Saturday, July 9, 2011
Let me begin this one by first pointing out that the market in question is two hundred miles from the nearest sea, and further than that from the fish sources of the Baltic, the North Sea and the Atlantic. So naturally fish prices are bound to be high. Even at that, herring is cheap, as is the freshwater trout.
Of course someone is going to leap in and shout that walruses and narwhal are even farther away, so why are these things not even more expensive? I shall tell you honestly ... I am really not certain. One of the things I try not to do is to fuck around with the numbers the system generates. I input the data; I apply a consistent formula to the data and that gives me the cost per ounce. In this case, the data is world production & the number of references I have to that material. I don't decide the data. Now and then, I'll admit, the system does seem to spit out some odd numbers, but since the system WORKS, I accept that whatever the cost is, that is the cost. I have pointed out to the gentle reader in the past that the numbers may not suit the reader's world. I continue to stand on that argument. One thing I'm not going to do is to change a massive, complex system for the sake of someone out there who thinks the number for a particular item is a little high. That would be ridiculous.
In this case, I would guess it is because the ivory described above is raw and unworked. Compare it to the cost of the carved walrus tusk on the Carver's table. Since most of us have rarely had the opportunity to buy "sea ivory" straight off the boat, our perceptions of how much it is worth are probably worthless.
A bigger issue, no doubt, is the subject of ice on the list. This came to me only this morning, while researching fishmongers to figure something new that could be added to the table. The manufacture of ice is really only the rational application of heat in order to create a depressure system that will freeze water. It isn't nearly as complicated as Doc Brown's machine. The reader can see a description of the first ice-making machine on this youtube video here, starting at 4:11 into the file. (By the way, I strongly suggest you watch the whole episode, and then the whole series, and after that you dig up "The Day The Universe Changed" ... but that's just my opinion).
Of course, the ice machine depicted above was invented in the 19th century, but that's a mere bagatelle. Arguably, with the research for magic, etcetera, etcetera. Zzarchov at this point will feel the need to remind me that magic doesn't work like science, and that in fact ice isn't 'created' by magic, it is invoked or teleported or some such from the Plane of Ice, and so on - my respect sir - and I probably don't have him spot down there, since I never know exactly what his argument is going to be for anything I might propose upon the scientific line.
Yesterday Zzarchov wrote the following list of things he tries to run: "... heavy things fall faster, there are only 4 elements, glass repels electricity (lightning) and witches often do weigh the same as waterfowl."
Once again, with all due respect to my creative counterpart, I really honestly hate this kind of D&D. I feel I must explain why. It is because I have no idea how the world works. I don't know as a player what incorrect myths Zzarchov has chosen to incorporate into the campaign and which incorrect myths he has not ... and so I am bound by his ad hoc decisions which are and which are not so. And therefore every time I concoct a plan, I cannot rely upon what I know about the world, I must rely upon Zzarchov's judgment. I can't say strongly enough how much I despise that.
Zzarchov will no doubt deny that this is so, but since I can demonstrate in the real world that Aristotle is wrong in about two seconds (the end of this video and the beginning of this one), I am wondering why this theory of Aristotle (things falling at different rates) is accepted as 'truth' but not that one (things floating that shouldn't). And since I have never encountered a DM who conveniently provides a 100% complete list of what's true and what isn't, and since every DM I've ever met who ran a world with these concepts made shit up on the fly whenever it was convenient to restrain my character from doing something, I must rely upon my experience (and not upon Aristotle's say-so) when I say that a world run this way is run to stop me from taking unforseen actions.
So I prefer to have my ice made in a scientific manner, so that my players can recognize how it comes into existence and, if they wish, extrapolate from the ice machine into anything else of their choosing ... it and the world around it running according to scientific laws - albeit the appearance of anachronistic technology for the medieval age. Magic can produce ice too ... and I see no reason why the magician can't sell ice to the fishmonger also. For my purposes the machine has the benefit of pegging the price.
The question should be, how much does an ice machine cost?