Friday, April 14, 2017

Notes on Stavanger's Economy

A very long time ago, I wrote a series of posts that I called "never too much economics."  I have to apologize to start: if you have not followed past posts I have written on hex generation, economics and my trade system, I'm going to lose your attention very quickly.  There's nothing I can do about that.  I have been working on this method for logically calculating the structure underlying any part of my world, very large world that it is.  The work shown today represents just a few hours of work for this particular region in my game, that created for the Juvenis campaign.

I'm going to use some of the details of that post in order to address this map:

This is a part of my larger game world expanded from 20-mile hexes to 6.67-mile hexes (6-mile for short), using a hex generator I've talked about on my blog before ~ though not for a long time.

The map shows production for food, hammers and coin, similar to the same measurements for the old game, Civilization IV.  Five years ago, I defined one food as sufficient to feed 167 persons at a minimal rate of sustenance, a very unpleasant 1,700 calories per day.  We may assume that is for any period, as we're not actually measuring the weight of food, only its consumption vs. its production.

Back in the day, I also wrote that a hex with two food symbols showing should be read as the binary number "11" ~ which would be 3 in the base-ten system.  A hex with three food symbols showing would equal the binary "111," or 7 in the base-ten system.  Thus, three food showing will feed not 500 persons, but 1,167.  The greatest production on the map above is the hex surrounding Stavanger, showing a loaf and two slices, or "1111111," or 127 in base-ten, enough to feed 21,167 persons.  That's not bad, but the county of Rogaland, depicted above, has a population of 25,627.

How much food is showing, in base-ten numbers?  I may have miscounted, but I get 392 food altogether, enough to feed 65,335 people.  That is, at sustenance level.  That 1,700 calories is fairly low, so we can double that amount for the people around Stavanger and still have enough food for export.  This makes sense.  Norway is a relatively rich country, with productive forests, plenty of water, excellent soil (where there is soil) and a relatively low population.  It ought to be an exporting region ~ even if it is only enough to feed 7,040 persons at a comfortable 3,400 calories a day.  There are many more people than that in the world.

The coins showing work the same way as food.  The number of coins in a given hex show an exponential progression, so that the hex with Stavanger in it would have 63 coins (binary 111111). Altogether, the region shown has 115 coins - so Stavanger by itself represents more than half the total wealth of the region.  This, too, makes sense.

My post on coins argued for a fixed rate of 2,500 g.p. per coin showing, with the understanding the the principle of money is that it flows through the hands of people on a continuous basis.  In effect, I argued, this would mean that the total income for all the persons in the region would be three times the actual physical wealth ~ arguing for a low velocity that would correspond to a 17th century world.

I'd like to deviate from that old number, however, as it was based on an ill-proposed Player's Handbook reference.  I should be able to do better.  For this, I'll turn to my trade tables, specifically the list of goods and services that are produced in Rogaland.

As it happens, Rogaland has a very poor collection of references for my trade tables:

That is a very sad collection of things. Clearly, the encyclopedia I drew from did not have much of a description for Stavanger ~ but the trick is not to rush forward and change it, because that seems best, but to presume that the region is economically depressed, regardless of how much food it produces or the number of people.

At present, my overall trade numbers (subject to change as I add more regions) indicate that one reference is worth 941.18 gold ounces, or 7,647 gold pieces per reference.  Since the total value for Rogaland is only four times that, or 30,588 g.p., it is plain that the number per coin shown on the map is going to be less than 2,500.  30,588 divided by 115 equal 265 g.p. per coin.

With a per capita income of only 1.19 g.p. per person, we have to wonder how anyone can afford to buy books and statues from the party for 1,750 g.p., as recently happened in the campaign.  I admit, that is a problem; but I paid out that money before making the above calculations.

We can push the velocity of the money in the region by 1, to a total of 4, then presume that the total income of the region passes specifically through the hands of the merchants (along with the upper class, the nobility and the hoi polloi, as detailed in my original post).  If the merchants represent 0.1% of the total population, this makes the average yearly income for a merchant in Stavanger (they would all be in the trade town) a total of 1,190 g.p. per year.

We can also assume an accumulation of wealth, arguing that gold (and everything else that doesn't spoil) is steadily mined and added to the system, where it spreads outwards in the form of trade and ultimately collects in the hordes and savings of people.  We might argue that if 2% of the total coins in the world is irrevocably lost to monsters, lost hiding places and being sunk in the sea every year, then there is something like 51 years worth of accumulated gold pieces in the world (at that point, loss more or less equals production).  That is more than enough for an apothecary to dig into their accumulated 56,000 g.p. of wealth to buy something very special.

This could mean that the monetary assets for Rogaland are considerable, even if much less than other regions with far more references to goods, services and manufacturing.  Like any good economist, it depends on how we propose to juggle the numbers.

I think I would want to create additional regions, then spread the income over several regions and not just use Rogaland as an isolated measurement.  I'd argue that the loss of coin from the system was higher, just to reduce the pure wealth available.  I think a combination of factors could lead to a better approximation.

What we want, of course, is to be able to identify the wealth produced by a specific hex, giving us a number as to how much coin is a) regularly flowing out of that hex, if the player wishes to start a venture of some sort, and b) how much gold is buried in the hex, in terms of plundering it from monsters and/or dungeons.

This lets the gold of the hex determine how much product is sold in Stavanger, if the party decides to go fishing or lumberjacking, rather than trying to figure out specific production figures for every imaginable sort of product.  The player spends x time in this forest, which produces y amount of money per year for z number of people (determined by food supply).  This makes a very simple calculation for how much money the player can make from time spent, without the fuss of guessing how much fruit or flax or feldspar a given hex can produce.

Finally, I come to hammers.

I am at a loss here.  My old thinking has one primary problem: the system does not generate what sort of buildings have already been created, or what has been done with the hammers generally in the last 750+ years of Stavanger's existence (founded 862).  If we are only talking of the hammers being used for civic improvement, then they are only available to those who actually control the hex.  If so, I can safely ignore them for the time being.

I would like another value attached to the hammers, however ~ a problem I haven't considered for a very long time and thus also a problem I have distance on.  Since I've only rediscovered the problem in the last couple of days, I haven't even begun to solve it.

What I'd like is some meaning that is applicable to player characters at any point.  It could represent the amount of labor in the area, available or otherwise.  It might somehow represent the present existing infrastructure, but I'm not sure how.  It is easy to add it all together to get the size of Rogaland's military, the work force directly under control of the upper classes or even the amount of original created artwork that can be found (related to the bard).  I just need to think about it.


Drain said...

I was chuckling at your initially proposed income per person as contrasted with our recent sales in town, but then you went there and delivered.

Some things:

- Is the income as represented the net income? Would the apothecary really have a potential 56k of accumulated value (gathered from, I take it, a ~40 year career)?

- How much sense does it really make to index the amount of treasure contained in dungeons -
some of them being thousands of years old - to an hex's "modern" productivity? Is it supposed to serve as just an indicator/ballpark measure?

- Why not associate the hammers to both creating and upkeeping infrastructure? Roads are not just built, they'll need a not-unconsiderable amount of repair work devoted to them. More than that, they should also be a measure of technical expertise, bridges are for pontifices after all. Perhaps associate them with the tech-level?

Alexis Smolensk said...

You're paralleling my thoughts here, Drain, particularly with your last comment about tech levels. There's a connection to be made there, I'm certain.

The apothecary would certainly be one of the wealthiest merchans in a town, no question. And remember, we're not just talking about a single lifetime: the apothecary would be the offspring of perhaps five to ten generations of apothecaries. There could be as many as 500,000 g.p. in the hands of a single family. But this is why I had the apothecary's money come from a guild and not from his pocket. Perhaps he has a line of credit, yes?

Why not tie dungeons to the area's productivity? More gold can be stolen from a rich country than a poor one. Does it make sense for a dungeon that's a thousand miles from any culture to have so much gold? Did they bring it in by the cartload just to stock the dungeon for adventurers? I don't think much of that kind of world design.

There may be a good argument for the number of hammers determining the present amount of infrastructure. I don't have tables for that, for sure. They'd have to be made.

Samuel Kernan said...

Thanks! I really like this post and the ones it links to.

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