December 20, 2021

Cash Grab

Thinking about D&D economics (as one does), and I remembered a fact that doesn’t get mentioned enough. The economy of the game as it’s defined by the basic equipment tables is intentionally borked. And that’s before even thinking about expensive spell components and magic items, which are even more borked.

Consider if you will the humble longsword. For five editions now, a longsword has cost 15 gp. And most of the other items in the standard 5e equipment lists are still in the same general-cost ballpark as their AD&D equivalents.

A screenshot of part of the “Martial Weapons Table” from D&D Beyond, noting that a longsword costs 15 gp.

The problem is that the AD&D pricing that every edition since then has run with is explicitly called out as unnaturally expensive. And no newer version of the game has ever really done anything about that. From the same AD&D “Players Handbook” equipment page as above: 

From the 1e AD&D “Player’s Handbook”: “Your character will most probably be adventuring in an area where money is plentiful. Think of the situation as similar to Alaskan boom towns during the gold rush days, when eggs sold for one dollar each and mining tools sold for $20, $50, and $100 or more! Costs in the adventuring area are distorted because of the law of supply and demand — the supply of coin is high, while supplies of equipment for adventurers are in great demand.”

So D&D has always effectively had two economies — one for player characters, and one for everyone else. But unless you’re playing a game in the gold-rush-frontier milieu that A&D assumed was the default, there really isn’t any reason for that.

(Archive post from the personal blog.)

November 6, 2021


I renamed phylacteries as “soulstones” in my own games about five minutes after I became aware that “phylactery” was a word referring to an actual thing in the real world of contemporary faith, and not a relic of a dead mythology, as my very white, very Anglo-Saxon, very atheist-but-effectively-Protestant-by-osmosis self had assumed was the case when I first read the word in the AD&D Dungeon Master’s Guide

I swapped the name “golem” for “animata” for similar reasons. I’m in the process of renaming nagas and rakshasas and angels and other creatures in my own game likewise. I did these things because changing names in a game is dead easy. Figuring out how things work, figuring out how rules balance, figuring out the best way to present mechanics and lore — that can be tough.  

Changing a name, though? It’s nothing.

I’ve retroactively changed the names of NPCs in my games. I’ve changed the names of classes and monsters. I’ve changed the names of cities, nations, and historical periods when I realize there’s a name I like better for something than the name I first chose. It’s a non-event every time. 

So the idea that anybody would get bent out shape over acknowledging that the use of “phylactery” by D&D and its progeny games is culturally problematic makes me wonder what exactly it is they’re getting bent about.

(Archive post from the personal blog.)

September 21, 2021

What’s In a Name?

Need a D&D fantasy name in a hurry?! Turn any real word into a fantasy name in three simple steps!

  1. Turn any y’s into i’s.
  2. Turn any one other vowel into a y, or add an e to make it a double vowel, or make an e into ae.
  3. Throw a silent h in there somewhere.

You’re whaelcyme.

(Archive post from the personal blog.)