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

Stalker0

Adventurer
Thus, 1250 GP income per year from normal crafting. Fabricate bypasses that, but would likely be commercially limited to about 10x to 20x that amount.
So what do you think would be the commercial limitation? As we established it looks like the market can absorb a few wizards with fabricate, as its still a very small increase in the supply of crafted goods. So to my mind either there is enough market for the wizard to sells all the goods he makes, or a few regular crafters go out of business and the wizard takes over (due to speed and consistency of product, and could probably undercut the regular craftsman, after all they are making enough to afford it).

Again, not enough to ruin the economy as you have well established, but probably enough to ensure the wizard could make more money than even seasoned adventurers make.
 

Kinematics

Explorer
So what do you think would be the commercial limitation? As we established it looks like the market can absorb a few wizards with fabricate, as its still a very small increase in the supply of crafted goods. So to my mind either there is enough market for the wizard to sells all the goods he makes, or a few regular crafters go out of business and the wizard takes over (due to speed and consistency of product, and could probably undercut the regular craftsman, after all they are making enough to afford it).

Again, not enough to ruin the economy as you have well established, but probably enough to ensure the wizard could make more money than even seasoned adventurers make.
The number of reasonably profitable items that you can make is very limited. There are maybe a dozen weapons with a value over 15 GP (the absolute minimum I'd consider for this sort of endeavor * ). The most expensive is a hand crossbow, at 75 GP, and everything else is 50 GP or lower. Since hyper-specializing is a bad idea (as laid out by the consequences in the earlier post, and because a hand crossbow is not likely to be really sustainable at that rate), if you want a moderate variety in product, the average weapon you create will likely have a value around 30 GP. (If you are far more restrictive in your product, the average value might go up to as high as 50 GP, but then you start getting into issues of how likely you are to sell goods at the rate that you're producing them. ** )

At that point it's just a matter of what percentage of your product is weapons, vs the occasional expensive armor (breastplate/half plate/plate). Since you can't saturate the market with the expensive stuff without repercussions, that will be a small percentage of your product generation. If you do 50 weeks per year of (on average) 30 GP weapons twice a day, you're capping out at around 20k GP sales, which is 10k GP profit. At that point you're only at 8x baseline crafting income. Everything above that has to come from the more expensive products, which, as noted, you're far more limited on. That puts a soft cap on your total sales potential.

Depending on how restrictive the secondary rules and regulations are, you might reach anywhere from 10x at the low end, to perhaps 20x at the high end. Maybe a bit higher, but I'd consider that the GM is going easy on the player at that point. Not that 20x is anything to scoff at; that's still 25k GP per year in income.


* Note: If an item costs about 7-8 GP, you can craft it manually as fast as using Fabricate. Thus I'd consider 10 GP barely worth the effort, and 15 GP to be the minimum to even really consider using Fabricate for the item.

** Note: The ability of the market as a whole to absorb what a given wizard produces is not the same as that wizard being able to sell 100% of his goods. As a matter of both communication and travel speed, he's limited by both customers within range of his shop (assuming he keeps one), and advertisement for his business (eg: a large blacksmith shop with a couple dozen journeyman+ crafters is likely to have a much larger presence and word-of-mouth value than a shop with only a single wizard selling items). He also has to match market demand. A few dozen rapiers might be eternal display fodder if everyone wants crossbows, or vice versa.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
You could also just take a less mathematical approach to all of this. If a wizard in the party wants to do this they can support themselves in the luxury lifestyle but all profit goes into advertising and finding brokers to sell their goods. Running a business can be expensive, even if you have a great product. Besides, who wants to buy armor from someone that lives in a shack? If they're really that good they need to hob-nob with the wealthy.

Leave any and all wealth gain to being murder hobos stealing brave adventurers liberating loot from the bad guys.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Most likely the kingdom would employ 10–20 or so druids, with a large portion of the additional production going to granaries and food stores, and probably an agreement to limit cultivation expansion from areas that the druids want to preserve. In a world of magic and monsters, you have to deal with a lot more than just random weather drought, and having ready food supplies would go a long way towards keeping a kingdom stable.

At the same time, the improved production will likely lead to a fairly large urbanization shift, probably on the order of a hundred thousand people. (Which would likely get you a few dozen more level 5 druids, so a net positive for druid culture.) This will in turn lead to a lot more of the urban benefits that most adventurers take for granted — plus a large pool of adventurers in general. In a world with many monstrous threats, more adventurers is a good thing.

While some have pointed out a power monopoly of the druids, I don't think it will scale to 100% use of PG in all farming. However even a 10% boost to production gives you a strong edge, and options for food storage, without granting a great deal of power to the druids. And even if you lose the druids you have employed, you likely still have a large food surplus in storage to last you until you can negotiate another deal.

Overall, I think it will balance out reasonably well.
Your entire druid section in this post ignores what druids are. If you read the 5e druid class, they are a class that embodies nature and act as an extension of natures will, not as a master of nature. They also strive to keep nature in balance.

Using plant growth to feed people and aid growth is fundamentally opposed to nature and druids simply would not do that on any scale that matters. You might get an individual here or there that aids a single farmer with a single cast of the spell as thanks for some sort of aid or out of friendship, but druids aren't going to disrupt nature the way you are describing.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Your entire druid section in this post ignores what druids are. If you read the 5e druid class, they are a class that embodies nature and act as an extension of natures will, not as a master of nature. They also strive to keep nature in balance.

Using plant growth to feed people and aid growth is fundamentally opposed to nature and druids simply would not do that on any scale that matters. You might get an individual here or there that aids a single farmer with a single cast of the spell as thanks for some sort of aid or out of friendship, but druids aren't going to disrupt nature the way you are describing.
Bards and clerics with the nature domain can also cast the spell. But it still doesn't reduce the effort to plant. If yield is doubled, it's going to take nearly twice as much effort to harvest. If there's a drought and the normal yield of the crop would be half instead of half you just get what would have been normal. Add in other processing and handling overhead and I think the only significant difference is that the land required is cut in half.
 

MechaTarrasque

Adventurer
I figure the PHB (and other sources of spells) only talks about what happens immediately after the spell is cast. Magic lingers, and bad things (i.e., portals into the Abyss or Far Realm open) happens when too much magic is done over time (unless very expensive and complicated techniques are used to limit the bad things, so basically only wizard schools, grand temples, etc.). No one wants to be ground zero in a city by casting one too many charm person spells, and even in farm land, there is a once a year fertility ceremony and that is about it. No one worries about ruins or abandoned dungeons/mines, though, especially if most people who go there die before casting a big spell. So casters who want to cast higher-than-cantrip magic pretty much have to become adventures or aspiring evil overlords and take off for parts unknown.

I figure that solves most of the economic issues. The wizard can't settle down and fabricate day and night, because sooner or later, Demogorgon will pop up and eat the wizard like a M&M before ravaging a large chunk of the world. Just think of it as Dark Sun with more demons and less famine.
 

Kinematics

Explorer
Your entire druid section in this post ignores what druids are. If you read the 5e druid class, they are a class that embodies nature and act as an extension of natures will, not as a master of nature. They also strive to keep nature in balance.

Using plant growth to feed people and aid growth is fundamentally opposed to nature and druids simply would not do that on any scale that matters. You might get an individual here or there that aids a single farmer with a single cast of the spell as thanks for some sort of aid or out of friendship, but druids aren't going to disrupt nature the way you are describing.
That depends on whether the druids are rigid in their beliefs, and refuse to use their powers for any other purpose than what directly supports nature (though that's already invalidated by the mere fact of having druids as adventurers), or they recognize that increasing crop yields by 20% means saving 10,000 square miles of nature from being turned into farmland. That seems like an extremely efficient way of preserving nature and keeping it in balance. Each druid effectively keeps 500 square miles of nature safe by using one spell per day.

Put another way, I don't believe druids are evil cultists who are completely immune to reasonable compromises.

I figure the PHB (and other sources of spells) only talks about what happens immediately after the spell is cast. Magic lingers, and bad things (i.e., portals into the Abyss or Far Realm open) happens when too much magic is done over time (unless very expensive and complicated techniques are used to limit the bad things, so basically only wizard schools, grand temples, etc.). No one wants to be ground zero in a city by casting one too many charm person spells, and even in farm land, there is a once a year fertility ceremony and that is about it. No one worries about ruins or abandoned dungeons/mines, though, especially if most people who go there die before casting a big spell. So casters who want to cast higher-than-cantrip magic pretty much have to become adventures or aspiring evil overlords and take off for parts unknown.

I figure that solves most of the economic issues. The wizard can't settle down and fabricate day and night, because sooner or later, Demogorgon will pop up and eat the wizard like a M&M before ravaging a large chunk of the world. Just think of it as Dark Sun with more demons and less famine.
That would be a significant shift in the magic cosmology of the world. Perfectly valid, but it wouldn't be the standard expected world of D&D.

It also somewhat conflicts with spells like Temple of the Gods, where casting the same spell on the same spot every day for a year makes the effect permanent. If repeated casting of higher level spells in the same location causes problems, it becomes sort of self-contradictory.
 

MechaTarrasque

Adventurer
That depends on whether the druids are rigid in their beliefs, and refuse to use their powers for any other purpose than what directly supports nature (though that's already invalidated by the mere fact of having druids as adventurers), or they recognize that increasing crop yields by 20% means saving 10,000 square miles of nature from being turned into farmland. That seems like an extremely efficient way of preserving nature and keeping it in balance. Each druid effectively keeps 500 square miles of nature safe by using one spell per day.

Put another way, I don't believe druids are evil cultists who are completely immune to reasonable compromises.



That would be a significant shift in the magic cosmology of the world. Perfectly valid, but it wouldn't be the standard expected world of D&D.

It also somewhat conflicts with spells like Temple of the Gods, where casting the same spell on the same spot every day for a year makes the effect permanent. If repeated casting of higher level spells in the same location causes problems, it becomes sort of self-contradictory.
I wouldn't use it on every world, but homebrew wise, it does keep the dungeon in "Dungeons & Dragons" as opposed to the "Wizard's Rec Rooms & Dragons" we often get when high-level magic users are free to practice magic in controlled environments.

As I mentioned, there could be safeguards to prevent bad things, but they should be very expensive. If you can afford to keep a high-level cleric hanging around the same spot for a year, you can afford to pay for those safeguards. Effectively it means that the cleric has a patron (in the art sense, not the warlock sense). If you look at impressive real world houses of worship, there is usually a well-heeled benefactor (or organization) behind their construction, so no reason campaign worlds should be any different. The spell descriptions wouldn't need to include anything about safeguards, because the spell can go off as planned without the safeguards (you just might not live to see it).
 
My campaign's main city is about 900,000 people, and it is relatively rich in magic, especially low-level magic - not quite as much so as Eberron, but starting to move in that direction (essentially, my world is in an earlier stage of the "magical industrial revolution" - I've actually introduced early, prototype versions of things like water elemental-powered ships, though so far they're only incremental improvements over sail power).

Now, high level magic is still rare -- very rare. I generally assume that only very exceptional people (which all PCs are, but only a tiny fraction of NPCs) are capable of reaching high levels. There are maybe four people on the planet who can cast 9th-level spells, and two of those are liches.

Plant growth is definitely used in agriculture, that's part of why there can be a 900,000 population city with a non-magical tech level equivalent to about 1200 and a hinterland which is not really that large in absolute (continent-scale) terms. (They also have more efficient crops than 1200 Europe, including potatoes, which is a major factor as well.)

However, large-scale economic use of magic is significantly impeded by the fact that most people capable of casting more than 2nd-level spells are powerful, driven personalities (otherwise they never would have reached those levels) with their own idiosyncratic goals, and generally little interest in doing repetitive boring things.

I hadn't really considered Fabricate, but I think this would prevent its large-scale use -- the amount you'd have to pay a 7th+ level spellcaster to make it "worth their time" would be high enough that mundane crafting would be cheaper.


Some kinds of divine magic is somewhat of an exception, as it's often made available due to the casters' duty to their cause or faith. The agricultural use of plant growth to enrich the land is largely done by druids -- by making farmland more efficient, they can reduce expansion of farmland into wild areas. Similarly, clerics of some faiths make healing magic broadly available. However, divine casters in my world are rarer than arcane ones (about 1:2000 people for divine, about 1:500 people for arcane, for a total of 1:400 people able to cast some kind of spell).
 

Brainwatch

Explorer
Don't forget about the political effects of spells like Plant Growth. If a city's population is support by the use of the spell Plant Growth, what happens to that city if those who have been providing that spell suddenly stop providing it? How much political power does that group wield? Those who cast the spell are literally responsible for the lives of those in the city. How many starve if they refuse to cast the spell? How much rioting, disruption, happens when the food starts to run out? They may wield this power openly, saying things like "You have food on your plate only due to our generosity in using our magic." Or they might wield it behind the scenes, directing, or forcing the city leaders to keep the spell casters happy, or else face the hungry, angry mobs of the people who are starving because of their failures.

Also, in a city that has its population maintained through magic, the source of that magic becomes a weak pint, a target for the city's enemies. One doesn't need to attack the city guards, or walls, if you can attack the magic. Either directly countering the Plant Growth Spell, or eliminating those who can cast the spell. What makes the city populous, also becomes a weak point that can be exploited.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
That depends on whether the druids are rigid in their beliefs, and refuse to use their powers for any other purpose than what directly supports nature (though that's already invalidated by the mere fact of having druids as adventurers), or they recognize that increasing crop yields by 20% means saving 10,000 square miles of nature from being turned into farmland. That seems like an extremely efficient way of preserving nature and keeping it in balance. Each druid effectively keeps 500 square miles of nature safe by using one spell per day.
Druids are automatically rigid in their beliefs, like clerics, or they would not be druids. They'd be nature lover, tree huggers, hippies, or whatever else you want to call them. Also, the existence of adventurers does not invalidate what I said, as I said the following, ". You might get an individual here or there that aids a single farmer with a single cast of the spell as thanks for some sort of aid or out of friendship, but druids aren't going to disrupt nature the way you are describing." Adventurers are a part of "...an individual here or there..."

Put another way, I don't believe druids are evil cultists who are completely immune to reasonable compromises.
Who said anything about evil cultists. Don't put words in my mouth please.
 
What I typically do is to take into account the depredations of the many various and sundry types of monsters that plague the world to such an extent that professional adventurers are a requirement for a functioning society.

Druids casting plant growth every year across the lands in this case aren't disrupting nature. They are restoring the balance of nature's bounty in the face of unnatural attacks (i.e. monsters). Wizards using fabricate aren't displacing guild craftsmen, they are bolstering shortfalls due to every able bodied man being conscripted to fight off the trollkin invasion. Clerics casting cure disease aren't throwing population growth out of whack, they are staving off the worst effects of the plague cultists that are trying to end the world.
 

Fanaelialae

Adventurer
Druids are automatically rigid in their beliefs, like clerics, or they would not be druids. They'd be nature lover, tree huggers, hippies, or whatever else you want to call them. Also, the existence of adventurers does not invalidate what I said, as I said the following, ". You might get an individual here or there that aids a single farmer with a single cast of the spell as thanks for some sort of aid or out of friendship, but druids aren't going to disrupt nature the way you are describing." Adventurers are a part of "...an individual here or there..."
I would agree that this is a classical interpretation of a druid, but it's certainly not the only possible one.

Here's some example world building that results in a druidic order dedicated to casting Plant Growth for cities.

There was once a terrible war between the druids and civilization. Though it began in the druids attempting to save nature from populations that we're growing out of control, the war soon was ravaging nature at a frightening pace. In a bid to prevent the world from ending, the druids sued for peace, pledging to serve mankind. Thenceforth, they would use their magics to bolster the farmlands and quell the direst of storms.

Of course, what the people didn't know was that while these magics kept the people fed and in comfort, they were also gradually reducing the fertility rate of those who benefitted from the magics. In such a way, the growth of populations was checked, nature safeguarded, and the balance maintained. To those sages who noticed this change, it was explained away as the result of the horrible curses and poisons released during the great war. And those sages who kept prodding were likely met with "accidents".
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
I would agree that this is a classical interpretation of a druid, but it's certainly not the only possible one.

Here's some example world building that results in a druidic order dedicated to casting Plant Growth for cities.

There was once a terrible war between the druids and civilization. Though it began in the druids attempting to save nature from populations that we're growing out of control, the war soon was ravaging nature at a frightening pace. In a bid to prevent the world from ending, the druids sued for peace, pledging to serve mankind. Thenceforth, they would use their magics to bolster the farmlands and quell the direst of storms.

Of course, what the people didn't know was that while these magics kept the people fed and in comfort, they were also gradually reducing the fertility rate of those who benefitted from the magics. In such a way, the growth of populations was checked, nature safeguarded, and the balance maintained. To those sages who noticed this change, it was explained away as the result of the horrible curses and poisons released during the great war. And those sages who kept prodding were likely met with "accidents".
Well, yeah, you can change the fluff for sure. This thread is about 5e and how it's written, though. If we're going with changes, the OP could just change the spells in question to not be usable to affect the economy at all. :)
 

Fanaelialae

Adventurer
Well, yeah, you can change the fluff for sure. This thread is about 5e and how it's written, though. If we're going with changes, the OP could just change the spells in question to not be usable to affect the economy at all. :)
It's not changing the PHB fluff at all, just putting it into a particular context.

To quote the 5e PHB, page 65, "Druids are also concerned with the delicate ecological balance that sustains plant and animal life, and the need for civilized folk to live in harmony with nature, not in opposition to it."

The druids in my example setting are ensuring exactly that. Sure, it's not the bog-standard traditional contextualization of what a druid does, but it's not outside the scope of the class either.

If I was running this setting, a player could read the Druid class and have a solid idea of what a druid is and does. I could then explain to them that a large sect oversees civilization, as explained in my previous post, but that other sects exist. They could choose which sect to be with, or choose to be an independent.

Unlike changing the spells in question, which would almost certainly require modification of mechanics.
 

WaterRabbit

Villager
I think too much of this discussion devolved into how two spells in particular work. I think the more general thrust would be, given the spells and items in the game, what would a game world realistically look like? Does a setting like Forgotten Realms really work from a magical perspective? For example, take a wall-city or castle. Neither are effective at stopping aerial or teleporting opponents. Spells like Passwall render them moot as well. Plant Growth and Fabricate are just the tip of the iceberg.

Also for those that suggest a wizard would have something better to do with their time, you have to look at all of the options a wizard has available to them. The economic theory that governs this is called Comparative Advantage.

The other theory of economics that also needs to be considered is called the Tragedy of the Commons -- shared resources are always managed much less efficiently than held resources. It is why just giving away wealth doesn't work (either in the real world or a fantasy world).

While the focus has been on high powered spells, it is the cantrips which have unlimited casting which are the real concerns. Any of the spells that manipulate energy or items essentially at will are super transformative.

The spells listed in the game are primarily those used in adventuring, but it would be easy to imagine spells that would not be used in adventuring but would be used by the general population. For example, a lesser version of Prestidigitation that can only "chill, warm, or flavor up to 1 cubic foot of nonliving material for 1 hour" could be super easy to learn (or make a wand of) would be a bartender's/chef's dream.
 
every able bodied man being conscripted to fight off the trollkin invasion. .
Well, we couldn't let the little buggers invade D&D, with their battlemagic and power crystals and percentile skills and level-less progression! I don't care if you just came looking for a better life, /go home to Glorantha!/ you stunted excuse for a troll! Do you even regenerate?!
 
I think too much of this discussion devolved into how two spells in particular work. I think the more general thrust would be, given the spells and items in the game, what would a game world realistically look like? Does a setting like Forgotten Realms really work from a magical perspective? For example, take a wall-city or castle. Neither are effective at stopping aerial or teleporting opponents. Spells like Passwall render them moot as well. Plant Growth and Fabricate are just the tip of the iceberg.
I figure the purpose of castles is against goblins, bugbears, orcs, ogres/trolls/etc, and so on. These rarely have access to spells 3rd level and above (with the potential exception of hobgoblins, but those act more like nations than wandering bands of monsters like the other goblinoid/orc/giantkin types).

So you find castles in areas near a frontier between humanity/dwarves/etc and monster-inhabited wilderness. In areas surrounded by civilization for hundreds of miles around, where the primary threat is other nations of organized humans/dwarves/elves etc, you wouldn't find castles (except historical ones left over from centuries ago when they were useful). Instead, fortifications would likely be underground bunkers (still vulnerable to earthquake, but I figure 8th and 9th level spells aren't really common enough to be taken into account in that way, whereas 3rd-4th level stuff like fly and dimension door are.)


Also for those that suggest a wizard would have something better to do with their time, you have to look at all of the options a wizard has available to them. The economic theory that governs this is called Comparative Advantage.
To a degree. But I also think that there is a factor that doesn't apply to economics in a technological world, because people who get to the levels where they can cast 3rd+ level spells (tier 2) are highly driven personalities with their own goals: they're not necessarily going to act like "rational economic actors". (I figure there is also a bit of a cultural factor in the "spellcasting subculture", where once you have enough to be comfortable/not worry about supporting yourself, the general attitude is that making more money is a distraction from the really important stuff, magic itself. Now there are definitely powerful mages who go off into wilderness/frontier regions and set themselves up as lords, but even that's more about power and independence than wealth per se.)

The spells listed in the game are primarily those used in adventuring, but it would be easy to imagine spells that would not be used in adventuring but would be used by the general population. For example, a lesser version of Prestidigitation that can only "chill, warm, or flavor up to 1 cubic foot of nonliving material for 1 hour" could be super easy to learn (or make a wand of) would be a bartender's/chef's dream.
Oh, I figure these sorts of things absolutely are used widely. (And the regular cantrips too - elves are pretty numerous in my setting, and all high elves get one cantrip - and I figure non-adventuring NPCs all have "mundane utility" things like message, mending, prestidigitation, etc. rather than firebolt or ray of frost.)

They are just kind of "in the background", things that improve convenience, save time, and raise the standard of living well beyond what a non-magical society with the same level of physical technology would have.
 

WaterRabbit

Villager
Instead, fortifications would likely be underground bunkers (still vulnerable to earthquake, but I figure 8th and 9th level spells aren't really common enough to be taken into account in that way, whereas 3rd-4th level stuff like fly and dimension door are.)
Umber Hulks



To a degree. But I also think that there is a factor that doesn't apply to economics in a technological world, because people who get to the levels where they can cast 3rd+ level spells (tier 2) are highly driven personalities with their own goals: they're not necessarily going to act like "rational economic actors". (I figure there is also a bit of a cultural factor in the "spellcasting subculture", where once you have enough to be comfortable/not worry about supporting yourself, the general attitude is that making more money is a distraction from the really important stuff, magic itself. Now there are definitely powerful mages who go off into wilderness/frontier regions and set themselves up as lords, but even that's more about power and independence than wealth per se.)
Comparative Advantage isn't just about money. It is using your time pursuing worth. The context of the discussion was framed around a wizard making money by casting spells, so Comparative Advantage does absolutely apply and they are going to be rational economic actors, because if they aren't then they don't matter for this discussion which is about how magic affects the game world and especially the economy.



Oh, I figure these sorts of things absolutely are used widely. (And the regular cantrips too - elves are pretty numerous in my setting, and all high elves get one cantrip - and I figure non-adventuring NPCs all have "mundane utility" things like message, mending, prestidigitation, etc. rather than firebolt or ray of frost.)

They are just kind of "in the background", things that improve convenience, save time, and raise the standard of living well beyond what a non-magical society with the same level of physical technology would have.
Saying something is in the background doesn't really address what the world looks like and how it would evolve with access to magical technologies.
 

Sword of Spirit

Adventurer
Saying something is in the background doesn't really address what the world looks like and how it would evolve with access to magical technologies.
This is true, but addressing how it makes the most sense that the world would evolve based on certain pre-established facts (such as the existence of certain magic) is a different exercise from assuming that those things do exist, but that the world functions the way you want/imagine your D&D world to exist in spite of the the fact that it looks like an implausible result of those facts, and then coming up with a justification for why those facts still entail.

So we each individually need to be clear about which question we are attempting to address. For me, for instance, I have little interest in the former, but find the latter very useful for helping to suspend disbelief.
 

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