Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Cities of Light, Coffee, commerce and economics

We are working on adding more depth and interest to the cities of light, specifically to St. Louis.  Parts of this have to do with the day in and day out economics of how one of the Cities of Light operates.

We've chosen to run British America on the Pound Sterling which means we can use colloquilisms like "Bob" for a Shilling and "Quid" for a Pound.  The quick and dirty on the Pound Sterling
1 Pound (£) = 240 pennies or pence
1 Pound (£) = 20 Shillings
1 Shilling (s) = 12 pennies or pence
1 Penny or pence (p) = 1/20th of a Shilling
1 Guinea (gn)(or Gentlemen's Pound) = £1 1s 0p

"Sixpence" = 1/2 a Shilling - This will get you a beer, wine, pot of coffee or tea or a meal
"Tuppence" (two pence) - This will get you a cup of coffee or tea or a scone or loaf of bread

One Shilling will generally get you a meal and a beer or wine. The "Blue Plate Special" at a local pub or eating establishment will generally get you a meal and two beers for the same price.  This beer is generally what we would consider "small beer", a light lager or pilsner.  The cheap stuff on draft.

People in the cities of light get paid better than those living the life of luxury in the Aureus.  This works out in a couple of ways.

1)  Workers in the cities of light get paid in Guineas instead of Pounds, so a worker making £3 in the Aureus would be getting paid 3gn instead.

2)  Because of the finite footprint of a city of light, housing is an issue.  This is entirely another subject to be dealt with.  However, what it means is housing is subsidized for residents.  Those living in a city of light don't pay rent unless they wish to live in better accommodations than they are "billeted", which most do.

3)  Basic food and health care are subsidised.  This means that staple foods are provided, this is usually root vegetables, beet sugar, and a broad spectrum of mushroom edibles.  This is primarily what the farms outside the city of light produce.  To keep the close-packed population of the city of light healthy, basic medical care is part of the daily life.  Most people do not live on only their food alotment.  Luxuries such as coffee, tea, citrus fruit, cane sugar an all manner of other things are generally added to the household budget of the residents.

So, you have a population that is higher paid, has their housing subsidised, and doesn't pay the average 1/4 of their income for food that was common during the Victorian era and still is for much of the world.  The result is, that you have people who can put away a very tidy nestegg or live a lifestyle well above what would be considered their normal means if they were living in the sun along the equator in the Aureus.

Certain things that we consider very common today would be expensive or hard to come by in the cities of light.  Citrus fruit is not grown under the Æster with the exception of the areas on the close to the equator and even there it has to be assisted.  Most citrus fruit comes from the Aureus and as such is very expensive.  There is almost no such thing as "fresh" fruit in a city of light.  The fruit flown in on fast packet ships to maintain freshness is only for the very wealthy "Still Warm from the Aureus" is a common slogan for this fruit and paying over a Pound for a single orange would not be uncommon.  Coffee and Tea are much more expensive (over double the cost) in the cities of light compared to the Aureus and other areas.  For instance, a pot of tea or coffee in the Aureus would cost a tuppence vs. a sixpence in a city of light. 

Your average laborer in a city of light is going to make somewhere between 4 and 8gn a month.  A skilled laborer such as a machinist is going to make between 7 and 10gn a month.  Crews on Æster vessels make more more due to the danger of their work.  Since there are no unskilled laborers working in the Æster as there is a minimal amount of training mandated for the work, like people who work on off shore oil rigs, the average base pay is between 8 and 12gn a month.

Jeff and I have been working over the economics of the Rise of Æster world to try and give folks a way to break out of the real world mindset when playing in the world.  This is a reason for the choice of Pounds, Shillings, Pence and Guineas.  Besides, it's very Victorian to tell someone you paid "Three Pounds Fifty" or "5 Quid" for something.


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