Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Playtesting and High Level Economies in D&D

Since I don’t play 3.5 D&D, I find most of the discussion about the Pathfinder RPG to be a bit too arcane to follow. But this one is fun, if you ignore the trolls who comes to dominate the discussion in the latter half.

The basic premise is one that probably every DM who runs high-level campaigns has had to face: once the players get access to certain spells, primarily transformation spells, but also planer travel ones, they PCs have effectively limitless wealth. In 2nd edition, the primary culprit was a priest spell called blessed abundance. In 3.5, there’s any number of spells that can wreak havoc on economies.

So what to do? Frank Trollman’s very sensible response is to basically say that gold can’t buy anything that you can’t use wish to create, and dictates a return to the 15k gp limit on the wish spell. After all, what is gold worth to a dao who literally builds his home out of the stuff?

Frankly, the entire issue rubs me the wrong way, and is one of the things that puts me off the current version of D&D. I once ran a purposefully high-magic campaign, and ended up instating a similar system where gold became worthless for trade between interplaner movers and shakers. It worked for that game. But it’s not the sort of game I want to play these days.

That said, the first post by Frank, the one that starts off the thread, is interesting stuff. I think he overstates the frequency of peasant revolts. Grinding poverty was the norm, and most folks just accepted it as their lot in life. In addition, it’s hard to mount much of a revolution when you are in grinding poverty, because you’re usually too worn out to do much about it. Revolution is more commonly a privilege of people with time on their hands and full bellies.

Nevertheless, his comments about the turnip, gold, and wish economies are really interesting and worth rolling around in the back of your mind for a bit. Don’t spend too much time on the rest of the thread, however. The trolls quickly take it over.

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