RE: Re: HW as a concept, and _Adding_ abilities, wealt h and wells

From: bernuetz.oliver_at_...
Date: Wed, 17 Oct 2001 10:47:12 -0400

It might however be possible to come up with some sort of multiplier to reflect cross cultural transactions like this. The 5W wealth Lunar might be much richer in Heorlting terms so an approximation of the difference could be derived.

-----Original Message-----
Sent: Wednesday, October 17, 2001 8:33 AM To:
Subject: Re: HW as a concept, and _Adding_ abilities, wealth and wells

I tried to do so previously, and I don't really want to get bogged down in the anthropological morass. As I said, wealth is a feature of social authority, so ANY mechanical system of addition and subtraction, with or without logs, is unlikely to reflect a plausible value IMO. Thats why I think its entirely plausible that the player, expending HP and thus to an extent "authoring" the character, may raise their wealth value. Trying to calculate it from first principles is doomed; go with what is in essence a proportional measure. Measure "change to character" rather than "change to wealth" (via HP expenditure)

> This is hardly a problem with game-world-scaled wealth mechanics,
> which is what Julian and I are arguing for. This is a more

It is precisely, because what constitutes wealth, what constitutes much and little wealth, vary by culture and local economy. I assert it is impossible to have a meaningful cross-cultural "wealth rating". They are EXACTLY as contextual as any other ability.

> pressing consequences of the "raising wealth like any another
> ability" approach (i.e., the existing HW rules, pretty much),
> where a linear "expenditure" (that is, 1 HP) gets you 'escalating'
> returns. (i.e, "+N HPs" means, not so much "+X cows" as "=Y%
> cows".)

That seems entirely appropriate to economic behaviour. In a sense, on the spend-money-to-make-money principle, someone with a larger economic base is able to accumulate larger returns at much the same proportional expense as a less wealthy person. This is the correct transaction to record.

> the "Hrm, now what do I do?" type of moment: "What the heck should
> I use as a TN for buying _that_?" "What the heck amount of game
> wealth does _that_ rating really correspond to?" etc, etc. Any
> "official" rules based on a Julian-like system would, I trust, make
> that understanding explicit...

What I'm trying to get across here is that I think trying to do this is pointless. I suspect that a Lunar character of wealth 5w and a Herotling character of wealth 5w would NOT have the same wealth in any objective sense - only in a socially subjective sense. The lunar characters wealth is likely to be composed of many manufactured, metal goods while the heortling character's will feature a much greater proportion of agricultural produce. Some of the lunars wealth will be bound up with what is in effect ground rent, with the "value" of their dwelling assessed by things like population density, proximity to temples, etc etc. These two forms of wealth have nothing in common; the lunar will probably be treated as much more wealthy (in heortling terms) than he really is (in lunar terms) if he were selling his manufactured goods to heortlings. Equally, if he were trying to sell his dwelling to a heortling (bizarre, I know) he would simply not be able to realise its "true" value in lunar terms simply because the Heortlings have no way or interest in assessing wealth in terms of city population and proximity to certain places; these are "valueless" in heortling terms. Likewise, a "rich" heortling with many cows may be a pauper in lunar terms, for he has no mansion.

This is why it is entirely possible for traders from two different cultures to BOTH rip each other off and BOTH make an honest profit. Its the old selling beads to the natives idea - the beads were of low value in Western terms, of high value to indigenous peoples. The gold/furs they had were of relatively low value to them (lower than the beads anyway) and thus both sides got a good deal - because their respective cultures valued the products differently. I say again - there IS no way to delineate wealth in niversal, concrete terms - it CAN only be an artifact of culural interpetation, because the concept of wealth is itself a cultural artifact.

So the question: "What the heck amount of game world wealth does _that_ rating really correspond to?" can only be answered after you know who is asking. Which is precisely why the rating itself, it seems to me, is a valid and useful shortcut across an unresolvable problem.

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