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Demographics
27th-Feb-2006 08:49 pm
Some food for thought:

I was looking through my old High Level Campaigns book (from 2e) and my favorite part is a small section dealing with demographics. It works with the following assumptions: an adventure needs at least a 15 in one stat, and no stat lower than an 8 [kinda like the elite array]. Assuming everyone rolls 3d6 for stats, 1 in 10 people meet these requirements (it suggests that different stat-rolling systems simply help to guarentee that PC fall into this 10%, as everyone else uses 3d6 or an average of 10s and 11s for stats). It then assumes for the sake of argument that only half of adventures make it to the next level (so that there is a geometric fall-off). It then produces a table of the population requirements for each level of character being equal to 10*(2^level-1). So 1 in 10 are 1st level, 1 in 20 are 2nd, 1 in 40 3rd, and so on. This means that a population of 5,120 would expect a 10th level character, and a population of 1,310,720 would expect an 18th level character. So 18th level is literally 'one in a million.'

I checked this numbers against the highest NPC level stuff for building cities in the DMG (looking at only PC classes, not NPC classes). It matches up in a way, with at least the required size of a city matching the needed population for that character level, even if the averages didn't quite work out.

I always thought this was interesting, as it helps to answer how common your PCs are. Like my group of 5 level 6 PCs would be 1 in 1600. Also I was trying to use it to answer the question: how many wizards are there in a given population with the ability to make all those +1 swords that some people seem to think need to be littering the countryside. Are magic items in the "normal" game too common based on the number of people who would/could/do make them?
28th-Feb-2006 04:10 am (UTC)
Remember that that assumes that is "at one time". Over the course of say 1000 years, that number fluctuates, so given a long enough time period, the chances of there being one is almost 100%, so those pesky +1 swords could be 10,000 years old when there definately was a mage of that level.
28th-Feb-2006 05:12 am (UTC)
Totally off topic, but am I the first to notice your 8bit chocobo is running backwards?

Just wondering.

As you were...
28th-Feb-2006 02:03 pm (UTC)
No, you're not the first to notice. I really do need to cut out a frame somewhere or something :p
28th-Feb-2006 08:40 am (UTC)
hmmmm
obviously the high level campaigns book wasn't set in faerun
=P
28th-Feb-2006 01:22 pm (UTC)
This is one of the reasons why I assume magic items are effectively indestructible, and that some items can't be recreated: they were made thousands of years ago, and nobody knows how to make them any more. I'd allow a PC who did the time and spent the money to figure out how to make something, but their chances of finding somebody who knows how to make some weird, uber-powerful magic item are pretty skimpy.

Of course, that "effectively indestructible" only really applies up to the point where the wizard is throwing maximized Fireballs at people who fail their saves... she's going to get a stern talking-to as they go through the charred remnants of a sack full of ex-wands...
28th-Feb-2006 02:05 pm (UTC)
So have you banned the item creation feats in your games, or made them more difficult to get? Or do you just not have any NPCs take them (so only PCs could create items). I was thinking of trying to design a world where magic items had something like the status you suggest.
28th-Feb-2006 02:11 pm (UTC)
Event the feeblest spell (that allows a saving throw) can destroy a magic item like a scroll if the saveee rolls a 1 (only). That's why it is always a good idea to wear a Magic Hat Of Nothing At All to push all your other magic items down the table on page 177 (yes i've memorised that page number. next up: the page with grapple on).

Absurdly, the same "logic" means that a Cleric with the Pride Domain (from Dragon magazine) who typically wanders blithely and proudly into combat, is also the person you want carrying all your scrolls, as they can reroll a saving throw as a domain power.

28th-Feb-2006 11:27 pm (UTC)
The only people actually buying the +1 swords are those that can A. afford them, and B. use them. So when we think about it, there are probably just as many people capable of making the magic items as there are people able to buy and use them.
1st-Mar-2006 02:10 am (UTC)
Well, that also doesn't take into account changes in the society. Following such a structured way of building cities, every city on your world map would be roughly identical, save for its size. When you throw in the added modifications of specialization, such as a local Wizard's tower in one city, and a huge honkin Ziggurat in another city, those cities should be different in the way they treat magic items.

Basically, the more magical in nature the city is, the more items should be floating in and around it. +1 swords are reletively easy to create. Fairly low-level wizards can crank them out with no problem, as long as they have the time and the money (which is assumed to be paid by whoever is buying it).

=) It's not +1 short swords littering the countryside that grabs my goat, it's the presence of more than one +5 Vorpal Flaming Burst Longswords of Thundering, etc.

In my experience, players tend to expect a large amount of stronger magic items simply lying around, for sale, or on display. I contend that anybody who spent enough time, money, and effort to get something so powerful will either be using it, hoarding it, or have it under such careful guard that it isn't easily accessible.

Wandering into the local Magic Arms \$ Armor shop to pick up a +4 Shadowed Studded Leather is laughable, and I would direct the PC to seek out a wizened old Craft Wizard on a mountain.