Saturday, June 2, 2012

D&D Economics in the Early Modern

A recent theme here has been evaluating alternative historical settings for suitability in D&D campaigns - I was articulating criteria for a setting, and making some notes on adjustments for moving D&D to the early modern.  One thing I postulated was that it would be necessary to alter the D&D end-game, perhaps removing standard benefits like where a fighter gains martial followers or a cleric gains the ability to build a reduced price church and attract religious soldiers.  Many of the commentators pointed out historical examples of conquerors in the 17th century, and brought me around to the line of thinking that a 17th century fantasy game should be able to support self-made conquerors, too.

The economics of domain rulership go hand in hand with building armies and conquering territories.  The ACKS game (Adventurer Conqueror King) is my favorite development of economics and the D&D end-game, so I dropped a line over on the ACKS forum on how one would adjust the default economic assumptions of ACKS for use in the post-Renaissance years.  Here's what Alex, the lead designer, had to say about adapting ACKS to the later period:

In terms of trade/commerce, you don't need to change much. The mercantile system in ACKS is more akin to the Ancient Roman and/or Renaissance trade levels, anyway. Medieval trade was substantially less prevalent than ACKS would suggest.

In terms of land, you should increase the land value of peasants by 1-3gp per peasant to reflect improved agricultural techniques. That in turn will make your lords richer, which will allow for larger armies (30 Years War style), or more investment in cities, infrastructure, science, and so on. 

There may be some experts on the Early Modern period with more specific details. My sense is that as long as you stay before the Industrial Revolution you'll be fine.

It's a simple adjustment that will lead to building larger armies in a more populous time, so I thought folks in the wider audience would find that interesting too.  An open question involves adjusting the standard mass combat systems to account for muskets and cannons, but I'll worry about that when we get there.

Slow posting week here at the Lich House; I've been spending a lot of time making notes on Harrow Home Manor and getting the Black City ready for the next campaign, and that cuts into my blogging time.  (I wasn't kidding when I said Harrow Home Manor would be a long term thing).  It looks like my group won't finish the current Cthulhu adventure this weekend, but otherwise we'll be ready to kick off adventuring in the Black City immediately after.  The developed scope includes a sprawling island hex crawl, detailed exploration of the ruins, maps and keys for all of the extant surface structures, the first couple of dungeon levels, and an interesting trade town.  I'm sure there are things that look good on paper or seemed great when I thought them up, but are going to absolutely bomb on the table, and I'm sure there will be surprises too.  Man, I'm looking forward to posting some reports on that place!

1 comment:

  1. this kind of macroeconomic comparison of different periods is a bit beyond me, I'm afraid: I don't have enough confidence in the metrics used to compare different economies to posit 20% productivity increases or whatever... I'd just take ACKS at face value, or punt a question to Bill Stoddard ( if I felt it really needed modeling. Most of all I would add some period appropriate character archetypes - merchant-adventurer, pamphleteer, press-ganger, gunner, drill sergeant/professional commander, fortification architect/inventor.