In an earlier post, I linked to this piece which, using Medieval Europe as a template, discussed the probable economic ramifications of an adventuring party in the D&D universe.
My friend BOB!1! disagreed with the premise and attempted to comment but was thwarted by a comments glitch. He has an interesting take which I'll attempt to relay and expand upon here.
Emily Dresner makes the case that bands of adventurers gaining large rewards for services rendered\ and then spending their gains in small towns disrupts the social and economic order. Furthermore this activity risks a sharp inflationary cycle that will further wreak havoc on the society.
BOB!1! points out that the Middle Ages (and the D&D world) were characterized by a severe deflationary cycle associated with a civilizational collapse. Money was tightly locked up in savings and held largely by feudal lords. It was not in circulation except to pay for rotating debts and wars. Travel and trade were hindered by roving bands of orcs (or Vikings, bandits, wolves and occasionally Arabs) and there was little pressure to invest in infrastructure or mercantile projects.
Into this come our adventures who as Ms. Dresner points out. shake things up mightily and put gold that has been squirreled away into circulation. This does indeed shake things up and it will eventually cause considerable upheaval in the social order....
...BUT THE SOCIAL ORDER SUCKS!
Feudalism boasts impressive stability and a certainty of ones place in the world....because one's place in the world is almost certain to never ever ever change. Like the Subcontinent's caste system and myriad other systems considered exotic or 'indigenous' it has certain undeniable merits if one is a nobleman or a passing hipster tourist, but is rather less appealing to those who sustain it.
However, given the premise put forth in D&D, the adventurers and the craftsmen they trade with are a blossoming middle class, which is a good thing.
Note too that the corollary between Medieval Europe and D&D is not precise. Dragons are a deflationary pressure not present historically. (The inflationary potential they represent if slain might be analogous to the Aztecs however.)
Likewise. the dungeons themselves are vast, incredibly numerous, and indicate a far more advanced precursor civilization than Rome. Once cleared of monsters, traps and megalomaniacal necromancers they represent vast tracts of useable (though probably not arable) real estate. The release of such infrastructure to settlement and the introduction of the monetary hoards within into the economy would mirror on a smaller scale the effect of the black death on land availability and money per person in circulation, but without the near total disruption of what trade there was. On the contrary, by reducing the threat of orks and bugbears the 'murder hoboes' would greatly facilitate trade even as the huge injection of gold into the economies would cause an inflationary spiral that would encourage investment in various enterprises. No longer could wealth be best managed by hoarding it. Rather, with the value of gold dropping, one must use it or loose it. Investment would be the key to riches. Ms. Dresner uses the example of 1500s Spain to suggest that this would be a disaster. However, Spain encountered difficulties due to micromanagement and regulation of the economy in an attempt to keep the feudal order in place rather than the more trade oriented one Spain's gold had made possible. It's worth noting that other countries embraced the change and ushered in a rising standard of living and ultimately the enlightenment.
Finally, since the adventurers in D&D tend to be polyglot associations, and demonstrated the advantages of various races working in consort, and since financial success comes from appealing to the largest demographic possible, prosperity would tend to favor kingdoms that take a tolerant view of racial equality and miscegenation and a dim view of provincialism. This could conceivably even be extended to some of the orks if the analogy of the Vikings is used. This means that the kingdoms that emerge from this time would be well on their way to an equivalent to the Renaissance and/or Enlightenment that might well outstrip the historical one.
Dresner is correct that the adventurers make the feudal D&D world they start out in unsustainable in a few years if they are at all successful, but far from being unwitting agents of chaotic evil, the adventurers are likely to end up being forces for chaotic or lawful good...whatever their alignment.
Some people have argued that the D&D universe is already in the grip of runaway inflation, considering that some magic items sell for upwards of 100,000 gold pieces. If you figure each gold piece at one troy ounce (which would make them really small, given how dense gold is) and with a troy ounce at 31.1 grams, then that would be 3.1 metric tonnes of gold.
-Spell components take a tremendous amount of value directly out of the economy. Resurrecting requires what, 5k gold pieces' worth of diamond dust? Even a lot of lesser spells take 10 or 20 or 100 GP worth of materials. Some of these effects can create economic value worth the price, but not nearly all of them do.
-Brain drain. What do people with high INT scores do? They become wizards, because why swing a sword or make shoes for a living when phenomenal cosmic power awaits? But like the current educational system in the US, this means that you end up with a lot of people who have got their Wizard Degree but find that their school isn't in high demand (especially the illusionists and necromancers...) They've got enough education to be unemployable in the regular labor market but not necessarily useful skills.
-Rolling from the same idea, this means that by and large, "fix it with magic" is going to be the go-to answer for any problems you run into. Crop failures? Forget introducing the three-field system, just bless those fields! You don't need firearms to arm your militia against encroaching bugbears, apply fireballs until well done! Epidemic make you wish you'd invented the germ theory of disease? Nah, just get the divine casters on the job. Basically, since your educated class is heavily invested in being able to Fix Things With Magic, that's going to be what they do when they run into a problem. This means you don't get a lot of social progression, as wizards don't have an incentive to provide scaling solutions (and in fact have lots of good reasons to prevent things like the spread of firearm technology - they actually did a Forgotten Realms story about that, if I recall correctly.)
-Want to be a blacksmith? Better pray a wizard doesn't set up with the Fabricate spell and drive you out of business...
-Of course, a lot of the Bad Things in the world are there precisely because some wizard created them back in the day. Or because some wizard opened a portal and they came through it.
-They have a nasty habit of not dying, not only meaning that their wealth doesn't go back into the economy, but then you get things like liches making life worse for everyone else.
-On top of that, there's a lot of direct wealth destruction going on. Dragons don't just hoard gold, they raze villages. Necromantic hordes roll over the border areas, leaving nothing alive behind them, and even if they lose the pivotal battle, the land is still fallow for lack of farmers and livestock. Eventually demihumans take advantage of the open space and civilization retreats just a little further...
Of course, if you have to live in a world with magic, you want magic on your side too - otherwise you have to live with most of the downsides of living in a magic world but without any of the good stuff that results. So it's not like one side is going to unilaterally fire all its wizards and clerics... not if it doesn't want to become a "former side" anyway.
But you're not likely to find a Renaissance in D&D, simply because the wizards have massive incentives to wizard, not to spread the power they've accumulated through the populace as a whole... and anyone smart enough to advance society will benefit personally much more from being a wizard, when the other choice is being a philosopher. (And even if you get a few altruistic ones, they get murdered by other wizards who don't want their rice bowl overturned...)
Well, the new Ace Attorney game is a period piece set mainly in Victorian London. The plot revolves around a Meiji Era Japanese law student studying in London and Sherlock Holmes is a major character in the game.
This is actually pretty interesting.
This is actually Pretty Watson.
Yes. Watson is an 8 year old girl genius.
OK it's a video game, and a Japanese game to boot so extreme liberties, re-imaginings and gender-bending should come as no surprise whatsoever.
Nevertheless, Shu Takumi, the director of the game, states that he wants it to be quite true to the original.
As for the character of Holmes, Takumi, who is also in charge of the game's scenario writing, has stated that he is a fan of the original series and hopes to maintain the sort of Sherlock that he grew up reading about.
On the other hand, that Watson fellow, must have really bugged him as a kid.
The Dread Pirate Whitebeard, master o' the fierce and mighty galleon Chizumatic, has let slip that he's found a guide to treasure just o'er the horizon. The scallywag be tryin' to make it out to be not worth goin' after but I hear tell that there be at least one gem in that thar chest....
I won't say this gives me reason to live, but it certainly gives me reason to watch Crunchyroll.
I'm also looking forward to the continuation of Yowamushi Pedal. That's a darned fun little show.
On the new shows, I hope the Kaitou Kid show, Magic Kaito, will actually show up somewhere I can watch it. I love a purehearted crime caper show, and everybody else rips off this manga something fierce. (Though of course it rips off Lupin, Raffles, Robin Hood, Man of Twenty Faces, etc.)
This week, I can't believe we have a Lawrence Block movie starring Liam Neeson, and a Terry Gilliam flick. So awesome.
Posted by: Suburbanbanshee at Fri Sep 19 14:07:46 2014 (iXS2r)
Oh, and the Ghibli TV series of a Snow Queen prequel fanfic by the same person who wrote Pippi Longstocking.
There seem to be a fair number of fantasy and sf shows, although of varying degrees of seriousness. And I'll watch the continuation of Chaika, too.
Posted by: Suburbanbanshee at Fri Sep 19 14:26:23 2014 (iXS2r)
Yeah, I'm up for more Chaika (Still haven't had a chance to finish the first series though.)
Not sure about anything else. I was thinking about the new Tenshi until I saw it was going to be one of those 5 minute nonsense bits.
Posted by: Mauser at Fri Sep 19 15:50:27 2014 (TJ7ih)
Give Us Your Tired, Your Poor, Your......Nuclear Missiles
It appears that if Scotland goes all independent tomorrow they have declared that they will be a nuclear free zone. The UK's nuclear deterrent is mainly concentrated in their ballistic missile submarines...which are based in Scotland. Some accommodation can likely be made but this would give the Scots a huge leverage over the UK England's nukes.
The result of this is that the English, who weren't expecting this voter to go anywhere suddenly find themselves scrambling for options. Since the new base in England or Wales will take a decade to build, the plan they came up with last week is to homeport their nuclear submarines in the US in the interim. Assuming the Scots vote for independence and Congress does not balk at the proposal, I'm guessing the English boats would be in Kings Bay, Georgia, which is the only US Boomer base on the East Coast.
Couldn't they, you know... just keep the base? I mean, hell, we have a military base in Cuba, so we know it can be done.
In fact, that's a pretty good argument when it comes to getting Scotland to assume its share of the debt. "Oh, you don't want the debt? I'm afraid we'll be keeping the port and will continue basing our submarine fleet there..."
I'm bewildered by this myself. Someone in Whitehall seems to have dropped the ball.
I'm wondering if the Labour types that are running the show in Scotland are so hysterically anti-nuke that they are willing to take their third of the debt. Alternatively, there might have been some terms in the agreement on the vote that ties England's hands on the matter.
I'm guessing that the Scots actually voting to leave was just not taken seriously until as late as last week.
4...they have declared that they will be a nuclear free zone.
Is that declaration limited to nuclear weapons, or does it include nuclear power plants as well? (A quick check of Wikipedia shows that there are two nuclear power plants currently operating in Scotland, supplying half of their electricity; OTOH, public opinion in Scotland is strongly against nuclear power, and the Scottish Parliament voted against construction of any new nuclear power plants back in 2008.)
Posted by: Peter the Not-so-Great at Wed Sep 17 22:23:42 2014 (2eP1J)
With attitudes on display, Scotland is going to join PIIGS very quickly and become a true Greece of the North. Just was EU overlords in Brussels wanted.
It's a mistake to think of spammers as one group-mind that can learn. It's more like a disease, operating mindlessly and taking advantage of any opening.
Over on Metafilter there's a pattern of people who join the site, make a couple of comments on existing threads and then make a spammy front page post. It happens again and again and the mods always spot it and delete the spam. You might wonder why "they don't learn" but the reason is that each new guy who does this isn't aware of any of the others, and thus can't learn from their mistakes.
There's also the question of their incentive to learn. I mean... at the end of the day we're talking about spamming operations. There's no "reputable spammer". They're fly-by-night operations by design, because the moment you nail one of them down they get dropped on a million ban lists anyway. That said, what's their incentive to provide "effective" SEO rather than crappy SEO? It's easier to flail around, run some automated spam-attack scripts that generate a few pages you can point to, cash your check, and then go find the next sucker... and if it doesn't actually sell more handbags, what do they care?
Evidently a very Loony Tunes adaptable duet. They did a great job with Istanbul (not Constantinople).
Along with Ana Ng, these are three of my favorite songs from the college (and near post college) years. Thanks for the post!
Posted by: topmaker at Mon Sep 15 19:07:13 2014 (2yZsg)
"I don't want the world, I just want your half." Yeah, I liked TMBG as well.
Watching the video of "Istanbul..." is also how I caught my local station compressing the shows to stuff in an extra commercial per break, since I ended up taping it twice, once before they started doing it. The dropped frames in the long pan became obvious, as well as the tempo of the song.
Posted by: Mauser at Tue Sep 16 07:26:07 2014 (TJ7ih)
The President must be so confused right now. The world keeps not working the way he expects it to.
Posted by: Ben at Mon Sep 15 10:08:41 2014 (DRaH+)
The first post about the new liquid ICBM at forums NK dates to 2007. Seems to be going slow and steady, pretty much regardless of Putin. Interestingly, NPOM and Khrunichev were thought as favourites back then, with GRC Makeyev being busy with SLBMs. Well, time waits for no-one. Frankly I was very surprised when NPOM managed to launch Strela! Still, while not entirely dead yet, they are functionally dead. So, Mak it is, then.
Understanding Modern Vocabulary
As the English language leans forward into a brave new world of byzantine nomenclature, some individuals who have not been brought up to speed on the changes in terminology might come to the conclusion that certain recent statements are actually feckless dissembling rather than enlightened and inoffensive specificity.
To address the allegations, we've tracked down one of The Brickmuppet's Crack Team of Train hopping Linguists to parse the recent statements by the State Department on current events. So, from somewhere along the Masassas Line, here is our expert on exposition.
Dude..This is a [expletive deleted] of [expletive deleted] pollyanish [expletive deleted] newspeak. You interrupted my [expletive deleted] vacation to [expletive deleted] show me the English language being [expletive deleted] up the [expletive deleted] by a bunch of [expletives deleted] incompetents using Orwellian [expletive deleted] to distract from their [expletives deleted]. This [expletive deleted] is why I TOOK the vacation in the first place. I'm gonna [ remainder of correspondence deleted after consultation with standards and practices]
I guess the rest of the post needs to go below the fold...
But... When We Started From Scratch We Did it in ThreeThis article discusses the state of america's aging nuclear arsenal and points out once again that the United States is no longer are making nuclear pits (the core of atomic weapons) and hasn't since 1989.
I think the article is sightly unfair to Bush (1) in that canceling the deployment of the new generation of weapons that were originally intended to come online in the early 90's was absolutely necessary to calm the Russians down after the collapse of the U.S.S.R.
In any event, there is this damning revelation at the end of the article...
In 1989 the executive branch shut down the nation's only facility to produce plutonium pits — the hearts of nuclear weapons — making us the only nuclear weapons state in the world unable to produce nuclear arms. Since then, executive branch fumbling and congressional denials have combined to prevent replacement of this absolutely essential production facility. If a decision were made today, it would still be 10 to 15 years before pit production could start.
Although the Manhattan Project started in 1939, it was only a fact finding and technology feasibility assessment project until it got seriously spun as a weapons project in early 1942. By late 1944 and early 1945 pit production was a reality and they started out going into a previously unknown field. Thus, one can reasonably assume, given 70 years of experience and the leaps and bounds technology has made since Trinity, that, the tripling of the time necessary to do what was done with 1940s technology in 2014 is due to institutional inertia and bureaucratic asshattery. Most of the Chinese dynasties ended due to the machinations of the eunuchs and other bureaucrats in administrative empire building at the expense of the state, rendering it vulnerable to new developments. The Mandarins in Washington are a Gordian Knot that we really need to cut.
Note that this is specifically talking about plutonium pits. Plutonium is necessary for most modern weapons especially if they are lightweight and compact. However, it is my understanding that Oralloy (a type of highly enriched uranium) can be used to make perfectly effective bombs but they are heavier and less safe to store in the confines of a submarine (due to their higher radioactivity) and in any event not using plutonium would require extensive testing of new bomb designs or the use of old ones ill suited to our current delivery methods.
Current Watch List
I've been quite busy of late but I am watching a few things in between schoolwork and work-work.
RWBY has been mentioned quite a bit. It's the only show I actually am able to watch weekly and keep up with in part because its twelve minute run time is easy to justify as a study break. It's really hitting its stride and is amusing me far more than it ought to.
Tonari No Seki Kun is an older series that likewise can be consumed in 7 minute doses. I'm watching one or two a week. It has remained cute and refreshing.
I'm only 3 episodes into Sabagebu! Survival Game Club, but it's pretty enjoyable thus far with a quirky and likable cast, many of whom share my opinion of hornets and natto. I may have to write on this at length in the future.
Dr. Who is a show that I rarely get to watch due to scheduling and a lack of DVR. However, a quirk of fate has allowed me to watch the first 4 Cappaldi episodes and I'm becoming more convinced that the PC venom displayed in episode 2 is not intended to be seen in a good light. It looks like The Promised Land is going to be a new Bad Wolf and Robin Hood was a hoot. I like that the doctor is not completely omnipotent "Wait . You're Right. That's a STUPID idea!" It's interesting at any rate.
In the queue: I picked up the second half of Ghost Hound, and second season of K-On!, both of which which I watched the first halves of YEARS ago.
"the PC venom displayed in episode 2 is not intended to be seen in a good light"
That's my tentative conclusion as well, after seeing a couple of lines in Episode 4.
I really liked this episode. Most of the things that annoy me about the new season were completely missing this time. It really felt, mostly, like a Classic Who storyline in a lot of ways.
Posted by: RickC at Mon Sep 15 13:30:07 2014 (ECH2/)
I've been informed that some people are having difficulty commenting. Specifically, I'm told that comments are being sent to moderation and I'm not approving them.
Well, I don't moderate comments. In fact the blog does not even have it as an option, so something is amiss. I tried commenting myself and had no problem so this may be specific to certain users.
Anyway, if you are having any problem commenting, please leave a comme.....
Oh well. While our crack team of datapixies work on that problem, I can at least do my bit to help my readers avoid heartbreak. In 1992, I learned to my considerable dismay that the following line does not, in fact, work.
I get logged out a lot, but the name, mail and web lines appear filled in. But if you don't see the "Hello (name), you are logged in to Minx" line under the preview and post buttons, you're not logged in, and after you hit post, the page reloads, the text box is cleared, and the comment doesn't post.
This can cause a lot of confusion.
Posted by: Mauser at Sat Sep 13 20:22:02 2014 (yigXr)