A few solutions have been given that could definitely work. One was to simply change the gold prices to silver. And copper to silver pennies. And set gold as the new platinum. This could easily be retrofitted into the game without much effort.
I was also trying to encompass a bartering system. This may or may not be as simple, but I am curious what other people think.
Here's some hard fast rules (if they work, let me know, I have a flu, so I could use some cheer; also NOTE: You still have to make your own tables):
- Only certain events will drive the economy in any serious direction. Back in the day, 95% of the populace were peasant folk (I'm assuming vikings were much wealthier than everyone else in Europe back then, hence why I don't say 99.9%). These events are essentially random encounters (use a table and roll for every passage of X time) - divide them into major and minor events. Bump a minor up to a major or a major down to a minor if the rolls say so.
Majors occur less frequently (once a month?) - vikings or no, humans are a conservative lot. And because most are peasants, they're usually content to just produce basic goods like food and sit in their warm (relatively) luxurious homes all day (if they can). Minors might occur as often as once a day (vikings do like to get around, after all; so lots of trade = exposure to more events).
Besides minor and major events, you can introduce a slight flucation. Roll if you like (ie. 1d4, low numbers mean reduction in standing price each week, high numbers mean increase - lower or increase is hardly noticeable, maybe 2 Gp at most), or just input GM discretion for whenever you feel like doing that nagging little punishment.
Majors are usually bad things (vikings raid all the time, so a minor would be an enemy invasion and a major could be the loss of some villages to war). Viking culture is greedy, and thus very risky. Every so often though, something good will happen - and because it's a major event, it's a very good thing.
If too many bad events happen, a given society faces recession or even depression.
- Recession is a dramatic decrease in flow of goods. Essentially. Probably not the exact definition, but good enough name for something in a game. If you want to be super logical though, go ahead and find a word that matches. Or find a way to model an actual recession. :P
- Depression isn't a sink hole. It's actually a recession that's gone on for an extended period - the rule is typically a year minimum. Depression is a fitting name, because a recession that's gone on that long can break entire societies; especially in a medieval atmosphere - such that all the poor peasants in your cozy village will have to pack up and leave or die in the cold. Cities, on the other hand... might survive (although a siege from an invading army will do them in pretty fast; their population's ability to produce raw goods is their only saving grace really). Things like magic aren't withstanding, of course. Also, magic causing economic spirals is just silly, unless that's the kind of fantasy you're shooting for.
- Great depression - really bad. This always breaks a society. Cities grow abandoned. Currency becomes valueless. The meaning of 'lord' (or jarl or whatever vikings call it) no longer has any meaning, and law and order breaks down. Your city is now part of the great wilderness. This is epic campaign material - you wake up one day to learn that your king and every other king of every nation you know has been assassinated. Yeah, it's that bad. Expect monsters to be hiding around every corner of every town. All your hard earned treasure is also valueless, unless you kind find a wizard with warehouse space. On the bright side, gold is very easy to find and can be used to barter with ignorant barbarians (only ogres are dumb enough to be truly fooled though; and provided you are strange enough to be actually comfortable in an ogre's company). If you're the kind of GM that doesn't miss a beat, it's pretty easy to give gold weight or simply say '10,000gp in raw coins weighs you down so you can't move'.
Some idea of events for vikings
- Lots of civilians suddenly dying in the cold (not EVERYONE has a nice hearth). This would be typical and expected. Doesn't cause much of a ruckus, but naturally influences the economy. This could be a major event (or minor, depending on vikings reproduce, I suppose).
- A raid gone awry. Raids happen so frequently (depending on conservatism... you could easily input slightly varied viking cultures that only disagree on political matters like raid frequency, blah blah blah). This could seriously effect the economy. Even so, it's a minor event. Vikings are usually good at raids though. If you're a benevolent adventurer (or just a lawful neutral investor), you can do something like hire merc commanders and then donate them to a kingdom's military to co-ordinate better raids and reduce odds of this event showing up. Good, clean and easy way to give players a way to impact the world.
- Enemy invasion. This will happen quite frequently, so probably minor event. Because vikings trade so much, an invasion anywhere is going to effect someone somewhere. All you can really do is pray that the enemy is stupid enough to break themselves on the fortified city walls, rather than use actual viking tactics that they've probably learned from your culture (raiding for common goods and the occassional trinket or treasure). The best way to combat this is probably to simply enlist as a soldier for the kingdom and go on linear missions (not withstanding the GM's ability to make basic usage of game rules exciting, of course).
|I was also trying to encompass a bartering system. This may or may not be as simple, but I am curious what other people think.|
- According to history, economic down turn is what pretty much destroyed the vikings. Skyrim kinda hints at this sorta thing as a potential story arc too.