Monday, September 14, 2009


Just a note to explain where I am, and why I'm not posting here. I've been working on my book (forever, and ever), and on my 'pricing table', which converts the cost of raw materials into the manufactured goods a party might want to buy. It's painstaking work, but it's rewarding also.

It's a lot of time looking up the density of substances, to figure out how much fits into a box the size of your hand; to determine the weight of a bottle of linseed oil; to estimate the weight of one week's peat fuel and the weight of a mutton chop. There's much research, into the average size of gold nuggets; the dimensions of gem cameos; the common size of truffles; the names of local common distilled spirits; the price of a local acre and the number of acres necessary to grow a bale of cotton.

I'm quite proud of the latter. The price of the bale is right there, so the player can decide to buy land, and whether it's worth it to grow a cash crop; or calculate the number of cattle the player can put on it and what is the price of cattle at the local market - and whether its worth it to the player to butcher the cow and sell it as meat instead.

Obviously, this is nothing important to the non-simulationist crowd. But there was a debate lately on various blogs about the 'after-adventure' character, and why it seems pointless to 'retire' them to a castle and men-at-arms. I don't know about that. I've met quite a number of players who, if given the chance to calculate a few numbers, enjoy the accounting that comes with handling money.

After all, that's an activity many people like to do in the real world, and it does not differ much from monopoly. Only that monopoly has rules to cover it, and D&D never has.

I'm just trying to fill that void. It's keeping me busy. But the gentle reader is on my mind, and I trust you are all doing well.

Tomorrow, an hour and 22 minutes from when I post this, comes my 45th birthday.


Ragnorakk said...

well happy birthday!

Carl said...

Felicitations, my friend! You've made it to the half-way point. I'll see you there in a few years.

Eventually, the kids are going to get sick of killing the monsters and grabbing their loot. The tactical exercises are fun, but at some point you'll want to explore what it would be like to run the town rather than save it.

My wife, for example, does most of her gaming using an Excel spreadsheet. In my last Traveller game, she set up the starship like the business that it should have been -- when they came up short on cargo revenues, they turned to the classics, mercenary work and privateering, to make up the revenue gap.

I've said it before but I think what you're doing is great. Applying a rational economic system to D&D, and by extension all RPGs, can only benefit the game in the long run.

Strix said...

Happ birthday!!!

Adam Thornton said...

A little late to this party, but if you look over at Grognardia, at part three of the interview with Ed Greenwood, apparently something like your trade tables exists for _FR_, which I find completely fascinating.


Alexis said...


It rather sounds as though he's never talked about it and wishes he had, as he believes it's worthy.

That's all I see.

Yahzi said...

Wow. I spent a fair amount of time researching how many bushels of wheat you can get from an acre, and how many acres a peasant can plow and harvest, but I don't think I ever got to the level of calculating density.

If you're interested in my approximates, check out Ye Olde Shoppe at DriveThruRPG (it's free).

I'd love to see yours when you get it done.

Alexis said...

Cost per acre is calculated by the total yield in unsown cereals per acre, multiplied by the cost of those cereals, the multiplied by the cost of what maintenance on those fields would be for 9.6 years (1% maintenance per month compounded means that every nutrient in the soil will be replaced during that time). This assumes the previous owner wants his money’s worth.

“Unsown” cereals means the cost of cereal plants as it would be before labor was applied to harvest. This process yields a different, slightly higher price.

The cost of unsown cereals is calculated by the total number of cereals grown world wide in the space of one year, measured against their equal value in gold mined in the space of one year. I calculate all cereals as being worth 14.82 x the total value of all gold metal.

This number is then subject to the distribution of cereals in relation to where the party is standing right now.

Oh yes, I calculate.

Yahzi said...

Don't forget rats and spoilage. And the variations of weather! :D