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SowZ
2013-08-05, 03:25 PM
Have you guys ever realized how entire species have pretty homogeneous cultures in D&D and such? There's one 'Elf' language. One 'Dwarf' language. Not to mention everything is centered around humans being the baseline and speaking the common language.

Humans on an island in the southern hemisphere would be similar to humans on a continent in the west.

Grinner
2013-08-05, 03:29 PM
Yup.

Then again, D&D, really being a system and not a game, has never really been known for deep and thoughtful worldbuilding. That costs extra.

elliott20
2013-08-05, 03:31 PM
It's probably just to make the game a little easier to run. Imagine having to juggle all of the language variety that humans could have alone, and then layer all the other sub-dialects from other races.

Yora
2013-08-05, 04:11 PM
Yes, that was one of the first things I took care of when I started working on a setting myself. Humans are threated just like everyone else.

QuintonBeck
2013-08-05, 04:20 PM
It's a difficult line to draw between realistic and convenient. Especially with things like "comprehend languages" floating around and the low cost (2 skill points) for complete understanding of a language? Is it worth it? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. If you want a more realistic history you gotta add it yourself but in a game with magic and dragons realism is easy to lose.

Rhynn
2013-08-05, 04:23 PM
Have you guys ever realized how entire species have pretty homogeneous cultures in D&D and such? There's one 'Elf' language. One 'Dwarf' language. Not to mention everything is centered around humans being the baseline and speaking the common language.

Humans on an island in the southern hemisphere would be similar to humans on a continent in the west.

This largely depends on the game. There's a couple of aspects, though...

Languages are almost entirely a matter of convenience. Especially in generic, non-setting-specific core rulebooks, it's not worth it to try to include a lot of languages; especially when languages are necessarily setting-dependent. There's nothing that prevents any DM from creating many, many, many languages for his setting.

When you look at any actual setting, you're likely to see different languages: in the Forgotten Realms, there are something like a dozen or two dozen human languages.

Even when you do have multiple languages - like in MERP, RuneQuest, etc. - there's usually a Common language, even if in non-D&D games it is often rare. (In RQ, Tradetalk is mostly only spoken by traders and adventurers; in MERP, many cultures don't speak Common/Eriadorian well or at all.) In some settings, the "Common" language is actually the language of the default area of play (Eriador/Gondor in MERP, Reikspiel in WFRP, etc.).

In many games, and for many people, language barriers are either too much of a bother ("we can't speak to or understand anyone!") or trivial ("we have magic that lets us speak to and understand everyone!"), and thus not worth it.

I always like the idea of language barriers, but I find that games run much smoother when you don't have to worry about them all the time. That's why a Common language is useful: you can expect to get along everywhere, but sometimes you'll meet someone who can't or won't speak a shared language.

And then, of course, there's a multitude of games where you really just need to know the right language, like HarnMaster/HarnWorld, WFRP, Artesia: Adventures in the Known World, Conan d20, and so on. No common tongues here!

Now, cultural homogeneity is a different issue, and is usually a matter of depth. Most D&D settings, particularly the published ones, don't have very deep cultures to begin with. And why should they? That's the DM's job, and the depth is easier to remember when it's invented/created during play, rather than read from a sourcebook. If you want your setting to have the depth of ASOIAF, the Riftwar Saga, The Witcher, etc., give it that depth -- many of those settings were a D&D DM's world to begin with. Some people would enjoy book after book detailing nothing but various cultures, but they're probably not going to sell well enough to be worth it, and DMs who want that kind of depth are usually happier creating their own setting.

Craft (Cheese)
2013-08-05, 04:25 PM
It's probably just to make the game a little easier to run. Imagine having to juggle all of the language variety that humans could have alone, and then layer all the other sub-dialects from other races.

It depends on whether you're a linguistics nerd or not. Some of us relish in this type of thing. The problem comes in when you're the only one at the table who actually cares about exploring questions like "Did green-elven and grey-elven split off 5000 years ago during the great northern migration, or did they split off even earlier 10000 years ago during the western migration?"

Grinner
2013-08-05, 04:32 PM
Now, cultural homogeneity is a different issue, and is usually a matter of depth. Most D&D settings, particularly the published ones, don't have very deep cultures to begin with. And why should they? That's the DM's job, and the depth is easier to remember when it's invented/created during play, rather than read from a sourcebook. If you want your setting to have the depth of ASOIAF, the Riftwar Saga, The Witcher, etc., give it that depth -- many of those settings were a D&D DM's world to begin with. Some people would enjoy book after book detailing nothing but various cultures, but they're probably not going to sell well enough to be worth it, and DMs who want that kind of depth are usually happier creating their own setting.

Counterpoint: What you propose is both difficult and time-consuming. Not everyone has that kind of skill or time.

Mark Hall
2013-08-05, 04:55 PM
The thing is, even in heavily multilingual areas, a common language or two is going to happen... it may not be called "Common", but it will develop simply for ease of use.

For example, in Hackmaster, we tend to play in the Frandor's Keep area. Now, most people only speak their racial or local language... elves start speaking High and Low Elven, Dwarves speak only Dwarven (kinda), gnomes & gnome titans speak Gnome. But... most of us have taken some mastery in Baparan, which is a dialect of Kalamaran. Why? Because that's what the humans around us speak. If we want to take part in society, we have to speak the language

Also, I like to stress how conservative a lot of demihuman languages would be. Elf, for example, is going to be a radically conservative language by human standards. Why? Because, on Tellene, you have people speaking it now who learned how to speak it 10,000 years ago (in theory). Generation times are extremely long, and many generations will be alive at the same time. A 5000 year difference is only a few generations, and so the various Low Elven dialects might not be terribly different... Glaswegian and Australian, for example.

Rhynn
2013-08-05, 05:02 PM
Counterpoint: What you propose is both difficult and time-consuming. Not everyone has that kind of skill or time.

Indeed, but now you're out of options. It's not profitable to put out books full of just fantasy culture*, and some people don't have the time or ability to design that kind of world. Those people are stuck with what is profitable to put out. (Again, obviously, there are plenty of RPGs - including several I listed, like A:AKW, RQ, etc. - that don't have the problems the OP was complaining of.)

* Not that this stops many small publishers. Just look at Tekumel and Harn.

Grinner
2013-08-05, 05:39 PM
Not that this stops many small publishers. Just look at Tekumel and Harn.

Buy indie. Problem solved?

valadil
2013-08-05, 10:10 PM
Have you guys ever realized how entire species have pretty homogeneous cultures in D&D and such?

I've always gone with the assumption that the cultures presented by the books are just the stereotypes. They may or may not have a basis in game reality. I figure individuals will vary from what's presented in the books. More culture would be great, except that there's plenty of books out there already.

If you think I'm being overly generous, consider Chinese. The language or the food. There is no one language you could call Chinese, but several languages in similar families. Yet we oversimplify them anyway. Same goes for the food. Every Chinese food restaurant in America has the same menu (I'm not convinced General Gao's chicken is distinct form General Tso's chicken, even though I've seen them both on the same damn menu), but in the back of our minds we know none of that is authentic.

RPG anthropology is a Chinese food menu. At best it's an informative brochure, but there's always going to be more depth when you actually get involved with the food/culture.

elliott20
2013-08-06, 10:08 AM
It depends on whether you're a linguistics nerd or not. Some of us relish in this type of thing. The problem comes in when you're the only one at the table who actually cares about exploring questions like "Did green-elven and grey-elven split off 5000 years ago during the great northern migration, or did they split off even earlier 10000 years ago during the western migration?"

Yeah, my wife is totally there with you on that one. Not that she plays games but she actually finds the cultural aspects of the settings more interesting than the game itself at times.

I totally get that little nuances in a setting can tons of fun to explore. this is why I don't care for superhero comics that have big battles, but care more for the super hero stories that explore the ramifications of super hero existence on society.

A Superman punchout vs Darkseid? Boring. Dr. Manhattan making gasoline obsolete through his ability to synthesize batteries? awesome.

obryn
2013-08-06, 10:12 AM
I always like the idea of language barriers, but I find that games run much smoother when you don't have to worry about them all the time. That's why a Common language is useful: you can expect to get along everywhere, but sometimes you'll meet someone who can't or won't speak a shared language.
Yep, I'm in the same boat. While I would really love to make languages important in a setting, what it usually does in practice is reduce the opportunities for interesting roleplaying.

-O

Sebastrd
2013-08-06, 12:58 PM
...DMs who want that kind of depth are usually happier creating their own setting.

I think that's always been the assumption, but I'm not sure it's true. I think there are plenty, maybe even a majority, of DMs that want depth but are not talented enough to create it. Now, whether or not those same DMs would be able to utilize said depth effectively in their games is a different question entirely.

Zahhak
2013-08-06, 02:33 PM
There's probably a market in there somewhere for someone to homebrew a market that has the kind of anthropological depth that some DMs crave, and can explain it in barney-terms so that everyone can get it.

valadil
2013-08-06, 03:08 PM
I think that's always been the assumption, but I'm not sure it's true. I think there are plenty, maybe even a majority, of DMs that want depth but are not talented enough to create it. Now, whether or not those same DMs would be able to utilize said depth effectively in their games is a different question entirely.

I think creating that level of depth would be interesting, but not in the middle of a campaign. What I want is depth on demand. If the players take a left at Albuquerque and go somewhere I didn't prep for and know nothing about, I shouldn't have to pull out that depth out of nowhere. Creating history takes way too long to do as soon as the scene changes, and I appreciate it when someone else does it for me.

Thinker
2013-08-06, 03:49 PM
Have you guys ever realized how entire species have pretty homogeneous cultures in D&D and such? There's one 'Elf' language. One 'Dwarf' language. Not to mention everything is centered around humans being the baseline and speaking the common language.

Humans on an island in the southern hemisphere would be similar to humans on a continent in the west.

I look at this in two ways. The default assumptions are for a small region of a world, not an entire region of the world. There, the land is dominated by a strong human authority that speaks common, influencing others nearby to speak common (like how Latin was spoken by many of those outside of Rome). Dwarf isn't the language of all dwarfs all around the world, but is the language of the dwarfs near the human lands. Not all orcs are necessarily barbarians, but the ones near the powerful humans are. This leads to stereotyping that is largely true from the perspective of the primary power of the region. This is sort of like how in most stories you see things from the perspective of the protagonists, but not from anyone else.

The other way you can see it is that the land is magical. Elves are divine or magical beings, not necessarily more powerful than humans, but Elf is an intrinsic part of who they are. The same goes for dwarfs, gnomes, etc. In a magical world, there is much more communication and trade and so there is a greater chance of a single tongue becoming dominant, giving rise to Common.

Yora
2013-08-06, 03:50 PM
Yep, I'm in the same boat. While I would really love to make languages important in a setting, what it usually does in practice is reduce the opportunities for interesting roleplaying.
I think it actually creates a lot of really interesting situations.

Amaril
2013-08-06, 07:30 PM
I look at this in two ways. The default assumptions are for a small region of a world, not an entire region of the world. There, the land is dominated by a strong human authority that speaks common, influencing others nearby to speak common (like how Latin was spoken by many of those outside of Rome). Dwarf isn't the language of all dwarfs all around the world, but is the language of the dwarfs near the human lands. Not all orcs are necessarily barbarians, but the ones near the powerful humans are. This leads to stereotyping that is largely true from the perspective of the primary power of the region. This is sort of like how in most stories you see things from the perspective of the protagonists, but not from anyone else.

When I'm building my settings, this is the approach I normally take. I like to keep my scope relatively small, since that allows me to spend more energy on making one settlement or region richly detailed rather than trying to write complex histories for every region in an entire world. Being able to treat non-human cultures this way is an added bonus of this philosophy. The world I'm working on now has one dwarven culture and one elven culture that I describe in detail. That doesn't mean those are the cultures of all elves and all dwarves in the world--they're just the ones that the primarily human population of the local region are familiar with, because that's all they've encountered so far. There are almost certainly elves and dwarves elsewhere in the world whose cultures and languages are completely different, but neither the PCs nor any of the NPCs they meet will ever see them. Having a known world confined to a relatively small region and a few known cultures also helps keep things feeling mysterious, which is a characteristic I like my worlds to have.

obryn
2013-08-06, 08:29 PM
I think it actually creates a lot of really interesting situations.
I agree, it can and does. I don't think it's always worth the trouble, though.

-O

Rhynn
2013-08-06, 09:31 PM
Buy indie. Problem solved?

In a nutshell, yes! :smallbiggrin:


I think it actually creates a lot of really interesting situations.

It facilitates some really interesting situations, but it makes others harder or impossible, because when the PCs don't speak the language, every social interaction is necessarily about "we don't speak the language!"

It's much worse in RPGs like D&D where you can't learn languages easily, smoothly, or without leveling up first.


I look at this in two ways. The default assumptions are for a small region of a world, not an entire region of the world. There, the land is dominated by a strong human authority that speaks common, influencing others nearby to speak common (like how Latin was spoken by many of those outside of Rome). Dwarf isn't the language of all dwarfs all around the world, but is the language of the dwarfs near the human lands. Not all orcs are necessarily barbarians, but the ones near the powerful humans are. This leads to stereotyping that is largely true from the perspective of the primary power of the region. This is sort of like how in most stories you see things from the perspective of the protagonists, but not from anyone else.

This is my preferred approach, because it's always easier to start small and expand. So in my Dark Sun, "Common" is more accurately "Tyr Region Trade Language"; in the Crimson Savannah, the local "Common" would be "Kreen Trade Argot" or something. "Halfling" is, more accurately, "Forest Ridge Halfling Language & Dialects," and the Jagged Cliffs halflings might speak a different language altogether (or a related one that is hard to understand).

BWR
2013-08-07, 02:50 AM
Seems like many of us have the same approach to things like this.
Of course, Mystara had this approach too. Several Gazetteers mention somethign along the lines of "language X is the Common of this region".
And there are plenty of examples of how non-humans as well as humans have varying cultures and languages.

Weltall_BR
2013-08-07, 11:35 AM
The language issue seems to be a recurring one in these forums, and the discussion always revolves around the (very valid) point of realism vs. fun. The currency discussion is very similar, by the way. What I once did in a campaign was to rule that Common had developed from a certain language, much like Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, French and Romanian developed from Latin. Characters did not begin game play with Common as a bonus language, but could buy it normally. Also, characters who knew Common's "mother language" were able to communicate (although with certain restrictions) with people who spoke Common. NPC's would speak Common if they were diplomats, merchants or similar. Common was kind of simplified version of its "mother language" focused on trade and diplomacy, and therefore lacked certain expressions not related to these areas. For example, it may lack a word for Conjuration, and when necessary speakers would have to make reference to calling spells. I think of this as a compromise between realism and fun.

Regarding cultures, I don't really agree with the vision that the most popular published settings (Forgotten Realms, Dragonlance, Greyhawk, etc.) fail to treat races as diverse -- although they fall far too often into stereotypes. See, for example, the Sun and Moon elves of FR as compared to the Silvanesti and Qualinesti of DL. The same goes for mountain and hill dwarves. And, of course, the climatic races: snow dwarves, desert elves, and the likes. There a few honourable exceptions, though, like the Gully dwarves of DL. I must confess I am kind of falling into the stereotypes in the world I am building. Maybe I should rethink this... Regarding the fact that some of the differences are superficial, I believe that it is the DM's job to develop them as he thinks fit.

Rhynn
2013-08-07, 12:13 PM
The currency discussion is very similar, by the way.

Hunh?

Given that the value of ancient coinage was pretty much (purity*weight) of the metal, I don't quite see comparable issues showing up with coinage. (Now, with large amounts, the letters of credit backed by merchant houses - the Fuggers and Medicis of your setting - will be worth less when away from their spheres of influence.) Face-value/fiat currency is a bit more modern, generally.

If you mean inflation, though, there's a cool setting for GURPS that incorporates easy rules for inflation and other currency-value fluctuations, called GURPS Cyberworld (a cyberpunk setting). What currency you have on hand can be pretty important.


Regarding the fact that some of the differences are superficial, I believe that it is the DM's job to develop them as he thinks fit.

Agreed. Setting books provide useful material, but I have stopped taking them as canon; all the specific details will be laid out during play, by myself and my players. Maybe FR dwarves reproduce by crafting their sons from earth and stone and metal and gems, Dwimmermount-style. Maybe FR elves are Fey creatures from the Otherworld, 4E-style. Maybe drow elves are albino instead of black-skinned. (Yes.)

Weltall_BR
2013-08-07, 03:24 PM
Hunh?

Given that the value of ancient coinage was pretty much (purity*weight) of the metal, I don't quite see comparable issues showing up with coinage. (Now, with large amounts, the letters of credit backed by merchant houses - the Fuggers and Medicis of your setting - will be worth less when away from their spheres of influence.) Face-value/fiat currency is a bit more modern, generally.

If you mean inflation, though, there's a cool setting for GURPS that incorporates easy rules for inflation and other currency-value fluctuations, called GURPS Cyberworld (a cyberpunk setting). What currency you have on hand can be pretty important.


Historically you are mostly right, but I have seen people around these forums talking about developing different currency systems for different nations -- which, as with languages, sounds fun but can easily become a mess.

Regarding letters of credit, they were invented around the 12th century. The technological level of a vanilla DnD setting is about 13th or 14th century, and under these conditions it would be very realistic for them to exist. But they suppose trading networks, as the payer must trust the issuer of the letter, and therefore you are right in saying they would have a limited reach.

Rhynn
2013-08-07, 04:22 PM
Historically you are mostly right, but I have seen people around these forums talking about developing different currency systems for different nations -- which, as with languages, sounds fun but can easily become a mess.

The Riddle of Steel actually has an interesting coinage system... the basic coins are the copper "penny," the silver "shilling," and the gold "crown." The nations in the setting have their own names for these coins, and each has them at one of three weights: light, medium, or heavy. Heavy coins are worth more, light coins worth less. There's a one-page table listing the currencies (the entry for one nation just says "Teeth"!). On your character sheet, you'd write down something like "100 Jabbernistan shields (light silver)"... The Flower of Battle sourcebook even gives prices for armor and weapons as light/medium/heavy coinage.

Now, creating a currency system based on the real coins of the time for my late-17th century Caribbean pirates setting was a bit of a pain, and even with the help of GURPS, it was a bit terribly cumbersome to use. :smalleek:

IW Judicator
2013-08-07, 09:18 PM
The Riddle of Steel actually has an interesting coinage system... the basic coins are the copper "penny," the silver "shilling," and the gold "crown." The nations in the setting have their own names for these coins, and each has them at one of three weights: light, medium, or heavy. Heavy coins are worth more, light coins worth less. There's a one-page table listing the currencies (the entry for one nation just says "Teeth"!). On your character sheet, you'd write down something like "100 Jabbernistan shields (light silver)"... The Flower of Battle sourcebook even gives prices for armor and weapons as light/medium/heavy coinage.

That sounds really interesting, actually. With respect to that, how many increments of value (per the light/medium/heavy) do you think would be too many (IE, too cumbersome to reasonably play with). More than 5? More than 10? Or some other number?

Rhynn
2013-08-07, 10:28 PM
That sounds really interesting, actually. With respect to that, how many increments of value (per the light/medium/heavy) do you think would be too many (IE, too cumbersome to reasonably play with). More than 5? More than 10? Or some other number?

I'd stick with three, because "light/medium/heavy" is easy to remember and impossible to get wrong. I guess you could add "very light" and "very heavy." I don't think 5 would be too much.

As an aside, I think the relative weights were 0.75 / 1 / 1.25.

I actually abstract D&D/ACKS coinage: 10,000 coins isn't necessarily 10,000 coins, it's 10,000 coin-weights of (metal X) in various denominations and sizes. Debasement, etc. can be abstracted.

Of course, in games like TROS, you're not going to be dealing with enormous amounts of coins, and such abstraction may not be needed.

I do enormously enjoy giving detail to treasure, though; the Forgotten Realms Adventures (1E to 2E AD&D conversion book for FR) tables for detailed treasure (including a dozen unusual types of money) are some of my favorite RPG material.

IW Judicator
2013-08-07, 10:47 PM
I'd stick with three, because "light/medium/heavy" is easy to remember and impossible to get wrong. I guess you could add "very light" and "very heavy." I don't think 5 would be too much.

As an aside, I think the relative weights were 0.75 / 1 / 1.25.

I actually abstract D&D/ACKS coinage: 10,000 coins isn't necessarily 10,000 coins, it's 10,000 coin-weights of (metal X) in various denominations and sizes. Debasement, etc. can be abstracted.

Of course, in games like TROS, you're not going to be dealing with enormous amounts of coins, and such abstraction may not be needed.

I do enormously enjoy giving detail to treasure, though; the Forgotten Realms Adventures (1E to 2E AD&D conversion book for FR) tables for detailed treasure (including a dozen unusual types of money) are some of my favorite RPG material.

Yes, I can definitely see where you're coming from (though I'll probably change it to "Purity" over "Weight", a relatively minor fine distinction in and of itself but a distinction none the less).

And I enjoy high (almost excessive) amounts of texture very much as well. I feel it makes for a rather interesting moment when players realize "Wait a minute...what do you mean you won't accept our money? What do you mean this form of currency hasn't been in circulation for 300 years?" Sure, they could melt it down into gold or trade it into a collector, but until they do, who knows how much of that treasure trove is actually useable (and that's just the coinage).

Similarly, I remember seeing somewhere, I can't quite remember where atm, how important distinct kinds of treasure are. If I remember correctly, the item in question found was a Jade(?) Statue of a cat, which weighed in at a kilo or two, and wasn't specifically worth a lot, but because of how it had been described, the players were willing to lug it around instead of sell it, with some even being willing to squabble over it.

But all the same, thank you for your thoughts on the matter. This will certainly help me with my little project.

Rhynn
2013-08-08, 04:29 PM
And I enjoy high (almost excessive) amounts of texture very much as well. I feel it makes for a rather interesting moment when players realize "Wait a minute...what do you mean you won't accept our money? What do you mean this form of currency hasn't been in circulation for 300 years?" Sure, they could melt it down into gold or trade it into a collector, but until they do, who knows how much of that treasure trove is actually useable (and that's just the coinage).

Actually, like Weltall_BR and I just discussed above, this would basically never be the case. Purity and weight were the only things that mattered. Generally, gold and silver coins were worth their weight in gold or silver, literally; they weren't fiat currency and didn't need to be backed by either stored gold and silver bullion or by a government's ability to pay interest on its national debt. You'd only run into trouble when you're in areas where the material is considered of widely different value.

Not that ancient and medieval nations didn't use fiat currency, too, but those wouldn't be made of precious metals. You'd make it from something cheap, but with something that's hard to counterfeit (like a seal). In fact, in Medieval Europe, coins were relatively rare: trade was mostly done in debt, often using something like debt-sticks, which were split in two (not snapped across the middle, but split vertically), so you could prove they went together by fitting them together. The debtor and debt-holder would each keep one half.


Similarly, I remember seeing somewhere, I can't quite remember where atm, how important distinct kinds of treasure are. If I remember correctly, the item in question found was a Jade(?) Statue of a cat, which weighed in at a kilo or two, and wasn't specifically worth a lot, but because of how it had been described, the players were willing to lug it around instead of sell it, with some even being willing to squabble over it.

I find this is absolutely true. My players often get enamored with specific pieces of treasure because they had a detailed description, and keep them and treasure them. Few things will motivate players into an adventure like having such a keepsake stolen... :smallamused:

IW Judicator
2013-08-08, 06:26 PM
Actually, like Weltall_BR and I just discussed above, this would basically never be the case. Purity and weight were the only things that mattered. Generally, gold and silver coins were worth their weight in gold or silver, literally; they weren't fiat currency and didn't need to be backed by either stored gold and silver bullion or by a government's ability to pay interest on its national debt. You'd only run into trouble when you're in areas where the material is considered of widely different value.

Not that ancient and medieval nations didn't use fiat currency, too, but those wouldn't be made of precious metals. You'd make it from something cheap, but with something that's hard to counterfeit (like a seal). In fact, in Medieval Europe, coins were relatively rare: trade was mostly done in debt, often using something like debt-sticks, which were split in two (not snapped across the middle, but split vertically), so you could prove they went together by fitting them together. The debtor and debt-holder would each keep one half

Huh. Interesting. That certainly follows through logically. Though in respect to that, the concept of a 'debt-stick' is relatively frightening, at least on my part (with a lot of ways for that to go very wrong very quickly).

Originally, I had wanted to go to a straight barter system (make that appraise skill useful!), but I couldn't make it work the way I had wanted to. In essence, I never figured out the answer to a question I figured to be very basic and necessary in the genre: How does one reliably pay off those small, every day debts, including (aka specifically) the all important purchase of a pint of beer at ye olde local tavern.

(Though for the life of me I'm actually having trouble remembering what it was exactly that killed that idea for me...I think it was the eventual pricing in the equipment list that threw me off...its been so long now I really can't remember. I even remember wanting to use staple crops, such as wheat, as the base for trade value. So ya, I have no idea what it was that detracted from that.)

Rhynn
2013-08-08, 07:27 PM
Originally, I had wanted to go to a straight barter system (make that appraise skill useful!), but I couldn't make it work the way I had wanted to. In essence, I never figured out the answer to a question I figured to be very basic and necessary in the genre: How does one reliably pay off those small, every day debts, including (aka specifically) the all important purchase of a pint of beer at ye olde local tavern.

That's a good decision, given that there almost certainly has been no such thing as a "barter economy" (e.g. where all daily trades are done in barter); historically, it's been either currency or debt (often, but not always, measured in "currency of record," like the Roman/Carolingian pound-shilling-penny 1:20:240 system of Medieval Europe) or both side-by-side.

For daily stuff, I imagine Medieval Europe had enough little coin to go around; but if you were selling your sheeps' wool on the market, you'd probably get a debt/tally stick (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tally_stick) (or several; their existence is unquestionable, given they almost burnt down the English Houses of Parliament, but details on their use are sparse) and use that to get something you needed yourself. Eventually, someone's probably going to cash the sticks in - although in England, they were also used to pay taxes.

Note, too, that you'd probably only be paying for your beer in a town or city. Travelling in the countryside, you'd probably rarely come across inns; depending on the culture (and your position in it!), villagers might expect coin or gifts to let you sleep in their barn, or the local jarl/lord might have you as a guest in exchange for nothing more than news (and a chance to increase his standing by displaying his hospitality in front of his people). Common folk might also entertain you as a guest - a freehold farmer with 30 acres was by no means a poor dirt-grubber living hand to mouth (unless the times were bad), and even a villein could afford to have a night-guest or few now and then. In a world with no radio, television, or newspapers, the value of a guest from far lands - or even one who'd just come from the closest town - was high.

IW Judicator
2013-08-08, 08:16 PM
That's a good decision, given that there almost certainly has been no such thing as a "barter economy" (e.g. where all daily trades are done in barter); historically, it's been either currency or debt (often, but not always, measured in "currency of record," like the Roman/Carolingian pound-shilling-penny 1:20:240 system of Medieval Europe) or both side-by-side.

For daily stuff, I imagine Medieval Europe had enough little coin to go around; but if you were selling your sheeps' wool on the market, you'd probably get a debt/tally stick (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tally_stick) (or several; their existence is unquestionable, given they almost burnt down the English Houses of Parliament, but details on their use are sparse) and use that to get something you needed yourself. Eventually, someone's probably going to cash the sticks in - although in England, they were also used to pay taxes.

Note, too, that you'd probably only be paying for your beer in a town or city. Travelling in the countryside, you'd probably rarely come across inns; depending on the culture (and your position in it!), villagers might expect coin or gifts to let you sleep in their barn, or the local jarl/lord might have you as a guest in exchange for nothing more than news (and a chance to increase his standing by displaying his hospitality in front of his people). Common folk might also entertain you as a guest - a freehold farmer with 30 acres was by no means a poor dirt-grubber living hand to mouth (unless the times were bad), and even a villein could afford to have a night-guest or few now and then. In a world with no radio, television, or newspapers, the value of a guest from far lands - or even one who'd just come from the closest town - was high.

I suppose then it's happy coincidence that the race designed to be most inclined towards travel is famed as entertainers. Yay bards! :smallbiggrin:

Now that I've read the article you've provided it actually does seem rather ingenious, though I certainly still see oddball issues (though I suppose they're no worse than the issues seen with any other form of debt exchange). I certainly like the idea of large sums of money being simply recorded and exchanged one way or another (be it tally sticks or scrolls with a noble's seal or what have you) and leaving actual money being limited to small change suitable for day to day expenses (aka, your beer for the day), with rare exceptions existing for special circumstances. To that end then, what sort of material would be ideal? Or at least close to?

Zahhak
2013-08-08, 08:22 PM
Actually, like Weltall_BR and I just discussed above, this would basically never be the case. Purity and weight were the only things that mattered. Generally, gold and silver coins were worth their weight in gold or silver, literally; they weren't fiat currency and didn't need to be backed by either stored gold and silver bullion or by a government's ability to pay interest on its national debt. You'd only run into trouble when you're in areas where the material is considered of widely different value.

Actually, that's not really true. Aside from debt sticks, medieval and classical countries would also use a huge range of materials for currency, like bronze or copper, and also things like shells and salt. They'd also mix a specific ratio of gold to silver. So, there were still ancient money exchanges because one kingdom would use bronze coins but not copper, or a different ratio of gold to silver.