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Jeff the Green
2014-01-03, 04:16 AM
I kind of want to do away with buying magic items in a game coming up. I came up with the idea that magic items basically exist outside of the normal economy: you will, barring extraordinary circumstances, never be able to find someone willing to give you a magic item for gold (or vice versa). You can get them from nobles, governments, churches, and the crafters themselves for doing them favors (i.e. quests). This will allow there to be cash-poor yet effective warriors and for me to give my dragons Smaugian beds without suddenly letting my players take over a small country with the items it'd buy.

The problem is that I'm pretty sure economics doesn't work like that. There are favor economies and there are cash economies, but I've never heard of them existing side by side and don't think they would easily. Is there a way to force them to? I'd rather not accidentally make any econ majors bleed from the ears on hearing my description.

AMFV
2014-01-03, 04:19 AM
I kind of want to do away with buying magic items in a game coming up. I came up with the idea that magic items basically exist outside of the normal economy: you will, barring extraordinary circumstances, never be able to find someone willing to give you a magic item for gold (or vice versa). You can get them from nobles, governments, churches, and the crafters themselves for doing them favors (i.e. quests). This will allow there to be cash-poor yet effective warriors and for me to give my dragons Smaugian beds without suddenly letting my players take over a small country with the items it'd buy.

The problem is that I'm pretty sure economics doesn't work like that. There are favor economies and there are cash economies, but I've never heard of them existing side by side and don't think they would easily. Is there a way to force them to? I'd rather not accidentally make any econ majors bleed from the ears on hearing my description.

There are many games that work this way, they have equipment as a status or level based thing, where you don't actually buy equipment you can just get it if you the appropriate level whatever thing it uses. Off the top of my head WoD works that way, nWoD at least, D20 Modern does (and that should be easy to backport if you're playing 3.5) I think there are others but I don't recall them off the top of my head.

hymer
2014-01-03, 04:47 AM
A suggestion:
Magic is finicky. If a permanent (non-cursed) magical item is bought or sold, it becomes inert (as a conscious decision made by a god, preferably, to screw over any rules lawyers). It may be possible to make exchanges of gifts, but these are specific ceremonies that do not lend themselves well to bartering, and need to be conducted at first meetings, for example.
When in doubt, it becomes inert. Merchants of all kinds want nothing to do with magical items professionally.

Kelb_Panthera
2014-01-03, 04:52 AM
There's really only couple of ways to make magic items unavailable for purchase, since you're absolutely right that economies don't work that way.

A) Magic items only work for the person they're made for. Since they only function for their proper owner and it's a non-transferable matter, the items have virtually no value to anyone else.

B) Magic items are so rare as to be priceless. If each and every item is worth so much that no nation could reasonably afford to buy them and the name, location, abilities, and general appearance of each piece is a well known then they could only reasonably be transferred from one owner to another under extraordinary circumstances. Note: I strongly recommend -against- this approach. Mundanes need a lot of magic items to keep up with the game's expectations for what their numbers should look like and what capabilities they should have. This option will drastically increase the gap in power between mundanes and casters that is already inherent to D&D 3.5.

C) Buying and selling magic items is a capital crime and all magic items are registered. This won't actually prevent magic items from interacting with a normal cash economy but it -will- make having a magic item very dangerous if you can't explain who gave it to you and why in great detail and show the change in registration. This one's got some story hook potential but it will require a very peculiar history and a somewhat heavy handed government to explain adequately.



I'm sure there're others but I can't think of any off the top of my head.

TuggyNE
2014-01-03, 04:52 AM
The problem is that I'm pretty sure economics doesn't work like that. There are favor economies and there are cash economies, but I've never heard of them existing side by side and don't think they would easily. Is there a way to force them to? I'd rather not accidentally make any econ majors bleed from the ears on hearing my description.

Yeah, I don't think it works that way. Generally, once people settle on the idea that you can convert "value" into intermediate representation, they are eager to use that for as much as possible. Now, granted, there's a certain niche of very low-end goods or services that you can expect to be traded at least partially by favor (back-rubbing between siblings, or the like), but what we're talking about is a sort of mish-mash between collectibles, high-end weapons, and precious metals trading, none of which are characterized by favor economies.

What I'd recommend instead is to come up with some inherent and inalienable resource that individual characters possess, like essentia perhaps, which is strictly limited but grows with character level, and is the only thing that can keep most magic items functional. Items that would normally be vastly more expensive instead require more of this resource continually to function, so lower-level characters would find it difficult or impossible to power.

That, at any rate, is the idea I plan to work into my system some day, with the further wrinkle that the same resource is used for actual free-form magic, so caster-analogs have to choose between innate and equipped magic: no free lunch.

Cespenar
2014-01-03, 05:08 AM
If the players would get the magicals by doing favors, why not vice versa? They could get favors by donating them to whatever institution they'd like, and then they'd pay back by helping the group in various ways.

For example, a church can send in a retinue of paladins to help the group in an undead/demonic battle. A government can condone their next crime if they ever commit one. A noble can open many social doors. A sage can offer free Identifys and Knowledge checks every time they visit him.

In short, they'd make allies.

Coidzor
2014-01-03, 06:09 AM
Are you familiar with Frank & K's work in this vein?

JeenLeen
2014-01-03, 10:42 AM
Is this game D&D 3.5 or a similar game?

If so, I've had a couple ideas, partially based off stuff read here.
Idea 1: Characters have a 'whatever' (essentia was mentioned above) that allows them to use only so many magic items. You could also fluff it as the item themselves are mundane, but a character can charge them with power. It's a time-consuming ritual, though, so although it would let players swap magic items during downtime, it won't let you suddenly change in the middle of a dungeon.
This effectively makes magic items a non-currency thing, but you can only use so many 'gold' worth (according to DMG/Magic Item Compendium) of magic items according to your level. (Note that this gets tricky for expendables like potions and scrolls.)

Idea 2: Magic items are rare, but the circles you move in make them fairly available. (In other words, DM gives you access.) Might take some favor-trading or allies, but you can essentially buy magic items. Maybe you trade favors, or maybe it's dragon scales or the dragon heart that's actually worth the trade.
Note: I feel this breaks verisimilitude a bit. At some point, a dragon's horde of gold is big enough to trade for magic items to some noble.

Idea 3 (variant of #1): making magic items requires a special item that is used as currency. Maybe combine with items can only be made for a particular person, so you need this to make the item. Your friendly church or spellcaster guild is willing to imbue you.

Note that some of the above can make magical loot useless. Whether this is pro or con depends on you and your group.

If you're not using D&D, then (for most systems I've seen) it becomes easy. You could have players just have access to a certain degree of mundane equipment, either based on their level or something like a Resources background or just what makes sense based on their backstory & allies. Magic items are found rarely, or only traded. Perhaps the magic world is somewhat segregated from the mundane (very not D&D, but like oWoD); some magic-users would want money, but most want currency that the higher-ups care about, such as favors or other magical items.

Mark Hall
2014-01-03, 11:03 AM
In several OSR and related games, there's the assumption that magic items are part of the economy BUT they're less like goods and more like Art Objects, with no fixed price and extremely limited availability. Sure, you can buy a print (scroll, potion; objects that are of art, but not art themselves) at a pretty standard price, but the details of craftsmanship, creation and reputation between two otherwise identical items (swords +1, staves of the magi) are such that you can't really walk into a store and buy one... they wind up in an art-style market where details are important and can radically swing the price.

From an adventurer's perspective, this makes every magic item a quest, and Identify enough for the thing you're going to use, but Legend Lore a necessity for that which you're going to sell... not knowing the history of an item limits its value.

CombatOwl
2014-01-03, 11:07 AM
I kind of want to do away with buying magic items in a game coming up. I came up with the idea that magic items basically exist outside of the normal economy: you will, barring extraordinary circumstances, never be able to find someone willing to give you a magic item for gold (or vice versa).

The problem is that unless you harshly restrict the creation of such items, it will make no sense whatsoever. I mean, if all magic items are gifts of magic from on high, and only the gods can craft such weapons... well, yes, absolutely people will maintain a death grip on them. But if all you need to do is take some levels in wizard and pick up the right feat in your bonus feat slot... why wouldn't wizards be willing to work in exchange for labor? Even if most of them thought they were too important and powerful for it, some of them would no doubt be in circumstances desperate enough to make a labor-for-gold arrangement sound good.

I understand no magic shops (why would anyone run one? It's practically begging to get robbed), but not being able to hire a wizard to craft an item for you? That doesn't make much sense unless wizards in in some very unusual position of power simply by virtue of being a wizard.


You can get them from nobles, governments, churches, and the crafters themselves for doing them favors (i.e. quests). This will allow there to be cash-poor yet effective warriors and for me to give my dragons Smaugian beds without suddenly letting my players take over a small country with the items it'd buy.

... How are governments stocking their magic item armory if they can't buy the items? Do they enslave magic users and force them to do little but craft items? Do they forcibly conscript anyone who can do magic, and require it as part of their yearly duties? How do they control the spellcasters, who will eventually gain the ability to reshape reality according to their whims? Do they kill them before they reach a certain level? That sets up a pretty grimdark life for spellcasters, and certainly there would be elements who would resist such treatment.

Why not just have the smaugian beds as the goal of the adventure, as in the hobbit? Changing the magic item economy, especially in games like D&D, can often have some severe problems for challenge ratings and such. A lot of games with magic items implicitly assume that a certain amount will be acquired over the course of an adventure.


The problem is that I'm pretty sure economics doesn't work like that. There are favor economies and there are cash economies, but I've never heard of them existing side by side and don't think they would easily.

Look into the dual-power approach to anarchism for an example of how modern gift economies function in conjunction with modern capitalist economies. But unless every spellcaster is ideologically committed to excluding themselves from the capitalist economy, there's no way to justify the situation you describe.


Is there a way to force them to?

Sure, if the state will crush those dirty spellcasters with an iron boot. But it's a bit harder to explain why there aren't any spellcasters resisting that state, or why freedom/chaos-aligned gods aren't granting powers to clerics that resist the state. Maybe you're willing to have a spellcaster rebellion... but that still makes it hard to explain why they wouldn't trade labor for gold. Maybe you just add a 3rd level spell--"Transmute Rock to Gold"--that makes gold valueless to any spellcaster who can take the feats that would let them do the crafting? Why they wouldn't use that to wage economic warfare I don't know...


I'd rather not accidentally make any econ majors bleed from the ears on hearing my description.

Their heads will explode. Maybe you just tell them to live with it, in the same way that people tell physicists to stuff it at the table.

If I were absolutely dedicated to doing this, I would establish a Magic Item Cartel. It buys up any magic items that people make at anything even approximating a reasonable price, then resells them at five times what they paid for them. It makes the price so astronomical that you'll need a smaugian pile of gold to buy them. Let the cartel hunt down any spellcasters who set up shop independently.

JeenLeen
2014-01-03, 11:20 AM
If I were absolutely dedicated to doing this, I would establish a Magic Item Cartel. It buys up any magic items that people make at anything even approximating a reasonable price, then resells them at five times what they paid for them. It makes the price so astronomical that you'll need a smaugian pile of gold to buy them. Let the cartel hunt down any spellcasters who set up shop independently.

A similar idea I saw someone else post was to have each 'magic shop' be a person who works for an inter-dimensional/planar company. The person doesn't have any items on their person, but will use the company's communications items to place the order.

For your scenario, the company doesn't care about gold. It has plenty. It cares about favors or other items of power. The scarcity of what's available is up to you (you decide the company's stock), but the scarcity of how much the player's can buy is basically 1 quest/favor per item.

You can easily make this a cartel if you want to, muscling out competitors. But perhaps there are others (so you can trade with nobles, the church, independent wizards), but the trade might well be 'one dragon horde' for a +2 sword, not a dragon horde for items worth that much in gold according to the DMG. The 'Company' doesn't mind some competition, but they are willing to hire casters who want to work for them, and usually their favors/materials/protection/etc. makes it worth it, so most choose to work for the Company for their own good. (Again, if you want a cartel, just add quotation marks around 'protection' and 'their own good'.)

Jay R
2014-01-03, 12:58 PM
The idea of magic items as an economic commodity is too ingrained into the rules of 3E and later versions of D&D. If a large number of people can make items for only tens of thousands of gold pieces, then they will be bought and sold.

I am very much in sympathy with your goal. In my games, magic items will never be sold. That's why I don't play modern D&D.

To make them unsalable, you need to make production much less common, and make the items themselves much less common. If a king has fifteen magic swords, he will sell one or more for other things. If he only has one magic sword, he won't.

You can only increase the price past the level in which money will be used by reducing the supply, or increasing the demand. That's basic economics.

Ways to reduce supply include making it impossible for mid-range wizards to make them, making the supplies near-impossible to get, or increasing the non-monetary cost of manufacture. (If making a magic sword caused a permanent loss of 1 CON, there would be fewer made.)

The ease with which mid-range casters can make magic items in 3E or later, combined with the WBL assumptions, forces the conclusion that these items will be bought and sold.

Red Fel
2014-01-03, 01:20 PM
What I'd recommend instead is to come up with some inherent and inalienable resource that individual characters possess, like essentia perhaps, which is strictly limited but grows with character level, and is the only thing that can keep most magic items functional. Items that would normally be vastly more expensive instead require more of this resource continually to function, so lower-level characters would find it difficult or impossible to power.

This. In fact, I read someplace in the forums - although I don't remember where or who posted it - that someone had come up with a mechanic by which the concept of WBL was less an expression of financial value of goods, and more the amount of power a PC could safely harness. As a result, even if magical goods were available, a character couldn't simply deck themselves out in all the enhanced finery they could afford. They had only a certain amount of total enhancement value they could wear at one time, and so they had to budget - not budget in terms of finances, but in terms of enhancements - for what they would use.

Or, if I recall correctly, the excess of untamed magical energy would blow them to smithereens.

That, I think, is probably your best option, short of divine fiat or personally-attuned magic items.

Divine fiat remains an option, however, if your world is a Church-dominated setting. One option is to use a Pragmatic Relic (http://dotd.wikia.com/wiki/Pragmatic_Relic) or similar concept. Basically, magic items are explicitly empowered, not by the arcanists who craft them, but by deities, and retain their power solely by the continued beneficence of said deities. A magic item that is sold or exchanged without that deity's permission becomes inert, as per Hymer's suggestion. Alternatively, some deities - such as those of Strength or War domains - might recognize the laws of conquest, and permit one who has bested the rightful owner in trial by combat to claim the item as spoils.

Another option is the drawback - give every item a bonus and a malus. No magic items exist, short of artifacts, that don't have some kind of penalty proportionate to their power. Thus, most people don't want to use them, simply out of an unwillingness or inability to pay that penalty. Note that this doesn't make these items entirely unmarketable, it simply means most people won't trade in them.

Short of imposing limits on the PCs, really the only way to do it is to make the items unmarketable - that is, make them worthless if exchanged. It's not a question of a separate economy, but of removing the object's inherent value. And that's just it - even a de-powered +5 Vorpal Longsword is still a masterwork longsword. There's still a market, unless you do something that explicitly prevents it from being marketed.

Bucky
2014-01-03, 02:14 PM
You could also have the reasons be solely cultural. Item owners might be highly insulted by any offer of money. There might be some superstition, common knowledge but incorrect, that buying, selling or stealing magic items curses them somehow.

Or you could just make the economies literally separate. Only one society - say, the Fae - knows how to make new magic items. And they don't particularly care about outsider money. Of course magic items outside the society exist, but are scarce beyond their actual value. So if you want a magic item, the only way to get it in a cost-effective manner is to bargain with the Fae for it.

jedipotter
2014-01-03, 02:47 PM
The problem is that I'm pretty sure economics doesn't work like that. There are favor economies and there are cash economies, but I've never heard of them existing side by side and don't think they would easily. Is there a way to force them to? I'd rather not accidentally make any econ majors bleed from the ears on hearing my description.

Dare I say America, and the Western World have both these economies side by side. See you can do things the normal way: ''work hard'' and ''save money'' and ''buy what you want''. Or you can do things The Other Way. If you want something, you can find someone who has it or is willing to get it for you for a favor. Lots of nobles, governments, churches, crafters and rich folk need things done, but they can't do them themselves. Not necessarily illegal, but a lot sure walks the gray area. But often they just need something done and they don't want to be directly connected to it.

Jlerpy
2014-01-03, 04:03 PM
I personally favour the "magic items are too rare for anyone to be able to afford to buy" option.
This does have the downside of not working with the balance issues of D&D, but that might be related to why I don't run D&D.

TuggyNE
2014-01-03, 06:43 PM
To make them unsalable, you need to make production much less common, and make the items themselves much less common. If a king has fifteen magic swords, he will sell one or more for other things. If he only has one magic sword, he won't.

No, that just means the price is higher. Reliably getting some good to the point where it is literally beyond purchase is extremely non-trivial. What's more, it mostly requires that the item be of extreme strategic value. It doesn't matter how rare a +1 sword is, even if there has only ever been one: it's not that amazingly better than a regular sword, so it will merely be very pricey. But, in desperation or greed, chances are someone will be willing to sell it if you offer enough.

Now, if there are literally only a dozen or so magic items, all of substantial power (100000gp equivalent) or better, than you might get something like that. Maybe. (Obviously, this cannot be hacked into 3.x in any practical way, so it's not really a practical solution.)


This. In fact, I read someplace in the forums - although I don't remember where or who posted it - that someone had come up with a mechanic by which the concept of WBL was less an expression of financial value of goods, and more the amount of power a PC could safely harness. As a result, even if magical goods were available, a character couldn't simply deck themselves out in all the enhanced finery they could afford. They had only a certain amount of total enhancement value they could wear at one time, and so they had to budget - not budget in terms of finances, but in terms of enhancements - for what they would use.

Or, if I recall correctly, the excess of untamed magical energy would blow them to smithereens.

That's what Tippy uses, yeah. I find it a bit annoyingly clunky, but I suppose it's a simple enough solution to hack in.


Dare I say America, and the Western World have both these economies side by side. See you can do things the normal way: ''work hard'' and ''save money'' and ''buy what you want''. Or you can do things The Other Way. If you want something, you can find someone who has it or is willing to get it for you for a favor.

Usually, from my knowledge, the favors are used not to actually exchange goods or services, but to pick who gets the contract for X. In other words, there's still millions of dollars floating around: the favor is only there to point it in the right direction.

That doesn't help you any here, of course, since the goal is not to get some profitable contract that you can reasonably fulfill about as well as anyone, but to get some extremely valuable item for free. That's not something that sounds plausible, sorry.

Socratov
2014-01-03, 07:16 PM
I personally think it's matter of specific items. The lower the the cost, the more common they are. Also, consider that in a big city lots of gear is made because there are simply more people around who can afford them. Adventurers are in my opinion rarely the biggest fish in the pond. The party is just the ones who are living the story as it were. I think magic items are tradable as long as they aren't tailor made to a person's wishes and demands. Then they should be crafted for the person they are intended for. I can fully imagine an old aventurer keeping a couple of items and selling the rest so he can sit back, relax and live comfortably until his time runs out.

TheStranger
2014-01-03, 07:48 PM
I think you're pretty limited in how to achieve a stable non-cash trade in magic items. As people have said, if magic items have value, and gold has value, it's pretty hard to stop people from trading one for the other. Hymer's suggestion might be the best one, really - some kind of fluff reason that magic items can't be bought or sold. How much you want it to break the 4th wall is up to you.

DonEsteban
2014-01-03, 07:57 PM
What I'd recommend instead is to come up with some inherent and inalienable resource that individual characters possess, like essentia perhaps, which is strictly limited but grows with character level, and is the only thing that can keep most magic items functional. Items that would normally be vastly more expensive instead require more of this resource continually to function, so lower-level characters would find it difficult or impossible to power.
This. In fact, I read someplace in the forums - although I don't remember where or who posted it - that someone had come up with a mechanic by which the concept of WBL was less an expression of financial value of goods, and more the amount of power a PC could safely harness. As a result, even if magical goods were available, a character couldn't simply deck themselves out in all the enhanced finery they could afford. They had only a certain amount of total enhancement value they could wear at one time, and so they had to budget - not budget in terms of finances, but in terms of enhancements - for what they would use.

Or, if I recall correctly, the excess of untamed magical energy would blow them to smithereens.

That, I think, is probably your best option, short of divine fiat or personally-attuned magic items.


But that doesn't solve the problem, does it? It would certainly influence the value of magical items, but they would still be valuable and not inherently untradeable. Unless, of course, giving away items would harm you. Which leads to a whole new problem. Now you wouldn't kill the dragon to take his stuff, but instead take the dragon's stuff to kill him! :smallsmile:

Nah, as much as I would like to see a solution, I don't think there is any that isn't either very clunky or just requires players to agree on it out of game.

TuggyNE
2014-01-03, 09:46 PM
But that doesn't solve the problem, does it? It would certainly influence the value of magical items, but they would still be valuable and not inherently untradeable. Unless, of course, giving away items would harm you. Which leads to a whole new problem. Now you wouldn't kill the dragon to take his stuff, but instead take the dragon's stuff to kill him! :smallsmile:

If you don't want magic items to be for sale at all, that technically won't work, no. But if all you need is the ability, as the OP said, for "there to be cash-poor yet effective warriors and for me to give my dragons Smaugian beds without suddenly letting my players take over a small country with the items it'd buy", then it works fine: having lots and lots and lots of money will not help you much unless you have the magical capacity to use all the items you could buy, and similarly, unless you are so absurdly poor you cannot afford to invest in or be loaned the most minor charms, you are likely to be at least reasonably effective even with considerably reduced wealth.

Basically, you bring it down to the point where most ordinary people could, in theory, afford most of the equipment if they so desired it, but it isn't especially useful for them, or is perhaps not usable at all. At that point, an adventurer might have an unusually large investment in gear, certainly, but only by a factor of 2-5 times as much as a town guardsman or burgher, rather than being orders of magnitude richer than the five nearest earls combined.

Lord Vukodlak
2014-01-04, 01:29 AM
Sometime ago I had an idea similar to what you purpose. It would have gone like this.

Magic items(except potions) instead of being priced in gold would be priced in Chrysm Measures.(Chrysm being the raw material used to craft magic items). So a +1 Longsword would cost 315gp for the physical sword and 2,000cm for the magical component. And perhaps a little extra gold for the casters living expenses.

The idea being PC's could still buy or trade magic items normally but having a few magic items didn't immediately translate into being super wealthy. It of course has the problem of WHY can't you trade magic items for gold other then "because" but as a mechanic it should work and it really does create two economy's side by side.

Drachasor
2014-01-04, 02:23 AM
Hmm, the original post brings to mind Indulgences. There you had a single supplier (the Catholic Church) and what was supposed to be based on merit quickly got corrupted.

I think the only way you could get this sort of thing to work is by making it part of how magical items function. Hmm, but I think you'd need some sort of subsystem to make this work well. Lots of ways you could potentially design something like this.

But sort of fundamentally changing how magical items work, you just aren't going to remove them from the economy. Cash-strapped families and nobles will sell them. Crafters who need money will make them. Etc, etc.

Though, I think if you really want to lessen the magic item economy, a first step would probably be baking in a lot of the bonuses that are more or less mandatory. A little attack bonuses, a lot of AC bonuses, and some ability bonus, etc, etc. Though that's a lot of work in and of itself (since you'd likely need to change spells too).

Jeff the Green
2014-01-04, 03:36 AM
:smallsigh:

Yeah, I was kind of expecting this to be the case. I'll still keep the Appraise/Knowledge/Gather Information check rules I came up with for handling favors since they work fairly well for those cases when they might be offered a favor rather than gold (because that's so gauche), but I'll have to keep gold tied to magic to keep the other things running the way I want. Oh well.

Thanks anyway, guys.

Coidzor
2014-01-04, 07:13 AM
Hmm, the original post brings to mind Indulgences. There you had a single supplier (the Catholic Church) and what was supposed to be based on merit quickly got corrupted.

I think the only way you could get this sort of thing to work is by making it part of how magical items function. Hmm, but I think you'd need some sort of subsystem to make this work well. Lots of ways you could potentially design something like this.

But sort of fundamentally changing how magical items work, you just aren't going to remove them from the economy. Cash-strapped families and nobles will sell them. Crafters who need money will make them. Etc, etc.

Though, I think if you really want to lessen the magic item economy, a first step would probably be baking in a lot of the bonuses that are more or less mandatory. A little attack bonuses, a lot of AC bonuses, and some ability bonus, etc, etc. Though that's a lot of work in and of itself (since you'd likely need to change spells too).

A number of VoP fixes do that already, IIRC, or at least lay some of the groundwork for you, and there's that Conan d20 stuff that used to get brought up occasionally as an example of partially baking those things in.

Talya
2014-01-04, 11:40 AM
In 3.5, magical items require experience to craft.

Experience is a metagamey thing that doesn't translate well to being described as an in-world resource, but what if you changed it?

Instead of experience, maybe magic items are created by "soulstuff." Think Skyrim, where the souls of other creatures are used to power enchanting magic.

Now, what if you could sacrifice a little bit of your own soul - translating to experience - during magic item creation, rather than going out and collecting the souls of other creatures? Only, you're a shopkeeper in a town, you're not adventuring. So you only have a limited supply. Where are you going to get the soulstuff you need? Maybe you have a way of taking it directly from a willing donor. You might need to play with the cost, you might need to do away with the "experience is a river" thing to prevent players from catching up. Oh, and magic item creation, at this point, becomes commissioned only - there are no shops full of items, so the PC must wait for the crafting to be completed, rather than grab products off the shelves.

No amount of Gold is enough to supplement this -- gold can't buy you more soulstuff, easily. (Oh, one could invent various scenarios where it would, but they'd be rare and often evil and illegal -- making them excellent subplots themselves.) Now you have two parallel economies...with two commodities not being easily exchangeable.

Grek
2014-01-04, 05:29 PM
Are you familiar with Frank & K's work in this vein?

This. Their answer is essentially "Making magic items (beyond a certain quality) requires stuff like souls, pure elemental essences, chaos emeralds, hopes and dreams. The sort of person who has the ability to go to travel to the Elemental Plane of Fire and scour the Flame Pits with enchanted jars so that they can harvest Magic Smoke does not care about your piles of gold. If he wanted more gold, he could mug an efreet and get three wishes worth of gold."

You end up with three tiers of the economy: Turnip tier (in which you can't own anything worth more than ~200gp, or orcish raiders would have already stolen it from you), Gold tier (in which you can buy things for money and can rob peasants with impunity) and Wish tier (in which you buy things for Balor skulls and can rob banks with impunity).

jedipotter
2014-01-05, 09:08 AM
Usually, from my knowledge, the favors are used not to actually exchange goods or services, but to pick who gets the contract for X. In other words, there's still millions of dollars floating around: the favor is only there to point it in the right direction.

That doesn't help you any here, of course, since the goal is not to get some profitable contract that you can reasonably fulfill about as well as anyone, but to get some extremely valuable item for free. That's not something that sounds plausible, sorry.

Your thinking of two near equals for a contract. Think more of a wider gulf.

Example: Half Orc Krog wants a good magic sword. As his job as a cook at Meat on a Stick only pays two copper coins a day, he can never afford one. Halfling Hayden has plenty of horses, and plenty of them are sick with horse flu. There is an herb that cures it, grown only in the far off town of Ponl. Hayden can't go himself, and has no real other way to place his order. But enter Krog! It is so simple: Krog braves the wilderness, and brings back the herb. Hayden's horses are saved, and all he need to do was get a magic sword for a half orc.

This is the underground, favor economy. And America is full of it. Real world example: My dog sitter. She was a young girl who liked to read and I live in a house full of books. I needed someone to let the dog out before I got home....and enter the girl. She stopped over right after school, let the dog out, and took her payment in books. She got the whole Xanth collection from me, as well as all the Dragonlance and Dragonriders of Pern. It worked out great.

AMFV
2014-01-05, 09:17 AM
Also an important side note about the WoD example, magic items are classed under an entirely different merit, which is "Artifacts," I think having different economies is more complex than having magic not necessarily be available to everybody that doesn't pay extra for it, just up the cost of magics.

Mastikator
2014-01-05, 10:20 AM
The price of magic items already do exactly what you'd want them to do in any 3.5e D&D game. A single +1 longsword for 2000gp? That's enough to buy a small army for a few months. There's no way that +1 to hit and damage is worth more than a small army.
As such, you can never find a buyer for a magic item, and a clever player would never spend his vast resources on tiny insignificant bonuses instead of building an empire.

Emperor Tippy
2014-01-05, 10:37 AM
It can work, frankly I consider it standard.

In D&D 3.5 terms, up until level 7-10 or so gold is valuable and a good motivator. Adventurer's will work for gold, gold can be traded for level appropriate magic items, and it has value. Above this point gold and other non magical materials are generally valueless.

Everyone is simply too rich. What the PC's consider petty cash is enough money to buy a mansion. As such quests are undertaken for favors, rare items, information, and other such esoteric rewards. Why would anyone relevant risk their life for mere gold?

Once you hit level 17+ this is still the case only a lot more-so.

---
Think about it like this. Would you undertake some task that had a fifty percent chance of killing you for five hundred million dollars? Now would you undertake that task for any amount of money if you were already worth a hundred million dollars?

Chauncymancer
2014-01-05, 02:10 PM
That doesn't help you any here, of course, since the goal is not to get some profitable contract that you can reasonably fulfill about as well as anyone, but to get some extremely valuable item for free. That's not something that sounds plausible, sorry.
{{Scrubbed}}
The trouble is that this means magic items can't just be created. There has to be some contrivance such that all magic items are also "items money can't buy". Maybe magic items are powered up by great deeds, but then lose their power, so all magic swords are gifts from dead dragon-slaying grandfathers. All magic items a church has are holy relics makes sense for a church, but I'd have to noodle on-
Ooh, here's an idea: what if magic items take their power from emotional investment? If an item isn't important to the seller, important enough that it's worth more than money, then it loses its power. Consumables degrade because you can buy them, permanent items only work if their steeped in personal meaning like "I got this sword for saving a man's daughter's life."

jedipotter
2014-01-05, 02:49 PM
---
Think about it like this. Would you undertake some task that had a fifty percent chance of killing you for five hundred million dollars? Now would you undertake that task for any amount of money if you were already worth a hundred million dollars?

Just think what would be your price? What 'favor' or 'quest' would you do to get what you wanted? Would you take a bit of risk to get what you wanted?

AMFV
2014-01-05, 02:54 PM
Just think what would be your price? What 'favor' or 'quest' would you do to get what you wanted? Would you take a bit of risk to get what you wanted?

I think he's saying that Gold is no longer a good motivator, adventurers still do things for friends, out of a sense of honor, as a favor, because of boredom, but if they already have that much money, taking that kind of risk for less money isn't sound thinking. Taking it for other reasons may vary.

Another_Poet
2014-01-05, 03:50 PM
I think the simple solution is to make it possible to purchase magic items with gold, but insanely expensive.

In a world where a +1 sword costs 2,000 gp, a cash market makes sense. In a world where the same sword costs 2.8 million gp, and stronger magic items scale up from there, it would take an entire government to finance a purchase.

To make this believable, you'd have to make magic items either scarce (there are maybe a dozen +1 swords in the whole world) or restricted (mages make lots of them, but keep tabs on them all and are very careful who they give them out to, essentially enforcing a mageocracy).

Then again, you can even get a Hattori Hanzo for $250 sometimes :smallamused:

TuggyNE
2014-01-05, 08:10 PM
{{Scrubbed}}

Mastikator
2014-01-06, 03:39 AM
Just think what would be your price? What 'favor' or 'quest' would you do to get what you wanted? Would you take a bit of risk to get what you wanted?

If you're already a multimillionare then there's no sum of money that can convince you to risk your life. It's because people aren't infinitely greedy, when you have WAY more than enough then you start to focus on other things.

Chauncymancer
2014-01-06, 10:49 AM
I think the simple solution is to make it possible to purchase magic items with gold, but insanely expensive.

In a world where a +1 sword costs 2,000 gp, a cash market makes sense. In a world where the same sword costs 2.8 million gp, and stronger magic items scale up from there, it would take an entire government to finance a purchase.



Problem: if you try to put Dnd wealth into context by using "1sp=one workday's unskilled labor" then 1gp=430 $American. A level 10 character has more wealth than the United states as a whole (16trillion $American). Everything in Dnd is already ridiculously expensive, but the PCs are four to eight of the twenty richest people on the planet. NO ONE HAS AS MUCH WEALTH IN REAL LIFE AS PCs: MOST COUNTRIES IN REAL LIFE ARE 6TH LEVEL CHARACTERS.

NichG
2014-01-06, 11:13 AM
I think it helps to ask this in the abstract to see why having two currencies side by side doesn't actually let you have two economies side by side.

If we have two types of 'money' A and B, such that some goods require A and some goods require B, then the issue is that a third party can leverage the fact that some people have more B than they need but not as much A as they need, and other people have more A than they need but not as much B as they need.

So this third party can basically mediate the trade and take a small percentage off the top, and basically causes there to be some fungibility between the currencies A and B.

So if you have a scheme to make it work, it has to somehow prevent that kind of interaction. Having very high transfer costs associated with either or both currencies could do it - if basically you lose 50% of the resource when you give it to someone else, then its going to be hard to support trade. The problem with that solution is, whatever resource you stick with that restriction isn't actually going to act as an economy in its own right anymore (as TuggyNE pointed out for item attunement).

One thing you could do is have an external force that exists above one of the economies that completely controls it. Lets say, for example, that magic items are just corporeal templates that have to be imbued with 'Essence' of different types, which is only provided by the First Bank of Celestia. There's fire essence, earth essence, whatever.

The First Bank of Celestia grants Essence to people who perform good deeds. They are also willing to officiate transfers of Essence, but these transfers must always be exactly fair trades (e.g. you can change flavors of essence, but you can never get two of one essence for one of another).

So in this case you'd have a very simplistic Essence economy (simplistic because you can't have price variations) and the usual gold economy.

Now, you might still see connections between these economies, but they'll be weak. For example, if there's a large demand for Fire essence, someone who is willing to trade Fire for something else could also ask for an amount of gold in order to go ahead with the trade. But its unlikely that the amounts of gold involved in this would get very large so long as the various types of elemental essence were doled out in equal quantities - having an unlimited supply of gold would not allow you to increase your amount of essence, it would just let you have exactly the combination of elements that you want.

(The way to think about 'essence' here is that its a contract with the Celestials such that they provide a flow of that particular type of energy at need, not something you can actually hold and move around by hand).

Talakeal
2014-01-06, 12:02 PM
Problem: if you try to put Dnd wealth into context by using "1sp=one workday's unskilled labor" then 1gp=430 $American. A level 10 character has more wealth than the United states as a whole (16trillion $American). Everything in Dnd is already ridiculously expensive, but the PCs are four to eight of the twenty richest people on the planet. NO ONE HAS AS MUCH WEALTH IN REAL LIFE AS PCs: MOST COUNTRIES IN REAL LIFE ARE 6TH LEVEL CHARACTERS.

I think you made a math error somewhere. If 1gp is 430 dollars than even a level 20 character still has less than half a billion dollars equivelent. You wont get to trillions until well into epic at that rate.

Mark Hall
2014-01-06, 12:45 PM
Problem: if you try to put Dnd wealth into context by using "1sp=one workday's unskilled labor" then 1gp=430 $American. A level 10 character has more wealth than the United states as a whole (16trillion $American). Everything in Dnd is already ridiculously expensive, but the PCs are four to eight of the twenty richest people on the planet. NO ONE HAS AS MUCH WEALTH IN REAL LIFE AS PCs: MOST COUNTRIES IN REAL LIFE ARE 6TH LEVEL CHARACTERS.

I tend to assume that 1gp=$20, and so 1sp=$1 (remember, 20sp=2ep=1gp). This heavily shifts the money question, though, like Tippy said, by the time you get high level, you're not so likely to be doing things for cash on the barrelhead. You'll do things because you have to (i.e. the world is ending, and you more or less like the world), or because you feel obligated to, or because they further some other goal of yours... but unless you're playing Scrooge McDuck, you're probably not doing it just to get more cash.

jedipotter
2014-01-06, 02:36 PM
And how can Hayden afford the sword, and why would he pay so absurdly much, and why not merely offer a few gp, or perhaps a few dozen, which is more than Krog will see from months of work anyway?

No, sorry, that still doesn't make any sense.


Well, Hayden just needs to sell a couple horses to buy a magic sword. But then remember we are talking about an economy where you can't normally buy magic items. But magic items exist, and the rich and powerful use them for trade. So Hayden has the ability to get magic items, but he has to take what he can get. He can't go to magic mart and get a ring of wishing. He can only pick from two magic swords and a magic hat. And that is if he even gets to pick at all. It would be common enough for him to occasionally get a magic item. So say he gets a magic sword from a warlord who buys a bunch of his horses. Or he gets the sword from a family member, or a friend.

Could Hayden just give a couple gold coins? Maybe. It will depend on the setting and what needs to be done. If the needed plant is in a 'hostile' place then the price would go up.

I understand the concept does not make sense to some, but this is the way a large part of the world works. Even more so on the shady and even criminal side of things.

NichG
2014-01-06, 03:37 PM
Well, Hayden just needs to sell a couple horses to buy a magic sword. But then remember we are talking about an economy where you can't normally buy magic items. But magic items exist, and the rich and powerful use them for trade. So Hayden has the ability to get magic items, but he has to take what he can get. He can't go to magic mart and get a ring of wishing. He can only pick from two magic swords and a magic hat. And that is if he even gets to pick at all. It would be common enough for him to occasionally get a magic item. So say he gets a magic sword from a warlord who buys a bunch of his horses. Or he gets the sword from a family member, or a friend.

Could Hayden just give a couple gold coins? Maybe. It will depend on the setting and what needs to be done. If the needed plant is in a 'hostile' place then the price would go up.

I understand the concept does not make sense to some, but this is the way a large part of the world works. Even more so on the shady and even criminal side of things.

The issue is that if the rich and powerful value magic items, Hayden can sell his magic items to the rich and powerful for quite a lot of money. While he can't necessarily buy magic items, there's nothing stopping him from cashing out. And if Hayden can do it, then others can also in principle do this as well.

Basically, you have to make it so that people generally aren't that interested in magic items - make them have little worth to most people. And that actually does make sense in a way - a +1 sword in the modern world would have very little value based on its function (putting aside 'as a way to research the existence of magic' types of considerations). But things like a Ring of Wishes would have value to anyone, so its a lot harder to justify there.

Talakeal
2014-01-06, 03:43 PM
What I did is make magic items cost a heck of a lot more to create.

This means that there is both very little supply for them and very little demand for them.

If a +1 sword costs half a million GP to make you probably won't make one unless you really want it and have a ton of money to burn.

On the other side, if you find a +1 sword, you need to find someone who is able and willing to pay anything near its creation cost, thus you will probably just hold on to it, or maybe trade it for someone else's magic item that they can't find someone to sell it to.

TuggyNE
2014-01-06, 09:05 PM
Well, Hayden just needs to sell a couple horses to buy a magic sword.

I think you mean "a dozen"; heavy horses are 200 gp each, and heavy warhorses are 400 gp. A +1 longsword weighs in at a cool 2315 gp, which means 12 heavy horses or six warhorses need to be sold off in a short time to pay for that.

And the market for horses may not be that liquid.


Could Hayden just give a couple gold coins? Maybe. It will depend on the setting and what needs to be done. If the needed plant is in a 'hostile' place then the price would go up.

Sure. But there are two crucial points: the first is why is Hayden paying in kind with something he will have to buy or trade for that, and the second is why is Hayden so absurdly generous. Only the first is really relevant to my question, but the second makes your example look silly, because paying a courier thousands of gold pieces, equivalent, for a fairly straightforward albeit somewhat risky job is simply absurd. A normal courier job, with little risk, might be 2 cp per mile (the DMG rate, IIRC); for a valuable item acquired at speed in a particularly difficult spot, let's call that 5 cp, overpaying considerably. If the plant is 60 miles away, that comes to a nice 300 cp, which is 3 gp. What kind of absurdly innumerate trader pays someone more than 770 times as much as the most generous going rate? Even adding in a substantial bonus for the moderate risk to life and limb would not add more than a few more gp.

Getting back to the first point a bit, Hayden, if for some reason he actually needed to pay in kind, could just say "here's a horse, you can borrow it to make the trip, and if you make it back in time you keep it, but if not you're responsible for any damage for overuse".

TheStranger
2014-01-06, 09:57 PM
^ What he said.

The "do this relatively simple task and I'll give you a magic item worth more than everything else I own combined" model is one of the sillier D&D tropes. That sword is probably worth as much as all of Hayden's horses put together. Nobody in their right mind would give it away like that, let along a successful merchant.

But really, the disparity in value is the only real flaw in that example, and if Hayden needs help that's worth 2,000 GP, the sword is a fair substitute. People can reasonably exchange items of value in exchange for services that are actually commensurate with that value. There can certainly be a favor economy and/or a barter economy going on, but there's going to be a lot of crossover with the gold economy. Because even if somebody wants to trade me a +1 sword for solving their problems, they'd probably also trade it for a pile of cash. And if I'm inclined to solve their problems for a +1 sword, I'd probably do it for the cash value, too.

Gold has value. Magic items have value. Absent some sort of external control, people will sometimes exchange one for the other.

veti
2014-01-06, 11:03 PM
Back in AD&D, every magic item had its own XP value. As far as I can recall, as a rule of thumb, it was in the region of 20% of the GP value.

Reintroduce that. Whenever someone comes into possession of a magic item (defined as "having it recorded on their character sheet at the end of a game session"), they gain that many XP. Now for the important part: if they sell, lose or give the item away, they lose those XP.

That will make people - reluctant to trade magic items. "Giving them away" will become something that happens only rarely, for special reasons or special occasions. (Or a like-for-like-value trade, that would be fine.)

Drachasor
2014-01-07, 01:32 AM
Hmm. What if magic items chose their users and impose curse-like penalties on people that keep them who they don't like? Though this is probably rife the potential for DM abuse.


Problem: if you try to put Dnd wealth into context by using "1sp=one workday's unskilled labor" then 1gp=430 $American. A level 10 character has more wealth than the United states as a whole (16trillion $American). Everything in Dnd is already ridiculously expensive, but the PCs are four to eight of the twenty richest people on the planet. NO ONE HAS AS MUCH WEALTH IN REAL LIFE AS PCs: MOST COUNTRIES IN REAL LIFE ARE 6TH LEVEL CHARACTERS.

You're math is a bit off. That said, wealth disparities were much, much greater a thousand years ago. So D&D wages are not comparable with modern ones. Same is true of D&D wealth.

It's actually a somewhat non-trivial problem since so much in manufacturing has changed as well.

Mastikator
2014-01-07, 02:30 AM
^ What he said.

The "do this relatively simple task and I'll give you a magic item worth more than everything else I own combined" model is one of the sillier D&D tropes. That sword is probably worth as much as all of Hayden's horses put together. Nobody in their right mind would give it away like that, let along a successful merchant.

But really, the disparity in value is the only real flaw in that example, and if Hayden needs help that's worth 2,000 GP, the sword is a fair substitute. People can reasonably exchange items of value in exchange for services that are actually commensurate with that value. There can certainly be a favor economy and/or a barter economy going on, but there's going to be a lot of crossover with the gold economy. Because even if somebody wants to trade me a +1 sword for solving their problems, they'd probably also trade it for a pile of cash. And if I'm inclined to solve their problems for a +1 sword, I'd probably do it for the cash value, too.

Gold has value. Magic items have value. Absent some sort of external control, people will sometimes exchange one for the other.

The thing is, in a usefulness-to-price ratio magic items are generally useless, they would only have any use in an economy if they were used purely as a currency, a magic item is far to cost ineffective to be useful as a commodity.
Making a +1 fullplate armor is sort of like making a carbon nano-fiber armor, yes it's superior to a "regular" armor, but the sheer price makes it very unfeasible.

Emperor Tippy
2014-01-07, 04:48 AM
Gold has value. Magic items have value. Absent some sort of external control, people will sometimes exchange one for the other.

Except that that bit really isn't true outside of relatively low levels. Gold has value to peasants, commoners, and various low level peons and organizations. It has no real value to ECL 10+ PC's and their contemporaries.


Magic items, even the mostly worthless ones have at least some value thanks to artificers and weapons of legacy.

TheStranger
2014-01-07, 09:15 AM
The thing is, in a usefulness-to-price ratio magic items are generally useless, they would only have any use in an economy if they were used purely as a currency, a magic item is far to cost ineffective to be useful as a commodity.
Making a +1 fullplate armor is sort of like making a carbon nano-fiber armor, yes it's superior to a "regular" armor, but the sheer price makes it very unfeasible.
I'm not going to pretend that there's a lot of economic sense underlying the pricing of magic items in D&D. However, adventurers seem generally willing to pay list prices for magic items, so there's at least a niche market there. You can make a pretty compelling case that the prices are arbitrarily high (having been set based on game balance rather than any approximation of supply and demand), but making magic items cheaper isn't going to suppress a cash market for them.


Except that that bit really isn't true outside of relatively low levels. Gold has value to peasants, commoners, and various low level peons and organizations. It has no real value to ECL 10+ PC's and their contemporaries.

Magic items, even the mostly worthless ones have at least some value thanks to artificers and weapons of legacy.
It may be true in your game that high-level PCs and NPCs have little use for gold, but I don't think that's a universal truth. Gold is useful, and can buy many things without the need for time-consuming barter. Even high-level characters might sometimes want to buy goods, services, land, etc. from people who want gold. Even between powerful individuals, sometimes you just want an arm's-length transaction with no lasting entanglements.

And there are more than enough magic items in the hands of people well below ECL 10+ to keep a thriving trade going. What about the low-level adventurer who raids a tomb, finds some loot, then decides to get out of the game before the odds catch up with him? He'll gladly sell his magic items for enough cash to buy an inn and enjoy his retirement. And his peers who want to go looking for another tomb will probably pony up the gold.

AMFV
2014-01-07, 09:20 AM
It may be true in your game that high-level PCs and NPCs have little use for gold, but I don't think that's a universal truth. Gold is useful, and can buy many things without the need for time-consuming barter. Even high-level characters might sometimes want to buy goods, services, land, etc. from people who want gold. Even between powerful individuals, sometimes you just want an arm's-length transaction with no lasting entanglements.

And there are more than enough magic items in the hands of people well below ECL 10+ to keep a thriving trade going. What about the low-level adventurer who raids a tomb, finds some loot, then decides to get out of the game before the odds catch up with him? He'll gladly sell his magic items for enough cash to buy an inn and enjoy his retirement. And his peers who want to go looking for another tomb will probably pony up the gold.

It's not that they have no use for Gold, it's that they have all that they will ever need for anything.

Tyndmyr
2014-01-07, 09:50 AM
I kind of want to do away with buying magic items in a game coming up. I came up with the idea that magic items basically exist outside of the normal economy: you will, barring extraordinary circumstances, never be able to find someone willing to give you a magic item for gold (or vice versa). You can get them from nobles, governments, churches, and the crafters themselves for doing them favors (i.e. quests). This will allow there to be cash-poor yet effective warriors and for me to give my dragons Smaugian beds without suddenly letting my players take over a small country with the items it'd buy.

The problem is that I'm pretty sure economics doesn't work like that. There are favor economies and there are cash economies, but I've never heard of them existing side by side and don't think they would easily. Is there a way to force them to? I'd rather not accidentally make any econ majors bleed from the ears on hearing my description.

Sure, economies can exist side by side. In feudal europe, gold was mostly something for the upper class, while the lower level folks worked off barter or coins made of cheaper levels. However, there will always be *SOME* overlap, even if it's rare. The guy with tons of magic items who has fallen on hard times will eventually need gold. Now, he may sell only a single item for much gold, and this may not be common, but it WILL happen. Different economies can exist, but it's rare for no trade to take place at all.

Jerthanis
2014-01-07, 11:00 AM
I've been kicking around the idea of having a world without any sort of traditional magic items, and instead of an economic advancement track and an experience track, you have your WBL value of "Special Coins" which are handed out in proportion alongside experience points and which you use to purchase the effects of Magic Items as supernatural effects which are an internal magic of the character themselves rather than equipment they put on.

And then any magic items they find can become plot devices, like, "Whoever can draw this sword becomes king" or "These divination rods point toward gold, but greed inevitably brings ruin to any man" or "This arrow is destined to slay the king"

GungHo
2014-01-07, 11:01 AM
I tend to assume that 1gp=$20, and so 1sp=$1 (remember, 20sp=2ep=1gp). This heavily shifts the money question, though, like Tippy said, by the time you get high level, you're not so likely to be doing things for cash on the barrelhead. You'll do things because you have to (i.e. the world is ending, and you more or less like the world), or because you feel obligated to, or because they further some other goal of yours... but unless you're playing Scrooge McDuck, you're probably not doing it just to get more cash.

Well... yeah. If you want to play Scrooge McDuck and just accumulate wealth, you're probably retired and running a business/investment house rather than risking your beak on an Abyssal plane.

TheStranger
2014-01-07, 11:53 AM
It's not that they have no use for Gold, it's that they have all that they will ever need for anything.
It's not like real-world wealthy people stop participating in the economy. You don't get all the money you'll ever need by accident - you have to value money enough to make the effort, and that doesn't go away once you hit some arbitrary number.


I've been kicking around the idea of having a world without any sort of traditional magic items, and instead of an economic advancement track and an experience track, you have your WBL value of "Special Coins" which are handed out in proportion alongside experience points and which you use to purchase the effects of Magic Items as supernatural effects which are an internal magic of the character themselves rather than equipment they put on.

And then any magic items they find can become plot devices, like, "Whoever can draw this sword becomes king" or "These divination rods point toward gold, but greed inevitably brings ruin to any man" or "This arrow is destined to slay the king"
I like that idea, but you could probably streamline it a little more by just using XP directly. Take something like the Kensai mechanic for imbuing weapons, make it work with any item/body slot, take away the personal attachment to a specific item, and you're pretty close. Maybe bump the XP cost up a bit so that it's not a no-brainer to imbue as much as you can as soon as you can. Then make actual magic items extremely rare, and you've pretty much killed the cash trade in magical items. People might still buy and sell the few that exist, but they'd do it for plot-related reasons.

Now I want to run a game that revolves around the king trying to find and destroy that arrow.

AMFV
2014-01-07, 01:12 PM
It's not like real-world wealthy people stop participating in the economy. You don't get all the money you'll ever need by accident - you have to value money enough to make the effort, and that doesn't go away once you hit some arbitrary number.

But real world wealthy people are much much less likely to do things that are risky, as they would have when they were gaining their wealth. Risk becomes more and more the enemy as you have more to lose.

Of course resurrection means that death isn't all that risky, so who knows, in D&D it might be different.

Emperor Tippy
2014-01-07, 02:58 PM
It may be true in your game that high-level PCs and NPCs have little use for gold, but I don't think that's a universal truth. Gold is useful, and can buy many things without the need for time-consuming barter. Even high-level characters might sometimes want to buy goods, services, land, etc. from people who want gold. Even between powerful individuals, sometimes you just want an arm's-length transaction with no lasting entanglements.
...if its unimportant enough that its owner will accept gold for it, you don't have a dragons hoard worth of gold sitting in your bag of holding somewhere, you can't (or won't) just take what you want by virtue of being powerful enough to smash an army singlehandedly, you can't make the required gold with thirty seconds of effort, and you still want it then you go and take some absurdly minor quest to get it.

Gold is worthless because it is too common and has no real use to those at ECL 10+, they are simply too powerful for it to matter much. Gold isn't an accepted medium of exchange in the circles that they operate in.

These are people who will go and assassinate a royal bloodline and put some minor noble on the throne (to popular acclaim) simply for a future favor from a high level wizard. A few hundred thousand gold is on offer for the same thing? Not worth the risks and hassle.


And there are more than enough magic items in the hands of people well below ECL 10+ to keep a thriving trade going. What about the low-level adventurer who raids a tomb, finds some loot, then decides to get out of the game before the odds catch up with him? He'll gladly sell his magic items for enough cash to buy an inn and enjoy his retirement. And his peers who want to go looking for another tomb will probably pony up the gold.
Yes, and these people top out at around ECL 6 or so.

The issue isn't that individuals in this power bracket don't want a viable, liquid, medium of exchange; it's that gold is no longer such a medium. Souls, Liquid Pain, Liquid Joy, various relatively minor but commonly useful magic items.

Sure, if you know the right markets and have the right contacts then you can find those items in small quantities for gold but take Souls. Souls, according to the BoVD, have a flat value of 200 GP each. Assuming an even exchange then a Mirror of Life Trapping would cost you a thousand such souls. Or maybe a thousand moments of sublime joy.

Who do you think sells such things in bulk and has any great use for a shiny metal that anyone with access to Lesser Planar Binding can create by the ton for free on a daily basis?

Non magical goods of most any kind are pretty much totally worthless after a certain point. There is a bit of trade between the tiers going on but it is minor and someone involved is usually being scammed.

TheStranger
2014-01-07, 04:02 PM
Our assumptions about the fluff of the average D&D world are extremely different. I realize your assumptions are well thought out and fairly internally consistent (and somewhat famous), but not everybody plays the game that way. In my mind, high-level characters are still living in basically the same world as everybody else. There's no marketplace for souls, joy, etc., at least not that mortals get to participate in. And anybody who tries to acquire arbitrarily large amounts of gold with mid-level magic gets hit with a DMG, RAW be damned.

Again, I understand that your game works that way, and that's fine. It's not a solution that works for me.

Tvtyrant
2014-01-07, 04:18 PM
The way we are doing it in my current game is that magic items run off of the aura of the user, and so become weaker or stronger based on the power of the user themselves. A Blackshroud Weapon is a level 10 weapon, so its powers simply do not function below level 10 for the user (not enough aura to power the sword.) At level 10 they function as normal, and at higher levels they improve automatically.

My reasoning was that having to replace or upgrade your magic sword on a constant basis was lame, and the cost of highly upgraded magic weapons was silly. So everything item exists at its lowest level and upgrades via the user, and money becomes a little scarcer.

Emperor Tippy
2014-01-07, 04:54 PM
Our assumptions about the fluff of the average D&D world are extremely different. I realize your assumptions are well thought out and fairly internally consistent (and somewhat famous), but not everybody plays the game that way. In my mind, high-level characters are still living in basically the same world as everybody else. There's no marketplace for souls, joy, etc., at least not that mortals get to participate in. And anybody who tries to acquire arbitrarily large amounts of gold with mid-level magic gets hit with a DMG, RAW be damned.

Again, I understand that your game works that way, and that's fine. It's not a solution that works for me.

The rules really don't support that, at all, or work that way.

All the stuff I listed is explicitly RAW. The most common currency in the planes as a whole is souls. They are bought, sold, traded, mortgaged, bartered, and otherwise used as the primary medium of exchange. Hell, the entire Pact Primeval is basically a soul transfer agreement between the various deities and Asmodeus to pay for his services in fighting the blood war.

Even the high level fluff characters are always dealing in concerns far beyond normal mortal comprehension.

Look at the Savage Tide adventure path if you want a very clear example. The whole last half to quarter or more of that path is all adventuring for purposes of favors, information, or an exchange of services. The one time you basically outright buy help it is for the price of an artifact.

At ECL 17+ you are invading the inner sanctum of the Crown Prince of Demons at the head of an alliance between multiple demon princes, an epic wizard, and a war-host of chaotic good outsiders.

The path concludes with you outright slaying the most powerful of the demon princes and, potentially, becoming the Crown Prince of Demons and lord of one of the layers of the abyss in your own right.

This is high level D&D.

Look through the monster manual. Pretty much everything in the range of CR 4-7 is a significant threat to entire towns. Pretty much everything in the CR 8-12 range can threaten the survival of entire nations.

16-20 is "threat to the entire world" level.

You can homebrew your own settings and houserule however you like and so long as you and your players have fun then it's not wrong per se but at the same time, you have gone very far away from both the fluff and crunch for D&D as a whole (and not just that of 3.5).

Level 20 characters are supposed to be only a few steps short of deities and the like. They aren't "mortals" by any real stretch of the imagination.

TheStranger
2014-01-07, 06:06 PM
I happened to play in a Savage Tide game some years ago. I don't remember trading in souls at any point. I do remember buying and selling magic items for GP. The plot hooks might be earth-shaking, but the economy was pretty mundane. And the fundamental "kill things and take their stuff" method of amassing wealth was pretty much unchanged.

Again, I'm not trying to tell you how to run your game. It obviously works for you, and that's great. But it's not the One True Way. You say I'm ignoring the RAW planar marketplace because I don't think PCs should trade in souls. But the GP prices are also RAW, and I'd say you're ignoring that if you're denying that a magic item listed at 100,000 GP can be had for 100,000 GP.

Point being, we all pick and choose how to apply the rules in order to get the game we want. You and I have picked and chosen differently, and that's to be expected. But I feel like you're saying that your way is right and I'm wrong for doing it differently, and I disagree with you on that point.

Kamai
2014-01-08, 04:07 AM
What if how permanent magic items are used weigh on the creator's soul, at least for a chunk of time (3-6 months)? After this period, the sword becomes the new owners in all respects, including the risk to their soul for others using it. There will still be desperate people who might sell the item for money, but it becomes so much more at their own risk, that it should usually turn to only giving the item to someone that they trust, aka favor trading.

This, of course, assumes a D&D-like world where anyone can make permanent magic items.

Jeff the Green
2014-01-08, 04:22 AM
What if how permanent magic items are used weigh on the creator's soul, at least for a chunk of time (3-6 months)? After this period, the sword becomes the new owners in all respects, including the risk to their soul for others using it. There will still be desperate people who might sell the item for money, but it becomes so much more at their own risk, that it should usually turn to only giving the item to someone that they trust, aka favor trading.

This, of course, assumes a D&D-like world where anyone can make permanent magic items.

I think that would just result in the creation of a highly lucrative magical escrow service.

TuggyNE
2014-01-08, 04:24 AM
What if how permanent magic items are used weigh on the creator's soul, at least for a chunk of time (3-6 months)?

What exactly do you mean by that? Alignment-wise, or what? Because "sell a sword to a Good-aligned adventurer" then becomes a valid tactic for getting into the Seven Mounting Heavens cheap.

NichG
2014-01-08, 05:51 AM
What exactly do you mean by that? Alignment-wise, or what? Because "sell a sword to a Good-aligned adventurer" then becomes a valid tactic for getting into the Seven Mounting Heavens cheap.

It doesn't do this in the 'buffered alignment system' we came up with awhile back, especially if there's a diminishment of one tier. For example, killing an innocent is a '-3', saving someone from death is a '+2' (they could always be in peril again, so saving a life isn't symmetric with ending one), having someone use your sword to save someone is a '+1', having someone kill an innocent with your sword is a '-2'.

The good adventurer using your sword to save a bunch of orphanages will give you a push towards Good (+1), but if you personally kill an innocent that would be the 'dominant act' that characterizes you (-3), so it would take a '+4' act on the part of your customers for you to even end up neutral - they use your sword to save a nation or kill Dispater or something.

Talakeal
2014-01-08, 06:38 AM
I remember back before they invented the concept of an auction house in MMOs there were two working economies. There was no way to buy magic items with gold, so people wouldn't ever sell magic items, they were simply too valuable. So you had a magic item economy, which ran on barter, and then a mundane goods and services economy, which ran on gold.

It worked out fine. Now there was no reason why people COULDN'T have figured out a rate of exchange between the two, but no one ever did until auction houses came along to make it convenient.

TuggyNE
2014-01-08, 06:56 AM
It doesn't do this in the 'buffered alignment system' we came up with awhile back, especially if there's a diminishment of one tier. For example, killing an innocent is a '-3', saving someone from death is a '+2' (they could always be in peril again, so saving a life isn't symmetric with ending one), having someone use your sword to save someone is a '+1', having someone kill an innocent with your sword is a '-2'.

The good adventurer using your sword to save a bunch of orphanages will give you a push towards Good (+1), but if you personally kill an innocent that would be the 'dominant act' that characterizes you (-3), so it would take a '+4' act on the part of your customers for you to even end up neutral - they use your sword to save a nation or kill Dispater or something.

Well sure, if you're personally Evil then that's true, but if you're just random Joe Schmoe the TN crafter, then it seems like a good way to get some bennies.


I remember back before they invented the concept of an auction house in MMOs there were two working economies. There was no way to buy magic items with gold, so people wouldn't ever sell magic items, they were simply too valuable. So you had a magic item economy, which ran on barter, and then a mundane goods and services economy, which ran on gold.

It worked out fine. Now there was no reason why people COULDN'T have figured out a rate of exchange between the two, but no one ever did until auction houses came along to make it convenient.

That's what's called an "unstable equilibrium", and, given that it is not difficult for humanoids to devise some sort of way to exchange magic items for gold (since they don't have to actually recode anything), it doesn't seem like it would last very long at all.

Delta
2014-01-09, 05:44 AM
I remember back before they invented the concept of an auction house in MMOs there were two working economies. There was no way to buy magic items with gold, so people wouldn't ever sell magic items, they were simply too valuable. So you had a magic item economy, which ran on barter, and then a mundane goods and services economy, which ran on gold.

It worked out fine. Now there was no reason why people COULDN'T have figured out a rate of exchange between the two, but no one ever did until auction houses came along to make it convenient.

The important difference being that those two systems didn't coexist horizontally, but vertically.

Magic items were, as you correctly pointed out, literally so expensive that the amount of gold equal in value would've been ridiculously huge so it simply wasn't practical to figure out a rate of exchange, and something like that would be quite possible to implement in a tabletop setting as well, but it would carry with it the problem that your average adventure carries around stuff worth more than basically the entire world around him. That's not a problem in computer games where the meaningful contact with said world is extremely limited, but in a tabletop campaign where PCs can do pretty much anything, that's bound to cause problems as soon as players (and NPCs) realize that they're carrying around loot worth more than the last half dozen kingdoms they've traveled through put together.

Jeff the Green
2014-01-09, 06:28 AM
Well sure, if you're personally Evil then that's true, but if you're just random Joe Schmoe the TN crafter, then it seems like a good way to get some bennies.

Honestly, if I'm the god of good, I'm kind of okay with that. I mean, it effectively means that the best crafters in the world will be lining up to supply the lowliest crusader, and the wealthiest conquered will have trouble finding smiths for his army. Granted, supplying the good guys and refraining from supplying the bad guys is literally the least you could do, but it should be worth something.

Talakeal
2014-01-11, 04:14 PM
The important difference being that those two systems didn't coexist horizontally, but vertically.

Magic items were, as you correctly pointed out, literally so expensive that the amount of gold equal in value would've been ridiculously huge so it simply wasn't practical to figure out a rate of exchange, and something like that would be quite possible to implement in a tabletop setting as well, but it would carry with it the problem that your average adventure carries around stuff worth more than basically the entire world around him. That's not a problem in computer games where the meaningful contact with said world is extremely limited, but in a tabletop campaign where PCs can do pretty much anything, that's bound to cause problems as soon as players (and NPCs) realize that they're carrying around loot worth more than the last half dozen kingdoms they've traveled through put together.

Something is only worth what people pay for it. If no adventurer will ever have enough gold to purchase a magic item, then it may asw ell be worth nothing. Sure, you could claim to have the worth of the entire kingdom, but no one who has that much gold would ever trade their kingdom for a sword.

Delta
2014-01-11, 09:59 PM
Something is only worth what people pay for it. If no adventurer will ever have enough gold to purchase a magic item, then it may asw ell be worth nothing. Sure, you could claim to have the worth of the entire kingdom, but no one who has that much gold would ever trade their kingdom for a sword.

It was your assumption that magic items were "too valuable" to be bought with gold, and now suddenly they're not valuable because no one pays for them with gold? That's circular logic.

The only reason you used SoJs in Diablo 2 was because of inflation, gold was simply worthless, nothing you could buy with gold had any significant worth, combined with the fact that you were limited on how much gold your character could carry this meant that using gold as the basis for magic item economy was simply not practical.

But those are arbitrary conditions that won't apply to an RPG setting because usually in a tabletop setting you don't have millions of adventurers raiding the same tombs every day and dragging millions of gold pieces out of it each day, so inflation is not a problem. Add to that that there's no arbitrary limit to how much currency a character can own (or at least I've never seen that), without those two important anchor points, there's just no need for a separate economy "above" the other, SoJs in such an economy become simply a bigger unit of currency that still has some relative value in gold.

So in the end, the richest merchant in the world might still pay you an outrageous amount of money for it because he thinks he can find a collector or noble who wants to go adventuring on his own who might pay him even more, if the item is so incredibly rare AND useful someone will pay for it.

At the same time, you're carrying around DOZENS of those incredibly rare items, so you can easily travel the world and accumulate ridiculous amounts of wealth. Unless of course some people poison you in your sleep in the next inn because they know your room is full of the rarest and most expensive items in the world.

I'm just saying that making magic items incredibly rare in a civilized world and then still giving them to adventurers will lead to unfortunate consequences unless you introduce some special rules like "Oh magic items who are ever sold or given away become immediately worthless!" or simply say "I'll drop a cow on anyone who ever tries to sell a magic item!"

Talakeal
2014-01-12, 03:25 PM
Just imagine in real life you suddenly came into possession of a stealth bomber or aircraft carrier. Those things cost literally billions of dollars to make. Who do you know who is both willing and able to pay more than a tiny fraction of that amount? Unless you can somehow get a government contract, you are imo going to be taking a massive loss if you try and sell it. I dont think it would be too hard to set up a similar situation with magic items.

NichG
2014-01-12, 03:44 PM
Just imagine in real life you suddenly came into possession of a stealth bomber or aircraft carrier. Those things cost literally billions of dollars to make. Who do you know who is both willing and able to pay more than a tiny fraction of that amount? Unless you can somehow get a government contract, you are imo going to be taking a massive loss if you try and sell it. I dont think it would be too hard to set up a similar situation with magic items.

Well the clear thing to do is to take a massive loss. I mean, $10k is a massive loss if I had built the carrier, but if I just got the carrier out of nowhere, its $10k of profit.

So at the very least, magic items will be convertible into gold. Furthermore, someone who has magic items and needs gold will likely be willing to let them go for far less than it costs to make them, because as you said, they have no hope of actually recouping the cost to make them.

Also, in the case of something like a stealth bomber, they're made by corporations for governments who can pay that much, so it does end up having a conversion, because someone at least thinks the item is worth the cost to make it. I would guess that this is likely to actually be different in the case of a magic sword - a single +5 sword doesn't do as much for a government as what the 50kgp could buy in other forms. So the conclusion is, no one makes magic items for economic purposes (e.g. there isn't a magic item industry per se), but existing magic items would be bought and sold based on the rough degree of wealth of those who are interested in owning them.

Knaight
2014-01-12, 03:45 PM
Just imagine in real life you suddenly came into possession of a stealth bomber or aircraft carrier. Those things cost literally billions of dollars to make. Who do you know who is both willing and able to pay more than a tiny fraction of that amount? Unless you can somehow get a government contract, you are imo going to be taking a massive loss if you try and sell it. I dont think it would be too hard to set up a similar situation with magic items.

There's a few issues here. A stealth bomber or aircraft carrier only work with lots of infrastructure behind them. The bomber needs fuel, a place to land, runways, etc. An aircraft carrier needs fuel, places to dock, and a pretty huge crew.

Then there is the bigger issue. There is basically no use for stealth bombers or aircraft carriers for basically anyone not in a military. Even in the cases of people who live in dangerous places where being armed might be helpful (warzones with lots of internal violence, usually), a stealth bomber or aircraft carrier is completely ridiculous.

Compare a magic sword. There is no real infrastructure needed to operate it. It's helpful to have a sheath, and maybe a whetstone, but that's about it. It can be operated by a single person. D&D worlds are generally fairly dangerous, so the market actually exists. It also doesn't make much sense for it to be hugely valuable. Stealth bombers and aircraft carriers were built because they actually used to be useful in wars that happened at their cost. A magic sword is so many orders of magnitude less devastating as a weapon that it doesn't even make sense for it to be that pricey. They simply aren't all that useful.

paddyfool
2014-01-12, 03:54 PM
3.5 magic breaks economics anyway, based on the Tippyverse.

One RPG I know of, Fantasy Craft, does have two economies to handle magic items vs everything else. In that game, Magic Items are one of a range of Prizes, and the amount of them that your character can have at any one time is limited by their Renown and Reputation (garnered by doing great deeds etc.). Gold buys mundane things, up to and including ships etc., but gaining magic items can only be done by spending Reputation (which can otherwise be used to obtain favours, contacts, holdings, or increase your ranks in Renown), and the amount your character can use is limited by their renown.

Closely examined, this doesn't make much sense, but it does avoid the "Christmas Tree Effect". Heroes end up with a few items of note, rather than a wide range of different ones (most of the time, and excepting expendable items such as scrolls and potions).

Delta
2014-01-12, 04:09 PM
Just imagine in real life you suddenly came into possession of a stealth bomber or aircraft carrier. Those things cost literally billions of dollars to make. Who do you know who is both willing and able to pay more than a tiny fraction of that amount? Unless you can somehow get a government contract, you are imo going to be taking a massive loss if you try and sell it. I dont think it would be too hard to set up a similar situation with magic items.

If I took some (a lot of) time, I'm pretty sure I'd find some people willing to pay some ridiculous amounts of money for a stealth bomber or an aircraft carrier. Whether I'd be willing to deal with those people is another question, of course, but that doesn't matter here.

But thank you, you're both pointing out the flaws in your own logic and making my point. Would I get the money the stealth bomber would theoretically be worth? Of course not. So maybe I wouldn't get the 1 billion a stealth bomber is worth (ballpark estimate), but what if I got 100 million from some foreign "businessmen" who would love to get their hands on some of that technology? Yes, I just lost 90% of the theoretical worth, but I still got 100 ****ing million, more than enough to buy basically everything I ever wanted and then some, if I invest wisely my family will be set for generations to come.

Now imagine we're living in a world with much, much less far-reaching authorities and a general lack of restriction on most such items (like your average fantasy setting) and then imagine we regularly visit locations that have even more such ridiculously expensive items just lying around (like your average dungeon) and you should begin to see where this is heading.

Titanium Dragon
2014-01-12, 06:18 PM
I kind of want to do away with buying magic items in a game coming up. I came up with the idea that magic items basically exist outside of the normal economy: you will, barring extraordinary circumstances, never be able to find someone willing to give you a magic item for gold (or vice versa). You can get them from nobles, governments, churches, and the crafters themselves for doing them favors (i.e. quests). This will allow there to be cash-poor yet effective warriors and for me to give my dragons Smaugian beds without suddenly letting my players take over a small country with the items it'd buy.

The problem is that I'm pretty sure economics doesn't work like that. There are favor economies and there are cash economies, but I've never heard of them existing side by side and don't think they would easily. Is there a way to force them to? I'd rather not accidentally make any econ majors bleed from the ears on hearing my description.


Let's talk about this for a bit.

First off, you are, in fact, absolutely correct that real economies don't really work this way - the entire point of money is that it can be converted into anything. There are, arguably, exceptions to said rules, but they are primarily reliant on being part of some sort of in-group - that is to say, there are things money cannot buy because they are not for sale, and offering money for them would be insulting, but things like trading favors or similar could get you said things. However, this relies on a small group of people having said items or favors or what have you - so something like a church, a wizard guild, royal families, secret groups, guilds, ect. could operate in this manner, but if it goes out to any sort of more general group where there is no one centrally enforcing the rules, this wouldn't really work. So this is one solution.

However, I think there is a more salient point here that should be brought up:

Who cares?

Sure, it isn't realistic, but let's be honest here - realism isn't a major concern, verisimilitude is. And even then, there is a vastly more important rule:

The rule of fun.

Here's reality. When money can be turned into things like magic items - things that make you more powerful - then money becomes an item which needs to be very carefully regulated. Getting a bunch of money means that you can suddenly buy very powerful stuff, and moreover, any money you spend on things which don't make you more powerful - things like spell components, raising the dead, buying a nice house or a yacht, making a large donation to your church, whatever - means that you're LESS powerful for it.

This is highly undesirable.

The reason for this is simple - we're roleplaying here. And yet, when we put our characters into this situation, suddenly money becomes an object that they must cling to - being stingy makes you more powerful, being generous makes you weaker. This is extraordinarily bad, as it punishes players for roleplaying. And anything which punishes players for roleplaying is very bad.

There are other negative side effects to it as well, such as consumables issues and suchlike.

A great example of a game which suffers for this is Bioshock Infinite. In the earlier Bioshock games, weapon upgrades came from finding specific machines, and vigors (magic and passive bonuses) came from an alternative currency called ADAM. Money merely bought you consumables, which meant that spending money on consumables was a very reasonable thing to do.

Fast forward to Bioshock Infinite, and money is used to buy all these things. More realistic? Maybe. But the net result is that you never want to spend money on anything OTHER THAN upgrades, meaning that the machines with consumables in them are essentially worthless.

This is a game design issue, ultimately - a well-designed game shouldn't put players into this situation. So it is perfectly acceptable to say that no one will part with a magical item for mere cash in your world, even though it is unrealistic, simply because it is more fun that way and makes magic items more special. Note, however, that the particular system you're using affects this. Something like D&D 3.5 expects players to be able to buy magical items, so if you go this particular route, you need to go ahead and give them more stuff in place of money to some extent.

If you're designing a game from the ground up, however, making powerful magical items essentially priceless, and making there be relatively few of them, is a good way to go - 3.x and 4th edition made it so that magical items weren't very special, and it more mirrors how they are in computer roleplaying games. But CRPGs are utterly different from PnP RPGs, and I think that making magical items so disposable has a negative effect on them.

It really depends on the sort of world you're trying to make, though, and how reasonable it is that they would indeed be priceless.

Talakeal
2014-01-12, 06:33 PM
If I took some (a lot of) time, I'm pretty sure I'd find some people willing to pay some ridiculous amounts of money for a stealth bomber or an aircraft carrier. Whether I'd be willing to deal with those people is another question, of course, but that doesn't matter here.

But thank you, you're both pointing out the flaws in your own logic and making my point. Would I get the money the stealth bomber would theoretically be worth? Of course not. So maybe I wouldn't get the 1 billion a stealth bomber is worth (ballpark estimate), but what if I got 100 million from some foreign "businessmen" who would love to get their hands on some of that technology? Yes, I just lost 90% of the theoretical worth, but I still got 100 ****ing million, more than enough to buy basically everything I ever wanted and then some, if I invest wisely my family will be set for generations to come.

Now imagine we're living in a world with much, much less far-reaching authorities and a general lack of restriction on most such items (like your average fantasy setting) and then imagine we regularly visit locations that have even more such ridiculously expensive items just lying around (like your average dungeon) and you should begin to see where this is heading.

I am not sure what you mean by my "argument," as I wasn't really making one. My first post was simply an observation that in old school Everquest a situation like this did exist, and that such a thing is therefore clearly possible, although admittedly a bit more difficult as a tabletop RPG allows a lot more player freedom than an MMO.

My third post was an analogy, not an argument. To further illustrate it, a few years ago England was contractually obligated to build an Aircraft carrier that they couldn't use. They spent over 3 billion pounds building it. When it was done they attempted to sell it, and found no one willing to purchase it. Any country large enough to afford it already had a full fleet (and didn't have that sort of money to burn) and no individual or small country could put together enough money to make the purchase worthwhile. England ended up selling the carrier for scrap, losing billions in the process.



My second post was the one actually describing how things work in my campaign, and the closest to an actual "argument" I made. Let me try and clear it up in more detail and explain my reasoning:


I have significantly raised the creation costs of the magic items. AD&D did something similar, by having each magic item require a level 15+ wizard sacrifice a permanent point of constitution, which is certainly a very limited resource.

You get into a situation where anyone who has enough money to commission a magic item won't really need one. A kingdom can equip, train, and supply an entire army for the cost, which is certainly a better investment for them.

So not that many get made. Occasionally a wizard will make one as a gift or a high level PC / eccentric millionaire will commission one.

Low level PCs will, occasionally, acquire one, usually from the resting place of a long dead high level PC or a recently dead one of the opposite alignment.

At this point they can either keep it, find another PC who wants to trade (probably the best option), or sell it. If they sell it, it will likely be to another adventurer. The problem is, adventurers don't have tons of gold lying around, unless they happen to have just killed a dragon or overthrown an evil empire. So the PCs will have to take a huge loss, putting them permanently behind their WBL.

But why would they do this? Sure, they make a lot of money, and can live comfortably, but they are doing so at the cost of their personal power, which is the livelihood of your average adventurer. They might want to use the money to start their own kingdom / army, but they probably won't get that much gold from selling magic items to other low level adventurers for a long time. And if they do, they now have full time responsibilities eating away at the time they should spend training / adventuring, meaning they are losing out on a lot of XP / personal power and might as well retire from adventuring to become a monarch.

So yes, you can sell magic items at a huge loss, but I haven't seen any PCs want to. And you can sometimes buy magic items, although you will have to put a lot of time and effort into finding the one you actually want as you need to find another PC who has one they don't need and acquire enough gold to make it worth their while. But it isn't a common thing.

I have never had a problem with this system in my campaign, nor have I even had a PC perceive it as a problem (and if you are familiar with my gaming group, they find a lot of problems). Admittedly it won't work with the standard crafting, population demographic, or WBL guidelines in the DMG, but the OP wasn't asking for a situation that mirrored the DMG, he just wanted some ideas about how such a thing could come about.


PS. I am not trying to pick a fight or argue with anyone, and I am sorry if my posts have come across in that way.

NichG
2014-01-12, 07:40 PM
Well, the point is basically that what happens when you have various goods that can be transferred is that 'economy happens'. Whether or not there's profit in producing those goods is not guaranteed, but once the goods are present in the world and there are people with varying levels of interest in them, that tends to be leveraged for money.

From an economic theory point of view, this is 'the problem with two economies existing side by side'. Its like having baths at two different temperatures existing side by side in physics - someone can exploit the gradients between the two economies by trading back and forth, and thereby makes profit/reduces the exploitable gradient.

The trick to resolve this is generally, don't try to truly have two coexisting economies; instead have one economy and one set of rare goods such that the supply and demand are both extremely low (so in practice they're hard to find since all the profit to be made is only due to random opportunities rather than directed industry).

Knaight
2014-01-13, 12:29 AM
Low level PCs will, occasionally, acquire one, usually from the resting place of a long dead high level PC or a recently dead one of the opposite alignment.

At this point they can either keep it, find another PC who wants to trade (probably the best option), or sell it. If they sell it, it will likely be to another adventurer. The problem is, adventurers don't have tons of gold lying around, unless they happen to have just killed a dragon or overthrown an evil empire. So the PCs will have to take a huge loss, putting them permanently behind their WBL.

But why would they do this? Sure, they make a lot of money, and can live comfortably, but they are doing so at the cost of their personal power, which is the livelihood of your average adventurer. They might want to use the money to start their own kingdom / army, but they probably won't get that much gold from selling magic items to other low level adventurers for a long time. And if they do, they now have full time responsibilities eating away at the time they should spend training / adventuring, meaning they are losing out on a lot of XP / personal power and might as well retire from adventuring to become a monarch.

Here's where that seems weird - what's to prevent an NPC adventurer who happened to have gotten an item from selling it and getting, say, enough money to go into the mercantile world and make it big there? If they're being commissioned for enough money for armies selling at reduced prices should be more than enough to get into the mercantile world in a big way. Similarly, what prevents an NPC adventurer from selling one precisely to go for the small monarch route?

These things seem like they would cause issues with the model. Very few would be made, and somewhere between manufacture and end sale a bunch of money is being lost (quite possibly from someone who lost the weapon via it being stolen or removed from their corpse), but there should still be some amount of market in the few that remain, at the prices that people might actually be willing to deal in.

As for the aircraft carrier - there's a very major difference which is critical here, which is that aircraft carriers are expensive to own. Maintenance costs, security costs, so on and so forth are themselves high. A magic sword? Not so much. It just works out to unbelievable for me.

TuggyNE
2014-01-13, 01:44 AM
My third post was an analogy, not an argument. To further illustrate it, a few years ago England was contractually obligated to build an Aircraft carrier that they couldn't use. They spent over 3 billion pounds building it. When it was done they attempted to sell it, and found no one willing to purchase it. Any country large enough to afford it already had a full fleet (and didn't have that sort of money to burn) and no individual or small country could put together enough money to make the purchase worthwhile. England ended up selling the carrier for scrap, losing billions in the process.

So, wait. Why didn't they sell it for favors or some other non-money thing? Surely that works better than money for big expensive specialized military items, right?

Basically, given that the only way they could sell or trade it at all was with money, that analogy actually undermines the two-economy idea still more.

Jeff the Green
2014-01-13, 02:17 AM
So, wait. Why didn't they sell it for favors or some other non-money thing? Surely that works better than money for big expensive specialized military items, right?

Basically, given that the only way they could sell or trade it at all was with money, that analogy actually undermines the two-economy idea still more.

That's not really true, though. Rich, industrialized countries regularly make gifts ("foreign aid") of military hardware in exchange for favors, like conducting proxy wars, cooperating with military exercises, allowing the exploitation of their people, not screwing up economies, etc. The recipients generally don't have the money to buy significant amounts of hardware, but they do have the ability to do things for their benefactors.

But then the recipients often do have the ability to turn around and sell the more transportable hardware on the black market, and the only thing keeping them from doing so is the fear that they might piss off their benefactors.

TuggyNE
2014-01-13, 03:26 AM
That's not really true, though. Rich, industrialized countries regularly make gifts ("foreign aid") of military hardware in exchange for favors, like conducting proxy wars, cooperating with military exercises, allowing the exploitation of their people, not screwing up economies, etc. The recipients generally don't have the money to buy significant amounts of hardware, but they do have the ability to do things for their benefactors.

Oh, sure. What I meant was, in their specific case, no such opportunity presented itself, and in their specific case, favor-based or other economy just didn't work out, while money at least gave them something.

This is because money is designed to be more flexible than competing systems, and generally speaking it does an awfully good job at that, so for such a system to carve out even a partial niche is the exception, not the rule, and money transactions still control the majority of that niche. (Most military hardware is sold, not traded for favors; most people pay their yard workers, rather than giving them random books or some such thing; etc.)

If there was an actual example where an alternate economy controlled all of a particular niche, I'd be really interested to hear about it, and that might actually answer the OP's original desire.

paddyfool
2014-01-13, 08:22 AM
If there was an actual example where an alternate economy controlled all of a particular niche, I'd be really interested to hear about it, and that might actually answer the OP's original desire.

Hmm... good question. Nearest I can come is human blood.

In almost all high income and an increasing proportion of low and middle income countries, >99% of blood donations are voluntary, unpaid blood transfusions. (http://http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs279/en/index.html) (See Figure 3 in particular). This is because the alternative models have real problems. In particular, family/replacement donations (i.e., getting friends and family of a patient to donate when they need blood) and paid donations are both higher risk, because of the heavy incentive to lie about your risks. (Think, say, "What do you mean you think you might have HIV? How could you do this to your brother?" etc.; or, on the other hand, a homeless guy who needs money for food selling his blood regardless of the risks). Also, the former model can easily be too slow in an emergency.

So... you don't buy people's blood donations from them, because it's unsafe to incentivise them in that way. It's better to ask them to do it for free. Unfortunately, I can't see any way to make a real parallel between this and magic items, unless your magic items run on stuff like "blood of a virgin, freely given", "hair of a faithful spouse" etc., and even here, highly reputable crafts/salespeople would hopefully take great care about their sources.

EDIT: Or maybe... some specific characteristic of magic items means that they cannot be bought and sold, or they lose their power. Perhaps if they aren't either (a) freely given, (b) taken in a fair fight, (c) forged by the wielder, or (d) given in fair exchange for another item of equal puissance they tend to turn against their users...

NichG
2014-01-13, 08:42 AM
In the case of blood, would you say that the blood side of things is actually an economy (in the sense of trading/exchange of blood)? Maybe on the hospital side of things (you give us 3 liters of O for our guy who has a rare blood type, and we'll give you 4 liters of A+ and 6 liters of B- for your patients who need those respectively)?

Talakeal
2014-01-13, 10:49 AM
Here's where that seems weird - what's to prevent an NPC adventurer who happened to have gotten an item from selling it and getting, say, enough money to go into the mercantile world and make it big there? If they're being commissioned for enough money for armies selling at reduced prices should be more than enough to get into the mercantile world in a big way. Similarly, what prevents an NPC adventurer from selling one precisely to go for the small monarch route?

These things seem like they would cause issues with the model. Very few would be made, and somewhere between manufacture and end sale a bunch of money is being lost (quite possibly from someone who lost the weapon via it being stolen or removed from their corpse), but there should still be some amount of market in the few that remain, at the prices that people might actually be willing to deal in.



Sure they can become a merchant / monarch, but there are only so many hours in the day. Those are both full time jobs, as is adventuring, and if you want to spend all day neglecting your adventuring training I am not going to let you take any more levels in a combat class, instead you will be picking up levels of expert / aristocrat or the like.

Again, this isn't RAW, but I feel that it is perfectly fair and realistic.



So, wait. Why didn't they sell it for favors or some other non-money thing? Surely that works better than money for big expensive specialized military items, right?

Basically, given that the only way they could sell or trade it at all was with money, that analogy actually undermines the two-economy idea still more.



As for the aircraft carrier - there's a very major difference which is critical here, which is that aircraft carriers are expensive to own. Maintenance costs, security costs, so on and so forth are themselves high. A magic sword? Not so much. It just works out to unbelievable for me.

Yeah, aircraft carriers cost a lot of money to maintain and keep, and will become obsolete in a few years. Magic items do not. So you would never sell a magic item for scrap. Instead you would hold onto it or give it away as a gift. If you choose the former, then eventually you will come into a situation where someone wants to trade it for something equally valuable but more useful for your class.

In the case of an aircraft carrier, the odds of someone who could use an aircraft carrier having produced but not needed 3 billion pounds worth of military hardware that England needed but hadn't produced within a couple of years timeframe is extremely small.

Knaight
2014-01-13, 04:29 PM
Sure they can become a merchant / monarch, but there are only so many hours in the day. Those are both full time jobs, as is adventuring, and if you want to spend all day neglecting your adventuring training I am not going to let you take any more levels in a combat class, instead you will be picking up levels of expert / aristocrat or the like.

Again, this isn't RAW, but I feel that it is perfectly fair and realistic.

My point was that these would be retirement options that NPCs take, which leaves their items up on the market at reasonable prices for PCs. Sure, they would probably still be on the expensive end, but that doesn't mean unattainable.

Take the D&D economy. One +1 sword is enough to buy a house, buy a bunch of livestock, buy grain crops, hire some soldiers and laborers, and basically turn a nice section of wilderness into your personal fief. That's a pretty nice retirement option right there. Similarly, some better equipment (Maybe a +2 sword and some armor) gets you a small ship, a crew, and enough mercantile goods to get into the trading business. Retiring NPC adventurers should create a market for existing adventurers. It won't be a huge market, but that's not a big deal as the buying group and selling group are both small.

Talakeal
2014-01-13, 06:02 PM
My point was that these would be retirement options that NPCs take, which leaves their items up on the market at reasonable prices for PCs. Sure, they would probably still be on the expensive end, but that doesn't mean unattainable.

Take the D&D economy. One +1 sword is enough to buy a house, buy a bunch of livestock, buy grain crops, hire some soldiers and laborers, and basically turn a nice section of wilderness into your personal fief. That's a pretty nice retirement option right there. Similarly, some better equipment (Maybe a +2 sword and some armor) gets you a small ship, a crew, and enough mercantile goods to get into the trading business. Retiring NPC adventurers should create a market for existing adventurers. It won't be a huge market, but that's not a big deal as the buying group and selling group are both small.

I have no problem with a retiring NPC selling their magic items on retirement, although I personally think they would be more likely to keep them as memento's / heirlooms or give them as gifts to their allies / descendants / apprentices / followers, or just keep them around in case trouble comes looking for them.

How common it is really depends on the scope of the world. In my campaign world the odds of an adventurer powerful enough to afford multiple magic items living long enough to retire is rare enough that such an event would be a carefully controlled plot point rather than the PC simple asking "Hey, any cheap magic items for sale around here?" every time they go into town.

TuggyNE
2014-01-13, 06:56 PM
Hmm... good question. Nearest I can come is human blood.

In almost all high income and an increasing proportion of low and middle income countries, >99% of blood donations are voluntary, unpaid blood transfusions. (http://http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs279/en/index.html) (See Figure 3 in particular). This is because the alternative models have real problems. In particular, family/replacement donations (i.e., getting friends and family of a patient to donate when they need blood) and paid donations are both higher risk, because of the heavy incentive to lie about your risks. (Think, say, "What do you mean you think you might have HIV? How could you do this to your brother?" etc.; or, on the other hand, a homeless guy who needs money for food selling his blood regardless of the risks). Also, the former model can easily be too slow in an emergency.

So... you don't buy people's blood donations from them, because it's unsafe to incentivise them in that way. It's better to ask them to do it for free. Unfortunately, I can't see any way to make a real parallel between this and magic items, unless your magic items run on stuff like "blood of a virgin, freely given", "hair of a faithful spouse" etc., and even here, highly reputable crafts/salespeople would hopefully take great care about their sources.

EDIT: Or maybe... some specific characteristic of magic items means that they cannot be bought and sold, or they lose their power. Perhaps if they aren't either (a) freely given, (b) taken in a fair fight, (c) forged by the wielder, or (d) given in fair exchange for another item of equal puissance they tend to turn against their users...

That's a decent analysis; basically, there needs to be some unusual characteristic of all magic items that acts to artificially prevent money being used as a medium of exchange. Even then, there might be some way around these things.

Kelb_Panthera
2014-01-13, 09:19 PM
Hmm... good question. Nearest I can come is human blood.

In almost all high income and an increasing proportion of low and middle income countries, >99% of blood donations are voluntary, unpaid blood transfusions. (http://http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs279/en/index.html) (See Figure 3 in particular). This is because the alternative models have real problems. In particular, family/replacement donations (i.e., getting friends and family of a patient to donate when they need blood) and paid donations are both higher risk, because of the heavy incentive to lie about your risks. (Think, say, "What do you mean you think you might have HIV? How could you do this to your brother?" etc.; or, on the other hand, a homeless guy who needs money for food selling his blood regardless of the risks). Also, the former model can easily be too slow in an emergency.

So... you don't buy people's blood donations from them, because it's unsafe to incentivise them in that way. It's better to ask them to do it for free. Unfortunately, I can't see any way to make a real parallel between this and magic items, unless your magic items run on stuff like "blood of a virgin, freely given", "hair of a faithful spouse" etc., and even here, highly reputable crafts/salespeople would hopefully take great care about their sources.

EDIT: Or maybe... some specific characteristic of magic items means that they cannot be bought and sold, or they lose their power. Perhaps if they aren't either (a) freely given, (b) taken in a fair fight, (c) forged by the wielder, or (d) given in fair exchange for another item of equal puissance they tend to turn against their users...

The biggest problem I have with this example is that there are places where the demand for blood for transfusions is high enough that they do, in fact, offer monetized rewards for "donating" blood because relying on voluntary donations just doesn't yield enough supply to even come close to meeting the demand. I rather suspect that it's something that will trend upwards as time goes on. There's also a market for other bodily components out there; black-market organs and reproductive tissue spring instantly to mind.

As long as you -can- appoint a monetary value to a thing and a demand for that thing exists, you can trade it for money. As someone said upthread, that's kinda the point of having money be a thing that exists.

Telok
2014-01-14, 04:30 AM
I actually advocate removing magic items from the gold standard economy.

In my games it is possible to gold-buy potions, scrolls, and magic that costs less than about thirty pounds of gold. However due to the compact and valuable nature of magic items nobody is going to keep a selection of magic available excepting a few very well defended temples and mage guilds that deal in 1st and 2nd level potions and scrolls. This means most purchases are on comission. The biggest reason for this is that most people don't want to deal with more than thirty pounds of gold at a time, it's too big of a temptation and makes you a target for people with fewer scruples than sharp objects.

A +1 weapon is 46 pounds of gold.
A +2 weapon is 166 pounds of gold.
A +3 weapon is 366 pounds of gold.
A Holy Avenger is 2413 pounds of gold, almost a ton and a quarter.
The smallest bag of holding is 50 pounds of gold.

It isn't that people don't value the magic items, and they certainly value gold too. The problem is that an 11th level wizard can either sell a 6th level spell casting for 13 pounds of gold each day, or create a valuable trade good worth 66.5 pounds of gold using the same spell slot. So past 10th level a wizard in the gold-buy MagicMart economy can buy a new +1 weapon every day at the cost of a single 6th level spell slot. By going a month without adventuring such a wizard can buy a Holy Avenger with gold.

That is not what I want happening in my games.

I've worked out how to deal with this sort of thing in my game. My merchants, using very believable economic sense, charge what the market will bear for rare and dangerous goods. They refuse to deal with more than twenty or thirty pounds of gold a day (theft and brigandy), although they may offer non-transferrable letters of credit that may be redeemed at a later date. Some of my players complain about the magic item selection at the mages guild and temples being poor or low level, others comissioned a cloak that cast Greater Invisibility at will and a Rod of Wonder. It works, and you can't just buy a Holy Avenger at the corner store because you cast Wall of Iron for a month.

DMVerdandi
2014-01-14, 04:56 AM
Here is a way to do it.


Only allow artificers to be able to create magic items (except for scrolls and scrolls only))
They have a guild where they swear on a geas oath to only despence magic items for merit
Each year adventurers have to re-register all of their magical arms and armor/ if they don't, the artificers guild sends out collectors to find and imprison/kill the adventurer
The Artificers guild could be controled privately, by government, by a race, or by outsiders. Your pick. It would be interesting to have elves, dwarves or gnomes all take the class as a whole species.

Kelb_Panthera
2014-01-14, 05:10 AM
Here is a way to do it.


Only allow artificers to be able to create magic items (except for scrolls and scrolls only))
They have a guild where they swear on a geas oath to only despence magic items for merit
Each year adventurers have to re-register all of their magical arms and armor/ if they don't, the artificers guild sends out collectors to find and imprison/kill the adventurer
The Artificers guild could be controled privately, by government, by a race, or by outsiders. Your pick. It would be interesting to have elves, dwarves or gnomes all take the class as a whole species.


And then a black market was born.

Low volume + high value + high demand = irresistible market forces.

Irresistible market forces + legally prohibited trafficking = black market.

This is simply unavoidable; barring a post-scarcity society that's done away with money altogether which can still be looked at through the lens of market forces.

Infinite supply + finite demand = valueless good.

Tvtyrant
2014-01-14, 05:16 AM
And then a black market was born.

Low volume + high value + high demand = irresistible market forces.

Irresistible market forces + legally prohibited trafficking = black market.

This is simply unavoidable; barring a post-scarcity society that's done away with money altogether which can still be looked at through the lens of market forces.

Infinite supply + finite demand = valueless good.

At what point does a good become too valuable for there to be a black market? Takes nukes; anyone who can afford to buy a nuke and wants one is too dangerous to trust to bargain fairly.

TuggyNE
2014-01-14, 05:17 AM
I actually advocate removing magic items from the gold standard economy.
[ The problem is that an 11th level wizard can either sell a 6th level spell casting for 13 pounds of gold each day, or create a valuable trade good worth 66.5 pounds of gold using the same spell slot. So past 10th level a wizard in the gold-buy MagicMart economy can buy a new +1 weapon every day at the cost of a single 6th level spell slot. By going a month without adventuring such a wizard can buy a Holy Avenger with gold.

While undeniably extremely problematic, this seems more a problem with wizardly economy-busting than with magic items being purchasable in gold; the fact that a wizard, with a bit of effort, can buy anything at all is the root cause of the problem, not the fact that "magic item" is one of the categories of "anything at all". The fix, then is to prevent those spells from giving such absurd profits. (And, ideally, to use one of the suitable ideas in this thread to decouple money from magic item power and allow WBL scaling to return to a sane amount, which means that a lot of the higher-end costs and profits would deflate a lot.)

Kelb_Panthera
2014-01-14, 05:30 AM
At what point does a good become too valuable for there to be a black market? Takes nukes; anyone who can afford to buy a nuke and wants one is too dangerous to trust to bargain fairly.

...... there is no such point.

The value of a good is a function of its supply and demand. If a good has a high value it's because of an excess of demand for the limited supply.

If a good is extremely valuable it's because its demand heavily outweighs its supply.

For a good to be unworthy of a black-market forming around it, it has to not be worth the consequences of trafficking it. The lower the value of the good and the more dire the consequences of trafficking it the less likely it is to have a black market formed around it. However, if there is an existing black market for something related then trafficking of the good in question may be subsumed into that market.

Take, for example, tank shells to keep the military hardware theme; the shells are, by themselves, not really valuable enough to traffic by themselves, given the consequences of getting caught versus the value of the shells. If, however, you're already selling tanks and artillery cannons anyway then adding shells for those weapons to your market is a worthwhile investment.

My point is that there is no point where something is too valuable for a black market, only a point where it's not valuable enough.

Delta
2014-01-14, 05:57 AM
It isn't that people don't value the magic items, and they certainly value gold too. The problem is that an 11th level wizard can either sell a 6th level spell casting for 13 pounds of gold each day, or create a valuable trade good worth 66.5 pounds of gold using the same spell slot. So past 10th level a wizard in the gold-buy MagicMart economy can buy a new +1 weapon every day at the cost of a single 6th level spell slot. By going a month without adventuring such a wizard can buy a Holy Avenger with gold.

That is not what I want happening in my games.

That's a problem almost every game with rules for crafting has, as soon as you think about PCs actually spending their time crafting and selling instead of going adventuring, the game economy huddles up and cries.

Jeff the Green
2014-01-14, 06:34 AM
Hmm... good question. Nearest I can come is human blood.

In almost all high income and an increasing proportion of low and middle income countries, >99% of blood donations are voluntary, unpaid blood transfusions. (http://http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs279/en/index.html) (See Figure 3 in particular). This is because the alternative models have real problems. In particular, family/replacement donations (i.e., getting friends and family of a patient to donate when they need blood) and paid donations are both higher risk, because of the heavy incentive to lie about your risks. (Think, say, "What do you mean you think you might have HIV? How could you do this to your brother?" etc.; or, on the other hand, a homeless guy who needs money for food selling his blood regardless of the risks). Also, the former model can easily be too slow in an emergency.

So... you don't buy people's blood donations from them, because it's unsafe to incentivise them in that way. It's better to ask them to do it for free. Unfortunately, I can't see any way to make a real parallel between this and magic items, unless your magic items run on stuff like "blood of a virgin, freely given", "hair of a faithful spouse" etc., and even here, highly reputable crafts/salespeople would hopefully take great care about their sources.

EDIT: Or maybe... some specific characteristic of magic items means that they cannot be bought and sold, or they lose their power. Perhaps if they aren't either (a) freely given, (b) taken in a fair fight, (c) forged by the wielder, or (d) given in fair exchange for another item of equal puissance they tend to turn against their users...

Yeah, there's definitely a market for blood. Let's set aside the not-insignificant amount of blood "donated" in exchange for money that in some cases and places is segregated from the freely-given stuff and allocated only for research. Once the blood leaves the vein, it has a dollar value. Two decades ago, for transfusable blood this was about $150/pint (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2020994), depending on place, type, circumstances, etc. (Now it might have doubled; I can't find costs with a quick googling.) For non-transfusable, it depends on the type of blood product. A diabetic's blood serum can go for over $300/ml, 10,000 times the cost of transfusable blood.

So even if magic item production required a virgin's blood, willingly given, I'd expect formidable infrastructure set up to collect and allocate it.

paddyfool
2014-01-14, 06:51 AM
The biggest problem I have with this example is that there are places where the demand for blood for transfusions is high enough that they do, in fact, offer monetized rewards for "donating" blood because relying on voluntary donations just doesn't yield enough supply to even come close to meeting the demand. I rather suspect that it's something that will trend upwards as time goes on.

Actually, the trend is in the other direction, and places where they offer moneterised rewards for donating blood are in the minority (22 countries worldwide in 2011). And paid donations apparently made up only 800,000 of the 107 million total donations worldwide in 2011. (Source (http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs279/en/index.html), based on the information under "Types of Blood Donation", with apologies for prior broken link).


There's also a market for other bodily components out there; black-market organs and reproductive tissue spring instantly to mind.


Other bodily components, certainly, which is why I was talking specifically about blood.

Jeff the Green
2014-01-14, 07:05 AM
Actually, the trend is in the other direction, and places where they offer moneterised rewards for donating blood are in the minority (22 countries worldwide in 2011). And paid donations apparently made up only 800,000 of the 107 million total donations worldwide in 2011. (Source (http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs279/en/index.html), based on the information under "Types of Blood Donation", with apologies for prior broken link).

Near as I can tell, that doesn't include blood that's not intended for clinical use. Like I said, there's a good amount of blood used in research that comes from paid donors. Also, while most countries don't allow monetary compensation, a lot do allow non-monetary awards, like raffles, vacation time, and such.

paddyfool
2014-01-14, 07:21 AM
Near as I can tell, that doesn't include blood that's not intended for clinical use. Like I said, there's a good amount of blood used in research that comes from paid donors. Also, while most countries don't allow monetary compensation, a lot do allow non-monetary awards, like raffles, vacation time, and such.

Eh, so we're down to something you can't buy for a specific use, but can buy for other uses. Pretty limited, OK.

So the only analogy which really works in the real world is stuff so scary that you can't buy it legally or easily source it illegally, such as nukes. Which would only work as an analogy for stuff like artifacts of devastating power (aka "Macguffins"), not merely "a better sword".

Telok
2014-01-14, 03:48 PM
While undeniably extremely problematic, this seems more a problem with wizardly economy-busting than with magic items being purchasable in gold

Actually it's both, but having spell casting not be buyable will run into the same issues as having magic items not being buyable, it's not a believable situation. My big issue and my solution revolve around the masses of gold involved and the merchants unwillingness to deal in wagon loads of gold and valuable items that put them in personal danger of being killed.

D&D style magic doesn't play well with modern economic theories and market economies. So for my games the merchants have limits on how much money they have (transportation issues, theft and embezzlement occur when you have more money than you can easily carry and protect) and the magic items are not common enough to be a trading commodity. But the RAW D&D does not do that, it says that a casting of a 6th level spell gets you iron worth 66.5 pounds of gold and implies that you can buy Holy Avengers in the market place with a ton+ of gold carried in a wagon.


That's a problem almost every game with rules for crafting has, as soon as you think about PCs actually spending their time crafting and selling instead of going adventuring, the game economy huddles up and cries.
Actually AD&D did not have this issue and it did have rules for creating magic items. It even had an example of making a +5 sword in the DMG. But in AD&D magic items were not linked to the gold standard economy and could not be bought in stores.

TuggyNE
2014-01-14, 07:37 PM
Actually it's both, but having spell casting not be buyable will run into the same issues as having magic items not being buyable, it's not a believable situation. My big issue and my solution revolve around the masses of gold involved and the merchants unwillingness to deal in wagon loads of gold and valuable items that put them in personal danger of being killed.

D&D style magic doesn't play well with modern economic theories and market economies. So for my games the merchants have limits on how much money they have (transportation issues, theft and embezzlement occur when you have more money than you can easily carry and protect) and the magic items are not common enough to be a trading commodity. But the RAW D&D does not do that, it says that a casting of a 6th level spell gets you iron worth 66.5 pounds of gold and implies that you can buy Holy Avengers in the market place with a ton+ of gold carried in a wagon.

Selling castings of spells should be possible, certainly. Selling them for large amounts of cash, even. But being able to create, out of thin air, even larger amounts of cash from mid-level slots with no XP cost or other downside is not a good thing, so wall of stone/salt/iron need to be fixed in some way.

Telok
2014-01-14, 09:11 PM
Selling castings of spells should be possible, certainly. Selling them for large amounts of cash, even. But being able to create, out of thin air, even larger amounts of cash from mid-level slots with no XP cost or other downside is not a good thing, so wall of stone/salt/iron need to be fixed in some way.

On reflection I'm beginning to think that D&D needs a whole paradigm shift. Currently under D&D editions >2 we have; magic=power, power=money, money=magic. The high level fighter with +# bonuses and simple magic items isn't an issue, he isn't pulling any infinite money tricks and his money is spent on making himself better at his job. It's the casters with no-cost magic every day who get infinite money, which in turn becomes infinite power when money=magic. Plus you can do whole bunches of infinite money tricks with lower level powers and spells and effects, it's not the wall spells that are an issue it's the something for nothing nature of magic in D&D.

If we break any of the links in the magic->power->money->magic chain then things become manageable at the meta-game level. In my game I broke the money=magic link by instituting some things from AD&D, 4e broke the magic=power link, other games may break the power=money link in various ways (I think that I recall the Hero and M&M systems doing this).

Knaight
2014-01-14, 09:37 PM
...other games may break the power=money link in various ways (I think that I recall the Hero and M&M systems doing this).

This is pretty standard, at least to some extent. Though with non D&D systems it's more like they just don't build it in in the first place, along with not building in the various D&D methods for getting tons of cash in the first place. The paradigm of characters having as much wealth as entire kingdoms or cities is very much a D&D thing.

paddyfool
2014-01-18, 04:36 AM
One verse which avoids magic items being available for lucre is the Dresdenverse. My understanding is that there, most items invested with power work only for the person who created them, and although there are also various artifacts of great power scattered about, they aren't generally up for sale.

(Apologies if I'm a little off: I've read very little Dresden, mainly just played the RPG).

Ashtagon
2014-01-18, 05:33 AM
Selling castings of spells should be possible, certainly. Selling them for large amounts of cash, even. But being able to create, out of thin air, even larger amounts of cash from mid-level slots with no XP cost or other downside is not a good thing, so wall of stone/salt/iron need to be fixed in some way.

This is why I have house ruled those spells to have a duration measured in hours. I allow them to be permanent only if they are using prepared materials (cut timber, worked stone, smelted iron, etc.) as a material component. In this case, a Craft check by the caster is required for anything more complex than a low-rise free-standing wall. Failing the Craft check means the structure has a duration in hours before it suffers a structural weakness and collapses or topples.

Jlerpy
2014-01-19, 02:39 PM
One verse which avoids magic items being available for lucre is the Dresdenverse. My understanding is that there, most items invested with power work only for the person who created them, and although there are also various artifacts of great power scattered about, they aren't generally up for sale.

(Apologies if I'm a little off: I've read very little Dresden, mainly just played the RPG).

No, that's pretty spot on. Having magic items costs Refresh, which is kind of the DF version of costing character points.