5E How do you handle the "economy killing spells" in your game?

cbwjm

I can add a custom title.
Although not necessarily having a huge impact on the economy, a magical culture would likely make use of the following spells (I looked at 1st to 3rd level spells only) which would affect the way their society works:


  • Comprehend Languages (1st). Professional translation services. For spoken communication, either someone on both sides of the conversation would need to cast this spell or the 3rd level Tongues spell. This would be great for diplomatic communications.
  • Arcane Lock (2nd). Professional Locksmiths always employ someone with this spell for their more discerning clientele. A wizard could make a profession out of providing security services for those willing to pay. The spell lasts until dispelled. The magical locksmith might also employ the spell Glyph of Warding (3rd) to provide additional protection for sensitive items.
  • Magic Mouth (2nd). A niche use I could see in a museum or zoo. Only a brief description though due to the 25 word limit. This spell lasts until dispelled so could be activated by adventurers who have stumbled on the crumbling ruins of a once great civilisation.
  • Zone of Truth (2nd). This could be commonly employed during court cases or interrogations. I also see it being used during business transactions. Speak with Dead (3rd) would also be employed in certain cases. Even though the responses might be cryptic, it would still help narrow down the suspects.
  • Streets would likely be lit up by continual flame (2nd), you can even employ these spells underwater to light up canals. Lamplighters would be employed to keep the spells running for when troublesome apprentices snuff out the flames (can a darkness spell snuff out a continual flame effect? If not then I guess troublesome journeymen are running around dispelling them). Incidentally, continual flame spells will likely cause a town or city lit by them to have a more extensive night light instead of everyone turning in when the sun goes down.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
1) Plant Growth: If one 5th druid decided to "help the farmers", and enrichs a different area everyday, they could effectively add over 150,000 acres of farmland to a kingdom (the true answer is 183, 468...but inevitably travel time, vacations, etc play in).

Further, its a reasonable thing for several druids to consider, enriching the land is a very drudic thing to do.

So the idea of the poor fuedal farmer barely holding on in 5e campaigns with druids doesn't really hold up. Farmers would be the equivalent of modern agribusiness, with incredible productivity and crop yields.

This also means kingdoms don't follow fuedal population numbers, they should be significantly larger becomes food is more prevalaent.
I don't agree with this. Druids are about the natural order and farms go against that. They constrain nature and keep portions out in order to force the land to produce in an unnatural fashion. Druids tend forests, not orchards. Such an act would also go against survival of the fittest, making things too easy on the peasants and country, allowing more people to survive than nature intends, so the druids would be against this action on those grounds as well.

2) Fabricate: No craftsman in the world can compete with a 7th level wizard....in fact, its easy to ask "why would there even be regular craftsman in such a world?". In 1 day, a 7th level wizard with proficiency can craft two full items in an hour and 20 minutes (needs a short rest for arcane recovery for that second spell). Or if hes feeling lazy, 1 item a day for 10 minutes.

So in a standard business week, that's 5-10 items.

Now for context, by downtime activities, it takes 300 days to make plate mail. In that 300 day period, 1 wizard could make as much plate mail as 600 armor smiths. 600! Just one wizard in a city could make enough armor to stock the stores of his city, and probably every city in the region...hell maybe the whole world!

This means that any kingdom with just 1 loyal decently leveled wizard that wants to help his kingdom, by himself, could equip entire army regiments with plate mail in the span of a year. And that's just 1 wizard, if a kingdom had just 2-3 your entire army could have plate mail. You could argue that wizards are rare, and wizard that have armorsmithing proficiency are rarer still....but it only takes 1 to completely change how the armor economy of a kingdom works.
I don't see many wizards learning their craft to that level and then being willing to be an armor smith. They have better things to do in pursuit of their primary craft, wizardry. They might do a bit here and there as a favor, but I don't see even a loyal wizard selling himself to just make armor, and if he did, he'd charge far more than the armor was worth in order to make it worth his while, which the kingdom wouldn't want to pay.

It might happen in a very corner case, but it won't be breaking economies or put normal armorers out of business.
 

Prakriti

Hi, I'm a Mindflayer, but don't let that worry you
This is a problem with high-magic settings, not D&D specifically.

Also, consider that when the spell list was created in AD&D, a 7th-level wizard was exceedingly rare. As in, maybe three-per-continent rare. And how did those wizards reach 7th level? By earning XP, which meant adventuring, killing monsters, and constantly putting one's life at risk (and cheating death in the process). The type of person to do that is not the same person to say, "Hey, I can exploit my spellcasting ability to dominate the blacksmithing market."

5E is only part of the problem because it's very forgiving; it makes earning XP look easy. There's no apparent barrier to reaching level 7 or any other level, for that matter. You just play the same character until you get there, right? There's no real threat of death, unlike in AD&D where you might go through 100 characters before you ever survived long enough to reach level 5. No wonder some spells seem to break the economy. If there's no danger in adventuring, then the world must be FULL of high-level wizards!

Well, it doesn't have to be that way. It's your setting, you can do what you want. Just because the PCs are really good at surviving doesn't mean everyone else is. Maybe they're just the lucky ones. Maybe they're just exceptional (I mean, isn't that already the default assumption? I'm pretty sure the PHB has something to say about that).

Whatever the case may be, you don't need to assume that the world is populated by invincible super-humans whose talent and potential are on par with the PCs'. That's where the problem arises, not in the system itself.
 

dnd4vr

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!
TANGENT:

I, for one, don't like the quick progress of XP and leveling in 5E compared to AD&D/2E. There is no reason why just about every elf and dwarf over 150 years old wouldn't likely be 20th-level if they wanted. I can just imagine an elven wizard who magic missiles one goblin a day, every day, for 20 years... and he will be 20th-level. If he wanted to increase the difficulty of the monsters when he got higher level spells, he could do it much quicker...
 
For Fabricate and armor, a full suit of armor is not a single item. It is made of several different items that all have to be put on separately. So you would need to fabricate 10 or 15 or 20 or however many individual pieces are part of that full suit of armor. Yes, one to three weeks per full set of plate armor is still a lot faster, but not nearly so game-breaking, especially when factoring in resource availability and having the needed skills. Now, something like cranking out simple breastplates, helmets, shields, swords, or spears, one per day, could make some difference.
 

gyor

Hero
I'm fine with larger populations.

In FR these issues will come up in some regions more then others.

Dangerous, sparely populated areas likely don't have many Druids who would have time or interest in doing this often.

A Wizards using magic like fabricate to produce items is realively common in places like Thay, along with weather control magic to boost crop yields, for example.

Look at Eberron and certain locations of FR to see the implications of these sorts of magics.

Examples Turmish nation of FR is a Democratic nation that mixes Capitalism and moderate magical ecology from Druids to great success.

Mulhorand, Unther, and Drow cities have large Cleric abd other Divine Spellcasting populations. In Mulhorand for example no one went hungry, no poverty, and it's population considered it kind of a Utopia, or as close as it could get with Slavery (which it dumped).

FR really is only Midevil in rural isolated areas, and the governing structure of some nations and aestrictic.

Another example is animate undead, an instant work force. If I was a poor farmer, I'd sell my body to a Necromancer upon my natural death for a sum large enough to live comfortably, which my corpse would work off after I died.
 
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Shiroiken

Adventurer
Plant Growth
Druids in my setting really wouldn't use this on farmland, but rather on wild nature, allowing it to be more productive for the natural herbivores, which also helps the carnivores when the prey multiply due to food availability. Priests of the Nature Domain, however, would regularly cast this spell in order to bring worship to their patron agricultural deity. These areas would greatly prosper, but since there aren't a ton of NPCs able to do so, there wouldn't be that many areas. In addition, it double the yield, but poor farming skill and disasters (both natural and monstrous) can greatly reduce the normal yield, still leading to poor farmers in prosperous areas.

As for PCs, my druid only cast it in areas where people shared my faith, which was uncommon. We passed a poor farming village, and another PC asked me why I didn't help them, and I told him "they worship the city gods; let them save it." The only time I made an exception was when a farmer helped us out, giving us sanctuary as significant risk to his family and farm.


Fabricate
Quality is the biggest issue. While the quality is supposed to be related to the quality of materials, I would also include the quality of the caster's skill. Making a crude bridge out of wood, as in their example, breaks nothing since it won't last long enough to have a significant economic impact. If you want to make a door, its quality is also going to be based on your skill in carpentry. This puts the craftsmen in the advantage of taking longer, but for better quality. Should a wizard or forge cleric decide to make a business out of it by learning various crafts, then good for them, and they'll likely be the wealthiest craftsmen... who've also gained the enmity of the local guilds.

We have a Forge Cleric PC in our current game. He's been collecting various materials as we've traveled, as he has a blacksmith shop in our base town. He now has fabricate, and will use it as described... when he has time. We're currently over a month away from our base town, with quite a bit more to be done before we return home. I think that's going to keep him from simply becoming super wealthy, and even if he did, I suspect that his success will make him a high target for the local thieves guild.
 

Kobold Stew

Adventurer
Since I've never seen PCs attempt to do either of these things, it seems to be a non-issue.
This to me is the central issue.

Have your players' characters tried to do this? If they haven't (the focal characters of the world), then why would anyone else?

For me the transformative spell is Lesser Restoration -- curing blindness by third-level clerics. When I've tried to play this, it's been frustrated. But it's prepared every day by my clerics and druids. I would love a party to use the spell to attempt to remove blindness and disease from a kingdom or a continent.
 
This to me is the central issue.

Have your players' characters tried to do this?
Yep, my player absolutely did with fabricate. We have both made a gentlemen's agreement. I say he is "very rich", which comes with some perks, he doesn't try to break it.

So basically...I handwaved it. But its left a taste in my mouth I don't like, hence the thread.
 

Kobold Stew

Adventurer
[*]Comprehend Languages (1st). Professional translation services. For spoken communication, either someone on both sides of the conversation would need to cast this spell or the 3rd level Tongues spell. This would be great for diplomatic communications.
[*]Zone of Truth (2nd). This could be commonly employed during court cases or interrogations. I also see it being used during business transactions. Speak with Dead (3rd) would also be employed in certain cases. Even though the responses might be cryptic, it would still help narrow down the suspects.
Absolutely.
[*]Magic Mouth (2nd). A niche use I could see in a museum or zoo. Only a brief description though due to the 25 word limit. This spell lasts until dispelled so could be activated by adventurers who have stumbled on the crumbling ruins of a once great civilisation.
That's nice -- I like it!
[*]Streets would likely be lit up by continual flame (2nd), you can even employ these spells underwater to light up canals. Lamplighters would be employed to keep the spells running for when troublesome apprentices snuff out the flames (can a darkness spell snuff out a continual flame effect? If not then I guess troublesome journeymen are running around dispelling them). Incidentally, continual flame spells will likely cause a town or city lit by them to have a more extensive night light instead of everyone turning in when the sun goes down.
I used to think this as well, but at 50gp a light, I'm not sure it's worth the infrastructure costs. I know as a PC how hard it is to scramble together that much cash for such an item. It's possible, certainly, but it requires a huge up-front investment.
 

5ekyu

Adventurer
Yep, my player absolutely did with fabricate. We have both made a gentlemen's agreement. I say he is "very rich", which comes with some perks, he doesn't try to break it.

So basically...I handwaved it. But its left a taste in my mouth I don't like, hence the thread.
Really by the time most PCs hit 7th level they can have more things that are more society impactful than fabricating to save time on crafting.

Sending with good travel and setups with a number taverns and you get telegraphs going, especially thru say major organizations like temples.
 

ccs

39th lv DM
Quote Originally Posted by Kobold Stew View Post

This to me is the central issue.

Have your players' characters tried to do this?


Yep, my player absolutely did with fabricate. We have both made a gentlemen's agreement. I say he is "very rich", which comes with some perks, he doesn't try to break it.

So basically...I handwaved it. But its left a taste in my mouth I don't like, hence the thread.
Another logical consequence is:
As the wizard is ruining the livelihoods of a great # of Smiths, Armorers, assorted craftsmen. etc? They take up this issue with their respective guilds. Who in turn take it up with the wizard. Possibly the churches/temples. Possibly those who supply the wizard. Possibly the King.
Or just the Assassins Guild....

And as this is D&D? It's not implausible to imagine cities/groups etc having the actual support of patron deities!
Enemies/rivals might also have (and express) their opinions on the increasing military build up.

And thus one way or the other the wizards economy warping is reigned in.
 

cbwjm

I can add a custom title.
I used to think this as well, but at 50gp a light, I'm not sure it's worth the infrastructure costs. I know as a PC how hard it is to scramble together that much cash for such an item. It's possible, certainly, but it requires a huge up-front investment.
That's a good point. I readily admit to completely missing the component, especially the fact that it is consumed with each casting. That's a lot of rubies that would need to be crushed to light up a town. It could mean that anyone found tampering with them would have to pay a hefty fine if a town or city did set up street lights. I could still see a wealthy town centre having lights but perhaps nothing as elaborate as the street lights that we all take for granted.
 

flametitan

Explorer
A couple things limit magic breaking the economy entirely (mainly that unless you are a player character or a particularly wealthy noble, magic is really bloody expensive), though it does warp things in my setting. For Plant Growth and Fabricate specifically, there's a couple things going on:

1. Druids are superstitious and paranoid about others learning their magic and using it against them. As a result, while there might be a couple here or there boosting production on fringe border towns, they're absolutely not willing to share their magic on such a scale as to really push population density up.

2. Not only does the rarity of the caster matter here, but generally, if you're able to cast spells on the power level of fabricate, you've got the eyes of the nobility and/or other wealthy persons on you. And you're not being hired to flood the market with plate armour. You are there to provide the magical goods and services they need. Usually it's managing a private teleportation circle, scrying on political enemies, protecting them from being scryed upon, being a personal sending relay... If you choose not to be hired, well, now you actually have to figure out where you're getting that gold to actually start your great scheme of flooding the market and by extension devaluing the product you're creating.
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
This to me is the central issue.

Have your players' characters tried to do this? If they haven't (the focal characters of the world), then why would anyone else?

For me the transformative spell is Lesser Restoration -- curing blindness by third-level clerics. When I've tried to play this, it's been frustrated. But it's prepared every day by my clerics and druids. I would love a party to use the spell to attempt to remove blindness and disease from a kingdom or a continent.
And every Paladin can cure diseases, at least once per day.

Also, Detect Disease and Poison. It identifies the disease. This pretty well inherently means dnd clerics have at least a Paracelsus level of understanding of toxicology.

Prestidigitation lets you clean stuff, and make food safe. It’s a cantrip.

Shape Water combined with any knowledge of hydraulics means indoor plumbing, good sewage systems, and irrigation.

Fantasy world populations are far too low, even if all magic users make up only 1% of the total population.
 

S'mon

Legend
For just 1 spell and 10 minutes a day, in a few years a 7th level wizard could become rich beyond imagining.
Well maybe, but this requires a few things.

1. There has to be expensive armour in the setting - fine, this is the default.
2. The PC must have the proficiency to make that expensive armour naturally.
3. They must have easy access to all the materials necessary.

By default I would probably limit the results of Fabrication with tool proficiency to the default 5e rules for item crating, ie you can produce 25gp/day of stuff - make it 25gp per casting with 12.5gp of raw materials. But sure if the PC is built as a master armoursmith (eg they're a Forgepriest Cleric)
AND they they are a Wizard 7+ then they are going to be able to make Plate armour.

They'll get rich.
All the soldiers will wear plate armour.
The value/cost of plate armour will drop dramatically.

After a shortish time the setting will resemble Europe ca 1500, with 'foundry plate' indeed ubiquitous and pretty cheap. I'd probably set the cost of plate to 60gp, since that happens to be the cost in Classic D&D, or 50gp I think it is in 4e. I doubt the raw materials will cost much less than that.

At this point the Wizard-7 armourer probably has the wealth of a Tier 3 character, and the local city/dukedom has a lot of very well armoured* soldiers. But it's not Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court. The setting is not broken.

*Hm, I think this explains how all those hobgoblin leaders & orogs in the MM wear plate armour... a BBEG wiz-7 is Fabricating it! :D

Re 'very rich', the DMG suggests that skilled mundane crafters are making net 2.5gp/day after materials costs. Eg you can make a healing potion in 10 days for 25gp and (hopefully) sell it for 50gp. I can see the Fabricating wizard making ten times that much (eg 5 times per casting) in line with the rules for magic item crafting. So they make 750 gp/month, when a wealthy lifestyle is only 200gp. They are certainly very rich. But the King is likely pulling in a lot more.
 
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S'mon

Legend
Sending with good travel and setups with a number taverns and you get telegraphs going, especially thru say major organizations like temples.
Having Sending as a level 3 spell widely available - all Clerics get it on their spell list - is definitely the thing that has the most setting impact IME. Seen this in my 5e Wilderlands campaign. When armies are at war the level 5 Clerics (or just the MM Priests!) become incredibly important for coordination and communication. Assassins bump off those guys as a high priority, much more than the enemy generals. :D

Apart from Sending, the other spell with big setting impact is Raise Dead. If level 9 Clerics are rare, that just means the wealthy dead will be brought a long way to get them Raised, under Gentle Repose if necessary.

In 4e D&D I recall the ease of using Linked Portal for long distance travel - explicitly a setting element, too - meant that logically all high value or long distance cargo would use Portals, not roads or ships.
 
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S'mon

Legend
Fantasy world populations are far too low, even if all magic users make up only 1% of the total population.
I suggested to James Jacobs of Paizo that this dire lack of people in the setting (Golarion) was likely due to setting cultural norms - like widespread birth control, Right to Choose, same sex or trans marriages, women in the (adventuring) work force...

...He didn't seem too impressed. :D
 

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