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 Post subject: Materials Cost
PostPosted: Thu Aug 09, 2007 1:48 pm 
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As it stands, there is a huge range in cost between different kinds of materials. This, along with the god-awful First Bonding tests/costs, more than anything else make Enchanting either worthless or broken, depending on how you work it. Should this be changed?


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 09, 2007 2:23 pm 
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I don't think I've ever used the Enchanting rules, and don't really know that much about their application past the ability to make trillions of nuyen refining and selling Orichalcum, so you're going to have to be a bit more detailed in your descriptions of exactly what's wrong here than in many areas of the rules :)

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 09, 2007 4:52 pm 
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The costs either need to be more reasonable, or there needs to be another reason why they're so high (for instance, availability through the roof, a substantial paperwork trail and special taxes, the process invariably produces hostile ninjas, etc.)


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 10, 2007 5:16 pm 
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What I'd like to see first off, mostly for balance and common sense reasons, is for different units to cost the same amount. A unit's worth of gold should cost the same as a unit of herbs or tin or whatever, the difference being in the amount of material per unit rather than the cost per unit. A unit of gold might be a fraction of an ounce, for example, while one unit of herbs may be a pound or more, but each would cost the same to actually produce/refine/radical-ize.

Well, maybe the components of orichalcum might cost more, but we really need to get rid of this idea that every material has a different cost for one unit. If we unify the prices


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 13, 2007 11:19 am 
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Why would you want to do that?

Firstly, I imagine it's very difficult to make a magical broach that uses a pound of herbs, while using a few ounces of gold make a lot of sense. Secondly, if we're using the same word, 'unit', for each, it would seem to imply a unit is a unit is a unit. Thirdly, how does price have any bearing on how magical an item is? If I'm poor, I should want to buy a unit of something cheaper rather than gold, even if it has some other restrictions on it.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 13, 2007 8:08 pm 
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nezumi wrote:
Why would you want to do that?

Firstly, I imagine it's very difficult to make a magical broach that uses a pound of herbs, while using a few ounces of gold make a lot of sense.
Whereas I don't imagine a lei made of dried flowers to be very difficult at all.

That's all kinda irrelevant though. The actual numbers I proposed were less than estimates; they were only there to make a point. The point was that the measure of a unit should be balanced based on its effect, and should then map to its cost, with weight being decided as an afterthought. What the RAW currently does is take the effect and maps it to a weight, with cost being decided as an afterthought. My argument is that the weights we decide upon should be the last piece of the discussion, not the first, and cost should [b[never[/b] be an afterthought.

Quote:
Secondly, if we're using the same word, 'unit', for each, it would seem to imply a unit is a unit is a unit.
Yes, a unit is a unit. One unit of herbal radicals contributes the exact same thing to the Enchanting Test as one unit of metal radicals (whether that metal is tin, copper or gold), and thus market forces and game balance dictate that they should cost the same amount. Once we've decided how much it should cost to lower the Enchanting Test TN by 1, we can adjust the weight of the material required to meet that

Quote:
Thirdly, how does price have any bearing on how magical an item is? If I'm poor, I should want to buy a unit of something cheaper rather than gold, even if it has some other restrictions on it.
The problem is, even if you're rich there's no good reason to use gold radicals over tin radicals, or precious gem radicals over crystal radicals. Unless you're making orichalcum, but then you'll still never actually use the gold, silver, copper, or mercury radicals themselves in your foci, just the orichalcum. Or unless you're so rich that it doesn't matter if you throw 40,000 nuyen down the toilet, but then you wouldn't be running the shadows.

My point is that, in the rules as written, precious gems, gold, all of the radicals that *aren't* the cheapest necessary to get the job done, are Timmy cards. The only reason not to get them is if you want to intentionally screw over your character for "RP" reasons. There is no advantage, mechanics-wise or flavor-wise, to having units weigh the same and cost differently, as opposed to costing the same and weighing differently. Note btw that market forces would respond to this and make the "cheaper" units more expensive, and the more expensive units cheaper, until an equilibrium is reached, so there's flavor reasons to support this change as well.


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 14, 2007 11:07 am 
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[quote="Eyeless Blond"]The point was that the measure of a unit should be balanced based on its effect,[/quote]

Ah, I thought you were balancing them based on cost, which seemed absolutely crazy. I agree, a unit should be based on how much is required for the given effect. I would assume it would be about half an ounce of gold, but perhaps six ounces of herbs.


[quote]One unit of herbal radicals contributes the exact same thing to the Enchanting Test as one unit of metal radicals (whether that metal is tin, copper or gold), and thus [b]market forces and game balance dictate that they should cost the same amount.[/b] [/quote]

That isn't correct for several reasons. For one, different radicals may not be appropriate for all purposes. I imagine there are a lot of things where adding herbs will simply result in a lot of burnt, useless herbs, whereas adding copper is an excellent addition. Secondly, there will always be demand for things like copper, gold, etc. beyond radicals, which will force the price up compared to other less useful radicals (like herbs). Similarly, limited supply will force prices up. There's a limited amount of gold in the earth, but herbs can always be grown. So there's no reason to assume prices will standardize based on a single unit, however it is reasonable to assume that some radicals will become far more common than others, just like how now PVC or steel pipes are far more common in houses than copper, even though they all basically do the same thing 'per unit'.

[quote]The problem is, even if you're rich there's no good reason to use gold radicals over tin radicals, or precious gem radicals over crystal radicals. [/quote]

That isn't true. If I'm making something ornamental, something meant to withstand heat or to use in combat, so on and so forth, those will change what I can include in my item. I really can't make an enchanted katana using herbs, but I can make it using hard metals, or by adding magical ornamentation. There will always people who would rather have a magical ruby necklace over a magical crystal necklace if they have the choice. Similarly, if I need to add X units, it could be that gold is smaller in mass than tin, so size constraints require I buy better materials.

We could argue that the rules need to reflect that the radicals involved must be appropriate to certain conditions in order to be used, but there's no reason to say that gold and herbs must be worth the same. Sometimes market forces will simply result in one type of product never being used.


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2008 12:32 am 
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Dragging this topic back up, because we never really finished with it.
nezumi wrote:
Quote:
The problem is, even if you're rich there's no good reason to use gold radicals over tin radicals, or precious gem radicals over crystal radicals.


That isn't true. If I'm making something ornamental, something meant to withstand heat or to use in combat, so on and so forth, those will change what I can include in my item. I really can't make an enchanted katana using herbs, but I can make it using hard metals, or by adding magical ornamentation. There will always people who would rather have a magical ruby necklace over a magical crystal necklace if they have the choice. Similarly, if I need to add X units, it could be that gold is smaller in mass than tin, so size constraints require I buy better materials.

We could argue that the rules need to reflect that the radicals involved must be appropriate to certain conditions in order to be used, but there's no reason to say that gold and herbs must be worth the same. Sometimes market forces will simply result in one type of product never being used.
I agree with your arguments here, that there are many different reasons why one unit of one type of radical would have a different price than another type of radical. The problem is that, except for the four units necessary to make orichalcum, there is no reason provided in the books why the different radicals should vary so widely in price. Since this is supposed to be a rulebook, we are essentially wasting our readers' and the GM's time by either providing a table that they're not going to use, or force them to come up with reasons for our decisions, as we are doing now for the MitS team.

So, we will either have to specify the reasons why each unit costs different amounts, despite doing the exact same things and having the same mass, or we should get rid of the table entirely and just specify that it costs X for raw materials, Y for refined materials, and Z for radicalized materials.


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 Post subject: Re: Materials Cost
PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2008 10:58 am 
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I see, I would tend to agree with that. At minimum, the price increase between gold and gold radicals should be identical to the price increase between tin and tin radicals, or it should specify gold is so much more expensive because no one buys it, therefore all gold are custom, to-order jobs. You can't just produce 80 units of gold a month and expect to sell them all (or realistically, any of them).


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 Post subject: Re: Materials Cost
PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2008 5:56 pm 
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Sounds good to me. So, say refining adds 1,000Y to the cost, and "radicalization" adds another 2,000Y? I suppose I'm fine with the raw materials just costing more for different types of materials, but except for maybe gold or a couple others the cost of refinement should vastly dwarf the cost of the raw material.


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 Post subject: Re: Materials Cost
PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2008 8:56 am 
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The base cost of the product depends on some conditions which aren't ever made all that clear. You can't just grow an herb garden and use those, otherwise the talismongering skill would be useless. You need to go out into the forest, somewhere free from pollution, and do some hippy thing until you find potentially MAGICAL herbs (mushrooms and wacky weed, I must imagine). So the fact that these products don't grow out your back door means the cost goes up (and unfortunately, may vary depending on different factors).

I'd have to double check my books (which I don't have here), but I seem to recollect a week of work by a mundane talismonger is reasonable for herbs. So we're talking about 40 hours of work by someone who probably makes about $15 an hour, $600, plus whatever costs are associated with transit, taxes, and payments to whoever owns the land, divided by the number of units you can expect to find, translated into nuyen.

Meanwhile, making radicals takes a month (30 days) at 8 hours a day from a mage (so $30/hour?) Which is about $7,200, divided by the expected number of units produced, translated into nuyen (plus taxes, etc., which I'm sure are pretty high). While skill of the enchanter goes up, increasing his cost, he produces more units, decreasing the per-unit cost. Presumably because of the risk of losing the batch, that means the best enchanters work on the most valuable base materials (gold). Throw in that the market for gold radicals isn't especially high, since it doesn't do much you can't do with tin, means the cost increase for gold radicals could conceivably be LOWER than the cost increase for herb radicals. But 2,000Y does seem like a reasonable increase per unit.


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 Post subject: Re: Materials Cost
PostPosted: Tue Apr 15, 2008 12:40 am 
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So we've got no good reason identified to have costs for equally-effective units be different; do we have any reason to anything more fine-grained than "metal radicals", etc.?

~J

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 Post subject: Re: Materials Cost
PostPosted: Tue Apr 15, 2008 11:54 am 
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Different units WILL have different costs. Just like when you go to the store and see three brands of sugar, all of which work just as well, there will generally be a range of costs associated with them, because of the costs associated with production. It's just that the value (not cost) of the metals is about equal to that of the herbs.

So I would tend to say when determining the cost of a radical:
1) The base cost of the material is that of, well, the material (a pound of secret herbs and spices costs a pound of secret herbs and spices, an ounce of gold costs an once of gold, etc.) This will change primarily based on the cost of gathering and preparing the items, as well as due to other factors (such as whether the product will go bad if not sold in time).
2) The cost of preparing an item is about stable from product to product within the same family. Preparing herbs is probably a good deal cheaper than preparing tin, since dealing with plants is relatively safe, inexpensive and easy to teach. However, any process dealing with metallurgy, since it's the same process for each type of metal, will be the same price across the board, but more expensive than dealing with plants. The minimum cost for either is probably about equal to the money that person could make doing some other task with those skills.
3) Add in cost of artistic touches. I imagine gold radicals are probably made to be especially beautiful, and are custom made to the item, therefore the cost (and value) goes up.
4) Adjust price to market pressures. Gold can't go much lower than the base cost, but tin may go up (since it's one of the cheapest metals available, and is competing only with more expensive competitors).

Ultimately, people like Kage won't ever buy anything but herbs because herbs are cheap but effective. On the flip side, Damien Knight might buy gold and gems for his decorative weapon focus katana he hangs in his board room. Saying people will only ever sell herbs is like saying people won't ever sell a shotgun for more than $1,000.

Since we don't want to go through the work of putting all of these market pressures into the rule book, I think it's suffice to firstly, flatten out the cost and value of items, so gold has a very slim profit margin, very high costs and very high associated risks, while herbs have low costs and risks, and a mediocre profit margin. Secondly, we may want to modify the rules for selling stuff slightly (my players sell far more than they buy, yet the SR rules for selling stuff are pretty abysmal) to indicate that selling herbs is fairly easy, but selling anything else is increasingly difficult. Selling gold radicals will likely take years, if you want to get anything approaching a fair price.


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