Author Topic: CRPG Economic Theory  (Read 3520 times)

Offline nologgie

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CRPG Economic Theory
« on: December 04, 2012, 01:40:34 AM »
This is a thread to discuss the economies of Computer Role-Playing Games.  Please jump in and voice your opinion.  I'll go first.  :D

I believe it is more effective to limit the amount of wealth available to the party than to focus entirely upon ways to take it away after they earn it.


Obtaining Wealth:

The party's wealth will normally come from 'found' items, which include coined money, equipment, gems, jewelry, and magic items.  Both experience points (xp) and monetary value are fixed for coins, but are variable for everything else.  Use this to your advantage.

It is possible to prevent scavenging equipment and treasure after combat (set the No Treasure From Monsters button), but this should be limited to situations when it would be impossible or highly inappropriate.


Availability of Monetary Treasure:

Give Treasure events are under the direct control of the designer, and warrant little discussion.  If you want the party to stay hungry, give just enough to keep them going.  It will require playtesting to determine how much is just enough.

The same applies to money carried by some monsters.  Low levels may carry none, but character classes of mid or high level should carry a reasonable amount of 'walking around' money.  Most would leave the majority of their wealth, including most gems and possibly all jewels, at home or in a vault.


Availability of Basic Equipment:

Low level parties fighting opponents equipped with darts, javelins, short bows & arrows, daggers, spears, and leather armor will scavenge and sell to upgrade their equipment.  It will require many battles for small profit.  A slight upgrade of the enemy's gear can increase the loot value significantly.  As the party gains levels and fights better equipped foes, daggers and such will be left on the pile and only the better armor and weapons will be taken to use or sell.  This is a normal progression and should be expected.

An alternative is to use combats against monsters who don't use items.  Too much of this can result in parties who "top out" (earn enough experience to gain 2 levels) by killing hordes of treasure-less monsters, and still can't afford to train.  Always provide a means for resourceful players to build their characters.

Bows (short and long) and arrows should be plentiful in shops in rural areas, but the selection of other normal weapons and armor should often be limited.  Larger towns should carry a better selection, and cities should offer everything except elfin chain.


Availability of Magical Treasure:

Character class monsters may leave the bulk of their wealth at home while on patrol, but they'll have their best weapons and protective gear with them.  If the party defeats them, the party should get their gear.  Plan accordingly.

In a 'low treasure' design it is best to remove all items that can't be used by the monster, such as wands, scrolls, and potions, unless it is something you specifically want the party to have.

Giving a monster magic weapons and armor, then setting the 'No Treasure From Monsters' button simply to prevent the party from getting the items is a poor designing.  If the player shouldn't have it, don't give it to the monster.  Also, it is neither fair nor necessary to give a ridiculously low base armor class to a character class monster.  Either assign the equipment to achieve the desired result, or change the monster to another type (a demon, for instance) that has the capabilities you desire and an experience award to match.  An advantage to this is that fighting a demon is more memorable than fighting a jacked-up fighter.

If you use monsters hit only by magical weapons, ensure magical weapons are available to the party.


Pricing of Magical Treasure:

If certain magic items will be very common in your design, consider using an item editor to reduce their price.  For example, if your patrols are comprised of default Evil Champions, shop owners may soon find themselves hip-deep in +1 Battle Axes.  Reducing the price by 1/2 to 2/3 would reflect the (expected) glut on the market.  It might also explain why all the guards were equipped with them in the first place.

If you sell magic items in shops, you might individually raise the price of those which (a) you expect players to find particularly desirable, and (b) cannot be scavenged from foes.  Editing monster items to facilitate this is recommended.

If you sell any particularly powerful magic items, it might be best to use 'Who Pays' and 'Give Treasure' events.  Probably with gems or jewels for currency.  This will enable you to limit the number sold and set the price to anything you deem appropriate without affecting the resale value.  For items whose magical plus is unimportant, you can use an item editor to negate the experience award.


Shop Prices:

A common method designers have used to limit the player's finances is to raise the price multiplier in shops.  This method has never worked.  If the multiplier is raised to x20, a Long Sword can be sold for 30 coins rather than 1.  If gems or jewelry are appraised, then kept and sold later, the sale price will be multiplied by 20.

As often stated, if shop prices vary by a factor of more than 2, items can be bought in the cheap shops and sold in the expensive shops to supply unlimited funds to the player.  Cheap non-magical missiles which can't be resold are the exception to this rule.

Setting shop prices to 'Normal' or slightly lower usually works best for limiting the money available to the party.


Experience Points and Appraisal:

The HackCKIT 'Treasure' editor allows editing the die roll and sale values for the gem and jewel appraisal tables.  Reducing the sale values will reduce the party's income.

The xp values for gems, jewels, and magic items (per plus) are set on the same page.

The gem and jewel xp awards need not be adjusted to match reduced sale values.  Giving an appropriate number of either to unique 'Boss' monsters can replace 'Gain Experience' events, and give the player a bit of wealth at the same time.  This can be useful to those of us who chronically run short of events.


Expenses:

(If we could give them kids and mortgages this would be soooo simple.)

Cost of Training:

There is no way to set training cost relative to a character's level in FRUA, but moving the party to different areas as the game progresses (with no means of returning to the previous area) can achieve a similar effect.  When the party is on a map where goblins and orcs are common, training cost may be set to 100.  When they move to a map where ogres are common, training cost may be set to 250.  When they move to a map where trolls are common, training cost may be set to 1,000, and so forth.  The cost should never be set to more than a character can carry.

Whether or not the cost varies, it is important to ensure players can obtain the funds to train their characters in a reasonable amount of time, if not immediately.  As Ben S. has said, having to make a choice of who to train, or whether to spend the money on equipment instead of training can make a game more interesting.

The cost of training should be less daunting as the party advances in level and wealth.   It should rarely, if ever, be a concern to a successful party whose members have reached "Name" level.  This reflects the difference in earnings between an apprentice and a master of a profession, as well as the increased amount of experience required to level up.


Magic Items:

Magical armor and wielded weapons are durable goods, but consumable magic items are expenses.  Potions are limited in doses and duration.  Magical darts, bolts, and arrows are single use and will need replacing.  Scrolls have no more than 3 spells, and spells and price can be adjusted to match the level of play.  I would not expect these to be available in the average country hamlet, but they should not be unusual in the larger cities.  After all, non-adventuring mages have to earn a living somehow.  Most players will willingly purchase these items if available.

Wands and other items with a set number of charges would also fall into this category, but I would probably only make them available for sale in high-level designs.  They can be very unbalancing at low levels.

Other:

As mentioned in another thread, you can add other expenses if needed.

Examples:
  - Transportation
  - Information
  - Bribes (Though my LGs wouldn't go for this.  Nor would I.)
  - Guides
  - Other specialists

One thing I notice I almost never use is temple healing.  If my party is torn up too badly I reload and retry instead.  Possibly because half my party are usually elves who can't be raised.
« Last Edit: December 04, 2012, 01:48:54 AM by nologgie »
Some days it just doesn't pay to gnaw through the straps.

Offline ProphetSword

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Re: CRPG Economic Theory
« Reply #1 on: December 04, 2012, 07:16:35 AM »
This is well done and seems like a prime candidate for a newsletter article.
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Offline bravedogbfg

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Re: CRPG Economic Theory
« Reply #2 on: December 04, 2012, 11:02:50 AM »
I have a minute, so I am going to take a crack at the theory part of the economy.

The nature of the game and the translation to the computer weighs heavily in favor of more combat.  This is because in any module it is impossible to anticipate and code for every player decision and role-playing opportunity and the computer handles combat much more fluidly than the table top does.

With this in mind, the player's goals are geared more towards amassing powerful weapons, armor and magical items than wealth.  Mundane expenses such as rent, food, clothing, (gasp) taxes - if overdone will bog the game down and take the fun out of it. 

So, what to do with treasure?

TRAINING

The issue here is that the costs at low levels can be prohibitive and at high levels it is minimal.  In this I have to disagree with ProphetSword.  I am of the opinion that in most cases, the costs of training should start at a minimal level and become MORE daunting as the character reaches ever higher and higher levels.

Look at what characters gain from training.  A fighter character at level 1 gains a +5% chance to hit and 1-10 hit points.  They go from completely inept and fragile, to learning a few basic pointers and ways to take a punch.  At higher levels, they are learning how to work in more attacks, survive dragonfire, and how to pierce the toughest of armors. 

Not only are the skills more and more difficult to learn, but the people who can TEACH these skills would be progressively rarer (and more expensive).

High training costs at low levels also turn parties into pack horses.  The enemies short swords and chainmail are too valuable to leave behind if you need the cash for training.

MAGIC ARMS

I am of the opinion (and I know that this varies from campaign to campaign) that as a general rule most shops should not carry anything over +1.  Enchantment is expensive and requires the arcane arts.  And those items that they do carry should be expensive.  Anything +3 and above in my adventures was specifically named and had a history to it. 

The Arcane Weapons dealer is one solution.  But they should be mysterious, and difficult and dangerous to find.  Thieves Guild masters and the rumor of the elvish Arcane Blacksmith come to mind.  It will take $$ to find them and $$ to get them to open up to you

MONEY

So what to do with all the money?  In some modules my guys were so loaded with coin that their movement was down to 3.  I had to drop it all and stick with gems and jewelry only. 

In table top, characters could invest their money into land, a keep, a business.... this is all harder in the computer world (but hopefully possible in DC).

What else can money be used for?  In DC, I have some ideas -

1.  Information.  Cash loosens lips and pays for scholarly research.
2.  Spells - DC opens up a whole new world of magical spells.  they are probably expensive
3.  Investment - The local shops don't have a great selection?  Use money to open up new trade routes and increase supplies
4.  Audience with officials - grease the palms so to speak
5.  New Skills - special abilities are going to be very interesting in DC.  Who can train these?

I am probably rambling now... so I'll stop here and get back to work.  :)

Offline Kaz-Keith

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Re: CRPG Economic Theory
« Reply #3 on: December 04, 2012, 12:47:16 PM »
*One option available to FRUA, at least, is the event TEMPLE and DONATION... who knows just how many coins could provide absolution or benediction or contrition or any other obfuscated shun words.

*Purchasing sponsorship on behalf of the party could also become a good venue for a spendspree:  selecting from several behind-the-scenes patrons that then provide the party with certain knowledges, quests, and/or abilities otherwise closed to them.  Patrons could be class-based and/or organisation-based such as a Thieves' Guild the party must buy their way into or purchasing the services of an Alchemist to brew potions or medicines or cure-alls or explosive weaponry.

*Buying your way out of trouble doesn't always necessarily mean giving a bribe, but boy howdy do those silvers open doors and shut mouths.  Paladins need not apply (nor decry).

*Buying convenience:  one-time purchases that provide ease to the player/party:  perhaps, instead of slogging their way back home from a dungeon, the party can rent the services of a traveling wagon to return home near-instantly.  Renting inn-rooms can be a needless process if one can afford the purchase of a suite of rooms for permanent resting.  Another great purchase would be to pay for a cadre of specialists (higher-level-than-the-party) to take the time to provide training to the party before moving on... especially useful whilst in the field.  Mayhaps an itinerant merchant/dungeoneer appears to sell/buy with the party, though her prices are inflated for the convenience, or she sells only certain rare items.

Offline hans

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Re: CRPG Economic Theory
« Reply #4 on: December 04, 2012, 02:06:52 PM »
Somewhile back, I started a thread on the General Discussion board entitled SHUA: other things to spend power points on
http://ua.reonis.com/index.php?topic=1342.0 

It postulated using SHUA money (power points) on things other than super-powers, and so relates to this thread.  Like some of the suggestions, here, events to could be tied to, or influenced by, Special Items bought by the PCs.  The possibilities along this line are endless, and certainly not limited to FRUA and SHUA.  A Buck Rogers or SFUA mod, for example, could sell (or rent) spaceships of different ranges and armaments that could effect stories in any number of different ways.  A designer really has no limits in this vein, other than his/her imagination.

Offline SilentThief

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Re: CRPG Economic Theory
« Reply #5 on: December 04, 2012, 03:41:29 PM »
My opinion from my days as a DM:

I believe it is more effective to limit the amount of wealth available to the party than to focus entirely upon ways to take it away after they earn it.

Amen to that! You have to have control from the beginning else it turns to "monty haul". Lots of riches make adventuring almost pointless, it just becomes an exercise in making players more and more powerful so you cannot oppose them. Even if not for power, almost any problem becomes something the player could buy thier way out of and not risk anything becuz they have so much it doesn't matter.

I am of the opinion (and I know that this varies from campaign to campaign) that as a general rule most shops should not carry anything over +1.  Enchantment is expensive and requires the arcane arts.  And those items that they do carry should be expensive.  Anything +3 and above in my adventures was specifically named and had a history to it. 

Rewards of magic have the same problem. It becomes much more meaningful to get a weapon or armor with +1 if you have to earn it. I prefer to give potion/scroll or other one-shot items FAR MORE than items such as getting yet another +1 longsword. I remember reading something somewhere (I believe in a UANL) where it said that having multitudes of typical magical weapons and armor made them imagine an assembly line of wizards who put out +1 sword after +1 sword... And to me its ridiculous. Magical weaponry and armor is not something you should come by regularly at all, even if its less powerful than your current gear.

ST
ps, when I first DM-ed, I did it the other way and it was awful. level 6 fighters carrying 25000 gold and +5 weaponry and armor...

Offline nologgie

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Re: CRPG Economic Theory
« Reply #6 on: December 04, 2012, 06:12:18 PM »
Hi bravedogbfg!

I like your analysis of CRPG versus table top.

... In this I have to disagree with ProphetSword.  I am of the opinion that in most cases, the costs of training should start at a minimal level and become MORE daunting as the character reaches ever higher and higher levels.

That part wasn't ProphetSword, it was me.  When I said less daunting I meant that by the time they reached double digit levels they should have plenty of money tucked away to spend on training.  I think this holds true for both table top and computer versions.

Quote
A fighter character at level 1 gains a +5% chance to hit and 1-10 hit points.  They go from completely inept and fragile, to learning a few basic pointers and ways to take a punch.

Start by reading the manufacturers instructions on your scabbard. 
"Insert pointy end into enemy.  Repeat as necessary."

I believe Training Halls were invented solely to strip money from characters, and the 'Official AD&D' version is worse than the CRPG version.  The DMG guidance is that training should cost [Current Level] X 1,500 g.p. per week.  Up to 4 weeks of training can be required based upon the performance rating assigned by the DM.  Therefore, a 1st level thief with a poor performance rating would need 6,000 g.p. to train to 2nd level.  At 1 xp per g.p. gained, this equates to 999 xp more than required for 5th level without accounting for any 'adventuring' xp that might have been gained.  Self training takes twice as long, costs twice as much, and is only possible for characters with a rating of less than 2. 

Gary should have stood a bit further from the crack pipe while concocting this.

It says this concerning "name" level characters:

Quote from: 1e DMG page 86
Characters who have achieved "name" level must merely spend game
time equal to the number of weeks indicated by performance in
self-conducted training and/or study. Costs (in g.p. or equivalent) of the
exercise then become a function of class:

CLERIC     = 2,000 X level X week (vestments & largess)
FIGHTER   = 1,000 X level X week (tithes & largess)
MAGE        = 4,000 X level X week (equipment, books, experiments, etc.)
THIEF        = 2,000 X level X week (tools, equipment, etc.)

I started playing D&D before 'training' was invented.  All training was OJT (On the Job Training), and leaving the combat zone (spending a night in town) was how one leveled up.  Characters learned by doing, and getting better at it as they went along.  Mages got spells from scrolls or spellbooks, but none for gaining a level.  This method still makes the most sense to me, except for the 'spend a night in town' bit.

There is an old Chinese proverb that says "The more we sweat in training the less we bleed in battle", but that sort of training isn't done in a week.  The most effective training for combat has always been combat, but it only works for the survivors.


Quote
I am of the opinion (and I know that this varies from campaign to campaign) that as a general rule most shops should not carry anything over +1.  Enchantment is expensive and requires the arcane arts.  And those items that they do carry should be expensive.  Anything +3 and above in my adventures was specifically named and had a history to it.

I've never used this, but I think it's a neat way to do it.

Quote
The Arcane Weapons dealer is one solution.  But they should be mysterious, and difficult and dangerous to find.  Thieves Guild masters and the rumor of the elvish Arcane Blacksmith come to mind.  It will take $$ to find them and $$ to get them to open up to you

These would make for some interesting adventures on their own.

On the other hand, I think any college of magic might produce some types of magic items, possibly as part of it's curriculum.

------------------------------------

Good ideas on the money front too.

Another option is to allow a character (or the party) to buy a house.  In FRUA it can only work in the original design, but DC can assign the title (or house key) as a persistent character SA, so ownership could be retained through a series of designs.  You might even give a choice between several houses and track which one they bought.  It tracks time too, so they can be hounded by creditors if their accounts are in arrears!

*Purchasing sponsorship on behalf of the party could also become a good venue for a spendspree:  selecting from several behind-the-scenes patrons that then provide the party with certain knowledges, quests, and/or abilities otherwise closed to them.  Patrons could be class-based and/or organisation-based such as a Thieves' Guild the party must buy their way into or purchasing the services of an Alchemist to brew potions or medicines or cure-alls or explosive weaponry.

This could apply to any type of guild or fraternal organization membership.  Anything you want has a price, but money may not always be enough.

"Yeah, I can hook ya up.  But first ya gotta wear these goggles an' funny hats, and drive tiny cars in da parade tomorrah.  Bring candy ta t'row to da kids."
      - Gus T., Social Secretary, Kuo-Toa Shriners Temple #341

... I remember reading something somewhere (I believe in a UANL) where it said that having multitudes of typical magical weapons and armor made them imagine an assembly line of wizards who put out +1 sword after +1 sword...

Those would be college of magic graduates working off their student loans.  ;D
Some days it just doesn't pay to gnaw through the straps.

Offline bravedogbfg

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Re: CRPG Economic Theory
« Reply #7 on: December 04, 2012, 07:07:01 PM »
Sorry for the misquote Nologgie!

I actually like the idea of the "College of Wizardry" churning out potions and such.  But when a student is making the magic item it might not always work as intended.  I am thinking up some NASTY random effects.  Hey, you get what you pay for, right?

:) 

Offline Milos Gulan

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Re: CRPG Economic Theory
« Reply #8 on: December 05, 2012, 05:21:42 AM »
This is very interesting subject and very complex :) but I hope it can be sorted out. That first post was very good and inspiring and also others that followed.

I think that Economics can be reflected in fantasy but it also has those fantasy elements like that College of Wizardry, which has significant influence on the world around.  Also it has to be said that the good and new things are those that move things around, and that in designing always they had to be respected, as they are the ones that makes profits :) So basicaly things that can be sold on the market will have demand, and they surely have to be made looking good, though sometimes their real value doesn't have to be always that :).

For me I was thinking just about that coinage problem. As it was said before they are heavy and not really good for transport if there is lots of it :D

Offline SilentThief

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Re: CRPG Economic Theory
« Reply #9 on: December 05, 2012, 07:53:09 AM »
I actually like the idea of the "College of Wizardry" churning out potions and such.  But when a student is making the magic item it might not always work as intended.  I am thinking up some NASTY random effects.  Hey, you get what you pay for, right?

GOOD POINT! Seems to me that there would be many "miracle elixers" of questionable origin for sale in a fantasy economy, as well as real life history. Snake oil salesmen, cons, and even honest-to-goodness mistakes could make it difficult to even know who to buy from. Considering how it would be easier to sell a scam than actually research magic items. And easier to steal them than to buy them... while I wouldn't want players to feel cheated, it should be difficult to find a "for real" magical item salesmen.

ST
« Last Edit: December 05, 2012, 10:11:48 AM by SilentThief »

Offline nologgie

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Re: CRPG Economic Theory
« Reply #10 on: December 05, 2012, 01:55:34 PM »
I think demand should have a lot to do with the number and potency of magical weapons available.  If your campaign has no creatures that are only hit by magical weapons, magical weapons should be rare.  If your campaign has areas periodically ravaged by elementals, +2 weapons should be available, and probably sold in some shops.  In the hidden section of Ivid the Undying with gates to other planes and worlds, I'd expect +3 weapons to be available in the back room of some weapon shops.

If I ran a weapon shop in a Ravenloft setting, you'd be hard pressed to find anything that didn't at least have silver worked into the business end.


For me I was thinking just about that coinage problem. As it was said before they are heavy and not really good for transport if there is lots of it :D

It's easy to change coin encumbrance in DC, but we can't do it in FRUA.  Buying bundled magic items (arrows, bolts, or blessed bolts) is a pretty good solution it they're available.  You lose half the value, but if the alternative is to dump the money it's a bargain.

Another solution that worked well in testing was to create 'certified gem' items.  If you use these, all your shop prices should be set to normal, or at least a constant value you can adjust for.  I used two types:  Emerald, price = 500 (resale 250) and Ruby price = 2000 (resale 1000).  Both had a bundle quantity of 1 and an encumbrance of 0.  I sold them at jeweler's shops using 'Who Pays' events with a mark up of 10% over the resale price, so Emeralds sold for 275 and Rubies for 1100.  Adjust the prices to whatever you want, and the mark up to whatever you think is appropriate.

There are 2267.96 carats per pound, and the bundle fills an equipment slot, so I think the balance is pretty good.  255 one caret stones would weigh 0.11 pounds, so it's much closer than an encumbrance of 1 which would give the bundle a max weight of 25.5 pounds.  If the stones were increased to 5 carets, the actual max bundle weight would be just under 9 ounces.  Or just over if they're in a nice leather wallet.


Seems to me that there would be many "miracle elixers" of questionable origin for sale in a fantasy economy, as well as real life history. Snake oil salesmen, cons, and even honest-to-goodness mistakes could make it difficult to even know who to buy from. Considering how it would be easier to sell a scam than actually research magic items. And easier to steal them than to buy them... while I wouldn't want players to feel cheated, it should be difficult to find a "for real" magical item salesmen.

Dissing the snake oil?  It was commonly a mix of laudanum (an opium and alcohol mixture), and many versions included cocaine (as did the original Coca-Cola) to add a little pep.  It was often cheaper than whiskey, and packed a better wallop.  While it was not a cure-all, it was an effective pain killer.  Quite a bargain, really.

I'd expect colleges of magic to have good quality control for their 'official' output because it would affect the college's reputation.  The same would apply to established shops.  Con artists would have a harder time with 'Detect Lie' and divination spells available, but bargain bins and back-alley outlets could still be risky.  Get hair samples from street vendors so if items turn out to be fake you can easily locate and kill them.  It helps keep things honest.  :D

Random effects can be done in FRUA even with the limited number of items, but DC allows a much greater range and variety.  ;D
Some days it just doesn't pay to gnaw through the straps.

Offline Milos Gulan

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Re: CRPG Economic Theory
« Reply #11 on: December 06, 2012, 03:30:49 AM »
Yes gems are defentily good and maybe gold bars would do good to :) if there is really lots of coins they should be I guess easier for handling :). I wonder how much one gold bar would cost in GP's :)

Offline bravedogbfg

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Re: CRPG Economic Theory
« Reply #12 on: December 06, 2012, 07:41:10 AM »
I'd expect colleges of magic to have good quality control for their 'official' output because it would affect the college's reputation.  The same would apply to established shops. 

My sister used to get her dental work done at the University of Penn Dental school.  The students would perform the work under the supervision of the teacher.  Regular cleanings were great.  Until....

She went in to have her wisdom teeth removed.  The student was a smallish man who seemed very unsure of himself.  I met her afterward and it looked like someone hit her in the face with a baseball bat.  She was swollen up crazy and dripping blood from her mouth.  I don't think the guy had the upper body strength to do it right. 

I took her back to the place to get her some help but the receptionist told me that everyone had gone to lunch.  It wasn't until I threatened to tear the place up until I found a tylenol that they called someone back.

She is fine now.  But it was a very bad experience. 

So I am a little skeptical when it comes to that sort of thing.  And Penn's reputation hasn't suffered that much  :)

Offline nologgie

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Re: CRPG Economic Theory
« Reply #13 on: December 06, 2012, 12:53:53 PM »
My brother-in-law had a very bad experience with open heart surgery at UA Birmingham in May.  He almost died from the inept closing, and finally got the last drain tube out of his chest last week.

The difference is that when things are done directly to a person, they can't be undone.  When things are made in batches (potions, arrows, bolts) a sample can be tested, and the remainder can either be sold or discarded.  Scrolls can be proofread without casting.  'Durable' items can be tested as well.

Quality control never works well for specific individual performances, but does for manufactured items.
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Offline Null Null

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Re: CRPG Economic Theory
« Reply #14 on: December 07, 2012, 02:34:25 PM »
First of all: sorry about your brother-in-law. That is some scary stuff. I hope he's better now!
 
On the subject of economic theory, I believe one of the foremost authorities, albeit now in considerable disrepute, may be of use:

A spectre is haunting the Moonsea — the spectre of communism. All the powers of old Faerun have entered into a holy alliance to turn this spectre: Vaasan and Rashemi, Manshoon and Malthiir, Harper rangers and Zhentil necromancers.
Where is the party in opposition that has not been decried as communistic by its opponents in power? Where is the opposition that has not hurled back the branding reproach of communism, against the more advanced opposition parties, as well as against its reactionary adversaries?
Two things result from this fact:
I. Communism is already acknowledged by all Faerunian powers to be itself a power.
II. It is high time that Communists should openly, in the face of the whole world, publish their views, their aims, their tendencies, and meet the vaporous gas spore of the Spectre of Communism with a manifesto of the party itself for the true beholder.
To this end, Communists of various nationalities have assembled in New Phlan and sketched the following manifesto, to be published in the Common, Elvish, Dwarvish, Halfling, Gnomish, and Orcish.
The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles. Fighter and mage, cleric and thief, ranger and paladin, in a word, oppressor and oppressed...
 


Oh yes, not that sort of economic theory, right.

First of all, if you can teach magic like you teach law or medicine or engineering (professions requiring long training and more-or-less high intelligence), seems to me the wizards are going to try to make money off the deal--why give away your meal ticket without a price? Tuition would probably be high, and if you try to practice unlicensed magics three guys in purple robes show up at your door and cast Magic Missile (or Fireball). They would likely make money brewing potions of healing, invisibility, and such. (I believe wizards are allowed to brew potions of healing in 1st ed, which raises all sorts of potential conflicts with the clerics as the dispensers of healing...) It's not inconceivable they could be churning out +5 ammunition for the local lord, or +1 if you want to keep higher-level items mysterious and rare. Perhaps you need rare ingredients, or morally dubious rituals (Eyes of Charming are the actual former eyes of a virgin...).

If you want to waste the party's money, you can use Who Pays events to charge gems or jewelry instead of platinum. Also, just because there's a shop doesn't mean it has infinite stock--you may remember the one-time offer in Pools of Darkness of a mace +4 for 10 gems. (In Pools of Darkness, of course, this is a fairly unexceptional item.) Create a Who Pays event that you have to bribe people to get to, and maybe even go on a quest for, and you preserve much of the rarity and exceptionality of the item while using up the money and remain fairly true to human nature.

Also, you may remember trying oh-so-hard to fight leader-types so you could grab their stuff, particularly in the early, more amoral games like Pool of Radiance (I cast Haste on myself so I could catch Al-Hyam Dhazid trying to flee, kill him, and grab his bracers AC3 and wand of lightning.) You don't actually think you're the only money-hungry party in the universe, do you? As you become more famous, you gain challengers. Gaining some items might increase random encounters for a while as rival parties try to waylay you and grab your stuff for themselves.

Wonderful ideas, everyone!

 

anything