Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Money, money, money

Dragon's Blood Wine*
After hammering out some details about the character's starting  home base and government it's time to look at the economy, or, to put in terms Ray Winninger uses, the Ways and Means of the town. First, the means.


By means, Ray is asking GMs to define the driving element in the economy of the PC's home base. How do people get what they need and want: food, necessities, and luxuries. The town needs something that it can produce or use for trade, or, at the very least, be a place where goods are gathered from different sources and shipped elsewhere.

I've already mentioned that the home base will be a shadow of it's former self. Long gone are the days where the town was bustling with visitors and commerce; now it's a town fighting to survive. This wilderness town is located on a lake at the mouth of a river and suggests to me a few things: fresh-water fish, animal pelts and tolls.

Perhaps there are not many large fresh-water lakes in the area. Fishing could sustain the town at a modest level as it tries to improve its way of life. Fish could be harvested, prepared, packed and then shipped down river to the larger towns and city-states in the more civilized areas of the League - remember, this is a frontier town.

Being a frontier area, it may also prove excellent for trapping and hunting. This could provide another source of food in addition to fishing and farming. The pelts and skins could be brought into town and prepared for shipment down river to be made into other finished products. Boy, fisheries and a tanneries in the same town. This place will have an odor all it's own!

Ok, so fishing and leather may seem pretty obvious, but tolls? Well, I see the lake and town being in the foothills. As the river runs towards the sea it is most likely travelling down hill, which may make it difficult for boats to move up stream. Maybe the town build a set of locks to raise the boats up to the level of the lake and back down again. The dock master could charge a toll for that, a portion of which would make into the Marshal's coffers, but that certainly doesn't seem like it could be very profitable. Not many people are in a hurry to head out beyond the borders of civilization.

Perhaps the locks are linked to the town's previous prosperity. So what would warrant a lot of traffic up and town the river? Since the town is in the foothills, that could mean lumber and mining. But if this traffic was the former source of the town's prosperity, what happened to all the logging and mining? A great question and one that is best answered by turning it into a secret (Second Rule of Dungeoncraft). This also servers as an excellent source for adventure locals - abandoned mines and lumberjack ghost towns!

I don't need to go into much more detail than what I have so far (First Rule of Dungeoncraft), so it's off to our second point: the way.


Ways refers to an interesting custom or aspect that makes this place unique in the realm of Arche. This will help solidify the town in the player's minds (and hopefully keep their minds off the smell from upwind). This could be something the town does or makes, a legend, a scandal...almost anything.

I like the sound of a legend, but that doesn't seem to be enough. Maybe if the legend is behind something produced in the town to help magnify it's value? Ok, try this on for size:

Legend has it that as the humans fought for their freedom from their former masters, the Archons, these vile sorcerers summoned an evil and powerful dragon to expunge the troublesome mortals from the land. A pitched battle was fought and only a great sacrifice was able to bring the dragon low. The dragon plumeted into the lake and sank below it's cold water.** Soon the lake water ran red with dragon's blood, giving rise to the lake's new name: Limno Drakos in Low Archean or Dragon's Blood Lake in the trade tongue. To this day, the lake retains its red hue.

But it doesn't stop there. Soon after the town was settled, the Marshal of the town, a soldier who fancied himself a vintner, discovered a bush of bright red grapes. He cultivated this bush, dubbed it's fruit Blood Grapes and experimented with it to produce a cask of exceptionally spicy wine. Given the dark red color and fiery flavor of the wine, the name seemed obvious: Dragon's Blood. The crest the Marshal soon adopted for him family quickly adorned every bottle of wine produced from his vineyard - a green dragon on a field of red with crossed  spear, sword and staff.

This little fact sparks another idea. Perhaps the salmon of this region have scales and flesh of a rich red color, supposedly stained by the dragon's blood. Perhaps they are known throughout Arche as Dragonfish. The river that leads from the lake to the sea could wind through the foothills for many miles, its course providing its name - The Serpentine. And finally, the name for the town seems obvious:

Welcome, weary traveler, to the town of Dragonsgate, ruby in the wilderness.


Follow Your Bliss,

*Image By Greg Wagoner [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
**Yeah, I know, this just screams The Hobbit, doesn't it? Well, that's ok by me.

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