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  1. #1

    Questions/Problems with Trade Route Rules

    First, I recognize the BR is not a trade or economic simulation, but I find the rules for trade routes in chapter five unconvincing.

    Trade routes are to be set up to trade different commodities between provinces. To this end, the 2 provinces must be of different geographical types or of different cultural types.

    These restrictions of race and geography too limiting. For example, I can imagine 2 provinces that would both be plains provinces wanting to do trade because one had an abundance of horses and they wanted to trade with a province that had an abundance of cattle.

    Furthermore, a difference of geography does not automatically create a demand. I imagine that a dwarven mountain stronghold might not have any use for a coastal province's abundance of fish even though the coastal province greatly desired dwarven metals and stone.

    Would it not make sense that cultural difference be changed to a national one? I'm sure one could find goods in Alamie that Avanil might need and vice versa. I see no compelling reason for Avanil merchants to go all the way to Khinasi lands to find something that might be closer to home and cheaper too. Long distance trade routes should be for luxury and very rare items like silk and spices were in the Middle Ages. More mundane goods should be available at short and medium distances.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Jaleela's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sathoth View Post
    First, I recognize the BR is not a trade or economic simulation, but I find the rules for trade routes in chapter five unconvincing.

    Trade routes are to be set up to trade different commodities between provinces. To this end, the 2 provinces must be of different geographical types or of different cultural types.

    These restrictions of race and geography too limiting. For example, I can imagine 2 provinces that would both be plains provinces wanting to do trade because one had an abundance of horses and they wanted to trade with a province that had an abundance of cattle.

    Furthermore, a difference of geography does not automatically create a demand. I imagine that a dwarven mountain stronghold might not have any use for a coastal province's abundance of fish even though the coastal province greatly desired dwarven metals and stone.

    Would it not make sense that cultural difference be changed to a national one? I'm sure one could find goods in Alamie that Avanil might need and vice versa. I see no compelling reason for Avanil merchants to go all the way to Khinasi lands to find something that might be closer to home and cheaper too. Long distance trade routes should be for luxury and very rare items like silk and spices were in the Middle Ages. More mundane goods should be available at short and medium distances.
    I would generally agree. I wrote a supplement for our campaign modifying the trading system.

  3. #3
    Site Moderator AndrewTall's Avatar
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    As with any game rules its all about balance and fun - i.e. stopping players trading within their own realms.

    Ideally you would allocate resources (including specilised tools, crops, animals) etc to each province, allow regents to create resources (i.e. varsk ranches, glass-blowing industries) and the like.

    In practice to keep it simple you assume that all hills generate, say, coal, all forests wood, all plains grain, etc.

    I'd be interested in seeing a better version though. I'd suggest dividing tradeable resources into types (with each type of province having 1-3 types or resource max) and saying you need different types to trade.

    I.e. You can't trade rice for potatos or wheat as they are all staples.

    perhaps with other rules such as 'you can't trade luxuries to realms with population under 4'

    anyone fancy a civ conversion to br?

  4. #4

    A Problem with the Trade Route Rules

    Imagine yourself on the docks of the Imperial City. Imagine yourself there for several weeks. You would see an incredible amount of shipping traffic. Many new ships would be arriving every day. Large amounts of mundane and exotic cargos would be unloaded and loaded with dizzying speed. You might even notice that the exotic was so commonplace here that the dockworkers were no longer amazed by it. If not, the sheer quantity of goods would be extraordinary.

    The big trading guilds would all be present in force. There would also be ships from wherever, say Aduria that dropped anchor speculating that they could trade their goods without having a predetermined buyer. (I take the guild holding requirement for trade routes to mean that a buyer has been found for the goods, though whether a consumer of the goods has been found is not indicated.)

    What I am wondering is how the trade route rules capture this picture of the immensity of the Imperial City's docks. (This picture does not include any trade that comes to the Imperial City by overland means.)

    If the Imperial City had 10 different guilds operating with Holding 1 each, then the City could accomodate 10 trade routes. If it had 2 guilds with Holding 5 each, the city can accomodate 4 trade routes. If a guild acquired a complete monopoly the City could have a max of 3 trade routes. It seems very odd indeed that the number of trade routes would decrease as a guild got bigger.

    It is true that the Holding 1 trade routes would only generate .5 GB per season for a total of 5 GB. If these 10 guilds also owned the holdings at the other end of the trade route then additional GB are generated.

    The 2 guilds with Holding 5 would have 2 trade routes each and each one would generate 2.5 GB per season for a total of 10 GB. The 3 trade routes for the guild monopoly would generate 15 GB per season if they controlled all 10 guild holdings for the Imperial City.

    All the shipping traffic in my little picture of the dockyards seems to imply more than 3 trade routes. I think it implies more than 10 trade routes and things that are not even covered by the trade route game mechanic. The Imperial City could easily have trading connections with hundreds of provinces, many of which would not even be in Cerilia. If one thinks of the shipping traffic in Ancient Rome or Imperial Britain, one gets my point.

    Now one might say that the Trade Route rules capture the ability of a guild to make money by additional means. Or that it is a means of capturing some of the exports and imports of a province, but by no means should be construed to account for all imports and exports from a province. This observation leads me to wonder what a Trade Route is and what economic assumptions the game makes.

    What does BR assume about Cerilian economics? Well, populations exist at a technological level in provinces that are represented numerically for the purposes of generating taxes for regents. Also, other sources of revenue can be acquired from temples and guilds depending on their influence in a province as represented by a number. Additionally guilds can set up trade routes between provinces for additional revenues.

    What the game says about economics in Cerilia is very little. At first I thought the game assumed that provinces were economically self-sufficient since most revenue is generated within the province. But all the game is saying is that taxes and tithes are gathered at points where regents are--nothing more. Is the economic model feudalism, mercantalism, or something else? There are vestiges of feudalism, but just because a province has a regent does not mean the economic system is feudal. The game is silent about economic systems. It is only interested in taxing/tithing generation.

    So it seems that a Trade Route should be understand as a guild's ability to capture profit. Nothing more. So the 3 Trade Routes of our monopoly guild in the Imperial City is an indication that that guild has 3 profit streams from imports and exports representing their total control of trade. It does not say anything about the trade traffic there--how many ships dock each day, where they are from, what quantity and quality of goods they carry, just the profits at the end of the season. Of course this profit needs some taxing as no realm regent would allow 30 GB or 5 GB for that matter to go untaxed.

    As a footnote, I think that realm regents should have the ability to set up trade routes as historically trading companies like the Hudson's Bay Co. were founded by royal charter and not by guilds.

  5. #5
    Site Moderator AndrewTall's Avatar
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    Hmm. I don't necessarily agree that each trade route is distinct. Why can't a L1 guild have a number of minor trade routes? What stops a L7 guild from having fifty subguilds each importing or exporting goods?

    To me the trade route level represents the quantum of the income only - not the number of constituent elements of the trade.

    BR does have a very abstract economy - necessary given the differences in economics for Anuirean, Brecht, Vos, etc. - The holdings need to be able to handle all comers...

    Saying though the Brecht guilds are mercantile endeavours, Anuirean guilds are typically a noble overseeing a few craftsmen overseeing a vast legion of serfs is also fine. I note that nobles became, or at least stayed, noble by being rich - they might hide their monetary interests with a thin veneer of respectability, but a noble without serious money lost influence and respect, that money often came from land (harvests, herding, people to work mines, etc) but also came from investments in merchants activities etc - classic guild holdings.

    A ruler btw can of course operate trade routes - they just get some guild holdings (to represent economic interests) and go right ahead. Alternatively they tax trade routes coming in/going out in return for 'granting the charter'.

  6. #6
    Oh, absolutely, players should not be able to trade within their own domains.

    On a civ conversion the trick is to keep it simple enough to not require that it become a computer game and complex enough to enable us to see the simulation/modelling in the game.

    I have several books on the topic of gaming economics, Empire by AEG, Fields of Blood by Eden Studios, Strongholds and Dynasties by Moongoose and A Magical Medieval Society: Western Europe by Expeditious Retreat.

    I will start a new thread starting with some basic assumptions about how such a conversion would work.

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    Senior Member Jaleela's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sathoth View Post
    Oh, absolutely, players should not be able to trade within their own domains.

    On a civ conversion the trick is to keep it simple enough to not require that it become a computer game and complex enough to enable us to see the simulation/modelling in the game.

    I have several books on the topic of gaming economics, Empire by AEG, Fields of Blood by Eden Studios, Strongholds and Dynasties by Moongoose and A Magical Medieval Society: Western Europe by Expeditious Retreat.

    I will start a new thread starting with some basic assumptions about how such a conversion would work.
    Actually, they shpould be able to trade in their own realm. Many markets were local or regional. Check out Peter Spuffords work on Medieval trade. In THAT case, then unlike types of 'terrain' would be neccessary. It was not uncommon, for instance, for Medieval monarchs owning vinyards to by law sell off their wine, before any other vintages could be sold (as an example of trading in your own realm).

    What I did in part was making large scale profitability directly related to rarity of items and objects, in direct proportion of vale linked to distance shipped (cotton was cheap in Egypt and dear in England in the 13th century), making international routes (Khinasi ad Vosguard to Anuire or Brechtur, and visa-versa) as being far more profitable than bulk commodities traded between nearb by provinces.

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    Administrator Green Knight's Avatar
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    I would start by considering how rare trade routes actually are; and how much (local) trade is acutally a part of guild holdings.
    Cheers
    Bjørn
    DM of Ruins of Empire II PbeM

  9. #9
    Birthright Developer irdeggman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sathoth View Post
    These restrictions of race and geography too limiting. For example, I can imagine 2 provinces that would both be plains provinces wanting to do trade because one had an abundance of horses and they wanted to trade with a province that had an abundance of cattle.
    Just to point out one of the levels of complexity this entails.

    To do this each province must now be defined as to what specifically goods are produced in the province. Then these goods can never change (without a different set of rules to cover depleting them) or else all trade routes are only "temporary".

    Furthermore, a difference of geography does not automatically create a demand. I imagine that a dwarven mountain stronghold might not have any use for a coastal province's abundance of fish even though the coastal province greatly desired dwarven metals and stone.
    Actually this is a prime example of a good trade route based on goods.

    "Need" is not the driver, "desire" is. The dwarven mtn province should be able to produce sufficient food to sustain themselves - but that food would be limited to things grown on (or more likely inside) the mountain. Mushrooms and other "bland" fungi being the obvious catagorization. Why do people trade for pinapples? Not because they "need" them, most areras can produce an equivalent fruit in nutrition - but the populace "wants" the different pinapple.
    Duane Eggert

  10. #10
    Very good points about need vs. desire. Yes that dwarven province might really be sick of the diet of soup made from the Campbell mushroom and desire fish, but they could also desire tenderloin steaks even more. My point is that

    Also very good points about local trade and markets. I would suspect that any regent that insisted that his wine got sold first might run the risk of losing loyalty in a province if there were a surplus of wine available there.

    Oh yes, the complexity of this all is daunting. And the more rules there are the more daunting it gets.

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