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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Devil

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    Default Build Me An Economy! (General Challenge)

    (This thread is an offshoot of a previous one, here.)

    It has been noted that the DnD economy system leaves a little bit to be desired. Not that this sort of detail is required for most DnD games -- who cares that grain costs as much in the country as in the city, when you're about to raid a dungeon occupied by beholder-worshiping cultists? But it can still be a bit bothersome to find that a skilled outdoorsman costs as much to hire on the frontier as in the inner city. Or... well, I could go on forever.

    So I thought, we can do better. Let's design a REALISTIC economy around the DnD rules.

    All those tables on item, weapon, and service costs? Nix them! Instead, we'll start with a few basic assumptions:

    Technology level (not counting magic, but counting techniques for doing things) is somewhere around Europe 1200-1300 AD. No gunpowder yet, but everything up to there. This includes some of the less noted aspects of the High Middle Ages, such as the beginning of the industrial revolution with water and wind power, and a fledgeling banking industry.

    Climate, latitude, and raw resource distribution is also similar to Europe. Hell, let's say this IS Europe... at least as far as resources, weather, latitude, geography, and domesticated plants and animals go.

    Stats for any given person are generated by 3d6, assign as rolled. However, you may assume that only those with fair stats will survive far into adulthood, and only those with good stats will gain any elite character classes. Further, you may assume that good stats are partially inheritted from biological parents and foster parents -- both nature and nurture are in effect here.

    Rather than just earning experience from combat, people earn experience through achievement and challenges. Thus, a blacksmith who does some particularly tricky work on a wrought iron gate for a baron's manor might get story experience at the job's end and go up a level. Assume you get less XP for lower risk, even if the challenge is the same -- if that noble is displeased, you might lose your reputation, your guild membership, or your life, but if you're selling to an exporter the stakes aren't (quite) as high, and thus less XP is learned for the effort.

    Assume that races tend to clump together and form their own communities, cities, and nations, though a bit of mixing goes on. (Thus, on the small scale, elves will segregate themselves into a single district of a city and form their own customs, even if (or especially if) in human lands. A similar process occurs on a large scale, producing distinct human and elven nations.) Savage races are out there in the wild, and the various planes and their denizens do exist and interact with the material as normal for DnD.

    To decide how the classes will distribute themselves, assume that the die rolled for humans to produce random starting ages (Ch6 in the PH) represents time in training. Figure that every individual being trained requires one trainer of that class, of at least level 1, devoting an hour to the training a day. Apply laws of supply and demand to figure out the actual cost of training. Don't forget the risks of, say, training an apprentice wizard, or the material costs, or the waste produced by people flunking out.

    In order to figure out how much a skilled individual can accomplish using Craft or Profession, figure out how much they'd earn in a day, and then figure out how much the final item or service costs over the consumed goods. Don't calculate in overhead, but do calculate in a ten-percent waste fee (smiths do produce scrap iron, after all). That tells you how quickly they can produce an item. If a smith can earn 10 gp in a day, it takes him 5 days to produce a 50 gp greatsword.

    When NO details are given on how the cost of an item is derived (as is the case with many magical items)... well, come up with something plausible.

    From these base assumptions, figure out the actual costs for various services, the actual value of the coinages in comparison to each other, the distribution of the classes, how magic effects the economy, and so forth.

    Don't forget to factor in social orders, disease and sanitation, crime and lawlessness, transportation costs, upkeep and decay (wooden ships rot quickly), weather, and the natures of various races.

    Also, remember that high-charisma individuals well "sell" themselves better. Use The Giant's variation on Diplomacy.

    Core only for classes, feats, skills, spells, items, and the like. Include some splatbooks (like deities and demigods or manual of the planes) for background/setting information.

    Show your work for full credit.

    We're not going to get this all in one post. So instead, let's talk about it for the whole thread. Come up with an idea about the economy as a whole or a small piece of it, and will poke and prod it and see how well it holds up or breaks down. Hopefully something coherant will emerge. I'll start in the next post, unless someone beats me to it.
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  2. - Top - End - #2
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Build Me An Economy! (General Challenge)

    I think that one of our basic assumptions is that the more common a skill is, and the less overhead its use requires, the cheaper it and its fruits will be. Why is this? High supply. Four ranks in Craft:Blacksmithing is rarer than in Profession: Farming and Agriculture. Both have a high overhead (the shop versus the land, tools, carts, and draft animals), but you need more farmers to support the community than blacksmiths. So far, this balancing of supply and demand should mean that they're about the same value, right? Not so. Fewer blacksmiths means less competition and less people willing to undercut your price. It also means that it's harder to find someone to apprentice to (increasing the overhead, and thus further decreasing supply).
    Alstroemeria and Shozin in Thrair's War of the Final Whisper.

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    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Build Me An Economy! (General Challenge)

    Quote Originally Posted by Reltzik View Post
    I think that one of our basic assumptions is that the more common a skill is, and the less overhead its use requires, the cheaper it and its fruits will be. Why is this? High supply. Four ranks in Craft:Blacksmithing is rarer than in Profession: Farming and Agriculture. Both have a high overhead (the shop versus the land, tools, carts, and draft animals), but you need more farmers to support the community than blacksmiths. So far, this balancing of supply and demand should mean that they're about the same value, right? Not so. Fewer blacksmiths means less competition and less people willing to undercut your price. It also means that it's harder to find someone to apprentice to (increasing the overhead, and thus further decreasing supply).
    And thus trade guilds are born.

    Guilds were originally a sort of capital trust. Because it was hard to train skilled craftsmen and hard to import more, the small number of craftsmen in a given area could exercise a lot of power over the prices and conditions of their service.
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    Default Re: Build Me An Economy! (General Challenge)

    To begin with economy, I believe we first need to model the society that will be using it. For example, if we want to stay true to the Middle Ages concept, we're looking at the vast majority of the population bearing the job title Impoverished Peasant and earning zilch, since the land belonged to the nobles, who simply "rented" it for as much as two thirds (if not more) of what the family managed to produce over the year. Often peasants were in fact nothing more than serfs, who didn't even own the bed they slept in, much less anything that resembled hard currency. Most of their transactions were in the manner of banter - exchanging goods or services, for other goods or services.

    At this point in history cities still weren't a significant force in the world's economy. Citizens in fact had status similar to serfs and weren't allowed to own land, which made them dependent on the nobility to provide foodstuffs and raw materials for goods such as leather (cow hides), candles (tallow), or clothing (wool). The formation of guilds began to change that - the power they eventually wielded was one of the forces which led to the recognition of city dwellers as a separate social class, which in turn was one of the contributing factors to the start of the Reneissance, which ironically enough turned around and brought the "craft secrets stay within the guild" mindset down with a crash.

    But let's get back on topic. As it is possible to derive from the above, the only significant economic force of the time was the ownership of land. This not only bespoke of your social status (noble or churchman) but also provided goods from rents or tithes, which could be sold to support an extravagant (for the time) lifestyle - meat on the table at least once a week, more than one set of clothes, furniture that didn't drive splinters into your behind, etc.

    This socioeconomic setting more or less forced the enterprising peasant (who, I might add was often legally tied to the land he worked on - see serfdom, above) to be a jack of all trades - since he had no way to pay for what he needed, he had to make it himself, be it clothes, furniture, dishware, baskets, or even his house. The few times when he was forced to seek out another craftsman, it was when he needed goods that required specialist knowledge and at least a minimal amount of infrastructure to create - such as when his scythe required mending, or he needed a few nails, in which case he trekked down to the nearest smithy.

    To further drive the poor peasant into the ground, in certain kingdoms nobles still followed the idea of specializing their villages in one trade in particular. So people in this hamlet made baskets exclusively, while in the one behind the forest, everyone practiced apiculture. The nobles took what their villages made, and sometimes even redistributed some of it so that everyone had a basket or a few candles. Apparently this system even worked, for a time.

    I could go on, but I think you see what I'm getting at... The point is, D&D and real world economy don't mix. I do not intend to sound harsh, but if you want an economy, you first have to give us a society this economy could be applied to. Making it "like Medieval Europe but with magic on top" will simply not work.
    Last edited by Maxymiuk; 2007-03-07 at 01:05 AM.

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    Dwarf in the Playground
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    Default Re: Build Me An Economy! (General Challenge)

    Quote Originally Posted by Dervag View Post
    And thus trade guilds are born.

    Guilds were originally a sort of capital trust. Because it was hard to train skilled craftsmen and hard to import more, the small number of craftsmen in a given area could exercise a lot of power over the prices and conditions of their service.
    Which leads to a cartel. Cartels are like inefficient monopolies. Meaning that supply and demand market forces are skewed. Demand is fixed but Supply is dependent on the guilds. The guilds have the power to set the supply and the market price (these are intimately tied). The more they make, the less money they can make per unit (barring price discrimination which wouldn't likely stand since the people most able to pay higher costs tend to be nobles who wield more political power than the guilds). So it reach a point where they will reach a point where to make any more or less than current product, the monopolists will lose money. The problem (from the guilds view) is cheating. If one craftman in the guild makes even one more unit than the monopolist would, he can get more money, but if everyone did that, the selling price of their goods would rapidly drop till it reached the minimum cost to produce it. If I had more free time, I'd import some graphs to show these things.

    All this means that the guild first has to find the monopolist supply (not an easy task without modern mathematics) but they should be able to come up with a rough estimate from just knowing the area and it's people. Then they have to agree on how to divide up their business amongst each other (most likely either equally among all members or weighted to give seniority more business).

    Then they'd need a way to enforce it, if all the members of a guild had close ties (the blacksmiths all have the last name Smith because their family are the only blacksmiths around), then norms would be enough to enforce the rules. If it required getting in bed with the local rulers or organized crime (metaphorically speaking), the cost of business would go up which would eat up everyone's profits. The latter scenario is more likely given the materialist nature of most guilds and the Prisoner's Dilemna (look it up, too lengthy to explain here).

    So what is this price? Well it depends on the cost of producing said goods (fairly easy to estimate), the demand for the goods (not so easy to estimate), and the sophistication of the guild enforcement mechanisms (very difficult to extrapolate costs from). Note if only one person in a locale has a certain craft, then they can set the monopolist price, though if business is lucrative for him, he's apt to attract competitors, even in a mercantile system like medieval Europe, so he'd need someway to deter market entry. Perhaps a wizard is cornering potion sales by threatening any would be potion makers with bat guano.

    I can keep going, I'm an unemployed Economics degree holder.
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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Build Me An Economy! (General Challenge)

    Ok, so I read my previous post, and decided to follow it with something more constructive.

    Let's start with the obvious. What is the Basic Monetary Unit (BMU) in your world? Let's not worry about various currencies (they exist but coins have a more or less equal weight and size, which makes them an acceptable medium of exchange anywhere) or barter systems (assume we don't have serfs - unless as a plot point - and everyone has a source of income). Standard D&D treats the gold piece as the BMU, but then it makes the mistake of one one hand still pretending that peasants mostly deal with copper pieces, and on the other making heroes who at the end of their careers walk around wearing what amounts to the yearly spending budget of a fairly large kingdom. Clearly, this is unreconcileable when attempting an economy that has at least a semblance of plausibility.

    One solution would be to make the amount of money floating around more plausible and less economy crashing. The BMU becomes the silver piece - 90% of the population never even sees a gold piece (much less a platinum) in their entire lives, and even silver is hard to come by for an average peasant. What follows is a downward shift in prices. Now we're looking at a loaf of bread costing 1cp (or even a ha'penny), and a hunk of cheese going for no more than 2-3cp. A sword will go for maybe 5gp - still expensive for your average citizen, but much more affordable for your average noble looking to equip his guards. Armor will depend a) on how advanced the industry is and b) what you want to do with it.
    For example, historically, only the nobles could afford a full suit of plate made to order, since it represented quality work by a master armorer and a degree of protection vastly superior to anything else available on the field of battle - it was not uncommon for a noble to have to put himself in debt, or sell one or two of his villages in order to afford such armor. In terms of D&D, this superiority is represented by a +1 to AC and a potential +1 from Dexterity the armor one step lower on the list. This does not justify a 150% leap in price in respect to half plate. Hmm... we could settle for about 5-10gp for a piecemeal leather vest from your local tannery, to 500gp for a suit of plate - this is assuming you want to keep social status as part of a game where your players come from the lower stratas of society and won't even be able to afford a suit of chainmail, much less anything more expensive.
    Inserting magic into this particular setting will be tricky, as it has much potential for unbalancing things. To begin with, I suggest pruning the spell lists for any permanent creation spells and putting tight restrictions on item creation feats - maybe make a Magecrafter PrC with a high level entry prerequisite and make them as rare as the Three-Horned Wildebeast.

    At this point I'll reiterate that D&D in its current for is not conductive to creating a viable economy. Characters of a certain level are supposed to have a certain amount of money for a certain amount of equipment, otherwise they will suck mightily against the various monsters they encounter in their career. One solution would be to chuck the monsters and make it an all-playable race campaign, but that still doesn't account for the fact that while BAB progresses, AC stays firmlly in place.

    And at this point my brain shut down. More later, once I've had breakfast.

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    Default Re: Build Me An Economy! (General Challenge)

    Quote Originally Posted by Maxymiuk View Post

    I could go on, but I think you see what I'm getting at... The point is, D&D and real world economy don't mix. I do not intend to sound harsh, but if you want an economy, you first have to give us a society this economy could be applied to. Making it "like Medieval Europe but with magic on top" will simply not work.
    I've toyed with this thought more than a few times. Medieval economies fall under Malthusian economics. Wealth is tied to the land. Wealth increases as agriculture methods increase or more land becomes arable. The surplus of food means that more people can specialize which creates more luxury goods. Problem is, shortly after agriculture yields go up, the population goes up too and most/all of the would-be surplus is eaten. I've been mulling this over and how it stacks with a +1 sword costs 500 gp without putting the actual masterwork cost in there. How can you even spend that much gold when there is hardly any market to accept that much wealth. You see in D&D, wealth is tied to two things, land and magic.

    What are the 500 gp spent on? Ritual sacrifices to summon spirits into the sword? More magical items take rare (or at least uncommon) components. Here's what I figure, even potions and scrolls cost a pretty penny. So do spell books, many spell components, and things that are required for PC classes to have "level appropriate" stuff is not cheap either. I figure this could sustain a middle class. Not as big as we have now of course but far bigger than the real world medieval era. The DMG has what 94% commoners. That's probably 5 to 5 and a half percentage points fewer than the European feudal societies have. So a "typical" D&D world has a suitable middle class in place, just put a fair number of experts in things like herbalist (for cultivating rare plants for potions ingredients) and the like. After you've gone this far. I delved deeper and got hamstringed by the sheer scope of what I was trying to do. You've seen my first post, my time is worth very little. Yet after tackling this very challenge for my own gratification a few months ago, I came full circle after fleshing out my PC class supporter-based middle class and decided that the market could create what's in the book with little problem.

    Here are my few minor changes:

    1) there is a larger and somewhat more powerful middle class. Not only does it cater to PC classes (not just adventurers) but most PC classed NPCs would likely come from this strata of society and marry into it (though the minority of PC classes who adventures tends to hook up with nobility, other adventurers, or they have whirlwind romances with human-like monsters to create various bloodlines and half-templates). This would likely give them a little bit of political power to not get stepped on, but not enough to seriously challenge the nobility (see three).

    2) to make magical item creation, more interesting and (slightly) more plausible, I made a house rule on exotic components. If you find and incorporate a exotic component, double the value of that component counts towards the creation of the item. This also applies to rare services (though I admittedly have to wing the gp value) such as having a weapon forged by dragon fire or blessed by unicorn. Yay side quests. The rest of the miscellaneous components that make up the prodigious cost of magic weapons is gathered painstakingly by the magical sector of the economy (aka my new middle class).

    3) There are many posts talking about the value of PC classes in armies. The usual obstacle towards stocking up on PC classes is the confusion between PC classes and Player controlled characters. In other words, adventurers are so independent they wouldn't take orders from a noble. Hence the creation of the Weekend Wizard. I've read a couple discussions calculating that x percentage of the population has the intelligence to become a wizard. That may be true but it assumes willingness to learn magic and access to the expensive resources required. Some of my D&D governments have programs in place to facilitate training for PC classes (usually wizards but nearly any class could do). In exchange for a tuition scholarship. They owe their government a set period of time of service (three years seems like I good number) then periodic action equivalent to "one weekend a month, two weeks a year" like the actual army reserves. Duties would vary based on the state of war or lack there of for the sponsoring state and the abilities of the Weekend Wizard. A diviner may serve as a check point across a border checking for contraband (polymorphed demons, cursed items, etc) and serving as a translator if your world doesn't have Common. An invoker could serve an enforcer capacity, a transmuter could help building projects, an abjurer could make potions for paranoid nobles, the skies the limit. Again you'd probably have to be a member of the middle class to qualify for the "government scholarship." Marxist prestige class anyone?

    "The PC classes are hording all the wealth away from the prolitariat and defending their status with mystical violence. You are not merely a chunk of exp or monster food! You deserve an equal share....."

    4) the lower classes have a tiny iota more spending power and prosperity than their real world counterparts. They might get 5-10 sp a month or so to spend on things they didn't produce themeselves (though the sp would represented in terms of barter goods) Even a single benevolent cleric could give her services to a fairly wide rural population if she never adventurered. Even a cure minor wounds spell could prevent infant mortality or death during childbirth. If rural familes aren't required to have absolutely as many children as humanly possible, they needn't be quite so destitute. I included number four last for a reason. While friendly PC classes could raise the general standard of living in an area, marauding goblins, evil PC classes, and the various other things adventurers kill for exp could cancel that effect whenever they go about their villainous routines pillaging the countryside.

    Anyhow, my three changes are just a way of illustrated, the consequences of me trying to come up with an economic system just fleshed out enough to allow me to suspend my disbelief but not enough to hamstring playability or force me to change the market price of magical items (or of every single product and service in the DMG).

    As a friend pointed out to me. By definition, the market price can't be wrong because it's what the invisible hand determined.
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    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: Build Me An Economy! (General Challenge)

    Most of their transactions were in the manner of banter - exchanging goods or services, for other goods or services.
    Thank you so much. Far be it from me to tease someone for misspelling, but I about snorted my soup reading that at work and spent the next 5 minutes imagining an economic system based on banter. Suddenly bards were the most prolific and powerful producers of wealth in the world! Government by quip!

    Hehe sorry to get off topic, but I thoroughly enjoyed that.
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    Logic Ninja : Oh my god that was beautiful. Man. I... wow. This thread can be locked now, Wehrkind won it. Here
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    Default Re: Build Me An Economy! (General Challenge)

    Quote Originally Posted by Maxymiuk View Post
    Making it "like Medieval Europe but with magic on top" will simply not work.
    So very true. Just take one example - moving goods around in the middle ages: you really had only two options - land animal transport (eg carvans etc) or boat. Add magic and magical beasts and the options of flying, teleporting etc must be taken into account. These are safer, faster, and more importantly, generally only available to those with magical power. How would traditional merchants compete with a wizard's guild bringing spices from the other side of the world via teleportation circles and bags of holding?

    In a magical world, Wizards win at everything, not just combat.

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    Default Re: Build Me An Economy! (General Challenge)

    In my campaign world I added a huge series of spells related to agriculture, fishing, hunting, and animal husbandry. Going all the way from zero level spells (such as Fowl Blessing, which makes a single chicken produce 3 times as many eggs for life), to 8th level spells such as "Ultimate Blessing of Agriculture" which I will simply detail below.

    There is a wide range of these spells and they are used in one form or another pretty much anywhere that has spellcasters. Only the absolute highest of these spells have costly material components or XP cost.

    Using spells like these (which would certainly be developed), allows you to seriously cut down on the number of dirt peasants, and in general raise everyone's quality of life.

    Blessing of Agriculture, Ultimate

    Abjuration
    Level: Drd 7, Clr 8 Sor/Wiz 7
    Components: V, S, M
    Casting Time: 1 hour
    Range: Close (25 ft. + 5 ft./2 levels)
    Targets: 10 square miles of land per caster level
    Duration: 1 year per level of caster
    Saving Throw: None
    Spell Resistance: No

    The Greater Blessing of Agriculture spell completely wards the affected land from harmful insects and all variety of plant diseases. It keeps all mammals, reptiles, and birds with an intelligence of three or less from eating any cultivated crops out of fields within the area of effect of the spell.

    In addition the spell also mildly changes the weather in the spells area of effect, constantly keeping the temperature 8 degrees closer to the ideal temperature for whichever form of plantlife is most abundant, and it also increases or decreases the daily chance of rain by up to 20 percent (whichever the local plantlife needs most at the time).

    The spell also enriches the soil of the area, giving plants far more nutrition than usual.

    In game terms those changes will cause the farming output to be seven times normal of any area this spell is kept up on, provided the spell is kept active throughout the entire growing season.

    This spell does not keep out giant insects, magical beasts, or magical insects. This spell is powerful enough to cause rain to fall in areas where it normally does not, and makes enough of a change that it can be used to grow plants well outside of their normal climate zone.

    XP Cost: 1000 Experience

    Material Component

    A large ornately carved wagon full of fruits and vegetables worth no less than 1000 gold pieces that is set aflame at the end of the spells casting.
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    Default Re: Build Me An Economy! (General Challenge)

    Quote Originally Posted by Wehrkind View Post
    Thank you so much. Far be it from me to tease someone for misspelling, but I about snorted my soup reading that at work and spent the next 5 minutes imagining an economic system based on banter. Suddenly bards were the most prolific and powerful producers of wealth in the world! Government by quip!

    Hehe sorry to get off topic, but I thoroughly enjoyed that.

    ... crap.

    Well, a day when you (nearly) make someone snort stuff through their nose is not a day that's gone to waste.

    Moving right along.

    Now that I had some time to think about it, read The Economicon and think about it some more, I can share my thoughts with the rest of these boards (your mileage may vary).

    Quote Originally Posted by Scalenex View Post
    I delved deeper and got hamstringed by the sheer scope of what I was trying to do.
    I came to more or less the same conclusion. You can construct an economic model, and you can even make some parts of it work (for a time) but in essence you can't create an actual economy, since the term itself describes an ongoing process in a living breathing world. I've seen economics being compared to voodoo magic, but in my mind it's a working example of the Chaos Theory - a system which has its own patterns that you can more or less follow, but never predict due to the fact that you simply can't account for all the variables.
    In that light, creating an actual economy for a mental construct that is D&D is not unakin to trying to create life by simply assembling a human body from raw components (cue the Frankenstein jokes). Therefore, at best we can hope for a model that doesn't break immersion with constant glaring inconsistencies.

    Quote Originally Posted by Scalenex View Post
    What are the 500 gp spent on? Ritual sacrifices to summon spirits into the sword?
    For me, here lies the crux of the problem. D&D, by the virtue of being a roleplaying system operates on two levels: the roleplaying part, where you immerse yourself into an imaginary world, pretending to be a hero doing great deeds and getting cool stuff in exchange, and the mechanical part which is supposed to facilitate the immersion process without devolving the game into a Cops and Robbers scenario ("I shot you!" "No, I shot you first!" "I shot you both so shut up!"). However, as Reltzik astutely points out, when it comes to economics (and numerous other features, but discussion of those is for another thread) D&D doesn't live up to the task, which results in breaking said immersion. A point by point analysis follows.

    #1 So why is magic so expensive?
    Mechanical Standpoint: The D&D Level/Hit Dice progression system is intrinsically tied to the Experience Point system, the Challenge Rating system, and (what concerns us the most) the Wealth By Level system. In order to stay competitive in the modern monster-eat-adventurer world, your average Cedric the Dragonslayer simply needs to have a certain amount of oomph derived from his enchanted possesions. Otherwise he will quickly gain the monicker Cedric the Lunch (to somewhat later be replaced by Cedric the Painful Bowel Movement, to later... you get the point). The problem arises where our dear Cedric gets his grubby little hands on a +5 Dragonsbane Greatsword of Fire Immunity at Level 1 and upstages the rest of the party until someone stabs him in his sleep. Clearly, if WotC is to sell any more supplements, they can't afford customers disgruntled with dead characters.
    Thus the WBL system was created and the GM put in charge of keeping an eye on it. And since the WotC in their infinite wisdom recognized that the Cedrics of the world would not be above mugging random NPC's in order to afford their next big purchase, they made magic hellishly expensive. Therefore in order to purchase his new +4 Mithral Fullplate of Heavy Fortification, Cedric has to go out and mug a dragon (which amounts to having an adventure - convienient, no?). But since without the aforementioned greatsword he can't take on a dragon, he first has to go out and mug some goblins in order to afford a better piece of equipment that will enable him to mug an even more powerful creature, and ad infinitum until he can finally take on the dragon he was after. And since the clever Cedric could, and would settle for mugging the same type of monster repeatedly, the magic became priced exponentially, thus simply making it less cost-effective (and boring) to repeatedly go after the same opponent.
    Economic Standpoint: Cedric aside, explaining an exponential progression of pricing on an otherwise linear progression of gained advantages isn't hard to explain. An OK car will cost you $20-30K and you can reasonably expect to get 120-150MPH out of it if you don't mind the local law enforcement. A very good car will get you 200-250MPH at $100K and up. A racing car that can pull 300MPH or more is going to cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars, plus what you're going to spend on tires, replacement parts, special fuel and oil mixtures, etc. (Before any car buff starts correcting me, I'm giving you approximate figures only, so unless I'm way off the mark, hush ) Optimistically, you're looking at doubling, maybe tripling your performace at the expense of multiplying your costs several dozen times. Past that you're into experimental territory where developing new lightweight alloys and creating functional prototypes will push your budget into millions.
    Roleplaying Standpoint: The very idea that you can go into a wizard's shop and order a sword made to your exact specifications somehow... cheapens the effect magic should otherwise have. The one saving grace here is, ironically enough, that magic is prohibitively expensive, but that once again raises the question of where that wheelbarrow of gold you just deposited as the first down payment for your new shiny ring goes. Obviously the wizard has to obtain whatever rare materials he needs to enchant the ring... but the DMG rather explicitly states that if you make the item yourself, the materials will cost you half the market price of the item itself.
    Oops.
    Obviously then, crafter wizards need all this surplus wealth to pursue their esoteric arcane research, research and cast new spells, bind outsiders to their will, etc, or, barring that, pay their rent, build pleasure palaces, and enjoy life to the fullest.
    Except that they mostly spend weeks on end cooped up in the workshop, enchanting another hunk of metal for a rich adventurer.
    Double oops.
    Of course, no one said humans are the most logical of creatures. Just look at the corporate ladder generation: they have big houses with pools, several expensive cars, and a trophy wife... but no time to enjoy any of that, since they're busy working on their next Powerpoint on why they should be made Section Manager.
    Bottom Line: The prices set upon magic insofar as item creation goes, make sense from the mechanical, economic, and (tentatively) roleplaying standpoint. Insofar as magic item creation goes, that is. We'll examine at how this measures up against the mundane economy soon, but first let's take a look at material components.

    #2 The World Market Conspiracy
    Mechanical Standpoint: Animating a corpse costs you an onyx gem worth at least 25gp. True Resurrection will require a diamond worth at least 5000gp. No issue is made of the shape, cut, polish, presence or absence of flaws, or even origins. While coming up with caveats such as that the onyx has to come from the mines of Zhuul, or that the diamond can only be obtained by disemboweling (figuratively speaking) a 24HD Earth Elemental would uphold the idea of magic as something rare and wondorous, players don't want to go on a quest to be able to cast a Level 3 spell. They do want to cast the damned spell however. Therefore we have a nice, streamlined process of assigning an arbitrary worth to a given component and not worrying about the niggling little details. This is a game and it's supposed to be fun, end of story.
    Likewise, by assigning an even minimal cost to a given spell, does ensure that Cedric the Wizard will not spam it at every opportunity, since this course of action would ensure him not being able to afford the Celestial Pegasus mount he had set his sights on.
    Economic Standpoint: You could say that the law of supply and demand has nothing on D&D, since the rules neatly sidestep the whole issue by using the key phrase "worth." Namely, if you paid 5000gp for a diamond the size of a marble in Portsburg, and then journeyed across the continent, to the diamond mines of Maranga where you bought a diamond the size of a fist for 5000gp, both gems are still "worth" 5000gp and are both equally viable components for a True Resurrection spell. Right?
    Because having the marble diamond work only in Portsburg, and the fist diamong work anywhere (worth at least) would make no sense, right?
    At this point some people are waving their arms and yelling "This is magic! Don't argue! A wizard did it! ZOMG!" Ladies and gentlemen, to you I present:

    The Maxymiuk Fallacy

    "The Wizard did it" is not a valid excuse for logical inconsistencies in D&D mechanics unless it also explains how the wizard did it.


    Roleplaying Standpoint: This brings us rather neatly to the following question: Is there, therefore, some kind of higher power or, heavens forbid, a conspiracy behind market prices on spell components? Can this all be explained by some form of Celestial Bureaucracy which asseses the diamond you purchased as "good enough" to fulfill the spell's requirement? Or is this a case of "magic works because you believe in it" as presented in certain works of literature?
    Bottom Line: Already this line of reasoning is encountering weak spots in D&D's structure (big surprise?). To summarise, while the mechanical reasons behind the concept of material components are sound, the economic and roleplaying sides don't hold up to close scrutiny, and neither do they provide immediate solutions to this problem. But hey, even more fun awaits us once we crashland mundane economics into the argument.

    #3 The Gold Piece Supremacy
    Mechanical Standpoint: To put it in the simplest terms possible, mundane economy is an afterthought in D&D which started out as a system centered almost exclusively around exploring dungeons and killing monsters. The old school adventurer lived in a world devoid of anything other than dungeons he popped into existence at the entrance, and hoped to live until he reached the treasure chest at the end. He didn't need anything aside from weapons, armor, magic rings, and a torch that had a cost so miniscule that it could be handwaved in.
    But then 2nd ed. came along and suddenly there was a whole world to explore. The new adventurer suddenly had to cope with distances hundreds of times of what he was used to, an actual day/night cycle, and people who'd want to buy the treasures he plundered from yonder dungeon (or stab him in his sleep and take them). He needed transport. He needed food. He needed a secure place to sleep. Above all, he needed to immerse himself in this brave new world.
    Which meant that he had to pay for all of the above.
    Most of us already know the jokes about adventuring gear, so I won't restate them here. And to be frank, once a character is past level 5 or so he should have enough money not to worry about how much a 10ft. pole costs, or what's the value of a loaf of bread, as prices on mundane gear don't hold a candle (1cp) to what it costs to get your typical +1 sword. So unless you are a level 1 adventurer, mundane gear is nothing more than the aforementioned afterthought. The fact that in D&D 3.5 the issue still isn't fixed, seems to indicate that WotC doesn't really consider it an issue and, for the most part, they're right.
    Economic Standpoint: There are four recognized units of currency in D&D: the platinum piece, the gold piece, the silver piece, and the copper piece. 90% of prices you'll ever see will be stated in gold pieces. Platinum pieces are something you carry around so that you don't break your horse's back with sacks of gold. Silver and copper pieces don't come up unless you're dealing with mundane gear or tipping a hobo.
    If you look through the core books, you'll notice that there are no stated prices for produce, furniture, buying land, buying, or even renting a house. What we get are various mounts and beasts of burden, adventuring gear, inn rental, and alcohol price lists.
    Yes, you got it. Those are things relevant for an adventurer who doesn't care about this year's price on turnips, or how much a chair costs. In fact, the only time he used a chair was in a tavern brawl when he broke it over that half-orc's head. Adventurer's shouldn't care about those things. What they do care about is how much that Flaming enchantment on their axe is going to cost. In that way, an adventuer is part of an entire social subculture with specific interests, not unakin to those of us who over the years spend hundreds of local currency units on things such as miniatures, little plastic models of aircraft, paints, books, computer games, or even D&D splatbooks...
    Adventuring gear, therefore, belongs to the same category as magic items: stuff clever salesmen foist off on sword-swinging rubes (casters have spells to simulate almost every item on the list of adventuring gear) for as much as they can get away with. Which easily explains the wildly inappropriate costs, and since your typical adventurer is bored with anything that doesn't involve killing monsters and taking their stuff, it also explains why the salesmen keep getting away with it.
    Roleplaying Standpoint: This rather neatly relegates everything not related to adventuring to the background - it's not important, so don't bother yourself about it.
    Still, players are people too, and people get creative. These days, your typical adventurer doesn't want to spend all his time carting gold from dungeons to cities and bigger weapons from cities to dungeons. He wants immersion. He wants the world to be alive. Therefore shunting economical issues towards the back of the shelf no longer has a valid excuse since it's no longer facilitating the immersion process. The very least the core books could have would be a breakdown of income for typical jobs such as can be found in practically every other RPG currently on the market, as well as at least a rudimentary economical model that explains how a commoner can survive on such income.
    Bottom Line: Within the realm of adventuring, D&D's economic model makes sense. It's once we leave this cozy context that things begin making little to no sense. To put it bluntly, the D&D model is outdated and in a serious need of an overhaul if you ever expect to do anything more during the game than raid dungeons.


    And that, as they say, is that. Perhaps I didn't create a new economy, as per Reltzik's request, but I did try my best to explain my understanding of how the current system works (and why), as well as where it breaks down when conflicted with a modern player's mindset. I claim no advanced knowledge in economic theory, as Scalenex does, and neither do I pretend to know what went through the mind of Mr. Gygax when he created the system - I can only try to make a convincing argument based on what I do know. And as usual as when I engage in a prolonged rant, I reserve the right to be completely wrong on some accounts, as well as inviting anyone to disagree. From arguments ideas are born.
    Last edited by Maxymiuk; 2007-03-07 at 07:29 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maxymiuk View Post
    To begin with economy, I believe we first need to model the society that will be using it.
    I believe that the two are so linked that I could not provide one without creating the other. Economy dictates society. Society dictates economy. Thus, we need invent both.

    ... well, we don't NEED to. This is more a cross between a hobby and OCD.

    Quote Originally Posted by Maxymiuk View Post
    What is the Basic Monetary Unit (BMU) in your world?

    [snip]

    Inserting magic into this particular setting will be tricky, as it has much potential for unbalancing things. To begin with, I suggest pruning the spell lists for any permanent creation spells and putting tight restrictions on item creation feats - maybe make a Magecrafter PrC with a high level entry prerequisite and make them as rare as the Three-Horned Wildebeast.

    Characters of a certain level are supposed to have a certain amount of money for a certain amount of equipment, otherwise they will suck mightily against the various monsters they encounter in their career.
    The true value of coinage is dependent on the supplies of the various precious metals, the difficulties of minting them, and a host of issues regarding the authority which mints them. It also helps if the coins are suitably shiny and impressive. But these are PART of the economy.

    So instead, let's talk in terms of Credits. Credits will be an abstract evaluation of worth, of which the members of the society we are examining are completely ignorant, but which, if they WERE aware of, they would treat like current monetary units. Let's assume a fixed money supply of 1k Credits per individual, meaning that if the average worth of a population goes up, the number of Credits remain fixed but the value of each Credit, compared to various goods (and currencies), also goes up. Naturally, they won't all have 1k; it'll clump around the wealthy and powerful.

    Now, as for magic. I'm not for pruning the spell list. The challenge here is to figure out how the spell list (and other aspects of DnD) can fit into an economy. In particular, the value of each spell as a service should be established. If some spells are particularly valuable, that produces some interesting economic features -- such as prohibitive pricing, the limited supply of casters, the demand for more casters, the view of casters as a plutocratic cast which must be cast down by the proletariat, et cetera. If another spell of the same level is not as powerful, it still exists, but no one's interested in learning it, save for a few collectors. Or, on the other hand, you may have wizards guarding the valuable spells from their apprentices, or each other, extra-jealously, producing an even more limited supply. ALL of this serves to reduce the impact of various spells on the world economy, because there just aren't enough to go around. (It's sorcerors that break the system, with power for free. Kinda explains why there's this incipient hatred towards them.)

    The wealth by level guidelines? Ignore them! People get whatever they grab... though the higher-level individuals will, undoubtedly, be more capable at the grabbing. Elite classes can't take on dragons without the right equipment? Well, then, they can't take on dragons. They're underpowered and suck mightily? Well, then, they're underpowered and suck mightily. Dragons win and rule the world.

    Quote Originally Posted by Scalenex View Post
    I've been mulling this over and how it stacks with a +1 sword costs 500 gp without putting the actual masterwork cost in there. How can you even spend that much gold when there is hardly any market to accept that much wealth. You see in D&D, wealth is tied to two things, land and magic.

    [sniparoony]

    Anyhow, my three changes are just a way of illustrated, the consequences of me trying to come up with an economic system just fleshed out enough to allow me to suspend my disbelief but not enough to hamstring playability or force me to change the market price of magical items (or of every single product and service in the DMG).

    As a friend pointed out to me. By definition, the market price can't be wrong because it's what the invisible hand determined.
    But does that work out? What percentage of the population are casters, and how powerful? What percentage is sufficeint to support that middle class?

    And that hand? It isn't invisible. It's Monty Cook's hand, and it needs a manicure.

    Quote Originally Posted by Subotei View Post
    So very true. Just take one example - moving goods around in the middle ages: you really had only two options - land animal transport (eg carvans etc) or boat. Add magic and magical beasts and the options of flying, teleporting etc must be taken into account. These are safer, faster, and more importantly, generally only available to those with magical power. How would traditional merchants compete with a wizard's guild bringing spices from the other side of the world via teleportation circles and bags of holding?

    In a magical world, Wizards win at everything, not just combat.
    Bags of holding are expensive. Teleportation requires a mid-level caster, which could be pretty rare. These factors alone will REALLY drive up the expense of such methods, limiting their impact on the world. They'll have some impact, though.

    The true challenge is creating a system where this is all accounted for.

    Quote Originally Posted by paigeoliver View Post
    In my campaign world I added a huge series of spells related to agriculture, fishing, hunting, and animal husbandry. Going all the way from zero level spells (such as Fowl Blessing, which makes a single chicken produce 3 times as many eggs for life), to 8th level spells such as "Ultimate Blessing of Agriculture" which I will simply detail below.

    [snip]
    Well, that raises the question of how many casters capable of casting level 8 spells are handy to go around blessing crops, and what they'd rather be doing with their time, and just how much of a fee it takes to tempt them to bless crops rather than do what they'd rather be doing.

    Quote Originally Posted by Maxymiuk View Post

    [Sniiiiiip]
    Holy Crapole, I was joking about that OCD part!

    Okay, a few thoughts. First, the value of spell-casting components MIGHT vary with location. One possibility is that the diamond is bartered with the local spirits for power. Near a diamond mine, with lots of gem cutters, it'll take a very fancy gem to tempt the local spirits. Far away from such centers, though, the spirits are more impressed.

    But yes, providing more detail to spells like these (and to the creation costs of magic items) is something we need to do... not just here in the thread, but also as DMs.

    Wonderful insights, though.

    Oh, and since someone brought it up -- my economics background is limited to a high-school class. However, I've got a degree in CS and a minor and almost-degree in math. So while I might not understand economic systems in particular, I understand systems in general... especially how they do or do not break.
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    Default Re: Build Me An Economy! (General Challenge)

    As a friend pointed out to me. By definition, the market price can't be wrong because it's what the invisible hand determined.
    (Emphasis mine)

    Sorry to get (wildly) off topic, but the "invisible hand" is essentially economic theory's equivalent of handwavium. There's little to no explanation of how it works, though it's used as the basis for most of Neoclassical theory. It's simply assumed that these nebulous "market forces" ensure that supply goes where it's most wanted. It's something that's bothered me for a little while as an economics student.

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    Default Re: Build Me An Economy! (General Challenge)

    Bags of holding are expensive. Teleportation requires a mid-level caster, which could be pretty rare. These factors alone will REALLY drive up the expense of such methods, limiting their impact on the world. They'll have some impact, though.
    Not if you factor in the costs of doing business for a merchant caravan, - animals, men, guards, provisions, taxes, duties on good from the countries you pass through (nicely avoided by teleporting) insurance against losses etc etc. Also a bag of holding is a once-only purchace - horses, carts etc wear out. Magical guilds would eventually dominate trade in any magical world, simply due to the low overheads and speed of the methods they can use. I suppose you could limit them via background/cultural rules etc in a campaign setting, but RAW-wise they would own all long distance trading.

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    One of the other major impacts on trade is going to be the location of marketplaces, which are going to be based on trade routes, which are impacted by sociopolitical conditions.

    For example, territory A is a socialist dictatorship who has huge taxes and fees which are crippling to anyone who tries to import goods into his country. Trade routes would tend to avoid that area, furthermore would avoid the area because his soldiers tend to be somewhat corrupt and tend to take whatever catches their eyes. Therefore, the only marketplaces in his realm would be local ones wherein only local goods could be found.

    As another example, territory B is a free market monarchy who has a ruler that has a fine appreciation for business. Import taxes and tarriffs are held low to encourage importing of foreign goods. There would likely be at least one major trade route going to the place of highest population density and/or political center (namely the capital), and quite possibly secondary marketplaces wherein other traderoutes intersect in his realm, which is encouraged due to low taxes and tarriffs. Such marketplaces might have goods which are not local, and it is even possible to have exotic goods from places around the world.

    Population wealth, density, and political factors are likely three very important stresses in determining trade routes. High population density but low wealth (slums) are not nearly as likely to attract a trade route as a medium population density of high wealth (royal court) would.

    Furthermore, these same factors will influence the price of aforementioned goods. Low taxes and tarriffs mean lower overhead which means the merchant can sell the same good at a lower price and still maintain the same profit margin. This will then be impacted by all the territories in the area. For example, merchants who have to go through the nation in example A to get to the nation in example B would have to charge higher rates if they cannot get around the first nation. This would lead to trade routes circumventing entire political areas, which might bring them into hazardous areas and increasing expenses such as extra caravan guards and losses from banditry.
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    My knowledge is a lot more indirect than the previous posters, but here's my 2 copper pieces(un-adjusted for inflation).

    Any comparisons to European history are going to depend a lot on the society/culture in use in a given campaign. The most basic question is food production/surplus. In a land-based economy, every person who is not a farmer must live off the excess production of the farmers. Until the late middle ages, this was a pretty limited percentage, especially considering that nobility and clergy claimed a good chunk of that. As others have said much better than I can, to support adventurers and give more interesting things than just farmers everywhere, you assume a good surplus crop production.

    Having surplus crops also allows cities to exist- fed by the surrounding farmlands. Cities, and their denser populations, allows cooperation and exchange of knowledge between professionals. The village blacksmith probably only learned from one master, and it is quite possible he would not have picked up every trick his predecessor knew. With more than one tradesman of a profession available, trained apprentices can be sent off as journeymen to work under and learn from an additional person(questing?). Having more than one apprentice also means it is more likely that skills and knowledge will be preserved and passed on.

    Guilds controlled their respective crafts carefully, because the most important and scare resource they had was experience. Assume that training under a more experienced/higher level individual in any trade offers a benefit of some form. Some 2nd Edition rules required training to convert experience to a new character level. Other systems offer a bonus to gaining experience(guidance to avoid common mistakes). Or could look at it as d20 CR system- a low level apprentice working with a higher level character on a challenge higher than the apprentice could hope to accomplish on his own would get a bigger relative benefit than the higher level character. Consider the time cost if wizards had to research every spell from scratch.

    Transportation. Feudalism assumes everyone stays put- most peasants never go further than one day's travel away. To have cities implies crops can be delivered, sold at market, and eaten before they spoil. Cities grow on trade routes, be those roads or rivers or ocean ports. If people don't travel there, people start to leave to where they do go. In the US in the 1800s, towns were risking huge sums of money to fund major transportation construction. Turnpikes, canals, and eventually rail lines. All of these expanded what area their market could cover.

    Exchange rates- is a gold piece equal to a gold piece? Who produces current money? A protectionist king may require foreigners to exchange their money to the local coinage, hoping to protect his tax base and monopolies. How much do you trust foreign coins? If the kingdom is at war with another one, the enemy's currency may be taken as proof of spying. If one king desides to debase his coinage(adding lead and other metals to reduce the amount of gold per coin), he can settle short term debts easily, at a loss of future spending power. Using debased currency could get a lynch mob after you. If the relative values are well known, money changers are going to offer poorer exchange rates. Money changers are going to take a premium for themselves- they are taking the risk that what they hold onto may not be usable for quite a while. Are there penalties for melting down coins, or pressing your own? If so, using the ancient coins dug up from an ancient tomb might get you charged with counterfitting.

    Next- inflation. Good example is the gold rush to California. Huge numbers of people went out to mine gold and try to strike it rich. Small cities doubled and tripled in size in a matter of months. Eggs went from a quarter a dozen to about $10 a piece. The locals- farmers and shop keepers- suddenly got a large amount more business. Unless they could keep supplied, they would run out of their goods very quickly. So they raise their prices. All these miners are digging up gold. So they can afford the higher prices, bringing back the initial problem. So prices climb higher and higher, until only the miners can afford many goods. If adventurers visit a small town with several thousand gold pieces in their pockets, of course the businesses are going to crank up their prices, assuming they decide to accept foreign money.

    Inventory- traditionally non-existant. A large shop may keep around some of the most commonly sold items, but that is taking a risk that they will sit there unsold. They could charge a premium above the normal price to have the item immediately. Generally, you place your order a season or even a year ahead of time, paying most of the cost in advance.

    Magic would fit the same sort of problem. Considering the sheer number of different enchantments and various strengths of those you can put on a weapon, who is going to have exactly what you are looking for in stock? Merchants try to reduce or spread out risk- they invest in the cargos of 10 or 20 ships and caravans. Several are not going to make money or are going to be lost, but the loss is paid for by the profits of the successful ones. Who can afford to purchase your excess +3 Vorpal Longsword of Spleening? If they do, how long is it going to sit there until they find someone willing and able to pay what its worth? Most likely an adventurer will talk to a dealer, and offer the sword. Check back regularly, and maybe he will have found a buyer. Then you have to travel to there, negotiate the price, and finally make the deal, paying a percentage to your dealer as a finder's fee.

    Economic models work by assuming people will do what is best for them. For a fantasy economy to work, people in any job/profession are going to have to make money. If someone comes along and replaces them with a cheaper magical alternative, they either specialize or have to find a new job.

    Sometimes political pressure keeps things from being as efficient as possible- perhaps a merchants cartel has put pressure on the wizards guild to stay out of manufacturing. If they start putting people out of work left and right, it suddenly gets a lot harder to get all those rare ingredients from other lands for their spells and research. Could also have safety and other laws against using magic in general construction. One dispel magic or faulty casting could cause things to fail spectacularly. Or get a few cursed items mixed in. Only experienced, licensed wizards can be used(at an extra premium to the cost).

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    Default Re: Build Me An Economy! (General Challenge)

    One interesting notion-- having magic available to move hard currency around in bulk without risk might well prevent the development of banking. Why trust a banker when you can just teleport the stuff?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sardia View Post
    One interesting notion-- having magic available to move hard currency around in bulk without risk might well prevent the development of banking. Why trust a banker when you can just teleport the stuff?
    Because of extradimensional thieves?

    Quote Originally Posted by Reltzik View Post
    Okay, a few thoughts. First, the value of spell-casting components MIGHT vary with location. One possibility is that the diamond is bartered with the local spirits for power. Near a diamond mine, with lots of gem cutters, it'll take a very fancy gem to tempt the local spirits. Far away from such centers, though, the spirits are more impressed.
    So will that make Spirit Shamans investment advisors?

    But let's get to laying down the groundwork for our economic model. I propose that in the interest of avoiding splatbook headache, we stick to core and SRD, especially in terms of spells available. Agreed?

    We may change this later if anyone objects, but for now I will adopt the credo "Wizards win at D&D" as my guideline and assume we're talking about a world that sees a fair amount of magic done every day. Therefore:

    Step #1: So how many wizards are there?
    The PHB fluff suggests that anyone with the aptitude for it can become a wizard - the only prerequisite is an Intelligence score higher than 10 and a willingness to adopt a poor hit die. Ah, and the desire to spend the next dozen or so years learning to put reality through the wringer. The romantic view suggests the learning process takes place through a mentor-student relationship with frequent fatherly and sometimes vaguely homoerotic overtones. And this would certainly be the case in a low magic setting. A high magic world however demands the presence of institutions of higher learning, where arcane knowledge is thrust upon the enthusiastic multitudes in the hopes that a few of them survive till graduation. What I'm talking about, of course, are universities.
    Now, wizardry is obviously a prestigious career (we'll get to that in a few paragraphs), so there will be plenty of wannabe masters of the arcane who'll achieve student status either through money, connections, patronage, or even raw talent. There will be study sessions, frat parties (pity about the poor Fort save), and explosive pranks. There will be casualties - unavoidable when you put a bunch of hormonally imbalanced adolescents anywhere near the mystical forces that bind the universe together. There will be all the usual school setting drama, that's for sure. And upon graduation, the bright-faced hopefuls will venture into the world... to realize that, much like in our world, while a degree is nice, what really counts is on-the-job experience ("Only 2 level 1 spells and 3 cantrips per day, Mr. Mallory? Not impressive. Not impressive at all"). Which explains why so many wizards fall in with adventurers, at least until they know enough to snag a cozy position in one of the companies and begin their low climb up the promotion ladder.

    Step #2 Wait a minute... companies? What?
    Give me a mid-level wizard and some venture capital, and I can move the world. Give him a few colleagues to help out, and it'll only happen that much faster. The core selection of spells has mostly direct combat applications, but there are enough others to make wizards excel in almost any field they chose. Communication, transport, security, espionage - you name it and the wizard will do it better than his mundane counterpart.
    Of course in the days of yore, when wizards didn't run the economy yet, there were unfriendly people who could hire even less friendly people with big clubs, and an individual wizard does break rather easily. So where else will he look for help, if not with his colleagues? In short, animosities and rivalries were forgotten, alliances were made, a few unfriendly people got turned into toads, and other such things that modern history tends to gloss over.
    And though many did try to resist change at first... well, show me a spice merchant that wouldn't want to know whether his ship reached port safely, sold its cargo, and for how much, on the day it happened. Or a cattle merchant that could find out that this year's usual cattle market in Dunstin had an outbreak of barbarians, and that he might be better off taking them to Canadra instead. What king financing an expedition to a newly discovered land could afford not to employ someone who will not only provide fair weather during the passage, but also ensure that the subsequent encounters with the natives won't take place at a spear's length, and set up a means of instantaneous transport back and forth after the first voyage? For that matter, what king could pass up on the perfect spy: invisible, inaudible, capable of bypassing the thickest walls and sturdiest locks with but a wave of his hand? And even if he does... his competition might have less scruples and more sense.
    Of course there have to be rules. Otherwise you quickly get rampant magery, aggravated retaliation, spells begin to fly, and everyone's legs start exploding. More importantly, some young yahoo might set up shop across the street and charge lower prices. And we can't have that, can we now?
    So the Council of Twelve Stars was set up to preside over all matters arcane. It set down the rules for acceptable uses of magic, did away with the outmoded (and already falling into misuse) mentorship by setting up universities and writing out guidelines for how to teach magic, and standardized prices and procedures for magical services. Among the latter were rules on opening up a magical business, permits, certificates, safety requirements, and the usual bureaucratic hogwash that nevertheless had the result of giving the largest edge to already existing wizarding companies (still called Circles at the time). Which from then on, needless to say, crushed any possible competition right at the outset.
    In today's world there are several big players in the arcane market, managing to exist peacefully mostly by unspoken agreement to stick to their own area of specialty. The most well known among those are Astral Express - Package Delivered Anywhere in the World Within One Day, Anywhere in the Multiverse Within One Week and Stormlane Communications - a vast conglomerate specializing in information. Not only do they provide fast, reliable, and secure means of communication all over the known world, but they also run several profitable newspaper services.

    Step #3 Everyone wants a piece
    We did mention dragons at some point, didn't we? Ah, but where do winged lizards of vast intelligence, not unimpressive arcane power, and a natural affinity for accumulating wealth figure into the scheme of things? Right at the heart, of course.
    Maybe not sitting on the Council itself, but probably somewhere close. As significant shareholders in wizard companies, certainly. Involved in anything from trade, to arcane research, to the magic black market (What? Surprised? There's certain spells the Council outlaws, and yet there are certain people with deep pockets and a burning desire for some forbidden power), because why not? Most likely employing their own small army of wizards who weren't lucky enough to make it to the Big Leagues. Capable of power plays, schemes, and market manipulations that go on for decades, if not centuries, so that most humans don't even get a chance to catch on? Running banks, perhaps? If there's anything you can trust a dragon with after all, it's that it'll keep a very close eye on gold.
    In fact, that's perfect. Draconic banks (vaults?) it is.

    That's enough for now, I think. I'm only setting the groundwork after all, and I'll just bet someone will notice something crucial I missed, or come up with even better ideas. Let's see what else we can all cook up together, hmm?

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    Default Re: Build Me An Economy! (General Challenge)

    Why trust a banker when you can just teleport the stuff?
    Because teleportation is expensive.

    Per SRD, a 'teleport' spell would cost 9x50 = 450 gp, with a chance of failure.
    Per SRD, a 'greater teleport' spell would cost 13x70 = 910 gp.

    That's an awfully large ATM fee, unless you're talking about a very large transaction.

    On the other hand, when banks move vast sums of money, I'd assume a greater teleport would be involved, instead of some analogue of an armored car.


    Same answer to the conventional transport of goods -- it will definitely make sense to use magic to transport compact, expensive goods. But, hiring a wizard to teleport your grain fifty miles down the river, rather than sticking it on a barge, is a quick way to go bankrupt.

    Think of how the availability of airplane travel has affected the trade in goods by ship and truck -- it changed them, but it will never fully replace them.

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    Default Re: Build Me An Economy! (General Challenge)

    Quote Originally Posted by Variable Arcana View Post
    Because teleportation is expensive.

    Per SRD, a 'teleport' spell would cost 9x50 = 450 gp, with a chance of failure.
    Per SRD, a 'greater teleport' spell would cost 13x70 = 910 gp.

    That's an awfully large ATM fee, unless you're talking about a very large transaction.
    It stands to reason those transactions would be large- if we're talking early commerce, there's not much point in moving small sums anyhow- the cost of shipping it or moving it by caravan would be too high anyhow. And the chance of bandits, pirates, etc, add to the risk of loss by conventional means.
    On the other hand, if you can pay a wizard to make a permanent teleportation circle or two between your major centers of trade, the cost/transport drops dramatically: you can easily make hundreds of transfers in a day with no additional expense.
    Even for a one-off teleport, for moving a set of, say, Bracers of Armor +4, that's less than a six percent charge.

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    Default Re: Build Me An Economy! (General Challenge)

    Quote Originally Posted by Variable Arcana View Post
    Because teleportation is expensive.
    Per SRD, a 'teleport' spell would cost 9x50 = 450 gp, with a chance of failure.
    Per SRD, a 'greater teleport' spell would cost 13x70 = 910 gp.
    Except that once you get hold of a wizard who actually knows those spells, the cost of casting them is... zilch. Neither Teleport nor Greater Teleport have a material component to them. To write them into his spellbook it cost the wizard 1200gp, yes, but after that it costs him nothing to cast them.

    Yes, he will probably want to be compensated for his time. But nowhere does it say that he has to abide by the spell level x caster level rule. In fact, the wizard from the next street over is willing to do it for 100gp per casting. And since he's likely to get many, many more customers, he'll make back the cost of learning those spells in no time at all. And after that it's all pure profit.
    Last edited by Maxymiuk; 2007-03-07 at 03:30 PM.

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    Default Re: Build Me An Economy! (General Challenge)

    Quote Originally Posted by Maxymiuk View Post
    Except that once you get hold of a wizard who actually knows those spells, the cost of casting them is... zilch. Neither Teleport nor Greater Teleport have a material component to them. To write them into his spellbook it cost the wizard 1200gp, yes, but after that it costs him nothing to cast them.

    Yes, he will probably want to be compensated for his time. But nowhere does it say that he has to abide by the spell level x caster level rule. In fact, the wizard from the next street over is willing to do it for 100gp per casting. And since he's likely to get many, many more customers, he'll make back the cost of learning those spells in no time at all. And after that it's all pure profit.
    And even by the guidelines, a permanent teleportation circle cast by a 17th level caster is 25,030 gp.
    Compared to the amount of merchandise you can throw through that circle, essentially risk-free, per day, you'll make that investment back in no time: it's the cost of two and a half sailing ships, but without the expense of a crew or risk of loss.

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    Default Re: Build Me An Economy! (General Challenge)

    How about this idea for a method of rapid transportation of goods...

    A couple of wizards live a LOOOOONG ways away (like over five hundred miles). They knew each other as apprentices before they journeyed their seperate ways. Now, each one knows Circle of Teleportation and Permanency. What they are going to do is set up a link between the two, providing instantanious transportation from one wizard (who lives in a major port) to the other wizard (who lives in the landbound but very wealthy capital city). They charge fees for activating the circle, reguardless of what is in it. Transporting a single person is just as expensive as a full cart of goods.

    It'll cost the wizards a bit in installment, but then they stand to reap HUGE profits by transporting goods and people from the major port to the major landbound capital quickly and safely. They split the profits equally.
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    Default Re: Build Me An Economy! (General Challenge)

    In regards to the teleportation transportation ideas: Most long range trade tends to be in low-bulk, high expense items.

    For example: iron smelting. Generally requires iron ore and charcoal. Most smelters in England ended up in the forest. Charcoal was made on site from local trees. It was easier/cheaper to ship iron ore than logs or charcoal.

    As a semi-OT aside: space travel should exacerbate such a thing even further. If there is any possible way to get things locally you do so. The only time you would ship bulky supplies is on setting up a colony, when there is no other way to get your starting tools and materials. After that, the only things that are cost-effective to sell are luxury goods. Machine tools are a maybe- they may require more technology than is available locally. Information(like plans for said tools) would be an extremely likely form of trade.

    A second point is the cost of different modes of transportation. Your range of choices can include:
    -peddler with a backpack
    -mail cart
    -pony express type rider
    -single axle cart, oxen drawn
    -wagon/multiple axle cart, team of animals
    -barge downriver
    -small sailing vessels

    Next step is you get a group(caravan, convoy, etc) of such travelling together.

    Mages could easily take over long range transportation(say country to country). But once you go through the teleportation gate, you still need to get to the correct city. The odds of there being a gate for your specific destination are a lot lower. Probably need a rule about minimum distance between gates. Then you get the fun of traffic coordination- don't want two groups entering the same gateway from opposite sides at the same time.

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    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Build Me An Economy! (General Challenge)

    damn, can't believe I missed this thread. I just started a thread that talks about magical frequency and strength and a lot of stuff mentioned here are quite relevant.

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    Default Re: Build Me An Economy! (General Challenge)

    Quote Originally Posted by kellandros View Post
    In regards to the teleportation transportation ideas: Most long range trade tends to be in low-bulk, high expense items.

    -snip-
    A second point is the cost of different modes of transportation. Your range of choices can include:
    -peddler with a backpack
    -mail cart
    -pony express type rider
    -single axle cart, oxen drawn
    -wagon/multiple axle cart, team of animals
    -barge downriver
    -small sailing vessels

    Next step is you get a group(caravan, convoy, etc) of such travelling together.

    Mages could easily take over long range transportation(say country to country). But once you go through the teleportation gate, you still need to get to the correct city. The odds of there being a gate for your specific destination are a lot lower. Probably need a rule about minimum distance between gates. Then you get the fun of traffic coordination- don't want two groups entering the same gateway from opposite sides at the same time.
    I was thinking long range transportation only for mage stuff, it would be the only way that would make it viable. Basically, it is an alternative to Caravans, taking lots of bulk stuff from a waypoint to another waypoint then going on to your final destination from there. The big difference being a) it is instantanious, and b) it is 100% guarenteed to arrive at the end waypoint intact. This means the wizards could charge MORE than what a caravan would cost a merchant... like a LOT more. They could recoup their losses fairly easily.

    To be honest, though... sea travel is sufficently rapid that unless you're absolutely needing it instantaniously, or unless it is far more hazardous than even in the typical Forgotten Realms worlds, it wouldn't be able to replace shipping by sea if both origin and destination are on the same body of water. It would, however, be invaluable going from port to some landbound waypoint.
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    Default Re: Build Me An Economy! (General Challenge)

    Quote Originally Posted by ShneekeyTheLost View Post
    To be honest, though... sea travel is sufficently rapid that unless you're absolutely needing it instantaniously, or unless it is far more hazardous than even in the typical Forgotten Realms worlds, it wouldn't be able to replace shipping by sea if both origin and destination are on the same body of water. It would, however, be invaluable going from port to some landbound waypoint.
    Still, you'll probably want to bring a wizard along on the voyage. Can't beat their ability to control weather, create wind, and defend from a pirate attack if need be - and let's be honest, the pirates are probably going to be packing a wizard of their own, so you need arcane artillery to even stand a chance.

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    Default Re: Build Me An Economy! (General Challenge)

    Quote Originally Posted by Variable Arcana View Post
    Because teleportation is expensive.
    Not really.

    Per SRD, a 'teleport' spell would cost 9x50 = 450 gp, with a chance of failure.
    Per SRD, a 'greater teleport' spell would cost 13x70 = 910 gp.

    That's an awfully large ATM fee, unless you're talking about a very large transaction.
    True. And I don't understand why you would carry all of your wealth with you. Banks are a much better idea.

    On the other hand, when banks move vast sums of money, I'd assume a greater teleport would be involved, instead of some analogue of an armored car.
    More likely Teleportation Circle. It lasts 170 minutes and can be made permanent.

    Same answer to the conventional transport of goods -- it will definitely make sense to use magic to transport compact, expensive goods. But, hiring a wizard to teleport your grain fifty miles down the river, rather than sticking it on a barge, is a quick way to go bankrupt.
    Heres where you are wrong. A Permanent Teleportation Circle costs 25,880 GP per the RAW. Lets assume that the wizards adds a markup to 30,000 GP. That is the same cost as 3 sailing ships. It has the advantage of being instantaneous, secure, safe, and no upkeep while the ships have the ability to travel to multiple destinations.

    Even if we assume you only have to pay 250 GP per month to move your product to market it only takes 120 months (10 years) for the teleportation circles to be the better investment.

    Think of how the availability of airplane travel has affected the trade in goods by ship and truck -- it changed them, but it will never fully replace them.
    A somewhat false comparison. First off planes have huge operating expenses (just look at the cost of fuel) while TC's don't. Planes also require a very expensive item of infrastructure in the form of airports.

    My contribution to this thread/a thought experiment (in spoiler)
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    You have your world. Lets assume that you have 10 major nations each with 10 large cities. That is 100 important cities. You are a small group of high level wizards who work together and decided to do the following.

    You set up a central hub location in some place and make it really nice. I'm talking 20 million or so GP worth of niceness (I'll design something with Stronghold Builders Guide if you really want). Then you go to each city and set up a small structure to act as a satellite office. Lets say around 10,000-20,000 square feet.

    Now back to the hub. Lets think of it kind of like a modern super airport with 100 terminals, 1 for each city. Now lets say you add 2 TC's per terminal, 1 for passenger traffic and one for freight traffic. That is 200 TC's so far. Now lets create an arrival terminal. This is a large open air room (50,000 or more square feet) done in nice stone and suitably impressive. In a ring in the center of the room are 100 slightly raised (2 or 3 step from the ground to top of them) pedestals 10 feet to a side (four 5 foot squares). In a outer circle around this are 100 other raised pedestals, each one with a large Permanent Image Sign that spells out the name of a city and country above it. Each one of these outer pedestals has a TC to the corresponding terminal. We are at 300 TC's so far. Inside the center ring is a large raised tower which is a combination administration/security building.

    Each Satellite office gets 2 TC's (a passenger and a freight one). The passenger TC goes to one of the arrival pedestals in the central hub. The freight one goes to the following.

    The Freight hub is not as fancy as the passenger hub, it is a room of maybe 10,000 square feet with the same pedestal setup as the passenger hub. Each one of this hubs TC's goes to the Freight part of the corresponding terminal.

    So far that is 600 permanent TC's. That many TC's costs 15,528,000 GP. Now lets say that the Central Site and the satellite offices combined run 30 million and cost 1 million a year to keep going. Total cost to set up is 45,528,000 GP.

    Lets charge 1 GP per passenger and 1 SP per pound for freight. It would take 45,528,000 GP passenger trips for the cost to be paid off and then at least 1 million trips per year to cover the operating expense. Or you have to move 455,280,000 pounds of freight plus 10 million pounds per year before you show a profit.

    A sailing ship can carry 300,000 Pounds of goods per trip. So you need to pick up 15,176 ships worth of freight to pay off the construction cost and then at least 34 ships worth of freight per year to make a profit.

    For a real world reference, FedEx ships a little over 2 million pounds of air freight per day. And they only make up about 30% of the market.

    Well lets assume that the original cost is paid off if 5 years (a very high number). From then on the system (assuming 10 million passenger trips per year and it will most likely be higher) will bring in 9 million GP in profit after meeting its expenses. Lets assume 100 million pounds of freight per year (what FedEx air moves in 50 days). That makes 10 million GP in profit as well. So every year those wizards bring in 19 million GP in profit.


    Well now that we have this network lets branch out a bit. How about a postal service? We deliver a letter to any of the 99 other cities for 1 CP each and it will be available for pickup from the satellite office in that city within 24 hours. How many letters do you think will mover per year? It takes 100 million for 1 million in profit.


    If you do the above you will have just monopolized the market on all major trade and travel. No conventional shipping woudl ever be able to compete, your rates are lower then theirs can be while your service is faster, safer, and more dependable.

    You will become a very powerful person by doing this. None of the cities can ever complain or you can just threaten to cut them off and all the sudden they lose a lot of trade.

    Lets look at the social effects of my transport system.

    Every business in all of the 100 cities just became a world player. A person can live in one city and work in another on the other side of the world. If a noble wants a good meal he can go to another city for an additional cost of only 2 GP. Communication and ideas can spread very quickly around the whole world.

    So want to implement the transport system into our communal economy?


    EDIT: Damm taking 2 hours typing up a post.

    To all those saying that the mage should charge a lot, your wrong.

    And to all those saying it wouldn't replace regular shipping, your not thinking big enough.

    Yes, it wouldn't replace shipping between a city and its surrounding villages but that is a pittance anyways. What it change all the really good trade routes.
    Last edited by Emperor Tippy; 2007-03-07 at 05:17 PM.

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    Default Re: Build Me An Economy! (General Challenge)

    Wow, what a complicated question. You could probably write a doctoral dissertation in history or economics on the topic and still only scratch the surface.

    Something occured to me when thinking about the effects of magic on the economy. What if it doesn't have that great of an effect? Sure, it could potentially have a huge effect on society, but in other threads its been shown how vastly powerful high level casters are in relation to armies. Why would a high level caster lower himself to becoming a businessman when he could lay low any kingdom that he wants?

    What about an civilization where the peasants live in abject poverty, much like some of the worst periods of feudalism, and their entire existance revolves around serving the whims and providing luxuries for extremely high level casters? Why trouble yourself casting a spell when you can snap your fingers and have servants bring you what you desire? Why would you ever sell a magic item, if you want a merchant's gold you take it for him?

    All you need to do to maintain your absolute coontrol over the peasantry is to keep any other high level casters from rising from their ranks. Once anybody starts showing to much ability or distinguishing themselves too much, just zap them and that will be that. Of course, there may be other high level casters out there who have the same idea - perhaps they could simply divide up the world amongst themselves. Each ruling a nation as god-kings. No real need for armies, real battles will be handled by the magical might of the high level caster. All you need are just a few thugs to keep the peasants in line so that you don't have to bother.

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    Default Re: Build Me An Economy! (General Challenge)

    If there's anything you can trust a dragon with after all, it's that it'll keep a very close eye on gold.
    In fact, that's perfect. Draconic banks (vaults?) it is.
    While the idea of dragons managing whole economic systems for the greater er, wealth of themselves for centuries both intrigue and amuse me, I see a slight sticking point.

    According to folklore(read: DND guidelines) dragons accumulate wealth so they can pile it in a huge heap and sleep upon it. Since if they continued at this kind of behaviour far any amount of time, quite a lot of money will be suddenly "missing" from the economy they manage; thus resulting in upheavals.

    So, dragons also have to change so as not to destroy the very thing that enriches them. For example, while a dragon would horde wealth he would have large amounts of it as non materialistic variety, such as deeds and debts*.

    *Imagine the following: The brave adventurers slay the mighty dragon after an epic battle, enter his sanctum and instead of finding piles of coins, find a serviceable desk with many papers littered on it written in the style of :
    "Astral E. owes 5K G to bank D-Vaults, will be payed by next month

    Signed
    Eric moneyworth, head accountant"
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