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  1. - Top - End - #1
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    PirateGuy

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    Default Higher Level Economy?

    So, I just finished reading The Dungeonomicon (specifically the Economicon) and I've got some ideas about implementing a higher level economy separate from the gold standard (since buying something that costs 100,000 GP is a literal ton of gold, per the article), but I don't really dig the whole "Wish-Based" economy, since there's no outer planes in my world. There's a Heavenish place and a Hellish place, and then the Elemental Planes, but that's it. So what kind of ideas do you guys have for a higher level economy?

    I'm thinking something along the lines of maybe like "Elemental Stones" or some such that might be possible to recover from Elementals. Maybe they're used in item creation or something? I'm not sure. Looking for suggestions!

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    Default Re: Higher Level Economy?

    Arcane Notes that are extremely difficult to forge and represent an imaginary sum of money.

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    Default Re: Higher Level Economy?

    Or you could simply modernize the world and include a banking system that offers blank cheques that can be signed as an 'promise to pay' with an additional fee for transfer of funds.

    There's no additional system that needs to be established - just rule it at your discretion.

    Yes, there's a heck of a lot of stuff that isn't covered in RAW, but all of the other stuff can be combined to cover any sort of setting if you're really into that sort of thing. Hope I helped.

    Arcane Notes that are extremely difficult to forge and represent an imaginary sum of money.
    But could be forged anyway.

    You could also implement mundane notes that are only useful for non-conventional purposes. If one of the players is making a big purchase, then likely the seller (probably already wealthy as hell if he could acquire something like this) is familiar with 'worldly economics' and knows about the special note system provided by banking guilds. Most common folk that sell cheaper wares are ignorant of this system, so it still justifies the use of GP.

    Also, notes can be forged with a forgery check and time, like everything else. And if your caught, then the rogue in question is tried with fraud. Adds more suspense to a gaming session, so don't get angry if the players ever try to do that sort of thing.

    Finally, you can't make everything magical. Eventually it ruins the suspension of disbelief that magic offers and it gets really old. Magic is no longer as fantastic as it's supposed to seem.

    Good enough?
    Last edited by imp_fireball; 2009-07-12 at 09:39 PM.

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    PirateGuy

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    Default Re: Higher Level Economy?

    I've thought about the banking system...maybe have some Mages' Guild run it so they can arcane mark the banknotes?

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    Default Re: Higher Level Economy?

    But what if there's a guild (out of tradition and trust for their own mundane methods) that hates magic and declares war on the mages?

    Oh hey I just spontaneously created a setting.
    Last edited by imp_fireball; 2009-07-12 at 09:40 PM.

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    PirateGuy

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    Default Re: Higher Level Economy?

    Certainly a hook I can see exploiting. I've already got a pseudo-political mages' guild that regulates the use of magic in the empire...maybe this is something I should consider adding to their portfolio?
    Last edited by RoninFrosty; 2009-07-12 at 09:49 PM. Reason: I'm an idiot

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    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Higher Level Economy?

    that's kind of like people who don't trust modern banking systems because they hate the technology.

    sure, they can exist, but then they are intrinsically at a disadvantage since magic usually does trump the mundane.

    the most important thing about this sort of thing though, I'd guess, is that whoever is issuing the notes need to be able to command confidence in the value of their notes. If a single rogue wizard with a pal who has ranks in forgery can undo the whole system, then said note would be instantly worthless. So the ability to verify the validity of the note would probably be one of the most important aspects you have to work on.

    In order for this kind of thing to work though, said mage guild would need to command an incredible amount of political clout and have a large enough institution to support this kind of operation.

    There are several components you need to consider

    1. the ability to create documentation/notes that is extremely hard to forge. (i.e. some kind of "arcane mark" variant spell that is really hard to replicate)
    2. the ability to control the amount of money that is out there. With physical cash, the limit is pretty much based on the supply of physical coinage. But with the use of notes, procedures need to exist to control how much money is out there or else you'll get hyperinflation. So said money guild would need the ability to create and destroy notes at their discretion. They would need to find ways to distribute and collect notes.

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    Default Re: Higher Level Economy?

    Do not forget trade bars - they were used in Nwn2, storm of zehipr or whatever. Each one is worthless in its own right - but their stamped/etc just right they are used for dealing with large quantities of gold for buisness's, etc. I forgot the fine details, look it up! :P

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    PirateGuy

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    Default Re: Higher Level Economy?

    These are good examples! Anyone else?

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    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Higher Level Economy?

    +5 swords are the basis of any adventuring economy

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    PirateGuy

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    Default Re: Higher Level Economy?

    "Ah, yes...I've got plenty of land, but I've no stone to build my keep. If your crew can supply the raw materials and the labor for the keep, I'll pay you in +5 swords!"

    *twitch* No thanks :D *twitch*

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    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Higher Level Economy?

    Why not? Magic items are valuable and relatively portable, as well as durable but still able to be destroyed and thus slowly removed from the economy.

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    Default Re: Higher Level Economy?

    Because I think it'd be relatively difficult a.) to accurately price (in game) a magic item and b.) maintain suspension of disbelief in a mid-magic game when people are trading magic bucklers for armies.

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    Default Re: Higher Level Economy?

    Yeah, one of the main problems with a 'magic items as barter currency' systems is that magic items can't be easily standardized, and if you make them, what's the point of not just making it some other standardized currency in the first place. I suggest putting together a significant banking setup with history and the like.

    I would look at the Knights Templar, who at least to some extent, helped to create banking as a system on a large scale.

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    Default Re: Higher Level Economy?

    Hmmm...

    What about raw magic? Flavor magic as a limited resource...there's only so much around at any single point in time. Mortals, with their little spells, take up very little of this resource...but the machinations of powerful outsiders? Well, their schemes require large amounts of it.

    Actually, you could say that the more powerful mortal spells require it as well...it might help to limit casters somewhat.

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    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Higher Level Economy?

    that's a neat idea Djinn.

    You could standardize magical energy in the form of gems. A gem with a certain amount of magical energy can be used to power a spell of a certain level, but then in itself costs a bundle.

    the problem is then you have to figure out how magical energy supplies can be finite in the world.

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    Default Re: Higher Level Economy?

    Magic items as currency can be easily standardized (in the economicon, you can essentially create infinite amounts of any magic item worth less than 15k gp.)

    But really, good resources would be anything that can't simply be created by magic. Raw magic is a good idea, or souls of powerful creatures, or anything else that you could theoretically find in a dungeon with a little flavor.

    Why did the lich have a dungeon built in a particular spot? It's a source of raw magic (and giving him a hidden +10 to caster level checks from his focusing crystal in the throne room. ).

    Why would anybody care about killing that random dragon that wasn't terrorizing anybody? With a few simple items, you have an extremely powerful raw soul to sell to the archmage who creates the magic items; depending on his personality, he might make an item for you using the souls power, or give you an item of lesser power; he can't just give away all his best items.

    Just think about it (and read the economicon that was linked, it has better ideas than I can think of) the power of raw magic or things used to create magic are much better things to base an economy composed entirely of magic items off of.

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    Default Re: Higher Level Economy?

    Elemental Stones could work. World of Warcraft already did something like that, where you have the elements as crafting components in various grades. Of course, they can be bought and sold for normal cash because they don't have Wish utterly destroying their normal currency.

    The important thing is that you have something that cannot be counterfeited, even with Wish (Tome version, not SRD version). This means some magical object of intrinsic value. Banknotes don't work because 1) they have to stand for something; they just move the problem away, and 2) Arcane Mark is a cantrip. Wish is 9th-level. One of these things can pretty clearly imitate the other, even for forgery. The alternative here is to completely revise Wish and everything that touches it (i.e., wish-granting monsters), so that you can trade a ton of gold for a sword upgrade.

    Using piles of gold has another problem, though, where the world can't have adamantine towers, or solid gold bridges, or whatnot, because those will get traded for sword upgrades; separating your high-level and low-level currencies solves that problem. The tower made of adamantine is made of a parts that can be made with Wish, and so can be traded for gold, but you cannot trade it to upgrade your sword to +3.

    You can still actually use all of the ones listed in the Dungeonomicon, just stripped of planar associations. Raw Chaos doesn't come from any plane at all, but from the void between the planes. Concentration can be gathered in special stills on the Prime. Hope materializes spontaneously and randomly. Souls can still be harvested in the normal way. You don't have to, of course; your alternative just has to have the above properties.

    There's some other material in that series: the latest stuff is here, and the only other thing they've done after the Dungeonomicon (and so not linked from it) is Here. The first link has some discussion on re-doing magic items and wealth, which is relevant to this discussion (see the section heading: Wealth by Level Has Got to Go), but it's a very early draft, and been that way for a couple years now.
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    Default Re: Higher Level Economy?

    Also, I figured out something; some people (IE: most people who give it a good bit of thought) would realize that an economy that relies entirely on the souls of defeated high level creatures is... well, pretty nuts. You could either make all magic items intelligent and have them all wish that they were destroyed to free the soul (which still has the problem that it seems really freaking evil to be using magic items), or just change it to be something like "essence" so you don't have to deal with the moral problems of a LG paladin wielding items that were forged from the eternally bound souls of his fallen foes, never letting them get their proper rest. (Souls would, however, let you recycle party members without ressurections; goodbye, ranger, hello +6 headband of intellect. )

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    Default Re: Higher Level Economy?

    Quote Originally Posted by elliott20 View Post
    that's a neat idea Djinn.
    Thanks!

    You could standardize magical energy in the form of gems. A gem with a certain amount of magical energy can be used to power a spell of a certain level, but then in itself costs a bundle.
    Sure. It would need some sort of storage device, after all.

    the problem is then you have to figure out how magical energy supplies can be finite in the world.
    Not really. Apply basic laws of conservation to them...you can't just generate magic without an opposite reaction...removing magic from somewhere else. There. Mission accomplished.

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    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Higher Level Economy?

    Wouldn't it just be more intuitive to fix the wish spell?

    I mean, we said arcane mark, yes, but that's just a brain storming idea. You could always have an improved version of the arcane mark that in order to overcome you need to beat the CL on the note. if you can fulfill the first premise of having a large institution that controls the money supplies, you can be pretty damn sure that the CL on those things are going to be fairly high. (I'd say as high as the highest level caster available in the guild)

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    Default Re: Higher Level Economy?

    The problem with that is to create such a high level arcane mark, you would require a wizard so powerful there would be no reason for him to not create tons of super powered magic items.

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    Default Re: Higher Level Economy?

    Quote Originally Posted by Milskidasith View Post
    The problem with that is to create such a high level arcane mark, you would require a wizard so powerful there would be no reason for him to not create tons of super powered magic items.
    just because a wizard is of high level doesn't automatically mean he would sit around creating power magical items. I mean, these things STILL cost XP to do, you know.

    you guys have to remember, the person sitting here creating currency could in essence control the entire economy. Such an individual carries an immense responsibility.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Milskidasith View Post
    The problem with that is to create such a high level arcane mark, you would require a wizard so powerful there would be no reason for him to not create tons of super powered magic items.
    Additionally, if even ONE unreliable caster learns the spell, it's over. Most people can't detect caster level, and have no way of telling a high arcane mark from a low arcane mark. Forgery is pretty easy in such a system, and I'd find it unlikely the the most powerful beings in the multiverse would use a monetary system so easily forged.

    Things that are guaranteed to be both constant and reliable seem more their style.

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    Default Re: Higher Level Economy?

    Or, better yet, things they actually care about that are also powerful and reliable. Trading in +5 shortswords is something that is powerful and standardized, but it isn't exactly the kind of thing a high level wizard would want (except maybe as a trophy). So magical essence and the like are good currencies, while gold makes sense for low levels when the items only really cost a few pounds of gold.

    Arcane notes also have a problem because why the hell would anybody care about them? One high level wizard could forge notes, and since the notes are basically promises that the high level wizards running the show would let you use them for money... one higher level wizard takes over the place (a common occurance) and the entire economy collapses. Bank note systems, even magical, aren't a good idea in a world where being the strongest person in the world literally means you could kill everybody else in the world if they didn't obey your whims (or get together a ton of wizards specially trained to beat you in initiative and hope you roll a natural one on your save or suck spell. >_>)

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    Default Re: Higher Level Economy?

    Got to this party a little late but my favored items of high economic values come first from the Sovereign Stone setting, in which they deal in gold and platinum bricks for massive transactions. It's done more or less by weight, so I believe the bricks were 5 pounds a piece. With 50 coins to the pound, a gold brick is 250 gp and a platinum brick is 2500 gp. They're slightly harder to misplace or lose than a bag of coins and it builds off the current monetary system, so it's not that much of a stretch.

    The other is the concept of Residuum from 4E. Though I don't like the exchange rate they enforce, but, as described, a pound of residuum is worth 500,000 gp. There isn't much of a way to fake the stuff and it has direct value to arcanists, who could use it perhaps as an XP replacement, if a 3.5 Disenchant spell was created from the 4E ritual. Again, it sticks pretty closely to the high arcane economy of a normal D&D world and can be measured out in terms of weight by non-magical sorts. Sure, someone could try to forge some fake residuum with Nystul's Magic Aura but you probably couldn't hork the stuff off on small transactions and it'd only be accepted for major transactions with fairly big merchants with magic dealings and arcanists. By dint, such would have the know-how to Identify the stuff first to ensure it's legit before the transaction was completed.

    Them's my 2 copper pieces worth of residuum (It's legit, I swear! ). Take as you will.
    Last edited by Cieyrin; 2009-07-13 at 01:08 PM.
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    Default Re: Higher Level Economy?

    Well. The thing with forgery is that you don't have to eliminate it, you just have to minimize it. People forge modern currency all the time thats why they have those little blacklights at banks and tons of stores. Hundred dollar bills are of course the worst. You just have to punish 'em when it happens, and take precautions to limit it.
    Minting dollar bills is probably a lot more complex a process than waving your hand and casting arcane mark on 'em. What yo have here is a mint and it has a hella lot of complex artifact-type machines, and the blueprints for those machines are very secret. And the mint is more well-protected than the armory
    Sure, you have the occasional forger, but work a clause into your spell that tags the bills if anyone tries to make a copy of it, and perhaps invisibly arcane marks their hands as well. And if they're high enough level that they can get past all that, well you gotta cut your losses and be happy that they're not using their wish-level spells and all that xp to summon cthulhu or rain fire down on the material plane.
    I think if they're high enough level to be pulling this off, then they probably don't go to the ATM anyway. I imagine gods and devils function pretty much on the barter-for-favors system, and only use gold and things to bribe mortals with, since yes, they pretty much have and infinite supply.

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    Default Re: Higher Level Economy?

    The simplest way to avoid forgery would be making the items that create the currency minor artifacts or other non-duplicable items. Perhaps some ancient empire used these items as banks, mints, and economic forecasters all in one, but all modern folks have been able to do is make it spit out money if and when the device deems more is necessary (and consume deposits if needed). Or maybe the device is simply a creator of unique identifiers from some sort of universal ID system the ancients had (maybe an empire run by transmuters and illusionists wherein it would be essential to verify identity with perfect accuracy), making the currency absolutely unforgeable if you know what to look for.

    Now, this wouldn't completely remove the prospect of forgery (you could probably fool someone who isn't trained in the requisite skills) but it would ensure economic stability beyond "we hope the wizards doing this for us don't go rogue" and would add some internal consistency and mystique at the same time.
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    Default Re: Higher Level Economy?

    Even if they can't be counterfeited, banknotes still don't do everything that a high-level currency should do, not just because you won't find valid banknotes in ancient ruins, but because they still encourage PCs to take the doors out of the dungeons and stick them into portable holes to take back and sell (if it has enough hardness to be a meaningful obstacle, it's worth money, whether it's magically augmented stone or iron or normal adamantine). If they are rewarded with to-hit bonuses for doing so, the PCs will rip the marble facing off the Great Pyramid. The Fire King's castle what is made of solidified fire? Junked for parts and sold to buy saving throw bonuses. Bridge made of black opals and woven shadows? Sold to feed their Heroism Potion habit. The gold facing on the walls of King Steve's castle? Ripped off and spent on arrows.

    So, if you want to be able to place fantastic architecture in your world without the PCs stealing it, you need a high-level something entirely separate from, and not interchangeable with, gold. Then, once they're leveled enough that they can carry around fantastic architecture to sell, they don't have any need of it anymore.

    You can have one of two things:
    1) Merchants who will take any amount of gold, in any form, for high-level items.
    2) Fantastic and expensive architecture.

    The following list is also mutually exclusive:
    1) The ability to spend gold to buy powerful magic items.
    2) The ability to have a day job.

    Pure rules as written, you can just play an elf and use Profession (Farmer) or (Commodities Speculator) for 100 years before the campaign, for instance, or bind Lantern Archons and have them make huge piles of Everburning Torches to sell, and break Wealth by Level over your knee. Stepping outside pure RAW for a bit, you can sell spell slots and do the same thing. Player characters deciding to interact with the economy in any way other than going into dungeons to get loot to sell and trade for better stuff breaks WBL, so WBL has got to go if you want a consistent world.

    Seriously, using the Tome of Fiends fix for Wish, and making it a huge pile of free money, then making you stop caring about gold, is actually good for the game, and the best fix that can be done.

    Also, if banknotes only stand for actual money in the bank vault, then they make the bank a target for wild west bank robberies. Bank notes, as your currency for high-level characters, have enough fundamental problems as to be unworkable.

    ------
    High-end magic items can work, not as a currency, but in a barter economy. If the world doesn't have enough level 10+ people to sustain a real cash economy there (it probably doesn't), this would be the best option.

    Remember, money has no real value. When you sell something for gold, or notes, or diamonds, or gold-pressed latinum, you are trading it for something essentially useless to you (barring spell component uses), in the hopes that you will be able to trade that money for something you can use, before someone takes your money from you by force. If you're not likely to meet someone who wants to sell you what you want, and will take what you got quickly, you are disinclined to take it. There's a minimum overall population density (dependent on travel speeds and communication) below which currency economies are just not feasible.

    So whatever high-level characters are using will probably not only be impossible to replicate with Wish, but will also be something of use to them. Raw magic stored in gemstones, Primal Elements, Souls, Primordial Chaos, and so on meet all of these requirements. So do magic items, although at that point you're in a pure barter economy, as opposed to one with a standard medium of exchange (or several, valued against each other).
    Last projects, from years back: Lesser Disciplines (Tome of Battle). Also, Never Behind the Curve (multiclassing).

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    Default Re: Higher Level Economy?

    Quote Originally Posted by PairO'Dice Lost View Post
    The simplest way to avoid forgery would be making the items that create the currency minor artifacts or other non-duplicable items. Perhaps some ancient empire used these items as banks, mints, and economic forecasters all in one, but all modern folks have been able to do is make it spit out money if and when the device deems more is necessary (and consume deposits if needed). Or maybe the device is simply a creator of unique identifiers from some sort of universal ID system the ancients had (maybe an empire run by transmuters and illusionists wherein it would be essential to verify identity with perfect accuracy), making the currency absolutely unforgeable if you know what to look for.

    Now, this wouldn't completely remove the prospect of forgery (you could probably fool someone who isn't trained in the requisite skills) but it would ensure economic stability beyond "we hope the wizards doing this for us don't go rogue" and would add some internal consistency and mystique at the same time.
    this I like.

    of course, I would switch the idea of "ancient artifact" to something more like a piece of magical machinery that requires a lot of magical power that you need more than just one really powerful magic user to power it. Maybe a piece of machinery that requires a whole department of mages to run it.

    And then, to increase accountability and adding some checks and balances, have a separate guild of diviners whose sole job is to sit around and try to perform audits for the amount of currency in existence. If large bank notes themselves are forged with a unique kind of magic, and you somehow figure out a way for diviners to do aggregation of how much of this unique magic is out there, they can keep a pulse on the total supply of money. When it goes out of whack, (like when a PC starts making his own money left and right) the diviners will pick this up, and notify the proper authorities that a crime might have just been committed and requires investigation.

    As for really high level currency, you're right. Past a certain point, you need to have more than just bank notes. the really powerful people in real life might not deal with actual money anymore, but rather objects of immense value and all they do is try to assign values to these objects themselves.

    I_got_this_name's idea would then kick in, as adventurers now start carrying around objects of power.

    However, I do believe that it is only a matter of time before the institution that wants to keep tabs on the economy would try to find ways to figure out the exact value of these items, with probably more documentation than numbers in a Hong Kong phone book to reflect it.

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