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Old 02-16-2018, 03:01 PM   #1
ecz
 
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Default The Economic System in TFT

I will not spend words to say the obvious, that the economic system coming with the game, i.e. jobs, price list of the various items, rules for living expenses, was solid and rather complete. Besides I do not know if at that time any other RPG ventured in this camp.

But of course, in the case of a new TFT edition, the rules need some adjustment also in this section.

in no particular order, just to start the discussion, here are the main points:

Job Table:
too many jobs, too similar. It's better to have less jobs divided in broad categories. We have eight different "soldier-type" jobs for heroes, and seven for wizards. I would reduce drastically the number to three, 1) basic -low skilled, 2) average skilled, and 3) chief-leader position.

pay can be weekly, but the risk should be rolled once after each full month of work or four weeks in a row. Besides notable successes and risks should be harder to get. 3/18 should be the norm with few exceptions. This way players are not tempted to try to improve their characters through virtual events during the daily job, forgiving the adventures!

In my games jobs were divided in five Classes. Each Class coinciding with a "standard of life". The first class jobs require an high weekly cost, the fifth class is for bare subsistance, thus for example a mercenary captain will pay for his own manteinance a weekly cost much higher than a woodsman. The same happens in TFT I admit, but I would prefer that no one can save enough money to buy very expansive objects simply working as teacher or healer. Instead, according the RAW as written, in a year an ordinary armourer earns about $2600, a Burglar twice this amount. A little treasure.

The Job table is a great idea, but players should not be encouraged to pile up money just working. More adventures and less boring weeks at work enhace the fun, the mortality rate, and lower the risk PCs reach unrealistic attribute levels ...

Prices for items.
We discussed this in another thread. In my opinion or items become more expansive, or pays decrease! I dislike a fantasy world where anyone -just working a few years- could amass so many money to buy a castle or a powerful magic item. In my CGs the price for magic items was exactly doubled requiring two times the ST and the ingredients listed. I understand that this is subjective, however. May be it's just me to see this problem.

coniage, taxes, banks, moneylenders are basically ok. Perhaps they should be treated more in depth.

Comments?

Last edited by ecz; 02-16-2018 at 03:09 PM.
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Old 02-16-2018, 04:00 PM   #2
Chris Rice
 
Join Date: Dec 2017
Location: London Uk, but originally from Scotland
Default Re: The Economic System in TFT

Quote:
Originally Posted by ecz View Post
I will not spend words to say the obvious, that the economic system coming with the game, i.e. jobs, price list of the various items, rules for living expenses, was solid and rather complete. Besides I do not know if at that time any other RPG ventured in this camp.

But of course, in the case of a new TFT edition, the rules need some adjustment also in this section.

in no particular order, just to start the discussion, here are the main points:

Job Table:
too many jobs, too similar. It's better to have less jobs divided in broad categories. We have eight different "soldier-type" jobs for heroes, and seven for wizards. I would reduce drastically the number to three, 1) basic -low skilled, 2) average skilled, and 3) chief-leader position.

pay can be weekly, but the risk should be rolled once after each full month of work or four weeks in a row. Besides notable successes and risks should be harder to get. 3/18 should be the norm with few exceptions. This way players are not tempted to try to improve their characters through virtual events during the daily job, forgiving the adventures!

In my games jobs were divided in five Classes. Each Class coinciding with a "standard of life". The first class jobs require an high weekly cost, the fifth class is for bare subsistance, thus for example a mercenary captain will pay for his own manteinance a weekly cost much higher than a woodsman. The same happens in TFT I admit, but I would prefer that no one can save enough money to buy very expansive objects simply working as teacher or healer. Instead, according the RAW as written, in a year an ordinary armourer earns about $2600, a Burglar twice this amount. A little treasure.

The Job table is a great idea, but players should not be encouraged to pile up money just working. More adventures and less boring weeks at work enhace the fun, the mortality rate, and lower the risk PCs reach unrealistic attribute levels ...

Prices for items.
We discussed this in another thread. In my opinion or items become more expansive, or pays decrease! I dislike a fantasy world where anyone -just working a few years- could amass so many money to buy a castle or a powerful magic item. In my CGs the price for magic items was exactly doubled requiring two times the ST and the ingredients listed. I understand that this is subjective, however. May be it's just me to see this problem.

coniage, taxes, banks, moneylenders are basically ok. Perhaps they should be treated more in depth.

Comments?
I never used either the jobs or the economic system from the game, although I understand that many people thought they were important features.

Jobs: My PCs were usually busy on adventures and normally had sufficient funds in downtime that they did not need "jobs" as per ITL. Where they did need to work to provide income this was specifically part of the role play experience and was always played out as part of the story and not relegated to a table.

Economics: I always just found it easier to approximate prices in the game to prices in the real world as much as possible, this made it easier for me to work things out on the fly. Basic necessity of life = Loaf of bread 1 (1 copper piece) therefore a subsistence labourer provided with shelter but expected to pay for his own food would get 1 or perhaps a bit more coppers per day. Obviously, not many people in our modern society are paid so badly.

Cheap Hotel room/room at the Inn 40 (40 coppers) per night.

Horse (equivalent to a car) a few hundred for a banger/nag, several thousand for a good quality mount and tens of thousands for a thoroughbred.

Sword (equivalent to a handgun) maybe a hundred for something cheap, hundreds for something decent and over a thousand for a good weapon.

And so on
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Old 02-16-2018, 04:58 PM   #3
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Default Re: The Economic System in TFT

My biggest gripe with the economic system was that it was focused on very low-level issues and gave zero guidance (like most RPGs) on the macro-economics that GMs needed in order to make the caravan/shipping routes and buy/sell prices make sense.

I would like to see some sort of macro-economic system put in place for the GMs. It should:

1) be relatively simple and easy to use;

2) Permit GMs to quickly and easily establish logical trade routes and some major economic goods (e.g., tobacco, wine, horses, leather, glass, iron, etc.) for quick and easy trading;

3) be easily "entered" by materialistically inclined players who can buy a ton of leather (for example) and have it shipped somewhere in order to make a profit;

4) be easily "entered" at the other side so that going rates and demand for things like caravan guards or crewmen (or even just transportation along a caravan or shipping route) can quickly and logically be worked out instead of being fudged (usually badly) by an economically ignorant GM (most of us, at least when we first started playing).

The system I used was a variant of the system in another Metagaming Microgame, called Trailblazer; but that system, while it was fun for me to use, is not necessarily everyone else's cup of tea given the complexity of the tables. It seems to me that some kind of "trade system" using something like what was used in the Civilization games, or something even simpler, could be established to give a quick and dirty outline for players to use. (By "Civilization", I'm thinking more of the computer games, which have various commodities that the cities can exploit; but in this case, it would be more like establishing what cities or regions have to trade...and might be pretty similar to the old AH game at that.)

It doesn't even have to appear in the rule book, but could be a sort of mini splat-book explaining macro-economics, giving a quick and dirty set-up that basically runs itself, describes how to create a "trade route" whether by land, by sea, by air, or by gate, and enables the GM to use it to have a logical set of prices -- something like what SJG currently does with GURPS by providing things like The Silk Road, as an example.

Personally, I found that having some kind of idea how the trade routes flowed, what they traded (in general terms), going prices for certain commodities, and the kinds of jobs that localities were likely to favor based on what goods and services they either sold or required helped me both establish "realistic" and fluctuating prices/jobs logically and with minimal effort on my part. Throwing in changing supply and demand (using the Trailblazer tables) made that even more realistic, and really helped the players get into the game, even though they didn't realize what I was doing or how I was doing it. This was PARTICULARLY the case with my Sandbox games (usually Wilderlands of High Adventure, but a few others as well). Having a simpler way to manage that would save me some time and still bring all those same benefits to the table.

You would be surprised how much credit you get as a game master if you just have some sort of logical basis for determining prices, jobs, commodities available or imported, and so on, which the players can rely on consistently.

RPGs have been edging around this issue for the past thirty years now, without ever competently addressing it. I'll bet Steve, if he put his mind to it, could come up with something brilliant, simple, and effective, just like he did with Melee for combat in the first place!

Last edited by JLV; 02-16-2018 at 05:02 PM.
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Old 02-16-2018, 08:52 PM   #4
tbeard1999
 
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Default Re: The Economic System in TFT

Quote:
Originally Posted by JLV View Post
My biggest gripe with the economic system was that it was focused on very low-level issues and gave zero guidance (like most RPGs) on the macro-economics that GMs needed in order to make the caravan/shipping routes and buy/sell prices make sense.

I would like to see some sort of macro-economic system put in place for the GMs.

...

You would be surprised how much credit you get as a game master if you just have some sort of logical basis for determining prices, jobs, commodities available or imported, and so on, which the players can rely on consistently.
Have you looked at how Traveller and MegaTraveller approached trade? They put a lot of effort into trade since it was a primary way for adventurers to make money. Some of that stuff is probably adaptable to fantasy RPGs. I’ll take a look and see what I can find, then report back.

I just hope that I don’t accidentally trigger an “I wanna run a Traveller campaign” attack.
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Old 02-16-2018, 10:13 PM   #5
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Default Re: The Economic System in TFT

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Originally Posted by tbeard1999 View Post
Have you looked at how Traveller and MegaTraveller approached trade? They put a lot of effort into trade since it was a primary way for adventurers to make money. Some of that stuff is probably adaptable to fantasy RPGs. I’ll take a look and see what I can find, then report back.

I just hope that I don’t accidentally trigger an “I wanna run a Traveller campaign” attack.
Gosh, I haven't played Traveler (or even looked at it) since about 1978 or so. If its got a simpler system than the one I used, I'd be all agog to hear about it!

For those not familiar with Trailblazer, it's a space game wherein the players run trading conglomerates. There are a number of trading commodities (e.g., machinery, bioplasm, wines, liquors, luxury items, beasts, new ships, etc., and including "new worlds") which can be sold at the various planets. One of the interesting things in the game is that each world (depending on "world type" which is a reflection of population, civilization level, etc.) both produces and consumes a number of commodities. These commodities are always different (i.e., it cannot both produce and consume the commodity in question, since there is no need to "trade" a commodity which it both produces and consumes), and the supply and demand for such goods fluctuates with how many were sold (demand) on that world and how many were purchased (supply) at that world. These fluctuations can cause the price to change dramatically and allow the players to make a killing (or lose their shirt) doing a trade run to that world. There are a large number of fairly complex tables used to run the game, and the paperwork load is somewhat intensive for folks these days (back when it was published, not so much). The winner of the game, naturally, is the guy who makes the most money...

I used the commodity tables (suitably revised for a medieval fantasy game) to establish which commodities were available/in demand at which cities, and the supply and demand tables to dictate fluctuations in the price of the various commodities at each major trade point (usually a city, but sometimes a major market of some kind). This provided a general economic basis, but also, surprisingly (at least to me, at the time) provided a huge amount of background ambiance for the players. Commodities supplied by one trade point were cheap there for the players, but ones in demand there were expensive. That's logical enough. But I rapidly realized that trade ships and caravans were leaving and arriving at these locations all the time -- that gave both good background color to the location, but also meant that ways of getting from place to place were suddenly self-evident. The road nexus and the shipping routes drew themselves on the map; the frequency of caravans/ships departing and arriving was dictated by the demand in each location; whether thieves were common or rare was dictated by the commodities themselves (it's hard to make a living stealing raw hides); what kinds of equipment could be purchased easily or were rare, was dictated by the commodities in general and the trading nexus' geography and connections, and so on. In short, a huge amount of conscious world design information, along with the background story of major trade locations was suddenly self-evident, and changes in the supply/demand of the various commodities created changes in the prices of things players wanted to buy, the jobs that were available at the location, what pay was being offered for those jobs, risks and rewards, etc., etc. Likewise, the effects of banditry or wars on the flow of trade, communications, and general well-being was immediately self-evident. It also paid off indirectly in terms of things like politics and wars -- since rich provinces or areas tended to draw a lot of attention, while poorer areas tended to be ignored; and rich places have lots of rich (and therefore powerful) people, who compete with one another in all sorts of ways...

All in all, it saved me a ton of work in both world design and remembering details, and the beauty of it was that it all held together and ran itself consistently without me having to do more than keep a record of what the current supply/demand was for each location (I generally checked once a quarter to see if it changed). It also forced the players, willy nilly, to pay attention to the world around them; they needed to have at least some idea of what trade goods were in supply and in demand so they could sell their stuff (dead people's armor, or whatever) for the best rates, etc., etc. In fact, it even forced them to help "create" the world sometimes, as they strove to find out where something odd they picked up could be sold to the best advantage, or where some oddball item they needed could best be found and cheaply purchased (or easily stolen). The advantages that showered on me, more or less by accident, as a result of this frankly amazed me!

Which is why I strongly advocate such a system be used if at all possible. Ideally, I'd like to see one that ties into the jobs and prices system intuitively, and the best way to do that is to have a system designed from the ground up to deliver that kind of information based on the macro-economic events that happen in the game.

Last edited by JLV; 02-16-2018 at 10:27 PM.
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Old 02-17-2018, 10:48 AM   #6
larsdangly
 
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Default Re: The Economic System in TFT

Good idea for a thread. I am passionate about games that have well developed support for campaign play outside of murdering things, so I've put a lot of work into puffing up this side of my house rules for TFT. In brief outline form, here are some things I think are valuable, positive additions:

*Jobs that are fun (makes you excited to have a character that does that), mostly realistic ('Bailiff' is a medieval job; 'arcane archer' is not), and organized into hierarchical groups that will provide both a path for advancement and ready-made ideas for allies, rivals, contacts, etc. For example, my house ruled TFT has something like 150 jobs, most of which fall under a dozen-plus groups (guilds; city leaders; mercenary or other military bands; etc.).

Some connection between the idea of a Job and social status, with some sort of tangible consequences for differences in status, beyond just wealth.

*'Risk' rolls with more varied, interesting and balanced outcomes. Basically, a table of a dozen or so good things that happen when you roll well and a dozen or so bad things that happen when you roll badly

Organize campaign play into weeks and months, where you perform 1 action of your choice per week, in addition to assumed job activities (chosen from a list of a couple dozen actions, like 'enchant an item', or 'practice a talent', or 'fight a duel', or 'invest in a venture', etc.), and you settle up finances, experience points, and resolve your 'risk' roll every month.

*Provide a half dozen ways to bring in cash and property (earn, invest, embezzle, purchase, lease, trade, etc.) and a half dozen ways to lose cash and property (taxes, rents, etc.), tied to the schedule and actions of the campaign.

Add a campaign encounter roll, to be resolved at the start or end of each monthly period.

*Provide some sort of structured way to change jobs and move up the ladder of hierarchies, to provide goals to campaign play.

This can be accomplished mostly by re-organizing and carefully tending the rules in ITL rather than radically expanding them. It really doesn't take much page count to revise a job list and organize your thoughts about income, rents, taxes, etc. A table or two goes a long way here.

Also, a smart designer pays attention to examples of other games that do something really well. Flashing Blades, En Garde, Warhammer FRP and Traveller have nice treatments of things more or less like Jobs in TFT. En Garde! and the 'down time' rules from 5E D&D provide some ideas for weekly campaign actions. Original D&D, Chivalry and Sorcery and Traveller provide good fodder for finances and property in campaign play.
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Old 02-17-2018, 12:38 PM   #7
Steve Jackson
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Default Re: The Economic System in TFT

Quote:
Originally Posted by larsdangly View Post
I am passionate about games that have well developed support for campaign play outside of murdering things
(1) I agree.

(2) But keep in mind that this all sprang from Melee, which was a murdering system developed because I was unhappy with the murdering system that was the center of the game I was playing at the time.

(3) Having said that, I still agree, and there is no reason that economics have to be bad. This sounds like a magazine article, or at least something for someone not named Steve to write. Economic simulations, except the simplest, are not my forte. Draper Kauffman gets huge credit for the well-thought-of economics in ITL.
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Old 02-17-2018, 02:33 PM   #8
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Default Re: The Economic System in TFT

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Originally Posted by Steve Jackson View Post
[T]here is no reason that economics have to be bad. This sounds like a magazine article, or at least something for someone not named Steve to write. Economic simulations, except the simplest, are not my forte.
When you own your own business, you really don’t need simulations :)
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Old 02-17-2018, 04:03 PM   #9
larsdangly
 
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Default Re: The Economic System in TFT

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Jackson View Post
(1) I agree.

(2) But keep in mind that this all sprang from Melee, which was a murdering system developed because I was unhappy with the murdering system that was the center of the game I was playing at the time.

(3) Having said that, I still agree, and there is no reason that economics have to be bad. This sounds like a magazine article, or at least something for someone not named Steve to write. Economic simulations, except the simplest, are not my forte. Draper Kauffman gets huge credit for the well-thought-of economics in ITL.
I anticipated as much and have been boiling my notes down to a dense form suitable for a few magazine-scale articles on each of the relevant subjects. There is no sense finalizing them until you've had your say on just what the published system will look like, but I'll be sure to fire them off somewhere accessible whenever that comes about!
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Old 02-17-2018, 05:44 PM   #10
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Default Re: The Economic System in TFT

I think "downtime" activities are an unplumbed void in the existing game (and in most others as well). We should probably start a thread about that too. People keep mentioning En Garde, but frankly, it was fairly limited and addressed Age of Enlightenment paradigms, not fantasy medieval tropes.

I think there should be a LOT of potential downtime activities besides carousing/wenching, training, and gaming at whatever club you belong to. Admittedly, those activities should be INCLUDED as possibilities, but there are so many other possibilities that should be considered -- some of which could be tied to "jobs" in the classic TFT sense, but others of which should be tied to talents, or just things players like to do.

Examples I've used (drawn from such games as Down With The King, and other similar things) include:

Feasting/Attending a major event (ball, reception, etc)
Romance/Wenching
Religious Disputation
Jousting
Hunting
Socializing
Carousing
Gambling
Sporting
Witchcraft/Sorcery
Spying
Swashbuckling
Philanthropy
Smuggling
Fashion
Art Collecting
Literary Pursuits
Scholarship
Musical Composition
Collect Information (basically, seeking out rumors)
Patronage

Some of these activities would be unavailable in some places (for example, Fashion, Musical Composition, Art Collecting and Literary Pursuits would seem to be singularly unsuitable for a small village consisting mostly of hog farmers -- but in a big city, they would be highly suitable!)

Generally, the results on the tables could mean a gain or loss in money, a gain or loss in prestige (as indicated by adjustments to people's reaction rolls towards that character), and sometimes could result in duels (fought out normally, of course), scandals (which could result in banishment, new enemies, law entanglements, and so on), accusations of wrongdoing, and even trials (with even worse consequences if found guilty). Of course, people could choose to Train/Study as well, some folks were required to remain quietly at the inn (or wherever, and I had three or four different standards for residences that could help or hinder healing) in order to Heal, and people could choose to go to work in mundane jobs if they so desired. In short, combined with the Jobs table, there were dozens of possible things the players could choose to do, all with consequences attached, and some of which even led to enjoyable sub-adventures (such as a feast or ball, a duel, Jousting, or a trial).

To my mind, having this kind of sub-system really adds to the players' enjoyment. They can pick from lots of things to do, and if they want to do something you never thought of, then it's easy enough to whip up a table (mine were all 2d6 tables) that can systematically lead to all sorts of entanglements and results without having to play out a full session on something that only one player wants to do. It also helps the other players kill time, while "Johannes the Wound Magnet" heals up yet again from his latest near-death experience...
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