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  1. #1
    Site Moderator geeman's Avatar
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    Sidhelien Economics

    Another issue I`m addressing lately is trade and commerce amongst the
    Sidhe. How do you folks think such things are
    conducted? Presumably, elves make some of the best and most highly
    sought after products, so why aren`t there substantial elven guild
    holdings, or even many of their products out in human populations
    despite a few thousand years of supposedly losing in war? (One would
    think the occasional elven sword would be found on the
    battlefield....) How does the elven economy work? How do they pay
    taxes? What kinds of goods and services would exist in elven society
    that are different from human society?

    A couple more specific questions:

    1. Do elves mint coins? I`ve found no direct reference, but that
    lack isn`t terribly surprising. What do you folks think?

    2. What kinds of goods would elves be interested in obtaining from
    other Cerilian races? What would they be willing to trade, and what
    would they refuse to trade?

    Thoughts?

    Gary

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    Gary schrieb:
    > Another issue I`m addressing lately is trade and commerce amongst the
    > Sidhe. How do you folks think such things are conducted? Presumably,
    > elves make some of the best and most highly sought after products, so
    > why aren`t there substantial elven guild holdings, or even many of
    > their products out in human populations despite a few thousand years
    > of supposedly losing in war? (One would think the occasional elven
    > sword would be found on the battlefield....) How does the elven
    > economy work? How do they pay taxes? What kinds of goods and
    > services would exist in elven society that are different from human
    > society?
    >
    > A couple more specific questions:
    >
    > 1. Do elves mint coins? I`ve found no direct reference, but that lack
    > isn`t terribly surprising. What do you folks think?
    > 2. What kinds of goods would elves be interested in obtaining from
    > other Cerilian races? What would they be willing to trade, and what
    > would they refuse to trade?
    > Thoughts?
    My thought would be that sidhelien do not mint coins themselves - even
    in our world coins were rare in medieval times and not (for more
    valuable coins) or hardly known not only to peasants but the majority of
    the population. Even Knights had to make what they could out of peasants
    labour "Fronarbeit" and were not rich in coins.

    Sidhelien would need metal to mint coins and I personally see the
    sidhelien not as having extensive mining operations to obtain precious
    metals or having such organized structures as an "official mint of the
    realm".
    Bartering goods and services seems much more fitting in a society in
    which most live in extensive forests.
    Perhaps guild holdings are not just representations of "trade" but
    rather of "extensive trade with money allowing far easier exchange of
    goods and wealth"?

    Sidhelien would need to obtain metals of all sorts if they (as I see
    them) refuse to dig in the earth. Others who see sidhelien as part
    earthspirit will disagree.
    Sidhelien could trade away furs of all sorts, gather rare herbs (see the
    King of the Giantdowns for examples of valuable herbs in BR).

  3. #3
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    2. What kinds of goods would elves be interested in obtaining from
    other Cerilian races? What would they be willing to trade, and what
    would they refuse to trade?


    Want:
    Metal for weapons & tools.
    Grain?
    Cloth
    Anything decorated in a non-sidhe style could have some appeal.

    Have:
    Magically-enhanced or decorated anything
    Herbs, furs, and timber-- likely those last two aren`t traded often?
    Fruit, wine, or other foods

    Lee.
    Last edited by Thelandrin; 01-27-2008 at 01:48 AM.

  4. #4
    Yeah I agree with the Fruit, Wine and herbs.

    Certainly they are great crafters and thus any object with a fine elven design to them will probably be valued in trade.

    Now as for timber .... I would think no way. That is probably the one item that humans would want the most from them and it is the last thing they would ever give up.

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    Site Moderator kgauck's Avatar
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    Sidhe realms don't normally have guilds, and they don't engage in the same of production. I don't think they have an economics. I think they are sustained by magic and use magic to procure what resources they require. What humans think of as economic activity is a source destroying thing.

    Items are crafted as needed, with no surplus to sell for coin. Quality is very high, so replacements are not needed. There is no laborer class to make and do things.

    Elves do not pay taxes or perform compulsory service. Elves would not pay taxes, nor would the supposed Sidhe treasury have anything to buy with money.

    There is no significant demand for goods and services, elves do not dwell in need of company in order to form a division of labor. Elves are individually self sufficient. What exchanges do exist are handled in barter.

    No coins, no trade, no imports, no exports, no appreciable production. In short, no economy.

  6. #6
    I can't totally agree with kgauck there. In a birthright system it would be game breaking for a country to have no guilds, no religon and have a weak law system. There is room for interpretation here.

    I can't imagine that an entire elven nation that only gets its metal from magic. In the early days of the elves I am sure there was some relationship with select dwarven nations to obtain the metals they need. With huge loss of woods across Cerelia to humans and no easy access to dwarven nations that forces some elves to at least trade with humans enough to get resources. Some elven lands might still not let any humans into the woods but will send elves out to trade and bring back what they need.

    I do admit barding for products makes far more sense for elves and no real use of gold. But guilds in Cerelia are often described the same way. We quanitfy it with gold bars but in reality they are trading chickens and wood and food for other products needed. An elven nation would be no different. I would imagine there is an elven mint coin, but it is only used for trading outside of their realm.

    An elf that fights in the army of course does it out of love of their home land. But they must be clothed, eat and sleep. They have no time to provide for themselves so trade must occur.

  7. #7
    Site Moderator geeman's Avatar
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    Elves are immortal, but they don`t create everlasting goods. Their
    craftsmen might create very long lasting items, but unless we`re
    imagining that their textiles never wear or fade, bowstrings never
    snap, arrows never become lost, horses never need fodder, food never
    requires cooking, buildings spring into existence without
    construction, architects, builders or people to maintain them then
    there`s going to be some sort of economic activity. (Many elven
    structures are certainly magical, but I doubt every stable, hovel or
    treehouse is produced by magic.)

    Just because elves don`t tend to have guilds does not mean they don`t
    have an economy. Guilds represent control over an economy, perhaps
    an expansion of the economy in a given area, but just as people will
    worship whether there is a temple structure and priestly hierarchy in
    place or not, there has to be some sort of process of economy even if
    it makes little sense from an Econ 101 perspective. It`s just that
    nobody takes enough control over the elven economy to represent
    guilds at the domain level. Sidhelien economics might make Smith
    weep, Marx chortle and Keynes choke, but it`s got to exist unless
    we`re imagining every elf creates all his own goods himself by magic,
    and even then I`d still suggest there would be an economy in place in
    terms of services, internal government and external diplomacy.

    Even the most mystical creatures from myth and legend traded with
    humans from time to time. Even the gods do, for that matter....

    Here is some info from the PSo Tuarhieval text on Sidhelien attitude
    towards economics:

    "If a blind spot exists in elven control of Tuarhievel, it is in
    economics. Perhaps it is a characteristic of the elves that they do
    not consider the acquisition of profit a valuable goal. The
    Sidhelien are not motivated to accumulate wealth or to get the best
    out of a transaction. Deals come and deals go; they are in no hurry
    to act upon them." p28.

    This is another "alien" attitude of the Sidhe, and while it certainly
    indicates they have little interest in trade it does specifically
    mention that they engage in transactions and deals....

    On p31 of that text it also describes military aid from Tuarhievel
    going to Kiergaard through a series of non-elven guilds. Again, not
    guild activity on the part of the elves, but it is economic activity.

    We do also have at least one example of an extraordinarily skilled
    elven smith able to create items from special alloys.... Any time
    there is a skill differential there is trade and an economy.

    Personally, I`m thinking the Sidhe engage in a sort of elaborate
    barter economy, but that`s still economics even if it is what
    sometimes gets called the "gray" economy in modern terms.

    Gary

  8. #8
    Site Moderator geeman's Avatar
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    At 10:24 AM 1/25/2008, Lee wrote:

    >Want:
    >Metal for weapons & tools.
    >Grain?
    >Cloth
    >Anything decorated in a non-sidhe style could have some appeal.

    I can see them needing metals. Certain things can be produced
    through magic, and as elementalists they`d have access to magics to
    create iron, but refined alloys are described in the BR materials,
    and that process is probably in some way magical, but probably has
    some sort of raw material as a basis. There are no magics that
    explicitly can be used to create copper or silver, and elves do seem
    to have an affinity for silver.... The Alchemy realm spell might
    very well do that, though. But then we have a system of internal
    trade/economy as the source regent who created that metal doles it out.

    I doubt elves are very interested in non-elven decorations,
    though.... That smacks of actually liking other races....

    When it comes to food, I don`t think the elves are particularly
    interested in other cultures` output. Though it does seem like
    tobacco might be grown by other races and valued by elves (a la Tolkien.)

    >Have:
    >Magically-enhanced or decorated anything
    >Herbs, furs, and timber-- likely those last two aren`t traded often?
    >Fruit, wine, or other foods

    I really doubt they trade timber.... Herbs, though, makes a lot of
    sense. I could see them trading with dwarves or human miners for
    gems and ore. Magical items could be traded, but I really doubt
    they`d give those up very cheaply or often enough to represent
    anything other than an adventure level transaction.

    Gary

  9. #9
    Site Moderator geeman's Avatar
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    At 12:44 PM 1/25/2008, bbeau22 wrote:

    >An elf that fights in the army of course does it out of love of
    >their home land. But they must be clothed, eat and sleep. They
    >have no time to provide for themselves so trade must occur.

    The Sidhe don`t sleep... but an army does mean some sort of economic
    activity as they must be equipped, fed, lodged, trained, etc. Elves
    are, no doubt, much more self-sufficient than other races, but their
    mounts still need food and care, their weapons sharpening, and even
    if they "work" without pay, simply dedicating their time can be
    accounted for economically.

    The question, though, is how does that economy function? Do elves
    owe their liege feudal service? Is there a tithing process? Is
    every transaction bartered or is there some sort of medium of
    exchange? How would a tutor (Taelinri) be hired and paid? Surely
    not every elf is a vintner and bottles his own wine, cobbles his own
    shoes, feathers his own arrows, constructs his own treasure chests,
    weaves his own rope, bakes his own wheybread, etc.

    Gary

  10. #10
    Site Moderator kgauck's Avatar
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    One always has a choice when envisioning another race as to whether they are near human or really alien, or something in between. My own sense is that dwarves and halflings are near humans (we can understand their motivations and society by changing a few variables) while the elves are so magically alien than its, what did they say, unfathomable.

    So AFAIC, their goods are all made by their owner, magically, from magically acquired materials. Spells to summon common materials are pretty low level, so immortal beings with a favored class of wizard should have no problem mending their items with the mend spell, creating whatever they need that way, and only crafting objects from such materials for their own use.

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