Tuesday, December 14, 2010

RUNE Monster: Tube Striker

Tube Striker
Climate/Terrain: Temperate Subterranean land
Frequency: Common
Organization: Solitary(Incidental)
Activity Cycle: Any
Diet: Carnivore
Intelligence: Animal(1)
Treasure: Incidental
Alignment: True Neutral
No. Appearing: 1-100
Armor Class: 5 or -10
Movement: 0
Hit Dice: 1/2
Thac0: 19
# of Attacks: 1
Damage/attack: 1d4
Special Attacks: Fling
Special Defense: Impenetrable Tube.
Magic Resistance: Nil
Size: Medium(5' tall)
Morale: Champion(15-16)
XP Value: 15

At first glance a Tube striker appears to be a subterranean plant, with a hard stony bulb, from which protrudes a strange, gently waving yellow and brown stem and leaf. When one draws close however, a vaguely reptilian sounding hiss accompanies the retraction of the "stem and a good portion of the "leaf."

Combat: A Tube Striker attacks with lightning fast jabs, using the "leaf" which is actually a bladed sensory/reproductive organ to impale its foes like a harpoon. The "stem" is actually retractable into the creature's bone-bladed head. which sits atop a vaguely serpentine "neck." The Tube Striker is completely blind, but can sense prey accurately up to 10 feet away. There's a one-in-three chance that when a Tube Striker hits, instead of doing damage it will instead thrash about with its prey, completely disorienting the creature, before throwing it in a random direction(or possibly not so random), where the creature will take falling damage. The creature may instead grab an item being held by the character(50/50 chance of the creature grabbing a person or item). The "Tube" the creature hides in is impenetrable(hence AC -10). The AC 5 refers to the much softer reptilian and plant-like parts of the creature's body.

Habitat/Society: Tube Strikers have no known society whatsoever. Despite their relative abundance in the underdark, very little is known about these creatures. It's believed that they have 2 methods of reproduction. The first method is parthenogenic, in which the parent gives "birth" to buds which grow on the root-anchors. These buds are capable of movement once they splint off from the parent. However, this movement is still effectively 0, since it's measured in terms of feet per year. After about 1-2 years, the bud lays down its anchor-roots and does not move again. The second methods is spawning, in which the hermaphroditic Tube Strikers release egg-spores and sperm-spores into the air. The fertilized eggs, if they land in an appropriate area, first grow anchor roots before growing into a full tube striker.

Ecology: Tube Strikers feed on anything they can catch. This usually includes lizards, Rock Goblins, bats, and any slow-witted adventurers they can manage to catch. No other race hunts these creatures for food, but some primitive races attack the creatures for their "stem and leaf" organs which stiffen once severed, creating a primitive handaxe or club.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Economics Part 7: Middle Men(part 2)


In order to understand demand, we have to understand the economy being used. The assumption of this blog is that we’re using a barter-and-coin based economy similar to that used in early towns and cities found in Europe or in the various settlements found in Northern Europe before feudalism took hold.
This means that wealth can be divided up into a few different types:
  • Immovable: This is the most valuable kind of wealth as it consists of land and buildings. Land is the ultimate wealth. As such, it would take a stupidly high amount of any other form of wealth to get it, and anyone willing to accept such a deal would have to be outrageously desperate or incredibly foolish. Buildings on the other hand are different, as they can be easily sold, even if it does take a somewhat insane amount of money to purchase one.
  • Better-than-currency: In campaigns set at the early part of our era, certain items will actually carry more value than any easily amassed amount of gold(and thus accepted in more places), be far more easily transferable than land, and would generally be used to pay for large price items(such as buildings). This would include cattle(which is why the rune for Cattle and movable wealth are the same thing, Fehu/Feoh/FĂ©, in most of the Runic Poems of the Norse and Saxon tribes), Horses, and for a fantasy campaign: Magic Items.
  • Currency: This will consist of your coins, bars, beads, or whatever. The point is, this type of wealth is Cold hard cash. In a manorial village, this will be found almost solely in the hands of the feudal lord, while in a town or city, the vast majority of this wealth will actually be found in the hands of the “lower” and middle classes(more on classes later).
  • Items: This is going to be the most common form of wealth found in villages and other areas where currency hasn’t become the norm. The value of items is highly subjective and is the least stable. Interesting to note, despite their usual worth, Gems and jewelry are a part of this category. In terms of our world building, this is the great mass of stuff you’ve already generated.
  • Perceived Currency: This covers IOUs, promissory notes, and shares, all of which existed in Western Europe by the 12th Century(probably earlier, but off the top of my head, I can only confirm reading about some of it in a book pertaining to the 12th Century). This basically covers any sort of wealth that doesn’t actually exist in “hard” form.

The next thing you’re going to need to understand is class, and where all this wealth is distributed. As the vast majority of actual trade is going to occur in towns and cities, we’re only going to concern ourselves with the class structure of these locations:
  • Upper Class: The Upper class is going to consist of roughly 5-15%(5+1d10) of a town or city’s population. This includes the very wealthiest of merchants, guild leaders, aristocrats, and powerful clergymen(and may even include successful retired adventurers). The vast majority of Immovable wealth, Better than currency, and perceived currency is going to be found in their hands.
  • Middle Class: Given the era we’re working with, the middle class is a relatively recent phenomenon, and will only represent a small portion of the settlement’s population, perhaps 15-25%(15+1d10). This is going to be your middle and high ranking guildsman, successful merchants, craftsmen, as well as possibly up-and-coming adventurers. The vast majority of currency will belong to this class, though a growing share of all other forms of wealth are slowly creeping into their pockets.
  • Lower Class: This is your rank and file wage slave. Journeymen, laborers, mercenaries, low ranking guildsmen, craftsmen just starting out, second sons who haven’t quite made it as adventurers yet are all of this social class. The vast majority of item based wealth will actually be found in the hands of this class as currency is only recently available to them. Additionally, a large majority of this class is beginning the inexorable merge with the middle class. This is where you’re going to find the vast majority of people working for that 1 sp per day.
  • The Poor: These are the destitute, those actually earning less than 1 sp per day. Given the already somewhat unforgiving nature of the era, their numbers are actually quite low, consisting of only 1d10% of the local population. This will however be where the least savory members of the settlement’s population are likely to come from.

How does this all relate to supply and demand? Stay tuned to find out next time!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Economics, part 7: Middle Men(part 1)

This is the part where we start to involve merchants and teamsters. They play a rather massive roll if your campaign setting has them. This is the first point in our little model where non-producers show up. It's also likely the first time in our model where money is used in the vast majority of transactions as opposed to barter between goods/services.
Today's post is going to be about Closed Economic Models. What this means is that there is no trade coming from outside the region you've already developed thus far to throw off our numbers. I'll deal with an Open Economic Model in a later post.
We've already determined the Base Cost Value(BCV) of our secondary products. We've also already determined what every person in our model needs in terms of supplies to survive at our "baseline" of 626 cp per year. Please note, the BCV is NOT a measure of actual monetary value. It's a measure of amounts produced if all things were created and sold equally based on amounts, skill, and time. It's a simplification so we're not talking in bushels of different crop types and pounds of different ore types.
Because of where we are in this series of posts, for the time being we'll only concern ourselves with the BCV of secondary products* and I'll expand accordingly in later posts. First, you're going to need to figure out the total amount of a given secondary product by quality. This can be decided however you want to handle it, but given that we've already made some die rolls, you can use the 20+ point quality scale(which got partially cut off by blogger) used to create the secondary product and see which areas of your region are more likely to be known for better quality secondary products. Using this knowledge, you may start making a chart showing where each source of secondary product is and see which areas have a lack.
Once the chart is finished and you have a pretty good idea of what resources a community has, you then have to determine what's actually for sale. Not everything a community produces will be available for trade. How you determine this is up to you but under normal conditions, I usually have 75+1d20% available for trade.

Next time: Determining Demand.

* The reason for not doing this for the step between primary production and secondary production is two fold:
  • In the models I'm using, the relationship between primary and secondary producers is a mostly stable and direct one. A primary producer will tend to "feed" a secondary producer year after year, and the rates of exchange will tend to remain the same within reason. While there would be a certain amount of horse trading going on between the two, there's going to be a more closely tied relationship between a primary and secondary producer than there is going to be between any producer and a middle-man.
  • I had not yet written or even thought out this part of the series any more seriously than "I think I'll need a post on Supply and Demand at some point. Maybe when I talk about merchants."

Monday, December 6, 2010

Upcoming Events for Thac0 forever!

If I fail to keep up with my daily posting over the next couple of weeks, it's probably for one of the following reasons:

  • World of Warcraft: Cataclysm has been released, and I'm wanting to explore and possibly get in a few decent posts on my other blog, Lok'Tar Ogar! For the Horde since I've been ignoring it since April.
  • I'm continuing work on the World Building/Economics series of posts, but I'm at a slightly more in depth section that requires a bit more work(especially since blogger keeps cutting off parts of my posts because of space). As such, I'm also working on a pdf version of the posts, and will be offering it for download on this blog. This probably wont occur until mid-January. Don't worry folks, the pdf will be free.
  • Working on a series of posts for after this current one is finished. I'm thinking I've been keeping the blog a little to system neutral for a blog about 2nd edition, but I don't want to go too system heavy since I know most of my readership doesn't play it. I'm currently considering doing some work involving a Dark Sun series of articles(sans Prism Pentad and using the original boxed set rules as opposed to revised).
  • Hoping to start on finally getting things done for the move from East Coast USA to Southeast Australia. So much work still needs doing!
If there's anything about 2nd edition anyone wants to hear more about, or if anyone has questions, click the little comment button and tell me about it!  I do plan to keep up as frequent a posting schedule as I can manage, but just wanted to give a heads up in case I suddenly miss a week or something.

Bonus Post: RUNE Monster: Wendol

Wendol
Climate/Terrain: Arctic Mountains or Subterranean
Frequency: Rare
Organization: Solitary or clan
Activity Cycle: Any
Diet: Carnivore
Intelligence: Semi(2-4)
Treasure: None
Alignment: Neutral Evil
No. Appearing: 1(or 2d8)
Armor Class: 5
Movement: 15
Hit Dice: 5+2
Thac0: 15
# of Attacks: 2 or 1
Damage/attack: 1d6/1d6(Claws) or 1d8(Bite)
Special Attacks: Charge, Berserker Rage, Howl
Special Defense: None.
Magic Resistance: Nil
Size: Large(10' Long)
Morale: Champion(15-16)
XP Value: 270

A Wendol is master of the cold lands, even giants and dragons think twice before tangling with these creatures. In form, the Wendol appear to be a cross between wolves, polar bears, and gorillas. In temperament, they make wolverines, and badgers seem friendly. If Wendol have a language(doubtful), they have never tried to communicate with any other race(that we're aware of).

Combat: Regardless of whether or not Wendol are in a group or alone, they fight the same way. First they unleash a howl that can make even the strongest of warriors who hear it soil their armor and run in terror for 3 turns unless he makes a save vs. spell. Next the wendol charges directly into combat, Often leaping directing into the thickest knot of enemies, headless of its own safety. This charge is lightning fast, giving it a -2 bonus on initiative, +2 to attack rolls, and allowing it to make all 3 of its natural attacks in that round. Most animals, if you injure them, are more likely to run away than they are to stand and fight. Not so with the Wendol. Injure a Wendol and all you've succeeded in doing is making it mad. For every 3 points of damage done to the wendol it gains a +1 cumulative bonus to attack and damage, to a maximum bonus of +5. This state of berserker rage will last until either all non-wendols in the area are dead or are unreachable for at least 1 turn. A Wendol is naturally immune to spells that cause fear or charm-like effects.

Habitat/Society: Wendol normally travel alone, but all wendol belong to packs of up to sixteen individuals. Wendol hierarchy is non-existant in these packs, where the strongest(usually a female) rules. Only this alpha female is allowed to breed. Very rarely, somewhat psychotic individuals(rock goblins for instance) have kept lone Wendol as guardian monsters or for sport. Such an act is risky however, as a Wendol is actually MORE likely to attack its captor than it is to attack any other target. Young Wendol are born live, and full able to consume meat within a month of birth. They only have 1 HD at this point, but gain an additional HD every month until fully grown.

Ecology: Wendol will consume any type of meat, but seem to prefer the flesh of humans, giants, and dwarves. Wendol have no natural predators beyond humans of barbaric tribes who sometimes slay a wendol and wear its skin as a sign of strength. Such an act is truly foolhardy as the surviving members of the slain wendol's pack have been known to utterly destroy even large towns in retribution.

Economics, part 6: Coins

 I can't give the normal attention I'd normally give to this series of posts tonight, but there will actually be 2-3 posts total today. It's not actually a part of this series of articles, merely a set of house rule that I use in my campaign.

In my world, each nation usually produces its own coins. Additionally each coin is not 100% pure metal. To determine purity, I usually roll 60 + 2d20 to determine the percentage of the valuable metal. Most DMs trying for this level of pseudo-realism usually just quit there. For the longest time, so did I. Then a few years back I began reading a book called "The Year 1000: What Life was like at the Turn of the First Millennium, An Englishman's World" by Robert Lacey and Danny Danziger. The book offers a lot of information, and despite the fact that it's focused on England, it really is a great read for anyone interested in European History from that era.
One interesting thing it brought up was how often that money lost its status as true legal tender. It would seem that in an attempt to stop counterfeiting, the stamp on the coins would be changed every couple of years(in my campaigns I determine the "lifespan" of a coin's status as legal tender with a 1d4+1 year die roll).
  What does this mean for a campaign? Well, for starters it means that all that money in a dragon's horde probably has to be converted to legal tender before the PCs can buy anything with it. Doing this requires that the player find and hire the services of a smith with the proper license to make the new coins. Coin changing isn't free however, and PCs can expect to lose a fair percentage of coins to the blacksmith(who is free to charge whatever he'd like) and to the taxes that are invariably placed on this(thus putting more money in the king's pockets). Additionally, just because a coin was made with X% of the precious metal, doesn't mean that it's going to be made with the same percentage again. As such, the player may only end up with less coins than he started out with, and those coins may actually be worth less if he tries to cross the kingdom's borders and has this currency he just had minted changed into the currency of his new kingdom.
  For gaming purposes however, a coin only very rarely(5% chance) loses or gains more than 1d6% of the precious metal it's made of.
  Un-changed coins aren't completely useless however. One could save the coins and use them to barter with some of the less intelligent humanoids. Old coins can actually be be a priceless treasure all by themselves, assuming a character can find a collector interested in purchasing the coins.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Economics, part 5

Today we're going to talk about secondary production. These are people who make the basic components of what tertiary producers need out of the raw materials produced by those involved in primary production(gathering). Secondary producers include Smelters, Charcoal makers, Butchers, Tanners, Millers, etc. This is also the first level where you're likely to start seeing large scale guild activity playing a role in the economy(assuming your campaign has them). There's no way for me to make a complete list of secondary producers and write out a full chart of how much of the base product is waste, and just how much the value of what's left increases, because it varied too much between regions(and our time period is too large anyway) and there just isn't enough surviving information on this subject. As such, we're just going to simplify, and take a guess on some of this.

Trade Checks: This is, in effect, a non-weapon proficiency check. For a lot of these professions, there either is no proficiency, or it's lumped in with another NWP. The DM needs to decide how he wants to handle this if he chooses to use this sytem.

Waste: A certain amount of base value is lost in turning one thing into another. In Grain into Gold, they suggest that 30% of grain will be lost in the milling process. To make things simpler for us, I'm going to assume That waste is a factor of the secondary producer's skill. As such I present the chart below

1d10
Successful Trade Check Waste
1d10
Failed Trade Check Waste
1
0.15
1 – 4
0.30
2 – 3
0.20
5 – 7
0.35
4 – 6
0.25
8 – 9
0.40
7 – 10
0.30
10
0.45

New Quality:  The act of secondary production actually increases the value of the remaining product(usually). The chart below shows by how much the value of the base product is altered. On a roll of 10, there's a 50% chance that you get to roll a second time and add the results together(this repeats any time you roll a 10).

Trade Check
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
Passed
+0.10
+0.20
+0.25
+0.30
+0.40
+0.50
+0.60
+0.70
+0.75
+0.80
Failed
+0.05
-0.00
-0.05
-0.10
-0.15
-0.20
-0.25
-0.30
-0.35
-0.40

The Producer's Share: Farmers generally disliked millers as much as they depended on them. Not only is roughly 1/3 of their grain crop disappearing into thin air, but then the guy wants to keep a cut of what's left for himself, thereby becoming a competitor in the flour trade! The following chart can give you the amount of product a secondary producer keeps for himself.

2d4
Producer’s Share
3
0.05
4
0.10
5
0.15
6
0.20
7
0.25
8
0.30
The above is also modified by the following
  • Secondary producer has a monopoly on his trade: +0.10
  • Secondary producer belongs to a guild: +(0.01 x 1d20)
It should be noted that under feudalism, the vast majority of this secondary product will actually be owned by the fief-holder and not either of the producers(primary/secondary).
 Coming up: Middle-men, Tertiary Producers, Consumers, and the role of governments and guilds.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Bonus Post: RUNE Monster: The Small Land Crab

RUNE is one of my all time favorite computer games, and of course, when the P&P version came out, I HAD to buy it. It's got a lot of great ideas for for any DM to steal, including the chart that tells the "runner" who to attack(it's a competitive game, and even the person behind the screen is playing for points), and let's not forget the "Death Insurance" that allows characters to spend points to create a save file for their character.

A lot of cool monsters were presented in the games(there were 2 PC games, a PS2 port, and the P&P game).

Land Crab(small)
Climate/Terrain: Subterranean
Frequency: Common
Organization: Solitary
Activity Cycle: Any
Diet: Omnivore
Intelligence: Animal(1)
Treasure: None
Alignment: True Neutral
No. Appearing: 1(or 2d6)
Armor Class: 3 or -10
Movement: 15
Hit Dice: 1
Thac0: 20
# of Attacks: 2
Damage/attack: 1d4/1d4
Special Attacks: Special
Special Defense: Camouflage, Rock Hard Shell.
Size: Small(2-3')
Morale: Steady(11-12)
XP Value: 35

A Land Crab is a subterranean crustacean. When dormant, sleeping, or hiding, a land crab looks like a large low rock on the floor. Even to the touch a land crab's hard outer shell feels like the same cold stone of the subterranean caverns in which it lives. When it decides to attack or move however, the land crab can be rather noisy, scuttling about on it's eight white legs. 2 large pincers with the same rock coloration as the shell protrude from the forward sides of the creature.

Combat: A solitary landcrab is as likely to rush to the attack as it is to sit and wait to gain a surprise advantage. When it does sit and wait however, the foes of a landcrab have a -4 penalty to surprise rolls. A landcrab's outer shell is virtually un-breachable except by the very mightiest of blows by the most heroic of warriors. Even a dragon would break its teeth before being able to pierce the hard shell of the land crab. Where a Land Crab is vulnerable however is on its legs and the part of the arm right behind the pincer. As such, the AC for the Shell and pincers is AC -10, while the legs and arms are AC 4.

Habitat/Society: Land Crabs are territorial, a single section of cave will be staked out and defended by an individual land crab for its own use. Only during breeding season will they gather willingly in any numbers. Some humanoids keep small land crabs as guardians in large numbers, but they have to keep them well fed or they'll start to feed on one another.

Ecology: Small Land crabs normally subsist on the various creatures they can scavenge, even capable of eating poisonous fungi with seemingly no ill effect to them. A land crab preys on anything it can catch(and it's pretty fast), but the usual prey seems to be rock goblins, mosses, lichens, and tube strikers. A land crab's shell is useful for creating items that petrify or harden things. A small land crab's natural predators include nearly any sentient meat eating race that is able to kill them. Land crab meat requires heavy spicing however, as plain, the stuff is almost unpalatable for anything but goblin-kind.

Economics p4: Mining and Quarrying

   The 2e Complete Book of Dwarves already has rules for mining(which it stole word for word out of the 1e Dungeoneer's Survival Guide). I do have a few problems with it however. First, the types of mines are fairly limited(and misses a fair number of the big ones that would actually be more important to daily life). So I'm providing a new Chart below. Second, There's a row in the ore quality chart that makes no sense. It states that the smelted ore is the value in coins of the same type of metal per week. Houston, we have a problem. There's no smelting chart for Tin, Lead, or Mithril, and I've never even heard of Iron Pieces in the 20+ years I've been playing. So the Iron Ore Quality row makes no sense whatsoever. As such, I'm providing a new way to do that too. Giving credit where credit is due, this is the place I got the list from, I merely edited it and put it on a table. The reason a lot of his stuff is missing/altered is because this is a model for the 10th to 13th centuries and some stuff just wouldn't have been intentionally mined/quarried(or I have found no evidence of such).

Roll
Mine/Quarry
Roll
Type
001 – 400
Building Stone




1
Granite


2
Limestone


3
Marble


4
Slate
401 – 475
Bio-Deposits




1-9
Peat


10
Guano
476 – 620
Soft Stones




1-2
Chalk


3-4
Coal


5-6
Clay


7-8
Salt


9-10
Talc
621 – 700
Hard Stones




1-2
Flint


3-4
Magnesite


5-6
Obsidian
701 – 770
Abrasives




1-2
Emery


3-4
Pumice
771 – 870
Common Metals




1
Iron


2
Lead


3
Tin


4
Mercury
871 – 931
Common Minerals




1
Alum


2
Arsenic


3
Niter


4
Sulphur
931 – 980
Precious Metals




1-4
Copper


5-7
Silver


8-9
Gold


10
Platinum
981 – 990
Fantasy Metals




1-2
Mithril


3-4
Adamantine


5-6
Other
991 – 000
Gems




01-06
Ornamental


07-10
Semi-precious


11-14
Fancy


15-17
Precious


18-19
Gems


20
Jewels
The table above is what you can roll to determine what is being mined, with the table below determining the quality(in copper pieces) per week for the work of 1 man. Please note, this is for ore/gems that have not yet been smelted.

Type
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
Bio-Deposits
5
10
20
40
80
160
320
640
1,280
2,560
Building Stone
10
20
40
80
160
320
640
1,280
2,560
5,120
Soft/Hard/Abrasive
20
40
80
160
320
640
1,280
2,560
5,120
10,240
Common Metals/Minerals
40
80
160
320
640
1,280
2,560
5,120
10,240
20,480
Precious Metals
100
200
400
800
1,600
3,200
6,400
12,800
25,600
51,200
Fantasy Metals/Gems
200
400
800
1,600
3,200
6,400
12,800
25,600
51,200
102,400

Now that we're finished with "gathering" professions, we'll talk start talking about secondary production tomorrow(smelting, spinning, milling, etc).