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D&D 5E Teleportation circles costs *how* much?!

Quickleaf

Legend
Just a thought experiment, probably plenty flawed, using the D&D untrained/trained salaries in the PHB.

Say I have a modest city with 10,000 people. We've invested in education (roughly comparable to 1550's France with ~19% literacy) and have a burgeoning social support infrastructure.

76% (7,600) are untrained, making 2 sp per day or 1 gp per five-day. Annually, they collectively make 554,800 gp.
20% (2,000) are trained, making 2 gp per day or 10 gp per five-day. Annually, they collectively make 1,460,000 gp.
1% (100) are specialists who work on a contract basis, via patronage, or other systems that aren't neatly taxed.
3% (300) are spared from paying taxes due to hardship. Annually, paying to support them at a Modest lifestyle (1 gp/day/person), which includes a Poor lifestyle plus medical expenses, is an 108,000 gp investment.

Every year, my people pay 2.5% of their income as taxes.

This amounts to (0.025) * [Untrained Taxes (554,800) + Trained Taxes (1,460,000) - Hardship Fund (108,000)] = 47,670 gp in taxes.

That's an ideal world. Let's say that we're actually able to collect 75% of that each year (which is still a terrific assumption), that's still 35,752 gp.

We have a lot of things to pay for, of course, but compare that to the cost of a permanent Teleportation Circle (18,250 gp) and, while clearly a massive expense at half our annual tax budget, its not entirely implausible if we plan for it and set aside a "Teleportation Circle Fund" over 5-15 years.
 
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Chaosmancer

Legend
Just a thought experiment, probably plenty flawed, using the D&D untrained/trained salaries in the PHB.

Say I have a modest city with 10,000 people. We've invested in education (roughly comparable to 1550's France with ~19% literacy) and have a burgeoning social support infrastructure.

76% (7,600) are untrained, making 2 sp per day or 1 gp per five-day. Annually, they collectively make 554,800 gp.
20% (2,000) are trained, making 2 gp per day or 10 gp per five-day. Annually, they collectively make 1,460,000 gp.
1% (100) are specialists who work on a contract basis, via patronage, or other systems that aren't neatly taxed.
3% (300) are spared from paying taxes due to hardship. Annually, paying to support them at a Modest lifestyle (1 gp/day/person), which includes a Poor lifestyle plus medical expenses, is an 108,000 gp investment.

Every year, my people pay 2.5% of their income as taxes.

This amounts to (0.025) * [Untrained Taxes (554,800) + Trained Taxes (1,460,000) - Hardship Fund (108,000)] = 47,670 gp in taxes.

That's an ideal world. Let's say that we're actually able to collect 75% of that each year (which is still a terrific assumption), that's still 35,752 gp.

We have a lot of things to pay for, of course, but compare that to the cost of a permanent Teleportation Circle (18,250 gp) and, while clearly a massive expense at half our annual tax budget, its not entirely implausible if we plan for it and set aside a "Teleportation Circle Fund" over 5-15 years.


Yep, and it gets easier with more realistic tax numbers, 2.5% is fairly low I think from when I researched this topic a while back.

The problem I had when figuring this out was that a city watch and other such government funded organizations are really expensive. Though thinking back on it, I didn't end up taxing those individuals in my model, which could have skewed things.
 

Ulfgeir

Hero
Gotta go with Shidaku.

I mean, does anyone really think the nobility of Waterdeep can't afford to install a circle or two? Or the Lords of Thay, who, not to put too fine a point on it, literally run a massive despotic wizard nation?
Maybe each mage there has to make certain magical items as proof of their skill, before they are allowed to become master mages and getting their certificate. So look at it as a type of apprenticeship. How they get the funds for it is their problem.
 

Al2O3

Explorer
Maybe each mage there has to make certain magical items as proof of their skill, before they are allowed to become master mages and getting their certificate. So look at it as a type of apprenticeship. How they get the funds for it is their problem.
In academia you have to write a master thesis to get a master's degree. The equivalent for artisans in medevial guilds was making a masterwork to go from journeyman to master (and a journeyman test or work before that to go from apprentice to journeyman).

I haven't read the thread closely enough to quite know the context of this compared to the teleportation circle, but having "master spellcasting" or such makes sense from a worldbuilding perspective.
 

Stalker0

Legend
Just a thought experiment, probably plenty flawed, using the D&D untrained/trained salaries in the PHB.

Say I have a modest city with 10,000 people. We've invested in education (roughly comparable to 1550's France with ~19% literacy) and have a burgeoning social support infrastructure.

76% (7,600) are untrained, making 2 sp per day or 1 gp per five-day. Annually, they collectively make 554,800 gp.
20% (2,000) are trained, making 2 gp per day or 10 gp per five-day. Annually, they collectively make 1,460,000 gp.
1% (100) are specialists who work on a contract basis, via patronage, or other systems that aren't neatly taxed.
3% (300) are spared from paying taxes due to hardship. Annually, paying to support them at a Modest lifestyle (1 gp/day/person), which includes a Poor lifestyle plus medical expenses, is an 108,000 gp investment.

Every year, my people pay 2.5% of their income as taxes.

This amounts to (0.025) * [Untrained Taxes (554,800) + Trained Taxes (1,460,000) - Hardship Fund (108,000)] = 47,670 gp in taxes.

That's an ideal world. Let's say that we're actually able to collect 75% of that each year (which is still a terrific assumption), that's still 35,752 gp.

We have a lot of things to pay for, of course, but compare that to the cost of a permanent Teleportation Circle (18,250 gp) and, while clearly a massive expense at half our annual tax budget, its not entirely implausible if we plan for it and set aside a "Teleportation Circle Fund" over 5-15 years.

This is a good summary.

That said, I think we have to remember that the gold cost of an item is a convenient game mechanic way to control power within a party, and does not have to have bearing on the world economy. I think its feasible that a well to do city might have access to mining and resources that could get them those materials more cheaply. Now if a PC wants to buy some chalk from the city supplies...normal price of course, but the city wouldn't truly be paying that amount of gold for it.

But ultimately I think what this shows is that a teleportation circle would certainly be a major expense for "true cities", but is not so out of the realm of possibility that it makes no sense for them to be there, especially if a king at one point in history did a push for major cities to get one or something of that nature. Its the equivalent of Rome aqueducts and roads, a major investment in infrastructure that ultimately pays for itself many times over.
 

Quickleaf

Legend
Yep, and it gets easier with more realistic tax numbers, 2.5% is fairly low I think from when I researched this topic a while back.

The problem I had when figuring this out was that a city watch and other such government funded organizations are really expensive. Though thinking back on it, I didn't end up taxing those individuals in my model, which could have skewed things.
Yeah, probably 7.5-10% would be more realistic. I was kind of trying to do a "quick and dirty" semi-discretionary tax budget. So I went with a lower number, assuming that most of the taxes with an actual tax percentage were already spoken for paying salaries and other infrastructure maintenance/building. It's all super rough, but I think supports Stalker0's point about creation of a permanent Teleportation Circle being comparable to other big infrastructure projects from history.

This is a good summary.

That said, I think we have to remember that the gold cost of an item is a convenient game mechanic way to control power within a party, and does not have to have bearing on the world economy. I think its feasible that a well to do city might have access to mining and resources that could get them those materials more cheaply. Now if a PC wants to buy some chalk from the city supplies...normal price of course, but the city wouldn't truly be paying that amount of gold for it.

But ultimately I think what this shows is that a teleportation circle would certainly be a major expense for "true cities", but is not so out of the realm of possibility that it makes no sense for them to be there, especially if a king at one point in history did a push for major cities to get one or something of that nature. Its the equivalent of Rome aqueducts and roads, a major investment in infrastructure that ultimately pays for itself many times over.
Totally. 100%. That's actually more the direction I'd go with it personally. I agree that thinking of magic as GP is reductionist. Who controls the "rare chalks" and what does that mean exactly? Who produces "rare inks infused with gemstones" and who are they selling to / where are they selling? Are there different possible materials that will meet the spell's requirement, and might that suggest commercial rivalries or different resources a city could send adventurers to secure?
 

jasper

Rotten DM
Just a thought experiment, probably plenty flawed, using the D&D untrained/trained salaries in the PHB.
.......

Every year, my people pay 2.5% of their income as taxes.

This amounts to (0.025) * [Untrained Taxes (554,800) + Trained Taxes (1,460,000) - Hardship Fund (108,000)] = 47,670 gp in taxes.

That's an ideal world. Let's say that we're actually able to collect 75% of that each year (which is still a terrific assumption), that's still 35,752 gp.

We have a lot of things to pay for, of course, but compare that to the cost of a permanent Teleportation Circle (18,250 gp) and, while clearly a massive expense at half our annual tax budget, its not entirely implausible if we plan for it and set aside a "Teleportation Circle Fund" over 5-15 years.
Can I move to your city. 2.5% of income tax. And that is all. What you forget is fees, licenses, hotel taxes, etc. 18,250 GP is not a lot once you figure in those.
Question What would be the price to use a teleportation circle? Imagine London to New York City Circles. $10 each way? Or less in the off hours.
 

1 DnD is really bad at economics.
2 DnD is really, really bad at economics.
Said that,
you may choose to have a setting with big functional network of teleportation circle.
Or a setting with few ones, some vestige of an old empire.
it is not a rules mater.
 


Faolyn

Hero
Don't forget that the rules in the PH are mainly for PCs. The DM can easily say that any NPC wizard can build a permanent teleportation circle in less time, using cheaper reagents, because they have access to arcane or divine knowledge the PCs don't.
 


Galandris

Foggy Bottom Campaign Setting Fan
The Great Wall of China took 300,000 people to work for 9 years. Let's say they had a day off each week and worked 300 days per year, that's 810,000,000 unskilled workday at 2sp each in D&D money. T'as 1,620,000,000 sp or 162 million gold pieces. The effort the Qin Dynasty supported was worth around 8,000 teleportation circles. The limit is the scarcity of 9th level wizards, not the listed price.

But as @Faolyn pointed out, the spells just mentions that casting the spell each day for one year at the same place creates a permanent circle, not that the only way to create a permanent circle is to do that. Maybe a monthly casting is enough if the magic can be kept alive by 10 disciples chanting rituals non-stop between two castings.
 

Don't forget that the rules in the PH are mainly for PCs. The DM can easily say that any NPC wizard can build a permanent teleportation circle in less time, using cheaper reagents, because they have access to arcane or divine knowledge the PCs don't.
True enough, but I feel like on those rare occasions when the game actually tells you how to create a permanent magic thing using the spells in the book, having plot magic not available to players do it instead is dissatisfying worldbuilding and kind of a cheap move. Better to save mysterious arcane or divine knowledge the players don't have for the manifold things you want in your campaign that the PHB doesn't give an established way to create.
 

For economy
If you want kingdom building and management you can always refer to the old Rule Cyclopedia (or the companion set) of BECMI. It was fairly easy to understand and was quite accurate about how medieval income was working.

For teleportation circles.
The rules are clear and I would not chamge them. A ruler who wants such a circle in his castle would hire a mage just for this purpose (does the word court mage rings a bell?) and not a PC. A PC ready to do such a thing for himself and his friends must be ready to have someone ready to give him a hand "just in case" if he needs to get away for adventuring. Although some campaigns allow for this type of commitment, these are not the norm these days. But when such a campaign is on the road, I see no problems in a PC doing it.
 

BookTenTiger

He / Him
As a player, I love this kind of stuff because it really ignites my imagination and makes me start to imagine a different mode of play... How can my 9th level wizard secure enough time to cast this spell every day for a year?

Money, of course, is no problem since 5e characters are drowning in gold, especially in "big quest against time" campaigns.

In the campaign I am playing in (which is a big quest against time), there are no established teleportation circles, so the DM and I worked together to develop an idea for how my wizard could discover / invent one. We came up with an isolated wizard who lived in a tower in a tiny, far away town, who had done about 11 months of work on Teleportation circles before dying. My character shows up, and takes a month of downtime to complete the research. Now we have a safe haven to return to, and a little town of our own.

In the campaign I run, the character are only 5th level, but the entire campaign takes place in a valley that takes something like two or three days to cross, so teleportation circles wouldn't be that valuable or game breaking. Still, if there's interest at 9th level, we will work them into the lore!
 

Mistwell

Crusty Old Meatwad (he/him)
No, the richest people are the people who bankroll wizards, just like in the real world. Unless all wizards are adventurers, then the average wizard can't afford 18,000gp (plus living expenses) to set up a circle, doesn't have the contacts with a circle at the other end to trade with, doesn't have a supply of grain etc etc. He probably creates and operates the circle for a wage, or loses most of his profits paying back his business loan.
Yeah, I can see this as something a major city invests in. The city hires wizards, bankrolls the cost, with expected long term returns over years from trade with another major city.

I can definitely see some adventuring opportunities there. "Our wizard was just assassinated by a rival city's agent, and his backup was kidnapped. Rescue the wizard in the next 12 hours, or find a replacement for her, or 6 months of work and thousands of gold go down the drain!"
 

Faolyn

Hero
True enough, but I feel like on those rare occasions when the game actually tells you how to create a permanent magic thing using the spells in the book, having plot magic not available to players do it instead is dissatisfying worldbuilding and kind of a cheap move. Better to save mysterious arcane or divine knowledge the players don't have for the manifold things you want in your campaign that the PHB doesn't give an established way to create.
Meh. I think that's an "each to their own." I don't mind having PCs with stricter rules--it gives me, the DM, more options.
 

The #1 problem with Teleportation Circle is it's useless if the GM hasn't implemented it in their world building.

I joined a campaign and the group had kept finding 'summoning circles'. I was playing a wizard and took Teleportation Circle since I figured I could take advantage of these magical circles. It turns out the 'summoning Circles' were some hand-waivy homebrew demon summoning. The DM told me, "Oh, I didn't even know that spell existed. No, there aren't any Teleportation Circles in this campaign."

So, yeah, he let me choose a new spell. I've only seen them used in one game but the DM homebrewed them to make them function more like the 3rd edition version in order to make them a bit more useful.
 

aco175

Legend
I just finished reading this necro thread. I got thinking about the gold and economy and looked up the cost of gold in dollars from 2016 when the thread started and it was around $1,250 to around $2,000 today. In 1970 from early days of D&D it was only $250. Not sure how that plays into the economy of kingdoms or wealth of nobles and cost of making circles. I mostly thought how real life things change and how D&D things do not, having everything cost PHB prices over the life of the books.
 

G

Guest 6801328

Guest
I'm very late to this thread, but on the subject of permanent teleportation circles being "huge security holes" I could be fun to think of how to build them so that if you don't prepare beforehand in a specific way (such as, pre-casting levitate on yourself) it's a deathtrap when you arrive.

And for making it permanent, do you think you could get your wizard friends to help you? Must the same wizard do all 365 castings? (And, for that matter, not all worlds have 365 day years....)
 

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