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Economics!

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Economics!

Postby Icarus » Fri Dec 13, 2013 3:54 pm

So, I'm freely soliciting suggestions regarding how to make a decent static economy in an RPI/Diku/ARPI MUD.

We don't have enough people to simulate a full economy. We don't have programmers to add much (if any) new functionality. (we do but they are busy) Prices cannot fluctuate based on supply.

The key, I think, is to prevent excessive inflation. Not sure how to do that. I'm sure other staff members do, but I wanted some player opinions as well!
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Re: Economics!

Postby Throttle » Fri Dec 13, 2013 4:54 pm

I don't really think a fully functional, balanced and stable economy can be done. You can limit inflation by simply making cash harder to get, like we did on Parallel, but you can't make an all-encompassing economy work properly in a game like this. There's just too small a population and no way to really simulate the factors that go into an actual economy, such as supply and demand or resource scarcity. You're better off aiming for certain goals, such as keeping merchants viable or eliminating the dreaded grind for money that so many games devolve into.

Trying for a balanced middle ground is just going to get you a watered-down mess like we had in the original SOI where money exists and is technically needed by nearly everybody, but most characters are unable to get it unless they do out-of-character things or game the system in questionable ways. It encourges people to "farm" for money and to play in perpetual pursuit of wealth so they can essentially buy coded power in the form of superior equipment and, in some cases, NPC henchmen. This always seemed wildly anti-Tolkien.

Then you have Armageddon's model at one extreme. I say model, but really theirs is just a chaotic non-system of two decades worth of accumulated economic clutter. If it can be called a system at all, it's one where you can make ridiculous amounts of money in all manner of absurd ways but then can't really spend it on anything besides storebought gear because there simply isn't much else available for purchase. The result is that money is largely ignored as a gameplay feature because there's no consistency whatsoever, you could take a lowly tailor or salt-grebber and make more money than a noble's stipend if so inclined (and not afraid to get your hands dirty with a bit of the ol' powergaming). As a consequence, nobody really wants to deal too much with money since the economy is completely ephemeral and impossible to work with as a construct. How much is money really worth if anyone can twink themselves to a fortune? This makes a lot of the roleplay really contrived as characters should be concerned with money but the players aren't because the system is garbage.

In the other end of the spectrum is Parallel where you have a very small and controlled number of ways to generate money, and likewise few but deliberately designed ways to spend it. Aside from player-to-player trades, SOI's economy could be made so that you don't really have a wide range of things to spend money on, and the things you can buy might be less universally desirable things like, say, renting a smithy or paying for clan facilities such as a market stall or storage building. This would make money something to strive for collectively as a clan, or for players of a select few roles like merchants and entrepreneurs, rather than something every player in the game is highly obsessed with because they need to scrape together for an upgraded longsword. If the game's itemization and crafting system is designed so that you can't keep purchasing better and better "tiers" of equipment like you essentially could in the original SOI, players won't feel compelled to constantly try to make more money and buy coded power. This will put most of the game's money AND pursuit of money into the hands of those who should be dealing with it: clanleads and actual merchants.

Parallel's system wasn't picture perfect, but I think it was closer to a sensible goal than any other game ever managed, and I think it's the best one both for gameplay purposes and for the Middle-Earth setting. Tolkien never placed much emphasis on wealth for common people, making it a defining characteristic of select individuals rather than something that everyone should be dealing with on a daily basis. I think it should be possible (the norm, in fact) to make a character who just has no reason or opportunity to deal with money beyond the small sums needed to buy food or the occasional tool, but this wouldn't work if opting out of the money grind means you have to accept huge disadvantages and opportunity costs.
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Re: Economics!

Postby Octavius » Sat Dec 14, 2013 6:54 pm

Particularly in this setting, Tolkien regarded pursuit and hoarding of wealth as "dragon-sickness" and greed is a tangible, corruptive force of evil.

Can we summon Smaug to claim the hoards of any coin or power-mad PCs?
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Re: Economics!

Postby Letters » Sat Dec 14, 2013 10:31 pm

I'm amenable to Harshlands' system. It's not perfect, but something similar to it might be successful in Laketown. My brain is presently extolling the virtues of sleep, but I might have time tomorrow to write something detailed.
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Re: Economics!

Postby Icarus » Sun Dec 15, 2013 7:49 am

Parallel's system did work relatively well. How does Harshlands do it?
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Re: Economics!

Postby Frigga » Sun Dec 15, 2013 8:30 am

Harshlands has a "payday" system that gives you an income token each week. Depending on your skills and Mangai (AKA their version of Fellowships) affiliation, you'll then have different crafts and opportunities to turn that income token into various forms of income for different amounts of money given your skill/rank. Working with this system is the need to update a "tax form" and pay taxes (with a morphing object) or you can't collect your paydays.

They also have an "OOC" market and "OOC" coin system rather than an active in-shop sale system to represent vNPC sales. Also, items that don't have crafts can be purchased by crafters with certain clanning in the "OOC stockroom" that they can then RP they created. Objects are sold to NPCs (either in the "free market" with hawking tokens produced from the income token) or if you are a Mangai (AKA Fellow) to the doorguard of your respective organization.

So, their system is a bit static. Most PCs can look forward to a very low and very set amount of money each month. The result of no vNPC sales is that PCs are the only way that items leave shops - ever. So, an item produced might exist, well, for all eternity.

I think their "payday" set up works well (and could for us) in service type jobs, where a player doesn't neccessarily produce products for sale. (Say, Guard roles.) It then requires a bit more interaction than simply logging in, pressing "Payday" and getting insta-coinage.

(I can write up some more thoughts on this for the staff board, as I'd been pondering on it anyways. :D )
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Re: Economics!

Postby Throttle » Sun Dec 15, 2013 10:58 am

That sounds terrible.
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Re: Economics!

Postby Emilio » Sun Dec 15, 2013 11:06 am

Too complex for my taste of a roleplaying game. Besides, I'm not into grinding money, and, I prefer a simple way of living. Get food, eat, get drunk, fight and sleep.
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Re: Economics!

Postby Frigga » Sun Dec 15, 2013 12:25 pm

Throttle wrote:That sounds terrible.


It has problems. I think it has some interesting ideas we could potentially apply even within the context of decreasing the monetary focus.

(Placeholder til I'm off my phone and can type more.)
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Re: Economics!

Postby Letters » Sun Dec 15, 2013 7:33 pm

I made some words.

Coinage
Esgaroth probably doesn't have a mint. There's probably money brought by refugees or scavengers from Dale, or the dwarven realm or other places further afield. I doubt that there is any sort of standardised system of coinage made from precious metal. Here are two suggestions.

1) Hand-wave it, make a few sets of coins, and let them be used as they have been elsewhere in the past, with standardized values for each. There's nothing wrong with that.

2) I can imagine a certain level of bureaucracy in Esgaroth (Middle-earth's only republic). Create an assayer's office/banker in the town, that issues promissory notes in exchange for coins or other precious commodities. Say that town law mandates that precious metal simply isn't legal tender for trade, unless a person possesses a suitable license. Those individuals with such licenses would function as merchants, and the town's link with the world beyond, since foreigners may not be so keen on accepting a bit of paper for their goods. That may get a little convoluted, but I'm just speculating. The system wouldn't handle semi-precious coinage, which would be good to have for use in taverns and for other small transactions, besides. The promissory notes issued by the bank would serve as the main currency inside the town. The bank might also be more than a little bit suspicious of somebody not licensed as a trader showing up with a stack of gold.

Number two, or some similar system, has the advantage of NPCs being able to gobble up any surplus of money, potentially by means of skimming off the top, and heavily regulating trade with the world beyond, unless player characters fancy getting involved in smuggling, and even then, their Dwarven Sword of Orc Smiting +1 might stand out somewhat.

Player character merchants
I can't imagine a dwarf paying visits to individual charcoal burners to buy the stuff off them, or someone off the streets going in search of an elf to try to get wine. In fact, I doubt the town would even permit it. It makes such things as tax and tariffs and basic monitoring of trade a little tricky. Trade with these external entities should be handled by PC merchants who are licensed by the town. They can be granted access to a selection of otherwise inaccessible NPC merchants to sell goods. Raw materials might be better handled by something more like a prog than a merchant, actually, to keep the amount that can be sold in check. PC merchants would have to procure these goods from other PCs. These NPC merchants may also have a selection of goods for sale which cannot be produced in the town, or are otherwise a rare sight. If the promissory note idea from above is run with, these PC merchants would be the same ones that handle the silver and gold legally.

The raw material industry
I'm guessing that the major exports from Esgaroth are wood, charcoal and fish. There is also presumably at least some arable land in the region, which may support various foodstuffs, as well as plenty of pasture. Flax may be grown locally, too, and would be useful for clothing, whereas cotton is very likely out of the question. There may be a few hunters, too. I've given hunting its own section down below.

The above materials, whether raw or having undergone the initial stages of processing, would constitute the stuff that gets sent out to the world beyond. The fish may be salted or smoked first. The wood may be processed, either by just going through a sawmill, or perhaps carpenters might export finished goods. Flax may be turned into linen. Assorted other crops or products from animals may be processed a bit and sent on.

All that stuff probably lies at the core of Esgaroth's economy. What's really relevant here is how you want player characters to interact with it. I'm going to run with the assumption that at least some players are interested in playing lumberjacks, fisherman, farmers and so on. They should be viable trades. There should be no easy way for them to just go and sell an entire year's worth of goods all at once and come back loaded, however. There shouldn't be NPC buyers all over the place. In fact, there shouldn't be any which are accessible to the average PC. If they're in a position to trade on their own behalf, they might do so with other PCs on a small-scale. If they want to sell on their goods in bulk, though, then they may need to go to a PC merchant, who in turn has access - and perhaps only sporadic access - to NPCs from the world beyond, who want those raw materials. That would enable staff to cut down on demand or tweak prices at will. There's possibly also the possibility of varying supply levels by tinkering with crafts. This set-up would also hopefully provide opportunities and reasons for companies and collectives to form - an NPC-led group or two might help out at the start here.

Production of high quality goods
Esgaroth is probably a conveniently located site for commerce, even if Dale is currently a blasted ruin. That said, I don't envisage it as being home to the technology or expertise to produce certain goods. Some things would simply need to be imported. Players still like to make stuff, so there still, somehow, needs to be an abundance of stuff to make. I don't think any would even particularly mind being unable to make the very best stuff, which may need to be imported, as long as here is sufficient variety in what they can make.

I've put a few subcategories relating to high quality goods below, but if you don't care for a wall of text, and since they're only tangentially related to the topic, and are written without any knowledge of existing items and crafts, feel free to skip right on down to the next bold text header.

Wood and carpentry
Considering that great big forest nearby, and that the entire town is built of wood, on a lake, the woodwork from Esgaroth might be the best in the region. As well as exporting lumber, wood seems to be the prime suspect for exports for finished goods from the region. I don't think anyone has ever accused a high quality wardrobe of unbalancing a game, either.

Clothing
Linen and wool should be the two most common materials for clothing. A good local tailor would be proficient with them, and would probably spend most of their time producing hard-wearing work clothes. Cotton, being neither a particular luxury nor easy to get, may be a rarer sight. Silk would be a mark of extreme wealth or remarkable connections. Someone who knows more about tailoring might be able to say whether a regular clothier would be able to work with it, or if the garments themselves would be produced abroad as well as the material.

Arms
Spears should be the weapon of choice, with perhaps a variety of other wood-hafted weaponry. Good weapons should be few and far between, and the very best of them would be imported, and probably tightly controlled by the town. Swords should be tremendously expensive. Helmets should be the only common form of metal armour, and the production of mail, while possible in the town, should be long and slow, and mail armour itself unaffordable for all but the stupendously wealthy or those sponsored by the town itself.

Tools
This has always been an under-explored field. I don't have anything in particular to say other than to flag it up as an item of interest. Perhaps wear on tools as they're used would be a good thing to have, creating a genuine need for a toolmaker, and another sink for money and resources.

Food
Warding off starvation shouldn't be a constant struggle. That's not particularly interesting or enjoyable. Having mountains of cooked food everywhere, stacked so high that there are things rotting daily, is not desirable either. People, bar those in jobs where they get fed, should have to pay a reasonable amount for their food. Within the town itself, considering that the town is built entirely of wood, down to its streets, the risk of fire should be a major consideration for everyone, which could be a good excuse to deprive the average household of proper cooking facilities. On the other hand, I don't fancy seeing player characters become paupers just because their player logs in for longer than somebody else, and they both work exactly the same profession and earn the same amount, but one just happens to need to eat more due to being online for longer. However it works out, food should be a real consideration.

One idea is that a person could pay a fee at a sort of food shop once an in game month, and receive all the food they request there (they'd have to be made less hungry without ever actually being given a food object, in case they give it away). I'd set that such that the fee paid would be roughly equivalent to what it would cost someone cooking for themselves with cheap ingredients who logged in fifteen hours per real life week.

vNPC sales
No.

If there are even shop-fronts at all, I'd rather see them as an opportunity for PC to PC sales. If there's a surge in demand for certain items in the town and a PC happens to have them, staff can handle that on a case by case basis. Those selling raw materials can deal with PC merchants if they want to sell in bulk.

Pay
I'll divide this up according to different sorts of jobs.

Raw materials producers
Independent workers do not receive any automated pay of any sort. They must all deal with other PCs to sell their materials, and receive payment for that.

Company heads/collective representatives do the same, and can then either go and hand out money/promissory notes to their people themselves, or they can drop it in a strongbox to have an NPC dispense it. In this instance, the traditional payday system is ideal, although a log of who is drawing pay would certainly help someone running a group to weed out anyone who's logging in once a week for a minute to collect their pay then vanishing again. Even if they have very different playtimes, it's easy to check it out, what with them having raw materials to show for it.

Town employees
This encompasses anyone who works in a position which doesn't actually produce any goods, and where their employer is an NPC. This could be anything from crew for a transport barge to the local guard. Since their employer can't oversee every last thing, and since even a PC superior might be missing out, instead of paying them directly, I would employ a few simple crafts to force them to be in places where they should logically be, at least from time to time. When they type payday, they're bestowed with a certain number - let's say five - of 'lists of orders' or something similar, which can then be used, in the appropriate locations, to generate money. In the case of the guard, this might include patrolling certain parts of the town - their crafts might only function in taverns, or at the gates, and so on. Put a six hour timer on these crafts. The amount which can be generated per token can be increased with rank. Something similar could be applied to a few positions.

Player character merchants
They'll just have to do the best they can for themselves, and hope the town doesn't gouge them too hard on the tax front.

Producers of finished goods
PC merchants can get money from selling to NPCs. Major producers of raw materials can get their money from PC merchants. Employees of various places can lean on their employers. Those who sell finished goods pull the short stick here. vNPC income is, as is, a bad idea. I think that an adaptation of Harshlands' system would be suitable for crafters, without breaking the economy. I'm still puzzling over how to implement it elegantly here, and without having to build an entire new system from the ground up. The key points which it achieves are to ensure that PC crafters do have a vNPC income, while keeping it well-regulated, eliminating the need for a shopkeeper for every crafter, and making it such that they do actually have to make and sell some items, rather than the money simply materializing.

Wear on items
This is vital to ensure a constant cycling of old, worn-down objects out of the system, and new ones back in. Weapons should need to be discarded or reforged eventually. Cloth and leather that is damaged by some direct means should require patching, and even then, it should eventually be worn down to the point of needing to be replaced. Mail should be hard to damage, but once it is damaged, it will need the care of a skilled smith to repair.

It would be nice to see some crafts have a chance to cause damage to clothing. This would keep people wearing sensible work clothes when working, and even those might need replacing.

Fine clothing in particular should require special services to clean up properly. I don't know how feasible that is to implement, but it would certainly keep people wearing it in sensible places.

As mentioned above, it would be nice to see tools have a bigger part to play than just being some easily replaced item.

Property tax
Space is presumably at a premium within the town proper. It would make sense for the town to levy a tax on those who own buildings in it, depending on the size of the building. I don't think this is quite so applicable to anything not built on the lake, since in those cases, space isn't so scarce, and they're probably not so secure, either.
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Re: Economics!

Postby Emilio » Sun Dec 15, 2013 8:46 pm

*runs away to join the orcs.*
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Re: Economics!

Postby Olthadir » Sun Dec 15, 2013 10:46 pm

My only suggestions in light of reading Letters' post is to not go away with coinage.

There is no doubt that Esgaroth does not have a mint, but the elves and dwarves probably do. esgaroth is known to trade very commonly with the elves and has some connection to the dwarves. I think for the sake of simplicity with the economy and money keeping for PCs coins should be kept in place.

I do like the PC to PC trades and business. I also agree that it should be more difficult to sell goods to people in bulk. I think there should be occasional caravans or something of that ilk that arrive and allow sale of things, if not for coins, then certainly as barter. I can imagine farmers trading a few bushels of wheat for dwarves tools or something.

As someone who ran a tavern back in Minas Tirith having a one stop place to drop off coin and be given a bunch of food defeats the purpose of being an RPI game. I see the concern and it does skew the economy when those IG more end up spending more on food because they are IG more. For that reason I do like vNPC sales, because those who spend time working and producing enough goods can get more money than if they log in for a few hours a week and do little and get paid a set amount.
I remember The Battered Shields income would change depending on what was on sale. The more workers I had, the more money I could make because more people were putting goods I the stock room.
I can see the issues with that system. But, I also never considered myself to be rich, and felt the system worked rather well, for me at least.
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Re: Economics!

Postby Emilio » Mon Dec 16, 2013 5:35 am

coin [koin] Show IPA
noun
1. a piece of metal stamped and issued by the authority of a government for use as money.
2. a number of such pieces.
3. Informal. money; cash: He's got plenty of coin in the bank.
4. Architecture , quoin ( defs 1, 2 ) .
5. Archaic. a corner cupboard of the 18th century.


In order to have coins, all we need is a metalworker and a set of different coin stamps kept in a secured safe place by the government and a list of values for these coins telling us what we can buy with the coins. The government can control the prices or the shop owners.
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Re: Economics!

Postby Throttle » Mon Dec 16, 2013 6:03 am

I don't see any point going into so much detail about an economy that won't work out anything like it looks on paper. It'll never turn out as planned, trust me. You're much better off working to establish two or three fundamental features that can define the economy rather than trying to account for everything before you've even seen how it pans out. Keep it simple.

Are you keeping the poor/ordinary/good tiers of equipment from ARPI?
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Re: Economics!

Postby Emilio » Mon Dec 16, 2013 6:11 am

I just want to add that taxes can be paid in material goods as well as food.
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Re: Economics!

Postby Letters » Mon Dec 16, 2013 7:16 am

The part with coinage there isn't the important one. Restrictions on the sale of goods are. vNPC income from shop sales doesn't work. Having a return of the Great Market would be rather a poor idea too. They both allow for tremendous amounts of money to be made very easily.

I thought those suggestions were simple enough, compared to past incarnations of an economy. Here it is again, but shorter.

People can harvest raw materials. These people can only sell directly to other PCs, including merchants in particular.

People can make stuff. These people can sell directly to other PCs, and are also able to get a modest income from selling to vNPCs, by using a system akin to Harshlands', rather than the old vNPC sales system.

People can work jobs that don't involve making anything. They'll be paid directly by their employer, whether PC or NPC. A set of basic crafts to ensure that they have to do more than log in for twenty seconds once a week and type payday would prevent the style of abuse of this system which has occurred in the past.

Merchants can sell stuff directly to a select few NPCs. The demand for goods can be adjusted by staff at will. Merchants must source their goods from PCs.

The production of high quality goods in the town should be long and difficult. The very best stuff will need to come from outside, via PC merchants.

Wear on items needs to be a significant factor.

[Optional] The town can retain tight control over the flow of silver and gold. Staff can use this to easily suck money out of the system or adjust values at will.
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Re: Economics!

Postby Emilio » Mon Dec 16, 2013 12:09 pm

Cuisine
Daily life of the Vikings in York, England, has been examined through archaeology. "We know from looking at undigested remains of plants from cesspits (latrine pits) at Coppergate that they certainly made bread from whole meal flour – probably both wheat and rye – but often it had seeds of cornfield weeds ground up in it. One of these, corncockle (Agrostemma), would have made the bread dark in colour, and as its seeds are poisonous, people who ate the bread contaminated with it might have become quite ill!"[29] Other items that have been discovered in the Viking diet included the seeds of carrots, parsnip, and brassicas. These were poor specimens and tend to show they came from white carrots and bitter tasting cabbages. Herbal seasonings were also found when the Coopergate cesspits were examined, and they included seeds of dill, coriander, and wild celery. Apple pits were a common find, from wild crab apples. Stones of small plums and cherries were also encountered.[30]
We also know from archeological remains that the Vikings in York ate mostly beef, mutton, and pork. Small amounts of horsemeat were eaten as well. Most of the beef and horse leg bones were found split lengthways, to get out the marrow. The mutton and swine were cut into leg and shoulder joints and chops. The frequent remains of pig skull and foot bones found on house floors indicate that brawn and trotters were also popular. Hens were kept for both their meat and eggs, and the bones of game birds such as the black grouse, golden plover, wild ducks, and geese have also been found.[31]
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Re: Economics!

Postby Seiryoku » Mon Dec 16, 2013 12:16 pm

From my limited experience I can say that forcing (some) characters to depend exclusively on PC-to-PC business is a bad idea. Especially considering player numbers will be most likely low during the early stages and you're very likely to find yourself with a bunch of raw materials you can't sell because X, who's the only PC woodworker in the game, can't login because he's busy with his finals until the end of the year (when your character has already passed away from starvation).

I like what Throttle posted in regards to Parallel's economy, though the description is vague enough for someone who hasn't played the game that I'm not sure how it works in practice.
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Re: Economics!

Postby Letters » Mon Dec 16, 2013 1:18 pm

If you aren't in a position where you have access to an NPC shopkeeper, and don't know somebody who would allow you to use their shopkeeper, and your playtimes and potential buyers' playtimes are that limiting, and attempts to arrange meetings have failed, and you can't find another PC to act as a middleman, it's possible that you would have been better off choosing a different sort of character to play. :P

However, if we do still want vNPC income for all, then my next suggestion to limit inflation and stop the accumulation of absurd levels of wealth is a fuller adaptation of Harshlands' current system.
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Re: Economics!

Postby Emilio » Mon Dec 16, 2013 1:50 pm

I don't want that. Too many things to keep track. Tokens, IG stores, OOC shops, crafts' timers, taxes, tariffs, toll-pay, licenses, and whatever else I'm forgetting. And, all I wanted to do was to hunt, skin and sell the furs in the market. There are a few good things in that system, but, it wasn't for me. I quit playing HL a few years ago and hadn't look back. The only good thing I remember was being able to buy a cottage or house with your starting money, find an empty spot in the residential or farming areas and set it up without admin assistance.
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Re: Economics!

Postby Olthadir » Wed Dec 18, 2013 9:06 am

Letters wrote:If you aren't in a position where you have access to an NPC shopkeeper, and don't know somebody who would allow you to use their shopkeeper, and your playtimes and potential buyers' playtimes are that limiting, and attempts to arrange meetings have failed, and you can't find another PC to act as a middleman, it's possible that you would have been better off choosing a different sort of character to play. :P


Seems a bit harsh.

At the beginning of the game when we are still looking for players to fill certain roles this is bound to happen, just as seiryoku said. Even in the good days this is bound to happen.
Speaking from experience, if it wasn't for vNPC purchases, I wouldn't have been able to pay the taxes for the tavern I owned. If I ran only on PC sales, I would have gone out of business in the first month.
Even if the taxes were designed to stop the wealth build up, I don't see it being that different. I kept detailed records of my transactions IG and IRL and I made a fraction of what I made on PC purchases.

I have also done many barters during my time and a good number of them took a while to actually carry through because of RL timing.
I am very opposed to any system of economy that says sorry, you can't play this type of character because you, or your customers cannot log in at the same time and a middle-man, for whatever reason is not an option.

Sometimes it is difficult. RL events should not dictate play style, and should not be the difference between life and death of the character.
If I want to play a shop-owner or other craft based character then I deserve to have that right.

I think a caravan system or something of the sort would be good, where craftsmen can trade raw-materials and goods to an elvish caravan in exchange for other raw-materials or goods or coins on a semi-regular basis. It would reflect the trade atmosphere of Esgaroth.

Also, vNPC sales do not need to be the source of major income for shopkeepers. They can be turned way down. Instead of buying out large swaths of store inventory, maybe they can purchase a small number of items weekly. Just enough to give some coin to keep the PCs job meaningful, but not enough to live off of. I have a hard time believing that if someone ran a clothing shop that only the PCs would buy from it. some vNPCs would eventually stop buy and maybe purchase something. Same for a food stall or any other shop.
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Re: Economics!

Postby Octavius » Wed Dec 18, 2013 10:38 am

Olthadir wrote:Speaking from experience, if it wasn't for vNPC purchases, I wouldn't have been able to pay the taxes for the tavern I owned. If I ran only on PC sales, I would have gone out of business in the first month.


To play devil's advocate, that sounds like a circular argument. vNPC sales gave wealth, which then created a tax system to keep wealth down.

This is a staff-->PC-->staff flow.

If our premise is that PC-->PC transactions build more RP, is that a valuable mechanic?
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Re: Economics!

Postby Letters » Wed Dec 18, 2013 10:51 am

I think you may have overlooked the point where I suggested that PC crafters have a means by which to secure a certain amount of non-randomized vNPC income, by way of a Harshlands' style system.

The people who cannot gain vNPC income directly in that proposal are the gatherers of raw materials. Enabling such gatherers to sell their goods directly to NPCs and vNPCs in the past has created preposterous (it required that much emphasis) amounts of wealth, no matter how much it was tweaked and adjusted. I'd much rather see them be required to deal with crafters, or with merchants who handle exports, which can in turn be staff-regulated much more easily than sales for every PC in the game can. If you're a lumberjack or a fisherman or a hunter or farmer, then you'll probably find direct employment with someone if you want it. Somebody with playtimes that prevent them from interacting with all potential buyers, who is playing an independent gatherer, and can't find a middleman, seems an unlikely edge case.

The only people at risk of being taxed in the scenario presented would be the merchants. They're the focal point at which the whole economy can be regulated, since they're the only ones with the ability to bring in genuinely substantial amounts of money from outside the system.

Of course, that all assumes usage of a such a system, but I've yet to see a fleshed out idea for something different from the old way - I really don't mean to try to take over the thread. :|
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Re: Economics!

Postby Emilio » Wed Dec 18, 2013 11:25 am

Maybe we should look at vNPC sales as the same as payday. In this case, this type of sales pays to the shop owners just enough to cover their basic needs so they can keep their business running.

If we're going to have a tax system, Me, as a fisherman, I would rather pay taxes with fish. Of course tha would mean I would have to "pay" more often than giving a huge amount of fish once a month so the fish they'll get is fresh and not rotten.
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Re: Economics!

Postby Letters » Wed Dec 18, 2013 11:54 am

Emilio wrote:Maybe we should look at vNPC sales as the same as payday. In this case, this type of sales pays to the shop owners just enough to cover their basic needs so they can keep their business running.

If we're going to have a tax system, Me, as a fisherman, I would rather pay taxes with fish. Of course tha would mean I would have to "pay" more often than giving a huge amount of fish once a month so the fish they'll get is fresh and not rotten.

vNPC sales as a payday is essentially how Harshlands' system operates. It furnishes PCs with a token which people can use to produce a number of notes which do not themselves act as money. They can also sell goods to select NPCs in exchange for an 'OOC' currency which isn't in-game money either. But what they can then do is combine the notes and OOC currency together, to obtain a quantity of in-game currency.

Raw materials gatherers alone are totally excluded from a vNPC income system in what I proposed, since raw materials should form the bulk of the town's exports. Enabling the direct sale of goods to NPCs would lead to a calamitous repeat of the Great Market, or otherwise a case of 'first come, first served' when it comes to getting to make the sales, whereas PC merchants would hopefully allow for regulation and all manner of haggling and negotiation. Gatherers can also go and sell direct to PC crafters, who should have no source of materials other than other PCs. Gatherers are also most likely to be the self-sufficient sorts - those that can obtain their own food to eat and so on, or who work with people that can provide - and consequently won't find a lean period rendering their character unplayable.

All of this can be streamlined by the use of NPC shopkeepers, of course. They're fine, when used appropriately. Just don't enable vNPC sales on them.

Personally, I don't like tax systems, so I just suggested semi-arbitrary gouging of merchants by NPCs. Though I can see something or another working, I suppose - it just needs to have the how, why, when, who orders it, where does the money go, etc. laid out.
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