I have my protagonist go to a fantasy world that is locked in their medieval era like late 1300 early 1400. My protagonist need money to travel, so what kind of modern invention, a material that is hard to get for them but easy for us, some kind of spice, very cheap jewelry,textiles?

My Protagonist have very limited money, kinda like $600 to $1000 and have to be small since he is packing a lot of survival gear to survive in that new world.


closed as primarily opinion-based by JBH, L.Dutch May 28 at 4:51

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    $\begingroup$ Welcome to Worldbuilding.SE. When you can, please click here to learn more about our culture and take our tour. I'm sorry, but SE is not a discussion forum and brainstorming doesn't fit well in its scope. SE's model is one-specific-question/one-best-answer. $\endgroup$ – JBH May 28 at 3:45
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    $\begingroup$ Can you convert this from an off-topic infinite list of things to an on-topic finite list of things that isn't primarily opinion-based? $\endgroup$ – JBH May 28 at 3:45
  • $\begingroup$ What kind of magic exists in the world? Could you be more specific? $\endgroup$ – 0something0 May 28 at 4:11
  • $\begingroup$ As is suggested in the following: Lace. worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/questions/135175/… $\endgroup$ – Arkenstein XII May 28 at 4:29
  • $\begingroup$ The canonical example is buttons (of the kind which is used to fasten clothes). They cost just about nothing apiece ih our days, you can pack a lot of them in a small volume. $\endgroup$ – AlexP May 28 at 5:47

First, a look at what the trade goods should be ...

  • Needs to be recognized as valuable by the locals.
    The suggestion to bring medicines does not quite work since it would either require them to take the properties on faith, or the strange traveler would have to be allowed to practice medicine on people who can pay. Having miracle-cured a couple of sick peasants won't be enough. And what if one of the high-profile patients has an allergic shock?
  • Needs to be recognized as non-demonic.
    That might be a real problem in some historical medieval times, perhaps less so in a fantasy world with accepted and not-always-black magic. On a related note, if the gadget malfunctions easily, the seller may be blamed or called in to fix it.
  • Needs to come in small or divisible units.
    A time traveler selling a single gadget to the highest bidder does not sound very medieval to me. He will be in one kingdom, possibly at the court of one king or queen, and auctioning it between representatives of several kings sounds just too modern-times. Perhaps an auction could be done with the merchant guild in one trading town, if there is such a thing, but that brings middle-men into the profits. Anyway, payment could come in the form of a promise to deliver 1,000 bales of wool next year, not in cold hard cash. Nobody had a king's ransom lying around.
  • Needs not to challenge the local balance of power.
    A set of radios, if they get accepted by the local warlords as what they are, might put the time traveler in the center of a war of conquest. In the headquarters of the winning army at the beginning, but such things have a tendency to change.

After all those comments on what doesn't work, here is my suggestion. Trade depends on comparative advantage. So what can we make cheaply that the medieval folks would have trouble making?

Small steel gadgets

Sewing needles, safety pins, small scissors, perhaps small nuts and bolts (the threaded bolts would be invaluable to many artisans, and bringing many small ones means they can learn what to do with them).

Colorful inks and dyes

There will be scribes. Small pots of modern inks would allow them to do much more impressive documents. Alternatively colored pencils. Similar for dyers, if they can be taught how to apply the dye to wools and linens.


Cubic Zirconia

Its a very cheap gem to buy. It shines better than a diamond and is almost as hard as one. Your nobility won't care that its not diamond.. It will be bigger than a diamond and look better than a diamond and be the only one of its kind.

Simply show it to some nobility and have then bid on it to push the price up higher and then sell it off to the highest bidder.


According to D&D 5e - telescopes. A single spyglass costs 1000gp, for reference, that's enough to literally live like a king for 100 weeks. Now, while that answer kind of was a joke, the actual reason why 5e has a spyglass costing 1000gp isn't - glass. Venetian cut glass was the height of luxury back then. Some delicate glass trinkets and baubles, purchased as a local artisan's shop in modern times at 50 or 60 dollars a piece is literally a king's ransom in the 13th century.


The lightest and cheapest thing I think would be oral antibiotics. Something like penicillin is cheap, and light. And would be worth a man's weight in gold in an age where people died from rampant diseases that were eliminated in the 20th century by the invention of antibiotics.

Similar arguments could be made for oxycodone or even simple Tylenol or Aspirin, though chewing on willow bark provided the same chemical as Aspirin.

If the traveler was sure they had the means to sanitize needles and syringes, then the traveler could bring vials of antibiotics but the make assumptions of the length of time and availability of proper storage, etc, etc, and so on.


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