Thursday, 17 December 2015

How Much, How Big ?

Horses (from the blog les-verts-tacots)

This is a question which arises in many situations during a game, and many settings propose guidelines or even price lists. But in an economy based on exchange, it is difficult to set any price list, and in an oral culture, accounting documents are missing. We are therefore obliged to extrapolate from reports written by foreign visitors. The following guidelines try to give a comprehensive estimate of numbers to be found among nomads, either for exchange or to estimate the size of an encounter. I based these numbers on reports from visitors or on the amount of beasts sold every year at the town market in Bukhara.

The following numbers are very rough, may vary widely and are only given as guidelines to create an encounter or as background elements for player characters.

Size of a camp
The camp of an important Bey can be as small as 50 yurts, split in groups of 3-6 yurts, each one housing a family. Such a camp would have 5-6000 heads of sheep and 3-600 horses. Goats, cows and camels are less numerous. The usual ratio between animals could be the following:
10-20 heads of sheep / horse
50-100 heads of sheep / goat
1 cow / 10 horses
1 camel / 5 to 20 horses (depending on the area)
An average family consisting in 6 members is expected to have 4 yurts and take care of 40 horses, 400-head flock of sheep, a few goats, 4 cows or yaks and 4 camels. In desert areas, increase the proportion of camels. Since camels and cows have a similar usage, it is possible that an isolated family lacks one of them.

Costs of goods
These can widely vary according to variety, scarcity or quality. The BRP rule using item value levels instead of money is therefore well suited to this setting. One can use sheep as kind of reference, if not as currency.
Cheap items are supposed to be made by the Nomads themselves.
One sheep is an “inexpensive” item.
An average item like an average horse costs about 10 inexpensive ones (sheep).
An expensive item “costs” at least 10 horses or 100 heads of sheep. For example camel, slave, metal armour, high quality silk dress, or wolf fur coats. Of course, there is no price limit to expensive goods.

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