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Old 07-05-2017, 10:16 PM   #1
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 9
Venjance has said some nice things
Post Workshopping a Kingdom

Hi all! I'm a very rare poster of stories here, but I've felt the need to pick up the digital pen once more. I'm interested in attempting a fantasy, but I was wondering if any creative individuals might talk through the makings of a kingdom.

Basically (it shouldn't be a surprise considering) I'd like to make a heavy and gain positive kingdom. I thought about the idea of coinage, and the basic structure of an economy where an item of abstract worth is used to trade for goods and services. Coins and bill notes we're used to, but at times of desperate need, they can be more use as kindling and paperweights. But if we're talking about a fantasy setting and adding magic to the mix, why not have the payment be something that has use of its own, rather than an abstract value?

If a kingdom is known for plenty, so much so that their food is what its most celebrated for, why not have their currency be edible? Through use of magic, they are able to convert their excess foodstuffs into a kind of biscuit currency, say where one day's worth of sustenance is worth 1, and works up from there.

The problem is, I don't see beyond the basic idea. What kind of trouble would this cause in other countries? How would this system be able to be abused? Is there such thing as "counterfeiting" and if so, what's the effect? Anyone have any say or thoughts? It'd be much appreciated!
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Old 07-06-2017, 02:13 PM   #2
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You know, it's funny, I've wondered what life would be like if the value of a dollar was equal to a gallon of gasoline, which is very much the same sort of economic model you're proposing in your story.

It doesn't seem sustainable somehow... Thinking about it, if your monetary unit is based on a consumable it would be worth more in times of famine than in times of plenty. If you get paid in watermelons, would you recieve the same number of watermelons per week in the winter as you would in the summer? There's a lot more watermelons to go around in the summer. If there were always plenty of watermelons to go around, then it would be akin to being paid in weeds, wouldn't it?

I was taught young that a money is work. You work a certain amount, you get so much money. More work, more money. Now that is a gross oversimplification, but that doesn't make it incorrect.

Let's say a donut is worth a dollar. What's in that donut that makes it worth a dollar? You have the wheat that needed to be planted, fertilized, watered, harvested, milled, and transported to the bakery. That's all work. Same goes for every other ingredient in the donut, whether it's mining the salt or refining the oil it's fried in. Then there's the all the mixing, kneading, frying, glazing, and decorating, plus displaying and selling them. All this work is required just to make one donut. To increase the value of the donut, one must reduce the work put into it.
The baker didn't do all that work, he paid others to do a lot of it by buying their ingredients. The work he does perform, he makes easier on himself with an electric mixer and a rolling fryer. The ingredient suppliers use automation to help reduce the work they put into their wares too.
If there was no work required to make a donut, wouldn't that make a donut worth as much as a weed as well?

Not necessarily. It's the qualities the donut posesses that gives it a value beyond the work put into it. The flavor, the texture, all the things that make it a treat beyond just its sustenance. That has to have a value, too.

Perhaps it's a magical quality of a certain kind of food that makes it worth a monetary amount? Maybe the food provides good health or long life or something which makes it so desirable? In that case, it would be easily abused by a select few, such as with diamond traders or drug cartels of today?

Just thinking out loud here....
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Old 07-08-2017, 11:56 PM   #3
Join Date: Apr 2007
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The fundamental problem is that you're taking a unit purely made to facilitate exchange by defining value and regressing by making it into a commodity. You've already recognized the problem because you're trying to decide what that unit is worth in something else--which is the function of money to begin with.

You can't redefine money because what money is is the representation of human's motives--that is, how much one person wants to give someone else. That's rooted in each person's value system. In Lumpy's upbringing that something was the amount of labor invested. But for someone else it could just be another commodity--i.e., deciding that today a doughnut is worth it to me in exchange for those three bowling balls I have sitting in the closet. All the money does is give us an agreed-upon language for negotiating an exchange that is universally transferable to another exchange later.

So to do this you're going to have to change the motives of your characters.

That has been done: it's called Utopia. In that world, the geopolitics had to be uniquely configured, too. Utopia was ideally geographically isolated and surrounded by weak neighbors, and it had vast stores of wealth in reserve that the Utopians didn't value, along with freedom in general.

Perhaps you could solve your problem by making the ultimate unit of value the "pound." Not in sterling, of course. The pound has all kinds of natural drawbacks for personal and national defense, so only those with great influence (the ability to dole these "pounds" out based on resources or persuasiveness or strength or whatever) can afford to have a lot of them, and are therefore admired for carrying them around with them (or perhaps even being carried around with them). And food has an obvious value to that end.
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