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Core Principle: Your Fantasy Economy is Bullshit
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FrankTrollman
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 16, 2010 7:19 pm    Post subject: Core Principle: Your Fantasy Economy is Bullshit Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

In virtually every case, the economy of a fantasy world is ten pounds of shit in a five pound bag. Few make sense on even the most casual inspection. Fewer still make any sense on any kind of deep inspection. So let's talk about why that is.

Economies: What Are They?
I will give you five pieces of silver for the exclusive rights to charge people money for being allowed to jump off that cliff.

If you read a modern introduction to economics, they will tell you something about goods and services "made for the market" as if the market was some giant tiki god that demands sacrifices of cottage cheese and back rubs. But the truth is that is only the monetized economy. And most fantasy settings do not have money, so we're going to use a slightly larger definition of economy. An economy is the sum total of all goods produced, all labors undertaken, and all resources that are available by or to anyone in society. The economic system is the method by which all of this is distributed to people within society and the expectations that are placed upon the individual's actions or contributions in order to be afforded their share.

Wait, did I just say that most fantasy economies don't have money? Yes. A gold piece is not money. It's a chunk of precious metal. It's actually one of those available resources I was just talking about. You could make a ring out of it or face a metal object with it to keep it from rusting. At a higher technology level, you could make a bunch of microwires out of it. But in any case, money is the guaranty that society at large views the bearer as being entitled to some share of finished goods, services, or resources. That's not what a gold piece is. A gold piece is an actual resource that you are bartering for whatever it is that you are trying to get. People in short, do not actually "buy" or "sell" in most fantasy economies. They simply trade. That's wildly inefficient, and not just because a D&D Copper Piece is only 50 to the pound.

Specialization and the Wealth of Society
Potash makers? We have potash makers now? This fortress is going o shit.

It's actually possible to survive using just your own labors. At least, if you happen to live in a relatively fertile area that doesn't have severe cold or heat. However, the fact is that you can achieve a very much higher standard of living by relying upon others and allowing others to rely upon you in return. This is because the most efficient ways to produce things require capital. Which is actually rather axiomatic, because capital is really anything that makes production easier. A blacksmith's tools? That's capital. A blacksmith's workshop? That's capital too. Even the skills of a blacksmith are a form of capital - human capital.

And that's where capitalism comes in. It's where communism, fascism, sustainability economics, and honestly every single other economic thought that anyone has had since 1850 has come in. Even in the absence of available investments like factories and tools, the fact is that practice does make perfect and having people do less different economic activities allows them to practice the ones they actually do more, which increases their productivity. And that means that if you trade the production around there will be extras of everything and someone (maybe everyone) can be a lot richer than if everyone was hunting their own deer.

How much more productivity are we talking about? Well, a lot. In fact, it's enough of a net productivity increase that even the labor you spend moving finished goods around and trading things back and forth still leaves you in the black. And yes, even that labor is a thing that can be specialized. That's the job called "merchant" and having them around does create wealth therefore. While ancient philosophers like Confucius thought that merchants just extracted wealth from society, the fact is that distributing oranges from the orange orchard to the rice farmers and rice from the rice paddies to the orange farmers is another form of labor. It's the thing that allows you to specialize and get those high yields in the first place. And having someone specialize in that frees up yet more time for the rice farmers to grow more rice.

As the economy becomes more filled with specialists, the overall production increases, and quality of life increases. And yet in order to specialize beyond a certain rather limited amount, there has to be an increase in abstraction of the economy. It's all very well and good for one guy to go pick berries while another goes to pick nuts and then have them meet up at the end of the day and split the proceeds - thereby having both get more berries and nuts than if they both tried to pick their own baskets of both. But in more advanced economies you can produce larger things - like building houses or painting the yaks. And that requires more than a single day's production from most people to pay for. To get these big ticket items done, people have to have some way to save wealth up over time. And honestly, most contractors would like to end up turning their labor into fresh items and not get paid exclusively in salted pork and vegetable oil. That's where tradeable wealth comes in. Precious metals are a pretty early version of that sort of thing (being small and portable), with more advanced versions being paper that guarantees access to metals or cheese or something, and even more advanced versions being actual fucking money that we talk about today. But in a fantasy world, chances are pretty good that people are doing the basic shitty thing where they just leave actual piles of metal around and move them back and forth in order to justify doing services for each other.

Note that the gold being used as a trade good reduces the amount of wealth of society by the "value" of that gold. However, the net result is likely still positive. This is because the more gold is around the more specialization is possible because more people can be paid to do things. More people being paid to do things means more people will be doing things, and the more goods and services will be provided. If the gold is merely saved somewhere however, the overall effect of the gold is zero, since it isn't doing anything while in reserve. This means that minting coins and then hiding them in a vault or a dragon's hoard is a net loss to the economy.

Welcome to Zero Percent Growth
"The idea that failure to increase in GDP per capita was a failure is a product of the industrial revolution."

The assumption of modern economics is that the economy will grow every year. Our modern "recessions" are usually placed in years where the economy simply grew slower than we hoped that year. That's plenty devastating, because our expectations are that the economy will be growing. We can even have people starve during periods of flat growth because essentially we assigned some people food out of the projected growth budgets. It's both tragic and stupid.

But the whole idea of constant growth is not a bad one. It allows us to have the internet and drink Mountain Dew. And it happens because the more we specialize our economy, the more we can continue to do so. And that requires a more and more complex and abstract economic system to make sure that people get some share of the proceeds of our economy while interacting with it. The one we have now is pretty damn abstract, with web cartoonists able to pay rent and eat even though the landlord may never read their comic and the farmers who grow their food may not even know they exist. And hey, we get to have web comics out of the deal. Which improves my quality of life.

But here's he thing: in most fantasy worlds, the economy isn't getting more abstract, and specialization is not increasing. People were locked in direct 1:1 barter negotiations a millennium ago and they'll be doing the same bullshit 1:1 barter negotiation a century from now. Technology is not apparently advancing, and farming yields are apparently approximately now what they were shortly after the old generic magic empire fell.

Which means that the level of poverty in any fantasy world is off the hook. Pretty much the only way production increases is through population growth. Which since the new people are being born without necessarily getting homes, farmland, or blacksmith shops to inherit means that unless new resources are found - and quick - that the wealth per person will seriously fall generation to generation. No wonder people are willing to send their kids off to die in orc wars and mine gold in caverns full of dragons!

Adventurers Drain the Economy
"I'll tell you what... we'll take all your food and iron, in exchange for which we will hide some gold under your bed. Deal?"

So here's what happens when "adventurers" go loot a dragon's cave or a wizard's tower: First they take the hardiest and most apparently skilled members of society and leave. They go fight a foreign war, and maybe they don't come back. In the meantime, any equipment they take with them is possibly not coming back. And it's generally swords and leather backpacks and armor - not exactly cheaply produced stuff for a simple economy. And if they win, they come back with gold. Maybe a lot of gold. And some of it they will spend in your society again. And you know what happens after that? They leave again. And they repeat doing this until eventually they fight a bigger demon lord and outright lose, or just settle down somewhere else and never come back.

And what do they leave behind? Well, they leave gold. In exchange for the gold, they get the best healing potions the village alchemist can cook up, the best food, nights with women they will never see again, and the labors of the blacksmith. In short, they take everything the village has, and they leave gold behind. Unfortunately, as previously noted, that gold doesn't actually do anything except act as a trade good. It doesn't appreciate in value or generate any benefit while it is there. So when it comes to trying to get any benefit from actually owning that gold, all anyone will be able to do is try to trade it to some other sucker - for the same value of goods or services that they traded for the gold in the first place.

Now there is potential benefits to the village in addition to the obvious immediate deficit of the adventurers walking away with their food and mules and leaving behind nothing of any utility. If the village had underemployment (which this being a barter economy, I think that's a pretty good bet), the gold being in town can encourage people to do stuff. But not really any more so than having powerful warriors point spears at the underemployed people and order them to get to work on some imperial project or another.

-Frank
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FrankTrollman
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 16, 2010 7:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

The Gold Standard of Inflation
"But can I eat your brain for five hundred gold pieces?"

Let's talk about a theory that is in fact wrong. It's called Rational Expectations, and it isn't true. But we are going to talk about it anyway, because the effect it describes is a real one, even though the result it predicts is not. Here's how it works: When people buy or sell, or in this case trade, the payment they ask for is based on what they predict the value of the goods or the payment is going to do in the near future. That is, if they have reason to believe that in the future it is going to require more pieces of silver to trade for a keg of beer, and they have a keg of beer for trade, they will ask for more silver right now. If there is twice as much silver in circulation and the same amount of beer, the prediction is that the price of beer would double and the amount of total trade would stay the same (just heavier). This is not actually true. In reality prices are somewhat sticky, and what will happen is that the amount of silver it takes to trade for the beer will rise somewhat, and people will try to make more beer in order to make up the difference. The key word is try, and we'll get back to that.

There's another important thing going on, which is that a certain number of potatoes really are being traded directly for wool (or whatever). What this means is that a substantial amount of the barter economy is going to take place in exactly the same fashion whether there are piles of gold around or not.

So while increasing the precious metal in the system will increase the amount of trade going on, it won't do so to the full apparent value of the gold involved. That is, if the city has a kilogram of gold in it, dumping another kilogram of gold into it will not double the trade in the city.

Capacity and Demand
"Teach a man to fish, and he'll depopulate the fisheries and no one will eat."

In our modern era, factories lie idle fairly frequently. Goods are produced only because people predict that they can be sold. The amount that could be produced is called capacity. People invest in having capacity that they likely won't use so that they can quickly ramp up production if demand increases so that they can profit from it. But in the peasant economy, that isn't true. Subsistence farmers pretty much work to their (limited) capacity all the time. If more people show up with copper and want to trade for wheat, the peasants can't actually do anything about that - the amount of wheat they have for trade is basically fixed. Rather than responding by increasing the amount of wheat they put on the market (which they can't do), they'll raise the prices.

So to a very large extent a large influx of trade goods and resources does little but raise the price of food. It does more than that of course, in that it does not have a similar impact on the prices of other things - because clerks and weavers and blacksmiths probably are not working to capacity. Indeed, due to the whole grinding poverty of the pre-monetary economy, it is likely that all those people are working far below capacity.

So here's what happens when a mysterious stranger comes in with a pile of gold: the price of food rises, and the peasants have more shiny metal, and everyone else has less food. Then the peasants use that metal to hire specialists to make stuff for them, which gives the specialists the metal they need to trade for the newly more expensive food. But also improves the quality of life of the peasants because more work is being done on their behalf in exchange for the same food. So the net result is that by pouring more gold into society, you are employing more of the capacity of skilled labor in order to work for the the peasantry (and other people who are already working at capacity).

But you'll also note that there is a definite limit to what kind of economic expansion is possible by these means. Because the food growing is actually already at capacity. So if you buy up too much of the marketable produce, you'll make the peasants very "rich" but everyone else will simply starve and emigrate. So a region can only accept as much gold as it takes to buy up food such that there is still enough surplus that the blacksmith can still get enough to feed his family. Any more gold than that and all of society collapses Zimbabwe style.

Monster Attack!
"No. Our village is over there."
"But it's all on fire."
"Yes. Yes it is."

The real world has tornadoes, earthquakes, and hurricanes. But unless you're living in Somalia, you really don't have to worry over much about bandit attack tearing down everything you have ever made and destroying all of your surpluses, leaving you to starve in the dust and ash of your former dwelling. But if you're living in a fantasy world, this probably happens a lot.

The amount of rampaging monsters described in basically any fantasy adventure is so high that it's a wonder that any village manages to survive. Remember that while a special dragon's cave that the characters go to deliberately may well be the only such for a hundred kilometers in any direction, the wandering monsters are just a statistical sampling of whatever happened to be there in whatever route the characters happened to walk through. With the amount of monsters that characters run into walking northwest, what does that say about the number of creatures with the capability and inclination to destroy the village to the south or east?

What this means is that the security needs of any settlement are intense. Just to stay alive, a village will need a very large expenditure in resources keeping a militia together. And that contributes to the grinding poverty. Look what happened to Greece with a relative military expenditure just 8 percent higher than the US. Look at what happened to the economy of North Korea. Soldiers and police, while necessary, don't actually make anything. They eat rice but they don't grow it. They use metal but they do not forge it.

In most fantasy worlds, the genuine security needs are much much higher than they have ever been anywhere in Earth's history. Meaning that even those surpluses that are produced, likely won't be seen in terms of increased quality of life for anyone. It will just get folded into the basilisk defense force. Reducing the chances of the village getting wiped off the map (which is still a pretty big concern to be honest), but not actually ending the grinding poverty.

Like Magic: Making Stuff with Actual Magic
"You got a list that's ten miles long no doubt..."

In fantasy worlds, there are often people who can make stuff like magic. Because they have actual magic. Maybe they are genies, or wizards, or maybe you are in a fantasy world where nominally mundane warriors can pull a Popeye and punch a grove of trees so hard that it turns into a cottage. Whatever the case may be, there is often the built in assumption that such behavior puts things onto a post scarcity footing. But the reality is: No it does not. Making things by magic is ultimately the same as making things any other way. It requires capital (often in the form of years and years of magical training for rare and gifted individuals), it requires inputs (often just time, but sometimes power crystals or whatever as well), and it provides the goods at some rate.

That rate is often pretty weak sauce. Sure, it's impressive to wave your hands for three seconds and have 5 gallons of water show up (about 18.5 liters), but how many times can you do that in a day? Remember that an 8 year old kid can likely go to the well and draw out a one gallon bucket and bring it back in a few minutes. If water creation uses up mana or has some charge limits, it may well be less impactful to the economy than simply giving a bucket and some instructions to some shirking children.

Even when the rate of return is large, or even very large, remember that things are still a barter economy. Anything being transmuted or created is still just a trade good that can be bartered. Creating a pile of gold is no different from finding or mining one - the limits of what the economy can absorb before disbanding don't really change. The fact one sorcerer or genie is a very efficient producer doesn't really have much impact on the fact that everyone else is still producing stuff slowly and by hand.

If Popeye punches a house into existence every day, then 3 months from now, 90 people will have a new house. And Popeye will be rich for the area, because he will get whatever people can afford to trade away for the new dwellings. And as previously noted, there is a good deal of underutilized capacity amongst the artists and artisans, so a number of those people can put extra labor in to make stuff to trade to Popeye for one of these marvelous new homes. But the peasantry with spinach to trade will not get any more vegetables to give him just because he is trading away more valuable things.

And even then, there isn't much ability for a second magical producer to enter the same economy. If a genie cloth merchant comes to town, the people can't do much of anything about it, because they just pawned all of their surplus to Popeye for the houses. Sure, come next harvest season there will be more spinach, but for right now no one can afford another one of Popeye's buildings, nor can they afford magic silk, or anything else. Demand for valuable goods is sharply limited. Not by the amount of gold that is available, but by the rate of pickle manufacturing. Capacity utilization is limited by the most inefficient production methods in the economy - because ultimately it is those that are going to be traded for the more efficiently produced goods.

-Frank


Last edited by FrankTrollman on Thu Jun 17, 2010 10:37 am; edited 1 time in total
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Lago PARANOIA
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 16, 2010 8:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I think that your assessment of how adventurers are a drain on the economy is unfair, at least if you imply a net drain.

LG, NG, CG, and LN adventurers are a risky investment, but give a huge return. Having someone on hand that will stop epidemics in your beloved peasant village right in its tracks is worth its weight in sexy women. So is having a kindly old wizard who decides that they want to spend their retirement running a free school. Or a 14th-level fighter who decides to take a job as the captain of the guard and suddenly your village takes a huge leap in its 'protectedness' status. And depending on what exactly the LE person believes in your town might make out like a bandit; if they're, say, a devotee of Hextor you might make out like a bandit.

The other benefit of course is that apprenticeship is apparently the only way in D&D to gain significant amounts of power without directly resorting to adventuring. So your LG cleric comes back to the village and in five years you have a credible hospitaler corps. Or a NG wizard ends up in some godforsaken place and opens up a wizarding school. Or a LE fighter presses the most able-bodied men in the hamlet into his guard and gives them some REAL training; and suddenly the halfling village is protected against nasty shit like trolls and ogres.

Of course this means that TN, CN, NE, and CE are mostly a waste of time unless you have some nihilistic goal like 'kill all elves'. In fact it's actively disadvantageous, since some evil street urchin that hates your city comes back as a mid-level necromancer.

But again, it's just one more way in which black-and-white fantasy settings prove that the forces of good rule and evil is small and weak; which is why the setting has to stack so many thing in evil's favor for them to have a chance.
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xechnao
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 16, 2010 8:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Kudos, very nice post.
A comment though:
pre-industrial era economies were abstract too. The problem with them is that people could not predict as efficiently as of today real economy complications or rather "disasters" and the risk assessment management regarding the fueling of the economy aka the distribution of wealth savings suffered a lot more too. Mind you, pre-industrial economies were specialized and advanced. Their problem was that their production could not be as predictable as of today. Our economies have become more predictable because we can use energy more efficiently in production and thus we can dedicate more energy in prediction and thus build solutions to when problems may happen. These solutions usually are incorporated in the abstract structure of modern economies.

I think to deal with an explanation of fantasy economies we should focus on unpredictability matters. Dragons awake and destroy cities, magic storms happen, warp stone corrupts and creates chaos and stuff like that.


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hogarth
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 16, 2010 9:50 pm    Post subject: Re: Core Principle: Your Fantasy Economy is Bullshit Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

FrankTrollman wrote:
In virtually every case, the economy of a fantasy world is ten pounds of shit in a five pound bag. Few make sense on even the most casual inspection. Fewer still make any sense on any kind of deep inspection. So let's talk about why that is.

TL; DR

Is this different than the fantasy economy theories that you've propounded in the past?
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Grek
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 16, 2010 10:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

TL;DR version:

Modern economies are based on specialization. Specialization is a good thing. Fantasy economies would not do specialization well. Because of this, the economy in a fantasy world should suck balls. Adventurers will run off with all of your swords, wine, camels and whores and leave you with shiny but useless gold in it's place.
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RandomCasualty2
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 16, 2010 10:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I don't believe adventurers are inherently a drain. Only the wizards who make their own gear. For economies to work, you effectively need a demand for things. Adventurers (or at least would-be adventurers) need armor, that means the armorer gets business. He needs metal, so that means the guys who produce the steel get business. They need iron so that means the iron miners get business. And naturally every middle man who transports the shit from place to place gets business.

That's generally what makes economies actually grow is that you get increased demand.

What kills your economy is not when adventurers spend gold, but rather whne they don't spend gold. The guy who spends the night in a rope trick or casts create food instead of going to a tavern. The guys who use fabricate and crap to create whole castles... they're really bad.

And basically the problem is that they create their own economy. The basic need is for magic items, and pretty much the guys who make them don't need to worry about the standard economy to function. They make their own food, own houses and all that crap. This means that gold and goods that go to these guys effectively disappears.
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Koumei
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 16, 2010 11:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Low level adventurers can offset their drain by killing the local bandits/orcs/mastermind wolves/manticore. It's easy to look at the benefits to society there - even in monetary terms.

The problem (for the local shithole) is when they're fighting interplanar wars, killing demon kings. Because nobody at home is really affected unless and until the demon king starts stepping on their faces because the heroes failed (or because the heroes decided to make the townfolk happy rather than continue on their high-level adventures).

So what would Communist D&D look like? I mean, Capitalist is easy - you constantly need new resources to exploit, so you go and kill dragons/other nations, thus taking their stuff. I suppose you could go kill dragons because they're damaging the economy by (literally) sitting on their wealth instead of putting it into the system, or if it's the start of a Communist revolution you could do it because they're the Tsars in your revolution.

But we'd be looking at some proportion of Clerics stopping their adventuring (or rotating in and out of it) so that they can fulfil the healing and disease-prevention roles for society, Wizards pulling items out of their asses for more than just themselves, adventuring parties potentially meeting up to co-ordinate their adventuring so they can swap party members WoW-style for the best efficiency for the jobs...
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Prak
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 17, 2010 1:21 am    Post subject: Re: Core Principle: Your Fantasy Economy is Bullshit Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

FrankTrollman wrote:
you can produce larger things - like building houses or painting the yaks.

I now must have a professional yak painter in the next game I run...

Communist D&D would be interesting to look at, since, through magic, it ostensibly has the tools that would allow communism to succeed, omniscient wizards spending all their time in front of a scrying device to determine everyone's needs, a benevolent LG paladin to run things and make sure that people get what they need, all that.
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FrankTrollman wrote:
In Soviet Russia, cosmic horror is the default state.

You should gain sanity for finding out that the problems of a region are because there are fucking monsters there.


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kzt
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 17, 2010 6:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Plus the secret police executing little kids on the street because they suspect they might grow up to commit thought crimes, the military confiscating the harvest of the villages where the people don't show enough enthusiasm at the annual "burn the traitors and their families alive" event and all the other little elements that go into making the world a better place one unmarked mass grave at a time.
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Grek
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 17, 2010 6:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

what.
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But more importantly if you elevate jerkishness into a principle, if you try to undermine the rules that keep niceness, community, and civilization going, the defenses against social cancer then your movement will fracture, it will be hugely embarrassing, the atmosphere will become toxic, unpopular people will be thrown to the mob, everyone but the thickest-skinned will bow out, and the people you need to convince will view you with a mixture of terror and loathing.
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Prak
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 17, 2010 7:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

yes, kzt, because that's the inevitable fate of communism, regardless of resources such as omniscience, omni-benevolence, and fabrication spells.

A LE dictator who instates a communism, yeah, sure, they'll probably execute some trouble makers.

A LG, actual LG, benevolent ruler who endeavors to provide for all of his subjects to that all have what they need using resources such as a wizard compatriot scrying, a cleric compatriot providing healing and fabricating and so on. Malcontents will more likely be imprisoned or exiled before it is evident that death is the only solution. And even then, an actual LG character will be hesitant to enact this final solution even when a trusted companion points out that the only way to stop the Joker's next murder is a bullet bolt through the head.
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Winnah wrote:
No, No. 'Prak' is actually a Thri Kreen impersonating a human and roleplaying himself as a D&D character. All hail our hidden insect overlords.


FrankTrollman wrote:
In Soviet Russia, cosmic horror is the default state.

You should gain sanity for finding out that the problems of a region are because there are fucking monsters there.
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Danchild
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 17, 2010 7:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Interesting and astute observations, but I feel that important details have been neglected (or are yet to be added). Scratch that, one detail. Magic. In a fantasy game economy magic is a big deal.

Even neglecting the wish economy, magic has a profound influence on an economy. From repair to craft, the discovery of new resources, the creation of raw materials, cheap or free skilled labour and the reductions in craft times and periods between harvests.

As for trade, magic can reduce the size and weight of goods to be shipped or transport them instantaneously.

I think that major cities in a fantasy world would not be focussing on the economy so much as education, the arts and culture. Things not so easily reproduced by magic.

On the fringes of civilistion, sure, things would be grim. I don't see how the economy would be as bleak in a major population centre though.
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 17, 2010 9:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

kzt wrote:
Plus the secret police executing little kids on the street because they suspect they might grow up to commit thought crimes, the military confiscating the harvest of the villages where the people don't show enough enthusiasm at the annual "burn the traitors and their families alive" event and all the other little elements that go into making the world a better place one unmarked mass grave at a time.


Yes, Chile under Pinochet was a real shithole, wasn't it?
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Crissa
King


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 17, 2010 9:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I always figured that there wasn't a zero gross increase in productivity - there was a zero net increase.

If you add a society member, that deducts from your net. If you lose one, that's sort of a gain. If you take some of your grains and burn them, you've lost of some your gross product.

And if there really is a dangerous world, they're probably burning their gross product all the time. They lose adventurers. Merchants. Goods. Population centers. New cities and farms form.

Even if you don't have the march of technology, or technology gets lost... Some things have higher productivity; there are even farms are subsistence level that will feed far more people than takes to work them, even in bad years. Cities of millions of people were supported with the barest of technology... Although they did have economies, ones we know little about today with all our theories and history.

-Crissa
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FrankTrollman
Serious Badass


Joined: 07 Mar 2008
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 17, 2010 10:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Added part 2. Inflation, Demand, Security, and Magic

Lago wrote:
LG, NG, CG, and LN adventurers are a risky investment, but give a huge return.


That's really a whole different argument. I think it should be addressed in "Core Principles: Your Alignment System is Retarded" or perhaps "Core Principles: Fantasy Social Orders are Unstable."

Grek wrote:
what.


It's hard to say. I think he is saying that ever since Socialists took over Norway that it has been a non-stop oppressive hellscape with people being disappeared left and right for thought crimes. Possibly he's saying that the Communist takeover in Kerala has resulted in Southern India becoming the most violent and backwards of the regions on the subcontinent. Or maybe he's saying that before Lenin took over that there were no pogroms or secret police in Tsarist Russia. It's a little hard to follow. I'm not sure what it has to do with people talking about some hippie cleric with actual magic powers and the ability to create bread and turn water into wine setting up a commune of the faithful.

-Frank
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A Man In Black
Duke


Joined: 09 Dec 2009
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 17, 2010 11:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

FrankTrollman wrote:
I think he is saying that ever since Socialists took over Norway that it has been a non-stop oppressive hellscape with people being disappeared left and right for thought crimes.


That whole peaceful, low-population, uneventful image?

The greatest propaganda coup ever.


Last edited by A Man In Black on Thu Jun 17, 2010 11:08 am; edited 1 time in total
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violence in the media
Duke


Joined: 06 Jan 2009
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 17, 2010 12:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Not that I am opposed to having game economies make sense, but what goal would fixing it serve?

Would we be using it to show that you have, in fact, purchased all of the turnips in the region and be able to determine a sensible quantity for that?

Would this tell us what items, and the value thereof, is in the caravan the players just ambushed?

Would we use it to identify the precise point at which the blacksmith/merchant/town can no longer afford to purchase your captured masterwork orcish falchions?

Are we looking to make this function like one of those sailing video games where you tool around the Caribbean trying to find the highest price for your cargo of tea and silk?

How would we use the improved economy to satisfactorily interface with a player's desire to take the stuff they have, but don't want, and trade it for things that they do not have, but do want? Keep in mind that sometimes the RP involved in buying a magic carpet is fun, and other times you just want to dispose of a Helm of Brilliance with a sentence or two.
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RobbyPants
Prince


Joined: 06 Aug 2008
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 17, 2010 12:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Koumei wrote:
Low level adventurers can offset their drain by killing the local bandits/orcs/mastermind wolves/manticore. It's easy to look at the benefits to society there - even in monetary terms.
Yeah, this helps alleviate the security costs for the village. Not only do adventurers help fend off some crazy attack, but they have a tendency to actively go out, find the source of the threat, and eliminate it.
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mean_liar
Duke


Joined: 07 Mar 2008
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Location: Boston

PostPosted: Thu Jun 17, 2010 1:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

violence in the media wrote:
Not that I am opposed to having game economies make sense, but what goal would fixing it serve?


There is something to be said for verisimilitude, but I totally agree. Logistics and Dragons has always been boring, self-indulgent omphaloskepsis and will continue to be so for evermore.
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violence in the media
Duke


Joined: 06 Jan 2009
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 17, 2010 1:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

mean_liar wrote:
violence in the media wrote:
Not that I am opposed to having game economies make sense, but what goal would fixing it serve?


There is something to be said for verisimilitude, but I totally agree. Logistics and Dragons has always been boring, self-indulgent omphaloskepsis and will continue to be so for evermore.


See, if it could be created and used in a way to promote sandboxing, that would be awesome.
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hogarth
Prince


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Location: Toronto

PostPosted: Thu Jun 17, 2010 2:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Danchild wrote:
Even neglecting the wish economy, magic has a profound influence on an economy. From repair to craft, the discovery of new resources, the creation of raw materials, cheap or free skilled labour and the reductions in craft times and periods between harvests.

Say what? From my perspective, most magic items (outside stuff like low-level potions) are an ultra-ultra-expensive item used by a vanishingly small percentage of the population. So that's like saying that the market for diamond-studded tiaras or McLaren automobiles has a profound influence on an economy (which isn't even remotely true).
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RiotGearEpsilon
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 17, 2010 2:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Just to be clear, the magical paradigm at work here is explicitly the DnD paradigm, right? Because other magical paradigms - Exalted, Earthdawn, etc - can have very different implications on how effectively magic can serve as economic capital and how high the barriers to getting that capital are.
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FrankTrollman
Serious Badass


Joined: 07 Mar 2008
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 17, 2010 3:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

RiotGearEpsilon wrote:
Just to be clear, the magical paradigm at work here is explicitly the DnD paradigm, right? Because other magical paradigms - Exalted, Earthdawn, etc - can have very different implications on how effectively magic can serve as economic capital and how high the barriers to getting that capital are.


Actually, it doesn't really much matter. Magicians in any fantasy setting tend to be rare and the amount they can produce is limited over time. Whether it is explicitly three conjurations a day or some sort of drain or refresh system or even simply the limit of wakeful hours in the day - there will be a limit on how much is produced in a year. And in almost all cases, those production numbers are actually pretty sad compared to the levels put up by actual industrialized society. A hundred tonnes of gold sounds like a lot, and it is. But actual modern industrial mining still does much much more than that in a year.

-Frank
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Lago PARANOIA
Invincible Overlord


Joined: 25 Sep 2008
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 17, 2010 3:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Why is it necessarily true that the peasant population is working to their capacity?

That's true for the woefully inefficient and/or ignorant farming practices of medieval Europe; but of course a fantasy economy can easily assume that their peasants have better farming knowledge (like crop rotation) or that the local druid's circle spends 2 months a year wandering by and waving their hands to bless the crops. Once the peasantry builds up some surplus for FREE they can start affording real shit like bricks for irrigation and iron plows.
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Josh Kablack wrote:
Your freedom to make rulings up on the fly is in direct conflict with my freedom to interact with an internally consistent narrative. Your freedom to run/play a game without needing to understand a complex rule system is in direct conflict with my freedom to play a character whose abilities and flaws function as I intended within that ruleset. Your freedom to add and change rules in the middle of the game is in direct conflict with my ability to understand that rules system before I decided whether or not to join your game.

In short, your entire post is dismissive of not merely my intelligence, but my agency. And I don't mean agency as a player within one of your games, I mean my agency as a person. You do not want me to be informed when I make the fundamental decisions of deciding whether to join your game or buying your rules system.
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