D&D General D&D game world economy, wages and modelling the ancent world

Celebrim

Legend
I don't believe Dungeons & Dragons was designed with accurate simulation of the human experience in mind.

I disagree, but fundamentally it doesn't matter. What Dungeon & Dragons was designed to be is an entirely different discussion. What's important is you don't care whether D&D is an accurate simulation of the human experience, and don't really intend it to be one.

And my response to that then is, "Then for a game like that you don't need any sort of game world that accurately models wages, economy, or anything else."

You are the one in charge of what your game is about, and no one - not even the game's creator - could tell you that you were wrong for having a game about that. An RPG system is in many ways like a language. It has some structure, and it may be particularly expressive or inexpressive regarding certain ideas, but ultimately you are the one that gets to decide what to say in and how you want to say it.
 

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Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
If we're in a situation where a guard could be bribed I would much rather just do that and move on to a more exciting bit of the story than fight them. Bribing, sneaking, or clobbering all sound like an easy encounter.
I want the bribery to happen sometimes sure I just do not want it to be trivial because of extreme income disparity. Just as I don't want hiring them for a "level appropriate" task to necessarily be trivial and so on.
 

ad_hoc

(they/them)
I want the bribery to happen sometimes sure I just do not want it to be trivial because of extreme income disparity. Just as I don't want hiring them for a "level appropriate" task to necessarily be trivial and so on.

Right but the encounter is already trivial so it doesn't matter.

And the point when it isn't trivial is also the point where bribery is likely to fail.
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
I think there's two things going on with economics and D&D, for me anyway. First, I think large simulationist attempts to model fantasy economies are bound to be wasted work past a certain point. By which I mean past the point where it matters for the story. I don't really care much about magic (oddly?) because I'm pretty happy to just shrug and say Wizards are inscrutable and have better things to do than white room economic shenanigans. You can account for that as much as you think necessary, but I wouldn't loose any sleep trying to figure it out. That said, rationalizing the economy up to a certain point can be useful, which leads me to my second point.

Where economic modelling can be really useful is when it comes to story, especially at the larger political level. Economic factors can be real prime movers when it comes to disputes between kingdoms, and having a base model that makes sense can add some story options that you don't have when issues of economy don't extend farther than some vague hand waving, The example that springs to mind is Feist's Rise of a Merchant Prince. That was probably the first time I'd read a fantasy novel that had economics as the prime mover for a bunch of the action and at the time it was a relevatory read. Here was a fantasy story about grain futures and shipping concerns, and it was awesome. Anyway, that's my two cents.
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
Right but the encounter is already trivial so it doesn't matter.
And the point when it isn't trivial is also the point where bribery is likely to fail.
Ideally you want that to be so and so do I but it is easy for the game numbers to not bear that out.
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
Some comments:

Completely figuring out a setting's economy is an enormous amount of work, and rarely worth it. however sometimes you do want some hard numbers, and it's where having an "economic yardstick", a number you assume is correct is very useful. And the wage of a common laborer is a good yardstick. In D&D 5e, that number is 2 silver pieces a day, a number that is roughly plausible, historically speaking.

That number comes from the "daily expenses" table. Those numbers... they add up. If you want the "comfortable" lifestyle (at 2 gp/day) well that's 700 gp a year... the aristocratic lifstyle is 3650 gp/year minimum. So an easy way to ding the characters a bit is have spaces of time between adventures where they aren't earning but spending money.

The other way is with reasonable reward. If you know the daily wage of a common laborer , you can derive the GDP of the country/town/barony/whatever and thus have a rough idea of what kind of reward they could reasonably give out. (see Reasonable rewards ).

Lastly, having too low rewards can lead to some PC behavior that you may not be fond of. For example, in warhammer the rewards are stingy. If the party is being paid 1 gp/day to watch over a merchant's caravan, that's actually pretty decent money (a mercenary makes 25-50 gp/year in this system). Because of that, often the belonging of fallen foes may be the biggest reward you get from an adventure. Just killed half a dozen brigands? Sweet, strip of their weapons, armor - and what the hell, clothes - pile it on the merchant wagon's and we'll sell it to a fence in the next town! Sweet, there must be like, what, 30 gp's worth of gear here? score!

So if you want that grubby gritty feel, fine. But if that's not the tone you are going for, then you will need to give out a bit more money...
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
The other problem with fantasy RPG economies is that the economy of the culture, while possibly well designed and coherent, almost never matches up with the economy of adventuring. What a mercenary or tradesman make a year bears almost no connection to what an adventurer makes, even when the GM is on the lighter side of treasure seeding in their encounters. If you pay adventurers like mercenaries they're gonna start looting the bodies. Daddy needs his full plate, and the day job isn't paying for that.
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
The other problem with fantasy RPG economies is that the economy of the culture, while possibly well designed and coherent, almost never matches up with the economy of adventuring. What a mercenary or tradesman make a year bears almost no connection to what an adventurer makes, even when the GM is on the lighter side of treasure seeding in their encounters. If you pay adventurers like mercenaries they're gonna start looting the bodies. Daddy needs his full plate, and the day job isn't paying for that.
I think adventurers are indeed eventually going to enter the realm of the wealthy (I have actually had campaigns back in Gurps era where all the pcs had backgrounds such that they were never worrying about petty cash so the deep level looting was ignored... I am pretty sure deep level looting was encouraged in 1e though.
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
Adventurers mostly enter the realm of the wealthy, or at least it's periphery, pretty GD quickly. I think it's probably fair to say that most parties of four accumulate 200gp (the wage of a good mercenary in a year each) in way less than a year, and that's probably a good thing. I like the notion of using background to prevent cash related body looting though, that is a really tedious way to play (and really not very heroic either). It's not quite as tedious as checking every single 10 foot section of dungeon corridor for traps, but it's close.
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
Adventurers mostly enter the realm of the wealthy, or at least it's periphery, pretty GD quickly. I think it's probably fair to say that most parties of four accumulate 200gp (the wage of a good mercenary in a year each) in way less than a year, and that's probably a good thing. I like the notion of using background to prevent cash related body looting though, that is a really tedious way to play (and really not very heroic either). It's not quite as tedious as checking every single 10 foot section of dungeon corridor for traps, but it's close.
Yes actually I started it before playing GURPS I had players who were Justiciars and Councilors and Embassadors and Heralded Priestesses and Bodyguards of some these and the like. (a few odd ball wizards apprentices). They started out with goals other than get rich which had as muc of an impact
 

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