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

jgsugden

Explorer
I didn't change a word, I added the emphasis to show why your idea won't work, most likely ever.
So you identified one of the conditions I said was necessary for the result and said it could not work as part of the proposition. When you counter an argument by taking away a stated assumption for the argument, you are not counteing the argument. That was my point.
 

5ekyu

Adventurer
He also has to learn blacksmithing and how to make plate armor, which is not easy and does not take 10 minutes. Granted, it's a one-time investment, but it's not quite as trivial as you make it sound. Furthermore, his income is limited by his customer base. Materials costs set a floor of 750 gp on the price of plate; the wizard can only sell as much armor as there are people willing to shell out that kind of cash.

But never mind all that. The question is, even assuming the wizard makes the investment and finds the customers, how is this "economy-killing?" The wizard might kill the careers of some high-end armorers, but the business model doesn't scale to the economy as a whole. You don't clear 750 gp a pop making farm tools for peasants, or furniture for minor merchants.
So, here is the rub... in order to craft armor with fabricate you have to know how to craft armor. So, who taught the wizard these crafts that then apparently in some campaigns lead to unemployment?

"You also can’t use it to create items that ordinarily require a high degree of craftsmanship, such as jewelry, weapons, glass, or armor, unless you have proficiency with the type of artisan’s tools used to craft such objects."
 

Dausuul

Legend
So, here is the rub... in order to craft armor with fabricate you have to know how to craft armor. So, who taught the wizard these crafts that then apparently in some campaigns lead to unemployment?

"You also can’t use it to create items that ordinarily require a high degree of craftsmanship, such as jewelry, weapons, glass, or armor, unless you have proficiency with the type of artisan’s tools used to craft such objects."
I'd assume that in a world where this is a thing, you learn the craft from another armorer-wizard. As someone else pointed out, you need people to handle mundane details like marketing, supplies, and so forth. So you take on an apprentice, teach them wizardry and armorsmithing, and in return the apprentice takes care of all that boring crap that you the wizard don't want to bother with. By the time the apprentice reaches 7th level, you're probably ready to retire.

While the OP skims over some of the nasty details, the armorer-wizard really is a legit business model that could work. It just isn't an economy-wrecker, because it depends on selling high-priced luxury goods to rich customers. The carpenter who makes furniture for the petty bourgeoisie, or the blacksmith shoeing peasants' draft horses, have nothing to fear from wizardly competition, and those are the vast majority of crafters.
 

dnd4vr

Adventurer
So you identified one of the conditions I said was necessary for the result and said it could not work as part of the proposition. When you counter an argument by taking away a stated assumption for the argument, you are not counteing the argument. That was my point.
So, jgsugden, you replied and then blocked me so I can't see your reply? Very mature.

I never took away your assumption, I emphasized it because it is a very faulty assumption considering what people are like in the real world--and thus likely the same in a fantasy world. I agree it would be much better if people were kinder and more generous with their time, money, education, etc., but sadly they aren't. That doesn't mean people are necessarily bad, but are simply more concerned with with what is happening in their own lives than others.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member

Gentlemen,

Cut it out. You were verging on political discussion that would get you booted from the thread. Continuing to argue over it is not doing anyone any favors. Drop it. Now.

Thank you.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Its 10 minutes a day...that's it.
No, it probably isn't.

There are things like frying pans that one can reproduce via a stock pattern. Armor (or probably anything wiht a high enough sale value to make this worthwhile for the wizard) isn't one of them - nobody buys plate armor "off the rack". It is a piece of custom work, like a modern bespoke suit, where you have to sit down with the client, take their measurements, discuss materials, and otherwise determine exactly what the customer wants. Every step of design a normal smith does *before* putting hammer to anvil still has to be done by the wizard.

And, like any professional, the price you pay is not just paying for the individual item, but all the education of the craftsman that goes into making the item. For a smith, you're paying for their proficiency with the tools, essentially. For the wizard, you are paying for that proficiency, *and* the years of hazard to gain levels to be able to cast the spell.
 

lowkey13

I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.
No, it probably isn't.

There are things like frying pans that one can reproduce via a stock pattern. Armor (or probably anything wiht a high enough sale value to make this worthwhile for the wizard) isn't one of them - nobody buys plate armor "off the rack". It is a piece of custom work, like a modern bespoke suit, where you have to sit down with the client, take their measurements, discuss materials, and otherwise determine exactly what the customer wants. Every step of design a normal smith does *before* putting hammer to anvil still has to be done by the wizard.

And, like any professional, the price you pay is not just paying for the individual item, but all the education of the craftsman that goes into making the item. For a smith, you're paying for their proficiency with the tools, essentially. For the wizard, you are paying for that proficiency, *and* the years of hazard to gain levels to be able to cast the spell.
Yes, but also no?

I think that the only good way to approach this was already stated by [MENTION=1465]Li Shenron[/MENTION] - "I do nothing, because I do not play an economy simulation game, I play a game of adventures."

Which is true. Let me use an analogy- we all enjoy science fiction, right? (This should be the audience for that comment!)

Well, if you've read a lot of scifi, and historical scifi, or even real predictions of the future, the one thing you will see over and over again is that people might get one or two things correct, but miss everything else. The old, "Where is my flying car" problem. In other words, people can sometimes extrapolate one or two things, but fail to see how other areas advance (computers, genetics, biology, chemistry, and so on) and also don't see how things interact with one another. So you have people inhabiting Ganymede, but not computers (to use golden age Sci Fi as an example).

It's the same here- to invert Arthur C. Clarke, any magic is indistinguishable from high technology, right? If we pre-suppose a decently high magic world, with endless cantrips, and everyone and their mother casting spells (Bards, Druids, Clerics, Wizards, Sorcerers, heck, everyone gets spells!!!!), then we have a situation wherein life would be dramatically different than anything we could possibly imagine or extrapolate from our own history.

Combat would be different (massed armies are not a great idea with area effect spells being common, or the ability of some enterprising nation to hoard some wands of fireballs etc.).

Spying, espionage, and counterintelligence?

Health and medicine? In big cities, if you have money? Or just aging and death (for the wealthy or devout)?

Manufacture of items? Lighting at night and the impact on work hours? Communications and transportation?


....the list is endless once you presuppose magic; so either you just kinda go, "Eh, magic is just kind of ... um, something something Adventurers something something LOOK A SQUIRREL!" or don't worry about it too much. But IMO, that's more productive than trying to justify it. I mean, I happen to agree with you that armor *as we currently think about it* is bespoke- but then again, so was everything back then, because there was no technology (or magic) to make it quickly.

This isn't to say that campaigns that explore the issue of magic (Eberron, for example) can't be fun, but if you're running a traditional "serfs and sorcery" fantasy campaign, it's best not to think too deeply about it. ;)
 

Dausuul

Legend
There are things like frying pans that one can reproduce via a stock pattern. Armor (or probably anything wiht a high enough sale value to make this worthwhile for the wizard) isn't one of them - nobody buys plate armor "off the rack". It is a piece of custom work, like a modern bespoke suit, where you have to sit down with the client, take their measurements, discuss materials, and otherwise determine exactly what the customer wants. Every step of design a normal smith does *before* putting hammer to anvil still has to be done by the wizard.
It has to be done, but most of it does not have to be done by the wizard. When you clear 750 gp on every sale, you can pay for a fairly swanky establishment and assistants/apprentices, and still come away with a hefty profit margin for a relatively small amount of work; maybe 2-4 hours per day, when you consider the demands of running a small business (which is what you are doing).

Alternatively, if you don't feel like being a business owner, you could attach yourself to a regular armorer's shop. Each day, the most expensive item in their queue gets assigned to you to fabricate, and you collect a commission. The regular armorers make chain shirts and breastplates for the plebes, while you take the fancy clients.

No, you can't make 750 gp a day for 10 minutes of work, but it's a pretty good way for a 7th-level wizard with Smith's Tools proficiency to make a living. What it isn't is an economic game-changer.

And, like any professional, the price you pay is not just paying for the individual item, but all the education of the craftsman that goes into making the item. For a smith, you're paying for their proficiency with the tools, essentially. For the wizard, you are paying for that proficiency, *and* the years of hazard to gain levels to be able to cast the spell.
Also true, but in the context of a PC wizard, I think we are assuming that investment has already been made. At least, I've never seen anything in the chargen rules about student loans. :) As a general business model, of course, training costs are very much a thing.
 
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Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Yes, but also no?

I think that the only good way to approach this was already stated by [MENTION=1465]Li Shenron[/MENTION] - "I do nothing, because I do not play an economy simulation game, I play a game of adventures."
"The best way to approach it is to not approach it," is kind of a discussion-ending, non-starter of a comment, though. It is kind of like walking into a discussion about making peanut-butter sandwiches, and stolidly proclaiming, "I am allergic to peanut butter!" I mean, sure. Fine. That's great. But you're kinda done once you've said that.

I mean, I happen to agree with you that armor *as we currently think about it* is bespoke- but then again, so was everything back then, because there was no technology (or magic) to make it quickly.
It is not enough for production to be quick. If you want to get away from bespoke, you need quick, cheap, and repeatable - so that you can produce an array of items with minor variations, which get close enough to the customer's needs that you don't actually have to talk to the customer.

We accept off-the-rack clothes because there's a vast supply of them in a variety of sizes and styles, so that we can each find the one that fits us well enough, that looks good enough. You may need dozens of different items to be able to make sure the customer wants one of them. If all you get is quick, but not cheap, then you, the producer, cannot afford to produce a wide array of items beforehand.

A bog standard 7th level wizard can cast a spell that takes 10 minutes, but can do it only once per long rest. That's faster than a smith can do it, sure. But, it isn't what we think of as "mass production" levels either. How many suits of armor can you sell in one town? Do you spend a month making 30 suits in a variety of shapes and sizes and styles, hold them in stock (which has a cost associated with it - space to store them, someone to polish them up (because rust will happen if they are not maintained) and hope they sell? Or do you wait for a customer comes in and "fabricate on demand"?
 

lowkey13

I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.
"The best way to approach it is to not approach it," is kind of a discussion-ending, non-starter of a comment, though. It is kind of like walking into a discussion about making peanut-butter sandwiches, and stolidly proclaiming, "I am allergic to peanut butter!" I mean, sure. Fine. That's great. But you're kinda done once you've said that.
On the other hand, if you happen to be allergic to peanut butter .... you will be really, really done if you don't say anything and just eat it because you're all polite and stuff.

I mean, sure, talking about stuff is fun! A lot more fun than, say, attempting to ascertain the lag effects of monetary and fiscal policy in a medieval economy vis-a-vis statistical modelling, or, for that matter, the rampant inflation due to a dragon's hoard. But whatever floats your boat!


It is not enough for production to be quick. If you want to get away from bespoke, you need quick, cheap, and repeatable - so that you can produce an array of items with minor variations, which get close enough to the customer's needs that you don't actually have to talk to the customer.

We accept off-the-rack clothes because there's a vast supply of them in a variety of sizes and styles, so that we can each find the one that fits us well enough, that looks good enough. You may need dozens of different items to be able to make sure the customer wants one of them. If all you get is quick, but not cheap, then you, the producer, cannot afford to produce a wide array of items beforehand.

A bog standard 7th level wizard can cast a spell that takes 10 minutes, but can do it only once per long rest. That's faster than a smith can do it, sure. But, it isn't what we think of as "mass production" levels either. How many suits of armor can you sell in one town? Do you spend a month making 30 suits in a variety of shapes and sizes and styles, hold them in stock (which has a cost associated with it - space to store them, someone to polish them up (because rust will happen if they are not maintained) and hope they sell? Or do you wait for a customer comes in and "fabricate on demand"?
Well, let's see- again, it's almost like we had these exact same issues in our own world (you know, all people are different, and how do you get standard clothes and shoes and everything) and yet we did. And we didn't have magic; we certainly didn't have someone who could say, "I wish I had 30,000 suits of armor."

Yeah, that's higher level stuff still, but we haven't even begun to explore the possible effects of magic on everything from healthcare to mining.

But, sure, maybe inventory will hold people back. Who knows? Not either of us, given that (AFAIK), neither of us are magic.
 

Stalker0

Adventurer
Just noting...armor making was just one example. There are lots of others.

Gem cutting or jewelry making is another area where high value goods can be made, and the “fit the wearer” concerns are a lot less.
 

lowkey13

I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.
Just noting...armor making was just one example. There are lots of others.

Gem cutting or jewelry making is another area where high value goods can be made, and the “fit the wearer” concerns are a lot less.
How about the effect on population of readily available health care via magic? I mean, diseases, poison, wounds, and even death are easily dispatched with.

How about weather forecasting with Druidcraft- that's a cantrip, 24 hours ... I mean, a network of druids plus communication = damn good weather forecasting.

Would it be worth it for some city to set up Wizards on line-of-sight 120' apart for a telegraph system (message). Yeah, it might seem weird, but easily doable, and communication .... has its advantages (see our telegraph). For longer distances (long-distance communication) you use higher level, but any 1st level Tom, Dick, Bard, Wizard, Sorcerer, or Harry will do for urban areas.

...and what are the effects on the legal system for Speak with Dead? Certainly makes murder a lot harder- almost like minority report, eh? And, oh, zone of truth? I mean, not just the legal system, how about for negotiating contracts and mercantile exchanges (sort of like a UCC?).

Could there be bound elementals (fire, water, etc.) that together function as a steam engine? WHO KNOWS? The possibilities are endless. And the combinations? Well ....
 

Dausuul

Legend
Just noting...armor making was just one example. There are lots of others.

Gem cutting or jewelry making is another area where high value goods can be made, and the “fit the wearer” concerns are a lot less.
But the lack of scalability remains the same. If the wizard-artisan niche is confined to making luxury goods, they aren't going to transform the economy. It's a great business model for the wizard, but the consequences for world-building are basically nil.
 

MichaelSomething

Adventurer
If I was a wizard with fabricate, I wouldn't make armor; I'd mass produce books. Public libraries! Higher literacy rates! Easier access to knowledge! Those sound like goals a wizard could get behind.

It also has a nice side affect of making the world more like ours, therefore making it easier to relate to.
 
A bog standard 7th level wizard can cast a spell that takes 10 minutes, but can do it only once per long rest. That's faster than a smith can do it, sure. But, it isn't what we think of as "mass production" levels either. How many suits of armor can you sell in one town? Do you spend a month making 30 suits in a variety of shapes and sizes and styles, hold them in stock (which has a cost associated with it - space to store them, someone to polish them up (because rust will happen if they are not maintained) and hope they sell? Or do you wait for a customer comes in and "fabricate on demand"?
It's really not that the wiz can 'only' cast fabricate once/day, it's that he can do so /every day/, so he can approach it systematically. So, he takes orders for things that are customized, to fit, and also offers a more expensive 'on demand' option. On days when no one ponies up for 'on demand,' he reduces his backlog of orders by 1. When his backlog's caught up, and he's closing up shop with no 'on demand' or new orders that day, he Fabricates something non-customized for stock.
He'll probably find a systematic use for each of his other spell slots, too, since that's how this hypothetical guy thinks.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
To me, thinking about some of this stuff just leads to a never-ending rabbit hole. I tried at one point just for grins to really think through this stuff and detail out what the effects would be and I just don't think there's a great answer.

So I take a middle road. Yes, a sufficiently high level wizard can make high value items given raw materials but there's a catch. For things like armor, they need to be really good at making said armor before they ever cast a spell. That doesn't mean a few days at the forge, it takes months if not years of effort to become truly skilled at something that complex. Assuming you can craft the whole thing with one casting (I don't) you still need to know how all the pieces fit together, where the rivets need to go, how thick the different pieces need to be. How do you get that experience? By working the metal into plates and then fitting them all together manually. It's a lot of hard, physically demanding labor. Not saying it doesn't or couldn't happen just that it's not common even amongst wizards that are high enough level. Seeing armor and having basic understanding of blacksmithing isn't going to cut it.

In addition you need high quality steel. Also, what's the definition of "raw materials"? It could go anywhere on a scale from raw iron ore and a source of carbon and other trace minerals up to having pre-made sheets of steel. A big part of the cost of armor is the creation of the steel plates, you can't just run down to the local Smithy Mart and throw it in the cart.

But worst case? Plate armor is far more common than it was historically. Maybe even affordable by people from a peasant background that have managed to scrounge up coin from doing mercenary work and "archaeological artifact retrieval" services.

The same goes for jewelry or other high value items. You still need the jewels, the gold and silver. But just as important is the skill to arrange it all into a pleasing design.

Of course this is also less of a concern in my world since I use the alternate long rest rules where a long rest is several days, usually a week or more. Add it all up and the wizard can make a good living doing this, but it hardly breaks the economy any more than any number of other facets of D&D.

Which doesn't mean that magic doesn't affect the economy. It absolutely does. But just like alchemists occasionally figuring out how to make gold and silver has devalued those minerals it's overall effect would be fairly subtle.
 

cbwjm

I can add a custom title.
That 7th level wizard is able to fabricate at least twice a day with arcane recovery, it lets them do a little work in the morning and perhaps something in the afternoon as well. Since this craft-mage is an entrepreneur, they are also likely looking for other ways to make their spells work for them. Mending items, comprehend languages for translation services, arcane lock* for security services, continual flame* spells, gentle repose for funerary services (I can see a necromancer using this, but it might be more the province of clerics), catnap to help with chronic insomniacs (a very specialised service. Also, I like how this requires a pinch of sand as the material component). I wouldn't be surprised in a world filled with magic if dispel magic was a common request from clients, the same with remove curse. Nondetection* might be used when having to hide someone who has angered someone powerful with access to divination magic. In coastal regions, water breathing might be a common request to go diving for pearls. All of these spells are 3rd level or lower so the 7th level wizard is still able to fabricate up to twice a day.

*These spells have a cost of 25-50gp for spell components, raising the cost of the spell beyond most except the wealthy members of society.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Just noting...armor making was just one example. There are lots of others.

Gem cutting or jewelry making is another area where high value goods can be made, and the “fit the wearer” concerns are a lot less.
Not really. This is from a gem cutting site.

How long does it take to cut a gemstone?

I generally work on a stone a day. I don't cut a stone every day, week in week out but I do try to keep up a good pace. It also depends on the size of the stone, the complexity of the design, type of material, etc. Smaller simpler designs maybe four to five hours a stone. Medium sort of stones about five to eight hours while other stones can take 2 or more days. Some stones like sapphires simply take a little longer to do because it is a hard stone. Big stones with big facets can take alot longer to polish. I certainly don't "rush" my cutting. I give each stone the same high level of attention and care. Being in a hurry and rushing one's cutting is a sure way to botch things up. Each and every stone deserves it's full measure of time, appreciation, respect and the best that I can do.
As you can see, the wizard and normal gem cutters can do multiple stones a day. I guess the wizard can edge out the normal guy and get one extra stone in, but it's not going to be a business ruiner.

As for jewelry, the spell only allows one item to be fabricated, so you can do a silver necklace, a gold necklace, a platinum ring, etc. You can't make it out of multiple metals or with gems, because those involve multiple items. That means the normal jeweler will have better quality stuff available that is made by hand, so the wizard won't be driving them out of business, either.

That actually brings up a good point. Many armors like leather, chain, and such are essentially one piece(even if comprised of lots of links). Plate armor, though, is made up of many distinctly different pieces. Breastplate, helmet, gauntlets, pauldrons, gorget, greaves and more. Each of those would require a different spell to create.
 

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