Saturday, August 24, 2019

d10 Economic Exchange Systems and a Draft for Barter Systems

d10 Economic Exchange Systems
  1. Currency (coins)
  2. Currency (coins and notes)
  3. Currency (coins and notes and stock and capital)
  4. Currency (rai stones)
  5. Barter (simple)
  6. Barter (Dzamalag)
  7. Barter (debt)
  8. Gift economy
  9. Stockpile allocation (communal)
  10. Stockpile allocation (tyrannical)

As my first Holy Selmat campaign winds down, I have the chance to look back and tweak things that did not go so well. One convention of the game which I loved in concept but which proved difficult in play is that most of the word does not use currency, and instead the barter standard is common. Players found this endlessly inconvenient, and often tried to juke it, looking for commodities that were “equivalent” to a gold piece, a silver piece, and so on. Worse still, I found it clunky enough that we often skipped over any actual barter and exchange.
So this is the first draft of my new barter economy. One resource which will be relevant to my travelling rules is “supplies.” One supply is enough to sustain one person for five days in food, warmth, water, and the like. Another resource is labor, skilled and unskilled. Unskilled labor can usually get you resources at the rate of one supply every five days, thus working for bed and board. Skilled labor will vary much more, but generally I’ll treat it as yielding two supplies every five days.
So the base denomination is time spent in work, a reality that successful parties will likely avoid. If they have devoted followers, they can reduce their upkeep in cities or even make a profit by finding work for them. 
Yet notably, the barter economy is incomplete. You are unlikely to purchase a sword with servitude or food. You have to engage in classic barter: the exchange of one valuable item for another. In this case I might have there be a simple procedure:
  • Person 1 proposes a trade.
  • DM decides if the trade is very roughly equivalent in person 2’s eyes.
  • If so, person 1 and person 2 test their charisma.
  • If the trade is roughly equivalent, the DM rolls 2d6 to determine if person 2 wants to make the trade, with higher numbers indicating higher degrees of interest. If both succeeded their test or neither did, take the average. If person 1 succeeded, the roll has advantage. If person 2 succeeded, the roll has disadvantage. 
  • On a high roll, person 2 errs on the side of accepting the deal. On a low roll, person 2 tries to get a better deal.
Finally, the gathering of supplies provides an interesting logistical challenge for long journeys. It is wholly possible to wander a month between cities in Holy Selmat, and you can’t carry a month of supplies on your back (One supply is equivalent perhaps to five equipment slots.) Hunting can ameliorate the upkeep, (either skilled or unskilled labor, depending on several factors) but you will need ways to carry supplies even then. This is where porters, carts, mules, and the like come in.

Gathering supplies
  • Bovine, milk: 2 supplies/month
  • Skilled labor: 12 supplies/month
  • Unskilled labor: 6 supplies/month

Harvesting supplies
  • Bovine, meat: 70 supplies
  • Pig: 10 supplies
  • Wheat, bushel: 20 supplies

Carrying supplies

  • Bovine: 20 supplies or one cart or half a wagon.
  • Cart: holds 40 supplies
  • Covered Wagon: holds 60 supplies
  • Donkey: 10 supplies
  • Horse: 10 supplies
  • Mule: 15 supplies
  • Person: 1 supply for every 5 strength they possess
  • Porter: 3 supplies


  1. I really like this and will probably incorporate some of this into my own system, but I'm curious why 1 unit of supply = 5 days of supplies, since 1 unit also = 5 slots, costs 5 days of unskilled labor, etc.

    It seems as though things would run more smoothly if 1 unit of supply = 1 day of supplies, and then 1 day of unskilled labor nets 1 unit of supply, mules carry 75 units of supply, people can carry 1 unit of supply per 1 Str they possess, etc.

    Is it just to keep "units of supply" a smaller number overall (15 vs 75, with the mule) or is there something else that I'm missing?

    1. It has been a while since I wrote this system, so I'm not sure. I believe it was to keep the units small, and to set expectations around when supply was used (i.e. weekslong journeys.) If I use this system in the future, I can see why I would want to do as you recommend.