How do we make economics that do not limit character concepts?


First Post
So your "fun economics" apparently ignores depreciation? If I buy a high-end PC for a gaming rig now, I don't get to magically trade it in in a few years for the current high-end PC. You will never find any merchant that buys things for the same price as they sell them (which is implied by "losing 80% of your trade value").

This is quite bad example. It would probably hold true, if in D&D, 3rd level militia would have +1 swords in year 1111, +2 swords in year 1113, +5 swords in year 1115, +11 swords in year 1117, +25 swords in year 1119... This is why you cannot sell your old PC for a reasonable price.

Another point - I can understand that you might be picky and you will pay only 20% of value for that sword +2 which was 'used'. I'm not that picky - I will buy it instead for 30%. Not possible? What about trading sword+2 for axe+2 ? You mean I have to give you 5-7 swords+2 to get one axe? Because axes are a lot more useful and in demand? Then what about exchanging two axes+2 for one sword+2.... Oh... also not possible.

Magic item economy in D&D is broken fluff wise. It is very arbitrary set of rules created to make game very balanced and to make gathering of 'crap' gear not worth the time. It is probably most board-gamish aspect of D&D for me - I have already adapted to game-oriented way of handling combat and powers, but I still cannot fully accept economy rules as presented. At the same time, there is no easy way to modify them without toppling game balance.

Now, let's look what will happen if we change the rules to be more 'simulationist' (list of completely arbitrary decisions on my part, I'm aware that most of those steps are not RAW and not RAI).

  • Let's leave the magic item prices as they are - I have to start with something
  • Item prices at high levels are completely abstract and ridiculous. There is NO way that 25lvl player characters are running around with items which are worth more money than few kingdoms together. Still, I want to stay with the prices - so let's forget that it is about the money. It is about amount of magic residuum which is required to create magic item. Unit of residuum is called gp and it happens by accident to be worth one gold piece.
  • Above point means that gold pieces/coins are actually backed by residuum (same way as paper money notes used to be backed by gold in real world). Creator of the coin promises that he will give you so and so many units of residuum in exchange for your gold coins if you choose so. Obviously, it is not supposed to happen too often, or he could not mint too much money ;)
  • What with astral diamonds? Why they are worth the same amount of money? Easiest solution would be to say that they are 'condensed' residuum (exactly 10000 units of it), probably with a simple ritual to convert it between dust and diamond forms. Clean, simple, makes more costly magic items residuum easier to measure.
  • It is bit cheesy to always find hook-guisarme-with-small-bulb in magic treasure just because one of the players have chosen it. It is very easy to solve without breaking the game - small ritual which will allow to exchange the enchantments between same class of items. This way, you can keep your grandfather's hook-guisarme-with-small-bulb and just replace the enchantments on it, by 'draining' magic from found item. Old enchantment will disappear (thus creating a nice residuum/money sink). This doesn't work so great for magic armors, because of fluff (they are made of different materials depending on enchantement). Fortunately, there are a lot less armor types, so it is less suspicious when you find matching type in treasure.
  • Barter trade. Can I exchange sword +2 for axe +2? What about sword+2 for chainmail +2? I would say yes, skill test/challenge permitting. If you go to magic 'shop', you should be probably charged a bit - sometimes between 20-50% of item worth should be in line, depending on negotiation success and worthiness of items (should uncommon weapons be worth more or less for shopkeepers? on one side, with common ones it is easier to find buyer, on the other hand, every magic shop in the capital city will have them, so you won't be an exclusive provider...).
  • Selling items to shopkeepers/brokers. Shopkeeper has to invest his money, hoping for another adventurer to come by. On the other hand, he has kind of insurance - in worth case he can disenchant item and get pure magic currency out of it. So, shopkeepers should pay somewhere below 100% and above disenchant percentage.
  • Disenchant. It is perfectly 'acceptable' that disenchant process gets only small amount of residuum out of the items. On the other hand, idea is to not too much penalize parties spending 10 levels in dungeon, without access to magic shops. 20-40% is probably reasonable amount. I would probably make it 20% guaranteed and for anything more, you need a proper laboratory and some skill checks/challenges. This could mean professional disenchanters in big cities, offering their services, giving you 30-35% of residuum, keeping around 5% for themselves (weaker disenchanter, lower margin he can expect).
  • Combining two points above, given the fact that good shopkeeper will probably have a discount with one of good disenchanters, shops should probably buy magic items from you for 40-50% of their worth. Upper limit of it meets lower limit of barter trade. Smaller the city, less money you will get.
  • In RAW, to get item one plus better than yours, you had to cash in 25-35 items of yours (because of 20% sell, 5x price of better plus and 110-140% price in shop). In my version, assuming 50% average worth for sell (mix of barter and sell for money), you will need 10-12 items. I don't think it is a game breaking - this means that if entire party will cash in their +2 weapon and armor, they can buy one weapon +3 for one guy. Thanks to 5x curve for pluses, letovers from levels long ago are not going to change party wealth in any noticeable way, as far as better magic items are concerned.
  • You need to disenchant 2.5-5 items to create another one of the same level. If you just want to exchange the enchantement, cost is 2 items (you put shank +great and legacy +bad and get out legacy +great). Looks ok.
  • Wealth versus power. This is the problem only in heroic tier. At this level, by playing economy game, you can probably get one extra plus on your equipment. I think it is ok - if somebody really invests a lot of effort into that, +1 to attack/damage or AC is in acceptable range. Above that, you CANNOT play economy, because economy is not working in this range of money. Still, if you rob a treasury of big kingdom and steal all residuum there, you can probably overequip yourself considerably. At the same time, you will probably become most wanted man in quite big area - after all, with such robbery, you can collapse entire monetary economy of given country. I expect that bounty hunters send after the party should match the level of the treasure, not the party (so if 5th level party robs 20th lvl treasure ,which allows them to get +4 weapons, they will have to test it against 20lvl bounty hunters...). They could as well just go and kill 20th level dragon - they would get same treasure, but without angering a king or two. So, only thing which is changing here, is that with enough effort, you can get a treasure before killing the monster... (in RAW, 20th level dragon would still have 5th level treasure if killed by 5th level party - be we are way outside RAW here already)
  • Still, economy minigame can be terribly boring for the player not involved. It is not meant to be actually played, changes are there to make it looking possible.
  • Magic walmart. There is no way of avoiding it. If there is a demand, there will be a supply. Only question is how rare it is. More rare, worse the prices for the players.
  • Residuum sources. Where does it come from originally? Is it still possible to find raw sources of it, or they were long time ago bound in various forms of magic? If raw sources exists, there will be ultimate strategic points and wars will be fought mostly for them. Letting players inside such 'mine' is not wise idea, so probably they should not be in easily reachable places. Another possibility is that they are not mine-style sites, but for example some kind of living creatures (dragon hearts/whatever). If there are not raw sources, every disenchant operation is actually killing a bit of magic in the world. For the time of campaign, we can assume rate of discovery of magical items in the world offsetting disenchant process, but in long term, residuum is going to become scarce compared to other currencies (so unit of residuum will become worth more horses/pigs/castles/etc then now).

This was a flow of thought, not structured - I just wanted to write down some of the ideas about economy in D&D I had so far. I might think about something more organized later.
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First Post
1) Overhaul the economy. I see where the OP is coming from, my head is reeling... but I also see why the designers did it. By default the PCs aren't merchants and in most games they won't be.... but, of course, they can be. The DMG gives guidelines on breaking the underlying premises of the game (p151)... while this doesn't cover the economy you can still go for it! Change rates of selling items, add skills, make a merchant class, develop ways of characterising demand /supply of different items geographically & over time. Borrow sub-systems from other games (e.g. Traveller)

2) Stick with the economy, but give oppurtunites for players to play out and be rewarded for their character concepts. p 125 explicitly encourages creatvity with handing out treasures. Move treasure from encounters to other places, like at the end of a skill challenge that simulates (say) the exportation of a caravan load of food (you could give bonuses for players that buy in areas of high supply and sell in areas of high demand (and vice-versa). Similiarly, a skill challenge can be used be used to sell a magic item at more than the listed 20%. Take out some of the allocated gold and just give it out as an allowance to the pandered son of a noble or a stipend to an indentured sage. You can work within the system, but it might not feel that the mechanics are supporting activities directly.


Bourbon and Dice
It always makes me laugh when people take guidlines and worship them like they are comandments from on high.

You want Baron McWeaksauce to be able have a fortune at his disposal? Done. Wealth by level is a CHARACTER system.

Remember they are guidlines. You want you characters to have more wealth than normal? Go for it. Whether you've just given them more, they've blackmailed, swindled, or merchanted their way there it doesn't matter. Just don't come here crying when the players are bored because every encounter is a cakewalk.

Don't attach "The commandments of DnD" to something that was never meant to be more than guidelines for keeping characters near the balance point for their level while opperating in the default world. Just because wotc didn't provide us with eight differant ecconomic models to plug into our campaign worlds does not mean that what they gave us is complete crap. It's a quick and easy system for the default world. If you want something more than quit crying about how they stole good money from you by not giving you your hearts desire and adjust the system to your taste.

They're only guidelines.

And I appologize if I seem crass. I just get tired of people assuming that everything in the books must be followed to the letter and because it's not 100% to their liking they whine and complain. I'm all for open discution about was to tweak whats there so that everyone can have a fun time. But lets leave out the internet hysteria shall we.


First Post
It always makes me laugh when people take guidlines and worship them like they are commandments from on high.

I don’t think you understand the premise of this post.

Darkrose50 said:
Having a fun economy does however equal having an economy where character concepts involving wealth are possible.

I want to create house-rules where the above is possible. The above quote is from the summation of the original post. I dare say I am not taking the rules like they are commandments from on high.

You want Baron McWeaksauce to be able have a fortune at his disposal? Done. Wealth by level is a CHARACTER system.

Remember they are guidlines. You want you characters to have more wealth than normal? Go for it. Whether you've just given them more, they've blackmailed, swindled, or merchanted their way there it doesn't matter. Just don't come here crying when the players are bored because every encounter is a cakewalk.

Don't attach "The commandments of DnD" to something that was never meant to be more than guidelines for keeping characters near the balance point for their level while opperating in the default world. Just because wotc didn't provide us with eight differant ecconomic models to plug into our campaign worlds does not mean that what they gave us is complete crap. It's a quick and easy system for the default world. If you want something more than quit crying about how they stole good money from you by not giving you your hearts desire and adjust the system to your taste.

They're only guidelines.

And I appologize if I seem crass. I just get tired of people assuming that everything in the books must be followed to the letter and because it's not 100% to their liking they whine and complain. I'm all for open discution about was to tweak whats there so that everyone can have a fun time. But lets leave out the internet hysteria shall we.

Are the underlying rules “cornerstones” I pointed out about 4E D&D untrue? What advice do you have that would move the concept of the thread forward? The concept of the thread is to modify the “cornerstones” to allow “better” economics not based on level.

Darkrose50 said:
A “better” economy would be one where character choices involving economics would be valid.

My version of “better” was defined in the summation of the original post.

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Paul Strack

First Post
Can we figure out the conversion rate at level 1? I'm trying to work out a house rule of my own you see. At level 1 you choose two out of three (each option can be chosen twice):
You start out with a certain amount of gold either inhereted from your family or stolen from other people's families.
Veteran/Street Rat
You start out with a certain amount of XP earned from living on the streets or from fighting wars.
You start out with a certain amount of residuum.

I need to figure out the appropriate ratios and amounts to give for each of these.

Is this a one-time award for starting characters? I'd say it should be about a 20% of a level XP wise (200) and the equivalent of a 1st level magic item, gold-wise (360 gp). Don't sweat the balance issues, because after a couple levels the growth in XP and gold will wash out the differences in the starting bonuses.


First Post
Magical item demand
Version 08.01.2008 1:01 AM CST

I am working on how my campaign world works. Just now I am coming up with reasons for a demand on magical items. Let me know if you have any ideas on advancing the below concepts.

Note: We will be using the parcel system. I will allow characters to earn gold outside of the parcel system.

Note: We will be ignoring the 0%, 20%, 100% selling rules. You may create a character that can interact with the economy. You may make a character that is a crafter, merchant, treasure hunter, or is otherwise effective in interacting with the economy.

Note: One may upgrade a magical item by paying the difference in values between the levels.

Note: Starting at fifth level one item may be a legendary legacy proximity item (an item that has been granted magical abilities due to the legendary deeds the character has preformed). The Great Ax of Furgus the mighty is magical not because some mage performed a ritual dance over it, but because Furgus the mighty, a legendary hero of the realm, is intrinsically tied to the ax though deed, song, and tale.

First cornerstone: Monsters want to eat your face, and magical items keep them from doing so

Characters have levels, magical items have levels, and monsters have levels. Monster races advance in power without taking into account magical items, while player character races do not. If a player character race society has monsters threatening it, and has any scrap of stability, then it would need magical items to balance things out. Adventurers are indeed a part of that balance, but not the whole of it. The military (knights and nobles), organized crime, wizardly guilds, wealthy merchants and other organizations are all over the magical item market. This is how they keep there power, and there faces in tact.

Second cornerstone: Magical items require properly powered souls to function

Magical items channel magical energies though a soul. A soul can only handle channeling a certain quantity or quality of magical energy. The level of the character is a manifestation of the power of characters soul.

In order to allow characters the luxury of spending gold on non-magical items, I have removed the wealth cap, and to keep game balance I am going to set a limit on the number of magical items a character can equip at any one time.

Magical items use the power of the wielders soul in order to fully function.
  • Each level a character gains a core magical item equipment slot with maximum capacity equal to the level gained.
  • A character may select up to four magical item equipment slots (core of wondrous) to add a +4 level modifier, +3 level modifier, +2 level modifier, +1 level modifier. A character can change, or alter those slots modified between adventures.
  • A character may only have up to 8 core magical item equipment slots (the slots with the highest capacity).
  • Core magical item equipment slots may be used to attune any form of magical item (including wondrous magical items)
  • Beginning at 10th level a character gains a wondrous item slot. An additional wondrous item slot is gained at levels 10, 14, 18, 22, 26, and 30.
  • A character may only have up to 3 wondrous magical item equipment slots (the slots with the highest capacity).
  • Wondrous magical item equipment slots may be only used to attune wondrous magical items.
  • Only one magical item may be equipped per slot.
  • It takes one week for a soul to attune to a magical item. Alternatively a character can spend an action point to attune immediately.
  • Un-attuning an item is a free action.
  • One shot magical items do not require a magical item equipment slot.
  • Self aware magical items do not require a magical item equipment slot.
  • Some magical items do not require a magical item equipment slot (per the stories needs).
  • There will be 0-level magical items such as magical bedrolls of comfort and such that do not require a magical item equipment slot. Zero level items will be limited in some undecided manor.
  • Magical items not attuned may be worn, but their magical abilities will not function, and the item will act as a mundane item of the base type.

[Sblock=Character Level, And Core [/B]Magical Item Equipment Slot Maximum Capacities]
Note: the newest slot is listed at the right.

[FONT=Times New Roman][COLOR=white]Character [/COLOR]
[COLOR=white]Magical item (one permanent, and one temporary)[/COLOR]
[COLOR=white]1st [/COLOR]
[COLOR=white]2nd [/COLOR]
[COLOR=white]1st, 2nd[/COLOR]
[COLOR=white]3rd [/COLOR]
[COLOR=white]1st, 2nd, 3rd[/COLOR]
[COLOR=white]4th [/COLOR]
[COLOR=white]1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th[/COLOR]
[COLOR=white]5th [/COLOR]
[COLOR=white]1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th[/COLOR]
[COLOR=white]6th [/COLOR]
[COLOR=white]1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th[/COLOR]
[COLOR=white]7th [/COLOR]
[COLOR=white]1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th[/COLOR]
[COLOR=white]8th [/COLOR]
[COLOR=white]1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th [/COLOR]
[COLOR=white]9th [/COLOR]
[COLOR=white]2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th [/COLOR]
[COLOR=white]10th [/COLOR]
[COLOR=white]3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th[/COLOR]
[COLOR=white]11th [/COLOR]
[COLOR=white]4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th[/COLOR]
[COLOR=white]12th [/COLOR]
[COLOR=white]5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th [/COLOR]
[COLOR=white]13th [/COLOR]
[COLOR=white]6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th [/COLOR]
[COLOR=white]14th [/COLOR]
[COLOR=white]7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th, 14th [/COLOR]
[COLOR=white]15th [/COLOR]
[COLOR=white]8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th, 14th, 15th [/COLOR]
[COLOR=white]16th [/COLOR]
[COLOR=white]9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th, 14th, 15th, 16th [/COLOR]
[COLOR=white]17th [/COLOR]
[COLOR=white]10th, 11th, 12th, 13th, 14th, 15th, 16th, 17th [/COLOR]
[COLOR=white]18th [/COLOR]
[COLOR=white]11th, 12th, 13th, 14th, 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th [/COLOR]
[COLOR=white]19th [/COLOR]
[COLOR=white]12th, 13th, 14th, 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th, 19th [/COLOR]
[COLOR=white]20th [/COLOR]
[COLOR=white]13th, 14th, 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th, 19th, 20th [/COLOR]
[COLOR=white]21st [/COLOR]
[COLOR=white]14th, 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th, 19th, 20th, 21st [/COLOR]
[COLOR=white]22nd [/COLOR]
[COLOR=white]15th, 16th, 17th, 18th, 19th, 20th, 21st, 22nd [/COLOR]
[COLOR=white]23rd [/COLOR]
[COLOR=white]16th, 17th, 18th, 19th, 20th, 21st, 22nd, 23rd [/COLOR]
[COLOR=white]24th [/COLOR]
[COLOR=white]17th, 18th, 19th, 20th, 21st, 22nd, 23rd, 24th [/COLOR]
[COLOR=white]25th [/COLOR]
[COLOR=white]18th, 19th, 20th, 21st, 22nd, 23rd, 24th, 25th [/COLOR]
[COLOR=white]26th [/COLOR]
[COLOR=white]19th, 20th, 21st, 22nd, 23rd, 24th, 25th, 26th [/COLOR]
[COLOR=white]27th [/COLOR]
[COLOR=white]20th, 21st, 22nd, 23rd, 24th, 25th, 26th, 27th [/COLOR]
[COLOR=white]28th [/COLOR]
[COLOR=white]21st, 22nd, 23rd, 24th, 25th, 26th, 27th, 28th [/COLOR]
[COLOR=white]29th [/COLOR]
[COLOR=white]22nd, 23rd, 24th, 25th, 26th, 27th, 28th, 29th [/COLOR]
[COLOR=white]30th [/COLOR]
[COLOR=white]23rd, 24th, 25th, 26th, 27th, 28th, 29th, 30th [/COLOR]

[sblock=Character Level, And Wondrous[/b] Item Equipment Slot Maximum Capacities][/sblock][sblock=Character Level, And Wondrous[/B]
Note: the newest slot is listed at the right.

[Sblock=Character Level, And Wondrous[/B] Item Equipment Slot Maximum Capacities]
Note: the newest slot is listed at the right.

[FONT=Times New Roman][COLOR=white]Character [/COLOR][/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman][COLOR=white]Magical item (one permanent, and one temporary)[/COLOR][/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman][COLOR=white]10th [/COLOR][/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman][COLOR=white]10th[/COLOR][/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman][COLOR=white]14th [/COLOR][/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman][COLOR=white]10th,14th[/COLOR][/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman][COLOR=white]18th [/COLOR][/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman][COLOR=white]10th,14th, 18th[/COLOR][/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman][COLOR=white]22nd [/COLOR][/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman][COLOR=white]14th, 18th, 22nd[/COLOR][/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman][COLOR=white]26th [/COLOR][/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman][COLOR=white]18th, 22nd, 26th[/COLOR][/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman][COLOR=white]30th [/COLOR][/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman][COLOR=white]22nd, 26th, 30th[/COLOR][/FONT]

[SIZE=3][FONT=Times New Roman][COLOR=white]

Third cornerstone: Magic items do not last forever

Magical items need to get replaced as entropy does its thing.

Third cornerstone part 1: Arcane Nature Spirits

Arcane nature spirits seek to return magical energies trapped in magical items back into the world’s ecosystem. These arcane nature spirits, usually, understand that if an item is attuned, that it is being used, is part of the system, and leave it alone. An arcane nature spirit needs to attack, and kill the person an item is attuned to in order to unmake an attuned magical item. Doing so is normally considered blasphemy by other arcane nature spirits, but it is known to occur.

If an item remains un-attuned then it risks being unmade by arcane nature spirits. The longer an item is un-attuned the greater the risk of the item being unmade. Arcane nature spirits are, usually, duty bound and driven by compulsion to unmake any magical item not attuned for one hundred-and-one-years. Some spirits unmake items that have been un-attuned for a shorter period of time, and doing so is an expectable practice (especially if the local arcane nature spirits are angered).

Magical items created though the legendary legacy proximity are considered part of the system as long as songs and tales keep there magic alive (and are thus spared by the arcane nature spirits). Once forgotten they are fair game for arcane nature spirits. Disenchanting such items can bring glee or anger from the local arcane nature spirits, depending on the treatment of the lore that kept the legendary legacy proximity item in circulation. Attempts to prolong the deeds of a long forgotten, no longer relevant hero with the express intent of circumventing the spirit of the accord in order to keep the magical energies trapped in item form is seen as bad form by arcane nature spirits. Disenchanting such an item greatly appeases arcane nature spirits. On the other hand to disenchant an item of a hero whose tale is told, and deeds are sung with pure intent, and admiration angers arcane nature spirits.

An unmade item leaves behind residuum as detritus as if a disenchant ritual was performed. In actuality the disenchant ritual speeds up this process by summoning arcane nature spirits, and making an item appear to not have been attuned for a hundred-and-one-years.

Wards holding arcane nature spirits at bay are possible, but have the danger of angering arcane nature spirits. Spirits can be quite vindictive when angered.

One can also attempt, and often succeed in fooling the arcane nature spirits by hiring a high level soul to attune a family heirloom, for example, when no family members are capable of attuning it themselves. Attempting to fool the arcane nature spirits in such a manor sometimes succeeds, and sometimes it does not. Spirits can be quite vindictive when angered, and attempting to fool one can anger a given spirit, or tickle its fancy, depending on the spirit.

One can also come to an arrangement with the local arcane nature spirits by ritually disenchanting magical items to appease them. Old un-attuned items are favorites, the older the better. Remember that as a rule most arcane nature spirits don’t care about residuum. It is a standard practice of the Mage’s Guild to offer all items being disenchanted for residuum to the local arcane nature spirits in hopes of placating them. Doing so usually distracts them from disenchanting un-attuned items quite nicely.

Residum does not contain the magical energies arcane nature spirits can undue, nor does it trap arcane energy. Residum can be used to channel, and trap arcane energy. Arcane nature spirits tend not to care about residum.

Third cornerstone part 2: Things Break

Items become warn, used, dilapidated, and break with use. Magical items are no exception. Magical items break from time to time. A broken magical item remains attuned, and may be repaired. Often they are disenchanted. An un-attuned broken magical item attracts arcane nature spirits to unmake a broken item sooner rather than later.

I see no reason to make rules for magical items breaking, but let it be known that they do break. Magical items are tougher then there non-magical counterparts, and the more powerful they are the tougher they are.

Third cornerstone part 3: War is chaos, and stuff gets lost

Knights die, troops are routed, and scavengers loot the bodies. Monsters eat knights as the peasantry flees. Knights loose weapons on the battlefield. Weapons stick in foes, or there mounts, and then they ride off. Weapons are disarmed, and land in deep mud. Battle is not an orderly situation, and chaos abounds.

Fourth Cornerstone: People demand magical items

The base setting is a medieval feudalistic society named Folokrie. Folokrie is both an island, and a country that houses the bulk of humanity. Folokrie is a feudalistic society that bound together by an interconnected web of oaths of loyalty, and pledges of military support. Loyalty is bought with food, shelter, and protection form harm. There are dangerous and inhumanly evil things that go bump in the night that one needs protection from. Magical items offer tangible protection from danger. Adventurers, guilds, churches, gentry, nobles, and great land owners drive the demand for magical items.

In this setting one out of every 450 individuals is a landed knight (with an equal number of landed ladies). There are an equal number of landless knights, and ladies in waiting. The county is in a dangerous period in its history. There was an undead plague three generations ago, much of the undead menace continues to this day, and most of the lands in the center of the human kingdom island remain in the hands of the undead.

Fourth Cornerstone part 1: Pawn shops

You can sell a magical item, even a broken one, with little or no effort for 20% of it crafting cost to many merchants in the realm.

Fourth Cornerstone part 2: Auction houses

There are two great metropolises on opposing coats of the human island nation of Folokrie, and each one houses several competing auction houses that deal in magical items. Auctions are held weekly to monthly (levels 1-10), monthly to seasonally (levels 11-20), and seasonally to yearly (levels 21-30) depending on the supply of magical items, and there given level.

Fourth Cornerstone part 3: Magical item agents

There are people who are well respected experts in locating buyers and sellers of magical items. They charge a fee for there expertise and reputation. Each of the major auction houses are frequented by these agents, and many of these agents are in the employ of the auction houses.

Fourth Cornerstone part 4: Standing orders

Great landowners require supplies to keep there lands operating. Dragons fly in, burn and loot villages, Orc hoards raid in longboats by sea, undead spill from the center of the island, and monsters roam and breed in the center of the lands unchecked by civilized countermeasures. Brave knights and brave men and women die defending humanity, and magical items are lost in the process. Wealth is spent on walls, towers, guards, training, and magical items to equip the knights, and other defenders of humanity.

This is especially true of the seven march lord’s of the seven duchies of Folokrie who are tasked with defending civilization form the undead infested core of the land, and when possible reclaim territory, county, by county. Doing so requires vast amounts of supplies, and this includes magical items. A march lord’s quartermaster’s office is a good place to swap magical items, and sell magical items for hard currency. A march lord’s office is also a good place to obtain dangerous mercenary work (spoils of war are a big part of the appeal of such work).
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First Post
Interesting thread.

I’d like to throw out a discussion kernel and see where it goes.

Perhaps a universal system based on gold/XP is not the way to go, given what Paul Strack said.

The traditional complicating factor, even when 1 gp equalled 1 XP, was that the problem of having all DMs give out treasure anywhere close to the same rate was never solved, and that an excessively generous or miserly DM would blow the system balance very quickly.

The approach looks less promising today.

I like the idea of class-specific economic interaction: If you are a Craftsman, you (get value/quality-based) XP for making things. If you are a Merchant, you get XP for selling things, if you are a Wastrel, you get XP for spending money (on non-useful things: gambling, parties, etc.).

If you set these archetypes into classes, then the way you access them is to multiclass, which brings its own opportunity costs in comparison to a character built specifically to optimize combat power.

Another big sticking point is generalhenry’s note that it really sucks for everyone else around the table while one person gets to play with the economics.

Well, it also sucks to be a fighter with +2 Perception when the focus of the evening's activity is sneaking around being wary and not getting ambushed.

Perhaps an answer lies in a suitable “Aid Another” mechanic, or maybe a story award XP for the non-economically inclined who go along with the occasional economics-focused activity. Or perhaps non-skilled apprentice-type activity can be used to involve others. Perhaps it might be possible to put a lot of the crunchy bits off-stage (especially math), to be handled during rest and clean-up times.

I think, like a court ballroom intrigue scenario, which is just being touched on with complex skill checks, the exploration of economic adventuring is in its infancy and may offer a fertile field for investigation.

I would encourage experimentation for the mechanically adventurous.


(He, Him)
Lovely summary of 4ed economics! Amusing, and slightly awful at the same time. One factor to bear in mind is that many players are only measured for power against the half to a few dozen people in their RPG group. Their primary concern is that they bat about average for their immediate party. That can be managed within the party, irrespective what loot they find, and DMs always have to dial encounters against their actual player characters.

To my mind, the main impact of 4ed economics is that 4ed clearly states that the game isn't about earning wealth through anything other than adventuring. If we want good economic rules, we have to introduce concepts of economic risk and fatality. 3.5 failed primarily because there were non-risk loops and players could churn those a thousand times without caring that their characters were aging years to do so; or in some cases the loops were so tight or life-spans so long that aging was irrelevant.

So if we want good economic rules, we have to start by understanding the costs (aging) risks (chance of failure) and penalties (fatality). We'll need that not to be swingy... it's a hard design to do. Also, as darkrose identifies, things need to wear out and break; maintenance costs come into play and those can get quite burdensome for PnP.

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First Post
Ack, I gave up on the 4e economy and threw it all out...

I rough estimated what the party should be getting (based on the treasure parcels), but players are now getting WAY more gold than they should be, especially if they are doing extraordinary things and earn additional rewards by turning in X goblin heads or the mask of a kobold warboss or something. Also, players randomly draw "treasure" cards of art objects and other types of treasures whenever they come across a treasure chest or wahtever. Treasure cards are random, although I am upping their values as the party levels.

This has lead to a somewhat more fiscally liberal party. Players are spending money on the weirdest the cleric donates TONS of money to the poor and is helping this poor young woman raise funds for a local orphanage (she's actually a con artist but err, he doesn't know that). The party continues to buy useless items from the eccentric traveling gnome merchant, who sells them weird crap like a glow orb (that happened to fade right when they needed light), or a painting of the local merchant lord, or six healing pots at a discounted 15g each (with random effects...wait till they use it!). They even bought a PC who joined the group...a warforged whom the gnome sold to them as a war golem for a 100gp.

On the flip side, the party is spending considerable more time in town making money. For instance, the local pally and warlock are going around "removing" curses and "blessing" people, crops, and what nots placing wards on households etc. for a small fee.

And, well, since the party is still relatively low level, I'm dropping the cost for magic items and giving them more money than 20% on weapon turn ins. Since they had officially registered as an Adventuring Guild with the local city officials, as registered members they can buy and sell magic items to the guild house for a somewhat more reasonable price. They also get more money for certain bounties and quests offered to the local guilds etc. In fact, they can even pick the quests based on paygrade an difficulty because of their guild status. Err, not to mention that most of them spent 25gp each to purchase the "higher" quality guild tabards offered by the local look somewhat more uniform and dignified, and official...heh.

In the end, the party is enjoying what wealth they have and are slowly saving it up for who knows what. The economy has become a somewhat more freeflow touch and go type of thing, nothing too rigid, and the players are pretty good about their money they roleplay it a lot versus power hoarding for power gaming.

Just my two cents...



First Post
darkrose50: Great post. Here goes:

Note: One may upgrade a magical item by paying the difference in values between the levels.

I like this all right, provided it requires an appropriate ritual and access to a crafter with the ability to create items at the target level (or, as you noted below, its abilities come from the user).

Note: Starting at fifth level one item may be a legendary legacy proximity item

Can't buy this. Legendary character screams Epic Tier at me. As a working concept, I might buy into it at Paragon, but not below. The 4e rules scale differently than previous editions, especially at the low end -- old edition 0-level monsters scale at Levels 1-2, and old 1 Hit Die monster races scale around 3rd, the old 6 HD minotaur comes in around 10th in 4e, and so on.

Personally, I would favor creating such an item to be a player choice with an XP cost of some sort. The idea being the item is infused with the life energy of the hero.

Or maybe some other method--maybe go 5 levels with, say 3-4 fewer healing surges than normal, since you are diverting energy into your item.

Another idea is a feat that allows a signature item. This might be extended to include infusion of personal power into an item (say +1/5 levels). I'd favor a lengthy recharge time for a replacement weapon, say 1 month to bring it up to the character's level limit for a replacement weapon.

Oh, and a player who ditches an infused item just to create another one -- sounds like a good source of cursed items to me. The safe way would be to unmake an item if you're going to infuse a replacement.

One exception might be character death, which severs the tie of dependence/resentment between infused item and character. This would be an alternative (and more painful) way of wiping the slate.

Second cornerstone:

I'm having a little difficulty sorting this one out. It would help if you would define your terms: core item, wondrous slot, and so on. However:

You might consider a little more "by-Tier" distinction, as opposed to continuous periodic upgrades.

Giving someone a bonus at Level 30 doesn't really give them a lot of time to enjoy it.

I really like your treatment of attunement.

I'm not crazy about untuning being an action--I think keeping a slot attuned until another item is attuned is a better mechanic -- this would also allow the introduction of an item keyword "Cursed" that prevents an item from being untuned unless a specific ritual is performed.

Configure 0-level items as "magical minions"; that is, four per Tier, swapped in at short rests.

I would make your last point your first point in this list.

Character Level, And Core [/B

I have no idea what you mean by any of these inserted blocks; you've lost me completely.

Third cornerstone:

I like the nature spirit background theory. Can't wait to see some crunch that allows different DMs to attain the same page when they run this at some group event (like a tournament).

Locally, we've used the house rule that magic items don't break against mundane items or items of lesser enchantment (unless some factor unknown to the characters is in play). This was instituted at a time we experimented with weapon breaking rules that did not differentiate between magic and nonmagic. We considered it a fairness issue and pretty much kept the concept ever since.

Fourth cornerstone:

I like your whole campaign set-up. The magic item agents in particular sound like an excellent concept for a Paragon Path.


First Post
3) Magic Items can be bought and sold, but there are severe limitations to how many and how strong items you can use. At that point, as long as you have enough money to reach your limit, any additional cash doesn't do much for your personal power.


Think about the One Ring. Frodo can use it to become invisible. Sauron, Gandalf or Galadriel can use it to rule the world.

What we need to solve the problem of gold=magical power is to restrict the use of magical item, according to the level of the PC.

This way, you can have your standard exiled legitimate heir to the throne as a first level PC and a big badass sword. He's just unable to use it to its full potential.

Weapon of legacy ? Yup.


First Post
Here it is !

So, after doing some calculations, I think that something like that may work :

1) Magic is a mysterious, dangerous and powerful force : you can have too much magic for your own good...

2) Each character has two more score :
- Magic potential = level + 3
- Magic maximum capacity = level *3

(note : this is for relatively low magic level... You can replace "3" with "4" if you want more magic item for your PC)

3) You can use a magic item power up to your magical potential. Item with higher level behaves like lower level ones of you don't have the required magical potential. IE : a +5 sword behaves like a +2 sword if you are only level 3 (because a magic sword +2 is a 6th level item). If the item don't have lower level equivalent, then you can't use it, or (DM will) you can't control it (IE : the magic carpet takes you where it wants, not where you wants)

4) So, what about thr rich merchant heir, who want to start gaming with a ton of low level magic item ? Simple : if the total levels of all your magic item exceed your magical maximum capacity, then you lose one healing surge per day per exceeding point of magical capacity. When you have no surge left, you start losing hit points, 4 per day per exceeding point of magical capacity. You can't regain those hit point until you have less magic stuff on you than your MMC for a full day.
IE : a level 2 young fighter prince has just spent daddy's treasure on magic item. His MMC is 2*3 = 6. He now has a magic sword +1 (level1), a magic delver armor +1 (level3), a pair of bracers of might striking(level 2). He feel nice, but he senses that magic starts to overwhelm him. If he use more money to buy catstep boots (level3), he will lose 3 healing surge per day. If he tries to wear a ring of invisibility, he will start coughing blood and lighting while the powerful magic is killing him...
5) (optional...) A character knows immediately if an item is too powerful for him to keep safely. Don't kill PC in their sleep because they grabbed a powerful magic item.

I think that such a system allow you to disconnect economic wealth and "stuff" power.

Epic Threats

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