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View Full Version : Can power points work as currency? [3.5]



Trekkin
2011-01-30, 11:26 PM
Assuming that most of the population is at least mildly psionic, can it work, economically, to have a culture in which pp are somehow exchanged as currency? I'm not well-versed enough in economics to know what happens when every citizen, or many of them, can simply meditate money into existence--and then turn around and fuel things with it. The only precedent I can think of is 40k's Orks, which don't have much of an economy to begin with.

So, long story short, if there is some easy means of transferring pp around in quantities too small to make it useful for fueling psionic powers, then how economically infeasible is it to have pp be used as gp?

Vangor
2011-01-30, 11:36 PM
Considering you can spend gold (which is effectively in infinite supply only constrained to how much the DM feels the party receives or a city possesses) in order to purchase magic in the form of actual castings or scrolls or magical items and can sell all of those for gold, I don't see the exchange of PP as being anything but selling a fungible form of magic. You may consider this a service rather than actual resource, too.

DragonOfUndeath
2011-01-30, 11:45 PM
New Psionic Class Feature:
You can create 1 Power Pass (A piece of paper with 1 on it). This functions as currency. You can destroy a Power Pass you are holding to gain 1 Power Point.

Any creature that has Power Points (not use them just has them) can do this and it and you can create as many of them as you have PP for 1 Full-Round Action.

Grendus
2011-01-31, 01:13 AM
Sooooo... your psion sits in town for a few weeks months, creating hundreds of thousands of power passes and buying up the scraps. Now he can either buy the town, or go on an adventure and nova every time. That'd be like giving the Wizard 30 9th level slots...

chaos_redefined
2011-01-31, 01:17 AM
Make them free cognizance crystals that can only store 1 power point. A charged cognizance crystal isn't free.

DragonOfUndeath
2011-01-31, 01:18 AM
Special: You cannot destroy more than 1 1/2 your Power Point limit in Power Passes per day.

If he tried to buy a town it would severely screw up the economics everywhere they use such a syatem.

Yahzi
2011-01-31, 01:25 AM
I'm not well-versed enough in economics to know what happens when every citizen, or many of them, can simply meditate money into existence
What do you think hedge-fund traders do?

:smallbiggrin:

Seriously, the idea that you spend 8 hours in hard thought and then produce something of value is pretty much the basis of the information economy. Like writing software...

kieza
2011-01-31, 01:36 AM
Well, I've never used power points as currency, but I had an idea a while back for a sort of "market" for warlocks. (I run 4e, by the way)

For those who aren't familiar, 4e warlocks have made some sort of bargain with eldritch beings for power. The idea was that the bargain is transferrable: a warlock can agree to transfer some of the "debt" owed him to another warlock, usually in exchange for some other service. And I kept thinking about this (I'm an economist, so the idea of a market for magical power was up my alley), and it eventually wound up as this:

There are a bunch of more-or-less retired, very powerful warlocks who act as "bankers" for lesser warlocks. If you need more power than you have (for instance, somebody killed your family, and you're about to go on a roaring rampage of revenge), you can get a loan from them...at an astronomical interest rate. If you don't anticipate using your power for a while, you can loan it to them in exchange for a small amount of interest (although there's a fixed term, like a certificate of deposit, and they won't let you regain your deposit on demand). And these warlocks have built up massive reserves of power, allowing them to "live off the interest," so to speak: they don't have to adventure to gain power, because they make a profit off of their investments.

So, this led to an idea for a character (probably an NPC) whose father dies, leaving to her all of the power that she didn't know he had invested with the bankers, and suddenly she finds that she's one of the more powerful warlocks out there...with all the enemies that come with it.

It also led to an idea for a new warlock pact, the "Financier Pact," which I will eventually write up.

SiuiS
2011-01-31, 02:40 AM
That's really cool! I will put thought into the warlock thing.

Psions couldn't screw the economy for two reason, one canon and one an easy rationalization.
One- if EVERYONE in the city can create money with some hard focus, then your million GP doesn't mean squat because EVERYONE has a million GP. Dungeons and dragons runs on an infinite economy- at one end, mysterious convergences of the universe create infinite resources out of quantum potential, and at the far other end, powerful casters are literally burning that resource mass away back into quantum potential. It's why stuff like onyx has a set GP value, irrespective of how well crafted it is or isn't (it's also what prevents a wizard with craft [gem cutting] from further increasing productivity). In between, a character can have X-1 gold coins, where X equals whatever ludicrous amount is arbitrarily decided to be in circulation in all the multiverse at that point. Allowing psions to manifest money is no different than letting someone perform or craft or profess for money, except it's a lot faster.

Two- if money is made of concentrated psionic energy, and only beings with psychic talent can have power points, then it stands to reason something is required to keep those PP tangible. after 8 hours of either not being concentrated on, or not being within the aura of a Psionic character (think passive, automatic and untrained autohypnosis checks) the PowerPoint dissolves back into ephemeral energy, and is lost.

Psychic banks would develop special semi-dentist statues to constantly regard things in the vault, staring and concentrating fiercely to keep them manifest. Would make good security cameras too.

DragonOfUndeath
2011-01-31, 02:57 AM
Why would it disappear? it would be an Instantaneous effect and with the Psionic-Magic Transparency would last forever or until recalled. This way you could find it as loot in an ancient ruin.

You could have them combine when touched to save you carrying around bucketloads of Power passes. So a 1PP and a 3PP would fuse on touch into a 4PP. A Psionic Character could then split it into either 1 and 3PP or 2 2PPs.

SiuiS
2011-01-31, 03:04 AM
Yeah, I thought about the fusion thing too. It would be really cool, but removes the "requires concentration or Psionic aura" bit.

Being a non-permanent effect makes it viable as a currency, without allowing PCs to really screw the system. I fully intend to explore this concept someday soon, so I'll see what works, but the question was specifically "how do we keep level 1 Joe Psion from ruining the economy?"

Answer? By making the currency resource intensive. Travelling for two weeks where you spend several hours a day focusing just to maintain your current money is like working for two weeks to earn that money, mechanically.

It can still be found as treasure under this system, it just won't be found outside of a Psionic area/area without a guardian.

MickJay
2011-01-31, 10:35 AM
It should work just fine. Unlike gold, PPs are worth something in and of themselves. If you made a million gps, you'd have a massive inflation. If you create a million PPs, you can always use them to fuel useful effects. As long as you keep the value of PPs relatively low, PCs will have better things to do than make them all the time (after all, they don't spend months getting gold with their Professions).

Chilingsworth
2011-01-31, 11:05 AM
Out of curiosity, would you still have the "normal" currencies be worth anything with this system? It would, I'd suppose, make calculating PP purchase prices easier if you could convert between this system and the book values.

G3N3R3L GHOST
2011-01-31, 11:19 AM
I think manifesters being able to create their own currency is about the same as when the mafia creates their own 100 dollar bills. Sure they may be worth something, but in actuality they are hurting the living standards in the area in which they are prominent in that there is more demand than there would be supply. If you have a theoretical infinite number of "dollars" to spend sooner or later wal mart is going to run out of flat screen TV's to buy. However with a set amount of gold being within a town. And that gold is circulated from employer to employee. Then from that employee to a retailer. And that retailer who is an employer will then give it to an employee etc etc. The balance of supply and demand stays the same. I think using Manifester Bucks would kill any towns economy in question here.

Trekkin
2011-01-31, 01:42 PM
Out of curiosity, would you still have the "normal" currencies be worth anything with this system? It would, I'd suppose, make calculating PP purchase prices easier if you could convert between this system and the book values.

I can't see any reason to keep them around in the world from a viewpoint of historical development; if everyone's trading pure power around for money, the first guy suggesting they use yellow metal as currency looks kind of silly. It might make an appearance as an archaic currency, superseded by psionically conductive materials and then by power points themselves, carried in high-capacity low-drain-rate crystal implants by the members of the various cultures once they're of age. In game terms, 1 pp will equal X sp, but no one will actually take sp.

My plan was to integrate this into the Eberron-level psi-tech I'm also working on statting together, so that in paying for a berth on an airship, for example, you're actually charging its fuel cells to some degree, and paying for crystals to do psiony things to directly leads into the crystal mining devices being fueled.

Actually, does having the primary fuel of a society's technology be its money help or hinder the problems with its money also being, in effect, time?

DragonOfUndeath
2011-01-31, 03:40 PM
It would actually justify the bunch of Psionic creatures sitting in their rooms all day and creating Power Passes. If what you create can be used to fuel airships and everything then it's like risk-free mining coal in a mine that fills back up with coal every day.

MickJay
2011-01-31, 04:17 PM
Pretty much. Manufacturing physical manifestations of PPs like that is more or less the same as running on a treadmill to charge up batteries in an economy that relies heavily on electricity. One possible downside of the system would be that industries and crafts that can be easily replicated with the use of psionics would decline, but apart from that, there's not much in the concept to ruin the economy. You're not so much making money, as manufacturing useful items that happen to be universally acceptable as a trading good.

Mark Hall
2011-01-31, 08:04 PM
Pretty much. Manufacturing physical manifestations of PPs like that is more or less the same as running on a treadmill to charge up batteries in an economy that relies heavily on electricity. One possible downside of the system would be that industries and crafts that can be easily replicated with the use of psionics would decline, but apart from that, there's not much in the concept to ruin the economy. You're not so much making money, as manufacturing useful items that happen to be universally acceptable as a trading good.

Precisely. Power points in this system represent work. If it takes me 1 hour to make a Power Pass (or charge a stone or whatever), then the value will tend to approach that of 1 hour of work.

If it is something everyone can do, then you're going to have a much lower value placed on it (much like today... you get paid less for jobs that require less specialized skills).

I think such things WOULD have value, but unless there is some kind of scarcity, then the value is going to be pretty low.