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Author Topic: Trading Goods and Wealth From the Great Northern Lands  (Read 352 times)

SHARK

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Trading Goods and Wealth From the Great Northern Lands
« on: November 13, 2020, 07:44:37 pm »
Greetings!

Well, some of my group--Khaeden, Oggdan, and Vindlagga in particular--have expressed interest in partnering together in the building and sponsoring of a new trading market--a sort of mini-mall with a Blacksmith, Leatherworker, Taxidermist, Weaver, Tailor, a Cobbler, Potter, Woodworker, Jeweler, a Bonecarver, a Tobacco Shop, a Tattoo Shop, and a large Inn/Tavern. The whole complex would be supported by an adjoining compound of warehouses. This Trade Market would serve as a consolidated clearing house for all of their booty gained in their expeditions, concentrated for maximum profit generation. It also got me to thinking about how in a Mixed Economy--an economy based on bartering but also embracing large-scale coin payments--various kinds of goods are valued.

Reindeer Antlers and Fur
Bear Fur and Bear Teeth
Wolf Fur and Wolf Teeth
Forest Bison Fur and Horns
Steppe Bison Fur and Horns
Beaver Fur
Marmot Fur
Various Animal Hooves and Feet
Walrus Ivory
Mammoth Fur and Mammoth Ivory
Jugs of Animal Fat (Walruses, Mammoths, Whale Fat, and such like)
Valued Bird Feathers, Claws, and Beaks (Eagles, Gulls, Ravens, Falcons, Vultures)
Amber
Seashells
Coloured Beads (Glass, Ceramic, or Stone)

How are these things valued, especially so in a quasi-tribalistic society and economy? Then, with the dynamics that much of these products are not necessarily local, but shipped in from distant lands?

What do you all think? I could just slap some arbitrary value in silver pieces on whatever by the ounce or pound, but I have this love for verissimilitude and like to get a handle on such things with at least a nod towards historical accuracy or realism.

Oh, yeah, I'm using D&D 5E.

I appreciate your thoughts and input!

Semper Fidelis,

SHARK
"It is the Marine Corps that will strip away the façade so easily confused with self. It is the Corps that will offer the pain needed to buy the truth. And at last, each will own the privilege of looking inside himself  to discover what truly resides there. Comfort is an illusion. A false security bred from familiar things and familiar ways. It narrows the mind. Weakens the body. And robs the soul of spirit and determination. Comfort is neither welcome nor tolerated here."

"Courage is not the absence of fear, but is doing what you have to, in spite of the fear."
"Let Death and Fire Be Their Portion!"
"Delenda Est Parthia!"

HappyDaze

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Re: Trading Goods and Wealth From the Great Northern Lands
« Reply #1 on: November 13, 2020, 10:12:19 pm »
with at least a nod towards historical accuracy or realism.

Oh, yeah, I'm using D&D 5E.

D&D 5e isn't made for this.

SHARK

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Re: Trading Goods and Wealth From the Great Northern Lands
« Reply #2 on: November 14, 2020, 02:52:20 pm »
Greetings!

*Laughing*

D&D 5E doesn't make some of this easy, that's for sure. ;D

I'm also wondering how does one value *Hack Silver*?

Evidently, *Hack Silver* were fairly large, smooth chunks of worked silver, about the size of a soda can, with curved ends so they could be easily stacked, carried on a pole, or strung on a rope or chain. Evidently definitely used as a form of currency--but they weren't *coins*. How does that fit into a Mixed Economic system? Apparently the Norse embraced such Hack Silver just fine in their economy, which embraced coins and bartering, and which this weird system endured efficiently for centuries.

Semper Fidelis,

SHARK
"It is the Marine Corps that will strip away the façade so easily confused with self. It is the Corps that will offer the pain needed to buy the truth. And at last, each will own the privilege of looking inside himself  to discover what truly resides there. Comfort is an illusion. A false security bred from familiar things and familiar ways. It narrows the mind. Weakens the body. And robs the soul of spirit and determination. Comfort is neither welcome nor tolerated here."

"Courage is not the absence of fear, but is doing what you have to, in spite of the fear."
"Let Death and Fire Be Their Portion!"
"Delenda Est Parthia!"

HappyDaze

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Re: Trading Goods and Wealth From the Great Northern Lands
« Reply #3 on: November 14, 2020, 03:09:20 pm »
Greetings!

*Laughing*

D&D 5E doesn't make some of this easy, that's for sure. ;D

I'm also wondering how does one value *Hack Silver*?

Evidently, *Hack Silver* were fairly large, smooth chunks of worked silver, about the size of a soda can, with curved ends so they could be easily stacked, carried on a pole, or strung on a rope or chain. Evidently definitely used as a form of currency--but they weren't *coins*. How does that fit into a Mixed Economic system? Apparently the Norse embraced such Hack Silver just fine in their economy, which embraced coins and bartering, and which this weird system endured efficiently for centuries.

Semper Fidelis,

SHARK
I believe that 5e uses "trade bars" of various metals weighing 1 lb. and valued at 50 coins of that type of metal. You could alter their shapes a bit to allow the stringing/stacking as you describe without changing the values.

SHARK

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Re: Trading Goods and Wealth From the Great Northern Lands
« Reply #4 on: November 14, 2020, 03:58:07 pm »
Greetings!

*Laughing*

D&D 5E doesn't make some of this easy, that's for sure. ;D

I'm also wondering how does one value *Hack Silver*?

Evidently, *Hack Silver* were fairly large, smooth chunks of worked silver, about the size of a soda can, with curved ends so they could be easily stacked, carried on a pole, or strung on a rope or chain. Evidently definitely used as a form of currency--but they weren't *coins*. How does that fit into a Mixed Economic system? Apparently the Norse embraced such Hack Silver just fine in their economy, which embraced coins and bartering, and which this weird system endured efficiently for centuries.

Semper Fidelis,

SHARK
I believe that 5e uses "trade bars" of various metals weighing 1 lb. and valued at 50 coins of that type of metal. You could alter their shapes a bit to allow the stringing/stacking as you describe without changing the values.

Greetings!

That's an excellent suggestion! Thank you.

The process of working out details of a "Mixed Economy" is more involved than I anticipated, but I think it is worthwhile. I think it is important not just to get away from the whole modernistic consumerism dynamic, you know, where the group can go into any city and easily buy anything imaginable or desired with a neatly packed pouch of coins. I also think that creating such different styles of economy actually contributes to a very real distinction when say, the group actually visits some enormous imperial city somewhere that *does* have an advanced coin-based economy, banks, and that kind of thing. Over time, I have been establishing a sort of dynamic where barter economies or "Mixed Economies" are actually the *norm*--while super-advanced coin-based economies are at least somewhat unusual.

It's an entirely different economic paradigm than what we are presented with in the Player's Handbook, of course.

Semper Fidelis,

SHARK
"It is the Marine Corps that will strip away the façade so easily confused with self. It is the Corps that will offer the pain needed to buy the truth. And at last, each will own the privilege of looking inside himself  to discover what truly resides there. Comfort is an illusion. A false security bred from familiar things and familiar ways. It narrows the mind. Weakens the body. And robs the soul of spirit and determination. Comfort is neither welcome nor tolerated here."

"Courage is not the absence of fear, but is doing what you have to, in spite of the fear."
"Let Death and Fire Be Their Portion!"
"Delenda Est Parthia!"

Ghostmaker

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Re: Trading Goods and Wealth From the Great Northern Lands
« Reply #5 on: November 17, 2020, 11:56:53 am »
Even the polished semi-Renaissance societies in D&D occasionally jumped off the beaten path when it came to coinage. An interesting sidebar in Volo's Guide to Cormyr noted the use of trade tokens in Suzail:
Quote
These flat, shaped pieces of wood branded with a treasury stamp are still honored, and Suzailans can turn them in to the Royal Court at
double face value when they are used toward tax payments. The two sorts of discs are the anvil and the wheel, and they are shaped accordingly. Five anvils equal a wheel, and a wheel is worth 1 gp, so an anvil is worth 2 sp.
Places where coinage is scarce and barter is common might even see the use of ledgers (which would lead to some truly bizarre systems of trade) as such interactions are recorded.

Greentongue

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Re: Trading Goods and Wealth From the Great Northern Lands
« Reply #6 on: November 17, 2020, 01:34:41 pm »
Using a pig or other common food animal for a base allows you to compare values "in silver" for determining the trade value.

I believe the Japanese used the amount of grain to keep a person alive as a base value. You could do the same. 
« Last Edit: November 17, 2020, 01:36:36 pm by Greentongue »

Pat

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Re: Trading Goods and Wealth From the Great Northern Lands
« Reply #7 on: November 17, 2020, 02:04:49 pm »
Two things to remember:

1. The value of a gold coin is its gold content. That means you can abstract away all the different types of coinage, and just compare coins by weight. It doesn't matter if you have 1,000 drachmas or 100 doubloons, what really matters is you have 5 pounds of gold, or 10. Whose face is stamped on the coin, or how many coins per pound, is just flavor.

Though if you want to add additional detail, you can note the size of the coin (how many per pound), and have a quality rating for different types of coinage. Coins that are issued by a powerful empire that cracks down hard on counterfeiters, uses ridges to prevent shaving, and believes in sound money, would be worth full value. While coins that are often shaved, or are crudely made and easy to fake, or that are issued by kings who are known to debase their coins with cheaper metals, would exchange at a discount.

2. Even a barter economy will have certain commodities that will become units of exchange. Historical examples include wheat, cattle, shells, tobacco, and so on. They're not as convenient or durable as gold, but they still give you a measure by which you can set values. A warchief with 100 head of cattle is worth more than a warchief with only 50, but a merchant with no cattle but 200 cattle worth of grain in a silo would be worth more than both.

Ghostmaker

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Re: Trading Goods and Wealth From the Great Northern Lands
« Reply #8 on: November 17, 2020, 02:13:45 pm »
Two things to remember:

1. The value of a gold coin is its gold content. That means you can abstract away all the different types of coinage, and just compare coins by weight. It doesn't matter if you have 1,000 drachmas or 100 doubloons, what really matters is you have 5 pounds of gold, or 10. Whose face is stamped on the coin, or how many coins per pound, is just flavor.

Though if you want to add additional detail, you can note the size of the coin (how many per pound), and have a quality rating for different types of coinage. Coins that are issued by a powerful empire that cracks down hard on counterfeiters, uses ridges to prevent shaving, and believes in sound money, would be worth full value. While coins that are often shaved, or are crudely made and easy to fake, or that are issued by kings who are known to debase their coins with cheaper metals, would exchange at a discount.

2. Even a barter economy will have certain commodities that will become units of exchange. Historical examples include wheat, cattle, shells, tobacco, and so on. They're not as convenient or durable as gold, but they still give you a measure by which you can set values. A warchief with 100 head of cattle is worth more than a warchief with only 50, but a merchant with no cattle but 200 cattle worth of grain in a silo would be worth more than both.
The ridges are called 'reeding'. I know, I'm being pedantic. I also note that any kind of 'remilling die' that could be used to 'remill' a coin that's been shaved would (a) be very valuable to those who are involved in such schemes, and (b) would most certainly bring down the wrath of the kingdom if they were discovered.


jhkim

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Re: Trading Goods and Wealth From the Great Northern Lands
« Reply #9 on: November 17, 2020, 06:27:34 pm »
The process of working out details of a "Mixed Economy" is more involved than I anticipated, but I think it is worthwhile. I think it is important not just to get away from the whole modernistic consumerism dynamic, you know, where the group can go into any city and easily buy anything imaginable or desired with a neatly packed pouch of coins. I also think that creating such different styles of economy actually contributes to a very real distinction when say, the group actually visits some enormous imperial city somewhere that *does* have an advanced coin-based economy, banks, and that kind of thing. Over time, I have been establishing a sort of dynamic where barter economies or "Mixed Economies" are actually the *norm*--while super-advanced coin-based economies are at least somewhat unusual.

It's an entirely different economic paradigm than what we are presented with in the Player's Handbook, of course.

When I ran a viking game using modified Runequest, I used abstract Wealth rules below.

-----------------------

Rather than keeping track of detailed property transactions, characters have a general Wealth level rated from 0 to 10. Equipment is rated in terms of what Wealth level it is standard at. If your Wealth level is equal to or greater than the item, it is assumed that you will have it. Characters will also have a ranking within their Wealth level, from 0 to 9. So a character with Wealth 5.9 would be "Comfortable" below, but almost on the edge of "Well-to-do". The ranking does not make a practical difference in buying, but keeps track of pecking order within your wealth. Exceptional expenses or gains may change your ranking and eventually your wealth level. The wealth of relatives is somewhat tricky to separate. In general, the descriptions below apply to the principal members of a household: patriarch or matriarch and their spouse, along with eldest son. Younger members of the family will have correspondingly less wealth, usually 1 or at most 2 levels lower.

0 : Thrall
Thralls are technically property of someone else. They technically may own property and even do business, but they get paid nothing for their work and thus will own very little if anything. A typical thrall is worth about 5 milk-cows.
1 : Destitute
Someone who is free but owns virtually nothing but clothes and a few personal effects. This may be a lowly servant, wanderer, or newly freed thrall.
2 : Poor
Typically a free servant, who will have a marketable craft and some savings. This might also be a farmer on hard times who is living with relatives.
Equipment: simple items such as a knife, bow, and craft tools along with perhaps a few livestock (~1 milk-cows worth).
3 : Struggling
A typical skilled huscarl, who owns no land but is well paid for his hazardous duty and collects loot in addition -- or alternatively a poor farmer with only a small cabin and a few livestock, and perhaps a thrall or servant.
Equipment: an axe, shield, and a leather jacket or jerkin. A huscarl may own a horse.
4 : Common
A common farmer, with a modest longhouse, a few (2 to 4) thralls, and around 6 milk-cows worth of various livestock. Alternatively, a non-landowner with means, such as a master craftsman or reknowned huscarl.
Equipment: a sword, shield, metal cap, and leather armor for fighting. A pair of horses and a simple fishing boat (4 meters long) for travel.
5 : Comfortable
This is an above-average farmer, with 4 to 8 thralls or servants, and around a dozen milk-cows worth of livestock.
Equipment: a sword, shield, helmet, and metal-reinforced leather armor. Possibly a small knorr (merchant ship), along with a fishing boat.
6 : Well-to-do
This is a well-to-do farmer, with around a dozen thralls/servants for the homestead and a significant herd of livestock. They will need to drive the herd to more distant pastures in the summer. They may have a few (1-3) huscarls, but may not.
Equipment: a sword, shield, helmet, and a chainmail vest. A medium-sized knorr (merchant ship) for the household, plus several fishing boats.
7 : Wealthy
A truly wealthy farmer, with an extended estate and 1 or 2 score of thralls/servants, along with around 6 huscarls, and an extensive herd of livestock (100 or more cattle).
Equipment: a fine sword, helm, and chainmail hauberk. A military longship for raiding along with a large merchant ship.
8 : Very Wealthy
The equivalent of a lesser jarl in classical viking culture, who rules over over a county-sized region. He would have perhaps a dozen huscarls but could easily raise a force of over 100 men.
9 : Rig-Jarl
This is a powerful earl or rig-jarl, who rules over a town or several counties.
10 : King
This is a notable king, a level not currently seen in Vinland.

Link: http://darkshire.net/jhkim/rpg/vinland/rules/wealth.html

rytrasmi

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Re: Trading Goods and Wealth From the Great Northern Lands
« Reply #10 on: November 17, 2020, 08:55:25 pm »
Have you seen this book?

https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/241058/The-Marketplace

I recently got another from the same author (Orbis Mundi 2) and am very impressed with the level of detail, answers to questions I didn't know I had, that sort of thing.

It might have what you're looking for, if you're willing to part with some cash. It might not have all the exotic things you list, but it might have analogs.

Eirikrautha

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Re: Trading Goods and Wealth From the Great Northern Lands
« Reply #11 on: November 17, 2020, 09:59:33 pm »
The process of working out details of a "Mixed Economy" is more involved than I anticipated, but I think it is worthwhile. I think it is important not just to get away from the whole modernistic consumerism dynamic, you know, where the group can go into any city and easily buy anything imaginable or desired with a neatly packed pouch of coins. I also think that creating such different styles of economy actually contributes to a very real distinction when say, the group actually visits some enormous imperial city somewhere that *does* have an advanced coin-based economy, banks, and that kind of thing. Over time, I have been establishing a sort of dynamic where barter economies or "Mixed Economies" are actually the *norm*--while super-advanced coin-based economies are at least somewhat unusual.

It's an entirely different economic paradigm than what we are presented with in the Player's Handbook, of course.

When I ran a viking game using modified Runequest, I used abstract Wealth rules below.

-----------------------

Rather than keeping track of detailed property transactions, characters have a general Wealth level rated from 0 to 10. Equipment is rated in terms of what Wealth level it is standard at. If your Wealth level is equal to or greater than the item, it is assumed that you will have it. Characters will also have a ranking within their Wealth level, from 0 to 9. So a character with Wealth 5.9 would be "Comfortable" below, but almost on the edge of "Well-to-do". The ranking does not make a practical difference in buying, but keeps track of pecking order within your wealth. Exceptional expenses or gains may change your ranking and eventually your wealth level. The wealth of relatives is somewhat tricky to separate. In general, the descriptions below apply to the principal members of a household: patriarch or matriarch and their spouse, along with eldest son. Younger members of the family will have correspondingly less wealth, usually 1 or at most 2 levels lower.

0 : Thrall
Thralls are technically property of someone else. They technically may own property and even do business, but they get paid nothing for their work and thus will own very little if anything. A typical thrall is worth about 5 milk-cows.
1 : Destitute
Someone who is free but owns virtually nothing but clothes and a few personal effects. This may be a lowly servant, wanderer, or newly freed thrall.
2 : Poor
Typically a free servant, who will have a marketable craft and some savings. This might also be a farmer on hard times who is living with relatives.
Equipment: simple items such as a knife, bow, and craft tools along with perhaps a few livestock (~1 milk-cows worth).
3 : Struggling
A typical skilled huscarl, who owns no land but is well paid for his hazardous duty and collects loot in addition -- or alternatively a poor farmer with only a small cabin and a few livestock, and perhaps a thrall or servant.
Equipment: an axe, shield, and a leather jacket or jerkin. A huscarl may own a horse.
4 : Common
A common farmer, with a modest longhouse, a few (2 to 4) thralls, and around 6 milk-cows worth of various livestock. Alternatively, a non-landowner with means, such as a master craftsman or reknowned huscarl.
Equipment: a sword, shield, metal cap, and leather armor for fighting. A pair of horses and a simple fishing boat (4 meters long) for travel.
5 : Comfortable
This is an above-average farmer, with 4 to 8 thralls or servants, and around a dozen milk-cows worth of livestock.
Equipment: a sword, shield, helmet, and metal-reinforced leather armor. Possibly a small knorr (merchant ship), along with a fishing boat.
6 : Well-to-do
This is a well-to-do farmer, with around a dozen thralls/servants for the homestead and a significant herd of livestock. They will need to drive the herd to more distant pastures in the summer. They may have a few (1-3) huscarls, but may not.
Equipment: a sword, shield, helmet, and a chainmail vest. A medium-sized knorr (merchant ship) for the household, plus several fishing boats.
7 : Wealthy
A truly wealthy farmer, with an extended estate and 1 or 2 score of thralls/servants, along with around 6 huscarls, and an extensive herd of livestock (100 or more cattle).
Equipment: a fine sword, helm, and chainmail hauberk. A military longship for raiding along with a large merchant ship.
8 : Very Wealthy
The equivalent of a lesser jarl in classical viking culture, who rules over over a county-sized region. He would have perhaps a dozen huscarls but could easily raise a force of over 100 men.
9 : Rig-Jarl
This is a powerful earl or rig-jarl, who rules over a town or several counties.
10 : King
This is a notable king, a level not currently seen in Vinland.

Link: http://darkshire.net/jhkim/rpg/vinland/rules/wealth.html
This is good stuff.  It opens up a lot of RP possibilities without getting down in the weeds...

tenbones

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Re: Trading Goods and Wealth From the Great Northern Lands
« Reply #12 on: November 19, 2020, 02:56:27 pm »
You may wanna check out the Talislanta: Savage Lands 5e D&D edition. We had bartering in there and systems for crafting/trading materials like this, since there was no "economy" to speak of.

A big assumption of the game was foraging and taking useful bits off your enemies to make things.