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Old 06-06-2009, 12:40 PM   #21
hal
 
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Default Re: Economy wrecking spells?

This thread is drifting from the original purpose of the original poster. As I understand the intention of the post, it is to identify other spells that have the potential to change a given "TL 3" society into something other than a sustainable TL 3 society. The real question then becomes one of identifying what the actual spell effects will be on society not just based upon the spell itself, but also on the density of mageborn able to cast the spells. Looking at a given spell and what it can do also requires that one look at the actual limitations placed on the spell in the rules as written - spell casting time, spell requisite costs, fatigue costs, etc.

It also requires that the GM consider whether a player character is representative of the general mage population in his campaign world. If in the GM's opinion, most mages are built on 50 points, and tend to have an IQ of 10, and also tend to cluster around Magery 0 and Magery 1 levels - that will determine to a large degree, how much impact any given spell might have on a Kingdom.

In any event, certain spells can be determined to be abusive or non-abusive to the TL-3 meme based on the following parameters:

How much of a density of mages knowing this spell is required in order for that spell to have an effect on society? If for example, you need one "communications" mage to be present in each of the major cities within the Kingdom, and you discover that your kingdom has 30 major cities - that is 30 mages you've just crossed off your "demographics list" of available mageborn. Now, looking at the rules as written, Mind Sending is such that it only requires Magery 0 for an individual to be able to cast the spell in low or normal mana regions. Since Mindsending can be cast by just anyone with the Magery ability, and Magery 0 mageborn are relatively common, this should prove to be a common type spell right? That is, until you try to build your typical 50 point common man with magery. An IQ 10 individual with Magery 0, gains the spell skill of Mind-Sending at skill 8. Long range distance penalties require a -4 skill penalty for the spell being cast at a range between 3 to 10 miles. Skills of around 16 are required to be able to cast the spell successfully some 75% of the time. At 3 fatigue per spell cast, and 3 per minute of casting, our specialist mage (communications specialist) will be tapped out after three minutes of spell use. That also requires 34 character points out of the original 50 spent for normal average mageborn built on 50 points ;)

Now, how much of a change can a single mageborn communications specialist inflict on a TL 3 society? Some. Will it alter the general technological or sociological structure of the society in question? Not in a MAJOR significant manner. Who will get to use the "network" and to what effect? If it is the King in an effort to spy upon his rivals and cement his kingship - then so be it. If it is a merchant network trying to determine prices at any given location, it will change the wealth generation for THAT specific merchant at that time. But for the overall masses? Probably about as much as the Telegraph did for the general population in the 1800's.

The real question then, is to look at the rules as written, and try to assess just how much social impact and other impacts any one given spell will have upon society. The requisites for the Mind-Sending spell look pretty darned nasty when you get right down to it. Mind Reading? Truth Saying? How regulated do you think Mind Reading will be by society where those who scheme to improve their lot in life by hook or by crook are in charge of the general population? How many people will KILL to keep a secret from getting out? How many people will feel uneasy around a mage who can compell 100% honesty in what they say for a given period of time? Given THOSE parameters, how likely will it be that you can even FIND a mage who can successfully study the spell (with the rules as written)?
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Old 06-06-2009, 12:41 PM   #22
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Default Re: Economy wrecking spells?

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Originally Posted by ericbsmith View Post
Everyone.

Metal weapons and armor make better armies. Metal plows allow you to grow more crops. Metal structures allow you to build bigger. Metal rails allow you to build railroads. Metal pipes make potable water easier to transport. Metal jewelery just looks shiny.

There's no shortage of uses, just look at the world around us which has abundant supplies of metals. ...
I agree there are lots of usages, but disagree than many of those ideas would occur to a common person born to a medieval setting. There was a common meme of what was good for my grandfather, is good for me in many medieval societies [something like the Staid disadvantage]. They are easy for us to see in hindsight, but it would take a rare "genus" / innovator to see it back then. Some of the ideas would be defined as the start of the renaissance/TL4 (metal piping and rails for a city).

Who in the medieval population has the "money" to purchase all the metal goods?

The majority of the medieval population (~90%) is farmers; either serf/slaves working for nobles; or free farmers working for themselves. In either case, neither group has an abundance of “cash” to spend. A metal plow sounds like a good idea to us (we know what it can do), but it is a risk to a medieval farmer (do I spend a year’s earnings on this new fangled plow, or do I save it incase we need to buy food during the winter).

The craftsmen were probably the next largest group. The craftsmen will also be fairly staid, but some may have enough extra “cash” to try to pickup metal tools (when metal tools make sense for their particular craft).

The next largest groups are merchants and the church. I see them as having the “cash”, but mostly only picking up trinkets except for the odd large project.

The nobles are the smallest group, but would definitely be the biggest purchasers of metal weapons and armor. However, I would expect them to tax any large money making source to pay for the new metal weapons and armor. I don’t see mages getting rich over making metal.


-Dan
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Old 06-06-2009, 01:29 PM   #23
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With Earth to Metal/Stone (which what I'm talking about) .
Why were you talking about that? The message you were responding was about the impact of Seek Earth. Get off the Earth to Metal kick. We already know about it. The question is "What other spells pose a threat".
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Old 06-06-2009, 02:03 PM   #24
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Default Re: Economy wrecking spells?

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Why were you talking about that? The message you were responding was about the impact of Seek Earth. Get off the Earth to Metal kick. We already know about it. The question is "What other spells pose a threat".
The problem is that every time it comes up, someone comes along saying either "it's not a problem/not that bad a problem" or "just create a world that has reached the new equilibrium point." He was responding to the person who did that, in this instance DAT.

I think almost all of the "create" spells can be fixed by the common house-rule of limiting duration to the next sunrise/sunset.

I'm not sure if Copy is a huge problem. Or rather, its not a problem on the scale of Earth to Stone. You would probably have a more literate world, but the spell has to be cast once per item(right?) resulting in a lot more copies of rare manuscripts, but you'd still have all the everyday communication stuff done by mundanes, just because I don't think a common scribe makes as much as a mage.
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Old 06-06-2009, 02:04 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by Polydamas View Post
Copy, the spell which creates a magical printing press, removes the profession of copyist (although illuminators and people to compose documents and write things down for the busy and illiterate will still have work). In a society without paper, this may not be all that important- leather to write on is expensive and limited in supply.

More broadly, the basic assumptions of GURPS magic (that if you know a spell it can be reliably repeated many times a day for as long as you care to try, with no cost except time and the odd critical failure) cause problems for worldbuilding unless magic is rare. Lots of effects can be hand-waved over until wizards can cast them again and again all day.
Copy as originally presented in GURPS MAGIC for 3e, didn't allow for such a widespread abuse. Copy in the new version of MAGIC for 4e however, does allow for the presense of more books, making education cheaper, and thus, more common. Unless the cost of making copies is artificially increased by what amounts to Intellectual copyright laws (funny how widespread copy capabilities might induce anti-copy practices), the cost of copied books become significantly cheaper. Not because it bypasses the scribes per se, but because the unit cost per unit - a function of time, has become significantly cheaper. A copyist mage will require at least ONE scribe to do the work for him to copy, so the initial time required to make ONE master copy remains the same. The cost to copy however, is borne by the copies mage, who in effect, is using magic to become the copiest scribe as it were.
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Old 06-06-2009, 02:13 PM   #26
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Originally Posted by Crakkerjakk View Post
I'm not sure if Copy is a huge problem. Or rather, its not a problem on the scale of Earth to Stone. You would probably have a more literate world, but the spell has to be cast once per item(right?) resulting in a lot more copies of rare manuscripts, but you'd still have all the everyday communication stuff done by mundanes, just because I don't think a common scribe makes as much as a mage.
Copy as written now, can produce 100 copied pages of a book for 8 fatigue, or possibly 7 if the skill is at 15+. A "Common" mage casting this spell would learn it at IQ 9 for 1 character point, and require a requisite chain of 5 spells plus the one he wanted (ie Copy).

A 400 page book can be copied for a cost of roughly 33 fatigue (including the one expected statistical failure if skill is 12). This would require a total of 330 minutes of rest to recover the fatigue, or roughly 6 hours to produce. That is a book a day, as contrasted with about a book a year.

Addtional thought: If a copying scribe earned say, $700 per month income, a book he produces, absent the cost of materials such as vellum, ink, etc - would earn about $8,400 for the book he took a year to make. So, lets add about say, $600 for the additional costs involved for the other stuff. That makes the book's value worth about $9,000. That same book produced in a single day, would now cost $600 for materials, and a day's labor for the mage or roughly $29. Call it $650 just to be cute.

That places this book's availability in a niche that has more widespread appeal. Instead of the Filthy rich being the only ones to afford books, now a comfortable income or even a common income individual can afford to buy such a book.

Last edited by hal; 06-06-2009 at 02:18 PM. Reason: additinal thought
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Old 06-06-2009, 02:15 PM   #27
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Originally Posted by hal View Post
Copy as written now, can produce 100 copied pages of a book for 8 fatigue, or possibly 7 if the skill is at 15+. A "Common" mage casting this spell would learn it at IQ 9 for 1 character point, and require a requisite chain of 5 spells plus the one he wanted (ie Copy).

A 400 page book can be copied for a cost of roughly 33 fatigue (including the one expected statistical failure if skill is 12). This would require a total of 330 minutes of rest to recover the fatigue, or roughly 6 hours to produce. That is a book a day, as contrasted with about a book a year.
Ah, I hadn't realized that. Sorry, I'm in Houston and AFMB. Lets say fix it so each casting only gives you 1 copy? If you set the energy cost above the level that it can be cast for free easily (2 or 3) you avoid the super-specialists churning out a copy a second.
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Old 06-06-2009, 02:39 PM   #28
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Originally Posted by Crakkerjakk View Post
Ah, I hadn't realized that. Sorry, I'm in Houston and AFMB. Lets say fix it so each casting only gives you 1 copy? If you set the energy cost above the level that it can be cast for free easily (2 or 3) you avoid the super-specialists churning out a copy a second.
Don't get me wrong, I am in agreement with you <g>.

But, the RAW approach is the order of the day. Find those things, where RAW, result in some significant changes overall to a game world society, and explore what effects it will have on society in general.

One thing I pointed out a while back (ie years ago), is that if it took 9 people to support 1 person who wasn't a farmer, it could be said then, that 9 people produced X number of units of food.

Now, lets assume then, that 10 people need 10 units of food. In a society where the farmers produce precisely what is needed to not only produce the food, and have enough surplus to plant the next season's crop, and there are no extras left over...

9 people produce 10 units of food, or roughly 1.11 units of food per person.

Check: 9 people need 9 units of food, and have .11 units of food in surplus. 9 x .11 = .99, or roughly 1 unit of food the townsperson needs.

Now, using the BLESS PLANTS spell, lets see what happens to that equation above:

Each farmer produces 1.11 x 2, or 2.22 unints of food. 9 farmers therefor, produce 19.8 units of food.

Instead of the ratio of 9 farmers per 1 non-farmer, we have this instead:

22 (correction: 19.8) units of food will support 22 (correction: 19) people. 22-9 = 13. (Correction: 10)

Now we have a parity of 13 (Correction: 10) non-farmers per 9 farmers, or roughly 1.4 (correction: 1.1) non-farmers for every 1 farmer.

Historically speaking, the United States did not reach a point in time where the rural population equalled the urban population until the Early 20th century. Historcially speaking, populations tend to expand to where it can reach an equilibrium matching what the land can support - that is, until the recent period in history where technology allowed for population and fertility control ;)

In reality, the rules for BLESS PLANT, plus the fatigue costs, plus the nature of the rules for area spells being circular in nature instead of "area based" with rectanular type areas being possible - the casting of Bless plants over wide swaths of land becomes a bit more intricate. None the less, BLESS PLANTS as written, allows for WAY too much food production to occur, and permits the society in general, to allow for more intense specialization in areas outside of food production.

After all, what is a farmer but a food production specialist? Once you free up a population to have more specialists in areas outside of food production, you begin to climb the rungs of technological advancement.

Last edited by hal; 06-06-2009 at 02:43 PM. Reason: Oops, got distracted and used a wrong number...
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Old 06-06-2009, 03:12 PM   #29
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Default Re: Economy wrecking spells?

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Originally Posted by Captain-Captain View Post
Wherein we list spells that would or at least should alter a medievalish fantasy world into something decidedly different. And potential ways to keep them in check.

Ideas?
I'm not really a fan of these discussions since the core assumptions seem so rediculous.
If magery, spell access and skill are so common that they can have a large scale effect on an economy then the world designer factors it in and the world is NOT like something you would pull out of a historical textbook.
Simply by adding magic your changing things, you have to decide how that works. Either magic is real rare (like much of fantasy literature) or Secret or a recent Great Change or its prelevant. All those decisions need to be factored in.
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Old 06-06-2009, 04:39 PM   #30
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With Earth to Metal/Stone (which what I'm talking about) you don't need to get it out of the ground. You go poof and have 16 tons of metal siting in front of you.
If by "you" you mean, "A powerful and skilled mage specialized in this particualr feat." I've been thinking about this, and I keep coming back to the idea of mages being fairly rare. Think about this: what does a lawyer do besides read books and articles, carry around a briefcase, and go to courtrooms? Surely something anyone can do. Yet lawyers are expensive. It would be difficult to grab a lawyer each and every time you needed some advice. Few people have the aptitude and training of a lawyer. Further, you could imagine that lawyers might revolutionize many aspects of society, but what will draw a lawyer toward one field over another?

In my view, a mage who spends his time creating metal is probably no more a source of great economic change than any other large source of metal, such as a new mine. Such mages are rare enough to be considered rich veins in their own right. Now, if a given spell creates such a large amount of metal that it seems simply ridiculous, that is a problem with the spell design, not a problem with world design. Economically, I could see one or two such mages affecting the price of metal, but not affecting the society's use of metallurgy in general. Also, if you were a king, would you want your society's supply of metal being dependent on one or two mages?
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