Between automation and lifestyle changes, the general populace of the Cosmic Era's First World no longer has to engage in employment to secure their survival. Many turn to the virtual world of the CogNet to make a better life for themselves.
Title says it all
The basic economy of the Atlantic Federation
One of the current political paradigms of the Cosmic Era.
Captain Blackthorn grimaced against the salt air that sandblasted his face. His men were weary, his ship was falling apart and the hold was replete with treasures beyond counting. It was time to head home and enjoy the bounty that years at sea had brought them. As he braced himself against the pressing squall he considered the conundrum of converting said bounty into a transferable asset that could easily be spent without arousing suspicion of the local militia or the jealousy of rival pirates. If only large amounts of wealth could be represented on something as light and unobtrusive as a piece of paper. But then Blackthorn had a idea:
"I know what we'll do! We'll bury it!…"
Following the conclusion of the Human Genome Project, and the 2nd Human Genome project, it was just a matter of time and funding before human cloning not only became possible, but a profitable
Because, after a while, even the oldest adventurer will need a place to settle as he grows tired.
Be it salt, wheat, silk or gold, money is money lad.
Golden tablets with the seal of the ruler that issued the pass and the seal and name of who it was issued to. About the size of your palm of solid intricately etched gold. The holder of the tablet is backed by the authority of the king to make any required purchases on credit or enter any place they deem necessary. A very powerful token indeed.
With a huge number of sacrificial victims, another realm long ago secretly bound a Prince of the land spirits, Iorstonn by name, thus ensuring the fertility, and improving the magical defences, of their realm. But binding that Prince to one spot has disrupted the weather and magical patterns (ley lines?) over half the continent. Things have become bad enough that a coalition has been formed to rectify the situation, once divinations have established the cause.
Your party is one of the teams assembled to do the rectification: find the binding object and steal it ("so that we can destroy it here in our realm, of course"...*) or destroy it over there. Presumably the Prince will be grateful to his rescuers and angry at the binders, but with a greater spirit like Iorstonn one can never be sure: such beings are "tricksy".
* Of course, the rulers of our realm might want to control Iorstonn for their own ends...