Goodberries and Eberron

Hawk Diesel

Explorer
So Eberron is a setting all about wide-magic, rather than high-magic. The setting does a really great job imaginging how low-level spells and magic can effect the economy and society, as well as how magic can be utilized as a parallel to technology.

And goodberries seem like one of those low-level spells that can have a huge impact on a setting (Eberron or otherwise). Now I've seen Eberron integrate goodberries, such as with goodberry wine, as well as suggestions that goodberries are a necessity for surviving the Mournland. But what I haven't seen are explanations around how goodberries could impact issues around hunger where poverty rates are high or when harvests are bad.

Personally, I imagine that with goodberries being a 1st level spell, it would be not just advantageous, but perhaps even necessary for each town to have at least one person capable of casting the spell. Hunger and starvation could effectively be eliminated in a setting with wide access to goodberries.

However, despite this potential, my sense of the setting is that hunger and starvation are still issues in Eberron. Now I understand why goodberries wouldn't replace food. Food tastes great. Sharing meals provides a sense of community. Preparing food and cuisines can be an expression of culture and honor particular traditions. So I understand why food is preferrable to a single goodberry a day.

But if goodberries are prevalent, then why might hunger still be an issue?

The obvious answer could be distribution of those capable of casting the spell. I mean in the real world we produce enough food to end world hunger, but due to distribution and logistics much of it is wasted and cannot get to those in need.

But is there a less obvious answer? Are there negative long-term effects associated with consuming goodberries? Is there something about the production, creation, or consumption of goodberries that make them ideal in a crisis, but a poor or even unthinkable choice beyond short-term food shortages?

I don't know whether this has been addressed officially. I have seen threads that discuss the issues of goodberries within an adventuring party, such as the difficulties it can have for DMs or those that abuse the healing properties of the spell. But I don't know that I've seen discussion of the broader implications of the spell within the game world.

What are people's thoughts? Has anyone else considered this aspect of goodberries? Has anyone attempted to address this? Are there other low-level spells that need similar examination?
 

PsyzhranV2

Adventurer
Do remember that Goodberry is a Druidic spell, while most Magewrights in Khorvaire follow Arcane traditions. You'll really only see significant numbers of Magewrights (or Gleaners as some sources call those Druidic Magewrights) with access to Goodberry in the Eldeen Reaches and maybe the Shadow Marches. You'd be hard pressed to find one in the Five Nations proper.
 

Hawk Diesel

Explorer
Do remember that Goodberry is a Druidic spell, while most Magewrights in Khorvaire follow Arcane traditions. You'll really only see significant numbers of Magewrights (or Gleaners as some sources call those Druidic Magewrights) with access to Goodberry in the Eldeen Reaches and maybe the Shadow Marches. You'd be hard pressed to find one in the Five Nations proper.
Mechanically, sure, that may very well be. But the distinction between arcane, divine, and druidic magic is already somewhat artificial. Magic is a tool that solves problems. I don't think House Cannith cares whether the enchantments they create come from arcane, divine, or druidic traditions. What matters is the product and their ability to produce it. So at its foundation, we have a tangible problem (hunger) and a tangible solution that is generally known to exist (goodberries). Regardless of what practice will lead to the outcome, you will have individuals that will seek out the power, either to solve the problem or monetize the solution.

So then that may be why goodberries haven't been widely used if druids are uncommon enough in the world that the world at large is not aware of the spell. But given the vast number of druidic sects, House Vadalis's interactions with them, and that House Ghallanda likely knows about this spell or could at least conceive of it, this doesn't seem likely to me. And once again, even if only a few people know about it, there will be those motivated to find and use or exploit this information.

Finally, what creates the discrepancy for arcane magewrights in the Five Nations, versus Gleaners in the Eldeen Reaches and Shadow Marches? Farmers and Shepherds exists everywhere, not just the Eldeen Reaches and the Shadow Marches. Communication and trade are prevalent enough that those in the Five Nations would have to know goodberries exist.
 
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TiwazTyrsfist

Adventurer
Remember that Khorvaire is a fiercely capitalistic land, controlled by cut-throat family businesses.

In the real world, here in America, we allow something like 40% of all food produced to be wasted. Not in the form of "Oh I can't eat all this" but in the form of, it just sits in a warehouse and rots because it didn't get sold. Meanwhile, 41 Million people in the US go hungry everyday.
Because "We can't just GIVE them the food, that would be crazy and unfair."

So, Since Eberron is a setting in the grip of really some of the worst parts of both the (pseudo)industrial revolution AND political/corporate corruption, I think the appropriate assumption is that there aren't Eternal Goodberry Wands in every town, village, and county because it's not financially advantageous for the heads of any of the houses that could do it to make them. More money to be made by gouging prices on scarce food imported from another area than on having a cheap easy back-up.

And if the people die? We'll sell their corpses to the Karrnath Necromancers.

Profit!
 

Kurotowa

Adventurer
Well, how prevalent is Goodberry? To cast it you need to be a Druid, a halfling caster with the Mark of Hospitality, or presumably a Magewright. Let's look at those in reverse order.

The recommended standard for a Magewright casting a 1st level spell is a ritual casting time and 50g worth of components. Goodberry makes 10 berries so that means each berry costs 5g in mats, with a mark up for labor if you're selling them on the open market. By the PHB, a Wealthy lifestyle with luxurious meals included is 4g a day. In other words, those Goodberry meals aren't a cheap food substitute, they're a massively expensive luxury beyond the means of all but the richest. So industrial production is right out.

Now let's look at people with PC class levels. First, let's note that such people are fairly rare to begin with, mostly aren't that high level, and they generally have important things to do. But let's say you've got a Land Druid or Ghallanda Wizard who really wants to put a dent into the hunger problem. They're 5th level and are willing to dump all their daily spells on Goodberry. With spell recovery they can cast it 12 times, which feeds 120 people for the day. That's not nothing, but it's less than even the smallest village (defined as 500-2500 inhabitants). And for that you're tying up the entire daily spell output of someone fairly important. A 5th level Druid trying to end a famine is surely better off traveling around casting Plant Growth to bless the fields.

So unless you introduce an Eldritch Machine that can cast Goodberry infinitely and without cost, I don't see it making a serious dent in the food supply. It's just not an efficient way to feed a large population.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
So Eberron is a setting all about wide-magic, rather than high-magic. The setting does a really great job imaginging how low-level spells and magic can effect the economy and society, as well as how magic can be utilized as a parallel to technology.

And goodberries seem like one of those low-level spells that can have a huge impact on a setting (Eberron or otherwise). Now I've seen Eberron integrate goodberries, such as with goodberry wine, as well as suggestions that goodberries are a necessity for surviving the Mournland. But what I haven't seen are explanations around how goodberries could impact issues around hunger where poverty rates are high or when harvests are bad.

Personally, I imagine that with goodberries being a 1st level spell, it would be not just advantageous, but perhaps even necessary for each town to have at least one person capable of casting the spell. Hunger and starvation could effectively be eliminated in a setting with wide access to goodberries.

However, despite this potential, my sense of the setting is that hunger and starvation are still issues in Eberron. Now I understand why goodberries wouldn't replace food. Food tastes great. Sharing meals provides a sense of community. Preparing food and cuisines can be an expression of culture and honor particular traditions. So I understand why food is preferrable to a single goodberry a day.

But if goodberries are prevalent, then why might hunger still be an issue?

The obvious answer could be distribution of those capable of casting the spell. I mean in the real world we produce enough food to end world hunger, but due to distribution and logistics much of it is wasted and cannot get to those in need.

But is there a less obvious answer? Are there negative long-term effects associated with consuming goodberries? Is there something about the production, creation, or consumption of goodberries that make them ideal in a crisis, but a poor or even unthinkable choice beyond short-term food shortages?

I don't know whether this has been addressed officially. I have seen threads that discuss the issues of goodberries within an adventuring party, such as the difficulties it can have for DMs or those that abuse the healing properties of the spell. But I don't know that I've seen discussion of the broader implications of the spell within the game world.

What are people's thoughts? Has anyone else considered this aspect of goodberries? Has anyone attempted to address this? Are there other low-level spells that need similar examination?
I mean... We have the means to eliminate hunger in real life, and we don’t. So I’d say Goodberry not eliminating hunger in Eberron is perfectly realistic in a magic-as-technology world. Just have goodberries be a gourmet food that restaurants just throw away by the truckload every day to maintain their scarcity.
 

lall

Explorer
Personally, I imagine that with goodberries being a 1st level spell, it would be not just advantageous, but perhaps even necessary for each town to have at least one person capable of casting the spell. Hunger and starvation could effectively be eliminated in a setting with wide access to goodberries.
If folks see new, level 1 druids being taken as community slaves, they may decide to pursue a different career path.
 

Hawk Diesel

Explorer
I guess I was just curious if the issue is purely economic, or if there might be some other possibility.

I guess another part is that if being able to cast these spells carries such high economic value, then it provides PC's a way to earn money way more safely than adventuring. Of course, there are lots of reasons to adventure, but money and treasure can be pretty strong driving forces. I suppose this isn't just limited to the goodberry spell, but it was the spell that got me thinking down this path.

For those who are curious, the game I'm currently running has the players running a financially failing detective agency (Currently running the Fallen Angel module and then going into the Victor Saint-Demain trilogy). But one of the players can cast goodberry. This got me wondering why they wouldn't eat goodberries to save on food and try to sell the remainder for extra cash.
 

Leatherhead

Possibly a Idiot.
The real advantage with using Goodberry is logistical:
For the same amount of space as a ration, you could have about 1000 berries instead.

But that's not the angle you should be looking for when considering culinary breakthroughs or agricultural revolutions. Because Eberron has refrigerators and railroads, which act like force multipliers for crops.

In fact, it's really weird that Eberron has no House that monopolizes agriculture by magically growing plants. Civilization itself was built upon farming, the entire reason people had any time to do anything other than hunt or gather is because someone figured out how to grow more crops than they could eat. Sure, there are the GMO livestock of House Vadalis, however they don't do crops. And House Lyrandar can seed clouds to cause rain, but that's more of a side gig as their main focus is taming the seas. I suppose there are the Ashbound who actively try to stop any kind of agriculture, though they obviously aren't that good at it given all the cities in the setting.
 

Salthorae

Imperial Mountain Dew Taster
In fact, it's really weird that Eberron has no House that monopolizes agriculture by magically growing plants. Civilization itself was built upon farming,
That is an interesting point I'd never thought about before.

Given that there is a Mark & House that dominates animal breeding/handling, it is surprising that one hasn't arisen related to monopolization of food resources themselves.

I wonder @Hellcow if there is a reason there no a Mark of... Sowing or Reaping or something like that.
 

ChaosOS

Explorer
I've always interpreted it as it's an intentional hole. Notably, no house deals with raw resource extraction - mining, logging, farming. Why is that important? The houses can't legally own land. This is where the nobility and the Aurum step in - they can own land and extract its resources. Sure, there's a diversity of local shops in town, but all the shopkeeps have to pay rent to the local noble who sits fat on his haunches profiting on other people's hard work.

Oh, also Eberron generally needs a labor revolution. But that's a different topic.
 

tetrasodium

Explorer
You can absolutely live off nothing but gruel or an IV drip for a long time, even longer if you add a vitamin supplement... that doesn't mean that you will enjoy it & that it's not without side effects like how strict vegans need b12 shots or suffer side effects.

@Salthorae Mark of hospitality can cast create food & water and almost certainly has dragonmark focus items to do it for them. Mark of handling/vadalis could magebreed crops to make them faster growing/climate tolerant/etc with higher yields. Mark of storm can regulate the rainfall for irrigation needs. Mark of making will happily make you a fancy magic plow with racing stripes. Any common person can physically put the seeds in the plowed field & harvest the resulting crop after cating for it over the growing season
 

Kurotowa

Adventurer
The real advantage with using Goodberry is logistical:
For the same amount of space as a ration, you could have about 1000 berries instead.
You really can't. I considered that possibility, but if you read the fine print the berries only last for 24 hours after the spell is cast. So you can't distribute them as a MRE or stockpile them against future need. They have to be made on the spot and for that day only.
 

Hawk Diesel

Explorer
You really can't. I considered that possibility, but if you read the fine print the berries only last for 24 hours after the spell is cast. So you can't distribute them as a MRE or stockpile them against future need. They have to be made on the spot and for that day only.
Well, based on the existence of goodberry wine, it would seem there exists some process by which goodberries can be coaxed to remain past that time and be viable. Not saying it's easy or cheap, but something like that must exist in Eberron.
 

Salthorae

Imperial Mountain Dew Taster
@ChaosOS thanks for that point on land ownership and raw resource extraction, it's also a great point.

@tetrasodium I don't see the Mark of Handling having any faculties with crops or agriculture.
 

Leatherhead

Possibly a Idiot.
Notably, no house deals with raw resource extraction - mining
That's recently changed:

E:RftLW said:
House Tharashk traditionally licenses inquisitives and bounty hunters. Recently the house’s Finder’s Guild has expanded into dragonshard prospecting. As dragonshards are the lifeblood of the magical economy, the house’s talent has given them new wealth and influence.
 

tetrasodium

Explorer
@ChaosOS thanks for that point on land ownership and raw resource extraction, it's also a great point.

@tetrasodium I don't see the Mark of Handling having any faculties with crops or agriculture.
there's not much pc relevance so it makes sense for it to gt dropped/overlooked, but magebreeding is an old thing that dates back to the giants of xendriik or earlier; it would be remarkable if nobody at any point had started magebreeding crops & done it so far back that wild non-magebred crops were unusual in the extreme through most of khorvaire if not all of eberron.
 

Leatherhead

Possibly a Idiot.
You really can't. I considered that possibility, but if you read the fine print the berries only last for 24 hours after the spell is cast. So you can't distribute them as a MRE or stockpile them against future need. They have to be made on the spot and for that day only.
My mistake, I was going off a houserule of the spell that required physical berries to be enchanted. That way you would ship the berries and make them into Goodberries as needed.
 

Kurotowa

Adventurer
Well, based on the existence of goodberry wine, it would seem there exists some process by which goodberries can be coaxed to remain past that time and be viable. Not saying it's easy or cheap, but something like that must exist in Eberron.
Are there rules for Goodberry Wine anywhere in the book? Or even a description of what it does or how it's made? All I noticed in my read through of Rising was one or two name checks of it as a thing that exists. Was it detailed more in a previous edition and I've forgotten about it since?
 

tetrasodium

Explorer
Are there rules for Goodberry Wine anywhere in the book? Or even a description of what it does or how it's made? All I noticed in my read through of Rising was one or two name checks of it as a thing that exists. Was it detailed more in a previous edition and I've forgotten about it since?
going from memory, nonspecific secret technique & regular enchantments during the fermenting. It was one of the 4e books
 

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