Sunday, August 7, 2016

How the Economy Grows aka how insane is Board Enterprises

In 1991, Board Enterprises released Legend Quest. Within the book were a decent amount of items in the price guide, some notes on living expenses (room and board), some notes on the prices of metals and gems, as well as the listing of weapons and armors and their costs. So, yes, 2016 is the 25th anniversary, so keep your eyes open for our LQ 25th anniversary Omnibus.

In 2006, BE released Grain Into Gold (GIG). That book laid out how to setup a fantasy world economy and contained 13 pages of price lists, very few of which were weaponry or armor. Oh, it’s the 10th anniversary there, but we really weren’t planning to do much about that.

In 2015, we released d1000 Pockets. While that was less of an economy book, it did list 1,000 items and their value as loot.

So how did the economy grow? Well, before GIG, I was working on the economy of my world Fletnern. I was doing what I needed to do to make things work, plus I was designing the City of Rhum and needed to price all of their goods. It was all growing organically - I typically only did as much as I needed to in order to run my gaming sessions that week. In describing what I had been trying to do in Grain Into Gold, I did wind up developing vastly more prices and pricing interactions. To be honest, I was retconning some of my prices because they did not hold up to logic.

What’s the point? The point is that without purchasing an economy like Grain Into Gold, you only develop what you need when you need it - and that’s typically OK. But the time comes when you either have to do a lot of work in order to stay ahead of your players or you resort to buying something. Obviously we think you need GIG, but I’m going to try and explain why.

We have been criticized for not footnoting GIG. I guess people think it’s a little too much like a scholarly paper and therefore they naturally lean to expecting some of the same from it. But it doesn’t work like that. In most cases, we were comparing crop yields in medieval Europe to current crop yields in the USA and then using those ratios to convert other current crop yields in the current USA to those crops as they might have been in medieval Europe. Did that make sense? I’m saying this: If medieval Europe got four bushels of wheat out of an acre and Kansas 1998 got 20, then if Kansas 1998 got 10,000lbs of potatoes, then we’ll assume that medieval Europe could have gotten 2,000lbs. Hugely oversimplified, but basically it’s that.

But that means that I needed to find as many examples of medieval crop yields as I could. What else? Well, the speed of work from pre-industrial era smiths, tinkers, tanners, etc. ad nauseam. This is where it starts to get important. I have done this. I have data from all manner of sources that gives an indication of how fast people were able to get work done before the steam age. Because way too much of this was lost in narrative sections (like GIG), I started to chart as much of it as I could in a spreadsheet. So now, I not only have a massive spreadsheet with established formulas on the speed of hand stitching fabrics and leathers, but also charts on the time required to hammer out an axe head vs. a chisel, vs. a knife vs. a bobkin arrow head.

There are two pieces of this that make it of value to you. We were able to produce d1000 Pockets pretty easily. With everything that had been done for GIG and some of the other things we’ve done, it was a matter of plugging in the specifics into those formulas, and the results spit out pretty quickly. There were certainly some additions that I had to do, but with all the research I had already done on arrows, it was pretty easy to extrapolate what it would take to make a dart - both toys and competition grade sporting darts. Second, I’m using the same charts and formulas for ... well everything. Even if you disagreed with my methods, they are consistent. Which means that the costs of things are consistent. Which means if you use GIG and Pockets, things should work out. I remember an early rule book from that game we all played 30 years ago - a battle axe cost 5gp and a long sword cost 20gp (I think that was how it went). Yes, it takes more skill to craft a long bladed weapon that won’t crack than a hulking axe, but come on!

This really isn’t intended to be a multi-paragraph ad for our products. It is meant to explain some of what we’ve gone through over the last 25 years in hopes of getting to a great place where the cost of equipment and the value of loot won’t cause game masters problems during their gaming sessions. Things make sense, both when selling and buying. That’s all you really wanted; isn’t it?

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