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The price of stuff in ye olden times
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deaddmwalking
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 28, 2017 12:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

To be fair, 3.x does have rules about how much you can buy and sell as well as the most expensive item in a settlement. You might be able to buy or sell 10,000 daggers in the largest cities, but by and large you can't do that is smaller communities. You also can't sell hundreds of suits of armor in a thorp.
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Ancient History
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 28, 2017 10:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Well, it's Monty Haul. The tactic of picking up everything, letting no resource go to waste. It's a problem of roll-playing over roleplaying. In Lord of the Rings, the Fellowship doesn't load themselves down with the gear of their slain foes, and not just because the GM was being strict on encumbrance limits (okay, not great example, Tolkien largely rarely mentioned money at all, we've been over this, but bear with me). The thing is that in most narratives of fantasy and adventure the protagonists don't upgrade by buying shit. Buying self-improvement works great in Shadowrun, because there are stores designed to sell you cyberware, less so in a quasi-medieval setting where real wealth in the form of magical weapons is usually heirloom shit.

Which means that if you're going to include that kind of non-linear advancement in your game, outside the experience track, you need to adjust the setting to match.
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deaddmwalking
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 28, 2017 1:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Nitpick - Monty Haul is giving out lots of stuff. Letting no resource go to waste is 'Greyhawking'. They both end up giving PCs lots of wealth relative to expectations.

Minor quibble aside, I do agree with that. When you find the undisturbed tomb of the first Dwarven Lord, your first reaction shouldn't be 'we loot it'. But if hauling away magical goods is the only way to get them, you will. Further, if chiseling the marble from the walls gets you money, that's going to happen, too.

Ideally players are going to have enough money that they don't WANT to do that. Which means you need money to be useful for lifestyle but not particularly useful for direct advancement. At low levels scraping up the money for full plate can be justified - but part of advancement is that the things that were challenging before are not challenging anymore. At high levels, you shouldn't be struggling to scrape enough coin to make a purchase. I mean, perhaps trying to find a way to outfit 300 elite soldiers is a similar experience, but it's clearly 'advancement' the way that fighting a storm giant is different from fighting an orc.

In any case, yes, you need to have an answer for how players acquire level-appropriate equipment and an answer to what happens if they make financial acquisition their primary goal. Since players should be able to do anything (like rob banks), they should be able to break any 'wealth by level' guidelines in half.

In our heartbreaker all characters have a resource we call mana that is effectively spell points (or ki). It can be used to cast spells and activate class abilities. It is also 'reduced' by using magical items (either activating or potentially all the time). A suit of ghost-touch armor might reduce your maximum mana by one - having lots of items reduces your ability to cast other spells or use other class abilities. Outside of that, having lots of 'activated items' may expand your options but doesn't generally break the game because it plays with the action economy nicely. Having seventeen rings that each do the same amount of a different type of damage isn't that much different than having one ring that does one type of damage - unless you meet someone with resistance. In any case, there is less incentive to hoard.

We haven't really figured out how money and items interact. You can probably sell an item for money (and buy them) but people that can make really good items aren't really hurting for money. We still want to clarify how that should work.
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Judging__Eagle
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 29, 2017 4:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

To be fair about LoTR & looting items vs buying them, Aragorn literally tells the Hobbits to take the Barrow-Wights [edit: barrow-blades], as they will be better than being unarmed; as well as better than any contemporary-made weapons they may carry. However, Frodo has Sting, and doesn't get one b/c it would be a degrade, not an upgrade. Unlike the barrow-blades, Sting is elf-made, and capable of cutting through spidersilk. A fact that becomes important when Frodo gets defeated by Shelob, and Samwise picks up Sting to attack the giant spider, and cut him down from the walls.

In The Hobbit, Gandalf and Thorin upgrade from Elven (presumebly Gandalf didn't start The Hobbit armed only w a staff) to warcrime-grade weapons of the last war of the ring.

The most notable times actual currency is exchanged in The Hobbit for Frodo's reward (money is talked about an awful lot throughout the book, and especially in the last quarter, but only really distributed, much later); and that's only after it's happened; and Frodo claims he didn't want to take more because a chest of gold and a chest of silver were more than enough for his little baggage donkey to carry.

In LoTR, the most notable time that I can recall money being discussed, involved the purchase of a donkey when the hobbits & Strider are leaving the town of Bree.

As for Mony Hall being used at all as a ttRPG term, it has to do with Let's Make a Deal, where contestants win prizes. Of course, humans being generally terrible at language the gamehosts name was rewritten as an interpretation of the effect on the gameplay; PCs weighed down by the actions of greedy players and criminally lax referees.

The process of stripping everything of value is "Greyhawking"; and it's presumed among convention/Living-campaign gamers, that they should be looting everything possible. Especially the bodies. Usually due to players wanting to make sure that they achieve the maximum allowable treasure for the adventure (even if the party recovers a Cloak of the Coatl (worth 10k+ gp), the level 1 PCs will each get 300 gp max for the adventure).
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Voss
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 29, 2017 6:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Ancient History wrote:
Well, it's Monty Haul. The tactic of picking up everything, letting no resource go to waste. It's a problem of roll-playing over roleplaying.


The fuck it is. Why is that shitty meme even in your brain?
For the editions that generated the idea, prioritizing survival by way of wealth and therefor character power was a reasonable approach to game that wasn't kind to the idea of character survival.

Keep in mind those early additions, by the book, had rules that GP value brought safely home also became XP.

deaddmwalking wrote:
They both end up giving PCs lots of wealth relative to expectations.

Both terms are from earlier editions, when there was very little in the way of set expectations for treasure. You took everything you could because you never knew when the next set of valuables would come your way. And early modules listed gp values for all sorts of shit, actively encouraging players to take it. [The Village of Hommlet, the base camp for Temple of Elemental Evil has about 20K gp worth of stuff lying around the homes of farmers and merchants. No idea why Gygax detailed it all, but he did. And life is significantly easier if you loot half the town first, and set up somewhere else]

Not taken all the way to the extremes (stealing doors and fittings), it's a reasonable survival strategy in a period of gaming where that was often in doubt.
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phlapjackage
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 29, 2017 7:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Voss wrote:
Ancient History wrote:
The tactic of picking up everything, letting no resource go to waste. It's a problem of roll-playing over roleplaying.


The fuck it is. Why is that shitty meme even in your brain?
For the editions that generated the idea, prioritizing survival by way of wealth and therefor character power was a reasonable approach to game that wasn't kind to the idea of character survival.

2nd. You might as well say that a player choosing a good feat instead of a bad one is "roll-playing".

This isn't a "roll-playing" vs "role-playing" issue, this is a "book" vs "RPG" issue. You can't extrapolate how a character in a RPG should act based on how a character in a book acts...it's totally different. Book characters have no agency, no worries, no decisions to make. Aragorn didn't have to worry whether he had enough money to pay the elves to reforge Anduril (hell, even to have it in the first place). The author just decided that it should happen, so it happened.
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deaddmwalking
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 29, 2017 3:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

phlapjackage wrote:
You can't extrapolate how a character in a RPG should act based on how a character in a book acts...it's totally different. Book characters have no agency, no worries, no decisions to make. Aragorn didn't have to worry whether he had enough money to pay the elves to reforge Anduril (hell, even to have it in the first place). The author just decided that it should happen, so it happened.


I will contend that a lot of people that are interested in role-playing are inspired by characters in a book. I've certainly met a lot of people that wanted to be Drizzt or Tanis Half-elven. Looting the dead isn't necessarily something they want to do - it's not part of the mythos that inspired them to play.
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angelfromanotherpin
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 29, 2017 4:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

The vast majority of the time, Greyhawking is a rational response to the inputs and outputs of the system, and most of the rest of the time it's people carrying over that learned response to other situations. It often actually is role-playing to put aside your own regard for aesthetics and archaeology to have a character just deface ancient monuments for vulgar economic reasons.

Fantasy adventure stories rarely focuses on coin-counting, because those are words that could be spent stabbing dragon face. If you want a game to simulate that, you need a system with a reduced focus on coin-counting, one way or the other.
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deaddmwalking
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 29, 2017 4:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Sure. And in your heartbreaker, if you don't want Greyhawking to be an optimum behavior, you have to consider how to avoid that. One way is potentially having money stop mattering at a certain point. There are a lot of people that won't bother to pick up a penny from the sidewalk. It's just not that much money so it's not worth it. If you have a really good job making $100k/year, you're probably not going to take a second job delivering pizzas for another $20k - although I'm sure you could find ways to use the money the amount of extra work probably isn't worth it.

In 3.x, having 1 million in gold can help you buy anything short of an artifact including directly increasing your personal power (ie, making stabbing dragons in the face easier). If you implement other economies (like the wish economy) for power-ups like that, having 1 million gold won't directly increase your personal power. Since there is a limit to how many non-magical swords or how many castles you want, looting everything that is not nailed down isn't as optimal a strategy. You quickly hit the point of diminishing returns where hauling off another obelisk simply isn't worth the work because you have plenty of money in your treasury (and you can always come back for it if your treasury runs low).
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Mord
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 29, 2017 6:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Greyhawking in action IRL:
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Whenever a band of people with stout sword-arms find weaker people with cool stuff, or cool stuff from eras past that has been left out in the open, that cool stuff eventually ends up in their houses.

If you buy into the idea that D&D is meant to simulate an Age of Discovery-grade wholesale looting of civilizations, then Greyhawking is the most "role-playing" activity you can possibly engage in.
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deaddmwalking
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 29, 2017 6:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I think you can claim that D&D should be able to simulate Age of Discovery, but I don't think you can claim that it is MEANT for that.
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Stahlseele
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 29, 2017 7:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Meanwhile, in Shadowrun:"I use my Cyberware-Scanner on the corpses and call my Tamanous Contact afterwards to get a sale going!"
GM:"Wait . . why do you have . . aaarrg!"
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Voss
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 29, 2017 8:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

deaddmwalking wrote:
Sure. And in your heartbreaker, if you don't want Greyhawking to be an optimum behavior, .


Yeah, sure. In somebody's heartbreaker. But in D&D, especially older editions, it is rational, sane, and even proper behavior.

Obviously in 4th and 5th (as well as Starfinder, which bodes poorly for the future of PF), you automagically fail to sell things for any reasonable amount of money (or any money at all), so... problem solved, I guess.

We can stick with dragon hoards that squeeze into a single small chest, too.
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Chamomile
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 29, 2017 9:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

phlapjackage wrote:
Book characters have no agency, no worries, no decisions to make.


While this is literally true in that the book character is just an artifice of the author, good writing is entirely about making the characters' actions believable and consistent with both the world around them and their motivations. You can write a book where characters ignore economics for no better reason than because you don't want to bother, but that book will be bad.

In the case of Lord of the Rings, Aragorn doesn't count coins because in Middle-Earth power and safety are not for sale. Mordor is defeated by the armies of Rohan and Gondor buying time for two and a half plucky hobbits to make like Ender and cheat to victory. None of the components of that strategy, not the armies or the hobbits or Sauron's fatal weakness, can be bought. Middle-Earth is enough of a wreck that trade is rare enough that kings have little need for liquid wealth and cannot be bribed into pledging their armies to a cause. Hobbits have about all the wealth they want and can't really be hired, unless you want like a Sackville-Baggins or something, who probably aren't going to stick it out past Rivendell, if they even get that far. Sauron having his life force concentrated in one phylactery ring is a result of actions taken thousands of years ago and are thus completely beyond Aragorn's power to influence with any amount of wealth. Aragorn doesn't count coins because he has nothing to buy with them. He already has ready access to weapons and armor and nothing else he needs is for sale.
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Voss
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 29, 2017 10:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Well, kind of. Aragorn actually wanders around for most of the trip to Rivendell without a functional sword. So there are in fact things he could buy, but Tolkien was more interested than allegory than good writing or believable characters.
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Chamomile
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 29, 2017 11:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

The Rangers of the North had enough arms to field over thirty men against Mordor. If Aragorn wanted a sword, he could've had one, and he wouldn't have to buy it. Tolkien wasn't super keen on allegory, either, and while he's conceded it as being something of an unfortunate inevitability in other quotes, it's difficult to imagine that he would've made a plot point revolve around allegory entirely when he's on record wishing he could get away from allegory entirely.
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Judging__Eagle
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 30, 2017 3:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Voss wrote:
Well, kind of. Aragorn actually wanders around for most of the trip to Rivendell without a functional sword. So there are in fact things he could buy, but Tolkien was more interested than allegory than good writing or believable characters.


If he didn't have a sword before the scene on Mt.Weathertop when Frodo gets stabbed in the shoulder; he could have looted a barrow-wight blade when he rescued the Hobbits from Wights and told them to greyhawk the bodies.

Much later on, Legolas takes orc arrows to reload their quiver after Boromir dies.

Characters in LoTR do greyhawk, it's just that it doesn't happen a lot b/c it's boring to fill narrative space with every scene where the protagonists could pick up some more loot, instead of advancing the plot.
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phlapjackage
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 30, 2017 5:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

deaddmwalking wrote:
I will contend that a lot of people that are interested in role-playing are inspired by characters in a book.

I..agree with your contention Smile But being inspired by a book character and being able to play the character exactly the same way as they are in the book are different things. There are all types of problems because book characters can do whatever the author wants, while the RPG character has to abide by the rules. Speaking of Drizzt, a good example of this was when they came out with stats for him in some splatbook and had to give him special-snowflake abilities (% chance to kill outright on a hit?) so the RPG character would more closely match the book character.

deaddmwalking wrote:
And in your heartbreaker, if you don't want Greyhawking to be an optimum behavior, you have to consider how to avoid that. One way is potentially having money stop mattering at a certain point.

I think this is a big problem, in that the certain point that money stops mattering would have to be very early...possibly the point is early enough that money never matters. Looting the 10 rusty kobold daggers to have the money to buy a weapon/armor powerup at lvl1 is more game-changing than doing so at lvl10 (for whatever "regular" items there are to loot then).

Chamomile wrote:
While this is literally true in that the book character is just an artifice of the author, good writing is entirely about making the characters' actions believable and consistent with both the world around them and their motivations. You can write a book where characters ignore economics for no better reason than because you don't want to bother, but that book will be bad.

In the case of Lord of the Rings, Aragorn doesn't count coins because in Middle-Earth power and safety are not for sale...
As others have said, it's just not (usually) a good or enjoyable use of page count to include the fine details, or have these be problems the characters face. Sure, a good author finds a believable and consistent justification, but it's still just that, a justification, and it's still the author making up their own rules as they see fit (within the confines of trying to make a good and consistent story).
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tussock
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 30, 2017 10:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

A lot of medieval inflation was via debasing of the coins, they had need of inflation for the same reasons we do, but the amount of metal you could swap for stuff stayed reasonably consistent for quite long periods, depending on the vagaries of the silver mines and other production. The Silver Penny (1p) of 1350 is the same coin as the Silver Groat (4p) of 1650, and you can buy the same basic stuff with it.

The biggest change in medieval times was the post-plague wage jump, most people after the first wave of the black death were paid about twice what people were before it, in real terms, and that never went away.

3e D&D is a pretty good price guide for the mid-14th century, post-plague (or post-monster) Europe, as it happens, relative to each other, except the posh frocks are ten times too cheap, chickens are half price, the anachronistic things (full plate, telescopes, a few weapons) are ten times as expensive as when they existed because prototypes, all the spell casting a hundred times too expensive, and the poisons and traps a thousand times too expensive. But the rest of it is basically right, they did a good job (assuming weapons are very high quality and armaments in general at a wartime price).

As an aside, junk weapons from the dungeon really are worth a tenth of that at best. Same with anything assumed to be in poor repair.

Oh, the 3e coins are way too big. But eh. 400gp/lb, 200sp/lb, and 1000cp/lb, are realistic numbers for value (if not number) of coins, but pick something easy and use that instead, it's just that copper coins should really be locally-valid only and much smaller.

Labour costs should be 2sp/day unskilled, 3sp/day master craftsman, and 5sp/day merchant, to match the 3e costs from there, which is basically d20+mods sp/week from craft or profession. Half all of those if you want a pre-plague generational starvation economy, for Goblins or something.
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Chamomile
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 02, 2017 5:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

phlapjackage wrote:
As others have said, it's just not (usually) a good or enjoyable use of page count to include the fine details, or have these be problems the characters face.


Including the fine details is often a bad idea. In a book, you want to bottomline it for the audience: What is the problem or limitation the characters are facing, and how is that going to impact them going forward? But having the problems come up at all is interesting in exactly the same way and to exactly the same extent in a book as in an RPG. The presentation of the problem needs to vary, but the problem itself is the same. We don't know how much HP Boromir lost with each arrow, but we know that each one is doing damage and his ability to go on fighting is being depleted with each blow.

While books rarely bother to have characters focus on economic issues, there's no reason they can't. Just like with Borimir's HP, such a sub-plot or theme would very likely want to avoid actually spelling out the coin-for-coin accounting, but the actual problem of "we can't buy [thing]" is going to be as compelling on the page as at the table. Try to find a counterexample. Find any problem that would be dull to read about but also interesting for RPG characters to solve in play. I put it to you that no example you can find would do your position any favors. You may, at best, be able to find bizarre edge case issues that do not come up in the course of normal RPG play, or places where the rules of an RPG fail and demand a lot of busywork before getting back to the actual fun part of the game, busywork that authors can gloss over (but often still have to keep track of in personal notes that do not make it to the finished book!). I am very confident you cannot find a problem or limitation that is actually common to RPGs (and by common I don't even mean that it comes up in most campaigns, just that it is an expected result of functional RPG economics), which actually makes the game more interesting and would suffer for removal, but which would be interminable to read about even in the hands of a competent writer.

Quote:
Sure, a good author finds a believable and consistent justification, but it's still just that, a justification, and it's still the author making up their own rules as they see fit (within the confines of trying to make a good and consistent story).


As opposed to TTRPGs, where an actual alternate reality is created by the potently magical will of the GM and their players? The only way in which an author differs from a TTRPG table in this regard is that 1) the author does not need to consult with anyone else before making the decision, which means yes, they can alter the rules of the world at will, but so can the GM and players at the table, they just need a consensus first because the story is collaborative, and 2) the author is going to go back and remove any obstacles that proved boring during editing, which means the equivalent of dud sessions are either rewritten or cut entirely instead of being moved past and forgotten about, but still present in the game's history, which in turn means that if the author rewrites the rules because they turn out to be dull or stupid, that revision will reach back into earlier scenes and alter them instead of only applying going forward.

RPG characters have exactly as much agency as book characters do: Technically none, as they are both imaginary constructs at the mercy of their authors, but in practice the entire point is to portray them as believable agents in the world. In both cases, the author behind the character has influence over the world that reaches much further than the character themselves, and in the case of the RPG that influence is circumscribed primarily because there are other people involved in the story who must agree to changes made, not because the world and its rules are somehow more real or less mutable just because the people doing the imagining are gamers instead of writers.
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Voss
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 02, 2017 7:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Judging__Eagle wrote:
Voss wrote:
Well, kind of. Aragorn actually wanders around for most of the trip to Rivendell without a functional sword. So there are in fact things he could buy, but Tolkien was more interested than allegory than good writing or believable characters.


If he didn't have a sword before the scene on Mt.Weathertop when Frodo gets stabbed in the shoulder; he could have looted a barrow-wight blade when he rescued the Hobbits from Wights and told them to greyhawk the bodies.

Uh. Aragorn doesn't rescue the Hobbits from the wights. He hasn't been introduced yet. That's Tommy Bombadil the Rhyming Annoyance, the allegorical incarnation of nature or the planet or whatever. They arrive at Bree, the Prancing Pony and meet Aragorn post Barrow-fields.

Not that they Greyhawk those bodies. Between the four hobbits they take three swords daggers, and run around naked until their baggage comes back on the ponies. Tom scatters all the gems and gold on hilltop and they leave it there. This is pretty much the exact opposite of Greyhawking.


Later, after Aragorn is introduced to the party, after threatening them and freaking them out, he pulls his broken sword out the sheath he's wearing to match the lines with the cryptic poem Gandalf the Absent-Minded left for the Hobbits.

It isn't even clear at that point if he even has a bow. The Man-King To Be is so noble he's wandering the wilderness effectively unarmed.

Chapter 10 wrote:
He drew out his sword, and they saw that the blade was indeed broken a foot below the hilt. 'Not much use is it, Sam?' said Strider But the time is near when it shall be forged anew.'


Quote:
Much later on, Legolas takes orc arrows to reload their quiver after Boromir dies.

Characters in LoTR do greyhawk, it's just that it doesn't happen a lot b/c it's boring to fill narrative space with every scene where the protagonists could pick up some more loot, instead of advancing the plot.


Getting more arrows in battle isn't Greyhawking, thats a narrative device for reinforcing the intensity of the battle- the archer has been fighting so long, he's run out of arrows, with no chance to properly resupply. If they had been Greyhawking, they would have cracked open Balin's tomb and taken all his shit. And all the shit from the corpses in the room with it. As well as stripped Boromir's corpse of all his crap.


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 02, 2017 10:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Anyway, a good source on prices in really ancient times is the edict on maximum prices by Emperor Diocletian. It was not a particularly good idea, especially as it was defined in terms of Denarii rather than gold or silver, which meant that a subsequent significant change in the value of the metals in various Roman coins meant that people were really taking it in the neck to sell at the maximum prices if they received certain types of coins. But it does give you a decent set of conversions for manual laborers to bakers to good wine, which is important for when you want to "play house" in your fantasy world and start building up a fort and settlement.

-Frank
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