Unintended Consequences: The Change that Crashes Some of the Game Economy

Level 14
1 year ago (edited)

This is a bit of a rant, but the facts should be accurate, and it points out what I believe is a real, serious problem.

Caveat: I have just restarted from scratch, so later game economics may be different.

I noted that the resale value of items for Gorim starts at 23.75% of the nominal cost and those for Hugo start at 8.5%. I presume this massively lower resale will apply to all vendors. This major markdown seems to be new to the full version as compared to the EA version.

I presume this was to fix an exploit where high enough faction rep would allow reselling for a higher value than buying, resulting in an infinite money exploit. This also somewhat helps the problem that it was entirely possible to gain a lot of items and money in the EA game – during EA, it was easily possible to finish with every character having near-optimal armor, a good weapon, and three useful attuned items with a couple of alternates around for swapping out. This gives the players less to strive for, i.e., disincentivizes anything that might give extra rewards, which is a large part of the game.

Unfortunately, the fix makes several portions of the game economy and mechanics become less useful or even negatives.

Consequence 1: The pricing makes consumable crafting (poisons, potions, and scrolls) money sinks rather than potentially profitable. This incentivizes players to only craft items where the ingredients are already free or they actually need and intend to use the items; otherwise, they are losing money to no good point.

But huge parts of the game design are based on crafting:

· Item drops often include ingredients or recipes.

· Places to harvest crafting ingredients are in many locations.

· Multiple vendors have recipes and for Maddy (Tower of Knowledge), that’s most of her inventory.

· Some vendors have ingredients.

· Having lots of crafting time was one of the big things that made wilderness travel more rewarding.

· The same for rest times – they may be a necessary game mechanic, but for the player, they are generally a boring task they have to get through to do more interesting things. Crafting was a way to offset that.

The change significantly lowers the overall use of all of those sections of the game.

Consequence 2: Violation of one of the principles of good game design, in several aspects.

It is a fundamental principle of good game design to reward effort and time spent.

Effort and time spent collecting recipes and crafting is now more of an economic negative.

It also makes random encounter grinding less rewarding. It isn’t a major hit because players still get XP, but it is not trivial, either. This will probably lower the time many players will spend on the game because they will grind less, but doesn’t add any value whatsoever.

Consequence 3: Recipe collecting and crafting has become a game for the rich.

Why should a player buy recipes or craft anything when the money will generally be better spent on non-consumables? That balance only changes when they already have major magic items for all of the characters and have disposable money. You need to give all character levels something useful to do, not make it a high-level-character-only playground. Besides which, higher-level characters need the system a lot less – they should already have a bunch of useful consumables and can just buy some if not. So this really took away from lower-level play.

How to fix this?

Principles first:

· Infinite money exploits should not be allowed.

· Crafting should be more rewarding.

· The problem of too much money too fast should also be addressed.

The biggest problem with the higher sale values was the infinite money exploit. But that could have been fixed by a tweak of a few percentage points – it didn’t require crashing sale values. However, just bringing the value back up, even partway, starts bringing back the too-much-too-fast problem.

It is useful to open up the details of that in order to see why it happened. In short, too many magic items are given out and too many scrolls of revivify/raise dead are given out. It takes dozens or more non-magic items to match the monetary value of a magic item, and non-magic items generally cannot match the utility of a magic item. The revivify/raise dead scrolls are not a problem if kept, and are necessary since a single final player death ends the game, but they are also both common and expensive. So careful players just sold most of them for lots of money. Between the salable magic items, and the sale of revivify/raise dead scrolls, this gives the characters lots of money. Then, between the magic items already given out and the availability of several sellers with various goods in the mid-game, suddenly every character is well equipped in the mid-game. This is the real problem. Trashing the resale rate fixes the symptoms, not the source, and even then, only fixes some of the symptoms.

That being said, I really don’t think it is likely that the developers will drop the current loot down to levels that are more comparable with balanced tabletop games and lower the availability of revivify/raise dead scrolls. That would be the real fix – fixed at the source, not by a different hack. And I think that, at this point, seriously reducing either the seller inventory or their availability would also cause more problems than it fixes. Which means there needs to be other fixes.

First fix: Crafting really needs to be an economic positive for players for all the reasons above. Increase resale percentages back up until crafting is moderately profitable. This brings the many aspects of crafting back into the game, but will require resale percentages in the 60% (calculated, not a guess) or better range in the early game. So the monetary bonus for a high faction rep might need to come down a bit.

Crafting is already restricted by ingredient availability and the time it takes, so it was fairly balanced to start out with. But raising the resale price brings back the above too-much-too-fast problem. So…

Second fix: This one is not optimal, so I don’t really like it, but it would fix one significant part of the problem. Set the resale value of scrolls of revivify/raise dead to zero or just don’t allow resale of them. That takes care of one of the major sources of extra cash, and incentivizes players to keep the scrolls around, which they should be doing anyway. A similar but more expansive idea is to lower resale rates for all non-consumable magic items, but that might take too much programming and tweaking.

If you can’t choke the source, give it an outlet…

Third fix, part 1: Raise the cost of stat-increase books by a factor of 3 times or more and make them slowly restocking. That gives players a worthy thing to spend money on for a long time – the stat increases are worth well over what the current cost is. Many players will use this repeatedly for a long time, if they are allowed.

Third fix, part 2: The characters end up with a lot of magic item enchantment recipes that they can’t get ingredients for. Let the players post quests for those items at a cost significantly higher than the nominal price. Then, a few days later, the quest finishes and the players get the ingredient(s) that they can use to enchant items. It is likely that all players will want some specific items they didn’t otherwise get, and players who like to collect will end up spending a lot of money, so this too will be used by most players.

Either or both of the third fix ideas creates a long-term money sink that players will find useful enough to use repeatedly.

Level 14
1 year ago


This also significantly reduces the utility of the Loremaster class and the Master Enchanter feat that lowers crafting time – for consumables, it just means you burn money faster.

Level 7
1 year ago

I approve of this message. It certainly is better to have a working in-game economy.

10 months ago (edited)

This post has been deleted.