Monday, May 21, 2012

Bread and. . . Jousts?



These are notes I'd written (to myself?) about the price of bread and how it can be used to balance out the cost of goods and services in a D&D setting.  This page reflects the economy of Thyatian Hinterlands (see my previous blog post).  I hope these notes aren't too obscure.


Here is a comparison between D&D coins and real world equivalents.  The top row (in green) refers to Roman coinage.  Pound Sterling is, of course, English currency.  Livre Tournois and Livre Parisis are French currency. The existence of the farthing and obolus (and the absence of a D&D equivalent) infers how inflated D&D economy usually is.

 

 

The worksheet proceeds to compare the price of bread in the Thyatian Hinterlands with the price of bread in AD1250 Western Europe.  It turns out, it's a bit more expensive, but marginally so which, thankfully, has a minor impact on the the cost of local "minimum wages" so to speak.  The price of bread fluctuates depending on the dominion's economic situation and whether any/how badly its people are starving.

 
Here are prices of goods and services inspired from real world historical data, and what they amount to in D&D terms.  Prices did vary depending on the century, so I had to settle for a range corresponding roughly to XIIIth Century western Europe.


 

 


 

 

Done!  Hope you found this informative.   The above price list shows suggested D&D prices, which reflect the Hinterlands' economy.  The bottom of the price list suggests a new coin (cheaper than a copper) might be needed.  Any ideas anyone?  Pebbles and shells?   A tiny copper piece, or one cut into four quarters, "only" worth 240 farthings!?

12 comments:

  1. Great posts! I did some number crunching with medieval price lists as well, but I feel humbled, Sir!
    And a quarter copper piece would even work as nomination:
    "For just a quarter I'll tell you your fortune! For a copper you'll be a great hero! For a silver I'll tell you of your kingdom to come! And if you crave to be one of the Immortals - just a gold piece and you'll know all about it!"

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    1. Thank you! I just wonder what people actually bought that they could pay with a few farthings. Grilled bug on a stick? Sauteed rat snout? Macerated lizard tongue? Hmmmm.

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  2. I've always thought that the cost of the steel was the major component in the price of armor or swords and things. I'm curious what the cost was of steel wire (or rings) for mail or sheet steel for plate.

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    1. AFAIK bread is often used as the primary basis from which to compare the cost of many things, including the cost of metals. I do not know the actual cost of unworked iron, other than the few figures for finished goods listed in my post. The empirical method used by P. Contamine was roughly 50% added to the cost of labor to account for the cost of materials (iron) and for profit, plus another 50% to account for middlemen.

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    2. The added margin for materials and profit applies to weapons and armor specifically. Naturally, with very expensive materials (jewelry and such) the ratio has to much higher. For work out of the ordinary, like mastercraft objects or implements fit for nobility or royalty, your guess is as good as mine! (Example: the 250 Pound-Sterling suit of armor mentioned earlier.)

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  3. I just realized why my pricelists seem to be so off in comparison to yours (apart from newer price sources like late medieval or renaissance). I set the sp as a pennie, so that I had a shilling as a gp, like the old roman solidus... in 3e/pathfinder nomination of 1 pp = 10 gp = 100 sp = 1000 cp this makes totally sense. you would have 1 L = 2pp, and 2 cp = 1 farthing. Well, with the higher wealth expected by the system I'll keep it that way. It'll make the common folk a little richer in comparison (and 10 times as many copper coins are still copper coins to the typical adventurer. But maybe it will be interesting to steal cows for low level ones, wich gives me a lot of ideas just now)... Just have to remember to readjust if I look at your posts for inspiration.;)

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    1. At 4 farthings to a penny, 2 cp should equal 8 farthings (or eight quarter bits of a copper coin). Ja?

      The problem with making the poorest "a little richer" is that everything they produce becomes likewise "a little more expensive". This inflation ripples through the entire economy, prompting the richest to become even more so for the system to keep functioning*--so we're really right back to square one. Otherwise, the economy collapses, since the price of basic goods exceeds the capacity of the market to acquire them. :-)

      (*) Standard Disclaimer: This of course in no way represents any political views on my part regarding the real world. If you don't like what I say on this blog, please blame it all on the local doppleganger. It's all his fault. Honest.

      Verstehen Sie gut?

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    2. Yes.
      But if you take a look at the price tables for Pathfinder you`ll see that in this system (and it's predecessors 3.x) the inflation in prices for weapons and armor is already built in... 1500 gc for plate armor is quite more than in AD&D or other editions... so, yes, I'll keep it that way, and not only because I'm too lazy to change everything back (which I am, I'll be the first to admit ;) ), but also because it makes the PCs poorer in comparison.

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    3. Well, yeah, it's not called a fantasy game for nothing! :-)

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    4. I found this quote in Medieval Warfare Magazine:

      :But this not change the situation for the crusaders – they soon approached the new ruler, Alexios V, demanding 5000 pounds of gold, which was the equivalent of about 90,000 silver marks, the amount that Alexios IV still owed them. When the new Byzantine emperor refused, the Crusaders decided the only way to recoup their debts was to attack the city, which led to its fall on April 12, 1204. "

      So, based on this, 1 pound of gold = 18 silver marks.

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  4. How the ..blieb... do you succeed in making such nice tables. I can't seem to get mine in any other way than by Printscreen--paint and then post them as picture.
    Excellent work

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    1. Two different ways

      1. Convert a MS Word table to HTML. Snagging a copy of "HTML for Dummies" isn't half a bad idea.
      2. Copy the table straight from Excel and paste it on the blog page. It's a messy way to do it from an HTML coding point of view, but it'll work if the Excel columns are sized correctly.

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