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Games built from the economy up?

Pteryx

Simulator & Spellcaster
Validated User
I've found myself wondering if such a thing as a system (obviously fairly simulationist) exists that's built from the in-world economy up, or at least has that as one central consideration. This is for three reasons:

1) I've honestly had economic silliness in D&D prove to be a hindrance to the effort of making a plausible scenario in the past. And yes, I tend to keep the kind of company that calls me on that sort of thing.

2) Good economic assumptions make for a better overall starting point for worldbuilding. I actually like 5e's living expenses table, and have spent a good bit of time extrapolating a few different wage assumptions from that! On the other hand, it's hard to make a world filled with magic items when magic items are either priced out of the reach of the middle class or insistently Not For Sale.

3) I personally suspect that one reason why I've never seen an explicit tinkerer/artificer/engineer subsystem that satisfies me is because games don't tend to be built with supporting PC creative efforts as a core assumption -- a subsystem just gets tacked on. By contrast, something built from the economy up would account for PC influence on said economy if it were handled competently.
 
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Rupert

Active member
Validated User
I've always thought that worlds 'filled with magic items' were actually 'filled with magic items from the perspective of the rich and their (adventuring class) contractors'. So, not really filled with them if you weren't rich or able to pretend you were rich as long as your adventuring luck held out.

Such worlds also tend to be ones where fortune favours those of 'good blood', so it was natural for a hobbit of the idle rich class and his companions (an exiled king and his family/household warriors) to find a trolls' hoard of magic weapons and gold, in a way that would never have happened to a wandering nth son of a hillman peasant.
 

Pteryx

Simulator & Spellcaster
Validated User
I've always thought that worlds 'filled with magic items' were actually 'filled with magic items from the perspective of the rich and their (adventuring class) contractors'. So, not really filled with them if you weren't rich or able to pretend you were rich as long as your adventuring luck held out.

Such worlds also tend to be ones where fortune favours those of 'good blood', so it was natural for a hobbit of the idle rich class and his companions (an exiled king and his family/household warriors) to find a trolls' hoard of magic weapons and gold, in a way that would never have happened to a wandering nth son of a hillman peasant.
See, to me that doesn't count as "filled with magic items". Especially not the specific example you cited; that's more what I expect the "magic items should be rare and special!" crowd wants. I'm not talking about the kind of setting where every magic item is unique and has a backstory; I'm talking about the kind of setting where a magic sweeping broom might be passed around a small neighborhood as needed.

Along similar lines, Pathfinder 1e kind of breaks my heart, in that it establishes that mithril (well, "mithral") cookware is inherently nonstick, which for me goes a long way towards making it feel like a real metal and not just something that exists for the sake of adventurers... and then sticks a 1000 gp surcharge on it, making it two or three orders of magnitude more expensive than the alternative. That strikes me as excessive for the price difference between the common and luxury model of a nonmagical item, unless maybe we're talking about some gaudy thing with a jewel-encrusted handle or similar nonutilitarian wealth-flaunting features.
 

mindstalk

Does the math.
Validated User
Well, mithril is supposed to be expensive, more so than gold in the source. A one pound frying pan of gold would cost 50 GP in 3e games. 500 SP, over a year's income for ordinary people. And Bilbo's mail shirt was called worth more than the Shire... Though I have trouble believing that literally.

OTOH if you could gild or plate with mithril, you could make a nonstick pan with much less expensive material.
 

manwhat

Thoroughly mediocre GM.
RPGnet Member
Validated User
I believe Exalted 2e and 3e both thought seriously about the economy of their world, although I don't have direct experience with it.

It's not quite 'money', but I've already been a bit disappointed that CofD games don't seem to give a lot of attention to the societies created by their respective power stats, other than Vampire and the noted focus on blood. Essence in Werewolf kind of gets a pass because it's highly dependent on the local 'spirit landscape' and so any kind of Essence economy is going to be bespoke to that particular chronicle; but mana in Mage and the 'natural' sources of it are painted as far more rare than it actually is - and of course, any sufficiently talented Spirit mage is going to mess up the Essence economy if they decide to involve themselves at all, but that's a known feature.
 

jbuchert

Registered User
Validated User
Adventurer Conqueror King System, ie. ACKS, is fairly impressive and pretty much exactly what you're looking for.
 

Knaight

Registered User
Validated User
Along similar lines, Pathfinder 1e kind of breaks my heart, in that it establishes that mithril (well, "mithral") cookware is inherently nonstick, which for me goes a long way towards making it feel like a real metal and not just something that exists for the sake of adventurers... and then sticks a 1000 gp surcharge on it, making it two or three orders of magnitude more expensive than the alternative. That strikes me as excessive for the price difference between the common and luxury model of a nonmagical item, unless maybe we're talking about some gaudy thing with a jewel-encrusted handle or similar nonutilitarian wealth-flaunting features.
For cooking specifically, not really. Your standard knife block is in the $50-$100 range. Your fancy knife blocks made of a high carbon steel, requiring extra maintenance, and generally pretty excessive if you're not a bonafide chef, probably made in Solingen or one of the other traditional knife making places? That's a good $3000 at minimum, and can hit five grand no problem. No jewel encrusted handles involved, just better metallurgy, better manufacturing, etc. There's not really an equivalent to mithril (titanium and aluminum are generally bad metals for this sort of thing), but judging by material costs in general I could easily buy 2 orders of magnitude.
 

Mordhau

Registered User
Validated User
I'll second Harn. Part of it is an incredibly down to earth manorial simulation system based on Norman fiefdoms. Quite solid stuff to work from, as a baseline to society.
 

Rodriguez

Registered User
Validated User
Adventurer Conqueror King System, ie. ACKS, is fairly impressive and pretty much exactly what you're looking for.
Yes, from the OPs posting it sounds as if ACKS would be the perfect match. I never seen another System that puts that much effort in getting the economy right.

Its also a really good system all around but I am a big fan so I am probably a bit biased. :)
 
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