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The Marketplace

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Part of a project rated as a 'Project We Like' on KickStarter and successfully backed by almost 500 people!

This is a follow-on project from Orbis Mundi2 which covered the real background of the Medieval period, dealing with all the myriad of details pretty much every role playing game to date gets wrong.

The Marketplace is a massive book covering not just what items were available and what they actually (or were likely) to cost it also covers the economic underpinnings of trade and commerce. This allows a GM to tailor the prices (mainly from the 14th century) for a specific period within the overall range covered (the 11th to the 14th centuries).

For example, the nonsense that every RPG since the original D&D has peddled to the effect that Longbows are somehow worth more than a sword when, historically (depending on the 'sword') the reverse was true ... massively so ... is not followed in the book ... the real cost of a Longbow was not the Bow, but the training needed to make a competent Archer. There are even some suggestions as how to deal with this factor in most games.

The material inside includes chapters on –

* Markets, Fairs & Shops, covering the difference between Markets & Fairs and their organisation (including Tolls and Rents) as well as information on the differences between Medieval 'Shops' and their modern counterparts (and they are significant).

* Taxes & Trade, which deals with Economic Management (such as it was), Trade & Taxation (by specific country, as much as possible) which deals with Customs duties, Sales Taxes, Sin Taxes and a variety of other creative ways in which Feudal states raised money.

* Bullion & Banks, which covers Money (Barter, Kind or Coin) and only Silver or Gold ... no medieval European states used token coinage (Copper, Bronze etc.) during the period and none used anything other than Gold or Silver; Banking, inlcuding the religious strictures against Usury and the creative way(s) money-men circumvented the rules, and Merchant Banking (Bills of Exchange - ways of paying without moving money physically around), Interest Rates, Annuities & Corrodies (term or life income streams), Moneylenders & Pawnbrokers, Mortgages and Business organisation.

* Marketplace Basics, Boom & Bust cycles, feast & famine cycles, the Availability of Goods & Services (a system for determining such), Inflation & Price Variability.

* Wages & Salaries looks at what it says, covering mainly the 13th-14th centuries (the period for which the best data is available) and Cost of Living estimates (including line item breakdowns).

* Selected Price Series provides price data for selected items for the period, showing how prices rose and fell historically for a wide basket of products.

The next Chapters contain detailed and annotated price lists and descriptions for all the goods and services covered ...

* Alchemists & Alchemy covers all those things that medieval Alchemists were supposed to be able to do ... though mainly the believable ones. No turning Lead into Gold, sadly. Includes an extensive annotated price list.

The Armoury covers the armour and weapons actually available between the 11th and 14th centuries and their prices (including how they changed over time, where relevant) as well as rules for d20 and Runequest based game systems. No multitude of functionally similar (if not identical) Pole Arms, no Leather Armour (only used by SCA and modern pseudo-Re-enactors).

Camping Gear - which was never done for pleasure, or not in the way that it might be in modern times. Covers Tents, Camp Furniture and Utensils, Containers & Packs.

* Clothes & Fashion, covering Men's and Women's clothing, the general types of clothing worn and available, the cost of various types of cloths and dyes, and how to put it all together.

Farms & Farming, tools and equipment for.

Food, Fast * Otherwise - Eating In (buying food from the Market) vs Eating Out (buying pre-prepared or takeaway ... and, yes, there were Takeaway food joints, at least in the bigger Towns!), types of food available and costs. Rules for Butchering (wild game and all), Foraging, Nutrition & Preservation.

Hardware & Tools, covering Carpentry, Smithing and Miscellaneous tools.

Home & Furnishings, covering all types of furniture and household goods for all levels of Household from peasants to the nobility.

Learning & Letters, covering Books & Scrolls, Booksellers, Scribes & Notaries, Maps. Scribal materials, Legal Documents.

Lighting & Illumination - the Middle Ages was a lot darker at night or underground than any RPG allows for ... this chapter covers the actual light sources available, how long they provided light for, and what level of light they provided (pretty dismal).

Travel & Trade, covering Speed of Travel, Technology of Travel, Land Transport (Accommodation, Cargo Costs, Equipment & Gear, Livestock, Maintenance & Upkeep); Sea Transport (Speed, Technology; Building, Buying & Manning a Ship; Cargo & Passage Costs)

The book is rounded out with a Master Price List and Appendices on Church & Religion (price of Masses and Relics) and Manors & Castles (Income of as well as generic costs to construct).

If you think that your favourite FRPG has a background that is the most accurate representation of the Middle Ages since the Middle Ages, then Orbis Mundi is not for you.

If you don’t care about historical accuracy in even the slightest respect, then Orbis Mundi is not for you.

If you do care about historical accuracy and much, much, more ...

Then The Marketplace is for you!

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Discussions (4)
Customer avatar
Mikołaj S October 28, 2020 2:29 am UTC
Hi again!
Quick question. When you write about farmers yearly earning do you mean for one person or for whole housing with family? Should I divide it by number of family members or multiply?
Customer avatar
October 28, 2020 1:35 pm UTC
Offhand? No idea without a page reference! You can contact me directly at aspqrz(at)tpg(dot)com(dot)au.
Customer avatar
Mikołaj S October 29, 2020 11:19 pm UTC
Ah sure. The page is 66 and the data I'm referring to is the english farm labourer wages. Thank you for the direct contact information. Since I'm still cracking through your books I'm sure to use it with further questions but since I asked this one here I will continue also here. Thanks a lot for your swift answers!
Customer avatar
October 30, 2020 12:08 am UTC
OK. The Table on #66 is for, as it says, Daily and Weekly, NOT yearly wages. The only comment re Yearly wages is on #67 and notes that the table data is sometimes back-calculated from Monthly, Quarterly or Yearly Wages but, equally, might be calculated by extrapolating from Piecework rates. Regardless, these are for wages alone, and do not (as is stated in the first dot point on #67) normally include any other related payments in kind (i.e. in the form of accommodation or whatever) ...

That is, the daily wage is for ONE person ... the actual labourer ...

If there was more than one wage earner in a family, then there was more than one wage ... if not, not.

Of course, 7d or so a week would have been difficult to support a family of husband, wife and several children on ... but if you look at the pricelists, you could do it by eating lots of Bread or home-made Pottage made from ingredients grown on your own garden (except for the poorest Cottars who did not even have a garden...See more
Customer avatar
Mikołaj S July 15, 2020 11:32 am UTC
(extending discussion from

I'm looking at the pdf right now and I'm trying to piece from it something that I could use quickly at my table. I understand that in *real* historical setting spices, cloth, livestock and land are THE wealth but while I will be using them as payment and loot (because I love it) I want to also meet the table needs half way. Silverware of some nobles and golden or gold surfaced?? chalices inside the churches musted have a price. Vikings were bringing not only fabrics and mordants.

What I figured out with my limited knowledge, experience and your lovely book is that I might be able to piece a simple converter between materials for the item. I will use single prices instead of ranges just to make it less fiddly.

Wooden Plate costs 1/2d, Ceramic one 2d and made with Brass 4d. Since the ratio of prices is confirmed with bowls and lanterns I assume that I can convert those materials just like...See more
Customer avatar
July 15, 2020 2:03 pm UTC
Have a look at the "Selected Price Series" on pp. #76-87 which gives a better handle on average prices between AD 1200-1399 of selected goods ... metals are on #85 ... but lots of other goods are included so you should be able to work something more to your specific needs by consulting *that* in conjunction with the price lists. But it should give the sort of relativities you want.

As for silver, silver-gilt and gold tableware and suchlike, well, as in many places and times, these were as much a store of value as they were a conspicuous display of wealth. You didn't keep all your wealth in coin, you had it melted down into tableware, candlesticks etc. If you needed some cash money quickly, you could take it along to a Goldsmith or Pawnbroker (or probably any Merchant) and sell it for the precious metal content alone. Artistry may or may not affect the worth of the item.

It is my understanding that the common practise was the same as it was in later (Early Modern) times ... you...See more
Customer avatar
Mikołaj S July 15, 2020 2:33 pm UTC
Great. It is all coming together. Final question, at least for now. I'm sure that you mention it somewhere in the book but I cannot find it. When you list prices for a pound, i.e. for iron ore or mutton which pound are you using? Librum, Tower, Troy or modern?
Customer avatar
July 16, 2020 12:43 am UTC
In the 'Selected Price Series' Tables each Table indicates which measure is being used. So, for example, on page #77, the 'Average Crop Prices' are in Tower Pounds per Penny for Bread & Oatmeal, Pennies per Bushel of 64 Tower pounds for Wheat, Barley, and Oats; Pennies per cwt (which may be either the Standard 108 Tower pound one or the Short one, of 100 Tower pounds, my source was unclear) for Peas.

As it says on #76, "The Tower Pound is used for most common goods, the Troy Pound is used of high value goods often sold by the ounce."

Elsewhere most things are sold by the item, rather than by weight, if sold by weight (for example Herbs, Seasonings & Spices on #181, if sold by the pound = Tower Pound, if sold by the ounce, Troy Pound ... though if you buy a Troy Pound of anything listed there there is a slight discount)
Customer avatar
Nick J June 06, 2019 6:58 am UTC
I've got a question about some of the notation used in the book. There doesn't appear to be any explanation for the symbols attached to items on pages 71-73 (asterisk, double asterisk, etc.) for wages. I searched the PDF and came up with nothing; it's driving me slightly nuts.

Any direction or clarification is appreciated. (Great resource by the way; it really helps fill in the gaps when they pop up).
Customer avatar
Nick J June 06, 2019 7:04 am UTC
Crap. Of course I found it just after posting above. I realize why it was so elusive. I'm red-green colorblind and it is really hard to see the keyed out symbols on page 73 (the red on the orange-yellow background makes them almost invisible). Maybe something to think about if you do a revision at some point.

Customer avatar
Joshua F January 23, 2019 9:30 am UTC
how would you personally say this compares to "grain to gold?" From the descriptions, this sounds much more in-depth, but I'd like your opinion on the matter?
Customer avatar
January 23, 2019 11:28 pm UTC
I wasn't previously aware of 'Grain into Gold' ... but, after having a look at the sample pages available online (which cover 'grain', mostly), I've got to say that, while it's not *complete* rubbish, historically, it would be close to, oh, 80-90% rubbish.

Right at the start it accepts the copper-silver-gold coinage system that dominates Fantasy RPGs which is, historically speaking, absolute rubbish for medieval europe. The system was silver-gold ... you might (did!) often get debased silver, but there were no copper coins used as such between the fall of the Roman Empire in the West and way after the end of the 14th century (the books cover roughly AD 1000-1400). Silver was the coinage metal of choice in the west and gold was a rarity for most of the period.

Their information on cereal crop yields is more or less correct (with huge caveats, covered in OM2 and The Marketplace, but not even glossed over in GiG) but their understanding of how crops were grown (a *single* ox pulling a plough?...See more
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