Thursday, August 19, 2010

Swords, sandals and sestercii ! Equipment ! Link to lists !

Campaign Economics

Money and Equipment
Even a short perusal of the actual historical literature on item costs will show that it is extremely hard to know what items cost in ancient societies, let alone what their value was. Also, one finds a plethora of coinage systems, differing from realm to realm, and often city to city. In order to make such a mess somewhat playable, much has been abstracted, and some has been invented.
That said, I tried to keep a few constants in setting prices. First is that ratios were more informative than any statement of coinage value, especially given that it is not always able to clear about what coinage is referred to. The second is that what items are available is sharply defined by social class as much as location. In general, each of the main social classes had their own level of currency, with some overlap, and luckily enough they correspond somewhat to the types of money used.
Finally, I decided to adopt a standard similar to that of Augustan Rome, both for flavor reasons and documentation, which was a mix of official documents and private documents (often graffiti), which provides both a theoretical/official viewpoint of what things should cost, and what things cost to the actual consumers.

In adventurer, it is assumed that while all realms and many cities have their own coinage, that basic market forces will allow us to define a common set of coins which can be spent to buy stuff. For Adventurer, there are four basic coin types: Copper, Bronze, Silver and Gold.
The poor and the peasant tend to use copper, the laborers and common workers bronze; merchants and professionals silver, and the wealthy and the governments, Gold. For flavor reasons I’ve named them as follows

Copper Aes,
Bronze Sesterces,
Silver Denarius, and
Gold Solidus.

Their relative values are as follows:

1 Solidus = 25 Denarii =100 Setercii, = 400 As.

Partial and multiple value coins of all the denominations exist, especially at the lower end of the scale. To give some context, an As is about the price of a 1lb loaf of bread, a sesterces is a half days pay for the lowest paid workers, or a sit down common meal, 1 Denarius is a days pay for a semi-skilled laborer or low grade soldier, 2-4 denarius is a days wage for skilled worker (stonemason, carpenter) or skilled soldier (Legionary); a Solidus is a good draft animal such as an Ox, or an acre of unremarkable farmland.
Items are assigned to lists based on coinage type more than function; thus, some have a fairly large value in one list, and this indicates that while they could be bought with a higher grade currency, that they are more appropriate to the social class that uses that list. Conversely, they are less likely to be used by other social classes that use other lists. This mainly works in the upward direction: a peasant is unlikely to want (or need) to buy armor (generally on the Solidii list), whereas a rich man may well buy a 1lb loaf of bread; the difference is that the rich man can also buy 1lb of stuffed hummingbirds for lots more than 1 As if he wants.

Given the above concepts, a limitation on availability is how many of the given social class exist in a given city, and access to sufficient coinage of the proper type. . In general, an entire list will be available or not, largely for simplicity. The simplest determination is to look at the lower of wealth or population rating on the below table. Any given city has that list and all lower.

Item List Minimum
As 1
Sestercii 3
Denarii : 5
Solidii 7

Generally a list can be assumed to be available for barter at one level lower. (Denarii items can be traded for at a city with a population or wealth rating of 4.

One could add a list of modifiers for location and situation, but as this is a game of heroic adventure, not ripping accountancy that is left to the GM to decide.

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