Then again, hands up if you started working on your own trade system, only to think to yourself, "fuck this," then stop. Hah. Gotta bet that has happened.
I'm at sixes and nines regarding the advanced course at the moment - and none-too-sure what to get started on first. Probably changing the actual references for Pon, rather than giving 2 of everything - and setting up more kinds of references, too. I've got a complete, corrected list of raw material ratios per reference based on earth now - but I'm reserving that for Patreon. It's tricky, trying to decide what sort of references to use . . . because somewhere down the line, something always gets simplified or left out. Trying to account for everything is a long, dark, deep rabbit hole. I could go with including everything - but then I'm building two trade systems, my own and one for Minaria.
Then again, I could chuck Minaria and just discuss my trade system, making all further references to Earth. The problem with that plan is that: a) the earth references don't disentangle very well, making it hard to look at just one part; b) the earth system is ludicrously huge and therefore unwieldy for a tutorial. Hell, right now the Earth system isn't even 'working,' exactly, because I'm steadily rebuilding the price calculations from scratch (that's step 7 of the trade system). Because of those reasons, Minaria is better.
Perhaps I could just add 5 or 10 different references per month, going forward, until all the references were ultimately added to the Minaria system? That might be doable. I could discuss each type reference as it gets added (even make a specific page for it).
There is nothing in the world like inventing work. I had this totally different idea today of building a town map in the shape of a hex that would be filled with hundreds of slots that buildings could be fit into, sort of like the Sims but more flexible . . . but hey, I don't even want to start something like that just now. I wouldn't even know how to start it.
This is working up to a very long preamble I hadn't intended. I was going to talk about gold.
|Not the real thing|
If the reader has gotten familiar with the wiki tutorial, it is very clear that gold is the critical element around which all other elements revolve. I felt that it might do some good to talk about why I use gold and not some other base, such as I've seen others use, such as grain, food, labour or even population. There are some strong, basic reasons.
To begin with, gold is the one that actual humans used. There have been temporary cultures that used other materials, including banknotes, beads, ivory, livestock and even cowrie shells. It should be pointed out that, with the exception of paper, these things were all discarded when something better came along - namely gold. Paper, as well, only became practical as an international currency when the world became largely governed by just six or seven, predominantly European, world powers. Prior to that, paper money was only effective in the borders of one's own country and usually only within the upper classes; the poor and foriegners still had to be traded with using metal coin or ingots.
Secondly, gold is durable. Unlike grain, cows or paper, it can't be destroyed by simple means. Gold doesn't chemically react with anything, though pure gold will tarnish with long, long exposure to the elements. It can be dissolved in aqua regia, but there's very little of that around and in any case the gold can be reacquired from it if the right agent is used. For the most part, the only way that gold is likely to remove itself from an economic system if it is actually lost . . . which most people try to avoid if they can. Gold is bound to be lost into the sea and filtered down into dungeons (we are talking about D&D), but imaginatively it can be recovered and reintroduced. There's always the possibility of someone like Mansa Musa, who turned up to dump huge amounts of gold into Egypt in the 14th century - but usually this happens only on a very small scale, and rarely, so that it becomes more a source for good stories than a challenge against a working system. In any case, as I run the 17th century and not the 14th, my trade system is more world-wide . . . and a D&D trade system can be as absolutely stable as one wants it to be.
Thirdly, gold is convenient. It is small, easily counted and provides for subdivisions when compared with other metals (unlike cows or grain). An equipment table, even one based on grain, is bound to have the prices listed in gold or silver, so it is easier to use these as the base instead of having to first exchange the price of some other base currency into what we're going to use anyway.
Fourthly, gold is potentially everywhere - unlike grain, for example, which is difficult to grow in large areas of the world - including polar regions, basaltic/granitic regions such as Northern Canada, Siberia and Central Africa, jungles and deserts. Grain is practical only for European-like temperate climes, just as cows. Food would be a better measure than a particular kind of food, but then that would be difficult to add together (one could create a system based on calories, but really? Even I don't want to do that).
Finally, gold is transportable. I don't think I need to really go into that.
If we're going to have one substance that, everywhere in the world, is exactly the same price (as the system I've designed demands), then it might just as well be gold. Nothing else comes close to being as practical - except perhaps copper, silver or platinum. And if we're going to use any of them, we might as well be using gold.