Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Lumping Together

From Jhandar on yesterday's post:

"TO a certain degree I feel you explained this well in your previous video on the economic system and working to create a world that incorporates this economic system myself I think you are still undersell the complexity some.

There is a deep, deep rabbit hole here, and the presence of the reference material in the encyclopedia cannot be undersold. For example, jade: milky jade, or Nephrite, is found in calcium and magnesium-iron rich deposits while Jadette, the darker green jade, is found in sodium and aluminium rich pyroxene
. Does Mountain 'A' have that composition, which would indicate potential markers for the other minerals? Do both makeups of jade appear in the same range at different points? Etc. Being able to reference an established map and resource distribution removes an infinitely complex resource distribution model out of the question."

Well, actually no.  I don't discriminate between types of jade in my system.  I could have, but I decided that the players wouldn't really care that much.  One has to draw the line somewhere.

Were I to suggest a better example, I would suggest wine.  I know all the places where wine originates, so if I wanted I could identify every different variety of wine as a separate entry on the system.  These could then be organized on the price list to all appear under the vintner, so that the players could choose the exact region or 'field' in France, Germany, Italy and so on, enabling them to buy their wine from the region of their choosing.  Once I set up the formula, I wouldn't have to do it every time - I would only need to update it when I added in a new area (like Spain, which is not fully part of the system).

But in the inexact words of Mujadaddy, would that really improve the game?

I repeat, that line has to be drawn somewhere.  Sure, a player could establish a fetish for a particular Alfoldian vintage, even demanding the party remain within a certain distance of that region so that he or she could keep their supply stocked - but that player could just as easily ask me to set up the program if it didn't already exist.  Assuming it occurred to the player to think such a thing was possible (it is!).  Players tend to assume most things are impossible and that DMs won't bother, even if asked.  Thus they will invent other traits.

Naturally, most DMs would decide the presence of Cserszegi Fuszeres based on a die roll, totally by fiat, with the DM rating the likelihood as a '1' or a '2' in six.  Exactly the sort of thing I described with hatred yesterday.  Admittedly, for most players, that's good enough.

But today I'm not looking to make an argument for why more detailed is better.  I'm only arguing that more detail is indeed possible.  Which is to say, LESS detail is also possible.

Yesterday I suggested that the reader seeking an economic system sort out a list of things they want the player to buy.  Today I'll add that if less detail is wanted, lump together parts of your list into single groupings.

To use an extreme example, let's suppose that you decide that beef will always be more expensive than pork, that chain mail will always be more expensive than scale mail, that long swords will always be more expensive than battle axes and so on.  Let's say that you gather together all the food from all the equipment lists you're presently using and designate that those numbers represent ratios.  The cheapest food is flour, say, which you designate a pound as equal to '1' value.  Beef is then 4:1, fish is 5:1, ale is 3:2, caviar is 32:1 and so on.  Whatever works for you!

Now, just as I lump all 'jade' together as one substance, the reader can now lump all 'food' together.  You then assign every ordinary city on your world as producing 1 food; a city on the plains produces 2 food, a city on the sea produces 3 food and any other city of your choosing produces 4, 5 or more.

If 'food' seems to general, you can sort it out to grain, fruits, vegetables, meats, ale, wine and whatever else you're prepared to identify.  Weapons become swords, axes and clubs.  Armor becomes metal or leather.  It is up to you how fine you want to slice up your availables.

Up front, I would suggest being very general.  In other words, NOT doing it the way I have.  As Jhandar says in the rest of his comment, the real world allows me to do certain things because the information already exists.  But it is as easy to point at a group of mountains and roll a die against a table full of metals and minerals, giving you random answers.  You don't have to know what the rock strata is in those mountains, or how they were geologically formed - the dice tells you they were formed in some bizarre way that enables them to have emeralds, iron and jade at the same time.  Do you really care if that's unlikely in the real world?  I wouldn't.

Start with 100 different commodities.  Force yourself, initially, to limit your choices to that or less.  Believe me, once you understand the system, it will be EASY to expand the number.  The main thing, right now, is to have a set of things that you're going to associate with different parts of your world.  On the weekend I will set up a video that talks about placing those things and getting the ball rolling.

1 comment:

VeronaKid said...

I just wanted to say that you are currently going from strength to strength right now. The two series (your economics series and your "How to Write an Adventure Hook" series) could and should form the backbone of an online DM/Worldbuilding course someday.

I apologize for the interruption. Please continue.