Economy

© 1998-2015 Kevan Hashemi

Contents

Price Estimation
Food and Drink
Cloth and Clothing
Houses and Land
Traveling Expenses
Raw Materials
Iron and Steel
Mithril and Adamantine
Smiths and Hallmarks
Armor
Shields
Blades
Spikes
Clubs
Bows
Precious Materials

Price Estimation

We give prices in Olympian Dollars. Our objective is to give the SAGA player an idea of the relative value of goods and services on a civilized, magical planet with wizards to make magical items, dwarves to make machines, and sapiens to grow food. Clarus is an example of such a world. When we estimate the prices of things on Clarus, we start with the following assumptions.

  1. The average hourly wage of an adult is $10/hr.
  2. The average adult Claran works 2000 hours a year.

Most Clarans work their own land, and so provide themselves with their own food. They trade their surplus produce for surplus of other goods, or they sell their surplus for cash. But we can estimate the effective income of a farming family by considering the profit they would make on their farm produce, if they were to sell it on the open market instead of consuming most of it themselves. By this means we arrive at an annual effective income of around $40k for a farming family of a man, woman, and one or two children. The average effective income of adult sapiens on Clarus is $20k/yr.

Price estimation turns out to be of fundamental importance to any adventure more complicated than killing monsters and stealing their treasure. Murdering monsters and stealing their treasure requires only prowess with arms. The best-paid adventures are those that require prowess at negotiation, mediation, and accounting as well as at arms. If the adventurers are out to stop smuggling of silk across a desert, they had best understand the economics of silk smuggling, which means that the dramaturgist must certainly have thought through the matter and come to some defensible conclusions on the matter.

In our games, we end up discussing these things together, and agreeing upon the economics. Price estimation requires us to consider trade and manufacturing in SAGA's world, and this in turn leads us always to a debate about trade and manufacturing through history in our world, which we then use as the basis of our estimate in SAGA's world. We have concluded that SAGA's world will contain water-power and wind-power. Deep inside a mountain, steam power is possible. Chemistry is advanced to the level of late nineteenth century Europe. We often use prices in seventeenth century Europe as a starting point for determining prices in SAGA.

Let us suppose that our character on Clarus wants to hire a boy to run errands for her in the city. The boy she chooses is ten years old, he does not go to school, but he can read and write. She offers him $20 per day and he is happy. She may not pay him in dollars exactly. Most countries in Clarus use a gold or silver standard for their currency.

The ten-gram gold piece or guinea is worth about $100 on Clarus, and is a standard among international traders for transactions below a hundred thousand dollars. A popular size for a guinea is an 18-mm diameter disk 2-mm thick. The purity of gold is easy to verify with a piece of black-stone. You scrape the gold on it, and it it is pure, you get a shiny gold stripe. Another characteristic of gold is its density, 19.38 g/cc, which is highter than any naturally-occuring metal save uranium.

For larger cash transactions, Clarans tend to use silver pieces because silver does not get hot when it is concentrated in one place. If you put ten thousand gold pieces in an enclosed space, the gold can melt from self-heating in the maeon wind. There is, however, no standard silver piece, since the traders simply weigh the silver, measure its volume by water displacement to verify its density, and exchange it by the kilogram. One kilogram of silver is worth one tenth of a kilogram of gold, which is much as things were in Europe during the seventeenth century.

When the same character wants to buy 10 kg of iron ingots to take to her friends on a desert island, we estimate the cost of iron by assuming that the ore is readily available, and that the metallurgist smelts iron ore with charcoal. We estimate the number of hours it takes to make a kilogram of iron, multiply by $20 for the hourly rate of a skilled Claran laborer, and we have the smelting cost. We then add the iron ore extraction labor and transportation. By these means, we concluded that the price of iron on Clarus is around $100/kg. We discuss the price of iron further below.

In one of our adventures, The Iron Road, Ursia is under duress because of a shortage of iron, and the price has risen to about $150/kg. The price of iron in twentieth century Europe was 10 ¢/kg. Extraction of ore with machines that use internal combustion engines is hundreds of times more labor-efficient than the extraction performed by Claran minors using picks and shovels. Smelting of ore in a twenty-meter high blast furnaces is also hundreds of times more labor-efficient. The volume of iron we use is so great that the cost of making such blast furnaces can be defrayed to the point where it contribues only a few pennies to the price of each kilogram of iron.

The cost of gold on Clarus, on the other hand, is similar to that of twentieth century Europe. Gold is easy to extract. You can find it in a river bed, or in pure lumps in a mine. Demand for gold in electronics and chemistry is great in the twentieth century. On Claraus, gold is used in magical items, but that demand is miniscule. The dominant use of gold is for currancy and in ornaments.

Our character stays the night in a modest hotel. Because population density is stable on Clarus, construction of hotels occurs only when an old one falls down. Over the centuries, people have learned to make hotels that take at least a hundred years to fall down, so the $10,000 construction cost of a hotel room need be recouped over no less than fifty years, which means construction adds about $200 per year to the cost of the room. If we assume occupancy for two hundred nights a year, that leaves us with $1 per night for construction. If the hotel has twenty rooms, and a husband and wife with their two children maintain the it, they need to make $80k per year from twenty rooms, or $4k per year per room, or $20 per room per night at two hundred nights a year occupancy. When we add some city taxes and materials for maintaining the room, we end up with the cost of a modest but comfortable hotel room on Clarus being roughly $30 per night. The room comes with a few candles, a private toilet and shared showers.

In this essay, we present some of the conclusions of our discussions about SAGA economics. By no means should this essay be considered part of the SAGA rules. Any or all of our calculations may be mistaken. But we hope they will serve as a basis for your own calculations.

Food and Drink

Land is plentiful on Clarus. There are fifty million people living on a continent over six thousand kilometers square. That's one person per square kilometer. A square kilometer is a hundred hectares. As we shall soon see, a hectare of good land is plenty to support one person, with chickens and livestock to diversify his diet, and a pond for fish as well. A hectare is ten thousand square meters, or a square one hundred meters on each side, or two and a half acres. The inhabitants of Clarus use only 1% of the available land. In most places, there is good hunting in the woods as well, and good fishing in the rivers. The cost of food is dictated by the cost of labor in creating the food.

The gods who own the Claran temple plots make sure that their populations produce as much food as possible, so as to increase the tithe the population can pay for health care. Claran farmers use tools made of iron. They have animals to pull their carts and ploughs. They practice crop rotation and they use genetically modified crops.

Our first step in figuring out the economy of food-production on Clarus is to decide how much land each farming family can cultivate. According to this source, the ideal size of a medieval European family's farm was about 10 hectares (25 acres). The same source tells us, "An acre of barley could, in an average year, produce about 500 liters of grain (after making allowances for taxes and seed for the next crop). This was enough to feed one adult for a year at a very basic level." So 0.4 hectares was barely sufficient for one person. "A farmer with a wife and two children could get along with five acres. Everyone would have to work, especially for other sources of food like the vegetable garden and rummaging in the woods for mushrooms, nuts, and berries." The minimum size for a family was 2 hectares. "But a five acre holding left little margin for bad weather." We assume that 4 hectares was sufficient to endure bad weather, and include a few luxuries in their diet and accommodation.

According to this source, the twenty-first century US farmer produces 6,000 kg of wheat per hectare. One 1 kg of wheat providees 3,000 calories, while 2,000 calories is adequate for an average adult. In the form of bread, wheat provides 70 calories per 30 g according to modern food labels. Thus modern farming produces 9,000 man-days of food per hectare, or 25 man-years of food. Only 0.04 of a hectare is required to support one adult for a year with modern US farming methods, compared to 0.4 hectares with medieval methods.

According to this source, "The minimum amount of agricultural land necessary for sustainable food security, with a diversified diet similar to those of North America and Western Europe (hence including meat), is 0.5 of a hectare per person." Also, that potatoes are the most area-efficient producers of calories. "For example, potato is the most efficient crop, and according to the study requires 0.2 square meters to produce 1kg, which contains 800 calories." From which they conclude that 0.03 hectare is, in theory, sufficient to support one adult. From this we conclude that the diversified diet consumes ten times as much area as the cerial-only diet, and provides for a significant quantity of meat.

A 500-kg cow consumes about 5,000 calories per day, so one cow requires 0.1 hectares of wheat cultivated in the modern manner, or 1 hectare cultivated in the medieval manner. When slaughtered, the cow provides 300 kg of beef. This beef provides close to 2,000 calories per raw kg. If we suppose it takes three years for a cow to grow to full size, we see that it consumes around 6 million calories and ultimately provides 600 thousand calories of food. Meat is only 10% efficient at extracting calories from grain. But cows eat hay, which can be one of the three stages of crop rotation, and they can graze in fields that require no plowing.

From this source we hear "On 80 acres of pasture I think we could raise a nice Dexter herd of at least 30 cows, a flock of sheep as big as 50 ewes, any number of heritage hogs running on the edges of the pasture and woodlot, heritage turkeys and pastured poultry following the cows and sheep, and of course some laying hens. I think we would be able to make enough hay off that number of acres to sustain the farm through the winter." We conclude that each cow needs one hectare of pasture and each sheep needs half a hectare.

With these facts in mind, we attempt to draw a picture of a typical farm on Clarus. The farm is 10 hectares. Of this, 8 hectares are dedicated to the grazing of 8 cows. This same 8 hectares produces hay to feed the cows that live through winter. They slaughter two cows a year to produce 600 kg of beef. We assume that Claran farming is half as efficient per hectare as modern USA farming. One hectare is dedicated to wheat, and produces 3000 kg. The final hectare is an apple orchard and it produces around 2,000 kg of apples. Because so much of the land is grazing, and there are only 8 cows, we assume they work six hours a day, not ten or twelve. It is a vigorous but relaxed life.

Let us suppose that the diverse diet consists of 20% calories from meat (plus milk and eggs), 70% calories from cerials (plus potatoes), and 10% calories from fruit (plus green vegetables). We suppose that ample food for the family amounts to around 8,000 calories per day if we allow for a cold winter, and some hard labor. Of this, 1,600 is from meat, 5,600 from cerials, and 800 from fruit. That's 400 g of meat, 1.9 kg of cerials, and 1.3 kg of fruit (based on 100 g apple being 60 calories) each day for one family. Per year, the farming family consumes 150 kg of meat, 700 kg of wheat, and 500 kg of apples. We also suppose the farm has some woodland around it for fuel in winter.

The family produes roughly four times as much food as it needs. The remaining three quarters of the food it will sell to non-farmers. So we see that one quarter of Clarus's population is farmers and the other three-quarters are tradesmen: stonemasons, woodcutters, mill workers, miners, furniture-makers, merchants, innkeepers, coopers, sailors, blacksmiths, and so on. In medieval England, 90% of people were farmers. In modern USA, it's closer to 2%. On Clarus it's 25%.

The farming family's annual income is $40k/yr. They produce enough food to feed four families. The cost of food for a family is around $10k/yr, assuming they eat basic foods and cook for themselves. The farmers spend their income on their own food ($10k), upkeep of the farm ($10k), and furniture, clothes, health care, edible delicacies, wine, holidays, luxuries, and taxes ($20k).

In order to determine the price of meat compared to wheat, let us consider another form of farming: that of a shepherd. His family's farm is fifty hectares and he raises sheep. They eat grass. This fifty hectares of grazing land will support 50 sheep. Such land is half as productive of vegetation as a cow pasture. Furthermore, the land must include some space for grain and hay to feed the sheep in the winter months. A sheep weighs 100 kg and consumes 1000 calories per day. The shepherd gets 50 fleeces a year, each of around 4 kg, for 200 kg of wool. Raw wool sells for $50/kg, so that's around $10k income for fleeces. Each year, on average, 10 of the mature sheep die and the survivors produce 30 lambs. Of these lambs, 10 remain to sustain the herd, and 20 are slaughtered. The carcasses sell for around $1k each, for $30k income. His total family income is $40k.

We obtain from the above argument the cost of raw wool and the cost of meat. We will use the cost of raw wool below. A lamb is worth $1k, weighs about 70 kg and produces 40 kg of meat. This meat is worth around $25/kg. A cow producees 300 kg of beef, and we assume beef is worth about the same as lamb, so the cow is worth around $7k. Our typical farm sells two cows per year, for $14k. They make the remaining $26k of their income on 2,000 kg of apples and 3,000 kg wheat. If they grew only wheat, we assume they would cultivate only 2 hectares working six hours a day, which would be 6,000 kg a year, and they would sell this for $40k, so we put the cost of wheat at around $5/kg. A 750-g loaf of bread would be about $5. This leaves $6k for the apples, which means they sell for $3/kg. We note that in modern USA, good beef is $10/kg, a 750-g loaf of bread is $3, and apples are $5/kg.

ItemCost
A Cow (500 kg weight, 300 kg beef yield)$7k
A Sheep (100 kg weight, 70 kg mutton yield)$1k
A Lamb (70 kg weight, 50 kg lamb yield)$1k
Beef$25/kg
Mutton$15/kg
Lamb$25/kg
Apple$3/kg
Wheat$5/kg
Barley$5/kg
Oats$5/kg
Bread$5/loaf
Diverse, Plentiful Diet with Delicacies for Family$50/day
Diverse, Plentiful Diet for Family$25/day
Low-Cost Diet for One Adult$5/day
Supper in Good Restaurant$20
Table: Cost of Food Items on Clarus. We get teh price of beef, apples, and wheat from our economic calculation, and we get the relative cost of other grains and vegetables using modern prices and weights.

A family eating a diverse and plentiful diet will spend $10k/yr on food, which is a quarter of their income. Each day they spend around $25, of which $10 is on meat (400 g), $10 is on cereals (1.9 kg), and $5 is on fruit (1.3 kg). We are not counting among this diet the cost of luxury foods like chocolate.

Cloth and Clothing

In Food and Drink, we considered a shepherd and his herd of fifty ewes. He produced 200 kg of raw wool a year and sold it for $10k. A water-powered fuller's and loom, along with a nearby dying house, can turn this wool into dyed cloth for another $10k, making the cost of good wool cloth around $100/kg. For another, independent analysis of wool cloth production in the context of an adventure, see Wool Smuggling. Wool shirt cloth has mass roughly 300 g/m2, so the cost of a square meter of wool fabric would be around $30 at the site of production.

Silk cloth suitable for a silk shirt has mass roughly 30 g/m2 (that's 8 Mommes in silk fabric terminology). In modern USA, silk cloth costs roughly twice as much per square meter as wool cloth, so the cost on Clarus will be around $60 per square meter at the site of production, or $2000/kg.

Houses and Land

Only 1% of the land on Clarus is used for farming, and the result is plenty of food for it's people. The rest of the land is for hunting, fishing, and logging. There are water-powered saw mills with circular steel saws to cut logs into boards. It takes a woodcutter one day to chop down a 30-m pine tree, cut off its branches, and haul it 10 km to a saw mill, at a cost of $200 including food for the horses. The tree is 1 m in diameter and provides around a hundred 3-cm × 30-cm × 3-m floor boards. The saw mill can cut these boards in an hour, at a cost of another $100, so the boards are around $2 at the mill. In a 10-km radius of the saw mill there are millions of such trees, each taking a hundred years to grow, so tens of thousands can be harvested every year. The population density on Clarus is only 400 people in this area, so we see that one saw mill and a few woodcutters can make their living supplying local demand for wood, and never deplete the available forest.

A Claran family farm provides an income of $40k/yr. It takes two or three years hard work to get a farm going. There are barns to be built, a two-bedroom house, and all the fields to be cleared and leveled. A good farm, less than an hour's cart ride along a good road to the market, with ten hectares of land (25 acres), will sell for around $400k including its livestock, seed stock, and grain reserve. A similar house outside a bustling town, on half a hectare, will sell for around $40k. It takes about half a man-year to make a two-bedroom house out of boards and shingles. Nails are expensive, but timber is inexpensive, and land is plentiful. Of that $40k only $10k is for the land, which we assume is near an existing road. A similar house in a clean, safe, well-equipped town might cost $80k. Of that $80k, $50k is for the land.

A suburban house costs $40k, which is the cost of six cows. In modern USA, a suburban two-bedroom house will cost around $200k and a cow costs around $2k, so that's a hundred cows.

Traveling Expenses

Adventurers in the game must pay for their room and board, so we have the following life styles with corresponding monthly expenses.

Frugal: Sharing rooms in cheap hotels with strangers, doing odd jobs for cash, eating beans and rice, camping whenever possible. Disturbed sleep half the time. Cost is $1000 per month (10 gp).

Modest: Staying in clean hotels, sharing with comrades, eating good meals. Disturbed sleep only one out of four nights. Cost is $2000 per month (20 gp).

Luxury: Staying in adventurer's hotels where possible, sharing with comrades, eating well, good service. Disturbed sleep only one out of eight nights. Cost is $4000 per month (40 gp).

Raw Materials

Here are approximate values of raw materials on twenty-fifth century Clarus.

MaterialPrice ($/kg)
Iron (wrought, cast, or pig)100
Steel (iron alloyed with carbon)200
Adamantine (steel alloyed with mithril)1,000-10,000
Mithril1,000,000
Copper100
Bronze100
Tin100
Silver1,000
Gold10,000
Aluminum100,000
Vanadium1,000
Wool Cloth, Fine Weave100
Table: Cost of Raw Materials on Clarus, Olympian Dollars per Kilogram.

Aluminum is hard to extract from its ores without the help of electricity. In the days before electrolytic extraction of aluminum, Emporer Napolion impressed his guests with an aluminum dinner set. Aluminum was more valuable than gold. In SAGA's world, we assume the same. But note that the density of aluminum is one sixth that of gold, so that the price of aluminum per volume is only slightly higher than that of gold. On Clarus, we assume that all aluminum is produced by dwarves deep under mountains, where they can attain the pressure and temperature necessary for extraction of the metal in the absense of electricity.

We are not confident in our prices of copper and tin. Bronze is an alloy of tin and copper, so we are safe in assuming its price is the same as that of its constituents. Bronze swords can be better weapons than wrought iron swords, but a steel sword is far superior to a bronze sword. The only time we are likely to encounter bronze weapons and armor in SAGA's world is in places where the technology for converting iron into steel is unavailable.

We discuss iron and steel in our Iron section, and mithril and adamantine in our Mithril section. Gold is more valuable on Clarus than on any other world because there are roughly eighty divine dragons accumulating it for their hoards.

Iron and Steel

The price of iron has a strong effect upon the equipment available to the average family in SAGA's world. A kilogram of iron, either wrought, cast, or pig, costs of order $100 on Clarus. Iron production on Clarus proceeds with the benefit of water power, bellows, and plenty of wood for charcoal.

Pig iron is what comes out of a blast furnace, where iron ore is heated with charcoal and oxygen to produce iron and carbon dioxide. Pig iron contains around 4% carbon, which is far to high for an effective alloy between the iron and carbon. The cost of pig iron in twenty-first century England is 10 ¢ per kilogram. But the cost of pig iron in seventeenth century England was around £40 per tonne (Economic history of Virginia in the Seventeenth Century by Philip Alexander Bruce). Meanwhile, the wage necessary to support a family was around £40 per year (Proceedings from the Old Bailey). The average Claran family's effective income is $40k per yea (see above), so we conclude that £1 in those days is equivalent to $1k today, or 10 gp on Clarus. The price of iron was equivalent to $40 per kilogram.

We settled upon a cost of $100 per kilogram for iron in late twenty-fifth century Clarus at the time of the trade conflicts between Ursia and Endromis. The price could rise as high as $200 from there, or drop to $20.

Wrought iron is iron ore that has been heated until the you get a mixture of solid iron and molten slag. By pounding the red-hot iron you force out the slag and purify the iron. Wrought iron is soft and imperfect. We set the cost at around $100 per kilogram also.

Cast iron is pig iron, usually with a significant amount of silicon in it too, that has been poured into a mould and allowed to cool. It is brittle like pig iron, but good for railings. We set the price at $100 per kilogram also.

Steel is an alloy of iron and carbon. It is tough, hard, and versatile. Its manufacture is techincally difficult because the carbon must be mixed uniformly with the steel at various temperatures. Sapiens tend to extract iron from its ores, but on Clarus, dwarves make most of the steel. They better understand the process of alloying iron and carbon, and guard their secrets jealously.

In sixteenth century England there was no commercial process for manufacturing steel. The cost of turning iron into steel was roughly $30 per kilogram. We put the price of steel at around $200 per kilogram.

Mithril and Adamantine

Mithril is SAGA's made-up material. We take its name from Tolkein. It is the source of all magical phenomena, as we summarise here and explain at length elsewhere. Mithril is a soft, shiny, gray metal. To the untrained eye, a fragment of mithril might easily be confused for lead. Veins of mithrilite ore are found all over Clarus, mixed with iron ore in some cases, and with lead and tin ores in most cases. Because it is always present in trace quantities, its purification is a complex chemical process, and has been mastered best by dwarves. Nevertheless, when iron ore occurs with the correct fraction of mithrilite, the extracted pig iron, when converted into steel, produces adamantine. Such iron ores are therefore called adamantine ores, and are worked by sapiens in such places as Endromis on Clarus.

Mithril has two chief uses on Clarus. It is used to make adamantine, a metal with qualities superior to steel. Adamantine makes the best armor and the best blades. The more mithril a smith can combine with carbon steel, the better the adamantine. Its value lies not in a chemical cooperation with the steel, but in its creation of spirit stone threats that permeate the steel crystalline structure, and coat the surface. As a smith heats and works a piece of adamantine, the mithril within it can combine into larger particles, which compromises the benefit gained from the mithril addition, and allows for pitting in the steel surface where the weaker mithril has gathered together. Not only does adamantine with higher mithril content cost more because it contains more mithril, it costs more because it requires more care and skill to work the metal. Mithril does not form a true alloy with steel. A smith cannot melt the metal and expect it to mix well. Insted, the mithril must be worked into the hot metal.

The best adamantine contains roughly 1% mithril by weight, or 10 g/kg of steel. Almost all mithril is based upon carbon steel, which contains 1% carbon by weight. Smiths might also ad nickle (Ni), Vanadium (Vn), or other rare metals to improve the corrosion-resistance and long-term stability of the adamantine. Because mithril costs around $1k per gram ($1M per kg), one kilogram of the finest adamantine contains steel worth around $200 plus mithril worth another $10k (10 g). But the metal is worth far more than its consituents, on account of the labor required to alloy the mithril with the metal.

The combination of mithril and steel in adamantine is stable up to a few hundred degrees celcius, but re-heating to white-hot in a blacksmith's forge is likely to ruin the metal. A +10 adamantine dagger, for example, if placed in a blacksmith's forge, might drop to a +5 adamantine dagger. This change would be permanent. Restoration of the metal's quality would take many weeks of nurturing by a master blacksmith.

The second use of mithril is as a surface coating on the bridge rings. Here it acts to catalyze the production of magical materials. Bridge rings are made of steel that is coated with mithril in a mithril salt bath.

Smiths and Hallmarks

For any weapon, suit of armor, or shield, our Rules of Play describe the properties of a normal version of the piece. The normal long sword, for example, weighs 2 kg, is 120 cm long, and has weapon power 12. The normal version of any piece of equipment is well-made and in good condition. A normal long sword is made of carbon steel and is oiled and sharpened. There are no significant weaknesses in the metal that would cause it to break in battle. The metal is uniform and homogenous. It is a fine weapon. It has not, however, been hardened more on the edge than in the center. It's steel was not folding repeatedly to make a piece that is flexible perpendicular to the face of the blade while at the same time stiff parallel to the cutting edge. Nor does the steel contain nickle or chromium to stop it rusting, nor mithril. The addition of mithril gives the metal an edge as hard as glass and immune to corrosion, while keeping the body of the metal flexible like spring steel.

A normal long sword costs 20 gp when you buy it newly-made from its maker. This 20 gp covers all the sword-makers costs and allows him a good profit to feed his family. The carbon steel will cost him around 2 gp. He will spend a week working on the blade, spread out over a month or two, during which we assume he is working on several other pieces. He must spend money on charcoal, maintaining his forge, paying the taxes on his shop, maintaining the facility, and buying the chemicals and oil required to quench and temper the blade. All this costs another 8 gp or so, which leaves him 10 gp profit for his week's labor.

This sword-maker will start off making normal long swords for 20 gp. But if he is studious and diligent, he will move on to making better swords. These will take longer to make. They may require expensive metals. They will require more charcoal. He may need to pay someone to train him to use the new materials. He may spend money on books. After a couple of years, however, he can expect to be making a long sword whose weapon power is 13 instead of 12. It is sharper, stronger, and harder than the swords he made before. The making of this sword will take him almost, but not quite, twice as long to make as the sword with weapon power 12. He is willing to sell it for 40 gp. He is willing to allow it to be placed in the stock of an arms-seller, waiting for sale. When it sells, for some price greater than or equal to 40 gp, he will give 10% of the sale price to the merchant.

From the buyer's point of view, before they spend 40 gp on a sword, they want to be sure it's power is 13 or higher. In practice, however, it's hard to tell if a weapon has power 13 or 12. There are several tests a prospective buyer can perform. A flexing of the sword in both directions will tell him how stiff the blade is in these directions. Trying to scratch the surface of the blade with samples of steel of increasing hardness will determine the hardness of the metal. Examining the blade for rust can determine the nature of the alloy used in its manufacture. If the seller claims that the blade is a +10 Adamantine Long Sword, a suitable demonstration of its power would be to set up a carbon steel rod one centimeter thick, clamped horizontal. The +10 Long Sword should be able to cut through the rod when swung down upon it. There may be some hairline marks on the surface of the sword where it cut the steel. These marks are fractures in the spirit stone coating of the adamantine. Over the next few hours, these cracks will disappear as the adamantine repairs them.

Purchasing superior arms and armor is a time-consuming business. Trust of the seller is often essential to its successful execution. The name of the maker is likewise of great importance. Some sword-makers make the same blade over and over again, sometimes slightly better, sometimes slightly less well. They tell the seller how good the sword is, and the buyer trusts their judgment. In the following sections, we provide formulae for calculating the cost of superior weapons, and inferior ones too. The cost we quote is the amount a buyer must pay the maker of the sword, assuming the sword-maker is honest and competent. If, on the other hand, an adventurer captures a sword in battle, and wishes to sell it, she must find a dealer to buy it. The dealers will want to pay as little as possible for the weapon. They will judge its quality and offer her half or quarter of what they think they can sell it for. The dealer will perform the tests we describe, but in addition, they will examine the hallmark on the blade.

Some blades have no hallmark. These blades the dealer will argue are normal weapons, unless it is obvious that they are far superior. But most superior blades have a hallmark. The same goes for armor and high-quality arrow tips. In principle, the hallmark will allow the dealer to identify the maker, determine when in his career he made the weapon, and include an estimate by the maker of it's quality. Good swords last a long time. Most people who own, for example, a +10 Long Sword, don't blunt the weapon chopping at adamantine suits of armor more than a few times in their lives. The sword can be passed down from one generation to the next, stolen, sold in hard times, travel for thousands of miles on the hip of a soldier of fortune, and survive at the bottom of the river he drowns in until it is found by an adventurer. In order to identify and interpret the hallmark, our adventurer and the dealer she negotiates with will need access to a list of makers and their habits that reaches centuries into the past, and extends across the planet and even to other planets. Such a list would be arduous to maintain, and therefore expensive. But it exists. The profit to be made from the purchase and sale of superior weapons is so great that it dwarfs the cost of purchasing books that list their hallmarks.

On modern Clarus, hallmarks are essential to the trade of superior weapons and armor. There are several authoratative hallmark catalogs. The Handbook of Hallmarks, printed in Varay, is the preferred text for mid-western Clarus, including the nations north of the Western Outlands. The Catalog of Fine Arms, published in Endromis, is a catalog of swords made by the greatest sword-makers down the ages. It includes the unique hallmarks of most swords +8 or better made on Clarus.

Not many sword-makers can produce better than a +6 weapon. If you have such a weapon in your hands, or suspect you do, it will most certainly have a hallmark, and the hallmark will be listed and described in Fine Arms. The appearance of hallmarks, as well as the system of date codes, is similar to that used in England for silver hallmarks (see here), but the date code is specific to the month, and each sword made by the same man in the same month will have its own unique mark. Thus the hallmark is, in principle, unique for each sword. A suit of armor will have several instances of the hallmark on various plates. A sword may have the hallmark reproduced three times, once on either side of the base of the blade near the hilt, and again on the tang that is buried in the grip.

In countries like Endor, forging hallmarks on armor and weapons is illegal. But even if a sword-maker attempts to forge a hallmark, the forgery is unlikely to do him much good. In order to pose as a +10 Long Sword, his weapon must be at least a +5 Long Sword and the buyer must be uneducated in the purchase and sale of weapons. If the sword-maker is capable of making a +5 Long Sword, he can make good money selling them with an honest hallmark. A dealer might file off one hallmark and replace it with another, but he'll get caught doing that sooner or later. Furthermore, by microscopic examination of the blade and it's hallmark, a skilled armorer with access to the various catalogs of hallmarks, will have a good chance of identifying a forgery. Many hallmark forgeries end up being hallmarks in themselves. They are listed in the catalogs and referred to as replicas.

Example:One sword-maker made +5 copies of a series of six +10 Long Swords made by the great Marco Filatius of Endromis. The +5 copies are fine weapons in their own right. Even though the name of their maker is unknown, his imperfect duplication of Marco Filatius's date codes allows the +5 copies to be distinguished easily from the +10 originals. The +5 copies are worth slightly more than most +5 long swords because of the exceptional workmanship on their pommels.

Armor

Armor can be well-made, poorly-made, in good repair, or in poor repair. It can incorporate magical materials like adamantine, or it can be made out of well-worked steel. The cost of a suit of armor on the open market, however, is almost entirely dictated by the protection it offers and by how much it weighs. The normal suits of armor serve as a reference to which other suits may be compared. A normal suit of armor made out of non-magical materials is well-made and long-lasting.

You will find a table giving the properties of normal armor in Armor. We reproduce the table below, but with examples of suits of armor that are superior to normal armor, by virtue of more careful construction or the addition of magical materials. When a suit of armor of a particular type provides N more points of armor protection than the normal variety, we call it a +N suit of armor.

Armor Protection Encumbrance
(kg)
Cost
(gp)
+1 Cloth 2 1 750
+3 Leather 9 9 860
+4 Studded Leather 12 12 1500
+3 Light Ring 11 12 480
+5 Ring 15 15 2400
+3 Scale 15 18 864
+1 Chain 15 21 240
+4 Chain 18 21 1100
+2 Banded 18 24 460
+9 Plate Mail 27 27 7800
+10 Plate 30 30 9600
Table: Costs of New Sapien Armor

For each 10% of normal protection we add to the protection of a suit of armor, we double its cost. Thus a suit of plate armor with protection 22 costs 600 gp because it offers 2 more points of protection than normal plate. We call it +2 Plate. It costs 600 gp because +0 Plate costs 300 gp. A suit of +10 Plate has had 10% of normal protection (2 points) added five times, and so its cost is 25 times that of normal plate, or 9,600 gp, which is almost $1M Olympian.

The cost of normal suits of armor follows another formula. Their cost is proportional to the square of the protection they offer, starting with 300 gp for a suit of +0 Plate Armor. So we have a general formula for the cost of a suit of armor in a free market on Clarus.

Cost = 300 gp × (apn/20)2 × 210 × (ap/apn-1)

Where ap is the armor protection and apn is the protection of the normal version of the suit. The above formula works down to the bare cost of the metal, which is 1 gp/kg. Every suit of armor has its scrap metal value. So a suit of badly-made plate armor cannot cost less than 30 gp, even if it is −10 plate armor. To be sure: without modification, this plate armor would be worth less than 30 gp, but in practice any iron worker would be willing to pay at least 1 gp/kg for carbon steel in pre-formed plates. The following calculator allows you to enter normal armor protection and the additional protection due to superior workmanship to obtain the cost and total armor protection.

Normal Protection: Addition: Total Protection: Cost: gp

Metal armor wears out much more slowly than leather and cloth armor. With proper oiling and maintenance, and diligent repair after battle, a suit of metal armor worn every day by a soldier will depreciate in value by only 1% per year. After 50 years, the armor has lost one point of protection. Leather armor cared for with the same diligence will depreciate by 10% per year. After five years the armor has lost one point of protection. After seven and a half years, it has lost two, and so on, until it offers no protection at all after ten years.

When a soldier goes to an armor-seller and trades in one suit of armor for a better suit, he can usually get 75% of the value of his old suit deducted from the price of the new suit.

Shields

We describe normal shields in our Rules of Play. Normal shields are made of 2 mm thick carbon steel plate. If we make a shield out of tougher, harder steel, it will offer better protection against missiles when its weilder hides entirely behind its area. Thus a large shield made of adamantine will offer better protection than one made of carbon steel. Alternatively, a lighter shield of the same size might offer the same protection. But in combat, much of the blocking power of a shield comes from its mass, which slows down and deflects an enemy's blows. Therefore, there is very little to gain from making a shield lighter, and it is only rarely that a shield user is hiding behind his large shield from missiles. The cost of a shield made of adamantine that offers 30 points of armor protection would be several thousand gold pieces, so such shields are rarely, if ever, made. The same money is better spent upon superior armor.

Blades

By blades, we mean any weapon whose primary offensive power is a cutting edge. Swords and knives are blades, and so are battle axes. It is obvious that a mace is not a blade, nor a warhammer, nor a staff. But spears, lances, and other such piercing weapons occupy an intermediate class of weapons we call spikes, which we describe in Spikes. Just as there are normal suits of armor, there are normal blades. We give the cost and performance of normal blades in Weapons. The encumbrance of a blade is equal to its mass.

Blade Power Encumbrance
(kg)
Cost
(gp)
+0 Long Sword 12 2 20
+1 Long Sword 13 2 40
+10 Long Sword 22 2 20,000
+10 Knife 12 0.06 570
+3 Dagger 6 0.13 10
+9 Dagger 12 0.13 640
+0 Small Sword 6 0.5 6
+6 Small Sword 12 0.5 320
+4 Medium Sword 14 1.4 220
+7 Large Sword 22 3 4,000
Table: Costs of New Blades

A normal blade costs 10 gp per kilogram mass. The cost of carbon steel rod is around 2 gp per kilogram, but working this steel into a sturdy blade takes many hours work. A normal blade is one that has been well-made by a specialist, not a piece of puddle iron pounded into shape by the village blacksmith. With the help of adamantine, or superior craftmanship, or the dedication of more time to the working of the metal, sword smiths can make swords with greater performance. Greater performance for a blade means greater weapon power. We double the cost of a blade for each additional point of power it possesses in excess of the power of a normal blade of the same type. At the same time, we note that the power of a normal blade is proportional to the square root of its mass, with the medium sword of power 10 and mass 1.4 kg being our reference blade.

Cost = (Normal Cost) × 2wpwpn = 10 gp × m × 2wpwpn = 14 gp × (wpn/10)2 × 2wpwpn

Where m is the mass of the weapon, wp is the weapon's power, and wpn is the power of a normal weapon of the same type. In the following calculator, enter any normal weapon power and addition, and the calculator will give us its mass, weapon power, and cost.

Normal Power: Addition: Total Power: Cost: gp Mass: g

A normal long sword, which we can call a +0 Long Sword, weighs 2 kg and costs 20 gp. Its weapon power, when wielded one-handed, is 12. A +1 long sword costs 40 gp and has weapon power 13. It still weighs 2 kg. A +10 long sword costs 20 kgp, or $2M Olympian. It has weapon power 22 and weighs 2 kg. A piece of puddle iron pounded into the shape of a long sword by a village blacksmith might be a −3 long sword. It has weapon power 9 and weight 2 kg. But it costs only 2.5 gp. A −6 long sword, which would be a chipped, blunt, weapon made of wrought iron, is worth only 0.6 gp as a sword, but as scrap metal it is worth 2 gp.

Consider a +0 Long Sword compared to a +10 Knife. Both have weapon power 12. The long sword costs only 20 gp, but the knife costs 570 gp. When weilded two-handed, the long sword's power rises to 17. A sapien cannot wield a knife two-handed. Nevertheless, we see that the +10 knife could prove valuable in places where the the law permits people to arm themselves only with knives. Where weapons are banned altogether, such a knife would be small enough to hide in one's clothes. When making a +10 Knife, a sword-maker spends a lot of time working the metal, and most likely includes a significant amount of mithril. The result is a small and perfect blade. Its point is so hard and strong that it can pierce a carbon steel plate, provided it is driven with enough force.

Consider the +10 Long Sword compared to the +7 Large Sword. Both have weapon power 22. The large sword is 4,000 gp while the long sword is 20,000 gp. Although the large sword contains half again as much adamantine, the adamantine does not have to be of such high quality to give the heavier blade the same power as the long sword.

Spikes

Any weapon that relies upon a sharp point for the bulk of its offensive power is what we call a spike. We classify arrows, javelins, spears, lances, and tridents as spikes. Spikes tend to be less expensive than blades for the same weapon power, but larger and heavier. A +0 Medium Spear is 200 cm long, weighs 1.4 kg, costs 3 gp and has power 8. A +0 Short Sword is 80 cm long, weighs 1 kg, costs 10 gp, and also has weapon power 8.

Spikes perform better when made of tough, hard metal. As with blades, to increase the power of a spike by one, we must double its cost. Unlike blades, however, the mass of a spiked weapon does not dictate the cost of the normal weapon. A lance may weigh 4 kg, but only the 1 kg sheath around its tip is made of iron. The rest is made of wood. Our formula for the cost of a spike is as follows.

Cost = (Normal Cost) × 2wpwpn

Where normal cost is the cost of a normal spike of the same type, wp is the weapon's power, and wpn is the power of the normal weapon.

Blade Power Encumbrance
(kg)
Cost
(gp)
+10 Light Bow Arrows, Quiver of 20 16 2 4100
+0 Medium Bow Arrows, Quiver of 20 10 3 8
+5 Medium Bow Arrows, Quiver of 20 15 3 260
+4 Heavy Bow Arrows, Quiver of 20 18 4 200
+10 Medium Spear 18 3 3,000
+4 Trident 14 2 160
Table: Costs of New Spikes

The cost of quivers of twenty normal arrows is the same as the cost of the normal firing device they fit. In the table above, we give the prices of quivers of twenty arrows and bolts instead of individual arrows or bolts.

Clubs

A club is a blunt object used for hitting people. Examples of clubs are maces, warhammers, saps and of course clubs themselves. A thrown stone of a slung iron ball is also a club. We give the properties of normal clubs in Weapons. A normal club is one that is well-made out of durable materials. There is little to be gained by using super-alloys in a club. For simplicity, therefore, we assume that no club can be significantly better than the normal club of its type. The advantage of clubs over blades and spikes is that they are less expensive for the same power and also more rugged. They to not need to be sharpened, nor do they lose any of their power during the course of a long fight.

Bows

Magical bows can include spirit rubber as an elastic component. But most superior bows are made with long hour of labor treating and gluing its layers.

Cost = (Normal Cost) × 2wpwpn

Here normal cost is the cost of a normal bow of the same type, wp is the weapon's power, and wpn is the power of the normal weapon.

Blade Power Cost
(gp)
+0 Medium Bow 10 8
+5 Medium Bow 15 260
+10 Medium Bow 20 8000
+8 Heavy Bow 22 3000
+10 Heavy Bow 24 12000
Table: Costs of New Bows

The cost of quivers of twenty normal arrows is the same as the cost of the normal firing device they fit. In the table above, we give the prices of quivers of twenty arrows and bolts instead of individual arrows or bolts.

Precious Materials

Here are approximate values of precious materials on twenty-fifth century Clarus.

MaterialPrice ($/g)Price (gp/g)
Silver10.01
Gold100.1
Platinum200.2
Mithril1,00010
Mithril Glass2002
Diamond, One-Carat Stones25,000250
Ruby, One-Carat Stones10,000100
Pearl, One-Carat Stones5,00050
Sapphir, One-Carat Stones10,000100
Jade, Fine Green50.05
Table: Cost of Precious Materials on Clarus. Prices are in Olympian Dollars per Gram and also Gold Pieces per Gram. One gold piece is a ten-gram disk of pure gold.

The prices in gold pieces apply to Clarus, where gold is roughly 25% more valuable than on Olympia. Gold is hoarded by dragons on Clarus.