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

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
But isn't that is exactly the question? Probably the best test would be to have a group of players charged with defending a site and seeing what they come up. Because they are players they are limited to published spells and items. So "anti-invisibility" areas aren't something possible in the rules, but hallowed areas would be. Give them a budget and see what kind of defenses they can build. In my opinion, to build defenses to handle the types of threats represented in a normal game world is going to be cost prohibitive compared to the methods that are necessary to defeat them.

This is probably why they haven't released the mass combat rules yet. It would be interesting to try and build a "tower defense" game just using the published rules to this point. But I don't think the rules are really robust enough to handle this situation. Back in AD&D we did run similar types of tests and found that castles were generally useless against monstrous and magical threats.

They aren't spelled out in the rules, but the rules for creating spells and magic items ARE in the rules. It's inconceivable that anything the players can think of hasn't been tried hundreds, if not thousands of times in the thousands of years that magic and castles have been around. Countermeasures would have been created and be in widespread use by places as rich as cities and the nobility/royalty.

It's definitely much harder if you limit the players/NPCs to what spells and items are listed, though.
 
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Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
This all can work, but only if you never venture too far into Tier 2 play. However, a small orc horde would completely wipeout any civilization you have as you are implying that the warrior in the army aren't even equivalent to guards in their competence. The problem is that once you allow for magical organizations like the Circle of 8, The Red Wizards of Thay, Twisted Rune, or even the Cowled Wizards of Athkatla it forces there to be more competent and more numerous skilled individuals in the setting.

Also, your $400 to 1 GP is definitely an outlier as it is generally more a $1 to 1 GP ratio. A single gold piece in your campaign has tremendous buying power. A single haul of gold from an ancient dungeon would definitely ruin any economy you had and kill any nation (much the way Spain fell into economic disaster).

I've always viewed silver as $1 and gold as $20. A holdover from 1e I suppose. 20 silver to a 1 gold. 2 electum($10) to a gold. 5 gold to a platinum($100). The denominations held up except for copper, which would be dimes instead of pennies.
 

Kinematics

Explorer
Never try to compare value to the commodity price of raw gold/silver/copper. It's largely meaningless. If you want to compare monetary values, generally stick to basic goods like flour, salt, bread, etc.

I usually settle on about $50 per GP, $5 per SP, and $0.50 per CP.

If you look at trade goods, you can see things like flour at 2 CP/lb, or salt at 5 CP/lb. That would then translate to about $1 per pound of flour, or $2.50 per pound of salt. You can get it cheaper at a modern supermarket, but it's a reasonable approximation.

Lifestyle expenses start at 1 SP per day for squalid living conditions. That's about $5 for whatever food you can scrounge up, and no place to live. Modest is 1 GP per day. If you consider that $50, that gets you an apartment (~$20 per day = $600 per month) plus food and some other minor costs. In fact, it works out to about $20k per year in basic living expenses, which isn't unreasonable. Aristocratic is at least 10 GP per day, which would translate to about $200k per year in living expenses — the sort of spending you'd expect from someone extremely wealthy.

A rapier at 25 GP would be $1250, which is not unreasonable for a well-made sword, rather than just a display piece. Without modern machinery, it's going to be on the higher end anyway. A club is 1 SP — $5. I mean, it's a club. A quarterstaff is twice that, at 2 SP / $10. Most weapons are in the $500 - $1500 range, which sounds about right.

Your gambeson armor starts at 5 GP → $250. Imagine the cost of a large coat that's thick enough to stop a sword blow, and that feels in line. A chain shirt is 50 GP, so $2500. Starting to get expensive, but crafted armor is always going to be expensive. Plate mail that costs 1500 GP would be the equivalent of $75,000 — an expensive car, or a cheap house. The sort of cost that explains why only nobles usually could afford it.

A carriage ride between towns is 3 CP per mile, which would be $1.50 per mile. If I plug in a random Uber estimate, I get a cost of $1 per mile, so close enough.


Basically, most prices in the book make sense at this cost scale, though there's a few that don't, or have problems. Alchemist's fire, for example, is a one-use consumable where you're throwing about $2500 at an enemy for a tiny bit of fire damage. That's ludicrously expensive for something you might otherwise see as a commoner's substitute for a mage, in a low-magic setting. A book costs 25 GP / $1250. That's a reasonable price in a setting where every single book is hand-crafted, and even paper is rare and expensive (heck, paper is $10 per sheet and ink is $500 per bottle), but often doesn't fit with the relative commonality of books (such as libraries) in many settings. Crafted glass (such as a magnifying glass or spyglass) is also hideously expensive, at 100 GP - 1000 GP ($5000 - $50,000), but that's less surprising, since accurately crafted lenses are horribly difficult to make without modern machinery.

Of course that then leads to the question of, how much does magic affect the ability to make these things, and should that mean they should be cheaper? At the very least, paper should have a much higher demand in a world with wizards and spellbooks. Probably less so for crafted glasswork, as there aren't a whole lot of practical uses for such items (except maybe old wizards whose eyesight is going).


Summary: 1 GP = $50 is a reasonable scale, though it wouldn't hurt things much if you dropped it to, say $20, or raised it to $100. Some of the edge cases might get a bit more noticeable if you try converting from modern costs to game costs, but it's close enough that it doesn't really need to be fussed with.

Oofta said:
As far as the fabricate, I posted long ago that I saw a lot of issues, especially depending on level of technology and how you define "raw materials". Do you need high quality steel? Does it need to be properly hammered into plates or do you just need iron ore, a source of carbon and some other trace metals? I lean towards the former, which along with the expertise of how to make the armor (which takes a master armorer level of expertise) I just don't see it happening all that often.
I'd say yes, you need the raw materials, but no, the materials do not have to be in any particular shape. If you want to make steel plate mail, you need steel — not ore, or iron plus other stuff — but it could be ingots or plates or whatever other shape you wanted.

Basically, if you can describe what you're doing as "reshaping" (ie: trees to wooden bridge), it would work, but if it's "processing" (ie: ore to metal), it wouldn't. You need wool for clothing, for example, not a sheep.
 

Stalker0

Legend
Basically, if you can describe what you're doing as "reshaping" (ie: trees to wooden bridge), it would work, but if it's "processing" (ie: ore to metal), it wouldn't. You need wool for clothing, for example, not a sheep.

Definitely agree here, especially since there is no true notion of “chemistry” in dnd. There’s nothing that says that diamonds in dnd are “pressurized carbon”
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Definitely agree here, especially since there is no true notion of “chemistry” in dnd. There’s nothing that says that diamonds in dnd are “pressurized carbon”

That's not true. 1e had chemistry, physics, geology, etc. The sage table had them as areas of specialty. It got dropped off in later editions, but even then alchemy still persisted.
 

WaterRabbit

Explorer
Never try to compare value to the commodity price of raw gold/silver/copper. It's largely meaningless. If you want to compare monetary values, generally stick to basic goods like flour, salt, bread, etc.

I usually settle on about $50 per GP, $5 per SP, and $0.50 per CP.

I understand your approach and it is logical. However, if you tell your players $1 = 1 GP that immediately have a better grasp on how money works in the game.


They aren't spelled out in the rules, but the rules for creating spells and magic items ARE in the rules. It's inconceivable that anything the players can think of hasn't been tried hundreds, if not thousands of times in the thousands of years that magic and castles have been around. Countermeasures would have been created and be in widespread use by places as rich as cities and the nobility/royalty.

It's definitely much harder if you limit the players/NPCs to what spells and items are listed, though.

While I agree, limiting to what is published removes the concept of "dm cheating".
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
I understand your approach and it is logical. However, if you tell your players $1 = 1 GP that immediately have a better grasp on how money works in the game.

I agree with telling people a rough equivalent, but even during happy hour a mug of ale costs more than 4 cents.

While I agree, limiting to what is published removes the concept of "dm cheating".

It's not DM cheating if you state up front that there are spells and rituals not available to PCs and that there may be magical protections on castles that would stop you from teleporting in to the king's bedchamber in the middle of the night. In any case, it's a pretty common fantasy trope that some cult is trying to cast a ritual to raise a dead god, summon a demon or some other nefarious deed. I don't see that as being much different than acknowledging that magic exists outside of what's been published in the books.
 


Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
My point exactly

But it's not completely gone. Gunpowder still exists and has since 1e. Sulfer exists as a spell component, and I think I've seen a few others as well. Chemistry exists in D&D, but not as an organized science since 1e. D&D 5e is also a common use of language edition, so if they call it a diamond, it's what we commonly think of as a diamond. A hunk of carbon that got compressed under tons of pressure for a very long period of time.
 

Stalker0

Legend
But it's not completely gone. Gunpowder still exists and has since 1e. Sulfer exists as a spell component, and I think I've seen a few others as well. Chemistry exists in D&D, but not as an organized science since 1e. D&D 5e is also a common use of language edition, so if they call it a diamond, it's what we commonly think of as a diamond. A hunk of carbon that got compressed under tons of pressure for a very long period of time.

So you would allow fabricate to turn a lump of coal into diamond?

Forget the armor, this is the new fortune making scheme.
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
The economy of D&D isn't scaled to properly account for a medieval economy, or at least that's not the first priority. The costs in a bunch of cases are scaled to PC income. So yeah, the cp to $ thing works to a point, but that $2500 alchemists fire ain't scaled as a general consumable, it's scaled so low level PCs aren't packing crates of that shizz every time they leave town.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
So you would allow fabricate to turn a lump of coal into diamond?

Forget the armor, this is the new fortune making scheme.

Of course not. First off, you can only create produced goods and diamonds are not produced. They are another form of raw good. Secondly, you can't use player knowledge for PCs who wouldn't have it. Even though diamonds are carbon, PCs wouldn't have that knowledge. You could take coal and make a coal statuette if you had proficiency in carving, or take a diamond and produced a cut diamond if you have proficiency in gem cutting tools, but you couldn't turn raw coal into a raw diamond, which you would have to do before cutting it.
 

Fanaelialae

Legend
But it's not completely gone. Gunpowder still exists and has since 1e. Sulfer exists as a spell component, and I think I've seen a few others as well. Chemistry exists in D&D, but not as an organized science since 1e. D&D 5e is also a common use of language edition, so if they call it a diamond, it's what we commonly think of as a diamond. A hunk of carbon that got compressed under tons of pressure for a very long period of time.

The laws of science are variable in D&D settings. Gunpowder, for example, doesn't function on Faerun. You need smokepowder, a magical substance that fills the same role (although I've read that jeweler's rouge will also work).

Diamonds might be compressed carbon. They could alternately be the crystallized essence of slain angels.

I think it's safer to say that real world science applies so long as the DM hasn't decided otherwise, regardless of whether or not the players are aware. It might be reasonable for a player to assume that their characters don't fly off into the void due to gravity, but it could be equally true that gravity doesn't exist in the setting and that the reason they don't fly off is that the world is flat, or because they live on the tip of a rocket that is in a state of constant acceleration.

Heck, given magic, you'd be hard pressed to come up with an explanation for why the various laws of science aren't merely strongly worded suggestions in a D&D universe. There are plenty of spells and other magic that seemingly contravene science as we understand it. Gargantuan dragons capable of flight, for example.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
The laws of science are variable in D&D settings. Gunpowder, for example, doesn't function on Faerun. You need smokepowder, a magical substance that fills the same role (although I've read that jeweler's rouge will also work).

Diamonds might be compressed carbon. They could alternately be the crystallized essence of slain angels.

I think it's safer to say that real world science applies so long as the DM hasn't decided otherwise, regardless of whether or not the players are aware. It might be reasonable for a player to assume that their characters don't fly off into the void due to gravity, but it could be equally true that gravity doesn't exist in the setting and that the reason they don't fly off is that the world is flat, or because they live on the tip of a rocket that is in a state of constant acceleration.

Heck, given magic, you'd be hard pressed to come up with an explanation for why the various laws of science aren't merely strongly worded suggestions in a D&D universe. There are plenty of spells and other magic that seemingly contravene science as we understand it. Gargantuan dragons capable of flight, for example.

Yes, magic can change things, but absent that change they work more or less like the real world. Not exact, but close enough to not really matter. So without a specific change making diamonds out of angel poop, they will be compressed carbon. Gravity works similar to the real world, unless the gods created a flat world where gravity doesn't exist. That's how D&D has worked since basic.
 

Fanaelialae

Legend
Yes, magic can change things, but absent that change they work more or less like the real world. Not exact, but close enough to not really matter. So without a specific change making diamonds out of angel poop, they will be compressed carbon. Gravity works similar to the real world, unless the gods created a flat world where gravity doesn't exist. That's how D&D has worked since basic.

I mean, pretty much all fantasy settings start with the real world as a basis. What else could you even use as starting point of reference (apart from another setting that at some point derives from the real world)?

But my point is that you can't assume that a fantasy setting has the same rules as the real world. By and large, the point of a fantasy setting is to deviate from the real world in one or more ways.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
I mean, pretty much all fantasy settings start with the real world as a basis. What else could you even use as starting point of reference (apart from another setting that at some point derives from the real world)?

But my point is that you can't assume that a fantasy setting has the same rules as the real world. By and large, the point of a fantasy setting is to deviate from the real world in one or more ways.

I mostly agree. My point is that absent a specific change, there's nothing else to assume but a real world basis. As you note, the real world is where all of the settings begin and then alter things from there.
 

S'mon

Legend
Also, your $400 to 1 GP is definitely an outlier as it is generally more a $1 to 1 GP ratio.

I don't think so. A cp is definitely more than a cent - chickens are 12 cp right?!

I generally go off 1 gp = £100, so 1 cp = £1. A mug of beer at the inn is 2 to 5 cp which is pretty cheap by London prices (£3 to £6+) but then we have tyrannical beer-taxing ruler to contend with. :D
 

Savevsdeath

First Post
I take the simple approach, i.e. the Eberron approach: 7th-level anything is rare, period. And people with that kind of power will be courted by all manner of factions who could use the services of such powerful individuals. Arbitrarily deciding that people just eschew magic and won't enjoy the benefits of having a powerful individual around is a cop-out that neuters PC's needlessly; if they're powerful, let them change the world, and let the world change around them in response. A wizard who can cast fabricate will be hired by people who need lots of weapons and armor made quickly, and there is no good reason why any given village might not await the annual visit from the local druid circle who will help enrich their crops for another year. In all cases, these are plot hooks - what happens when a rival nation makes that powerful wizard a better offer, or just plots to kidnap or assassinate him? What if the druids don't show up one year for reasons unknown?

Don't fear powerful magic-users or make their powers irrelevant; take them into account and use them.
 

Draegn

Explorer
I take the simple approach, i.e. the Eberron approach: 7th-level anything is rare, period. And people with that kind of power will be courted by all manner of factions who could use the services of such powerful individuals. Arbitrarily deciding that people just eschew magic and won't enjoy the benefits of having a powerful individual around is a cop-out that neuters PC's needlessly; if they're powerful, let them change the world, and let the world change around them in response. A wizard who can cast fabricate will be hired by people who need lots of weapons and armor made quickly, and there is no good reason why any given village might not await the annual visit from the local druid circle who will help enrich their crops for another year. In all cases, these are plot hooks - what happens when a rival nation makes that powerful wizard a better offer, or just plots to kidnap or assassinate him? What if the druids don't show up one year for reasons unknown?

Don't fear powerful magic-users or make their powers irrelevant; take them into account and use them.

Also have consequences for using "powerful" magic. Eddings did this in his novels. The main character Garion creates a huge storm to stop a battle, after which his uncle has to travel hither to "reset" the proper weather patterns to avoid droughts, floods, etc....
 


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