Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Grocer

This is great fun.

Of all the lists I have posted so far, this I would say is the least complete; and yet I don't have players insisting on my adding more items, such as a lemon for instance, which I'm noticing isn't there.  What IS there is primarily assorted spices and fruits, mostly packed in small paper boxes (or packages, typically tied together with string) which are useless to the players once the contents are expended.  There are a few small tools, such as the artist's brushes, the whisk or the rat trap - it would be nice to include a few other things, limited of course to items which are primarily of use around the home for normal daily activities.  My mind is a blank, however.

Note the tremendous cost of saffron.  That is based upon the world production of that spice, which is much rarer than every other kind I could include prices for.  It, ginseng, anise and mustard would make some nice treasure if found in quantity, and coffee too ... which is obviously expensive because of Transylvania's inconvenience from Africa.  And it is a significant amount of coffee that's indicated here.

If there's something ignored on the list that ought not to be, it is salt.  This is a much overlooked part of D&D, largely I think because in the modern age we have a surfeit of salt incorporated into all our foods.  Obviously, if you're going to feed your players on salt pork, salt isn't a concern they should have, but if they insist on eating fresh foods, it needs to be pointed out that salt is added to nothing in the middle ages.  To avoid getting sick, they will have to buy some.  It's not expensive ... but if they're supplying a whole castle, these things add up.

I doubt I'll have the time to put out another table today.  The next would be the Hacker's Shop, which I shall try to get to tomorrow.


SupernalClarity said...

If you were so inclined, would your system allow for the pricing of different types of tea? I know it's not something that most players would care about, but as I tea-lover (who always tries to maintain locational accuracy with the tea selection in his D&D games) I'd say its something worth considering. After all, tea provides more interesting possibilities than one might think, such as the use of black tea as a veritable form of currency in eastern Asia.

Alexis said...

I could in fact determine the price of tea from the distance the market was from the specific origin of the tea. Remember that the system includes a geographical reference to each kind of product ... so tea from Darjeeling would differ in price from tea from Ulanna (in Russia) depending on where you were specifically located.

There would be some initial work setting up the algorithm, perhaps a half-hour, but after that the numbers would be automatic.

There's a pre-table to the 'Pricing' table that generates these products that I update as I design more of my world (remember that it is only mapped to some degree). When I get around to my next update of the pre-table, I'll keep the tea idea in mind.

I could, in fact, designate every product on earth exactly as suggested here, right down to where furniture, lemons or cement came from ... but how complicated does a thing need to be?

Eric said...

Coconut's surprisingly cheap- where is it coming from?

but how complicated does a thing need to be?

As complicated as is useful and rewarding to you and your players? I'd certainly like to hear where you've placed coffee sources on your map, as that's my beverage of choice. Is the coffee price you give is for green coffee, needing a saucepan and a fire to roast it in? It stays good a lot longer if it's not roasted yet.

Eric said...

O- how much for a live-catch rat trap, per ? Adventurers can always use something to set off magical traps or tie a bell to for a diversion...

Alexis said...


I wonder about the coconut price too; there might be a mistake somewhere. Coconuts are largely coming from India, but the amount of coconuts being produced is HUGE (using my FAO statistics to peg the production, divided by changes in agricultural production indexes since 1650, according to books I've read by Paul Kennedy and others) ... so that is probably the reason for the relatively low price.

Coffee comes mostly from Africa, and the price given is for roasted coffee, not green. How you make your coffee is probably the Turkish method.

Your rat traps reference is from 1898; so probably the trap you describe doesn't exist. It is up to the players to build a better rat trap.

Eric said...

Here's a 1772 book referring to live rat traps:

This live trap wouldn't be hard to make:

That first article from 1898 mentions that live rats had some commercial value. The ratcatcher would take them out into the countryside and sell them to rich gentlemen who would set them loose one at a time and turn their dogs on them. Sometimes he got customer complaints: "Why should I pay you for catching those? You have twelve valuable rats right there!"

Alexis said...

I can see you like the trap, Eric, and I wouldn't want to dissuade that ... but 1772 is still 122 years later than the date of my world.

I don't doubt that live rat traps are available; I just don't feel inclined at this time to add one to the list. But if a player gets adamant about it, I will, and I'll let you know.

Alexis said...


Thank you big time Eric.

Regarding coconut, a shadow of a previous incarnation of the table was still in existence, in the shape of my having different prices for "coconut" and for "copra" ... the latter being the meat inside the coconut. When the static price for copra is removed (it was a remnant of a very early effort), the cost of coconut jumps.

Out of interest, a coconut is 210 c.p., or a little more than a g.p., and there are 8.842 oz. of meat per coconut, or about 23.8 c.p. per ounce prior to curing/drying. That cost is almost four times, so you get a correct price of 94.81 c.p. per ounce, or approximately 4 g.p. per package.

Eric said...

Hey, if you appreciate proofreading, then I'll ask why white pepper and black pepper have such different weights? It looks like you have 12 cubic inches of black pepper at .4 oz and 2 cubic inches of white pepper at 1.8 oz.

Alexis said...

You just keep at it, Eric. I don't know what the hell was happening there. I suspect working late on the table.


Alexis said...

Oh, I should add that the weights don't quite add up for the size of the boxes (12 to 2) because white pepper has a higher specific gravity. Yes, I pay attention to these things.

White pepper is 0.63 g/cm3, while black pepper is 0.45 g/cm3. Obviously, you'll find other numbers, as its not exact, but those are the numbers I've meant to establish as characteristic.