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Emily Dresner-Thornber
Stuff and Things.
Stuff and Things.

Emily Dresner-Thornber's posts

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Parchment is an interesting commodity because it's ultimately sheep or calfskin. It's highly labor-intensive to produce - especially for the sheep in question. The supply is limited to healthy sheep flocks and availability of a local parchmenter.

This doesn't matter too much when literacy is low and paper is a luxury item. Since few people are wizards, it's fine that their core commodity is pricy. But at a certain scale, it becomes economical for the wizard to start owning his or her own flocks of sheep and parchment processing.

In fact, historically, medieval monasteries and universities did exactly that. They leased entire villages to supply them with core goods locally and on-site so they didn't need to mess with finding wandering journeymen and disrupting their supply.

It makes a certain sense that wizards, too, would go into the sheep business. And with the sheep business comes the yarn and wool business -- big, big medieval businesses. There's bigger money there than in adventuring.

And this is always why wizards in adventuring parties knit. :)

This is more fun and light hearted than the normal doom and gloom.

#gaming #economics

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For the price of a video game or a swanky board game (~$70), you can support two to three organizations helping to fight the insanity trying to pull our country apart. Go donate now.

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New Dungeonomics!

Evil is endlessly fascinating. How does it pay for its evil schemes? How does it build its evil lairs? How do dungeons get built?

Here we present FIVE possible ways for evil to finance the architecture and construction of an EVIL DUNGEON for player characters to trash, burn, bomb or otherwise light on fire. And you know, infrastructure investment isn't cheap!

#dungeonsanddragons #gaming

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I got a request from +Rob Donoghue to write about bonds, the bond markets, and market crash. It's a little on the nose but hey, it's also educational! It takes Diviners AND Transmuter Bankers to really cause havoc.

Now that I have thrown bonds on the table with stocks, theoretically I have a fully functioning 19th century market economy and can destroy it at a whim. With magic.

Anyway, a little totally different terrible to help take your mind off current terrible.

#gaming #dungeonsanddragons

If you are a Game Creator (video game, mobile, tabletop, or board) and you rely on the ACA for your health care and you have a Patron, please let me and others know so we can signal boost you so we can get people subbing to your Patreon ASAP.



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Ah, Guilds.

This week, we apply a little game theory to an inherently unstable system and we let Adventurers form Guilds to pull their disparate resources together when the world is in peril. But there's too much incentive to cheat the Guild. And the only way to keep people from cheating is to mete out punishment > profit. But evil is happy to drive prices into the ground to push good out of the market while the original world enperiling still rampages in the background. Why bother to save the world when we can make an extra few gold pieces!

Turns out the gaming out of unstable cartels works for a ton of different genres -- fantasy, dystopian, cyberpunk... anywhere that two or more similar groups band together into an oligopoly and collude, we get people seeking for stable minimums while trying to game out the maximum profit. It's a super powerful tool.

If there's any interest, next week I'll dedicate some space to running through this in different genres and different starting points.

I used Nash Equilibriums and Folk Theorem to wind through the instability of this cartel. There's some nice videos on youtube...

#gaming #dungeonsanddragons

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Vikings between 900AD and 1100AD had Ulfbehrt swords. Swords so strong and flexible, so much better than any other western weapons, they were essentially magic. They're real and about 170 of them are scattered in medieval weapon collections in museums.

They're made out of crucible steel. This is a process for heating iron up to 3000 degrees to push out all the impurities and increase the carbon content. The process for producing crucible steel was unknown until the 1800s in the West when it was discovered during the Industrial Revolution.

So how did Vikings in 900AD lay hands on swords made of steel not discovered until 1800AD? Time travelers? Well, maybe. But the process was actually discovered first in Sri Lanka and southern India around the birth of Christ, and ingots likely came to Damascus and newly-established Baghdad via the Indian Sea trade route. And from there, Vikings reached the Middle East markets via the Volga Sea/Caspian Sea routes. They bought ingots in the marketplaces in exchange for northern goods (pelts, dried fish, etc) and brought them back home. Their blacksmiths forged the swords...

And because they were so storied, fakes appeared in West marketplaces everywhere. But because most people were illiterate, they failed to properly replicate the marks of a real Ulfberht swords...

Cool story and makes from an interesting possible driver for a campaign.

#gaming #dungeonsanddragons

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You have a pirate ship. You're free of the principal agent problem. You are your own master. And now what?

This week we take a look at the roles of the Pirate Captain-elect, the Pirate Quartermaster, the rights of the crew to throw the captain overboard, and on-board Pirate Constitutions to enforce laws, checks and balances!

#gaming #dungeonsanddragons

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I have been thinking about SPACE PIRATES.

But before I can talk about SPACE PIRATES, I have to talk about SPACE MERCHANTS because without SPACE MERCHANTS there's nothing for SPACE PIRATES to do. So we start with space merchant shipping.

I applied a bunch of research papers on the economics of the Age of Sail to a possible space universe and talked a ton about the principal-agent problem. I think it would be interesting to revisit this with AI controls and systems and using technology to mitigate it and turn the ships more dystopian. That's likely a followup.

This could have easily been 15K words but I was timeboxed so I'll come back around.


Now including how to use the stuff!

#gaming #dungeonanddragons

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Posting late today.

I was reading an economics paper and it had a sentence that started with: "All economists know that theft is dead weight loss..." And since I didn't know this I went poking around and pulled the data about theft being dead weight loss for both the thief and the victim. There's a social and private cost on both sides when stealing stuff.

I might not have explored this as deeply as I wanted to but I tried to pick apart this in a dungeon delving exercise and pick apart the private costs on both sides and the way they could come to a more profitable agreement.

Of course, it turns Adventurers into the Mafia...

#dungeonsanddragons #gaming 
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