The economics of Continual flame

5ekyu

Hero
From the Discworld series: The Sam Vimes "Boots" Theory of Economic Injustice runs thus:


So, it saves money over three years to have a continual flame spell cast on an object. But you still need to be able to afford three years worth of candles all at once.

Meanwhile, the 50gp cost for a continual flame spell is basically paying for "parts". You can go to the mechanic with the parts to fix your car and it's still going to cost you. The specialist charges for their time.
The Basic Rules put the cost of a 1st level spell at 10 to 50 gp, so a wizard might easily ask 100 for the 2nd-level continual flame. Or 500gp. They can really set their price, since it's unlikely there'll be competition in all but the largest of cities, and it's not like they want to be bothered casting spells freely.
The theory seems to run on a very isolationist notion.

Consider the idea that five families go in together to buy continual lights. They agree to combine their 10gp and pass around the light. With the savings, they buy a second... now savings double then triple etc until everyone has a flame of free light and everybody saves.

As for the wizard, yes, he can gouge the locals in small village USA, but unless he grinds his own meal, bakes his own bread and sees his own clothes... that might not be smart community theory. In fact, in small town USA there is likely not enough gold between them to make it worth gouging them and the ill will.

His smartest move would likely be to do it "at cost" plus discounted goods in future dealings - say 10% off or even just "prioritize my orders" or "save me the juiciest melons" etc etc etc.

It's not like Continual Flame "labor" is this onerous thing. If circumstantially it is bad "right now" telling them to come back next week seems like a good idea.

So, unless you see all wizards as onerous capitalists trying to squeeze blood from turnip farmers, the notion of exorbitant mark-ups seems a bit much as z common thing.

Consider, small villages might have one of each craftsman, likely not several, but that does not equate to everyone trying to bankrupt everyone rlse... the reverse in fact as fair prices and rade for services generosity helped the entire system work.

"If I make you this light, you can work three more hours a day. So I will use your fist and make the light and one hour a day of your work will be making stuff for me at cost from now on,"

Besides, maybe there are clerics of gods of light who might see it as a holy thing to provide these services when time permits.
 

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Yes it's possible for people to save 3 or 5 or more years of savings for something like this. Or team up or share or what have you. But I agree with those who say it is rare and unlikely.

To take an example from our current world. A Tesla Model S, with local and federal government rebates and incentives and with a guaranteed buy back price after three years costs about $2500-3000/yr to own and operate. Much less than most other gasoline cars, and less than many very inexpensive used cars. Problem is, you have to front $100,000 on day one in order to own and use such a inexpensive to own and operate car.

Yet, these Model S's are still a very luxury item. Even though it would make sense for many people to own them and be less expensive than their current vehicle. It's a matter of cash flow. Not may people can skimp for 3-5 years to save up for something that will not only increase their quality of life, but reduce their expenses. It's possible to do, most people just don't do it.
 

5ekyu

Hero
Yes it's possible for people to save 3 or 5 or more years of savings for something like this. Or team up or share or what have you. But I agree with those who say it is rare and unlikely.

To take an example from our current world. A Tesla Model S, with local and federal government rebates and incentives and with a guaranteed buy back price after three years costs about $2500-3000/yr to own and operate. Much less than most other gasoline cars, and less than many very inexpensive used cars. Problem is, you have to front $100,000 on day one in order to own and use such a inexpensive to own and operate car.

Yet, these Model S's are still a very luxury item. Even though it would make sense for many people to own them and be less expensive than their current vehicle. It's a matter of cash flow. Not may people can skimp for 3-5 years to save up for something that will not only increase their quality of life, but reduce their expenses. It's possible to do, most people just don't do it.
I think it's worth at least looking at the relative scales.

Craftsmen and professionals support a modest lifestyle which is worth 1gp a day. 50 gp means cutting back by half say every other day for about six months.

Most folks dont make 100k by cutting back by half every other day by six months to buy that Tesla. Besides there are other energy efficient options well below that 100k.

But this does lead to opportunity cost. Is there something that 50g could earn you more value if spent on it.

All in all, it will boil down to the setting the GM would like to portray. Commonplace CF establishes a higher degree of common utility magic in the world. Likely not out of place in a campaign where healing potions are common and frequent. But likely out of whack in a magic is scarce and segregated setting.

Then again it could serve to highlight differences. Eleven towns with lots of safe CF lighting would seem mystic places to humans used to torches and oil lamps.
 

Horwath

Legend
Also it can be more common if city will give "work permit" to the wizard only if he agrees that he will cast Continual Flame for the city "at cost"; that is only be provided costly components.
 

Ymdar

Explorer
The assumed basic setting of D&D5 is FR if I'm not mistaken. Most high level spellcasters should be dead due to cataclysms so lower level spellcasters would be in high demand. Even an apprentice wizard would be contracted by governments, mercenary groups and rich individuals to cast all their spells until the PCs are high level enough to create a continual flame spell shop for themselves. After this, the next campaign could have an increased amount of shops like this.

However I wouldn't think that clerics or governments would approve of people having more light in their houses and elsewhere: More light means more time to learn, come up with ideas and maybe to decrease faiths in gods or instigate revolutions against monarchs.

Not to mention this business would drive out candlemakers and other artisans of business who (as spellcasting requires talent) could not easily go to the continual flame sector. No, darkness is there for a *reason* no need to change that.
 

jasper

Rotten DM
Now the lighters are out of jobs, phased out by "technology".
So it begins.
...
Tinkle Tinkle the shop bell goes.
Mage Ancalagon, " How may I help you kind sir?"
SkidAce, " I am the union boss of Lighters of Waterdeep. I just here to give you the low down. It appears you are trying to put my boys out of work. How low of you. Nice shop. It would be a pity if something happen to laid you low and sick. You know the type of sickness that makes it hard to speak, and causes broken fingers?"
 

Horwath

Legend
The assumed basic setting of D&D5 is FR if I'm not mistaken. Most high level spellcasters should be dead due to cataclysms so lower level spellcasters would be in high demand. Even an apprentice wizard would be contracted by governments, mercenary groups and rich individuals to cast all their spells until the PCs are high level enough to create a continual flame spell shop for themselves. After this, the next campaign could have an increased amount of shops like this.

However I wouldn't think that clerics or governments would approve of people having more light in their houses and elsewhere: More light means more time to learn, come up with ideas and maybe to decrease faiths in gods or instigate revolutions against monarchs.

Not to mention this business would drive out candlemakers and other artisans of business who (as spellcasting requires talent) could not easily go to the continual flame sector. No, darkness is there for a *reason* no need to change that.

They would not go out of business.

A family can afford A continual flame for their home if they tighten up the belt for few months. Not flames. You will still need candles/oil lamps if you want to have light in 2 rooms in the house at the same time. Same as if you want to go out at night.

Commoners are not adventurers that have 2-3 continual flames per person.
 

leogobsin

First Post
Tinkle Tinkle the shop bell goes.
Mage Ancalagon, " How may I help you kind sir?"
SkidAce, " I am the union boss of Lighters of Waterdeep. I just here to give you the low down. It appears you are trying to put my boys out of work. How low of you. Nice shop. It would be a pity if something happen to laid you low and sick. You know the type of sickness that makes it hard to speak, and causes broken fingers?"

"These junior lighters, they can be real clumsy y'know? All sorts'a stuff could get lit on accident: bushes, haybales, shops... mages..."
 

Horwath

Legend
Tinkle Tinkle the shop bell goes.
Mage Ancalagon, " How may I help you kind sir?"
SkidAce, " I am the union boss of Lighters of Waterdeep. I just here to give you the low down. It appears you are trying to put my boys out of work. How low of you. Nice shop. It would be a pity if something happen to laid you low and sick. You know the type of sickness that makes it hard to speak, and causes broken fingers?"

Mage Ancalagon; "Incertus, Pulcher, Imperio!"
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
Tinkle Tinkle the shop bell goes.
Mage Ancalagon, " How may I help you kind sir?"
SkidAce, " I am the union boss of Lighters of Waterdeep. I just here to give you the low down. It appears you are trying to put my boys out of work. How low of you. Nice shop. It would be a pity if something happen to laid you low and sick. You know the type of sickness that makes it hard to speak, and causes broken fingers?"
This scenario only makes sense if continual flame was a new technology.

Besides, if the candle makers have a union... so can the wizards
 

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