Sunday, October 17, 2010

Salt and Pepper

I don't know if I've mentioned it before, but I have 'car' books. These are books that I'll buy at Half-Price, usually on the dollar spinner rack, and read while I'm waiting to pick someone up or waiting to go someplace at a specific time or something along those lines.

The current book I'm reading, King of the North by Harry Turtledove, is apparently the second one in a series. So far it hasn't mattered that I didn't read the first book, which I'm taking is Prince of the North.

The book seems well written and is very 'earthy', almost grim but not quite in the parts I've read thus far. In the start thought, it gets me thinking about exactly how much I take for granted on an everyday basis with a simple description of a meal.

"I wish we had pepper," he said, fondly remembering the spices that had come up from the south till the Empire of Elabon sealed off the last mountain pass just before the werenight.

"Be thankful we still have salt," Selatre said. "We're beginning to run low on that. It hasn't been coming up the Niffet from the coast as it used to since the Gradi started raiding a couple of years ago." (paperback version page 15)

The first thing I thought of when I read that, was players acting as smugglers to earn a tiddy profit on the mundane. The whole laws of supply and demand, of scarcity and value cropping up into the game to make spices worth more than gold.

I've run such bits before in my campaign. The only thing I've ever been leery about is setting stone cold prices. I'm trying to run the game and make it one of action and adventure, not necessarily of commerce and consumerism. The value of gold for players in later editions is especially statted out to be X by Y level so this can be a bit tricky. In the older editions, if the playes went under some of the assumptions, they might use excess funds not necessarily to buy magics items, but to build strongholds, pay and house their followers, grant land to their personal henchement and otherwise use money the way real merchants, lords, or nobility might.

When looking about your own house, when cooking in your kitchen, think of the variety of spieces you may have access to through your local supermarket and think of the possible world wide travelling it may take to bring that nutmeg or vanilla bean to Waterdeep or Greyhawk and of the possible profits to be had doing it.