Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Cobbler's Shop and a Lot More


It was bound to come to this.  There just isn't anything special to cheer about where it comes to this table.  But boots must be bought, and it would be nice to think that having their own table would remind players to buy them.  If there is any one thing that people seem to forget for their characters, it's to have something to put on their feet.  It has gotten to the point that whenever someone starts a new character in my world, or whenever a new person comes to play (I had a new player join just this last Saturday, making nine people in all running in my main offline campaign now), the whole table reminds them to buy boots.

Incidentally, court shoes would be a reference to shoes that were worn on the tennis court (a popular sport in western Europe going back hundreds of years, albeit played differently), not shoes for visiting the king.

I will take this opportunity to answer Eric's question in the last post about the cost of clothing, and the costs of things in general.  It's not generally understood that clothing was in fact very, very expensive in the pre-Industrial era, prior to the mass production of cloth.  It is hard to imagine now, particularly with the proliferation of non-natural fibres, but the difficulty in manufacturing things like silk or wool by hand made these clothes very difficult to obtain for the majority.  Something as heavy and elaborate as a cassock was doubly expensive.  The only relatively cheap fabric was cotton ... but pure cotton was fairly useless for most of the temperate world in an era without proper home insulation or with modern heating.  Thus a character can expect to pay more for brand new woolen clothes than for a suit of leather armor.

The cost of leather armor is determined as follows.

The value of the cow is pegged at the base cost of the cow at birth (170 c.p.) plus what it requires to raise the animal from birth to two years of age, at which point it can be gainfully slaughtered.  This involves feeding the cow (in addition to grazing in the field) 56 oz. of forage a day, every day, for two years.  The cost of forage is determined by its prevalence, increased by the process of cleaning it for use.  In Kronstadt, forage is 0.39 c.p. per ounce.  The total cost for a cow at the point of slaughtering is thus 15,910 c.p. (almost 83 g.p.)

The leather which can be obtained from one cow (a portion of the cow's cost) is first treated with salt, 208 oz. on average.  The cost of the salt and the raw hide is added together, giving a total of 2,827 c.p.  This is then tanned, increasing the cost of the hide to 2,966 c.p.  The hide will weigh approximately 624 oz., so the cost of the tanned hide is 4.75 c.p. per ounce.  The hide is cut and prepared for use by the leatherworker, which increases its value to 5.30 c.p. per ounce.  From that point it is made into armor, so that the price at that point is raised to 12.48 c.p. per ounce.  A suit of leather armor weighs 160 oz. (10 lbs), and so the total value is 1,997 c.p., or 10 g.p.

If studded leather armor is desired, then the iron studs have to be made.  To get iron studs we start with iron ore, which as you know from the assayer's table is priced at 2 g.p. per ton.  This is a rounded off figure - the exact number is 382 c.p. per ton.  (2 g.p. = 384 c.p., so the rounded price is provided for the buyers, but the exact price for the shopowners).

The iron ore has to be smelted, and each oz. of produced metal from the original ore requires 91 oz. of coal (or the equivalent heat in charcoal) plus 1 oz. of quicklime to produce.  This is averaged out.  Thus, once the iron ore is "puddled" - which is to say smelted - it has a cost of 33 c.p. per ounce.  This puddled iron is then mixed with manganese and nickel in order to produce an iron alloy which will hold up, which in turn requires more coal, plus workmanship, raising the general price to 46 c.p. per ounce.  Following this, the iron alloy has to be smithed, or beaten into the desired shape (studs) which requires more work and more coal.  As ironmongery, the studs have their cost set at 53.59 c.p.  per oz.  However, since they have to be fashioned into the armor by the armorer, the additional cost fixed for this extra work increases the cost of the studs to 141.83 c.p. per ounce.

The wrought iron studs weigh 5 lbs., or 80 oz., which equals 11,346 c.p.  There is an additional cost of 10% for fixing the iron studs to the leather, so that the total price of studded leather armor ends up costing 14,677 c.p., or 76 g.p.

Mind you, all of this is built into a series of calculations spread throughout a very large and complex excel document that maps out the production and increase in cost of every item, which is in turn dependent upon the distribution of that item over the earth's surface, so that as the availability of cows, leatherworkers, puddlers, iron mines, metallurgists, ironmongerers, smiths and armorers change from city to city, so does the price of each increment along the algorithm.  The tendency is to increase the price most due to the nearness to armorers, but cheaper cows can still bring down the overall price.

Now, to produce a woolen cassock is managed as follows.

The cost of the wool is pegged at the cost of a sheep, which at birth is 148 c.p.  The sheep is also fed forage, 4.8 oz. per day, and throughout its life prior to slaughter it is shorn for wool.  The amount of wool that can be obtained from one sheep (which at point of slaughter is worth 1,113 c.p., or almost 6 g.p.) sets the price of greasy wool fibre at 26 c.p. per ounce.  The cost of cleaning, carding and spinning is relatively little, and after all that the price is only 28 c.p. per ounce.

The cost of weaving, however, is fairly costly, so that wool cloth comes to a total of 43 c.p. per ounce.  There are 9.578 oz. per square yard of wool cloth (you can look it up, my source for that is the UN Statistical Yearbook), so that makes the cost for a square yard of wool cloth equal to 415 c.p.

Tailoring further increases this cost to 474 c.p. per square yard - and then here comes the kicker.  The cost for making the tailored cloth into a cassock of profound elegance and noble appearance, in a part of Europe where dressmakers are few and far between, kicks the price of the cassock up to 2,829 c.p. per square yard.  Of course the cassock is filled with knots and folds and a cowl and so on ... it is not just a cloth hung over the cleric's head.  On the other hand, it is hardly the end all and be all of clerical attire.  If the player wanted the cassock to be suitably embroidered, in this Transylvanian country where embroidery is most rare, the cost would be 9,013 c.p. per square yard.  But we will simply go with the lesser price.  The cassock is 8 square yards for tailoring purposes, so the cost is 22,635 c.p., or 118 g.p.

Except that it isn't.  Working this out, I found a small glitch in the table (a misplaced decimal) and fixed it as I went.  The final price of the cassock is actually 122 g.p., so the table I posted yesterday is actually moderately wrong.  I'm not worried about it.  These sort of glitches pop up all the time.  The mass of calculations is extensive and bound to turn up with an error from time to time.  For example, I found to my chagrin a few days ago when I was working on the brewers table that instead of making the beer with malt, I had for some time slipped on the cell that was being called upon for the calculation and that I was making my beer with mustard.  These things happen.  I correct them as I go, and tell my players to keep an eye out for anything that seems irrational - such as Eric catching the problem with the greenstone rosary yesterday.

As I have said in the past: my world, perfect?  Hah.

In any case, from the above I hope it can be seen that none of the prices are randomly generated.  They are, whenever possible, logically worked out according to the substances required to make the product measured against the commonality of not only the product, but also the service or expertise that makes that product (such as tailors, weavers, shearers and so on).

3 comments:

Eric said...

OK, I can definitely buy that eight square yards of wool are about 20 GP. I'm presuming there aren't a lot of tailors in the area?

With clothing prices like this, the Mending spell seems more viable for greedy venal adventurers... and there's certainly a good medieval feel to *stripping* corpses of their loot.

Hope to see the tailor and the pawnshop soon!

Ka-Blog! said...

I was just wondering about this yesterday -- footwear in Fantasy settings.

Bad footwear today can be a pain even with the minimal amount of walking done in our transport-heavy lives.

What did people wear if they didn't have shoes -- were sandals an option?

Ka-Blog! said...

When I ask about sandals, I mean -- wasn't it too cold? I come from a tropical zone, y'see.