Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Looking at the OD&D price list

The OD&D price list and the impact it has on the game and games that have followed.

The OD&D pricelist
Melee Weapons
Dagger 3
Hand Axe 3
Mace 5
Sword 10
Battle Axe 7
Morning Star 6
Flail 8
Spear 1
Pole Arm 7
Halberd 7
Two-Handed Sword 15
Lance 4
Pike 5

Ranged Weapons
Short Bow 25
Long Bow 40
Composite Bow 50
Light Crossbow 15
Heavy Crossbow 25
Quiver of 20 Arrows 10
Case with 30 Quarrels 10
20 Arrows/30 Quarrels 5
Silver Tipped Arrow 5

Leather Armor 15
Chain-type Mail 30
Plate Mail 50
Helmet 10
Shield 10
Barding (Horse Armor) 150

Mule 20
Draft Horse 30
Light Horse 40
Warhorse, Medium 100
Warhorse, Heavy 200
Saddle 25
Saddle Bags 10
Cart 100
Wagon 200
Raft 40
Small Boat 100
Small Merchant Ship 5,000
Large Merchant Ship 20,000
Small Galley 10,000
Large Galley 30,000

50' of Rope 1
10' Pole 1
12 Iron Spikes 1
Small Sack 1
Large Sack 2
Leather Back Pack 5
Water/Wine Skin 1
6 Torches 1
Lantern 10
Flask of Oil 2
3 Stakes & Mallet 3
Steel Mirror 5
Silver Mirror, Small 15
Wooden Cross 2
Silver Cross 25
Holy Water/Vial 25
Wolvesbane, bunch 10
Belladona, bunch 10
Garlic, bud 5
Wine, quart 1
Iron Rations 1 week 15
Standard Rations 1 week 5

Analysis of the price list by category.

Melee Weapons: if one doesn't make use of the man-to-man combat rules from chainmail there is no point at all in having the range of melee weapons provided on the equipment table beyond providing people with names for the weapons, pricing differences with no other differences between weapons are meaningless. It's all up to the DM decision making as to when different weapons will aid or hinder and player choice for image really.

Ranged Weapons: the pricing fro ranged weapons seem to take into account value of utility and game impact over actual cost/difficulty of manufacture. A shortbow is not 2.5 times more expensive than a sword to manufacture. Do lords in D&D realms impose a tariff on bow prices to discourage people poking them full of arrows?

Armor: chain and plate armor is darned cheap. At least when it compared to the cost of ranged weapons. Helmets also serve no game defined function. this is good for newly generated fighters, they can almost all afford the armor they want. It's bad because with the exception of armoring ones steed there are no purchases down the road.

Saddles and saddle bags are really expensive. The stats for horses are at the bottom of the monster lists, a handy spot for the DM but a pain in the butt for the player.
A mule is worth 10gp more than a draft horse because are agile enough to navigate dungeons.
Ships are expensive and the only big ticket items on the equipment lists. This should encourage ocean borne adventures at least when a player purchases a pair of galleys with 60,000 gp laying around doing nothing (unless they are saving for a stronghold).

50' of rope for a g.p.- expensive indeed, day laborers sure aren't buying ropes in D&D.

Steel mirror vs silver mirror ? Wooden cross vs silver cross ? Are the more expensive items simply prestige purchases? If it is just a prestige based up-pricing why not have them cost even more?

Holy water....so what is this doing on the general equipment list? It' supposed to be special isn't it? If I showed up at the local church with a pocketful of $20.00 bills and plastic bottles to fill up at the font I'm not to sure that would go over well. I think I'd be able to take one small amount for free, tanking up on a few quarts would be frowned on.

Wolvesbane, Belladonna and Garlic....may have uses spelled out in the monster descriptions.But the PCs sure aren't clearly informed. If characters find this stuff in the wilderness should they be able to get even 1/2the price. Pizzas would sure be expensive in a D&D world.

Iron rations are good for use in dungeons and standard rations aren't. What about the cost, 15 gp a week for durable dungeon food seems plausible, hey it's dungeon food but standard rations at 5 g.p. a week? Who the heck is paying for all the food eaten in a campaign world?

Wine costs 1 gp a quart. What's a pint of beer go for at the local?

We are told other items cost may be calculated by comparing to similar items listed above.

Really? I'd wager you could do almost as well by rolling 1d100.

Okay seriously now, from analyzing the list above a loaf of bread would cost about as much as 1/3 a days satndard rations. That's going to give us a loaf of bread cost of 2.38 sp, let's round that up to 2.5 sp for a loaf of bread or 1 gp since nothing on the list is less then a gp.

The OD&D price list is geared to enable initial play. It doesn't provide for developing economic capabilities of PC's, they'll be able to purchase everything on the list in pretty short order (except possibly for ships but they'll be in every adventurers reach by 5th level or so). So why are bows so expensive relative to other weapons?

There are certainly gamist reasons for some of the pricing on the equipment list ( bows do provide a tactical advantage over melee weapons) . Food is expensive as heck and one of the biggest drivers of early level play taking a look at economics, PC's have to be successful bandits or dungeon pillagers to stave off starvation. Keeping a retinue of hirelings fed will cost more then hiring the men at arms and torch bearers.


  1. If characters can gain experience off of their profits (GP=Exp), it can really get interesting.

    Making food expensive is a good way to drive characters to hunting or scvenging. Gamist or not, it's a great mechanism to spur groups onwards into the wilderness or into those questionable ruins. But one need not be a bandit when hunting can bring in some serious revenue in its own right. That aspect seems to get lost or overlooked sometimes.

    You can attempt to get more realistic in terms of the economics, but then you wind up with something closer to Harn, Chivalry & Sorcery, etc. than straight-up D&D...though it is an aspect of the game that we've had some fun tinkering with over the years.

  2. I've certainly been prone to play with economics and equipment lists over the years.

    There's a lot of money to be made fur trapping in many D&D worlds and for some reason folks almost never notice.