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Author Topic: Economics question  (Read 4395 times)
MilitiaJim
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« on: November 27, 2007, 01:55:47 PM »

So in "typical" fantasy worlds the dwarves are miners, engineers and crafters of solid tools.  Elves tend to be more magical but are known for fine quality jewelry and fine light weapons. 

Where do the elves get the metal? 
Did they always trade with the dwarves for ore or ignots of metal? 
Where did they get their metal when they were at war with the dwarves?

I was unable to come up with satisfactory answers, I think y'all can help.

BRGDS,
-Stew
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« Reply #1 on: November 27, 2007, 02:17:53 PM »

Maybe the elves conjured it by condensing magical essence into incredibly hard, but light-weight, bands similar to metal which were woven into armor.


or, maybe the dwarves mine both adamantite and mithril, but no self-respecting dwarf would use mithril as armor.  Only the weakest would need to lighten the armor like that, and it didn't offer as much protection as adamantite, anyways.

The elves on the other hand love the stuff, and buy most of it from the dwarves.  In exchange, the elves provide magical enchantments superior to anything the dwarves could manage.

The dwarves and elves still really don't like each other (much the same way I really hate pushy salespeople), but economics would be a factor in any decision either side made in going to war.

However, if they did go to war, I bet the elves have a war surplus in mithril to help hold them out through the war and the dwarves have more than one customer when it comes to manufactured goods.

Also, it would be an excellent oppurtunity for smugglers when 2 sides economically dependent on each other went to war.

Hmm, that sparked a new idea for a game.
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« Reply #2 on: November 27, 2007, 02:32:11 PM »

Similar thoughts, and I would suggest that there must be a lot of intermediary groups that they could trade with.  I'm reminded of Friedman's pencil speech where he makes the point that the thousands of people involved most likely come from regions of the world that are at war with one another, but economics brings them together for peaceful purposes:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d6vjrzUplWU
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« Reply #3 on: November 27, 2007, 03:05:50 PM »

I'm sure Dwarves don't have exclusivity on mining... Humans, do it in the real world, I don't see why they couldn't in a fantasy world, there's also many other races out there that could mine just as easily.
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« Reply #4 on: November 27, 2007, 03:42:03 PM »

Dwarves may not be the only miners, but comparing human operated mining operations to dwarven mining operations is like comparing GIANT Company Software to Microsoft.  The humans won't have anywhere near the quantities and selections the dwarves have.  Sure, there may be some rogue elements in society that will buy from the former rather than the latter, but in the end the dwarves rule that market.

Edit: Also, the dwarves close-knit clan-based, almost mafia-like, society prevents them from competing against each other as much as the humans (or other races) compete against each other.
« Last Edit: November 27, 2007, 03:45:03 PM by Bill Whitmore » Logged

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« Reply #5 on: November 27, 2007, 07:06:17 PM »

Yes, but I think the point is that the dwarves can still provide their product to the market, which can then deliver it to the elves, even though they won't trade directly with elves.
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Bill Whitmore
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« Reply #6 on: November 27, 2007, 07:32:50 PM »

True, but maybe they threaten to impose sanctions against those they catch selling to the ones they are at war with, in this case the elves.

For instance, when the dwarves find out that the humans are still selling dwarven steel to the elves, the dwarves cut-off all trade with the humans and open up trade with the drow, who also war against the elves and to a lesser extent the humans.  While there may be some internal dissent in working with the drow, no one speaks openly against the clan (except maybe a PC dwarf), or it could be the last straw and Viva La Dwarf Resistance!  (Yes, they are french Dwarves.)

(I am mostly talking out of my arse here, but it is good fun anyways.)
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« Reply #7 on: November 27, 2007, 07:40:22 PM »

It would probably depend on whether the dwarves needed to sell their goods to finance the war.  A self-imposed blockade might not work that well if they have nothing to trade for food and other things that they're not as good at making themselves.
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« Reply #8 on: November 27, 2007, 08:06:16 PM »

Assuming you rule out things like elven chainmail, it's comparatively easy to say the elves get their metal themselves.  Jewelry doesn't take much, after all. 

Taking actual armor into account, it's still not too great a stretch to think the elves mine it themselves.  For my money, an elven mine could be the ultimate carbon-neutral enterprise, using some flavor of magic to extract ore without doing any lasting harm to the earth, or somesuch treehugging balderdash.

The third-party mine option also works much better, in my opinion, than middlemen trucking dwarven mithril into elven communities.  Elves can certainly be patrons of, say, a gnomish mine.  Sure they may get less metal than they would from the hyper-efficient dwarven works, but it's all they need for what they do, and it keeps them from sullying their hands by dealing with their age-old enemy.
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« Reply #9 on: November 27, 2007, 08:11:46 PM »

Which is something I have always wondered about.  Why are dwarves the age-old enemies of elves?

Are the elves really that envious of the holes in the mountains that the dwarves call home?

Are the dwarves jealous because they want to add leaves to their daily diets?

It'd be like watching a fish take offense to an element.  Are they really in that much conflict?

Edit: Fixed a typo...a stupid typo that was quoted...<grumble><grumble>.
« Last Edit: November 27, 2007, 08:45:49 PM by Bill Whitmore » Logged

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« Reply #10 on: November 27, 2007, 08:40:37 PM »

Which is something I have always wondered about.  Whay are dwarves the age-old enemies of elves?

In Middle Earth, the fight started over a commissioned work of jewelry, which the dwarves said the elves failed to pay for and the elves said the dwarves withheld it after payment was made. And with lifespans of centuries and millenia, these grudges can take a while to work through.
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« Reply #11 on: November 27, 2007, 08:56:04 PM »

It most derivative works it comes down to the Dwarves being surly, conservative jobsworths and elves being free-spirited hippies
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« Reply #12 on: December 02, 2007, 10:46:57 AM »

This is why I come here.  Quality thoughts.   Smiley

I can see the elves doing with magic what the dwarves do with muscle.  Unless the elves already used magical strip mining to get their metal.  How long has any given fantasy world been around?  But with some of the spells in D&D, a caster and a craftsman or three can make some very sturdy stuff out of wood.

And sometimes, history needs to be let go.  Maybe not forgotten, but let it go!
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« Reply #13 on: December 03, 2007, 01:42:30 AM »

But with some of the spells in D&D, a caster and a craftsman or three can make some very sturdy stuff out of wood.

With the wall of iron and fabricate spell, a wizard can churn out a silly volume of armor and weaponry all on his lonesome.  Which leads to the greater Economics question of: If casters can conjure materials from nowhere, how does industry exist at all?  Between: Major Creation, Wall of Iron, Wall of Stone, and Fabricate spells you can create almost anything you need [Fortresses, housing clothing, weaponry, armour, food] all without the need for tools, or even physical labor.

How DnD economics, let alone ecologies exist in a stable fashion has been beyond me since our group started playing 3rd ed, and i became aware of how wizards could upset the balance of society.

All thats probably a part of why I prefer Low-Magic settings, but of course I'll be interested to see how the Crafty Four present "the Conjurer" for spellbound.
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« Reply #14 on: December 03, 2007, 02:11:59 AM »

Remember that by 3.5 rules, they have to burn xp to make items normally.  I think they're doing away with that in 4th edition, but as I understand it, a wizard would only be able to expend the xp they've acquired in their most recent level.. they can't lose levels by making items.  So that means they'd still have to go out adventuring from time to time to get more xp.
So it's a bit strange, but not inherently economy-destroying.
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