Tuesday, April 5, 2016

The Monks that Make Chartreuse


This is the sort of thing to make me bang my head on a table.  As Maxwell wrote yesterday, the pricing table is based on building blocks.  If I want to determine a price for gin, say, I can look up a recipe for gin, determine what's in it, gather those things together and compare them against a ratio for gin making and boom, I have a price for gin.

However . . .

Since I'm using details of the real world, I am forever finding these odd, unusual substances in the pages of an encyclopedia, things I would never, ever think to add.  Today's example is a liqueur I've never actually tasted, Grand Chartreuse (or simply Chartreuse).  I have this reference from Tarragona in Spain (though it should be Voiron, France - I have no idea why the detail is included this way in the encyclopedia, but I'm going with it).  This is the only reference to the distilled beverage.  Naturally, this means that if we're not actually adventuring in Spain, this stuff is going to be expensive.

Unfortunately, for my pricing table, it is a little difficult to gather the ingredients together to make the product because only two people in the world know those ingredients!

I can just see me writing to the monks:  "Please, sirs, I have no intention of making your product, but I have this table-top role-playing pricing system that needs . . ."

Uh, no.

I'll just jury-rig something, probably using saffron as a central herb, making the stuff really, really expensive.  If someone wants to write to tell me what Chartreuse tastes like, and make suggestions about ingredients, I'd appreciate that.  In the meantime, consider the same sort of restriction applied to people in your world that make, oh, magical rods and staves.

I thought some might find the linked page interesting.


Oh, here it is:

"After 1904, when the Chartreuse trademark belonged to "Compagnie Fermière de la Grande Chartreuse”, the liqueur made by the monks in Tarragona nicknamed “Une Tarragone.”

I will probably fix my source table (the name I call my table that places references), moving the liqueur to Vauvert, France, where it started.


Maxwell Joslyn said...

Cool link. Have you run into anything like this before? "Shit, it looks like only one dude in Germany knows about these Viennese nut puddings" or what have you.

Alexis Smolensk said...

I also read that there are only three persons who know the recipe for Benedictine. Now I'm thinking of a novel where the main villain (or possibly anti-hero) decides to kill all three in a brutal cause against the world. Since I don't like Benedictine (too sweet), I am unsure which side of that I would be on.

Skydyr said...

Green Chartreuse tastes a bit like cough syrup, sweet and spicy and medicinal. It may be worth assuming that the limiting factor for the spirit isn't the ingredients, which are basically brandy and an unknown mix of local medicinal herbs and plants and some spices, but rather the scarcity of producers. Perhaps the thing most worth considering, though, is that the original recipe dates to the renaissance, and there's no record of its production before the mid 18th century. There's nothing inherently wrong with including it, but it also assumes regular enough access to exotic spices that the cost prior to the maritime spice trade may have entirely precluded it from being made regularly.

Regarding other region-specific spirits, I wouldn't be surprised if most people in other regions had never heard of them, and they were only available in extremely limited quantities in the most cosmopolitan cities, or by placing an order with someone going that way. Indeed, perhaps a price cutoff due to distance would really mean that you need to know what to ask for, from whom, and to pay them to go there and try to get it for you.

Jonathon said...

I apologize if this question is made foolish by an aspect of the trade system, but - given Skydyr's point about the formula and/or producers the factor that give the product its value, would it work to add 'Chartreuse recipe' as an ingredient used to calculate the final product? An ingredient only supplied by one point on the map?

Alexis Smolensk said...


Yes. If we reassigned Chartreuse as being an "undeveloped good," we would only have to name a specific total number of bottles of the liqueur that are produced world wide and then plug that into the same equation we use to determine the cost of, say, iron.

I do this occasionally, when it is too difficult to create a ratio between raw good and finished product: hog bristles, for example, or the intoxicant qat that is made from banana skins.