Too bad you can't use them here..."
- The browser-based web game PsyPets has a hidden "Mysterious Shop," which sells several rare items. In a Shout-Out to The Legend Of Zelda, the only currency it accepts is...Rupees. Unfortunately (quite unlike Zelda), Rupees can be hard to get, since the easiest way to get them is to build a Wishing Well and throw normal money into it. You have a chance of finding a fairy who will give you Rupees, among other things. At least she gives you a choice.
- In Paper Mario and Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, there are special NPCs who will sell you badges, but only if you trade them rare Star Pieces. Thousand-Year Door also features a casino that only accepts Pianta Tokens.
- In Super Paper Mario, you need to pay for a broken vase costing 1 million rubees (read: NOT "rupees"), rather than the usual currency of Coins. You earn these by performing menial labor for the people who charged you the money and can eventually open a vault that contains the entire sum.
- Pianta Tokens is justified though, as it's more like the Call a Rabbit a Smeerp version of poker chips than a separate currency in it's own right.
- In the Discworld MUD, different cities of the world use different currencies, and most cities feature at least one money-changer (who charges exorbitant fees). Some enterprising (and very wealthy) characters run their own money-changing services on the side.
- In Tales of Symphonia, some shopkeepers sell Item Crafting materials for "grade", an abstract point score that can increase or decrease based on how well you fight battles. It is also used to buy New Game+ bonuses, where it makes a lot more sense.
- In Tales of Eternia, there's a hidden town that you have to search the sea floor in a submarine just to get to, which nonetheless is somehow a popular resort town for the whole world. Their currency can be converted at exorbitant prices, and then used in slot machines to actually get enough to put in an auction for a chance at winning a nice item which may or may not actually be up for auction when you finally get enough. Most players don't bother, since you'd have to Level Grind a long time before you ran out of better uses for your gald.
- Mega Man Battle Network/Rockman.EXE has a separate set of currency called Bugfrags. They are pieces of junk data that can be given to vendors in exchange for some rare battlechips (of varying usefulness) or fed to machines that randomly spits out a battlechip. Some of the battlechips from the vendors are usually not obtainable anywhere else, and are thus required for One Hundred Percent Completion in most EXE games.
- Some vendors in Okami let you purchase items only with demon fangs, not the default currency. One vendor at the end accepts both currencies, but for different items each.
- Champions Online has, in addition to Resources, Snakebucks (dropped from mobs in the Snake Gulch amusement park, used in the gift shop), Acclaim (gained in PvP, used to buy PvP items and rewards, mostly Luchador costume items), UNITY and Nemesis Tokens (gained by completing UNITY and Nemesis missions, respectively, used for very high level, exorbiantly priced rewards) and a few others.
- Star Control II has two different races that engage in this: The Melnorme accept Credits which they give in exchange for biological information and the locations of Rainbow Worlds, and the Druuge accept certain Plot Coupons — and crew.
- The racing minigame area known as Goofy Speedway in Toontown Online uses tickets instead of jellybeans, and the two are completely unrelated and nonconvertible. This probably surprised quite a few people who saved up jellybeans when Goofy Speedway was not yet released. Sort of makes you wonder why the Goofy Speedway employees even want the tickets...
- In the Facebook game Mafia Wars, profits earned in different cities are tracked separately, with virtually no opportunity to exchange between the various cities' currencies. Even Vegas and New York use different currencies, justified in-game by the former using casino chips rather than dollars.
- Common in older MMORPGs and proto-MMORPGs such as the Diablo online scene. In Diablo II, the value of gold coins quickly reached the Money for Nothing stage, so instead, players began using a very valuable ring, the Stone of Jordan (or SoJ) as a standard currency for player-to-player interactions; it could easily be farmed through gaming the ingame casino, at least until Blizzard caught on and whacked it with a nerfbat, but it was a useful and compact item for player trading.
- Ryzom has the Civilization and Faction vendors, who sell some cool stuff... but you earn points to pay them with by doing delivery quests and pvp, respectively.
- Mother 3 has this in the beginning in a more literal, but not mean spirited sense. The villagers do not have a monetary system and when Fassad offers them money, they, at first, refuse it because they don't believe in charging anyone for anything.
- In Escape from Terra United World continentals are worthless in the Belt and on Mars, they mostly use ounces of gold there.
- Some fetching of bear asses could still be required.
- There is one heart scale in FireRed and LeafGreen. You need to use the Itemfinder outside of one of the caves with the Unown on Seven Island. It's worthless.