PDA

View Full Version : I fired my PCs



Ruslan
2015-10-26, 01:59 PM
You know the situation. It's standard in a D&D game. PCs get a quest from a questgiver. Then they start haggling, or bargaining, call it as you may, trying to get the best conditions possible.

"1,000 gp, is that all you can do?"
"We need a few potions of healing to get there"
"We encountered opposition and are back in town to regroup. Give us stuff."

Can't exactly begrudge them for looking out for the best interests for their PCs, but I also have to look out for the best interests of the NPCs. And often, I felt I did not, because I just wanted to keep the game going. Whatever, take this potion, just get on with the game. But last game, things came to a head. The PCs were playing out "let's renegotiate the compensation" minigame, when the questgivers stepped away for a huddle, then came back, and pointedly told the PCs "you're fired". They were in a bit of a shock, discussed the possibility to outright murder the questgivers for this insolence (they were in the middle of a city, so that plan was quickly rejected).

Felt pretty good actually. To the players honor, after the initial shock, they took it alright, didn't throw a fit, found something else to do, and the session ended well. [at least I think it ended well. I'll be sure when I see them come back to the next session, hehe]

hymer
2015-10-26, 02:08 PM
My PCs are usually extremely polite and reasonable. They are far more likely to waive their fee than ask for an increase. And, my being such a bleeding-heart (and proud of it), being polite and reasonable tends to end up doing more good for the PCs than being jerks and penny-pinchers.
It's very noticeable with a new player, who is still looking for any excuse to kill people to get their stuff. The rest of the party react with horror to his faux pas. :smallsmile:

Anyway, shaking things up a bit every now and again is a good thing. I think it'll turn out to be a good experience for your group.

Mark Hall
2015-10-26, 02:08 PM
Reasonable response, every once in a while.

Keltest
2015-10-26, 02:12 PM
Reasonable response, every once in a while.

Indeed. In my group, they tend to be receiving quests from phenomenally powerful people (the Queen of the Elves, the local Archmage, etc...) so bargaining typically takes the form of "is there anything you can spare to make sure this gets done right?" more than "we want more coin for this job." Not sure if that means theyre smart, or that I need to give them more mundane quests every once in a while.

Geddy2112
2015-10-26, 02:38 PM
Good on you for not letting the PC's run amok as gods, and good on your group for taking it so well.


Reasonable response, every once in a while.
Indeed, it is possible to get fired from a job, or told that your fee is simply too high for the job and they will find somebody else. It helps the PC's know their general "going rate"


"is there anything you can spare to make sure this gets done right?"
This is probably the best way to go about it, just like writing a grant. And they don't need to know you spent the extra gold on stuff you did not use...

FlumphPaladin
2015-10-26, 03:50 PM
This is probably the best way to go about it, just like writing a grant. And they don't need to know you spent the extra gold on stuff you did not use...

Scholarships too!

themaque
2015-10-26, 09:34 PM
Do they qualify for unemployment?

http://www.rellimzone.com/images/movies/history-of-the-world-part-1-1981-04.png

Did you kill this week?

Fizban
2015-10-27, 01:12 AM
It helps the PC's know their general "going rate"
It'd help if I knew their general "going rate," I've been asked that question and what is even an answer? Best I could think of was some percentage of your current net worth, like if you've got 10,000gp in magic items you aren't likely to move for anything less than 1,000gp in guaranteed payment. There's also the question of where that cash is supposed to come from, as it's effectively bonus cash outside of the looting which should already keep them at WBL+10% for consumables (speaking DnD 3.5 anyway). So does that mean questgivers only offer payment when the DM knows the loot is below standard, and the payment is equivalent to the defecit? But that means any job that will have appropriate loot is a job that won't offer a reward, so mercenary PCs might not bother starting it. And where is the questgiver getting the money anyway? How much cash does a DnD noble have?

For more of my thoughts on the matter, see this post (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showsinglepost.php?p=17724534&postcount=35), and this post (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showsinglepost.php?p=19123808&postcount=4[/url).

I kinda do like the thought that mercenary adventurers tend to end up with gruntwork jobs clearing out monsters that have little or no treasure, while heroic parties that will help for free loot all the cool stuff.

And yeah, when I negotiate for more pay it's basically the same "well I'm gonna need this and this to do it perfectly, you buying materials?" We were actually talking to a professor of some sort who said he'd bill it to the research department and told us to get whatever we needed once I supplied a list of scrolls.

Mr. Mask
2015-10-27, 01:32 AM
Yeah, I think you handled this right. It does make me ponder the situation, all the same.

One thing I thought might be good for this, was to let some kind of negotiations roll give the players hints for whether they can go further or are going too far. Another potential final solution, is for the employer to lose his temper and say, "It's 1,000 gold, or you can shove off and find a better job!". Where the players are penalized by losing any gains they won in negotiations for getting too greedy, along with losing influence with their employer.

FlumphPaladin
2015-10-27, 06:56 AM
Did you kill this week?

"'Stand-up philosopher??' Oh! You're a bull**** artist!"

JeenLeen
2015-10-27, 08:51 AM
Yeah, I think you handled this right. It does make me ponder the situation, all the same.

One thing I thought might be good for this, was to let some kind of negotiations roll give the players hints for whether they can go further or are going too far. Another potential final solution, is for the employer to lose his temper and say, "It's 1,000 gold, or you can shove off and find a better job!". Where the players are penalized by losing any gains they won in negotiations for getting too greedy, along with losing influence with their employer.

I agree with this. Not sure what system you're using, but some sort of skill check or Perception/Wisdom check to notice before they get fired.

Also, kudos to the players for handling it well, and to you as DM for being willing to derail the quest for in-game consistency. I hear a lot of 'bad gaming stories' here on the boards, but this sounds like everyone handled it really well.

GungHo
2015-10-27, 09:21 AM
More than once, I've had my quest giver tell someone they're not running a charity or that they should know better than to haggle with the king. I've even let them do the quest and had them get screwed over in the end because they were rude to someone when they should have known better. My players sometimes get mad, but I do explain to them (repeatedly) that the NPCs are "people" and not candy machines and they, just like the PCs, will sometimes make rash decisions.

goto124
2015-10-27, 09:24 AM
Were the PCs (or players) really that rude in asking for more rewards?

Ruslan
2015-10-27, 11:49 AM
To clarify, I don't think the PCs were rude, or jerks, or anything like that. Like I said, they were looking for their best interests. But in this particular case, I didn't think it was to the benefit of the questgivers to give in to their requests. The questgivers were also nonhuman uber-logical emotionless beings, who tend to think a lot, but once a decision is made, act on it quickly, so when the negotiation reached an impasse, I saw it fit to resolve the problem with a quick swipe ...

The Fury
2015-10-27, 12:25 PM
There's a good lesson here-- just because the quest-givers hired you doesn't meant they can't hire someone else. Negotiation might be sound business, a PCs gotta look out for his or her interests, but quest-givers gotta look out for theirs too.

Slipperychicken
2015-10-27, 01:05 PM
playing out "let's renegotiate the compensation" minigame

If it was me, I'd let them know OOC that for each quest they get exactly one roll to negotiate compensation. One standardized roll, none of this "I roll to get 100x the asking price", I'd assign the asking price, and they get an extra 5% for every 5 points they beat the questgiver's charisma roll, while the questgiver reduces the compensation by an equivalent amount if he wins. That represents the entire negotiating process. After it's settled, the negotiation is finished and the PCs can take it or leave it. No ifs, ands, or buts. If they still want to try to renegotiate, they get "fired" and the questgiver finds someone else to do the job.

I find the game is enhanced when you can minimize the time spent on haggling. Get it done in one roll and move on to the actual gameplay.

Anonymouswizard
2015-10-27, 01:55 PM
If it was me, I'd let them know OOC that for each quest they get exactly one roll to negotiate compensation. One standardized roll, none of this "I roll to get 100x the asking price", I'd assign the asking price, and they get an extra 5% for every 5 points they beat the questgiver's charisma roll, while the questgiver reduces the compensation by an equivalent amount if he wins. That represents the entire negotiating process. After it's settled, the negotiation is finished and the PCs can take it or leave it. No ifs, ands, or buts. If they still want to try to renegotiate, they get "fired" and the questgiver finds someone else to do the job.

I find the game is enhanced when you can minimize the time spent on haggling. Get it done in one roll and move on to the actual gameplay.

This is definitely how to do it in a system lacking a good social combat system. For example, if I'm running Qin and the PCs get the very nice sum of 300 yuan plus supplies to guard a caravan from one state to the next, then they get one roll to attempt to increase the amount.

However, you also have the fact that the PCs have to realistically get paid more for the job than they would just doing normal work. If the party consists of a warrior, a noble, a diviner, and a rogue, then you have to offer more than their day wages if you want them to go to the mansion three days out of town and dispel the evil spirits. The warrior might earn 8 SP a day just from random guard work, so he'll be happy to do it for as little as 30 gold plus looting rights, while the diviner might earn 3-4GP a day just reading people's fortunes, and so will require a retainer of at least 40GP, and the noble might vary depending on what he's giving up to help people, from next to nothing while nothing's on to thousands of GP when the king comes to town. All example costs given assuming this is more dangerous than their day job.

This, 'non-adventuring income' is more important on the reward level then wealth owned in my opinion, especially if looting is allowed in this adventure. The characters will want to know 'is it better for me than whatever job I'm currently doing', with a reasonable buffer for increased danger.

veti
2015-10-27, 02:52 PM
I've never really done "adventuring for money". As I see it, one of two things will be true. Either:

it's a wild world, there's plenty of experience and loot to be had just by roaming the countryside looking for it, or
it's not, and you need quality leads to find your way to the XP&L.


In case 1, adventurers have plenty of work and a steady income at, probably, minimal risk. How much extra would you have to pay them to devote themselves exclusively to your mission, which is likely significantly higher risk, for several straight days? The answer, as I see it, is "almost certainly more than they're worth". Just going by what I'd charge to risk my neck on someone else's behalf... no measly "1000 GP" is going to cut it, multiply that by 20 or throw in some rare magic or quest items and we'll talk.

In case 2, either the PCs want to go out and take risks - in which case minimal pay is in order, really little more than covering expenses and providing necessary support as you would to a regular, full-time employee - or they don't, in which case pay is probably not the way to go, you need to use threats.

Either way, "Here's 1000 GP to check out the ruined tower" just sounds - silly. Split six ways, it's not even enough to cover the potions/other consumables you're likely to use.

Slipperychicken
2015-10-27, 03:21 PM
Either way, "Here's 1000 GP to check out the ruined tower" just sounds - silly. Split six ways, it's not even enough to cover the potions/other consumables you're likely to use.
There's a whole tower worth of loot in there, and the PCs are certain to make bank from sacking the place. That's implicit in the arrangement. It can be made explicit too. "X gold, plus rights to whatever you find in the tower" is one arrangement that also helps alleviate moral concerns about selling the tower's contents.

There's also a practice from Shadowrun which may be useful here; having rewards presented as per-person sums instead of lump sums. It saves math and gets right down to the information the players need. That is "what number do I write on my sheet?". Just figure out in advance what happens to a PC's share if he dies on the mission, like whether he willed it to anyone, it goes toward a resurrection fund, or if it gets split between the rest of the party.

Geddoe
2015-10-27, 04:06 PM
Now the PC's look into the quest seriously to figure out what the questgiver's goal was. Then they set about making sure that it never happens out of spite. Could be a fun story.

Fizban
2015-10-28, 05:30 AM
This, 'non-adventuring income' is more important on the reward level then wealth owned in my opinion, especially if looting is allowed in this adventure. The characters will want to know 'is it better for me than whatever job I'm currently doing', with a reasonable buffer for increased danger.

How much extra would you have to pay them to devote themselves exclusively to your mission, which is likely significantly higher risk, for several straight days? The answer, as I see it, is "almost certainly more than they're worth". Just going by what I'd charge to risk my neck on someone else's behalf... no measly "1000 GP" is going to cut it, multiply that by 20 or throw in some rare magic or quest items and we'll talk.
. . .
Either way, "Here's 1000 GP to check out the ruined tower" just sounds - silly. Split six ways, it's not even enough to cover the potions/other consumables you're likely to use.

having rewards presented as per-person sums instead of lump sums.
Anonwiz and veti have presented conflicting viewpoints: the answer hinges on what job you actually do. I think it is generally assumed that Adventurers don't consider risking their lives in combat to require a rich hazard pay, but as a life-risking job the bar is still set far above any normal day job or they wouldn't bother. I'm actually a bit confused by veti's, since it sound to me more like simple spite. Sure, the world is full of adventure. . . and here's one that pays better.

Chicken has it right, my example was based on an individual. If you wish to hire four individuals it will of course require four times as much money, adventurers get expensive quick. This is a big reason why it's annoying to have no frame of reference for how much a questgiver could be paying.

Anonymouswizard
2015-10-28, 06:10 AM
Either way, "Here's 1000 GP to check out the ruined tower" just sounds - silly. Split six ways, it's not even enough to cover the potions/other consumables you're likely to use.

Imagine a game that isn't D&D. One where you're likely to start out with less than 100 gold of equipment between the party. One where you aren't garrunteed of being able to find potions in the town you're in. Suddenly that 166.66GP sounds a lot more reasonable. Especially if gold is actually worth enough that you can buy a few Cure potions and an antidote with that money. It's entirely about context.

Plus, looting rights. As long as you don't take the furniture, the doors, and the window frames nobody will mind that much.

Mr.Moron
2015-10-28, 06:17 AM
Imagine a game that isn't D&D. One where you're likely to start out with less than 100 gold of equipment between the party. One where you aren't garrunteed of being able to find potions in the town you're in. Suddenly that 166.66GP sounds a lot more reasonable. Especially if gold is actually worth enough that you can buy a few Cure potions and an antidote with that money. It's entirely about context.

Plus, looting rights. As long as you don't take the furniture, the doors, and the window frames nobody will mind that much.

Or even just editions of D&D that aren't 3.P. You can definitely run 5e like this and I have. Things are surpsingly easier to deal with when a single 2nd-level adventure fighting nuisance monsters for a small town isn't expected to net you 3 lifetimes of normal income. 1,000gp is a fortune in everyday people terms.

Trying to get PCs on a WBL track to interact economically with NPCs without it turning degenerate is somewhere between hard and impossible.

Hamste
2015-10-28, 06:30 AM
Rights to loot the ruined tower though is inherently given unless the person actually owns the tower and even if in this example they did most of the times the quest giver actually doesn't own the loot rights to what ever you killed unless they negotiated that as part of the deal (for example In retrieval quests they inherently negotiate the loot rights of the macguffin). It is not part of the reward as it is something that you would have done anyways in most cases. The reward is to entice you into the dungeon as you don't actually know if there is loot or not. Ooc it is obvious that there will be loot as it is a game assumption but IC you don't know if this random tower will be picked clean and is filled with monsters that don't carry loot by the time you get there.

Of course it is completely ok for an npc to fire a PC if they try to renegotiate a deal or walk away if they become too demanding.

Slipperychicken
2015-10-28, 03:22 PM
Rights to loot the ruined tower though is inherently given unless the person actually owns the tower and even if in this example they did most of the times the quest giver actually doesn't own the loot rights to what ever you killed unless they negotiated that as part of the deal (for example In retrieval quests they inherently negotiate the loot rights of the macguffin). It is not part of the reward as it is something that you would have done anyways in most cases. The reward is to entice you into the dungeon as you don't actually know if there is loot or not. Ooc it is obvious that there will be loot as it is a game assumption but IC you don't know if this random tower will be picked clean and is filled with monsters that don't carry loot by the time you get there.

Not necessarily. It's a benefit from doing the job. If the PCs don't investigate the tower, they don't get the loot. Assuming the PCs are rational and have a value at which they will accept the job, then they'll accept it as long as the sum of both components of the reward (direct payment and expected value of loot) equal or exceed that value.


Let's say it takes 50$ to convince me to break into my friend's room. My friend accidentally locked himself out, and says he'll give me 20$ if I do it, and he tells me that the room contains about 30$, which I can freely take. That's still $50 in total compensation, even though my friend only gave me $20 directly.

Fizban
2015-10-29, 02:52 AM
Trying to get PCs on a WBL track to interact economically with NPCs without it turning degenerate is somewhere between hard and impossible.
That really depends on what you mean by "NPCs." If you mean individual villagers then sure, but random villagers aren't supposed to be hiring adventurers. People of power, lords and leaders hire adventurers. If we go by the only 3.5 rules I've ever seen to allow the extrapolation of a cash value for stuff like that, the PHB2 Affiliation rules, we see that even an organization with city-scale reach has at least 6,000gp worth of assets available, up to 36,000 if they're just sitting on their hands unopposed. There is no "hire adventurers" executive power because the rules are means for player integration rather than DM-side world building, but those values are enough to entice anyone up to 10th level.

Mr.Moron
2015-10-29, 04:59 AM
That really depends on what you mean by "NPCs." If you mean individual villagers then sure, but random villagers aren't supposed to be hiring adventurers. People of power, lords and leaders hire adventurers. If we go by the only 3.5 rules I've ever seen to allow the extrapolation of a cash value for stuff like that, the PHB2 Affiliation rules, we see that even an organization with city-scale reach has at least 6,000gp worth of assets available, up to 36,000 if they're just sitting on their hands unopposed. There is no "hire adventurers" executive power because the rules are means for player integration rather than DM-side world building, but those values are enough to entice anyone up to 10th level.

Well at this point we're arguing taste right? That a band of heroes might interact with a villager, or a small-time merchant, or officers of the town guard and get rewards or gifts that are useful and/or relevant at the time is pretty common.

As you point out the WBL track shoots "Adventurers" out of reach but all from the highest of the highest, even at a low levels. However the kind of things a 2nd-4th level Adventurer might deal with aren't really the concerns of the highest-of-the-high. They're not fighting city scale threats, or taking out armies. They're busting up goblin tribes, dealing with a wayward bugbear or any number of things that couldn't be 6000gp worth of trouble even if left untouched for years at a time. They're also the sort of thing that low level NPCs (Warrior Mercs) could handle with sufficinet numbers while still coming at 1/10th the price point. The only place "Nobles & Powerful organizations only" can make a lick of sense from a narrative sense is once you're out of levels, if not approaching mid levels.

Secondly having a strict WBL track just narrows possibilities. In 5e if I'd like I can have PCs rolling in gold and magic items from level 1, and still have the game mostly work. In 5e if we'd like, we can keep the economic scope of what adventuring gets you rather small and fighting demons to save the world doesn't necessarily line your pockets in any great capacity. You can within in RAW, RAI, and intended tone right it either way. A strict WBL confines you to exactly one path, and that one path doesn't even make a ton of sense for all levels of play.

Beleriphon
2015-10-29, 04:53 PM
On the notes of wealth and pay. Lets take a page from The Witcher. Geralt takes jobs for peasants who pay him paltry sums, but also works with Kings of the Realms and Emperors of All. They pay on different scales, but they also ask for different things. At one point Geralt comments some soldiers tried doing a job themselves and got stomped on while if they'd hired him he'd be the only one dead if he failed, and he's a profession monster killer so he'd probably wouldn't fail (note he doesn't).

Keltest
2015-10-29, 06:19 PM
On the notes of wealth and pay. Lets take a page from The Witcher. Geralt takes jobs for peasants who pay him paltry sums, but also works with Kings of the Realms and Emperors of All. They pay on different scales, but they also ask for different things. At one point Geralt comments some soldiers tried doing a job themselves and got stomped on while if they'd hired him he'd be the only one dead if he failed, and he's a profession monster killer so he'd probably wouldn't fail (note he doesn't).

It should be noted that Geralt is perfectly willing to accept being underpaid to do a job if he genuinely doesn't think that the people hiring him can afford it. he has no problems bullying cheap peasant leaders into tripling his pay if he knows they have the cash stored away for it.

Jay R
2015-10-29, 09:42 PM
There is no reason to ever stop asking for more, unless the answer is sometimes, "No," with consequences.

Fizban
2015-10-29, 09:55 PM
Well at this point we're arguing taste right? That a band of heroes might interact with a villager, or a small-time merchant, or officers of the town guard and get rewards or gifts that are useful and/or relevant at the time is pretty common.

As you point out the WBL track shoots "Adventurers" out of reach but all from the highest of the highest, even at a low levels. However the kind of things a 2nd-4th level Adventurer might deal with aren't really the concerns of the highest-of-the-high. They're not fighting city scale threats, or taking out armies. They're busting up goblin tribes, dealing with a wayward bugbear or any number of things that couldn't be 6000gp worth of trouble even if left untouched for years at a time. They're also the sort of thing that low level NPCs (Warrior Mercs) could handle with sufficinet numbers while still coming at 1/10th the price point. The only place "Nobles & Powerful organizations only" can make a lick of sense from a narrative sense is once you're out of levels, if not approaching mid levels.
Common sure, but as others have noted that doesn't mean those NPCs are expected to pay them well or even at all. They're not so much "hiring" adventurers as they are begging for help from strangers (which is totally a valid plot hook mind you, as long as the PCs are nice). 2nd-4th level, each character has WBL of 900-5,400, by my estimate of 10% being enough to motivate interest that's only 500gp per person. A scale 2 "neighborhood" range organization can pay that with a single point of capital, doable every 2-3 months easy (assuming a 4 person party: 2,000gp=1 point of capital for a scale 2, recoverable in 1 month with trade or 2 months of inactivity). Even if the local organization can't pay to get the problem fixed, they could beg on up the line for someone who can. The adventurers take a job from a villager, who complained to the mayor to secure the funds, who got the funds from the local lord who prefers paying for adventurers rather than sending his own troops or dealing with packs of mercenaries.

I think you may have misinterpreted (or I misrepresented) my goal with the affiliations/gp example: while I did say lords and leaders, the affiliation breakdown was meant to put it in reach of smaller groups. A city leader is capable of motivating an adventuring party of up to 10th level with straight cash (though they might need to empty the treasury at the top end), and can of course grab anyone below that. Lower level adventurers do have significantly lower WBL, putting them within reach of smaller organization as per my example above. Now granted, I am using the affiliation rules rather heavily, but I think they work pretty dang well and like I said it's the only thing I've ever seen to do it. It might seem weird that a neighborhood can make that much cash, but this isn't personal gold, it's assets controlled by a group of unspecified number that's been built up over some time and can actively increase the value of it's stuff by crafting/trading/stealing/pillaging/etc. If we do tax revenue based on a population making (nearly) untrained profession checks we get 1gp/person/week, so a village of 500 could afford a group of 3rd-4th level adventurers every week (in an emergency where other operations are suspended anyway). Note that the vast majority of the population is always farmers, who are not listed on the NPC hireling table with miserably low pay.

A goblin tribe doesn't need to threaten the city in direct military conflict if they're occupying the mines or poison a water supply or somesuch. I contest the pricing of warrior mercs, as well as the expected lethality of their missions and their effectiveness at problem solving. There is first the assumption that a large enough group is available for hire and will take the job. The extremely low pay even in comparison to unkilled craft/profession checks suggests to me that standard merc work isn't more than guard duty, more the idea of a fight than actually fighting. AaEG gives us equipement lists for mercs, confirming that 2sp mercs basically the same as goblin warriors, so 50/50 in a straight fight. Historically I believe killing even 10% of an enemy force was enough to trigger a rout, so you'll need a rather large force to absorb that without breaking, which will increase costs quickly. Mercs are hirelings, who "do not make decisions. They so as they're told (at least in theory)," so you'll still need some sort of leader directing them and hope that leader survives long enough to figure out how to fight whatever they need to fight. Of course the sort of small, mobile, specialized targets a group of adventurers would deal with can easily avoid a large group of unskilled mercenaries, be they goblin tribes capable of making better use of the terrain, or say CR2 imps or quasits that are nigh-immune to normal weapons. If it's just rat extermination then sure (although I could easily imagine that no mercs want the job of entering the sewer and most assuredly contracting several diseases), but it shouldn't be hard at all to build encounters that require the PCs, or find believable reasons why they're the only people who want the job.

Secondly having a strict WBL track just narrows possibilities. In 5e if I'd like I can have PCs rolling in gold and magic items from level 1, and still have the game mostly work. In 5e if we'd like, we can keep the economic scope of what adventuring gets you rather small and fighting demons to save the world doesn't necessarily line your pockets in any great capacity. You can within in RAW, RAI, and intended tone right it either way. A strict WBL confines you to exactly one path, and that one path doesn't even make a ton of sense for all levels of play.
As for 5e, I have to at least halfway disagree. If you cut magic items out of the picture completely and use gold at your own discretion then sure, that works. Rolling the characters in magic items depends heavily on what those items are and if they're allowed to sell them. In 5e it's DM fiat weather or not you can craft a magic item, making them nearly priceless so they'd better be saleable, and any significant item can disrupt game balance which is supposedly item-less. For 3.5, a strict WBL doesn't have to mean cash at all, you can always drop nothing but magic items and then restrict their sale. The default assumption is that PCs can sell stuff for 1/2 price if they try, but you could simply make them play out the "try" part and find some group or someone that's willing to buy, just as 5e has a maybe suggestion on what to roll when searching for a buyer. The only difference is that you can't buy magic items in 5e, so instead you use your wealth to strongarm the DM into other stuff like hiring 100 mercenaries (I can't be bothered to re-check their pricing, but I bet any problem solvable in 3.5 with mercenaries is even more solvable in 5e with mercenaries).

Segev
2015-10-30, 11:57 AM
There are two ways to "solve" this "problem." Well, three, counting "they go on to find another quest."

But to establish a going rate... really, you should be asking yourself this: what can the quest-givers really afford, and how badly do they want this job done? That should be all there is to it. If it's not worth the PCs' time, some other, less well-heeled adventuring party of NPCs will likely come along.

But there's a reason that a lot of D&D games don't rely on the "quests for hire" model. Instead, the quest is personal, or to do the right thing, or to help the innocent. Alternatively, dungeon-delving quests don't require payment from the quest-giver at all, and may even require the PCs to cough up some finder's fees: getting word on an un-looted dungeon is its own reward, and looting it is how the party makes its wealth. In the Exalted setting, there's an entire region known as the Scavenger Lands which used to house spectacularly advanced civilization and now is littered with the tombs of its greatest luminaries. Scavenger Lords are professional dungeon-delvers who seek out as-yet undiscovered ruins to plunder for their useful and valuable goods. Many D&D parties have operated this way.

If a quest-giver has to offer a reward, it's probably because the quest itself doesn't HAVE an inherent one, AND isn't a noble and just cause that heroic sorts would seek to do out of their own sense of righteousness.



In short, tailor it a bit to what the party wants. If they are mercenaries, then they're probably competing for paying work with other mercenary bands; they had best either be enough better than their competition to be worth the pay, or be competitive in their pay requests. If they're heroes out to do the right thing, motivate them with that, and then reward them with loot anyway (or with goodwill from the innocents, which translates to other possibilities later). Reward them with reputation, regardless, and more lucrative opportunities will come their way (even if it's just in the form of a crazy wizard artificer who wants them to test out some "inventions" of his).

Do your PCs seek out quests, specifically? If so, let them hunt for the tasks they want. Don't feel obligated to have every quest be "paying," in the sense that the quest-giver is paying them. Have the pay be the information about a lucrative treasure, itself. Maybe a quest-giver offers them - literally - a treasure map for their pay. Now they have two adventures: the quest for this giver, and the quest to follow the map!

Fizban
2015-10-31, 02:52 AM
But to establish a going rate... really, you should be asking yourself this: what can the quest-givers really afford, and how badly do they want this job done? That should be all there is to it. If it's not worth the PCs' time, some other, less well-heeled adventuring party of NPCs will likely come along.

That's just it: what can the quest-givers really afford? That's the information that's missing from the rulebooks, and I like to extend as much as I can from the rules rather than hand-waving. There's detailed rules on creating random cities, but nothing for how much money a person in a certain position can afford, thus affiliations/tax rules for a starting point. You can still modify expectations on both the PC and NPC sides, but I think it's good to have a mechanical starting point. And I would actually prefer the PCs be heroic rather than mercenary, much more drama options that way. Not needing to worry about how much cash a dude has is a bonus.

Keltest
2015-10-31, 05:20 AM
That's just it: what can the quest-givers really afford? That's the information that's missing from the rulebooks, and I like to extend as much as I can from the rules rather than hand-waving. There's detailed rules on creating random cities, but nothing for how much money a person in a certain position can afford, thus affiliations/tax rules for a starting point. You can still modify expectations on both the PC and NPC sides, but I think it's good to have a mechanical starting point. And I would actually prefer the PCs be heroic rather than mercenary, much more drama options that way. Not needing to worry about how much cash a dude has is a bonus.

Don't at least some editions include income rates per day of various levels of work?

Fizban
2015-10-31, 09:19 AM
Yeah, mostly in silver pieces per day. Even using active craft/profession rules only nets maybe 10gp a week for a low-level NPC, before living expenses.

Jay R
2015-10-31, 03:37 PM
If you talk to the PCs about it later, don't use the flamboyant but inaccurate claim, "I fired my PCs".

You didn't. The NPCs made an offer, that they (eventually) refused. Then the PCs made an offer that the NPCs refused. Neither fired the other; they failed to agree on a contract.

Segev
2015-11-02, 11:49 AM
That's just it: what can the quest-givers really afford? That's the information that's missing from the rulebooks, and I like to extend as much as I can from the rules rather than hand-waving. There's detailed rules on creating random cities, but nothing for how much money a person in a certain position can afford, thus affiliations/tax rules for a starting point. You can still modify expectations on both the PC and NPC sides, but I think it's good to have a mechanical starting point. And I would actually prefer the PCs be heroic rather than mercenary, much more drama options that way. Not needing to worry about how much cash a dude has is a bonus.

Well...

From a pure game mechanical standpoint, the "going rate" is actually rather easily calculated: Determine how much loot they will gain from doing the adventure itself (stuff from monsters, from treasure hoards, etc.), then calculate the difference between how much gold they SHOULD have at their level when they're done with this adventure, and how much the "natural" adventuring will get them. That difference is the "going rate" for the quest.

Put another way, determine the total amount of wealth they should gain from an adventure of this level. Divide it up between what they'll find on the quest and what the quest-giver is offering.

elonin
2015-11-02, 10:47 PM
One thing I notice from stories that is missing from games are adventures that end up being cash poor. For example you start out on the wrong foot and things take a turn for the worst. And somehow it keeps getting more awful from there to the point that you are just considering yourself lucky to have survived and maybe don't have a lynch mob chasing you.

Kane0
2015-11-02, 11:46 PM
My current party is a mercenary company, with me running it. We often come across this issue, and often those that we work for are beyond our ability to take on (they're the only ones with enough coin to hire us).

More than once a party member has tried to bargain for more, and more than once they've been shot down either by the employer or myself. Its all part of good roleplay.

What I like is that 'salvage rights' are often part of our terms, so access to loot is our way of getting hazard pay and thus the initial reward offered is really only to get our interest and guarantee we won't walk away with nothing at the end of it, even if we don't make much of a profit.

Fizban
2015-11-03, 02:13 AM
Well...

From a pure game mechanical standpoint, the "going rate" is actually rather easily calculated: Determine how much loot they will gain from doing the adventure itself (stuff from monsters, from treasure hoards, etc.), then calculate the difference between how much gold they SHOULD have at their level when they're done with this adventure, and how much the "natural" adventuring will get them. That difference is the "going rate" for the quest.

Put another way, determine the total amount of wealth they should gain from an adventure of this level. Divide it up between what they'll find on the quest and what the quest-giver is offering.
Yes, I already mentioned that method further above. It doesn't have anything to do with what the NPC actually can afford though, the rules don't give a clear example of what level of status corresponds to what level of wealth in any way other than the PC WBL/NPC WBL tables, which don't work for this unless you assume even the quest-givers are higher level than the PCs/emptying their pockets and selling their homes. Calculate how much cash you want the quest-giver to pay the PCs using whatever method you find most sensible, including that one, it still won't make any sense coming from a peasant and you've no way to know how high up it'll will take to make sense unless you extrapolate from elsewhere.

Slipperychicken
2015-11-03, 03:07 AM
Yes, I already mentioned that method further above. It doesn't have anything to do with what the NPC actually can afford though, the rules don't give a clear example of what level of status corresponds to what level of wealth in any way other than the PC WBL/NPC WBL tables, which don't work for this unless you assume even the quest-givers are higher level than the PCs/emptying their pockets and selling their homes. Calculate how much cash you want the quest-giver to pay the PCs using whatever method you find most sensible, including that one, it still won't make any sense coming from a peasant and you've no way to know how high up it'll will take to make sense unless you extrapolate from elsewhere.

D&D economics don't make sense. The system collapses under the slightest bit of scrutiny.

Lord Vukodlak
2015-11-03, 03:38 AM
D&D economics don't make sense. The system collapses under the slightest bit of scrutiny.
You could say the same about most games... or real life economics.

Florian
2015-11-03, 07:04 AM
Disclaimer: I do play this as a "game", not as any kind of simulation. I have some rules (mind, not concerning ingame matter, but how we do actually play this game together), enforcing some metagaming thingies: You do want to accept quests, that is what this game is all about. The amount of gp we talk about is based on WBL and has nothing to do with what happens ingame. You are not your character. You have one shot at haggling over payment using diplomacy and you will accept the result, as your pc has been confinced that it is fair.

So, if a player would argue about wanting to be paid more after we went through all of that, I'll remind him of the common rules we all accepted.

Segev
2015-11-03, 09:00 AM
Yes, I already mentioned that method further above. It doesn't have anything to do with what the NPC actually can afford though, the rules don't give a clear example of what level of status corresponds to what level of wealth in any way other than the PC WBL/NPC WBL tables, which don't work for this unless you assume even the quest-givers are higher level than the PCs/emptying their pockets and selling their homes. Calculate how much cash you want the quest-giver to pay the PCs using whatever method you find most sensible, including that one, it still won't make any sense coming from a peasant and you've no way to know how high up it'll will take to make sense unless you extrapolate from elsewhere.Oh, that's actually fairly easy. Figure out whether the quest-giver is an individual or a representative of a larger group. The individual's wealth can be calculated based on NPC WBL tables or based on his profession and likely income. The organization's wealth can be calculated (roughly) by comparing its size to town/city sizes and seeing how much populations that large can pull together.

Though from a gameplay design standpoint...it's probably best to either assume that the NPC can afford enough to make up the difference, or to specifically design the adventure to offer "enough" loot. You really don't have to be that precise. Poor peasants can't give much. Rich mage guilds can. For the latter, it will tend to be a matter of what they are WILLING to pay, and again, the reasonable assumption is that, if the party is asking for more than you've calculated as the difference between likely loot acquisition and appropriate WBL increases, then the rich mage guild can probably find adventurers with more reasonable prices.


You could say the same about most games... or real life economics.

Eh, real life economics make plenty of sense, as long as you don't fall for the canard that macroeconomics is really all that different in basic effects than micro-. The trouble arises when governments decide that macroeconomics operates on totally different rules and enact legal and economic policies on those faulty premises, distorting the market and generally inviting corruption and inefficiency.

Cluedrew
2015-11-03, 02:46 PM
Personally I view this more of a situation about some negative consequences of player actions and less about some economic simulation. When you try to do something in a game there should be both good and bad outcomes for your attempt, otherwise it tends to be dull and uninteresting (not always but usually). So they tried to bargain, they could get more money or they could lose the job. In this situation the second one came up.

Yes balancing the required amount of money is important, but keeping the different aspects of the game interesting is important as well.


Eh, real life economics make plenty of sense...Then how come neither the banks nor the government can get in right? Sadly the answer is probably human greed.

holywhippet
2015-11-03, 07:43 PM
There was a Dresden Files RPG I was playing in and during one of the early sessions we got some work done by an ectomancer (basically someone who can talk to ghosts). For payment he asked us to find some treasure hidden by a famous pirate (we were playing in New Orleans). Since the game is using the FATE system money is a somewhat abstract concept. You basically have a resources level to indicate what you could reasonably buy or own. If it was something like D&D where money is more important I might have negotiated. So I just agreed on the spot to his request. My DM said later he was shocked I just agreed outright like that. In my mind it was just a subplot hook.

Hawkstar
2015-11-03, 08:02 PM
Then how come neither the banks nor the government can get in right? Sadly the answer is probably human greed.Conflict of interest. Economics is a self-balancing system where the balance point is NOT any form of scarcity-free utopia. Or even desirable. Economics make sense in the same way that "Humans are just an insignificant quirk of chemistry on a tiny rock in an infinite space" makes sense.

So yes, "Greed", if you define a desire to live long and prosper as such.

Fizban
2015-11-03, 10:18 PM
You really don't have to be that precise.
Ah, but I do. All you need to do to keep the game running is assign the right number, but I want more consistency. If I go throwing numbers around they'll eventually disagree, and then I'd have to retcon in reasons for those disagreements to make sense. I'd rather have it make sense the first time.

The individual's wealth can be calculated based on NPC WBL tables or based on his profession and likely income. The organization's wealth can be calculated (roughly) by comparing its size to town/city sizes and seeing how much populations that large can pull together.
Hadn't considered counting organizations as smaller towns. Let's see, using middle numbers that gives us:
50 members: 100gp
240 members: 1,200gp
650 members: 6,500gp
1,450 members: 58,000gp
3,500 members: 525,000gp
6,500 members: 4,875,000gp
13,500 members: 27,000,000gp
(With plenty of variance at the upper and lower ends of each tier)

But, now we have to ask what a reasonable number of people is for any given organization, and have no way of knowing how fast they can replenish that gold supply. It also doesn't consider groups that use more+cheap labor or less+specialized labor or magic, and assumes that everyone in the organziation will empty their pockets on demand (inherited from the community ready cash rules it's based on). PHB2 affiliations are abstracted so the number of individuals isn't needed and rated on scale of operations so you don't have to consider how condensed/strung out X many people must be to get the job done, and they use their own capital rather than drawing on individual members. Most importantly I think is that the affiliations are very exact on how fast money can flow in and out, which the DMG has nothing to say on for either towns or NPC wealth.

I would note that that town rules are still great for towns. I usually don't forget the selling limit because it's high enough to not usually matter, but the last paragraph there also make it a buying limit, which could be very important if the players want to stock up on wands or potions. Treating the town as a collective buying adventurers with their ready cash should work fine even if using the same table for organizations doesn't, and you could do something like "we can't afford to pay more than [some percentage] of the town's cash, or we won't be able to [something]," or "[some butthead] controls [some percentage] of the town's wealth and refuses to pay his share, so we can't fully reward you." And as always, draining the peasant's cash is a nice reminder of when you're being mercenary instead of heroic.

Just to be clear again, I'm not saying PC rewards should depend on the NPCs and setting (though if you're doing a maximum hands-off sandbox that would be appropriate), shifting between loot/payment is easy to figure out. The problem is choosing what sort of NPC and setting is appropriate for a given payment/reward. Rather than a game mechanics problem, it's a world-building mechanics problem. Answering the question of how far the PCs can negotiate requires one to actually know what resources the NPCs have available. Just like you should have combat stats ready for anyone the PCs might fight, you can and likely should have some financial stats ready for anyone the PCs may bargain with (and in both cases have some generic entries ready for emergencies!).

The consequences of their negotiation attempts would depend on who they're negotiating with and how, but if you don't have the right person in front of them then the reaction hardly matters. If you put the reward in the hands of a peasant they can try browbeating him with little fear of reprisal, while a mayor is more swingy, and a lord with a military is likely not a good target for hardball. If the quest is taking place in a backwater village it's likely there won't be any more adventurers for a while so the PCs have an advantage in dealing, while a city can just ask someone else tomorrow. And again, you can just eyeball it and take a guess, but then you're opening yourself up to inconsistencies later in the game, or on subsequent campaigns if you don't significantly change the setting.

Slipperychicken
2015-11-04, 04:35 PM
You could say the same about most games... or real life economics.
I'd disagree. At least a few games have money values that are at least within the realm of plausibility. Or at least where an empty barrel doesn't cost a week's wages. ACKS is a good example in that it actually simulates the in-game economy, and Shadowruns' in-game prices tend to make sense for the most part (considering that they're largely ripped from RL).

Segev
2015-11-04, 04:59 PM
Then how come neither the banks nor the government can get in right? Sadly the answer is probably human greed.Greed, yes, but also thirst for power.

Economics are easily understood if you understand a little bit about human nature, and understand that humanity as a whole is a particle swarm optimization algorithm. By that latter, I mean that we are individuals, not collectives. We may form groups, and we may even form strong connections, but people tend, as a rule, to value themselves and their friends and loved ones before anybody else. This only makes sense, as those are the ones upon whom they can mutually rely, and all humans have limited resources.

If you remember that humans are motivated by self-interest - yes, even "greed" - you can understand economics very clearly.

The trouble is that many governments are peopled by individuals who would prefer to use force to take that which belongs to others, rather than engage in mutually-agreed-upon trade. It gets further complicated by the system of favors handed out by those with the power to take by force to others who will support them having that force.

This is why the typical result of anarchy is warlords and tribes/gangs: taking by force is attractive in the short term, and being able to take more means you have more.

The greater optimum involves people willingly working and specializing and exchanging goods and services; it leads to more overall productivity.

However, governments get involved and decide they can manage the individual pricing choices better than individuals who actually produce the stuff can, and they distort the market. This leads to human nature - being focused on maximizing personal gain as a general rule - causing people to work less. Why work, when you get nothing from it?

People, in general, act to get the most gain. If productive activities earn the most, people will engage in those preferentially. If they don't, people won't do them as much (unless they really enjoy them). Hint: most people don't actually LIKE working enough to do it for free.

Banks...well, most do understand economics. The problem they face is government interference changing the rules and distorting the market. When the warlord comes to you and says, "You'll give my gang members loans, or else," you give them the loans. And then you try to sell the loans off to somebody else, since you know the loans will never be paid back.

Conflict of interest. Economics is a self-balancing system where the balance point is NOT any form of scarcity-free utopia. Or even desirable. Economics make sense in the same way that "Humans are just an insignificant quirk of chemistry on a tiny rock in an infinite space" makes sense.

So yes, "Greed", if you define a desire to live long and prosper as such.

I don't quite agree with the sentiment here, though the conclusions seem mostly correct. It's really just the fact that optimization of resources is better achieved by accepting that Swarm Intelligence will do better than an oligarchical heuristic algorithm.

In other words: Minimal laws which prevent theft, extortion, blackmail, and coercion (each of which is destructive to productive activity); then let the individual particles (people) try their own solutions, learn from each other, and explore the optimization space themselves, succeeding or failing on their own merits and learning from watching the successful to improve their overall success rates.


...sorry, Swarm Intelligence is a bit of a focus of mine.

Hawkstar
2015-11-04, 08:41 PM
I don't quite agree with the sentiment here, though the conclusions seem mostly correct. It's really just the fact that optimization of resources is better achieved by accepting that Swarm Intelligence will do better than an oligarchical heuristic algorithm.All forms of optimization of resources require there to be 'losers', and no individual will accept being that loser. Swarm Intelligence suffers from excessive myopia.

kieza
2015-11-05, 08:37 PM
In other words: Minimal laws which prevent theft, extortion, blackmail, and coercion (each of which is destructive to productive activity); then let the individual particles (people) try their own solutions, learn from each other, and explore the optimization space themselves, succeeding or failing on their own merits and learning from watching the successful to improve their overall success rates.


...sorry, Swarm Intelligence is a bit of a focus of mine.

Great, but economics is a focus of mine. And swarm intelligence may be a great way to model an economy, but it's a terrible way to optimize one. Why? Because individuals making the decisions which are best for them does not necessarily lead to the best outcome for the economy. That leads to monopolies, oligopolies, the Prisoner's Dilemma, and the overproduction of goods with negative externalities, to name just a handful of market failures. (This is bad.) Plus, individual people tend not to have perfect information: nobody has access to all the data, and even if they did, most people don't have the time, inclination, or knowledge to derive the optimal decisions from it.

Could you create a swarm intelligence that makes the socially-optimal decisions? Sure--in a simulation. You can give your swarm members access to perfect information and program them to have whatever decision-making process you want. But to implement it in the real world, that would require changing how people think and behave, and I think we all know how difficult that can be.

So if you want to optimize the economy, you need some sort of overarching authority capable of making long-range plans, and getting people to adhere to them. (Also known as a government.)

I won't argue that governments should intervene everywhere.
I won't argue that governments always intervene with the best intentions.
And I certainly won't argue that they always get their interventions right.

But government regulation is the only way you can avoid the worst excesses of free-market capitalism.



TL;DR: Competitive markets are good, but free markets are not competitive markets.

Hawkstar
2015-11-05, 09:52 PM
I don't quite agree with the sentiment here, though the conclusions seem mostly correct. It's really just the fact that optimization of resources is better achieved by accepting that Swarm Intelligence will do better than an oligarchical heuristic algorithm.
And it doesn't occur to you that oligarchial heuristic algorithms are a product of Swarm Intelligence, given that swarm intelligence is what produces the ogilarchial heuristic algorithms, because the swarm sees "That's What Works - at least better than everything else"? Especially since perfect distribution of information to all particles is impossible.

Segev
2015-11-06, 12:15 PM
All forms of optimization of resources require there to be 'losers', and no individual will accept being that loser. Swarm Intelligence suffers from excessive myopia.False, actually. When you have resource production and refinement, you do not have a zero-sum game. You therefore do not require "losers," except in a relative sense that those who do better have more. They need not take anything from those not doing as well.

Economies are NOT zero-sum games until you have a consumptive autocracy whose sole "contribution" is deciding how resources will be allocated. (Remarkably, it always seems to value its resource-allocation job highly enough to allocate resources to itself, first.)


Great, but economics is a focus of mine. And swarm intelligence may be a great way to model an economy, but it's a terrible way to optimize one. Why? Because individuals making the decisions which are best for them does not necessarily lead to the best outcome for the economy.Untrue. The most successful economies operate on nearly pure swarm intelligence. There is a need for governing bodies which enforce certain rules; anarchy leads to a combination of tyranny and black market trade, wherein everybody needs to have sufficient strength to prevent theft. That need to be personally strong enough to be secure is a severe drain on productivity; it's telling that market forces still dominate in such cases, however, and maximal productivity in such instances still occurs with trade, rather than with violence and theft.


That leads to monopolies, oligopolies,Again, no. Swarm intelligence leads to neither of those things. When those things arise, it is invariably combined with an entity exerting productivity-reducing force to destroy more-productive competition. This is a local optimum, certainly, for that individual, but the more that other particles in the swarm attempt to mimic it, the lower that local optimum becomes as too many resources get consumed by the violence and protections from the same. The higher optimum is found by the particles which foster productivity of their fellow particles by trading for what they want rather than taking what they want by force. These groups of particles wind up with greater resources, which enable them to expend less as a percentage of their own on defense against the more hostile, less optimal monopolists and oligarchs.



the Prisoner's Dilemma,Actually, SI and genetic algorithms (GA) both result in an optimal solution for the iterated Prisoners' Dilemma problem (which any real economy is going to be modeled more closely by than the single-encounter Prisoners' Dilemma). That solution is one best characterized by, "cooperate the first time you meet somebody, and do what they did in the last iteration every time you encounter them in the future." This leads to maximal overall acquisition of resources, because it means optimal performance when both are cooperating while it causes those who do not cooperate to dwindle further and further behind as they get punished for each defection.

(I have done this experiment with GA on more than one occasion; this IS the dominant strategy that evolves.)



and the overproduction of goods with negative externalities, to name just a handful of market failures. (This is bad.)This is a meaningless phrase to most people, because "externalities" is a word that does not crop up in most conversations. Moreover, I've found it one that is oft used by people who want to tie fictional consequences to real things. Not always, but often. (The most common is environmentalist concerns, which are best demonstrated to be inaccurately associated with free market economics by looking at whether it is the socialist or capitalist nations which are most polluted. I don't know that these are the "negative externalities" to which you refer, but those buzzwords usually point that direction.)


Plus, individual people tend not to have perfect information: nobody has access to all the data, and even if they did, most people don't have the time, inclination, or knowledge to derive the optimal decisions from it.True! Top-down heuristics also operate from imperfect information in the real world, and when they make mistakes because they do not account for on-the-ground, specific-situation differences between two instances, they cripple whole segments of the economy through chain reactions. When swarm intelligences make mistakes, individual particles suffer for their own errors, but others were free to adapt to the changing situations and work around it. Meanwhile, because there's no heuristic dictating that bad decisions KEEP being made by individuals, the individuals can adapt by observing what works around them.


Could you create a swarm intelligence that makes the socially-optimal decisions? Sure--in a simulation. You can give your swarm members access to perfect information and program them to have whatever decision-making process you want. But to implement it in the real world, that would require changing how people think and behave, and I think we all know how difficult that can be.Nonsense. Not only do my Prisoners' Dilemma swarms not have perfect information but still manage to evolve a socially-optimum interaction strategy, but human beings are remarkably good at it on an individual level. We only need to teach some basic principles, reinforced by a model which rewards productive decision-making, for humans to be amazingly good at this task. These basic principles are encompassed in rules such as: don't murder, don't steal, and don't cheat (which is just another for of theft, but through deception rather than force or stealth).



So if you want to optimize the economy, you need some sort of overarching authority capable of making long-range plans, and getting people to adhere to them. (Also known as a government.) False. For one thing, the particles involved in an economy are amazingly complex individual decision-makers, not simplistic points on an optimization space. The "optimization space" they occupy is thus one which encompasses vast ability to make long-term plans, and to consider interactions with other particles.

The decision-making is best handled by hordes of individual particles, because they're free to try all sorts of different strategies in parallel. Parallel attempts at multiple strategies reveals most quickly which strategies are optimal, and even which ones are most optimal in a given region and under differing circumstances. What works in Wisconsin may not work in Chile. What works at an all-girls school fund raiser may not work at the Olympics. Where they are similar, individual particles can learn from those successes, but the lack of a singular heuristic hierarchy dictating that the same strategy will be followed at the second because it worked at the first means that adaptation can occur to the specific circumstances. By dividing the decision-making up amongst those involved, you magnify the processing power brought to bear, rather than bottle-necking it at the top.



I won't argue that governments should intervene everywhere.
I won't argue that governments always intervene with the best intentions.
And I certainly won't argue that they always get their interventions right.

But government regulation is the only way you can avoid the worst excesses of free-market capitalism.You've yet to name me an excess of free-market capitalism that isn't actually government intervention distorting the market.

The government's role in managing a swarm intelligence is to ensure that the particles are not actively stealing from each other, whether by violence, threat of violence, stealth, or deception. Do your best to prevent those productivity-destroying behaviors, and you won't really see monopolies forming successfully; they will collapse when they run up against competition that can do it cheaper or with greater responsiveness. Monopolies respond to these things not with market forces, but with violence or subversion of government power (i.e. violence or threat thereof).

As an example, Big Business tends to be more in favor of government regulations on their own industries because they're big enough to afford the extra costs...but their smaller competitors are driven out of business. Wal*Mart is for an increase in the minimum wage: they can afford it; Mom and Pop stores cannot. It creates a greater barrier to entry, making it too expensive to start up a competing business. All because of the regulations supposedly meant to "prevent the worst excesses of capitalism."




TL;DR: Competitive markets are good, but free markets are not competitive markets.By definition, they're the most competitive markets. The less free the market, the more competition is prevented.


And it doesn't occur to you that oligarchial heuristic algorithms are a product of Swarm Intelligence, given that swarm intelligence is what produces the ogilarchial heuristic algorithms, because the swarm sees "That's What Works - at least better than everything else"? Especially since perfect distribution of information to all particles is impossible.
SI isn't what produces the oligarchical heuristic algorithms. Especially given that, if you're justifying the claim by, "obviously, it's produced by SI since it works better than anything else," then you're categorically wrong: it has been shown not to work better than anything else. The closer an economy is to running on an SI where individual particles are free to make decisions based on their limited information and simply try and see what works, the more powerful the economy has been, historically.


The idea that you need perfect information is only true of you assume that the hierarchical heuristic is making all of the decisions. Perfect information is the ONLY way such a heuristic can perform better than SI. Population-based algorithms (swarm intelligence and evolutionary algorithms, as well as artificial immune systems) are useful because they perform extremely well with limited information. Every single one is a glorified form of "guess, check, try." They allow many things to be tried simultaneously, in parallel; the ones that work get promulgated, while the ones that do not are dropped. Errors and flaws and failures are kept to minimal impact because they only affect those immediately surrounding the failures. Successes, too, only directly affect those immediately involved, but information about which successes have been achieved and how are visible to others, who will then be free to try those methods and to modify them for their own circumstances.

Success thus spreads, because it is desirable to the individual particles and they can mimic and adapt successful strategies. Failure diminishes, as everybody seeks to avoid known failed strategies. (Well, most do; some may try them again just to see if circumstances have changed such that previously-failed strategies might now succeed. When they do, the risk is restricted to themselves; if they succeed, though, more will move that way, because success is attractive. If they fail, only they get hurt, as failure is repulsive and thus fewer are likely to try anything in that strategic region.)


In short, population-based algorithms work in precisely the circumstances you described as being the reasons they can't. Heuristic-based, top-down approaches fail for precisely the reasons you tried to list as why SI can't work.

Hawkstar
2015-11-06, 02:31 PM
False, actually. When you have resource production and refinement, you do not have a zero-sum game. You therefore do not require "losers," except in a relative sense that those who do better have more. They need not take anything from those not doing as well.
So... it only works when scarcity isn't a thing.

Segev
2015-11-06, 02:44 PM
So... it only works when scarcity isn't a thing.

Quite the contrary. "Scarcity" does not mean "zero sum game." At no point in human history have we exploited 100% of our available resources with 100% efficiency. Increased productivity involves more efficient exploitation of more of our resources. This is why we have so much more wealth now than EXISTED at the time of, say, Cleopatra. As a species as a whole. We are better at growing more food with less resources, and we have more ability to acquire the resources to produce food, so we have more abundance. The same is true of myriad other goods. Heck, technology has provided goods that never existed before! The computer on which I am typing right now was not even science fiction to Jules Verne, let alone the internet that connects it to the servers on which this conversation is stored.

Were things a zero-sum game, these computers would mean that there was less food in the world. But they don't. In fact, some of our advances in food production are due to computerization, whether in the design of GM foods or in the modern production facilities in mega-farms which can till more land with fewer people and with greater yields-per-acre.

Think of it this way: the Prisoners' Dilemma isn't a zero-sum game, either, but scarcity definitely exists.

Cluedrew
2015-11-06, 08:52 PM
Despite the very impressive dissertation I'm actually going to reply to a older comment:


So yes, "Greed", if you define a desire to live long and prosper as such.Yes and no, it is dependant on where what you use to live long and well (I don't like the word prosper). Taking your share is fine, taking someone else's share is greed and is, for the lack of a better word, evil. Now "your share" is hard to define but everyone gets one and then there might be some left over.