[MUD-Dev] Re: [DSG] Concrete idea behind currency (was: The Monad and Broken Economies)

Paul Schwanz paul.schwanz at east.sun.com
Fri Apr 6 00:27:53 New Zealand Standard Time 2001


shren wrote:

[snip]

> Monads would be manufactured by players and not found on monsters.
> Now, you have a concrete idea behind the money, and the money is
> assembled by a known quantity of work, instead of having the
> well-known properties of MUD gold.  The money is valuated by it's
> components and thier use instead of by NPC prices.  I think that a
> simple understanding of the source and "absolute value" of money
> might alone change the way it is handled in games - but then again,
> I'm an inexperienced optimist with odd ideas.  >

I recently wrote a concept piece that addressed basing money on a
standard to help players see the "absolute value" behind the
currencies in the game.  I'm not an economist, nor do I play one on
TV, so please be gentle with your critiques. ;) The setting for the
story is World Fusion's Atriarch, so my apologies for any alien terms
(pun intended).  Some of the goals behind the concept piece included.

  -inventing a sufficiently alien currency to replace the overused
  "gold standard"

  -giving the currency actual value by tying it back into the
  engineering and maintenance of functional plants

  -explaining the existence of "smart" plants and why Atriana is near
  the bottom of the botanical "tech tree"

  -making it very challenging to obtain useable resources so that
  introduction into the economy is controlled

  -having the challenges consist of much more than killing critters
  (allowing non-combatants to play an important role)

  -creating a resource atmosphere similar to the Gold Rush of '49

  -having specific tasks in the process which are geared toward a
  particular species or skill set

  -having various factors in the process which allows tweaking the
  economy to some degree

   -giving control of the "faucet" and the "drain"

   -trying to fill in a small part of the cultural vaccuum that still
   exists in Atrianna

   -providing an interesting atmosphere for a trading company, a
   player-run bank, or other economic endeavors to enjoy



*******************************************

CLASS: HST 401 - The Modern Age and Current Events
PROFESSOR: Muri Erk'Tumi
DATE: 5/12/30997
LECTURE NOTES: 4 of 8

"Enurium and Lupis Veronii: Catalysts of the Bio Energy Revolution"


Enuri Verdestaf's Discovery

Just over 200 salvod ago (Salvod 30792) geologist Enuri Verdestaf
surveyed the aftermath of an unusually severe atriquake west of the
Jurtka Minarets on the Unarran Continent. During his exploration near
the epicenter, he noted a bright green mineral capillary running
across the sheer face of a newly formed promontory. Verdestaf could
not recall ever having seen such a mineral described or documented, so
he investigated further. The result was the discovery of a substance
with very unusual properties. Being a rather pretentious Lokai,
Verdestaf decided to call the new element Enurium. Initially,
Verdestaf was astounded by the incredible weight of the mineral. It
was heavier than any previously discovered substance, by several
magnitudes. But fate determined that a deeper understanding of
Enurium's potential would fall to another scientist halfway around the
globe.

Sartir Iklumik's Observation

Earlier that same salvod, deep within the Ukikilu Swamp of the Cavolon
Continent, premier botanist Sartir Iklumik strove to unravel a
biological mystery. In her lab, she studied an extremely rare plant
she had named Lupis Veronii. By carefully controlling the nourishing
environment of the lab, she was just able to keep the plant
alive. However, she'd exhausted her comprehensive knowledge of the
plant world in attempts to encourage the L. Veronii to bloom. She
hadn't coaxed so much as a single bud from the stubborn plant. This
was extremely frustrating, since the L. Veronii's genetic code
demonstrated extreme versatility. Iklumik was convinced that
cross-pollinating the plant with Atriana's mundane fauna would lead to
the creation of exotic plants like nothing seen in recorded botanical
history. The versatility of the L. Veronii would, in effect, allow
scientists to "program" a new breed of "smart" plants with incredible
potential. But the genetic advances must start with the L. Veronii's
pollen, and for that, she must convince the plant to bloom. As the
turnings passed, she clung to one logical conclusion as her only hope
against despair: it was impossible for this plant to exist except that
some other L. Veronii had bloomed in the past.

Later that salvod, and quite by accident, Iklumik's voracious appetite
for scientific papers of any origin led her to Verdestaf's published
work, "Enurium: The Really Heavy Element." Tucked neatly into
Verdestaf's laboriously detailed and self-aggrandizing description of
his "momentous" discovery was a paragraph that seemed to reach out and
mercilessly squeeze Iklumik's edrenal gland. Almost as an aside,
Verdestaf mentioned finding a strange plant growing from the cliff
wall near the Enurium capillary. The report sounded very much like the
L. Veronii in Iklumik's lab, except that it included a detailed
description of the plant's flower. In a rather un-cavolonian fit of
impetuosity, Iklumik awakened her apprentice with an urgent request to
acquire some Enurium by any means possible and have it flown
immediately by courier to the lab. The weight of the element dictated
that only a very small amount could be delivered via Shap, but it
arrived within three turnings. Iklumik carefully placed the mineral in
the soil of the laboratory growing pot, nestled within the delicate
root structure of the L. Veronii. Within another three turnings, she
had her flower.

Events in the lab unfolded rather quickly after the initial
blooming. Iklumik's renown as a serious scientist coupled with her
unbridled and uncharacteristic enthusiasm soon convinced botanists
throughout the lab that she was on the brink of important
discovery. Within a salvod, the entire lab was preoccupied with
cultivating and breeding the L. Veronii. As the salvods passed, the
botanists found that the Enurium was most effective when ground to a
powder and used as fertilizer. Later, they cross-pollinated the
L. Veronii with a large gourd bearing plant, yielding a crude
precursor of Enuris Lentilii. Of course, you know E. Lentilii by its
common name, the E-plant. It is the "refining" plant used today to
purify Enurium and store it in its nutrient rich, fluorescent green,
gelatinous form (E-gel) within the E. Lentilii's resilient gourds
(E-pods). You are all familiar with the numerous exotic "smart" plants
that are now "powered" by E-gel, and it seems additional strains are
engineered each salvod. E. Lentilii was just the beginning of what is
now known as the Bio Energy Revolution.

The Enurium Rush of S30849

Since initial demand for Enurium was limited, Verdestaf's small
capillary was more than adequate to the needs of a few botanists. But
in '842, with the mass marketing of Bosir Orsimik's "hinge plant,"
demand for "E" began to grow exponentially. By '846, the initial
capillary was depleted. The search for new sources of E began in
earnest. Then in '849, just when the traditionally stoic botanists
were beginning to express concern, Furmi Sta'imin fell into a crevice
near the south rim of the Karan Plateau. It was five turnings before
someone heard his cries for help, but when they pulled young Furmi out
he seemed in surprisingly good spirits. After determining that the
land was unowned, Furmi claimed the crevice and the surrounding area
under the "Ten Ecre Act." Soon after officially registering with the
local survey office, he was in the business of mining E. Most
historians believe that Furmi saw a Lupis Veronii in full bloom near
the bottom of the crevice on the first turning of his ordeal. Some
more fanciful tales claim that Furmi was not crying for help, but that
instead he was shouting for joy the entire five turnings.

It didn't take long for word to spread. The "rush" was on. Many
venturous spirits traveled quite a distance to claim their ten ecres
upon the Karan Plateau. Some of the "claims" made their owner rich
overnight. Most did not. Though much too deep to have advertised their
presence with Lupis Veronii, several large veins of E were discovered
deep beneath the plateau's surface. Some unknown combination of
geological attributes qualified the plateau as the single largest
discovery of E in the short history of the mineral.

The Enurium Industry

Prosperity did not fall only to those fortunate enough to register an
E producing claim. A few enterprising spirits realized early in the
rush that specialization and organization of effort could greatly
increase the efficiency of the E industry. As it happened, all five
species were capable of contributing something unique to the industry.

The Lokai are best suited to finding veins of E. Whether through their
extensive knowledge of geology, their years of experience with
surveying, or simply some sort of an innate connection they have with
Atriana itself, it is an undisputed fact that the Lokai discovered
fully 80% of all E producing veins.

The Unarra contribute to the E industry by training and handling the
beasts needed to transport the heavy material. Unarran caravans
constantly move between the mining sites and the hydro
mills. Additional caravans transport the E-powder from the mills to
the E-plant refining fields.

The Eshlar's construction prowess is in high demand as well. In
addition to the many buildings needed to house workers and store ore,
Eshlar engineers are responsible for the struts used to prevent
cave-ins, the work engines needed to drill through rock and move
massive amounts of dirt, and the hydro mills where the ore is ground
to powder.

The honor and fierceness of the Tyrusin warrior is the backbone of
security in the E industry. Whether you need to protect a caravan, a
storehouse, or your own physical health, no guard is more trusted or
capable than the Tyrusin.

The Cavolon refine E and breed the "smart" plants that convert E's bio
energy into various useful functions.  Many suspect that the Cavolon
are planning a hostile takeover of the entire E industry, but others
point out that Iklumik's lab did not have to share its initial
discovery in the first place.

Overall, the E industry has served to unite the species of Atriana as
they have become dependant upon the contributions of one another. This
lends validity to the Lokai philosopher, Pol Rouvican's famous
proverb, "When we celebrate our differences, all Atriana will unite."

The Enurium Economy

As recently as '968, the growth of the E industry began to have a
serious impact on the economy of Atriana.  Perhaps no where is this
more evident than in the creation of the E-credit. A large
entrepreneurial trading company that offered end-to-end solutions for
the E industry began using chits marked with its logo to facilitate
energy transactions. The chits were of many different denominations,
each serving as a promissory note for a specific amount of refined
E-gel. The trading company guaranteed that you could trade your
E-credits in at any of their trading posts and immediately receive the
promised amount of E-gel from their vast storage tanks.

This was a real boon for the E industry, since it helped create a
standard for the various hand-offs occurring in the production
process. With E-credits, a speculative Eshlar miner can pay a Lokai
surveyor an agreed upon sum for the Lokai's ten ecre claim. Since the
E-credits are honored by the trading company, the Lokai can turn his
yet to be mined ore into E-gel without having to worry about mining,
milling, transporting or refining.  Rather than investing heavily into
the production of E, the Lokai can take the credits and move on. In
exchange for this convenience, the Eshlar can purchase the land from
the Lokai for much less than the value of the ore it contains. Then
the Eshlar can take the raw ore from the mine and sell it for
E-credits to the Unarran caravans, giving no thought to milling,
transporting, or refining the ore. And so the concept goes, on down
the production line.

Other trading companies were quick to follow suit, and it became
standard practice to honor E-credits with any reputable company's logo
stamped upon it.

HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENT

For the next class, be prepared to discuss the United Council of
Species' proposal to standardize and insure E-credits at the global
level. You should be familiar with the pros and cons of the proposal,
since you may be called upon to debate one side of the issue.

For extra credit, in two hundred words or less, write out what you
think of the Muklawi Calendar. Was the discovery of E momentous enough
to merit changing the way we record history, as Vrin Muklawi proposes? 
Do you find appealing the notion that we are living in 205 Age of
Enurium (205AE), or do you think we should stick with what's worked
for nearly 31000 Salvod?

ADDITIONAL READING

Torpor Storms and the Enurium Genesis, by Doktu Finselfi: A
comprehensive look at how torpor storms might be responsible for the
birth and regeneration of Enurium deposits.

***********************************************************

--Phinehas

"Making Atriana a place, not just a game."

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