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Grain Into Gold
by Jeffrey V. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/03/2016 14:32:14

This is a highly useful book if you're looking for a fairly simplistic economic baseline to use for your fantasy campaign. It is complete enough that you can have a coherent underlying economic stratum without forcing you, as the GM, to manage an actual economy. It is consistent and holds together in the agregate, but is in no way exhaustive in the information it provides, and further, the discussions in the book suffer from poor editing, bad math, and somewhat arbitrary decisions on wages and prices which may, as the authors contend, be based on exhaustive research, but about which we are given little or no information to be able to judge the numbers for ourselves. If you want an economic backdrop that is more or less internally consistent and will enable you to keep your campaign world's economic system simple and reasonably capable of depicting personal economic activity, this book is for you. If you're looking for something more, such as the ability to run your characters when they decide to become Merchant Princes, you will be disappointed in this book.


There are a few problems with the book; frequently the math is simply wrong -- for example, we are told that the coinage exchange rate is 1 gold = 10 silver = 1000 copper, meaning that a silver piece is worth 100 copper. Turning to crafts, we are then told (in the example for horseshoes) that it takes roughly 10 lbs of iron to shoe a horse, which runs a total of 160 copper for the iron, or 16 silver just for the iron. Oops, maybe they meant 1.6 silver (a much more reasoanble cost)? Worse, they then continue the error in some of the subsequent discussion, and ignore it in other parts -- all very confusing. So does the blacksmith charge a month's wages to shoe a horse, or not? Similarly the authors provide some weird equation for the cost of a hoe and then tell us it's 16 sliver (hmmm, 16 silver; if we assume a silver piece is roughly equivalent to a dollar in purchasing power, that's $16 for a hoe -- which might even make sense in the USA where the daily wage, even for someone on the minimum wage, is $56 before taxes; but when a skilled craftsman, such as a blacksmith, is only making $11 a day, maybe not so much) -- only to discover that when we apply the formula as given in the book, the actual price of the hoe should be more like 28 silver (and is way overpriced as well). What it boils down to, is that it looks very much like they originally assumed 10 copper to each silver, wrote large chunks of the book that way, and then went back and retrofitted the new exchange rate without fixing the heart of the text.


The authors note that they performed a great deal of research to establish their numbers, but they never really provide much of a discussion on how all that research led them to their numbers. Instead, we are given the number "11 silver coins" as the average daily wage for common craftsman (skilled craftsmen, like jewelry smiths or armorers make more); but without any indication of WHY its "11" and not "9" or "13." It all comes across as fairly arbitrary because of that. A couple of brief paragraphs distilling their research and assumptions for the reader would make this all very much more understandable to the GM looking for valid information. Similarly, such a discussion would greatly benefit the GM, because then s/he could more easly explain why wages might be different in one place than another given a clear understanding of the underlying factors involved. Mind you, no one wants an economic text book for this purpose, but at least SOME explanation of where the numbers for wages came would help GMs enormously -- especially the GMs that need to change the numbers for their own campaigns, since such an explanation would help them do so logically and consistently.


I will note in passing that the numbers ("11 silver" for a common craftsman, like a Blacksmith) make more sense to me than other numbers I've seen bruited about in various games and supplements that make an effort to supply econmoic details and rules (The Fantasy Trip -- I'm looking at you!), where things always seemed just a little too "modern" in terms of prices and wages, and to that extent I prefer these numbers as a baseline, but it still would have been more useful if we were given a better grasp of where those numbers came from.


The heart of the book for most GM's will be the massive price-listing found at the back of the book. It seems internally consistent, and I am not seeing any obvious math errors here, and it even matches, for the most part the discussions of specific examples earlier in the book (skipping the egregiously wrong previous discussions, of course), and interestingly enough, here the price of locally manufactured hoe is given as 6 silver coins. One of the more useful features of the Price Tables is the adjusted prices taking into account the distance (in terms of days of travel) that an item fetches in more distant markets. That 6sc hoe can cost as much as 31sc if it has to be carried more than a month to get to the market it's being sold in! Given the state of travel in the average fantasy world, this seems pretty likely; though GM's running a more civilized region (with well patrolled and maintained roads and effective anti-piracy policies) may want to consider simply using the "nearby" column for most trade goods that have to be transported long distances -- the risk is substantially less, and the higher prices would probably get a merchant lynched in such regions. The price tables are exhaustive and probably make the pdf worth the $7.50 being asked for it all by themselves. Much of the rest of the book is a good and useful source of information (though parts need to be lined through by the reader and worked out for themselves), and overall I give it 4 stars for doing pretty much what it set out to do. I'm knocking a star off though because of the internal errors and gloss-overs which make it much harder going than it really should have been to read.


What would have made it better? Well, a good editorial review prior to publishing, of course. But in addition, some tables or at least some useful principles on how to run the slightly larger "macro-economy" that your players might interact with if they choose to trade goods for themselves (which, sooner or later, most players seem to get around to doing). Hopefully, at some point, someone will write up such a system for Fantasy RPGs; but until then, I can only recommend the old Metagaming microgame Trailblazer which provides both a quick operational system, and the necessary tables to let the GM establish supply and demand for various commodities between trading centers as well as to allow fluctuations in supply and demand based on actual economic activity.


Overall? A good book that missed being great due to sloppy editing and poorly explained background data. Four stars, and worth the price in my opinion, even if just for the price-lists.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Grain Into Gold
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Legend Quest GOLD
by Lou T. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/23/2016 14:01:30

Love Legend Quest. Easy system to play and run. Everything you need to start a camaign in one book.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Legend Quest GOLD
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d1000 Pockets
by Asaph L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/05/2015 21:32:37

A very good standard for judging a generic supplement, for me, is how many times I have to tab out of the PDF to jot down a new idea that came to me through the material that I am reading.


Based on my voracious reading of D1000 and how many notes, sparks, ideas, such came to mind in these pages, we have possibly the finest BE product yet; and also the most versatile. You can use it for so much more than it is intended for; And, given that BE users and LQ players are imaginative folk...well, this is a treasure!


I can see more coming in this line and that is pretty exciting. My favourite random item so far...a golden cube, Ancient Coin, Dwarven.....I mean, there is an adventure right there!


Clear text, clear formatting; ingenious design of the tables that are like no tables I've ever seen. Go ahead, just buy this and see what you're missing.


Bravo BE!!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
d1000 Pockets
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100 Character Histories
by Asaph L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/25/2015 08:42:19

Another excellent product from Board Enterprises; offering for both Legend Quest game system and as a generic supplement.


As GMs, we often sit and try to think of NPCs to help flesh out our world; all too often thinking that what we come up with seems just not quite right, or too cliche, etc. It happens, all the time, and if you've never used a Board Enterprises NPC product before, try this one. Fitting nicely alongside their Archetypical Characters sup, this amazingly inexpensive and versatile list is just what you need. Inside there are many creations, simple, easy to fit, versatile ideas for characters that you can find a spot for in any campaign. If you are lucky enough to be using Legend Quest anyway, these need no tinkering. If you are playing some other system, you may start to wonder about how much easier and simple these characters are to record and use...check out the Game; for 12 bucks you can have the rulebook that will change your RPG life.


As for the supplement, it is the usual sort of offering from BE; simple, very printable with minimal art, all info and no fluff. The characters described inside will start to take seed very quickly. Each character is often a Spark itself for a quest or campaign idea. Integration is only limited by your imagination. Josten takes ideas and spins them into new directions, for our benefit. Bang for your buck is the Board Enterprise style, and that is what you get with 100 Character Histories. Don't think, just buy it.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
100 Character Histories
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A Baker's Dozen Archetypal Characters
by Asaph L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/06/2014 23:44:32

I am always excited to see a new Board Enterprises product "hit the shelves" here at RPGNOW. It means that I get to spend some pocket change that is equal to the tax on most other products of its scope, quality and substance. Thus I never has to hesitate to purchase, knowing that I'm going to get something good here.


So, 13 Archtypical Chracters, in 3 stages of advancement, retro-fittable (a word or not?) to at least five to 10 races, depending on your game. That amounts to around 400 possible ready-made stats, backgrounds, attribute sets, skills-sets, MO's, and equipment bundles for me to place anywhere that I need. Do these characters have names, complex backstories and familiars?...No. That's for me to decide. However with one character I can create a fully fleshed out party of attached NPCs ready to go, with Campaign-specific names and backstories (if any) and I'm ready to go; for LegendQuest, character creation can SEEM daunty to the unitiated, but that is simply a matter of having unlimited control during the process with LQs point based creation system. However, that said, this product let's me ALWAYS have characters ready to go, with a name and some tweaks for setting.

If you are a newbie to LegendQuest, Josten gives us a useful tutorial at the end of this supplement for creating your own characters, and it IS a useful, quick way to get yourself into a creation groove. However, no need when you can tweak these premade characters (or use them as-made) in your campaign, be you a player or GM.

I have been slowly adopting LegendQuest into my story mechanics for quite some time now, ad find it to be a wonder for my low magic campaigns; where most Paizo and friends products and systems are heavily weighted to either melee damage or magc-oriented emphases. LQ is about roleplaying, and gives me the freedom and great supplements like this to spark my imagination, whatever I have in mind.


A Baker's Dozen Archtypical Characters gets a solid Five Stars for giving me a dangerous bunch of adventurers and NPCs for a yankee buck. And not only that, Boad Enterprises gave me a product filled with characters that I MAKE MY OWN, just by filling in some details. No proprietary settings, names, equipment or magic rescrictions or insane abilities, just characters ready for adventure. And for me, being a bit skimpy on fleshing out the numbers sometimes, I can fit any of my character ideas into these "suits" without any difficulty.


BTW, these characters are useful in your PFRPG or any OSR campaigns as well. The conversion process is easy, but try LQ, you will never feel fulfilled again without it.


For me, the Sword & Board Warrior, Prospecting Warrior, Mentalist Spellsinger and Illusionist Scout immediately found a home in my current story, giving me stats for my adventurrs beyond vagueries and forcing me to print them a decent sheet and find a good picture on DeviantArt for them. Oh yes, do yourself a favour and have a folder of character portraits to match up with these characters, it'll spark backstory, quirks and make it all come together that much easier.


Thanks BE! A.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
A Baker's Dozen Archetypal Characters
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Grain Into Gold
by William A. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/13/2014 23:00:07

Grain Into Gold is a very solid attempt to introduce a level of economic realism to fantasy games. The writing oft times has a tongue and cheek tone to help break the monotony of discussing economics and does a decent job of helping engage the reader.


The authors certainly rely upon guesswork, but it is logical guesswork. Still, this can easily leave the reader doubting the validity of the math when looking at the example price chart at the back, especially given how radically different the values are from most games. Even considering the margin of error introduced by the guesswork, when stopping to think about the numbers, they made far more sense to me than those in most gaming books.


Perhaps the biggest failing is that Grain Into Gold focuses almost exclusively upon a western market, giving little to no consideration for crops and goods outside of the western mindset (e.g. no rice).


Perhaps the most misleading value is actually gold. Though the authors admit that their gold estimate is inaccurate, they stick with it, keeping a 1g to 10s ration that is popular in most games rather than a realistic ratio. This skews some end values as a result, most notable that of gold.


Perhaps the area with the most room for improvement is the price charts. Where some items, such as clothing, are covered in extreme detail, others, such as weapons and armor, are not. Given that most gamers more readily want to know what a sword will cost than a heavy wool sweater, this seems to be a bit of an oversight.


If you set these flaws aside and focus on how the prices are derived, then you can adapt the methodology to estimate the value of goods in both a medieval setting and beyond with reasonable accuracy. This is the greatest take away from the book. Lessons are provided for everything from walnuts to chain armor, discussing everything from harvesting to manufacturing to transport and taxes. It all starts with how much surplus food a farmer can produce. If you pin your economy to that and follow the logical steps from it, then you are golden.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Grain Into Gold
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City of Rhum
by Asaph L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/30/2014 19:21:05

Everything a GM wants in a city/base, all info, no waste, for a tenth the price of similar shiny, splashy but much less flexible such sourcebooks that I see available. Buy it, you just cannot be disappointed, unless you aren't the type of GM or have players that don't care about details and specifics of a great, fully fleshed out home base. Even then, there is so much to take away from this supplement. Another five-star product from Board Enterprises.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
City of Rhum
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Legend Quest GOLD
by Asaph L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/30/2014 16:55:22

This system is a realistic, congruous mechanism that allows for a greater emphasis on detailed roleplaying. Best used by veterans of the gaming genre (best appreciated by them), the system and supplements create a family of sourcebooks that do not waste an inch of space. By far the best bang for buck I've encountered in my 20+ years of roleplaying. I do not even miss having splashy full page color images and borders/fonts. If you truly "get" Legend Quest, you will realize that these are not helpful or valuable in terms of adding to the game mechanism, they are at worst limiting and cost prohibitive.

I have been slowly switching from a bastardized d20/2e mechanism to LQ over the past year. Out with the BS, in with the fun. I have spent more time with Board Enterprises products than any other publisher. BE and Raging Swan give me more than enough of what my game needs.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Legend Quest GOLD
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Urban Developments
by Asaph L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/26/2013 09:58:47

Like all of Board Enterprises' products, Urban Developments is well worth the money, with more history, useful information and explanations of fantasy life than one could extract from even the largest and most well-thought-out campaign settings. Think of these products as the steward who manages a campaign behind-the-scenes; it's the details that make it all work well, and if a GM doesn't invest in the details, things can quickly get too out-of-control and the players can feel that they don't really know the world that their character's inhabit. Grab the bundle of these products and spend a couple of days reading and then let it soak into the way you approach your world and how you make sense of it. Recommended for GM's, authors, designers; whoever wants to get closer to seeing their worlds as a place where not only do campaigns and adventures take place, but where the characters and stories are grounded in the same sort of pseudo-reality that make our favorite novels so compelling.
I remember when David Eddings released "The Rivan Codex" which was a books "about" the world in which his set of 12 books in the Belgariad and Mallorean (and the two bios) had taken place. I loved it, because I loved reading about the little mundane thinhgs as much as the adventures, they made this world that I loved so real. Urban Developments (and BE products in general) runs along the same lines, offering up a closer look at the everyday. BECOME THE EXPERT OF YOUR OWN WORLD.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Urban Developments
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Grain Into Gold
by Chris C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/05/2013 11:23:50

An extremely thorough breakdown of a fantasy economy. Some may call it dry, but I like to to think of it as scholarly and well done with enough humor to keep the reader's interest. Those involved in fantasy world building would do well to pick up a copy and apply its principles to your projects.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Grain Into Gold
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Coins of Fletnern
by Christopher S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/08/2012 01:16:47

A rather lengthy overview of the coinage used in a particular game world. At first glance it might seem useless if your game isn't set in that world, but it doesn't take long to find some great information you could port into just about any game system. Instead of just using a standardized system of coinage, breathe a little life into your game's monetary dealings with new coins for each realm.


This guide sets up the predominate coinage as a base and compares other countries (or city-states) coinage to that base. Coins can easily be compared to US coinage for a real-world comparison as well. The author takes some space to explain alternative exchange systems and even why barter might be preferred in some areas.


Some designer notes and instructions for making alterations to suite your own needs are included, but I think most GMs could easily borrow elements from this supplement. After reading this booklet I plan on incorporating some new coinage into my game world.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Coins of Fletnern
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The Royalty
by Dennis S. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/30/2012 12:42:22

The Royalty is another useful niche product from the people who brought us Grain Into Gold. It does what it purports to do: it comes with a boatload of NPCs. It's sadly not as much of a look at processes as Grain into Gold is – it's a collection. If you need a menagerie of connected NPC aristocrats of various sorts, many of which are relatively generic if not for the intricate family lines, then this would be a useful product. I find that the NPCs could've used some more expansion, and more of a variance – there's an awful lot of whining miscreants and cheeky gossips.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Royalty
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Legend Quest GOLD
by Timothy D. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/21/2012 07:07:01

Great game. Concise system. The use of percentages makes it intuitive and approachable. Well done.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Legend Quest GOLD
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Coins of Fletnern
by Paul M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/30/2011 22:02:14

A good read and has provided an number of ideas for my own world's economy and coinage. I would have liked to have seen some comparisons to other world coinage and older coinage but apart from this it was a good expose.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Coins of Fletnern
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City of Rhum Modules [BUNDLE]
by Shawn S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/16/2011 12:50:37

I found this series to be weak and formless, the whole thing was so amatuerish I felt cheated. The City wouldn't work in any world unless really modified, and it seems incomplete even for the area the book is based in.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
City of Rhum Modules [BUNDLE]
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