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FRP and that pesky real life issue.


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On most Fantasy Role Playing games have lots of monsters.  I mean lots of monsters.  But they never address the issue of society, commerce, security, and apex predators.  A conversation with one of the guys from college days where we were hardcore Chivalry and Sorcery/AD&D/Runequest/Traveller players started the thought of economics.  I mean with the AD&D spell Continuous light, why by lamps and lanters, just pay a low level mage to cast it on various items (or body parts if you are deviant), and boom, you have a 100 watt light bulb forever.  No need to pay for whale oil, candles, etc.  We speculated a factory of a hundred or more mages doing nothing all day except casting continuous light spells.  

 

Also if you walk 100 yards outside of your village, and get eaten by a [insert monster de jour here), pretty soon, there are no small villages, there will be larger ones, and monsters will be exterminated by a highly militarized society.  Other than Dragons (i.e. Smaug or Game of Thrones dragons), most monsters would get chopped at some point.  

 

Bags of Holding:  Could you stuff people inside?  Bye Bye luggage designers.  Vorpal Swords, how do they know to cut off the head?  Stormbringer like demons? 

 

We were bored yesterday.

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:) Old scheme of getting rich, sell cheap magic crap to an ignorant :)

I have always found Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay to be much more realistic(ish) approach to a fantasy role play. Magic is unreliable, dangerous and hated by most, magic items are almost always more of the curse than a benefit and world is much more realistic(ish). Economy is also brutally well done, you are not gonna get rich quickly. And since it was based on HRE period Europe you can improvise even parts of it that are not covered by source books. Beautiful map of it:

http://www.gitzmansgallery.com/shdmotwow.html

 

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When your fantasy world involves interdimensional transport portals... why have trade routes, caravans, local army garrisons?

Even if the construction of such a portal is hideously expensive, the savings will eventually pay it off;

[*] taxation and control of all (legal) trade; make the tax barely, or even slightly above the costs of land travel by cart or camel, the time savings will still make it worth your while

[*] centralized army that can be moved instantaneously across the whole country, eliminating logistics issues

[*] safe passage for every (legal) traveler

[*] hub and spoke design guarantees all travel and trade is done through the capital

It's such an obvious application case. And yet, a DM got very mad at me when I raised the question why we had been hired as protection for a caravan when there were these portals all over the place in the Forgotten Realms.

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3 hours ago, Ssnake said:

When your fantasy world involves interdimensional transport portals... why have trade routes, caravans, local army garrisons?

Even if the construction of such a portal is hideously expensive, the savings will eventually pay it off;

[*]taxation and control of all (legal) trade; make the tax barely, or even slightly above the costs of land travel by cart or camel, the time savings will still make it worth your while

[*]centralized army that can be moved instantaneously across the whole country, eliminating logistics issues[*]safe passage for every (legal) traveler

[*]hub and spoke design guarantees all travel and trade is done through the capital

It's such an obvious application case. And yet, a DM got very mad at me when I raised the question why we had been hired as protection for a caravan when there were these portals all over the place in the Forgotten Realms.

Wow, had not thought of that.  It really does throw a monkey wrench into things.  Also it would make portal locations important, and areas where cities and large garrisons would be stationed.  We used Judge's Guild City State maps for our campaigns back in the day.

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Literally every innovation in the transport sector over the last two millenia was done to bring down the costs of transportation - be it by reduction of roll resistance, be it by inflating ship lengths, reducing tariffs and setting up trade blocs. Just think of the HUGE effect on army logistics that the introduction of railroad transportation had in WWI, or industrial air travel once that the basic problems of reliability and power-to-weight ratio for stratospheric travel were solved. Again, bigger and bigger machines to reduce the marginal costs per cargo item, a concentration of airlines to leverage ecvonomies of scale.

The dimensional portal is, once set up, the extension of that trend to its natural extreme; ZERO costs and zero time wasted on travel. Why have more than nurses in villages when the best specialist doctor is but a portal step away. Why banks. Why anything. The land is needed for only one thing, agricultural production and, possibly, the extraction of natural resources. Everything else can be concentrated in the central capital. Which, of course, has a profound effect on the political balance as well, an enormous power concentration with the ruler. A region/village doesn't play ball? Shut down/block the portal until economic pressure forces them to surrender. Or send the whole army through; you can always recall it at the drop of a hat.

 

The problem with majic is, it effectively throws a wrench into everything and had cascading effects, once that you bother to look closer.

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22 hours ago, Murph said:

Wow, had not thought of that.  It really does throw a monkey wrench into things.  Also it would make portal locations important, and areas where cities and large garrisons would be stationed.  We used Judge's Guild City State maps for our campaigns back in the day.

There was series of Sci-Fi-books where that issue was prominent, but in planetary travel. Those outside "hypernet" (fast hyperspace ports) having to rely on normal hyperspace travel withered.

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On 11/2/2020 at 2:02 PM, Ssnake said:

Literally every innovation in the transport sector over the last two millenia was done to bring down the costs of transportation - be it by reduction of roll resistance, be it by inflating ship lengths, reducing tariffs and setting up trade blocs. Just think of the HUGE effect on army logistics that the introduction of railroad transportation had in WWI, or industrial air travel once that the basic problems of reliability and power-to-weight ratio for stratospheric travel were solved. Again, bigger and bigger machines to reduce the marginal costs per cargo item, a concentration of airlines to leverage ecvonomies of scale.

The dimensional portal is, once set up, the extension of that trend to its natural extreme; ZERO costs and zero time wasted on travel. Why have more than nurses in villages when the best specialist doctor is but a portal step away. Why banks. Why anything. The land is needed for only one thing, agricultural production and, possibly, the extraction of natural resources. Everything else can be concentrated in the central capital. Which, of course, has a profound effect on the political balance as well, an enormous power concentration with the ruler. A region/village doesn't play ball? Shut down/block the portal until economic pressure forces them to surrender. Or send the whole army through; you can always recall it at the drop of a hat.

 

The problem with majic is, it effectively throws a wrench into everything and had cascading effects, once that you bother to look closer.

Transportation costs will disappear, but much will hinge on the energy cost of keeping the portal open. If it's prohibitively expensive, then huge armies are out and nuclear weapons in. It may be cheaper to produce locally than to import through the portal, or it may need some esoteric stuff that leaves travel in the hands of a few magicians (think of the spice in Dune)

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If the cost of running the portal is zero, as SSnake hints, then it could be the one-off cost of opening the portal.

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1 hour ago, sunday said:

If the cost of running the portal is zero, as SSnake hints, then it could be the one-off cost of opening the portal.

Yes, but an interdimensional portal doesn't strike me as something requiring zero energy/effort, if everyone could do it, then the nation state would have no meaning

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There could be geographical restrictions, like aether flux, ley lines, various mumbojumbo.

It is magick, after all.

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According to the Forgotten Realms / AD&D rulebook at the time the construction was a one-time effort. Once set up it would work "forever" and require active magic action to close/destroy it. Had it required some mage activating them with a spell each time someone/something had to be sent through, most of my objections would have gone away. But no. It was a zero cost device, just "too expensive to build in quantity" according to the DM, and I raised the bullshit flag on that. Even if it required high level mages, I'd expect any non-moronic king to be willing to go into debt to have a network constructed (and maintained, FWIW).

 

Even if you have "natural forces" like ley lines dictating where the portals could be built, or where they could connect to, it would still be worth constructing them and to put them under government control. It's the power to control pretty much all legal trade. No government could resist the temptation. Whether they'd do a good job is anyone's guess, of course (my money would be on "No").

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Another BS argument brought up that the knowledge where these portals connected to had been forgotten and nobody dared to try them out except for a handful of initiated. And that the portals could look like anything and were often camouflaged. To which I say, whenever someone discovers it by accident, all he needs to do is to take one step back to go where he came from, mark the place, and alert the authorities for investigation. Or keep the info for himself, and set up a smuggling ring. One way or the other, the knowledge, even if lost by some catastrophe, is too valuable to be kept being forgotten.

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Yeah, I don't like we built them, and now you have a free lunch forever theory.  Look at David Hargraves' ARDUIN books, there was one huge portal which connected his multiverse, but it was a one of a kind device/natural item(?).  But he never really detailed the process or cost of running it.  I totally agree that once made the knowledge is somehow "lost", that beggars the imagination.  

 

Another issue I have it the D&D (and others) theory that once you cast a spell you lose it until you rest and "relearn" it.  I call BS.  I am much more in favor of "mana" or "magic" points which you expend to cast your spell.  C&S should be eligible for at least three hours of college credit for trying to understand their magic system, if nothing else it was complete.  It even allowed you to construct magical goodies, but they would be expensive, think bespoke Rolls Royce.  

 

Another complaint is the seemingly endless ranks of plate armored soldiers who are equipped lavishly.  Medieval and Renaissance armies were generally built around a small core of these types of troops, vs the peasant levy types.  Also everyone seems to be a knight equivalent with plate armor.  Not practical.  Also the massive 500k+ armies are ridiculous unless you are Imperial China.  Most armies would be between 10,000-50,000 at most just from a cost stand point, unless you had the massive mithril mines and gold mines to pay for them.  Then you get rampant inflation.  

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Well, D&D is designed for heroic characters (which requires the opportunity to do heroic deeds, obviously).

If you don't like that, Warhammer is a much more reasonable RPG system. But it also limits character development. You can't ascend to demigod status. Whether the Warhammer world is likable is a different question, of course.

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2 minutes ago, Ssnake said:

Well, D&D is designed for heroic characters (which requires the opportunity to do heroic deeds, obviously).

If you don't like that, Warhammer is a much more reasonable RPG system. But it also limits character development. You can't ascend to demigod status. Whether the Warhammer world is likable is a different question, of course.

Point.  I always thought that D&D would be better if you could be a larger than life heroic character within a relatively realistic system.  Chivalry and Sorcery was our preferred system, and it was really based on Medieval France in the 1100-1300 time frame.  But man was it complex (as most FGU games were at that time, plus that horrible 6 point type on the book!)

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There's always Rolemaster for you, if you like tables. ;)

RuneQuest, 80% of the time spent discussing the plan of attack, 1% rolling the dice, the rest of the time aimlessly wandering through the GM's fantasy world.

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7 hours ago, Ssnake said:

There's always Rolemaster for you, if you like tables. ;)

RuneQuest, 80% of the time spent discussing the plan of attack, 1% rolling the dice, the rest of the time aimlessly wandering through the GM's fantasy world.

That is pretty good.  Funny, but true.

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18 hours ago, Murph said:

I always thought that D&D would be better if you could be a larger than life heroic character within a relatively realistic system.  Chivalry and Sorcery was our preferred system, and it was really based on Medieval France in the 1100-1300 time frame.  But man was it complex (as most FGU games were at that time, plus that horrible 6 point type on the book!)

Still got my original C&S 1st Edition red book from 1976 on the shelf here. Spent a LOT of time playing them over the years in our regular RPG group. Best set of RPG rules I ever played (with a few house rules of our own thrown in). We felt the subsiquent editions were never quite captured the same "atmosphere" as the originals.

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4 hours ago, Captain Hurricane said:

Still got my original C&S 1st Edition red book from 1976 on the shelf here. Spent a LOT of time playing them over the years in our regular RPG group. Best set of RPG rules I ever played (with a few house rules of our own thrown in). We felt the subsiquent editions were never quite captured the same "atmosphere" as the originals.

I agree, we used it for years.  It was an effective simulation of medieval life in an FRP setting.  Dragons and trolls were completely terrifying monsters, and players tended to leave them alone.  The one time my group decided to take on a dragon, they were all rolling up new characters 30 minutes later.  The dragon easily wiped out a party of 10-12 level characters.  Plus you could have a real economy, and real societies.  

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The problem with the Warhammer Fantasy Universe (and othres I cud name) is that if everything is so constantly grimdark, how do they have significant populations? With Warhammer for example, Dark Elves and Norsca live in incredibly inhospitable environments and are constantly murdering each other, yet somehow manage to muster giant hordes that threaten nearby civilizations. Like, ok so where do all the babies factor into it?

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6 hours ago, Ssnake said:

I'm talking about the Warhammer system,...

This. Core rules are well done and relatively simple and robust and are applicable to a wide variety of the settings. Friend used them to GM a Witcher RPG (since official one is a bovine excrement of the 99th level bad), and I have used it to GM almost a historical one in the renaissance Europe. Economy translates very well also (since developers used historical European prices of goods for a basis of the economy...). Want a suit of the plate armor? Well, you better sell your house. :)

Quote

As to your question, darkroom orgies.

IIRC in the 2nd edition Bestiary it is speculated (by "in universe" scholar) that most of the chaos warriors are not natural creation at all. Also, going by the same dark elves are actually so rare occurrence in the Old World that they are almost regarded a a myth by the most. Thing with RPG is that it tries to be more "realistic-ish" than a fluff for WHFB, which is basically considered to be a "propaganda level" stories.

Edited by bojan
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This conversation reminds me of William Gibson regretting not predicting mobile phones in "Neuromancer."

I read a story about a bunch of AD&D adventurers who got so much gold they bought an inn and retired.  But I think the DM mismanaged that one. 

On 11/4/2020 at 6:08 AM, Ssnake said:

Well, D&D is designed for heroic characters (which requires the opportunity to do heroic deeds, obviously).

If you don't like that, Warhammer is a much more reasonable RPG system. But it also limits character development. You can't ascend to demigod status. Whether the Warhammer world is likable is a different question, of course.

I don't care much for "zero-to-hero" systems.  No one wants to watch a movie where the adventurers are novices.  

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31 minutes ago, Stargrunt6 said:

No one wants to watch a movie where the adventurers are novices.  

The Lord of the Rings trilogy is a counterexample!

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