Friday, May 29, 2009

Conclusion of my D&D campaign economy rambling

Well, thank you all for your comments on my last economic rambling for my Dark Ages campaign - I've gotten "Weeping/grinning" to "it's flawed in lots of minor ways" to "Dire chickens!" but nobody screamed "URDOINITRONG!" so either you all think I'm nuts (a good thing) or you're all stunned by my sheer idiocy (more probable).

Either way, it was gratifying to hear that I'm on the right track, with determining land costs based on their food producing potential. I concentrated on meat as the "main food driver", I handwaved that grain would be roughly equivalent in terms of cost. I know that's probably wrong - but I chose meat as my starting point and since I've confessed that this is all napkin math, I'll take that logic to the end. I'm not simulating Earth realistically, so my basis of economy is not going to match "real life" either. However, I've tried to give it some thought and some tenuous logic, so here's the end point - how much land costs:

All this assumes average harvest. 30 acres fed 4 people for a year (360 day year) - 7.5 acres a person (360 day year)

However, Dark Ages has a 240 day calendar, so we'll do some math to adjust for the difference in days per year. (240/360 = .67)

20 acres (30*.67) provides for 4 people a year in DA. 5 acres feeds a person for a year in DA.

24gp in either grain or meat/year can be earned by that 5 acres (72gp average cost a person for meat/grain/liquid a year).

1 acre can make minimum 4g 8s a year. The acre measures 43,560 sq ft - approx. 208.7' x 208.7'. The earning potiential of a square foot of land is 0.0001gp per square foot. (4.8 / 43560)

(Good thing my monetary system is 10cp = 1sp, 10sp = 1gp. )

10x10 area = 100 sq ft = 1cp/yr. (100 * 0.0001) (That orc sitting on a chest with pie better pay his taxes!)

That's just napkin math for the earning potential of land. Now, how's that equate to living spaces? I did really quick and dirty 30 min research on Google on rough idea of living spaces in Middle Ages - got a couple of figures that "felt" right. The prices below are the amount of rent based on food earning potential alone - my players should note these are not final prices - the landlords would no doubt want to make a bit of a profit.

Peasant 'Wattle' house: 20' x 40' = 800sq ft = 8c/year for renting of the living space alone (The people who "rent" farmlands from kingdom pay taxes in form of food produced from land rented, or would work on the local lord's farmlands for a percentage of their time.)

Single "Manor" building: 66' x 33' (took dimension from reconstructed English Village) - 2 stories - 4s 4c.

Moral of story - when land is not the commodity, but merely the vehicle for producing food and seen as such - land is cheap.

Now that I have a starting place, I can look at what Marshall Roen and the Priest Phaellum might charge for their land, assuming they want some sort of profit.

The players have a question outstanding on the list as to the size they imagine the structure they've been "squatting in". Once they give me that, I can do a rough calculation of the rent and take a guess at how much they would sell the land for.

BTW, this strangely "feels" right where taxes have been assessed on the treasure that the players are bringing in (commerce taxes) versus land taxes. The players haven't been taxed on purchases because the merchants bringing the goods into Enonia are taxed, and they raise their prices accordingly. Land isn't the main driver. Food and commerce is.

This also means I may have to cast a hoary eye at my price list at some point and see if it makes sense to the earning/spending potential of a person, in relation to food costs. And this means my assumption for 40% of their yearly wage going to housing is dead wrong - a person in Enonia would need to make a lot less.

My head hurts.


Erin Palette said...

Wooo Dire Chickens! :D

Chgowiz said...

Erin - I had the pleasure of finally meeting and killing dungeon chickens in Jeff Rient's Winterwar Labyrinth Lord game. Hilarious!

Norman Harman said...

Good on ya!

And I hope my post wasn't seen as being "hammered on my assumptions." The message was suppose to be(which I didn't get around to until the last paragraph) "Do what works for you / your game and screw people who say it ain't correct."

After reading this though I think I'll bypass the problem in my games by stating all property is owned by the evil-king and taxes are 100% :)

Andreas Davour said...

Dire chickens, eh?

Damn, you are serious about making this economic system real, aren't you!?

Tim Shorts said...

Eww, you're getting scary close to Harn detail. Then you'll have to figure out land quality, the climatic cycles and the insects that come and go with the changes. Also, depending on your campaign then you may have to account for any magical aides whether it comes in the form of an mage zipping miracle grow into the ground or little watering cansters that have an endless water pouring from the spout.

Ryan said...

Dammit, and Alexis have got me wanted to get into the act. Soon I'll be plunged into the depths of Simulation Hell!

Chgowiz said...

@Norman - I think I missed that post, sorry. I don't take any comments personally, even if they're of the URDOINITRONG type. Dude, the only way I'm going to figure it out is to muddle through it.

@Andreas/Tim/Ryan - this is about as far as I'll go with the thought experiment, now that I have my baseline for pricing.

I would not enjoy going to the depth and detail that Alexis has gone - I highly respect what he does. He was an inspiration for my train of thought here, but I'm not quite to his level in simulation.

Alexis said...

Your head hurts?

Welcome to my world.

On another point, my party has been talking for more than a year about "war chickens" ... anticipating eagerly the day when they will have a large campaign sized battle between themselves and their hirelings and a mass army of (a yet undisclosed race) mounted on hundreds and hundreds of war chickens.

Chgowiz said...

@Alexis - I can only imagine - you've said in your blog posts that you've been working on this for years. That's a lot of thinking about this.

War chickens... funny story! How did it get started? I could see kobolds on Dire Chickens...

Alexis said...

How do any of these things get started?

Yeah, years.

I date most of my files. It's funny when I'm working on some file related to gems dated 23jun97, like I was this weekend.

Alexis said...

I stumbled across this just today, which you might find interesting:

The origin of metrics:

Alexis said...

Hah. You'll love this:

"An Oxgang is an old land measurement formerly used in Scotland and England. It averaged around 20 English acres, but was based on fertility and cultivation, so it could be as low as 15 ..."

"As soon as we cross the great chain of mountains separating the eastern from the western waters, we find a different system equally uniform. The 'ploughgates' [8 oxgangs] and 'oxgangs' disappear, and in their place we find 'dabhachs' [4 ploughgates] and 'pennylands' [1/20 of a dabhach] ..."

More here:

Chgowiz said...

I find so much of this fascinating. Its like peeling back layers of assumptions to see what really lies underneath.

I know I have the bug when I was walking on Friday and trying to figure out the "basis" for our economy (which I assume to be petroleum) and how it relates to property prices, much like I've done with food/property prices.

1997 -- I have very little in the way of my games that dates that far back - maybe the campaign concept that my wife's game is currently in, but very little else.