Wednesday, September 12, 2012

NTME - Microeconomics

In reference to the "binary environment" I've been using, with reference to a last-post comment from Lukas, aka Oddbit, to establish this little micro-economy, I want to stress that the whole point of the binary code was simply to translate Civilization IV (C4) to D&D.  I definitely do not suggest calculating everything in D&D into binary.  Once the translation has been made, and you know that a given tile produces a given amount of food, screw C4 in your head and just retain the important number.

The only importance to the binary code is that when a tile is improved, it increases exponentially, as I've described already.

I stress as well that this is Dungeons and Dragons, and not C4, and that the involvement of characters (and NPCs, if you like) can change things which cannot be changed in C4.  For instance ...

On the weekend, as my offline campaign got going again after a three-month hiatus, we were discussing the importation of elements of C4, should they not previously exist.  Obviously, if a hill tile has no copper, nothing short of a wish (or some very powerful, creative magic) could manufacture a copper vein ... but cattle, sheep, pigs and horses are not nearly so difficult to find and import.  "What if," asked my player's 10th level druid, "I wish to stock my forest with deer?"

Well, the answer to that is go ahead!  I had mentioned this last week in passing, but given that the player has a 10th level druid, its extremely practical that he could encourage deer from the surrounding environs to gather themselves together in the tile he has control over, using speak with animals and his marvelous charisma.  How long would this take?  Well, not overnight.  But if word should get around that he can offer the deer a safe habitat, and that he should promise to limit his culling of the deer to the old and infirm, its reasonable that deer - knowing they will be hunted everywhere they go - should eventually gather in his particular presence.  The same could be said of beaver, or any animal not previously conceived of in C4.

The same is equally true of any character importing domestic animals onto a tile already containing farms and such.  Farms obviously do not occupy every square inch of a tile, and so long as we're not talking whole herds of cattle, then a few dozen cattle could cheerfully live in the same tile as the village itself (more convenient than an adjoining farm).

Even ONE COW would add to the village's total food supply.  The microeconomy previously discussed can be adjusted right down to the last calorie and gold coin, remember!  Thus, if one medieval cow yields 8,000 oz. of food (and there's the influence of my macroeconomic table, that I've employed for years now) - and it does - then those 8,000 oz. translate into (give or take) 380,000 calories.

From that, naturally, we can work out how many cattle make up a C4 cattle tile, which is five food in C4 and therefore 3.1 billion calories (calculating by the binary method).  Before you divide one by the other and come up with a bit more than 8,000 cows, remember that an ordinary cattle farm only culls one sixth of its herd per year:  so the total number is really just shy of 50,000 cows.  At 2 acres per cow, that's 152 square miles ... which means, for our system, where a 20 mile diameter hex is about 306 square miles, that cow-tile is going to bleed into its neighbors all over the place.  Which is fine.  There's nothing wrong with assuming they drift in part through more parts of your hex than one tile.  'Course, that does limit the number of cows per hex to ... let's see ... around 97,920.

I would rather make that concession - that they tend to wander - to cows and livestock than rebuild a system that seems to be working fine so far.

The first point I want to make is that a little research online can turn up all kinds of things.  The land itself may not have a textile mill (C4 doesn't have them), but the party can obviously obtain sheep, create a mill (water or wind), and start churning out cloth according to the dictates of that industry.  It doesn't matter how many sheep either.  What's important is that we know how much the mill will cost, and how much a sheep will cost, and how much wool a sheep will produce.  We know how much cloth can be made from that wool in a year and that satisfies the time standard.

Everything is researchable on the net - if the party so desires.  The point is that players can CREATE their own worlds, their own environments, plugging in whatever they want to manage into an economic system that enables them to make, well, anything.

The second point is this:  the party does not need to control the territory to build in it.  It is, at last, a breaking free of the age-old bullshit that players must wait until they're name level to own property and make money from it.  Allow me an example from the online party.

Recently, I gave them the deed to a tiny island in the Aegean, near Naxos.  This deed is of ownership, not nobility ... and the problem becomes one of how does the party develop this land, and what are they permitted to do?

In the first case, there are people living there - never mind how many, the party doesn't know yet, so I don't want to say.  In the second case, those people are already under the authority of the local Doge ... Naxos is controlled by Venice.  The three islands the party controls are the territory of Koufonisia:

Before the party gets too excited, I want to let them know this isn't the final version of the map - in fact, Koufonisia may not be all in the actual hex indicated above.  This is primarily just a quick mockup for the purpose of describing this system.

Take note of the dashed lines on the enlarged hex on the right.  These would be the 'tiles' as they correspond to C4.  The 'village' in D&D need not be in the centre of the hex.  That's completely irrelevant in D&D, where the world is not neat and square.  The entirety of Koufonisia (which I've drawn in roughly, and which in fact has one more uninhabited island) takes up one tile.  The final version may take up two, in different hexes.

The south part of Naxos makes a tile, the two parts of Ios make two tiles ... and three of the tiles in this hex have no designated land at all.

Still, we know from C4 how to guage the total produce of this hex.  Each of the four inhabited tiles produces 100m calories of food (one C4 food) and 7,500 g.p. (two C4 coins).  Again, let me pause and remind my party that one coin = 2,500 g.p. was a designation based on the D&D ideal ... not my world's, lest you get too excited.

The coin comes from a number of sources ... travellers from abroad who tie up at the docks, odd and strange resources like murex and octopus, found sunken ships, etc.

How much of this would the party be entitled to?  Certainly not taxes, since they are not the nobles here - the Doge on Naxos is.  The party actually fits into that "privileged class" I spoke of back here.  Being rent collectors, it is probable they are entitled to 1/4th of all the coin collected by the privileged class - a nice tidy sum of 1,875 g.p. a year, for doing nothing but sitting on their butts.  That need not be calculate by the year, either ... we can always calculate it by the month (156 g.p.) or even the week (36 g.p.).

Can the party change their fortune here?  Of course!  They're as entitled to buy a fishing boat as anyone, paying someone to fish in their stead if they like, drawing in that extra amount of wealth.  My macrosystem lets me calculate the price of the fishing boat they want to buy - which would have to be purchased in Naxos, probably.  The gentle reader, for your world, can charge your party whatever you want.

Beyond that, it is up to the party to calculate if there's something else they'd like to do with their land ... and some means by which they'd like to encourage the other persons on the island to do the same - though they probably won't, being Greeks.

And I will have to roll a die to see if there's something special in the tile, like crab, clams or a fishing bank.  Always remembering that the Doge of Naxos, and probably the Bey of Ios (which is under Turkish control) would be vigorously working that tile, and might not like interlopers.

Suddenly the party is fighting shipboard battles with the Ottoman Empire ... over fish.


Anonymous said...

I like the broad strokes. How much of the party sitting on their buts is sitting on their buts? If the party receievs 1/4 of the gold, who actually collects this gold? Is there any infrastructure the party is expected to maintain as landowners? Does this come out of the 1/4th or the 3/4ths the party doesn't see.

Alexis said...

Is a good question - who is the tax collector?

I think despite recent uninformed posts about my need to make tables for pregnant farm animals, it really isn't that necessary. I can give you a name for him, but I think his "cut" can be presumed and not reflect upon the party's radar. I could later create a small adventure based on the tax collector stealing from the party - but until the party imposes perhaps one of their own absolutely reliable fanatic henchmen (Sophia, say) as the landlord, that's the chance they take.

Still, the question comes up - and I was going to have Lukas remember this - if the Archbishop has been dead since Sept 13, who is collecting the taxes NOW? And where are they being sent?

Anonymous said...

See, I'm glad we're talking about this. I just assumed we'd hop off the boat in Koufonisia and the local populace would shower us in the coins of their owed back-rent. :)

Lukas said...

Alexis, here's a question, have you ever played Sid Meier's Colonization?

It has interesting crossovers in that it's a lot more individual resource evolution and production based and basically is at a stationary tech level.

Not all things should be included, but some of it's gameplay features may be applicable.

And if you wish to play for pleasure and haven't yet, I recommend hunting down the original and NOT the civ 4 version.

Alexis said...

I haven't played Colonization. No doubt it would add some wrinkles ... but I don't know if I would buy the game just for that purpose.

Lukas said...

Well, the original is likely locatable on some site like Good Old Games. It ran on MS Dos...

Looks like they have it for less than 2.50$ American. A hair more reasonable than the 20 bucks on steam if that changes anything.