Today’s post is both about the commerce and economy of the Children of Earth, and also about mechanics for the prequel game, Grand Assembly.
Before we get too far into this, keep in mind that these things are here to enhance your play. If something seems like it will get in the way of that—breathe, and then figure out what will work for you. You won’t break the game by changing things around to make them simpler if it adds to your enjoyment.
Each of the four primary cultures have a slightly different take on the matter of currency and money. The Children of Earth have to be able to not only navigate between these different systems, but do so in a way that maintains their autonomy and that allows for exceedingly long delays between transactions.
Thus, for the Children, they predominantly operate with three general types of transactions, which they buy and sell both to the cultures that they interact with and amongst each other. They have three devices that they use to negotiate this:
The Children are traders first and foremost. They do not use a standardized representational currency, but instead talk in terms of trading goods and services both in the present and in the future.
To discuss each of these in turn, at a very high level:
Stock represents a unit of ownership in a ship or a fleet. No stocks pay dividends and most are passed down generation to generation within a single family. It is considered a great loss of face to sell stock you may own outside of the family, but it does happen when families or individuals run too hard down on their luck.
By way of example, you may own one (or many) unit(s) of stock which represents a unit of interest—ownership—in a ship. You may also have gambled that away because you were down on your luck… with the option to buy it back at a later date (more on that in a moment).
Futures represent an agreement to buy or sell something on a given date. So by way of example, you may have a Future that agrees to sell 100 gross of self-sealing stem bolts for a given amount of gold in 30 years (at the next grand assembly) to another family of Children. Now in 30 years they have to make sure that they have 100 gross of self sealing stem bolts and the other family has to make sure that they have enough gold to cover the deal.
These, of course, can be traded. So if I happen to have a good price on self-sealing stem-bolts, I might buy your Future by giving you 50 gallons of Nurani Drinking Vinegar which I don’t have another good way to get rid of. You, however, are on your way to one of the worlds around the Nurani, so you can make a tidy and quick profit off of it.
Futures may have penalties written into them or violation of them may involve being brought up for violation of the Merchant Law.
Finally, there are Options. Options represent the right to purchase (or sell) something on a given date for a certain amount, and if you don’t exercise it then it simply expires. So I may have the option to sell 100 gross of self-sealing stem bolts to a group of Fanseeth for a given amount of gold 30 years from now, but if I don’t exercise it then it simply expires, which means I have suffered a financial loss but at least I have not reneged on my agreement.
There are, of course, more complex versions of all of these, but that’s the high level version of them.
Note: If you are familiar with these devices in the real world be advised that I don’t want to be calculating Black-Scholes mid-game, so we are dramatically simplifying things and abusing the terminology slightly, e.g., our Futures are closer to Forwards, we’re avoiding the words ‘call’ and ‘put’, etc.
So what does this translate to in-game?
First, we will be giving each group and/or individual in-game a certain set of basic stock, options, and futures to play with that you picked up on your last trade route, which we’ll also be giving to you. None of these will be especially complex, but will give you a basic template to work with.
Second, we are emphasizing this as a Progressive style game in this regard. If you don’t like the hand you’ve been dealt, make something else up! If you want to play with being an unsuccessful trader who has bargained away some of their family stock, then don’t let the fact that we gave you a great set of options and futures and stock deter you! If you think you should be playing a well-to-do trader then by all means, add more stock, options, and futures. Make it up and have fun with it. You don’t need our permission. You won’t break the game.
If you want reassurances on this point, by all means come talk to us.
Third, on that note, make it as simple or as complex as you can have fun with. If you really, really want to play with complex options that follow a Bermuda option model and have futures that trade based on the average price of a commodity over time—go for it! If you want everything to be utterly simple, you can do that too.
If you want to consult either direction, please feel free to ping us.
As to trade routes. Part of the goal of this assembly is establish who has what trade routes for the next cycle. You have what happened last time, but will that be what things look like next time?
The different parties will draw lots at the start of the game to determine the order of who chooses the trade routes. You can trade your place in line—so if you are 2nd and you want to sell your right to select your trade route to the person/group who is 4th (how else are you going to get 100 gross of self-sealing stem bolts?), then by all means do so. Everything is tradeable.
You can of course vary your route, make up an entirely new one, or whatever else strikes your fancy, but we’ll provide some basic defaults to make life easy if that’s not your sort of game.
Let us know if you have any questions!