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Wardog
2014-02-03, 03:41 PM
Do we have a thread for asking questions about real-world subjects other than weapons and armour (e.g. physics, biology, engineering, economics, etc), with regard to how they would be /could be / are implemented in games or stories?

The closest I can think of is the "design a setting" thread (I can't remember which sub-forum it's in), but that doesn't quite fit the bill.

If we don't have one, would it be worth starting one? (Being careful of course not to get into politics and religion and other prohibited subjects).

Rhynn
2014-02-03, 03:54 PM
IIRC there was one a while ago, but it fell by the wayside.

Looks like you just started one, though!

In that spirit...

Can someone explain, concretely, the ways in which city streets get buried and built over? I know and understand one method, which is where you literally build some walls in the street and build another street over it because you need to raise the street level, although I don't quite know why you'd do that. So far, all my googling has produced just that one explanation, but lots of examples that don't seem to fit it.

hymer
2014-02-03, 04:02 PM
The way I know about is that they just sink. This is of course mostly in boggish areas with a long way to the bedrock. We have a combined walking and cycling path twenty metres from where I sit now (running along a creek), and it needs a fresh surface every ten years or so, because large parts of it sink, and we get bumps that cause cracks, and eventually turn into depressions. I imagine if nothing was done about it for a hundred years, large parts of it would disappear.

Wardog
2014-02-03, 04:43 PM
Okay, two I have two questions, both regarding economics.

1) Goldfinger. I was watching Goldfinger the other day, and suddenly started wondering: would Goldfiger's plan even work? Just in case anyone hasn't seen the film, but is planning to, I'll spoiler the rest:
Goldfinger planned to detonate a dirty nuke in Fort Knox, thereby making the US gold reserves unusable for [several decades], thereby causing the value of his own gold stock to soar (and causing economic chaos in the West, to the benefit of his Chinese backers).

But unlike in D&D, people don't and didn't hand over gold as payment. They (and I presume this applies to governments too) keep it stashed away somewhere safe, where people know they have it. As I understand it, even when people trade gold, they normally just exchange the ownership deeds, while the gold stays safely in the bank. Surely all Goldfinger would achieve by irradiating it is to make the gold less stealable, and more traceable.


2) The Turnip Economy
http://forum.candlekeep.com/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=10821
Shot version: in a D&D world, there would effectively be three parallel economies. Only the wealthy and mobile classes (nobles, merchants, adventurers, etc) would use gold or other coinage to purchase goods. The peasants would just barter goods for other goods, or favours, with their main concern being food, and the ability or opportunity to work less, or more efficiently. They would neither own nor want coin, as they would have nothing to spend it on, and it would just attract theives. (And at the other end of the scale, superbeings can create arbitarily large amounts of gold with ease, so they would not use that for trade either, but something much rarer like souls).

At least, that's the theory. My question is: is that a realistic description of a medieval or pseudo-medieval economy, or would peasants still participate in the cash economy? (Not necessarily gold, although that does seems to be a more common metal in D&D-land than RL).

hymer
2014-02-03, 05:08 PM
Goldfinger's plan had something going for it some time in history, but not today. Whether the transition had occurred yet at the time of the movie I don't know. A quick rundown:
Money, when first used, was intrinsically valuable, made from valuable materials. Later came the idea that you didn't need all that gold and silver actually floating around, you could use what's pretty much IOUs (merchants liked these a lot). As long as people believed in the value of the IOUs, they were good. How to make them believe, and use this much more practical currency instead of all those impractical coins? Well, a state could back it up, and say 'We're guaranteeing these notes. If needs be, we'll redeem them for an equal value in gold.' That guarantee is what Goldfinger was aiming to strike at. If the gold reserves became inaccessible (or just dangeorus, so nobody would ever want the notes redeemed), it would erode confidence in the currency, causing it to lose value, causing an avalanche (or so he hoped).
These days, governments don't back up their guarantee with large amounts of gold lying around. Instead, they use legislation (and trust generated through decades or centuries of the currencies existing and working, and through allowing it to be traded freely on international markets) to make their money valuable. Since you're generally not allowed to use other kinds of money when doing business in a country, you have to trust the currency to do business.

Rhynn
2014-02-03, 05:13 PM
As far as I understand, the gold standard is pretty much fiction at this point; the value of a country's currency is based on their ability to repay debts (without printing enormous amounts of extra money, which would just collapse its value). The value of money is a complex deal, but it's got next to nothing to do with the value of metals anymore. All modern reserve currencies are fiat currencies.

However! The book was written in 1959 and the film was made in 1964. It wasn't until 1971 that the US dollar became no longer convertible to gold. I guess the plan would mostly have forced the US to switch to fiat currency 7/12 years earlier. Goldfinger's gold would only have been worth whatever someone would have paid for it, and I don't think there's that huge of a demand for gold.


At least, that's the theory. My question is: is that a realistic description of a medieval or pseudo-medieval economy, or would peasants still participate in the cash economy? (Not necessarily gold, although that does seems to be a more common metal in D&D-land than RL).

This gets a bit complicated, but basically, there are several classes of people in a pseudo-Medieval setting:

The aristocracy have great use for currency, because they can use it to buy and commission expensive things, pay mercenaries and soldiers, and pay their taxes.

Freemen are divided into several social strata. Merchants obviously have great use for money, to the point that wealthy merchant houses function as banks, issuing the much more convenient letters of credit. (Few merchants would want to travel with huge amounts of coin, because it's the best thing to steal!) Craftsmen are in the same boat. Free farmers/peasants probably have a good deal of use for coin, simply because there are things they can buy with it (tools, animals), and they can probably pay part of their rents and taxes with it.

Unfree peasants (serfs) probably have the least use for coin, because feudal taxes and duties were usually assessed in a specific kind: so many eggs for this holiday, so many chickens at this time of year, and so on. However, they might have some use for coin to pay part of their taxes, especially merchet (marriage-tax) and the like, and for buying the occasional thing from town.

Actual ancient economies were very odd: in the Middle Ages, common people actually didn't use coins very often, but still used money, in the form of credit: you'd get e.g. a tally stick that indicated this merchant owed you 10, etc. The libra () was largely a "currency of account" at times and places.

"Barter economies" weren't really a thing - you'd mostly barter with someone from outside of your own community, and this wasn't usually a common thing (because where it was a common thing, currencies of account sprang up even when there was no coinage), but favor economies were a thing. David Graeber (a professor of anthropology at the London School of Economics) has written some very interesting stuff about "anthropological economy" - I recommend his writings, particularlyDebt: The First 5,000 Years. It had many very unexpected and non-traditional perspectives.

Raum
2014-02-03, 07:28 PM
Can someone explain, concretely, the ways in which city streets get buried and built over? Here's one example (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seattle_Underground). It began with a disastrous fire and the wreckage was built over at a higher level to solve issues with flooding.

Cealocanth
2014-02-03, 07:40 PM
2) The Turnip Economy
http://forum.candlekeep.com/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=10821
Shot version: in a D&D world, there would effectively be three parallel economies. Only the wealthy and mobile classes (nobles, merchants, adventurers, etc) would use gold or other coinage to purchase goods. The peasants would just barter goods for other goods, or favours, with their main concern being food, and the ability or opportunity to work less, or more efficiently. They would neither own nor want coin, as they would have nothing to spend it on, and it would just attract theives. (And at the other end of the scale, superbeings can create arbitarily large amounts of gold with ease, so they would not use that for trade either, but something much rarer like souls).

At least, that's the theory. My question is: is that a realistic description of a medieval or pseudo-medieval economy, or would peasants still participate in the cash economy? (Not necessarily gold, although that does seems to be a more common metal in D&D-land than RL).

Depends what you mean by medieval. If you are referring to a period from the Roman Empire to the end of the Iron Age, then the only intrinsic value of coin actually comes from the metal it is made out of. A barter system tends to be unreliable and is often seen as savage in many cultures. This is why, even among the merchants and the like, that they use the established currency of the empire they live in. They are still trading goods, in effect, but they are trading their goods for gold and silver, which has real value, then trading that precious metal, which just so happens to be pressed into the shape of a coin, for other goods.

In an economy under feudalism, things work a little differently. Gold would be traded between kingdoms or among nobles, and even occasionally among merchants, but for the majority of the population, they would have no need for a currency at all. Any group of peasants would be expected to provide for themselves, trading supplies such as farm animals and crops when need be, and giving a large portion of their annual yield to their lords, which is then transferred to their vassals, which eventually makes its way to the king, who then grants a large portion of that to the church. Once you get to the aristocracy, then gold would only really be used for things like buying and selling land, or paying for things like mercenary armies.

Once you get past the medieval era and into the very first inklings of the modern era (which is when the 4th edition Forgotten Realms takes place), then you witness the end of feudalism. Land is now owned in huge sections by princes, lords, kings, etc and worked by paid laborers and peasants, who often live on the estates they work. You also see the start of establishing a national banking system of a sort, where gold and silver are stored in huge secure vaults and things like "bank notes" or even printed gold and silver currency are backed up by these 'treasuries'. A peasant would actually use the national currency, although he comes into contact with much fewer coins than the aristocracy or church does. All international trade is done through these treasuries, but the amount of representative currency in the population remains the same, which allows for things like inflation to occur. While this is usually bad, and has led to the downfall of at least one empire (of which I am not allowed to reference due to the whole "no politics" rule), the ability to control the value of your national currency is a tool that kings don't part with.

Once you start getting into the early stages of industrialization (talking late 17th century and beyond), then currency becomes a thing with a credit value. Nations start to abolish their treasuries and begin printing inflationary money out of the wazoo, and just let the laws of supply and demand control money's value. At this point, a country's population is so huge that money doesn't need to be backed up anymore.

So yeah, it depends on what you mean by medieval. The only situation where the economy you have described would work is in the middle of a feudal system, which is most definitely medieval. Just be careful when your campaign setting is set, as before the middle ages and throughout the renaissance, currency is not exactly what common RPGs depict it as.

Mr Beer
2014-02-05, 05:03 PM
I'm not sure about Goldfingers plan, it sounds like he wanted to make Fort Knox radioactive and now they can't use their gold? But wouldn't the gold be protected in underground bunkers? Can't the US Army just go in afterwards in NBC suits and truck it out?

Cealocanth
2014-02-05, 06:00 PM
Here's another question for this thread to chew on:

I am looking to find a way to explain how Dwarven technology in my campaign is capable of producing (among other things) flying machines and submersibles with 16th century scientific knowledge. Up to this point, I have stated that scientific advances made by Dwarves with similar faculties to Leonardo Da Vinci have allowed technological breakthroughs in this area.

But that leads one to wonder, is there any practical feasibility in Da Vinci's designs? I'm particularly interested in his designs for a diving suit (http://www.bl.uk/onlinegallery/features/leonardo/diving.html), as the party wants to go explore the forbidden depths of the Underworld (the land of merfolk and kraken at the floor of the ocean.)

Brother Oni
2014-02-05, 06:32 PM
Can't the US Army just go in afterwards in NBC suits and truck it out?

Then what do they do with it? It can't be traded or redeemed which would affect the value of US currency (bear in mind the era the book was written), even if all it did was make the change to a fiat currency happen a decade or so earlier than expected.



I am looking to find a way to explain how Dwarven technology in my campaign is capable of producing (among other things) flying machines and submersibles with 16th century scientific knowledge. Up to this point, I have stated that scientific advances made by Dwarves with similar faculties to Leonardo Da Vinci have allowed technological breakthroughs in this area.

The best answer I can think of is lots of time on their hands, extended periods of peace, long life spans and an advanced understanding of metallurgy.

Unless you're asking how to built a modern device X with 16th century understanding, in which case it gets tricker.

With regard to the diving suit, there doesn't seem to be a way to counter the pressure encountered at depths, or a way to achieve the special air mixtures required to prevent Nitrogen narcosis (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nitrogen_narcosis).
This is not mentioning tube pressure resistance, your lungs being too weak to expand to inhale below ~10m due to the increased pressure differential and the dead volume in the tube preventing effective air exchange.

madtinker
2014-02-05, 07:40 PM
Here's another question for this thread to chew on:

I am looking to find a way to explain how Dwarven technology in my campaign is capable of producing (among other things) flying machines and submersibles with 16th century scientific knowledge. Up to this point, I have stated that scientific advances made by Dwarves with similar faculties to Leonardo Da Vinci have allowed technological breakthroughs in this area.

But that leads one to wonder, is there any practical feasibility in Da Vinci's designs? I'm particularly interested in his designs for a diving suit (http://www.bl.uk/onlinegallery/features/leonardo/diving.html), as the party wants to go explore the forbidden depths of the Underworld (the land of merfolk and kraken at the floor of the ocean.)

Yes, some of his designs were feasible. Some of them had a lot of issues (materials, for one). In your example of the diving helmet, the materials he prescribed work fine for shallow water. If you were to go to deeper water, the reeds would be crushed. But, have your dwarves be masters of copper forming and bronze alloys, and by rule of cool the diving helmet can work in a game.

Another example, not da Vinci: internal combustion engines could be built by a cunning metallurgist. Either bronze or cast iron are suitable for IC engines of low power, and both of those materials were available in the 1600's (not necessarily in quantity, but available).

Edit: Reading your question again, you might just have dwarves that specialize in thermodynamics. The four cycle engine was patented in the late 1800's. It was the high power density of the IC engine and good lift/drag ratio of the Wright's airfoil that enabled flying machines. So rule that they have them, but they are loud, emit lots of smoke, and are slow (but not necessarily clumsy). If you want gliders, those have been around a very long time and you don't really need to fudge anything.

TuggyNE
2014-02-05, 08:52 PM
If you want gliders, those have been around a very long time and you don't really need to fudge anything.

Tethered man-carrying kites have been around for perhaps a thousand years. Actual free-flying gliders, on the other hand, were as far as I know only workable starting around 1810; the difference is chiefly in stability and control without a tether.

Mr Beer
2014-02-05, 09:16 PM
Then what do they do with it? It can't be traded or redeemed which would affect the value of US currency (bear in mind the era the book was written), even if all it did was make the change to a fiat currency happen a decade or so earlier than expected.

I'm not clear on how the radiation from nuclear weapons works but I thought there was a burst of rays (as in gamma rays and such) which messes you up if you get caught in it and fallout, being radioactive debris. Does the initial blast cause objects to be radioactive themselves? I thought fallout could be washed off.

TuggyNE
2014-02-06, 07:35 AM
I'm not clear on how the radiation from nuclear weapons works but I thought there was a burst of rays (as in gamma rays and such) which messes you up if you get caught in it and fallout, being radioactive debris. Does the initial blast cause objects to be radioactive themselves? I thought fallout could be washed off.

Nuclear weapons dump gamma rays, neutrons, and heat, as well as vaporized bits of the radioactive material produced through the explosion; if the neutrons hit certain isotopes of stuff that's lying around, they can switch them to being radioactive isotopes. The result is that there's rather more radioactive debris from a blast than the actual mass of the bomb.

Gold, as it so happens, has exactly one stable isotope and a bunch of radioactive ones with fairly short halflives, so seemingly that would be quite a good target for this tactic. Surprisingly good, in fact.

Silus
2014-02-06, 07:42 AM
Question: I'm working on an AU setting to the homebrew world I'm working on. Fallout type stuff with all the trappings. But the thing I'm wondering is, would a change in economics be too much trouble? The idea is that gold coinage is now useless, as it has little to no practical value, whereas silver, copper and iron/steel are far more valuable for their material components (Reforging them into weapons and tools fro example). Realistically, what sort of problems would this present on an economic standpoint where you could roof your house with useless gold coins, but a good quality steel longsword is highly valued?

Spiryt
2014-02-06, 08:11 AM
Question: I'm working on an AU setting to the homebrew world I'm working on. Fallout type stuff with all the trappings. But the thing I'm wondering is, would a change in economics be too much trouble? The idea is that gold coinage is now useless, as it has little to no practical value, whereas silver, copper and iron/steel are far more valuable for their material components (Reforging them into weapons and tools fro example). Realistically, what sort of problems would this present on an economic standpoint where you could roof your house with useless gold coins, but a good quality steel longsword is highly valued?

Well, for one thing, gold coins would be rare, actually, by all probability even rarer in post-catastrophe setting.

Very unlikely that someone would gather enough of them to build a roof, and it would be ridiculously hard and pointless anyway.

So there's god chance gold could fall into 'symbol/base of value' role quickly anyway. People could still use it as trade quantifier specificially because it's rare and useless.

Of course, it could not happen at all... gold coins would just lay somewhere, collecting dust I guess.

Rhynn
2014-02-06, 08:30 AM
Question: I'm working on an AU setting to the homebrew world I'm working on. Fallout type stuff with all the trappings. But the thing I'm wondering is, would a change in economics be too much trouble? The idea is that gold coinage is now useless, as it has little to no practical value, whereas silver, copper and iron/steel are far more valuable for their material components (Reforging them into weapons and tools fro example). Realistically, what sort of problems would this present on an economic standpoint where you could roof your house with useless gold coins, but a good quality steel longsword is highly valued?

Yes, gold has no value unless someone somewhere wants it. (It's still incredibly rare - good luck finding the ton of gold required for roofing your house!) What's the issue, exactly? People would barter with outsiders and exchange favors with community members, and any community that saw a lot of trade (either locally or through caravans to other places) would come up with some sort of system of credit and/or currency. Communities that trade with each other extensively would develop mutual systems of credit or currency.

If you look at Fallout 1, the money - the bottlecaps called "Hubbucks" or "Hubscrip" - isn't intrinsically very valuable. It's tiny amounts of scrap metal - thousands might be used for something, although generally melting and re-forging steel is a really bad idea. This idea was completely lost in the later games, but the value of the caps was that Hub merchants used them as essentially "water chits" - you get so much water for so many caps. That's a currency backed by something essential, universally precious and desirable, and reliably obtainable. The caps have a direct value, in being exchangeable for water, but that gives them indirect value, since anyone who needs water and can go to the Hub to get it will want them. This mostly means caravaners who travel to the Hub. Non-traveling merchants do business with those caravaners, so caps have value to them. Everyone else does business with the merchants, so they need caps too. Voila, a system of currency.

So, decide what currency system each local area uses. Areas that trade with each other will either share a system or have exchange rates. So many units of currency can get you this object. There will be "universal trade goods," particularly metals with some value (iron, copper, tin, etc.; silver is generally in the same class with gold, having little use beyond ornamentation).

Note, though, that gold and silver will be valuable in the right place. Any community with "wealthy" people will inevitably have a demand for luxuries, and gold and silver have historically been some of the most basic and essential luxuries. (Spices are the other big one.) Salt will probably be a pretty basic universal trade good: useful and relatively easy to transport. How valuable it is will depend on how much of it is available. Drinkable water may be another one, depending on the nature of the setting.

In my Dark Sun campaign setting, ceramic coins are "water chits" issued by the City-states. One ceramic coin is worth 10 gallons of water (in theory; the city-states can "raise prices" in times of drought, or when they want to increase their own buying power to e.g. fund a war). They are elaborately crafted, marked, and lacquered to make forgery harder (but not impossible; yet much harder than basic coin-shaving). This means ceramic coins are desirable for everyone within a city-state: no coins, no water, and you can't go many days without water. Precious metals have great value, though: gold and silver are exceedingly desirable for wealthy nobles and templars and kings, and thus are of great value. All metals are rare, and anything made out of metal is more valuable in relation to non-metal items; scavenging scrap metal and metal items from ancient ruins is a dangerous but profitable venture.

PS. "Steel coins," as in Dragonlance, are a ridiculous idea, just so you know. The properties of steel are enormously affected by the forging & tempering process, and steel coins would have very different metal properties than a steel sword. Steel used for one purpose would have different carbon content (and other traces) than steel used for another, and one would not be suitable for the other's purpose. Steel coins would not make sense, because they'd be wanted for being melted down, reducing their number - but they'd actually be less desirable than plain iron that you could make into the right kind of steel to begin with, rather than trying to adulterate "coin steel" to get the right properties.

Edit: And yeah as Spiryt suggests, there's a chance gold and silver would be chosen as currency bases for their rarity. This is sort of implied to be the case with caps in Fallout: New Vegas: there's a limited number of caps, and only pre-war caps are "valid" (there's a quest involving someone minting new caps that are indistinguishable from pre-war caps). The idea is that no one can destabilize the system by producing huge numbers of the unit of trade. That's why arbitary tokens (paper money, chits, whatever) have to be proof against counterfeiting.

madtinker
2014-02-06, 03:11 PM
Tethered man-carrying kites have been around for perhaps a thousand years. Actual free-flying gliders, on the other hand, were as far as I know only workable starting around 1810; the difference is chiefly in stability and control without a tether.

Wikipedia contains one account of a semi-successful glider design flown in 1648 with a cat. I'll admit that it's a long stretch from there to safe and effective human-carrying gliders, but it's enough precedent (for me, at least) that you could put it in a game without it being too great a stretch of the imagination.

TheStranger
2014-02-06, 04:48 PM
Question: I'm working on an AU setting to the homebrew world I'm working on. Fallout type stuff with all the trappings. But the thing I'm wondering is, would a change in economics be too much trouble? The idea is that gold coinage is now useless, as it has little to no practical value, whereas silver, copper and iron/steel are far more valuable for their material components (Reforging them into weapons and tools fro example). Realistically, what sort of problems would this present on an economic standpoint where you could roof your house with useless gold coins, but a good quality steel longsword is highly valued?

This has been pretty well answered, but I'll add that while gold has a few properties that make it well-suited for use as a currency (chemically inert, rare, not tremendously useful for other things, shiny), there's nothing magical about it that makes it automatically super-valuable and therefore the basis of currency, no matter what you may hear on late-night commercials suggesting you invest in it. So if you don't want gold to be the basis for value, it doesn't have to be. But it is extremely shiny (so very, very shiny), so it's likely to have some value as an ornamental material regardless.

The challenge is in choosing your currency substitute. Anything plentiful or easily counterfeited is a poor choice for obvious reasons. Anything really useful in and of itself is feasible, but has its own problems - if you have a bunch of steel, why would you make coins instead of a sword? Water chits are a good alternative - I may have to steal that idea. It's certainly possible for a barter economy to exist on a small scale, but that won't really work beyond small villages for a variety of reasons.

Silus
2014-02-06, 04:55 PM
This has been pretty well answered, but I'll add that while gold has a few properties that make it well-suited for use as a currency (chemically inert, rare, not tremendously useful for other things, shiny), there's nothing magical about it that makes it automatically super-valuable and therefore the basis of currency, no matter what you may hear on late-night commercials suggesting you invest in it. So if you don't want gold to be the basis for value, it doesn't have to be. But it is extremely shiny (so very, very shiny), so it's likely to have some value as an ornamental material regardless.

The challenge is in choosing your currency substitute. Anything plentiful or easily counterfeited is a poor choice for obvious reasons. Anything really useful in and of itself is feasible, but has its own problems - if you have a bunch of steel, why would you make coins instead of a sword? Water chits are a good alternative - I may have to steal that idea. It's certainly possible for a barter economy to exist on a small scale, but that won't really work beyond small villages for a variety of reasons.

Well the idea for the setting is that because the nation has gotten rapidly more hostile over the past 200 years, weapons, armor and defenses had to be made. That meant grabbing anything iron, steel or other such materials to reforge into gear and useful, multi-purpose tools.

Old busted armor and weapons are scavenged, traded for things like food, clothing, survival gear, etc. and reforged into useful stuff.

As a DM, I thought it would be an interesting alternative to loot. Instead of finding like 10k in gold coins, they find like five sets of perfectly preserved and serviceable Full Plate, a whole mess of weapons and solid steel shields. While that would be hitting the motherlode, it would force the players to consider the logistics of getting it all out and to a place to trade it.

Mr Beer
2014-02-06, 04:56 PM
Nuclear weapons dump gamma rays, neutrons, and heat, as well as vaporized bits of the radioactive material produced through the explosion; if the neutrons hit certain isotopes of stuff that's lying around, they can switch them to being radioactive isotopes. The result is that there's rather more radioactive debris from a blast than the actual mass of the bomb.

Gold, as it so happens, has exactly one stable isotope and a bunch of radioactive ones with fairly short halflives, so seemingly that would be quite a good target for this tactic. Surprisingly good, in fact.

OK cool, thanks.

Rhynn
2014-02-06, 05:29 PM
As a DM, I thought it would be an interesting alternative to loot. Instead of finding like 10k in gold coins, they find like five sets of perfectly preserved and serviceable Full Plate, a whole mess of weapons and solid steel shields. While that would be hitting the motherlode, it would force the players to consider the logistics of getting it all out and to a place to trade it.

That's sort of how my Dark Sun setting works: the basic PC adventurer activity is to look for old ruins in the wastelands and finding preserved scrap metal to take back to civilization and hawk to scrap merchants, who have the means or contacts to turn it into something useful.

(There's very few iron mines, largely because the apocalyptic wars of millenia past involved enormous military industries that dug out and used all the useful metal.)

TheStranger
2014-02-06, 06:14 PM
Well the idea for the setting is that because the nation has gotten rapidly more hostile over the past 200 years, weapons, armor and defenses had to be made. That meant grabbing anything iron, steel or other such materials to reforge into gear and useful, multi-purpose tools.

Old busted armor and weapons are scavenged, traded for things like food, clothing, survival gear, etc. and reforged into useful stuff.

As a DM, I thought it would be an interesting alternative to loot. Instead of finding like 10k in gold coins, they find like five sets of perfectly preserved and serviceable Full Plate, a whole mess of weapons and solid steel shields. While that would be hitting the motherlode, it would force the players to consider the logistics of getting it all out and to a place to trade it.

From an economic perspective, how is that different from any other D&D setting? Not to say it wouldn't be fun, but looting stuff is pretty much par for the course.

Brother Oni
2014-02-06, 07:02 PM
From an economic perspective, how is that different from any other D&D setting? Not to say it wouldn't be fun, but looting stuff is pretty much par for the course.

The type of loot is different and hence presents a different logistical challenge. A set of full plate is listed as worth 1,500gp and weighs 50lb. The equivalent in gold coins only weighs 30lb in comparison and is much easier to use or split.

In a low tech or metal scare world, finding that much armour is a massive boost to combat capabilities well beyond its physical coin value - the average Dark Sun party would be green with envy at how well equipped a level 1 adventurer party is in a more standard fantasy setting.

Rhynn
2014-02-06, 07:19 PM
The type of loot is different and hence presents a different logistical challenge. A set of full plate is listed as worth 1,500gp and weighs 50lb. The equivalent in gold coins only weighs 30lb in comparison and is much easier to use or split.

Yeah, even with metals valued at x10 the usual in my Dark Sun (silver replaces gold at the standard, and bronze goes between copper/ceramic and silver), "common" metals (i.e. not silver, gold, etc.) average 10 gp per ingot (equivalent to 100 gp in a normal campaign), and one ingot weighs stone... a PC can carry 20 stone (40 ingots and nothing else) at quarter speed, or 5 stone at full speed. That's 20 gp per stone. Meanwhile, gold coins come out to 1,000 gp per stone, silver coins to 100 gp per stone, and ceramic coins are 10 gp/stone. Nevermind gems and jewelry, which can be worth thousands of gp at negligible weight.

Scrap metal will probably be worth a bit less per stone, too.

Transporting amounts of scrap metal that are worth enough to matter to the PCs is going to be an undertaking in itself, but that's the intention: wilderness travel and adventuring logistics play a big part, because they let the dangerous setting stand out.

veti
2014-02-07, 07:40 AM
I am looking to find a way to explain how Dwarven technology in my campaign is capable of producing (among other things) flying machines and submersibles with 16th century scientific knowledge. Up to this point, I have stated that scientific advances made by Dwarves with similar faculties to Leonardo Da Vinci have allowed technological breakthroughs in this area.

But that leads one to wonder, is there any practical feasibility in Da Vinci's designs? I'm particularly interested in his designs for a diving suit (http://www.bl.uk/onlinegallery/features/leonardo/diving.html), as the party wants to go explore the forbidden depths of the Underworld (the land of merfolk and kraken at the floor of the ocean.)

Some of Da Vinci's designs are completely unworkable (his flying machines, for instance - without internal combustion, no chance). But many do have potential. The biggest problems with most of them are (a) materials, and (b) tolerances. If dwarves are masters of obscure alloys and high-precision engineering, they could probably make a working Da Vinci parachute, diving suit or tank.

And curiously enough, that's exactly how dwarves are often portrayed.

Question is, where do you stop? If the dwarves are capable of this sort of engineering, what's to stop them developing the steam engine? (Internal combustion requires electricity, which is a whole other step, but steam is just the application of technologies they'll know well.)

Spore
2014-02-07, 07:49 AM
How would you explain the spell Control Water (http://paizo.com/pathfinderRPG/prd/spells/controlWater.html#_control-water) within scientific standards if you were forbidden the explanation: A wizard did it.

This somehow feels like controlling the power of the tides in an enclosed area although a friend of mine pointed out that if you lowered a 20 ft pool (with perfectly even ground) by 10 ft you would actually double the density of the water. I thought off something like pressing the water into the material beneath it instead of increasing and decreasing density.

What kind of force would that spell create and how would it play it according to real physics?

Brother Oni
2014-02-07, 08:13 AM
How would you explain the spell Control Water (http://paizo.com/pathfinderRPG/prd/spells/controlWater.html#_control-water) within scientific standards if you were forbidden the explanation: A wizard did it.

This somehow feels like controlling the power of the tides in an enclosed area although a friend of mine pointed out that if you lowered a 20 ft pool (with perfectly even ground) by 10 ft you would actually double the density of the water. I thought off something like pressing the water into the material beneath it instead of increasing and decreasing density.

What kind of force would that spell create and how would it play it according to real physics?

The problem is, water is pretty much incompressible - at 40MPa (for reference, atmospheric pressure at sea level is 0.1MPa), the volume only decreases by ~1.8%.
This means that altering the density is not an option, plus pressing it into the material below would exert that amount of pressure to the material, potentially causing structural failure.

In my opinion, having it soak into the underlying material or just plain evaporation as stated in the spell effect is the best way for the lower water function, while condensation of water vapour out of the air would be best for the raise water mode (that's a lot of water vapour though).

Edit: Dumping heat into it may fix some of the volume changes as at 90C, the volume would increase by 4% in comparison to 25C. Raising the temperature much above that wouldn't achieve the desired effect in an open system as water boils then.

TuggyNE
2014-02-07, 08:29 PM
How would you explain the spell Control Water (http://paizo.com/pathfinderRPG/prd/spells/controlWater.html#_control-water) within scientific standards if you were forbidden the explanation: A wizard did it.

You don't, can't, and shouldn't. A recent thread went to considerable trouble attempting it; control water simply violates the physical properties of water inherently and with no reconciliation possible.

A wizard did it with magic.

Anxe
2014-02-07, 09:24 PM
I've always gone with Control Water opening a portal to the Elemental Plane of Water that only water can pass through. Water either goes out or comes in. It's an explanation that makes sense within the magical context. As has been said, there isn't a good real physical explanation for how that spell would work.

fusilier
2014-02-07, 09:43 PM
Question is, where do you stop? If the dwarves are capable of this sort of engineering, what's to stop them developing the steam engine? (Internal combustion requires electricity, which is a whole other step, but steam is just the application of technologies they'll know well.)

Diesel engines don't require electricity. ;-)

TuggyNE
2014-02-08, 12:24 AM
I've always gone with Control Water opening a portal to the Elemental Plane of Water that only water can pass through. Water either goes out or comes in. It's an explanation that makes sense within the magical context. As has been said, there isn't a good real physical explanation for how that spell would work.

Strictly speaking, the spell could do that, but it would need to be a Conjuration (summoning or teleportation) in 3.x planar mechanics; Transmutations do not "do" interplanar travel or portals. This also means you couldn't control water in an area that is dimensionally locked.

Mr. Mask
2014-02-08, 12:41 AM
In a world where goblins and other antagonistic tunnel dwellers exist, how would this effect the design of sewer systems?

Do you make sure they're not so big that little enemies can move through them? Do you make them bigger so it's easier for people to go down and check they're not being tunnelled into? Does it have no effect?

Mr Beer
2014-02-08, 12:52 AM
In a world where goblins and other antagonistic tunnel dwellers exist, how would this effect the design of sewer systems?

Do you make sure they're not so big that little enemies can move through them? Do you make them bigger so it's easier for people to go down and check they're not being tunnelled into? Does it have no effect?

You should have such defences in place but no self respecting D&D city is complete without a vast sewer system populated by giant alligators, evil humanoids and the odd necromancer's lair dotted hither and thither.

Mr. Mask
2014-02-08, 12:55 AM
That's basically what I'm wondering. If the existence of tunnelling gremlins necessitates the existence of Hollywood/RPG style traversable catacombs of sewers.

Brother Oni
2014-02-08, 09:09 AM
If it were up to me, I'd just simply repurpose their tunnels as the new sewers and guard or block up the main entrances.
Every now and again I'd clear out the infestation (smoking them out or poison gas) but other than that, I wouldn't see much effort in building a new tunnels if there's a pre-existing network.

Mr. Mask
2014-02-08, 04:46 PM
I guess it depends on how much of a threat goblinkind is. If they're able to come into your city in force and kill everyone by surprise, it's a bit different from if they're pests.

If there are pre-existing tunnels under the city, making use of them is logical. Still, you want some form of defence or scouting for if goblins decide to attack. If you can keep the tunnels gassed then that would ward them off using those tunnels. But they could still undermine you.

TuggyNE
2014-02-08, 09:33 PM
In a world where goblins and other antagonistic tunnel dwellers exist, how would this effect the design of sewer systems?

Do you make sure they're not so big that little enemies can move through them? Do you make them bigger so it's easier for people to go down and check they're not being tunnelled into? Does it have no effect?

Well, FWIW, Eberron's Stormreach is built on an enormous network of tunnels built by hobgoblins and kobolds and repurposed for sewage, water supply, vaults, secret laboratories, travel between city wards, and smuggling. There's a lot of traps and a few guards in various places, and a fair number of adventurers tasked to keep the monstrous inhabitants in line (read: culled to acceptable levels). They seem to operate under the principle of tolerating a certain population of small monsters and making the tunnels big enough so adventurers and guards can clear them out or maintain them as appropriate.

I'm not sure it's practical to make tunnels so small that even kobolds or goblins can't get in without some pretty sophisticated machinery, or an awful lot of redundant labor carefully filling the tunnels back up. Maintenance of such small tunnels would also be a real pain.

Mr. Mask
2014-02-08, 09:41 PM
Taking that into account, making them big enough for patrols, adding defences and possibly traps to them, and having listening tunnels designed to not be flooded with sewage beneath and around the sewers to keep an ear out for incoming goblin hordes.

The question then is whether the sewers will be infested and you try to cull the populations, or if any monstrous life would be gassed to death and the patrols are just there to make sure spies, scouts, and raiding parties aren't at work.

veti
2014-02-09, 07:31 AM
The question then is whether the sewers will be infested and you try to cull the populations, or if any monstrous life would be gassed to death and the patrols are just there to make sure spies, scouts, and raiding parties aren't at work.

Seems to me there'd inevitably be an ecological niche for a monster that could survive the gases in any sewer system...

I'd either (a) dig no sewers at all, just let effluent run through gutters in the open street (and if any goblins want to try sneaking in through that, good luck to them), or (b) dig only sewers that were large enough for paramilitary patrols, and have a patrol group exploring at least part of the system every day. Option (b) is, of course, ridiculously expensive, so option (a) would be the more obvious choice.

(Come to think of it, I once played in a D&D campaign where we started out as employees of the Department of Public Works charged with patrolling and clearing a section of sewer. I played a rat. Fun times...)

Mr. Mask
2014-02-09, 08:12 AM
If it were only one patrol, that'd be quite manageable. In a world with goblins, you're probably going to have to take precautions regardless of whether you have a sewer system.

Creatures being able to evade the gas and live in the sewers seems a possibility. I'm not sure how easily they could fully gas such a large sewer system, and I'm not sure how it'd effect creatures which can remain in the water.