[PnP] Economic Project, Part 1 (rev 2)

Matijs van Zuijlen mvz at xs4all.nl
Mon Mar 31 11:33:32 CEST 2014

Wow, amazing work and an interesting read.

I have several comments/questions, I don't know how they would affect the

1: What about equipment, buildings, etc? These need to be bought and maintained,
which would require additional income above personal upkeep I guess.

2: These days, a markup of 100% for food and 200% for drinks is common. This may
seem slightly odd, since the actual work needed to get the food on the plate is
much higher than for drinks. In that light, a 15% markup seems low.

3: What size would a tavern need to be to sell an average 5.5 * 3 = 16.5 gallons
of ale per evening?


On 31/03/14 03:54, Burton Choinski wrote:
> Note: After playing with the numbers, in order to keep the farmer/urban ratio
> proper, I decided the "per season" was per-year.  re-formulated the
> assumptions and gave my reasonings. :) Also reformatted.
> Greetings everyone!  It's been a long while since I put anything major up to
> the list, and given the low traffic I figured I may as well do so with a
> project I have been working on for what seems like several years (off and on,
> including endless tweaks and redos).  This is my "Economic Unification"
> project.
> For all the years my group and I have been playing P&P, one of the largest
> irks we had was with the equipment list, mostly with some of the wacky
> prices, but also because of them it made fitting in new equipment somewhat
> difficult.  5 years ago, when we restarted our "Legends" campaign with their
> characters of 25 years ago, one of their goals was to eventually carve out a
> kingdom for themselves (which they have, in the "unclaimed" hills and
> mountains of the western elder mountains, close to Treaus.
> Well, once you get such a kingdom, they needed to know what they were
> bringing in with regards to taxes.  I could have gone with the culture book's
> GNI calculation and been done with it, but being the type who likes to crunch
> numbers and lay out a consistent basis for things, I went back to our old
> nemesis, the equipment list and how things are priced.  To do this I would
> need to work out costs from the ground up, thus the birth of this project.
> I am presenting these series of posts as both a presentation of my ideas to
> the list as well as draw upon the collective experiences of GM's and players
> alike to poke holes at my assumptions, shore up faulty logic, or add missing
> information that would make it more complete.  I hope the eventual "laws"
> that are generated can then be used by all to create a more comprehensive and
> logically consistent set of prices for any gear or services we ever need.
> Now, I am not an economist (though some of you out there may be), so I'm
> looking at these rules as a step-by-step system to lay out a logical
> reasoning for the values of various goods and services.  The goal is not to
> make "Sim-Donara", and may of the assumptions are made to reduce the laws to
> a bare minimum with a "perfect world" mindset, with the assumption that once
> we have a solid foundation, simple modifiers can then be worked up to reflect
> the variances one might encounter in the actual game world.
> In summation, before I begin, I plan to present my thesis for open use as I
> plan to use it in my game.  Comments pointing out missing parts or faulty
> logic are certainly welcome, and I will try to reply to all with my reasons
> why I don't think they work or with updated info as needed once integrated.
> I have a large excel spreadsheet that is backing all these calculations, and
> I'll happily email it to anyone who wishes a copy at any point (I'll have to
> keep it revisioned, as it may get updated a lot depending on responses).
> Simply contact me at bchoinskI at verizon.net and ask for the economic sheet.
> And if you find bad formulas, let me know!
> With luck, at the end of this a comprehensive an internally consistent
> equipment and services list can be created.
> -----------------------------------------------------------------------------
>  The following base assumptions are used as the core of the system: * A P&P
> year is 360 days; a P&P week is 6 days, for 5 weeks per month * A P&P ton is
> 2000 pounds * Normal definitions of an acre (43,560 square feet) and mile
> (5,280 feet) apply; a square mile contain 640 acres * Yields and production
> rates based on real-world data for Roman era thru Middle-Ages, where I could
> find it; Some info drawn from GURPS Low Tech sources since I believe the
> authors have tried to do the same research I am doing and probably had paid
> access to sources I can't google up (Assuming GURPS TL1 or TL2 for the P&P
> world, with TL3 in some cultures for specific technologies) * All occupations
> are averaged out to the productivity of a single man; yes, many occupations
> are performed by teams of men, but we average it out to find a single man
> value.  This allows us to easily calculate the production of any number of
> people. - For simplicity, children (who normally contribute to a family's 
> income) produce at HALF rate, but likewise require HALF the needs. * We
> assume an average food need for human adults of 2.5 food points * Values of
> products or services are largely based on the cost of labor, plus any source
> materials for refining or crafting occupations * When sources refer to a
> "family", we assume two adults at full production one youth at half
> production and two children at quarter production and perhaps a baby at no
> production.  Thus, a family of 5-6 has the production (and income needs) of 3
> adults.
> All occupations have a set standard of living, defined as a specified number
> of bits per day.  The base values by station at based on the P&P starting
> wealth table and some ideas from other games: * Station 1 -- Labor (1bb),
> Skilled Labor (2bb) * Station 2 -- Crafter (5bb), Master Crafter (10bb),
> Tradesman (5bb), Uncommon Tradesman (10bb), Pack Trader (5bb), Minor Merchant
> (10bb) * Station 3 -- Artisan (20bb), Master Artisan (50bb), Merchant
> (20bb), Master Merchant (50bb) * Station 4 -- Specialist (100b), Rare
> Specialist (200b)
> The foundation of most civilized lands is agriculture.  Farmers at Station 1
> make up the majority of the population, and the overall cost of food is based
> on what their income is worth.
> - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
> FARMER (1bb/day) GURPS Low Tech Companion #3 (henceforth GLTC3) states that
> barley produces 705# per acre per growing season, with wheat producing 355#
> and legumes 280#. Agriculture at the level of technology produces yields 4:1
> (4 pounds of grain for every pound sewn). I am unable to nail down a distinct
> maximum amount of land that a farming family can manage per year, but we want
> to match a more "ancient" rate of support needing plenty of farmers to
> support an urban population.  Analysis of the P&P cultures shows that the
> weighted average margin is 20% (i.e. 1 farmer can support 1.2 people).
> Iteration of various values in excel indicates that the average farmland that
> a family can manage is 14 acres.  At the P&P level of technology, the
> two-field system is most likely used, so half of this land is left fallow
> fallow each year to prevent soil exhaustion.
> With the above numbers, a farm produces 4,935# of barley, 2,485# of wheat or
> 1,960# of legumes each year, of which 1 part in 4 must be retained for next
> years crops.  This results in usable returns of 3,702# of barley
> (1,234#/adult), 1,864# of wheat (622#/adult) and 1,470# of legumes
> (490#/adult). Wheat produces about 1.7x the weight of the grain in straw
> (usable for fodder), or 4,225# (1,409#/adult).  To keep things simple, barley
> produces less usable fodder, keeping it's yield at the same level as wheat.
> A farmer works 300 days a year on his own farm, spending an additional 30
> days (tithe) working the lands of his liege lord.  The remaining 30 days in
> the year account for sickness, holy days or bad weather, but implies that a
> farmer could work those days, getting +10% income.  The 300 days working his
> own farm must meet his income needs (1bb/day), so we can determine the value
> of the crops. It is assumed that grains make up 75% of the income, with
> straw/fodder making up the other 25%.  Legumes make up 100% of the income
> when grown. Barley/Oats  -> 0.1824bb/# (9b for a 50# bushel) Wheat        ->
> 0.3618bb/# (18b for a 50# bushel) Legumes      -> 0.6123bb/# (30b for a 50#
> bushel) Fodder       -> 0.0533bb/# (11b for a 200# bale)
> GLTC3 states that an active adult requires 750# of grain per year to survive.
> Wheat provides more protein than barley and is used for bread, with legumes
> making up the remainder of the needed protein (meat was relatively rare).
> Working the numbers such that food costs 2/3 the income, the diet is 70%
> barley, 20% wheat and 10% legumes, the yearly food cost is 196bb/year.
> Obviously, lower quality food can be bought for less if he needs money for
> other things.
> In terms of population support, using the same percentages to determine the
> average food cost, a single adult farmer produces enough to feed 1.383
> adults.  While higher than the P&P weighted margin, it is enough to cover
> some high ratio cultures without the need for serious food imports (i.e.
> A'Korchu at a 33% margin or Dirlla at a 37% margin).
> Given the above, the average adult requires 2.5FP per day, or 900FP per year.
> A grain/legumes diet provides 1.2FP per pound.  At least now a Station person
> can afford his food (Book 1 had grain at 2bb per pound!)
> The value of cropland works out to the income produced by the people working
> it for you.  At 300b income over 14  acres, this comes to 21.43bb/acre for
> farmland (active+fallow).  Book 1 states that farmland is worth 1SC per acre
> when purchased, so if we go with this value as one of our "data anchors" this
> implies that land sells for 4.7x it's yearly production income.  This will
> come in handy when we eventually determine the cost of other land.
> The cost of wintering a horse is based on 100 days where grazing is not
> possible. For a 1000lb horse, this is 20# of straw fodder per day, or 1SC per
> year.  Working horses (horses on the battlefield or constantly working)
> cannot graze and will need oats as a supplement (0.5lb oats per 100lb weight)
> in addition to purchased straw, so owning a horse will cost an adventurer
> 12bb per week while traveling (6CC per month).
> BREWER (5bb/year) On old resource I've mined for info is "Economy Quest", a
> set of economic rules made for Runequest (available if desired, contact me by
> email). From their rules: Brewing Brewers are crafters living in the 1440 p.
> income bracket. A small brewery produces 2900 liters of ale per year. This
> ale sells, in bulk, for 5 clacs per liter. A brewery may grow its own hops,
> requiring a small farm to do so, or buy them, which costs 220 pennies per
> year.
> The 1440p income is the same as our 5bb/year. 2900 liters is roughly 766
> gallons.  Scaled down from a family, this averages to 256 gallons per adult.
> From personal experience and online sources, a good rule of thumb is 10# of
> malted grain for 5 gallons of water, or 2# per gallon. While hops were not
> introduced in the real world until the middle ages, other herbs or spices
> were used as preservatives.  We assume the brewing family grows whatever was
> used on their own lands and gathers their firewood for boiling the brew.
> (NOTE: Is this too little beer?  I have brewed in the past, in 5 gallon
> batches and it took me, with modern gear a few hours to boil and cool the
> wort, followed by a week or so of fermentation before bottling.  Were I to do
> this every night (had I the equipment) for 300 days I could do about 1,500
> gallons a year If I also had to spend the day gathering firewood, picking
> hops, checking on the grain being malted for the next batch, etc. And that's
> with  20th century appliances and modern plumbing.  If I had to do it with
> firewood and getting water from the local well, I could easily see my rate
> cut in half.)
> At 5bb per day, the 300 day rate is 1500bb. Instead of working a liege-lord's
> lands, the brewer pays an additional 10% of their income in beer to the lord,
> so he must actually produce 1650bb of value in those 300 days (which allows
> for +20% income if he works extra days). Given the cost of 500lb of barley,
> plus his income needs and tithed value we can determine the value of his beer
> or ale. Beer	  -> 6.965bb/gallon
> The brewer would likely sell his beer in 10 gallon lots (you supply the
> barrel; the actual cost of a barrel lies in a future installment), cleaned up
> for "processing and handling". Beer	->  7CC per 10 gallon keg
> TAVERN-KEEPER (5bb/year) With the cost of beer from his supplier at
> 7bb/gallon, and a noted Book 1 cost of 2bb per quart (8bb/gallon), a
> Tavern-Keeper's markup is obviously 1bb per gallon (15%), meaning he must
> sell 1,650 gallons a year (about 5.5 gallons per day, over 300 days of
> operation). Using this same ratio, a tavern that sold prepared food would use
> the same margin Beer or Ale	-> 2bb/quart, 1bb/pint Watered Ale -> 1bb/quart 
> Tavern Meal -> 1/4bb per food point (per day) at Station 1
> Web sources: ------------ http://www.hyw.com/books/history/agricult.htm 
> http://www.aces.uiuc.edu/vista/html_pubs/horse/horse.html 
> http://www.newsfrombree.co.uk/m_econ.htm 
> http://mu.ranter.net/design-theory/food-basis/everything-starts-with-grain
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