Friday, May 15, 2009

Age & Assets

All right then, I am finally ready to get down to some useful numbers.

Let’s return to the total GDP for the planet, the correct number being 480,067,114 g.p. For the purposes of my system, “GDP” is defined differently than it is in the present, modern world. My D&D system being mercantile-based, the domestic product is not a reflection of the total income of the planet, but rather a reflection of the total improvement of the planet. In other words, dividing the total GDP by the population (178 million) gives not the per capita income, but the per capita profit.

I only recently recognized how this is a more useful means of handling the problem of the distribution of wealth. Let me explain.

The per capita profit proves to be 2.697 g.p. per capita. Obviously this is not evenly distributed among all the people. If you will remember, I divide the status of my citizens into eleven categories, five of which are non-leveled, and six of which are leveled. Before I produce the table to show the profit for each category, allow me to make a completely separate point … one which will take some time.

I don’t think it’s difficult to grasp that a 2nd level fighter is likely to have more wealth than a 1st level fighter. Since I don’t use silly systems demanding “training” according to the DMG (I know of no one who does), the 2nd level has amassed a certain percentage of their experience as treasure, much of which will have been spent or lost as the result of ordinary activity. Still, he will have more. The obvious suggestion will be that since he requires 4,000 X.P. to attain 3rd, and the 1st level requires 2,000 X.P., the wealth of the 2nd level should be doubled.

However, since a 1st level can have no experience at all, and the 2nd level must have a minimum of 2,001, does this really make sense? Potentially, the 2nd level could have infinitely more treasure than the 1st level. Clearly, ‘level’ is not a significant qualifier.

Why not suggest that an individual with 4,000 X.P. has ten times the treasure of an individual with 400 X.P.? This may not always be so, but it makes more sense … except that it is difficult to produce a table which will randomly assign the total X.P. an individual may possess. Or is it?

Okay, and here is where Alexis steps off the pier.

Some years ago I was pondering what an ordinary NPC might do with his or her day, and how non-adventuring persons in my world would gain experience. This produced a theory that a certain average of X.P. would be gained per day, and therefore per year, and that an individual’s experience would correspond with their age. This is, I think, rather obvious.

It made sense to conclude that an active leveled individual would earn an average of 1 X.P. per day. This is equivalent to killing a giant rat per week, or pummeling a typical disruptive human into submission once a fortnight – the sort of thing a tough fighter might do in the daily course of working as a bodyguard. A mage with any number of spells or cantrips might also eliminate various vermin on a weekly basis (hey, Monza, mind using your ‘bee’ cantrip on the giant centipede I saw in my cellar?), the same being true for any other class.

Naturally, some individuals are more ‘active’ than others. The castle Lord might regularly go out on a weekly basis to hunt boar or to joust (technically a form of subdual damage), and therefore collect more X.P. than a 3rd level laboratory researcher. And because of my previously designed status system, it seemed logical to suggest that each status level would gain X.P. at a different rate. Thus I produced the following table:



The gentle reader will take note that a Liege can, by this table, gain 8th level in maturing from 15 to 16, and might consider this unreasonable. But I will draw the reader’s attention to the sort of lifestyle the young king of a country might experience: animals driven into a pen so that royalty might enjoy the experience of killing (a practice followed not only in France, but in China, India and elsewhere), the considerable reward of treasures for small successes and the distributed experience for ‘taking part’ in a campaign. Arguably, a young king could be described as taking part in every death (and X.P. gain) that he gives orders regarding. Note that the number applies only to actual kings … not to future kings, who would technically be title holders until ascending to the throne. Take note also that this would explain the power of young conquerors such as Alexander, who was 18 at the beginning of his campaign. Having ascended the throne at 17, he would have gained 98,000 X.P. by that age, and another 131,000 by the time his army crossed the Hellespont. This would mean he was almost 9th, but not quite … though the considerable riches he gained within the first three months of the campaign would have quickly jumped him to 11th level at least – followed by a continuous gain to a maximum of 29th level in short order.

The reader will also take note that an adventurer will gain 3rd level after a year – and for many players this will seem too little. I will point out, however, that NPC’s are likely to spend more time ‘hanging out’ than player characters, who seem always in a hurry to move onto the next adventure immediately, rather than languishing and enjoying life.

Note also that I have given attendants (whom, you’ll remember, included men-at-arms) a number for experience gained yearly. This is because I play on a system that allows a zero-level man-at-arms who has reached 2,001 X.P. to become 1st level. This is beneficial when the party picks up hirelings, as there is an incentive to keep the zero levels alive so that they might become leveled, thus more powerful AND loyal. ‘Attendants’ who become leveled in this fashion continue to gain X.P. per day as attendants, as it is assumed they never had formal training when they were young and it is harder for them to improve.

As a last point, note that as the individual ages, there is less incentive to take a personal part in experience-gaining activities. This is only logical.

Keep in mind that each of these numbers need not be static. You may, if you wish, roll dice using the base number as an average … thus four years experience might be set against a d8 per year, using simple algebra to compare the total rolled against the average to get a total. For example, Jeremy the Zealot rolls a 1 on a d8 for his 15th year, and adds only 576 X.P. (1/4.5, the average for a d8, x 2,596). What die you roll is entirely up to you.

Very well, then, we have an approximate experience for every kind of individual able to increase their personal power, depending on their age. We can then compare the age of the individual to the total per capita profit which began this post, giving us the following table:


Now wait a minute. Why is it that assets start to drop after age 25?

You remember what I said about 'profit.' The total amount that an individual possesses increases with each year, so that profit is added to the total assets so far. This seems fairly obvious.

However, you may have forgotten or you may not be reading closely, but spoilage destroys assets over time. Assets diminish. Most of what you own begins to break or degrade, while at the same time your capacity for replacing that material wealth suffers with age. You may think that everything you buy and gather together through your life will remain with you always, but that just isn’t so. As you age in life, you will be more and more dependent upon your children to support you – even if you are the King of England. You may continue to gain experience for the activities you accomplish, but your exact contribution to the wealth of your kingdom, or even your court, will diminish over time. Unless you have sons to contribute to your court’s coffers, you will find yourself more and more dependent upon the loyalty of retainers. This is, after all, a Medieval world. By 75, for all intents and purposes, your total ‘wealth’ will consist of your bed and a few nice things in your room.

This may not seem correct to many gentle readers – but I urge them to think outside the box. Instead of supposing that every valuable thing in the castle is the property of the lord or king, think instead that the wealth of the castle is commensurate with the total capacity of its denizens. Thus, as the lord ages, the material wealth in the castle begins to shift in ownership towards those who will eventually inherit – it is, theoretically, theirs already. The king’s ability to hold onto that wealth is dependent upon their support, right? The final number, 4,684 s.p., only means to demonstrate what the king would possess if he had no associates whatsoever. In other words, this would be his total wealth if he had been dispossessed and put into a tower somewhere.

Now, it may seem extreme to you that I’m asking you to work out everyone’s age in a given lair, along with their experience, in order to determine the total worth within, although this is easier than you think with excel. But I’m not asking you to do this. There are obviously short cuts. I may sit down to work a few of those out. For the moment, I am happy to make a few simple propositions that will get people thinking about the power of a simulation and how this might serve to rationally encourage players to choose their targets.

There are still things I haven’t proposed – such as the intelligence/wisdom of the NPC, who might offset some of the spoilage of his or her assets through investments … thus, giving the potential for increasing their wealth rather than having it diminish. This could be a simple modifier to the total – very intelligent creatures might have 50% more than the number indicated, highly intelligent creatures double, extraordinary intelligence quadruple and so on … with the possibility that low intelligence creatures might have less than the number indicated.

This, thankfully, ends my economic articles for the time being. That’s six I’ve written, which is enough. Anyone who has any real interest in this will have gotten the point by now.

2 comments:

Ben Brooks said...

I just wanted to chime in again to support this kind of post, stuff no one seems to think about. It's always a nice counterpoint to all that "rule of cool" and "say yes" claptrap I see on too many other sites.

Ever thought about embellishing them a little and putting up a collection in book or pdf form?

Big McStrongmuscle said...

I'd shell out a couple bucks for a pdf like this, especially if it had a good bibliography. It always bugs me when I can't justify some of the weird assumptions of D&D, but I've never been quite sure where to start dealing with it.