Friday, October 21, 2005

Medieval Economy

Since bringing up the question of Income and Costs last night, I started thinking more about how to solve the dilemma. Then I figured, why not check into the real world "equivalent" of the Warhammer economy and see if I can make some comparisons? As it turned out, this was pretty easy to do as I found a web page where someone had already compiled a list of goods and services as well as some wage scales for the medieval western european economy. Even better, the prices can be EXACTLY matched up, as a Pound was equal to 20 shillings, and a shilling was equal to 12 pence, which is the same as the Warhammer Crown-Shilling-Penny conversion.
As I had suspected, the income levels were not NEARLY as out of whack as the price levels. Here is a partial list of what I found:

Real World ... Warhammer Price

Warhorse: up to 80 Pounds... 300-500 GC
High Grade Riding Horse: 10 Pounds... 80 GC (for average level horse)
Draft Horse: 10-20 Shillings ...25+ GC
Cow: 10 shillings... 10 GC
Ox: 13 shillings 1 pence ...30 GC!
Cottage: 2 Pounds... 270 GC!!!
House with Courtyard: 90 Pounds... 2400-21,600 GC. Gasp.
Full mail suit: 5 Pounds ...150 GC
Complete set of knight's armor: 16 Pounds, 6s, 8p... 400 GC
Cheap sword: 6 shillings ...5 GC
PAIR of flintlock pistols: 2 pounds, 5 shillings... 400 GC
Flintlock carbine (firearm): 1 pound, 2 shillings... 300 GC
Ironbound cart: 4 shillings... 50 GC

Now, as to wages...

Man-at-arms, squire (mercenary): 1 shillings/day... 17p/day (about 1.4 shillings)
Laborer: 2 pounds/year ...9 GC/year
Master Craftsman: 3-6 pence/day ...20p/day
Baron (lesser noble): 200-500+ Pounds/year... 250-500 GC/year
Earl (greater noble?): 400-11,000 Pounds/year... 1000+ GC/year

As you can see, the wage scale is closer between RL and WH than the price scale is. The basic peasant-level income is a little less then a third of the warhammer world income level, but the prices are anywhere from 10-100+ TIMES their real world equivalent. And the noble income levels are actually pretty close together.
I don't know what Matt might want to do about this discrepancy, but an easy fix might be just to drop a zero off of every price. I could also print out the full list I have and using it as a guide, Matt could reprice everything according to a guesstimated scale of his own devising. I would also be willing to volunteer to do this, as I think I can figure out a way to scale the various tables in the OWA to make them seem more realistic.
The fact that the Hochland Long Rifle costs 450 GC is particularly outrageous to me, as it is supposed to be a hunter's weapon but no hunter would ever see that much money in his LIFETIME. That's what really got me thinking about this, and the more I thought about it, the more I realized that the economy of the Old World seemed busted. Especially since it's supposed to be a post-war economy, and historically speaking weapons and other war material have been particularly cheap and readily available in the years directly following a major conflict.


Locnar said...

There's been a fair amount of discussion on the Black Industries forums. You should post this information there also.

Leptopus said...

It's not a question of which is off per se against some historical marker. The real question is the balance of goods vs. PC disposable income. Any changes to the price/income structure should be made with that in mind, so if the PCs are going to continue to have to same amount of money and the prices are right for the balance of goodies that Matt wants, then the solution is to to raise the incomes of NPCs, not lower the prices.

If Matt thinks trappings are too expensive for us, on the other hand, then he can either lower prices or give us more money.

Boze said...

Well, the problem with the price restriction approach to limiting trappings is manifold. For one thing, players will always find a way to foil it by pooling their money, stealing, etc. For another, limiting the money available to pcs in order to prevent them from buying goodies also hurts them in regards to other essentials, or items which are non-issues but comparable in price. For instance, maybe I want to buy a cottage somewhere. This purchase would be absolutely a non-issue, gamingwise, as it would have little impact on play and provide little benefit to my character other than free shelter in Town X. But if the GM is trying to restrict equipment via prices, he can't afford to ever allow me to get my hands on enough gold to buy the cottage because I may choose to do something else with it instead once I get it.

No, the best way to handle that is to make some things just hard to locate or procure. Or have them be stolen, broken, or otherwise removed from the character if it becomes an issue.

Finally, in a world where a gold piece represents a years income for some people, it is not disagreeable for looting the bodies to only come up with a few pennies and possibly a shilling or two if you are lucky, thereby scaling down the riches. When you then actually find a pot of gold, it becomes a very big deal and worthy of a "whoo hoo! We struck it rich!"