Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Prices Template - Part D - End Goods & Market Page

Now we can go to the 'End Goods' section.  Here we have the page where the actual items are calculated.  The principle idea is that items have a given weight and quality of workmanship, and that these are multiplied against the value created on the 'Raw Material Cost' page.

For example, we've determined that 'aloe' has a price, that being (in Astrakhan) 100.16 c.p. per oz. (line 6, column C & D).  The description of the item describes it as 'aloe vera' and the fact that it is '4 dozes contained in vial' and that its purpose is 'protects from the sun.'  A vial is 4 oz., so column I indicates the size of the vial.  There's a 10% increase in the cost for the trouble of putting the raw material in a vial.  That would make the value of the aloe at 100.16 x 4 x 1.1 = 441 c.p. ... except it's not.  As you can plainly see, the cost is given as 550 c.p.  The reason for this is that the vial itself costs, and that cost is worked out on the 'Pre-Goods' tab.  There, we see 'vial, glass, 4 oz. capacity, 1" diam., 5" high' in the 'Containers' section.  You will notice that the price for this object is slightly higher than buying the glass vial alone (you can find it on line 522 of the 'End Goods' tab), and this is due also to the fact that the vial on the 'Pre-Goods' tab includes the cost of filling it, as opposed to the cost of merely buying it.

Believe me, this would all be hopelessly complex if it wasn't for the fact that when the calculation is put into the system ONCE, it is there forever and doesn't need to be worked out again.

Thus the aloe and the container together are 550 c.p. (or some other amount in some other market).  Most of the time players don't think about the fact that the oil or the holy water or the wine or whatever else they buy fits into containers that apparently get thrown away once they've been used.  Granted, a lot of them get broken, but when was the last time a player said he or she broke a wine bottle after drinking the wine?

550 c.p. is obviously an inconvenient number for use, so the table automatically converts this into silver or gold, rounding the number accordingly.  Typically, if it is 24 c.p. or less, I record the price as copper, and if it is 384 c.p. or less, I record it as s.p.  There's 12 c.p. per silver, so 384 c.p. is 32 s.p.  There are 16 s.p. per gold piece in my world, so 32 s.p. is 2 g.p. ... and therefore any price less than 2 g.p. is recorded as either silver or copper.  Anything more than 2 g.p. is rounded to the nearest gold piece, even if that isn't quite accurate.  550 c.p. is 2 g.p., 13 s.p. and 10 c.p., but giving prices like that would be inconvenient and would probably drive my players crazy.  So I round them off and everyone is generally content with that.

If someone wanted to buy bulk goods for trade, and wanted to haggle, I suppose an exact price could be quoted ... though the exact price might actually be higher than the gold indicated.

Thereafter you see the venue, and then the weight of the items. The weight of the vial is included in the weight of the aloe in the example above, so the total weight is 5.3 oz.

Now it gets complicated.

To work out the shop selling prices, we go back to column E & F. Column E, 'Avails,' gives the total references for the item type, obtained from the 'References' tab (you see how this all pulls together). Column F generates a number between 0 and 0.25, so that if the number of references is higher than that, availability is 100%. On the other hand, you can see that aloe has an availability of 0.013, so there's only a 13 in 250 chance that aloe will be present on the seller's table.

If an item is made of more than one thing, such as a metal axe with a wooden handle, I usually set the avails to whatever is the most necessary material to make the object (or the rarest material, since this is the choke point). I'd set the material for a metal axe with a handle as the references for neither wood nor metals, but for 'tools,' which I have a reference for. That gives me a simple measure. You can see other decisions I've made throughout the table - some you may agree with, or not - but you can change them to suit yourself.

Looking at column S, then, this is merely a calculation for determining the number available, multiplied against a random number (column T), all based on the cost of the items.  Large items that are expensive occur in smaller supply than smaller, cheaper items ... and may not be available at all, even if the avails indicate items of that variety are there.  For example, you may be able to find various furniture, but that doesn't mean you can find an intricately carved four-poster bed.  It depends on how available it is ... or how far column E is below column F.

The item description is repeated for easy importation to the next table, along with the price, coin, weight and then the total number available.

Columns AC to AJ then does the same in reverse.  The cost of the item and its availability determines how many the shop vendor will buy from the player, and for how much.  Then columns AL to AS determines it all again, for selling to passers by (or for selling in a village or on the road, anywhere that there isn't a market present).

I was reworking this table through the summer, so you should be aware that everything after shipbuilder (lines 1170 and down) haven't been upgraded to the present detail (the 'Pre-Goods' table hasn't been incorporated yet, along with other inconsistencies that I didn't get to.  I simply got tired of working on goods, as it is exhausting and picky and takes a great deal of time.  I did get more than a 1100 objects done before quitting, right?  I'll pick this up again sometime, I promise.  Only 450+ to go.

Also, please note that Jeweller is a mess and has been put on hold for the moment.  This is a more pressing issue, and really needs some solid attention.  I'd like to work on this before Christmas, but I'll probably work on the Character Generation Table first.

Finally, a quick word about the 'Market Page' tab.  This is obviously the only page which the player's sees.  I usually copy and paste this first as values on another page, then paste it as format, so there are no calculations remaining.  Takes just a few seconds.  Then I can show it to the players.

So, to recap: if you want to make a new market, there's the two actions on the Selected page, which ends with pasting the data on the 'Input Data' page on the Prices Template.  Then you can move immediately to the Market Page, copy that and post the new prices for the players.

Like I said, a pistol.  The actual calculation and presentation for the players doesn't slow the game down at all.  You generate a new table and provide it.  It takes new players a long time to go through 1,600 buyable items, but I've found with time players get quite used to searching through and finding what they want.  Mostly that works because I've anticipated a character's need, and most things are certain to be there - and can be searched for with Ctrl F.

I once had it set up so that changing one thing on the Selected table changed everything else automatically, but this created huge problems in excel, as I always find when there are multiple tables open or not open.  It is an issue with excel.  I would have all of this together on one single page, except that the computer I have still can't handle the capacity and the number of calculations slows everything down.  But tech is moving forward, so I suppose with my next computer I'll be able to convert these together ... and one day with the sources table also.

The rest is all junk.  Make what you will of it.  For the present, that's the last trading file.  From here we move onto mapmaking.


Arduin said...

I've noticed certain very small items will sometimes come up as costing 0cp, and very occasionally tinkering has meant that they can be sold to citizens for 1cp, despite costing nothing.

How do/would you adjudicate such a situation, and is it something readily fixable? Should I inflate the references? Make it cost a "half-copper"?

It's only happened on two items (darts and woven baskets), but nevertheless seemed important to work out as I move forward adjusting the table to my needs.

Alexis said...

It is very difficult with the limitations of excel to program out the occasional number that comes between 0 and 0.5, therefore showing as 0 since I'm not showing any decimal points on the tables.

Anything that shows as costing 0 c.p. is automatically assumed to be 1 c.p. I haven't looked at any of this for awhile, but one day I'll make the extra efforts needed to program that out.

Arduin said...

Thanks for the quick reply. I figured it was to do with decimals, but nevertheless felt I should check.

It's been incredible fun going line by line to work out how much of what is where, and in what amounts. Seeing the tables fill in piece by piece, and watching the prices change has been a really rewarding experience.

I had an issue where weapons were pricing at 2-5 gp, some in the sp ranges, and it was a very particular joy finding out how iron, then ironmongery, then nickel and manganese influenced each part, and by how much.

You've got an amazing system here, Alexis. I hope an epiphany sparks off for you on how to get this out there and profitable long-term.

Alexis said...

Thanks Arduin. People who have criticized the final results just have no idea how those results are generated. As you say, there's more to the manufacture of weapons than just how much iron exists.

I never work on that table without making a remarkable host of fixes, changes ... you can imagine what a nightmare a "policy change" is with regards to tweaking the whole lot.

I was in the middle of such a policy change, with regards to availability, when I put the thing down and relaxed. It is something I may pick up again when I get a vacation.