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Silus
2014-06-25, 10:47 PM
I've got a fledgling little homebrew world that I'm putting together *Points at signature* and the economy of one of the newer areas I'm working on is worrying me a bit.

Short of it, place called the Gear Wastes full of living clockwork creatures. Anything non-sentient or semi-sentient born in the Wastes is made of living clockwork and thus metal. Cows of iron, foxes of copper, rabbits of gold and mithril (Which move VERY fast) and a rare mythical stag made of solid platinum, along with various other creatures made of similar metals or combinations of metals.

This in mind, hunting is very popular in the Wastes, as is ranching the iron cows for, well, iron. As such, metal has no real value in the wastes, coins less so. Food, and to a lesser extent water, are far more valuable due to anything edible being comprised of metal. As such, the one city in the Wastes exports ingots of metal and metal goods in exchange for a LOT of food.

So with this in mind, what sort of issues would I be looking at as a DM if coins and bars of gold, silver and iron are all but worthless, but people will be willing to trade a Masterwork Greatsword or suit of armor for a week's worth of good rations?

holywhippet
2014-06-26, 12:40 AM
Well, I'd say anyone who has skill with metalworking would become incredibly rich and in demand. Admittedly that isn't too far from actual history where blacksmiths were pretty much VIPs, hence the reason Smith is such a common name.

People who can create food via magic would also be very much in demand.

The main concern I see would be merchants bringing caravans full of food and making a fortune out of trading for precious metals. Banditry would be extremely rife though. Expect the PCs to be trying to get in on the action one way or another.

I'd also expect the wastes to be plagued with rust monsters.

Silus
2014-06-26, 01:38 AM
Well, I'd say anyone who has skill with metalworking would become incredibly rich and in demand. Admittedly that isn't too far from actual history where blacksmiths were pretty much VIPs, hence the reason Smith is such a common name.

People who can create food via magic would also be very much in demand.

The main concern I see would be merchants bringing caravans full of food and making a fortune out of trading for precious metals. Banditry would be extremely rife though. Expect the PCs to be trying to get in on the action one way or another.

I'd also expect the wastes to be plagued with rust monsters.

I was thinking of bringing in Rust Monsters as apex predators but....I dunno *Shrugs* Already have Clockwork Purple Worms sorta filling that role. The ecology of this world is a little on the weird side, the wastes notwithstanding.

I was thinking the way I could curb the whole "Well we're gonna get us a herd of iron cows, smelt them down and make a mint up in the more civilized areas" mentality would be limit travel. Only a handful of ships ever come to the port, always coming and leaving with little or no room for passengers (Bringing tons of food, leaving with tons of metal goods), and the land route north being being just dangerous due to the wildlife and bandits. That and hauling several tons of metal goods will take a LONG time and likely attack a LOT off attention.

"Well we'll just herd the cattle out of the wastes and smelt them up north." Yeah, the magic that animates them cuts out at the edge of the wastes. Hope you can DRAG several hundred tons of iron cattle the next 50-80 miles.

Granted when the PCs get high enough level to mass transport cargo to a suitable location to actually make a profit, they'll be high enough level where it won't really matter.

Thinking about it now, Rust Monsters (Or some similar predator with rusting capabilities) would work wonders to curb the PC's lust for gold. Or just make it REALLY easy to oversaturate the market with metal and drop the price...

W3bDragon
2014-06-26, 05:12 AM
Having minor logistical issues to stop the PCs from turning this area into a get rich quick scheme is all well and good, but you still need to address the big picture. Based on your description, the exploitation of the Gear Wastes can dramatically affect the value of precious metals on the entire world/plane. For example, you mention the following:


Only a handful of ships ever come to the port, always coming and leaving with little or no room for passengers (Bringing tons of food, leaving with tons of metal goods), and the land route north being being just dangerous due to the wildlife and bandits. That and hauling several tons of metal goods will take a LONG time and likely attack a LOT off attention.

Though these problems might be a deterrent to the PCs, they will be no problem at all to organizations that want to exploit the wealth of the Gear Wastes. Merchant guilds, for example, can always get more ships to travel back and forth if there is money to be made. If the port isn't big enough? We'll they'll just expand it, or build another one nearby in a more neutral area. The route is dangerous? Well that's what mercs are for. A thousand or so mercs can probably be had for less than the profit of one round trip to the Gear Wastes. Throw the mercs at the wildlife until the area is safe. Eventually roads can be established and patrolled, etc.

Here are a sample solution:

The magic that animates all this clockwork metal affects flesh and blood creatures as well. For every day that a flesh and blood creature spends in the Gear Wastes, his body starts morphing into fully functional clockwork metal. Although this is not dangerous nor painful, it causes problems when the creature leaves the Gear Wastes and the magic that animates the clockworks stops working. This can cause permanent injury or even death.

Time spent in the Gear Waste:
< 12 Hours: No effect.

12 to 24 Hours: Minor changes that don't affect the body's functioning when the metal deanimates. The little flesh that has transformed into metal can be removed by a competent medic/healer. Will probably cause some scars.

24 to 48 Hours: As above plus 1 Moderate change. This moderate change can be a finger that is mutated into metal, or a nose, or ear lobe. Something that is pronounced and visible but isn't life threatening. Once these parts deanimate, a competent medic/healer can remove the parts, but they will cause permanent scarring and negatively affect the person's outward appearance (however that translates into your system).

48 to 72 Hours: As above, plus several moderate changes and one Major change. A major change usually targets on of the creatures limbs, which fully transforms into clockwork metal. Once this metal deanimates, a competent medic/healer may be able to remove the limb, but with some risk of killing the creature.

> 72 Hours: As above, plus one Fundamental change. A fundamental change morphs one of the creature's organs that are necessary for life into clockwork metal. This is usually the heart or the lungs, though any other appropriate organ based on the creature's biology is suitable. The creature can no longer function if this clockwork deanimates and dies almost instantly. Every 24 hours beyond this time spent in the Gear Wastes inflicts the same effects of this entry. After 7 days (10 days total spent in the Gear Wastes) the creature loses its last bits of flesh and becomes completely made of clockwork metal. Paradoxically, since each transformation was done to replace an existing biological part, this new clockwork metal creature still needs normal food and water to survive as if it was a flesh and blood creature.

What all of this means is that there really is nothing stopping people from exploiting the riches of the Gear Wastes, but the problem is that no one in the right mind spends more than half a day there. Ships that travel through have barely enough time to arrive, unload food, load metals, and be off before the 12 hour cap is reached. In fact, more ship aren't fast enough nor are their crews competent enough to beat that timer. Only the "best of the best" travel to the Gear Wastes and put their very bodies on the line for a shot at some serious coin.

If you still need your PCs to spend more than a few hours there, you can come up with some magical potion/contraption/whatever that protects the PCs from these effects for a limited period. However, make this protection extremely expensive, so that its not financially feasible for profit-minded individuals to use to spend more time in the Gear Wastes.

Mark Hall
2014-06-26, 10:57 AM
"Well we'll just herd the cattle out of the wastes and smelt them up north." Yeah, the magic that animates them cuts out at the edge of the wastes. Hope you can DRAG several hundred tons of iron cattle the next 50-80 miles.


Then what you're looking at is a large community at the border... the trailhead, if you will. In Abilene, KS, for quite a while, you had the main East-West spine of the railroads. If you have your beasts ahoof and wanted to sell them to the Chicago meatpackers, you moved them up to Abilene, where they'd buy your cattle and ship them away. Abilene was a boomtown, catering to both the cowboys and the needs of the owners (or trail bosses responsible for seeing to the needs of the owner).

So, you make your trail city at the edge of this area, probably on a river, or as near to one as you can manage (for transport). Very helpful if it's also close to a forest to feed the smelters. It's got a caravanssary, a port or docks, massive stockyards, etc. The city is a rough place... cowboys in to burn off their pay before going home. But it's also got craftsmen and smelters, to turn the raw metals into either finished goods or pigs for easy transport.

Since food is something you have to carry IN, it's probably also going to have sizable farmlands developed nearby, so cowboys can carry back their needed supplies. If those things aren't developed, then there's gonna be a way to get them there and back again. Because what you're looking at it a boom town based on resource extraction. It's economy will be, as you mentioned, fairly bizarre by normal standards, but that's also going to affect its entire area... if iron and gold grow on the hoof, you're going to see a depreciation in value of these items, because part of their cost is the cost of extraction. Food will probably keep its value, because everyone needs to eat.

I don't have the knowledge to say what the long-term, wide ranging effects of this might be. But around the edges, especially as the area is first exploited? Look to cowtowns on railways.

Silus
2014-06-26, 01:17 PM
Having minor logistical issues to stop the PCs from turning this area into a get rich quick scheme is all well and good, but you still need to address the big picture. Based on your description, the exploitation of the Gear Wastes can dramatically affect the value of precious metals on the entire world/plane. For example, you mention the following:



Though these problems might be a deterrent to the PCs, they will be no problem at all to organizations that want to exploit the wealth of the Gear Wastes. Merchant guilds, for example, can always get more ships to travel back and forth if there is money to be made. If the port isn't big enough? We'll they'll just expand it, or build another one nearby in a more neutral area. The route is dangerous? Well that's what mercs are for. A thousand or so mercs can probably be had for less than the profit of one round trip to the Gear Wastes. Throw the mercs at the wildlife until the area is safe. Eventually roads can be established and patrolled, etc.

An option that I was considering is, due to the nature of the world (That being 1000 years after the apocalypse and the fall of advanced civilization) that, at least on the continent that the Wastes is on, all major mines and sources of metal have either been tapped dry or simply do not produce enough metal to keep up with the demand of a slowly growing technological civilization.

Something that would keep the hordes of mercenaries and masses of hunters at bay could just be how infuriatingly difficult it would be to take down even the most simple of creatures. Not that the creatures would be deadly, but it would be like taking out a tank with a machine gun or something.

Take a cow (Auroch) for example. Base 13 AC, +5 Natural for Clockwork Creature, +6 for Iron Skinned, so that's 24 AC on a CR 7 (Even if you halve the Natural AC bonus, that's still 19AC). A group of lvl 1 Fighters or Rangers or even NPC Warriors are going to have such a hell of a time killing a single cow that it would be better left to professionals. Either that or you'd need more hunters than would be feasible for the profit they're bringing in.

Lord Torath
2014-06-26, 09:27 PM
Take a cow (Auroch) for example. Base 13 AC, +5 Natural for Clockwork Creature, +6 for Iron Skinned, so that's 24 AC on a CR 7 (Even if you halve the Natural AC bonus, that's still 19AC). A group of lvl 1 Fighters or Rangers or even NPC Warriors are going to have such a hell of a time killing a single cow that it would be better left to professionals. Either that or you'd need more hunters than would be feasible for the profit they're bringing in.A rope around its neck would be much easier. Then lead it to the edge of the wastes and it dies as you cross the border. Load it on a sledge/wagon and off you go.

JusticeZero
2014-06-26, 10:33 PM
what sort of issues would I be looking at as a DM if coins and bars of gold, silver and iron are all but worthless, but people will be willing to trade a Masterwork Greatsword or suit of armor for a week's worth of good rations?
No issues. They'll find something very portable and compact that people are always happy to trade and use that as currency. Spices, narcotics, coupons, whatever.

Slipperychicken
2014-06-26, 10:48 PM
I think precious metal creatures should be exceedingly rare and difficult to capture (High escape artist, speed, stealth scores, AC, DR, etc etc). That way, they won't have so much impact on the economy, and will also be a potential quest hook (hunt the golden fox!). Of course, such elusive animals would be worth much more than their "scrap value".

You could have companies or governments which have established competing mineral rights claims on the area, making hunting there a dangerous prospect for the PCs. If they're found dragging iron cows out of the gear wastes, they might be made to pay a large fee and hand the cow over.

There would undoubtedly be efforts to farm metal creatures. I would rule domestic creatures being born as worthless slag metal, since they aren't fully exposed to the magic of nature (or something like that).

Also, I just realized that metal animals could be brutal. Things like bronze bears, mithril serpents, steel elephants, iron rhinos, and so on. People would totally want metal horses to serve as mounts in war.

What if people born in the waste were also metal? What if this could result in metal giants? Just have a gigantic 40ft tall dude made of stainless steel acting as "Guardian of the Wastes".


Cows of iron

I recommend iron boar instead. That way you can make a pun about pig-iron.

veti
2014-06-26, 11:23 PM
Here are a sample solution:

Neat, but in that case you wouldn't be importing food to the wastes - since anyone who lives there no longer needs it.

About the only thing I can imagine bringing to the wastes in this case is "people who fancy their chances at grabbing some stuff and getting out again sharpish". Assuming you can visit more than once (and the clock resets itself after, let's say, a week spent in the fleshy world), there would probably be a class of professional "waste-hunters" who specialise in this and know exactly how to find (and bag) the most valuable stuff, quickly.

Jeff the Green
2014-06-27, 01:36 AM
The big question is how hard is it to get to the Waste.

See, in an efficient economic system with no barriers to trade, the price of goods should be the same everywhere. The best way to make regional differences is to make it hard to get the stuff from one place to the other. For example, there are a lot of fruits that you basically cannot get in America, and if you do manage to find them they're egregiously expensive because they spoil so fast they basically have to go from e.g. India to America on a plane. Or for a smaller scale but more pervasive case, look at Hawai'i, where everything is considerably more expensive except what they actually produce on the islands.

So basically what you'd have is that transport costs massively inflate costs of food in the Waste and metal everywhere else. So sure the players can go hunting and get a bunch of gold, but they're going to have to pay nearly that much to get it home.

JusticeZero
2014-06-27, 02:34 AM
in an efficient economic system with no barriers to trade, the price of goods should be the same everywhere.That is only true if everyone can apport things to them from anywhere in the world for free. Packaging and shipping both add processing costs. Furthermore, people will often happily pay a premium for imported goods in order to avoid using locally made things, regardless of the relative qualities involved. Indeed, it is profitable to ship the resources from a place to another country, repackage it, then ship it back to sell as a foreign delicacy.

sure the players can go hunting and get a bunch of gold, but they're going to have to pay nearly that much to get it home.
Mmhm. You can make profits by making your operation more efficient, but everyone else is doing that too.

Silus
2014-06-27, 07:18 AM
The big question is how hard is it to get to the Waste.

See, in an efficient economic system with no barriers to trade, the price of goods should be the same everywhere. The best way to make regional differences is to make it hard to get the stuff from one place to the other. For example, there are a lot of fruits that you basically cannot get in America, and if you do manage to find them they're egregiously expensive because they spoil so fast they basically have to go from e.g. India to America on a plane. Or for a smaller scale but more pervasive case, look at Hawai'i, where everything is considerably more expensive except what they actually produce on the islands.

So basically what you'd have is that transport costs massively inflate costs of food in the Waste and metal everywhere else. So sure the players can go hunting and get a bunch of gold, but they're going to have to pay nearly that much to get it home.

Not difficult, but the northern border is disputed between two nations (A group of city states united under a "puppet" queen and a lycanthropic theocratic magocratic monarchy (Werewolf sorcerer king and werewolf high priestess queen)) that are almost at war. The werewolves keep leaking over "missionaries" (See: nigh-feral lycanthropes) with results as you'd expect (Kept in check due to the city state's technological power. Firearms being super common as to be Martial Weapons). As such, the control of the border with the Wastes is...touchy. We're talking armed patrols with no set, laid out boundaries.

While not physically difficult to come and go into and out of the Wastes, dealing with the border guards from both sides could prove...problematic (One side thinking you're a spy for the other, embargos, taxes, confiscation of goods, etc.). Overland travel is possible but only through specially licensed trade organizations (Mostly Dwarves, 'cause, well, neither nation is crazy enough to mess with the Dwarves) while either on their payroll or with special permission (See: Quests). Water travel is easier, but comes with the problems you would expect, and getting the goods to the city states (where most of the technological whatnots is done) would take far longer as there's no direct water route from where the Waste's port town is and the city states.

The Wastes pretty much extend south from the horizontal road just south of that tangle of mountains, all the way down to where the trees begin near the bottom of the map. The big mountain range up north (The range running north/south) separates the Queen's Lands (The city states on the west) and The Principality of the Moon (The lycanthrope nation on the east). Steamport, the Gear Waste independent city, is on the eastern coast (The little black mark).
http://i61.tinypic.com/24p9aw6.jpg


I think precious metal creatures should be exceedingly rare and difficult to capture (High escape artist, speed, stealth scores, AC, DR, etc etc). That way, they won't have so much impact on the economy, and will also be a potential quest hook (hunt the golden fox!). Of course, such elusive animals would be worth much more than their "scrap value".

You could have companies or governments which have established competing mineral rights claims on the area, making hunting there a dangerous prospect for the PCs. If they're found dragging iron cows out of the gear wastes, they might be made to pay a large fee and hand the cow over.

There would undoubtedly be efforts to farm metal creatures. I would rule domestic creatures being born as worthless slag metal, since they aren't fully exposed to the magic of nature (or something like that).

Also, I just realized that metal animals could be brutal. Things like bronze bears, mithril serpents, steel elephants, iron rhinos, and so on. People would totally want metal horses to serve as mounts in war.

What if people born in the waste were also metal? What if this could result in metal giants? Just have a gigantic 40ft tall dude made of stainless steel acting as "Guardian of the Wastes".

I recommend iron boar instead. That way you can make a pun about pig-iron.

Well whatever the companies involved, I'm more than likely going to have it run by Dwarves.

I kinda want to differentiate between the "Clockwork Creature + Metal Clad Creature" beasts and simply the "Clockwork Creature" one. Maybe the straight Clockwork ones made of slag and pig iron would be near the edge of the Wastes. Easier to kill and harvest but takes more to process or something. Like you'd have to work out the impurities more than with those from the interior. Deeper in near the mountains though (On the map, where all the brown dots are denoting industrial ruins) you'd get the far tougher-to-kill Clockwork + Metal Clad creatures that are worth FAR more but are far harder to kill (Clockwork + Iron Clad tacks on ~11AC and a +5CR adjustment).

Also I think I figured out how the Wastes got the way it did. A quasi biological agent was released based off of research into Inevitables back before the world went to hell. The research was looking into essentially how Inevitables are "alive" but made of mechanical parts. Cue lots of inhumane lab torture and experimentation. If the PCs get into the research lab (Pre-Apoc labs are marked with the Omega symbol) they're bound to find, for sure, Broken Soul Inevitables.

Cyrion
2014-06-27, 01:27 PM
Also remember that you can exert some control over your economy by attitude. Consider that nearby kingdoms may have some prejudices against the metal that comes out of the Waste that prevents the easy sale of animal scrap. Think about some of the issues that have come up over genetically modified produce, conflict diamonds, nuclear powered rockets, etc.

elliott20
2014-06-27, 02:54 PM
wait, I'm a little confused here:

is your setting one where the Gear Waste just generates metallic creatures on it's own?

Does this mean metal of all kinds are much easier to access as a result? How does this interact with other nature related growth?

Because right now, I'm seeing two primary commodities at work here:

metals, food, and finished products

if metal is in such abundance, you're right, it would be considerably cheaper here.

But actually, you have to remember though, if your players can come up with a scheme like transporting and melting metal cows, then so has EVERYONE else in the area. Chances are, the commodization effect would already have taken care of the get rich quick by quickly devaluing the worth of raw metal in other nearby areas. I mean, if everyone is showing up to your doorstep selling metal, soon enough metal will be cheap as hell.

Of course, you're leaving out a crucial part. If you want to sell the metal from your watch, you can't just melt the watch down and sell the whole thing. Not all metals in your watch are the same. There are probably a lot of impurities that get into the watch through the act of melting it indiscriminately, and trying to figure out how to do it properly sounds like would require some specialized training for a blacksmith.

So there are a couple of other factors here that you need to figure out too.

What exactly do these clockwork citizens need on a day to day basis? Seems like other than labor, they might still need SOME form of sustenance, and at least materials to patch themselves up. Whatever that might be, you need to make those the primary things that the PCs can sell. Of course, they could also shoot for more refined and developed goods too. I'm sure some of the aristocrats of this clockwork city would love to keep a full-fleshed pet, which is probably considered exotic around there.

as for currency, don't worry about it. People always figure out to use SOMETHING to hold value. And if all else fails, a fiat (paper) currency is just as viable.

TheCountAlucard
2014-06-28, 02:56 PM
The issue of what to use for physical money is less of a problem if you're willing to accept that lines of credit are not a recent concept. Even thousands of years ago, debts could be settled or transferred without a single coin changing hands; a wooden branch might be notched in a fashion to indicate the amounts in the transaction between two parties, and then it was split in twain. One half (the "stock") would go with the creditor, who could sell or otherwise transfer it to another party (and thus transfer the debt, hence "stockholder"), and the "stub" would remain with the debtor.

In your game, perhaps they take a gear of sufficient size and alter it to serve as a ledger?