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June 16, 2009, 4:03 am

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Undead Economics? Or Golem Economics?


How to get a culture from good alignment to neutral to back again - or how to get undead servants and later creations accepted as part of society.

(Warning: This takes at least a millennium. I also do not accept the cop-outs. I hope to elaborate how such may work from the ground up as a option accepted by more and more of society, eventually leading into how this may become a strong part of society and work into every level of said society.)

Starting is easy.. just remember how best to make strong bones. In RL martial artists can smash through concrete slabs with fists… the human body by default is already a premium mix of strength and flexibility, but the ‘high end’ of human bone endurance is truly amazing.

So your necromancers require assistants because recruitment is low. So they start on reanimated skeletons. At this point in time, they have just begun, and thus must steal bodies (unless somehow the setting gives other options.) The reanimated may even be corpses, considering the lack of repulsiveness this would have for necromancers. nAt some point, a powerful necromancer will want a easier on the eye assistant. However, this cannot become a status symbol internally to the necromancer community. if it is to become a pubic item for wide use later.

The mechanics are easily dealt with. Say your necromancers discover how the ‘shape’ bone, forcing it to take shapes as they wish. They combine the brute force techniques of vast reshaping bones with the fine touch of strengthening and subtle reshaping of bone. At this, the first Bone Golems are produced which have a shape that is not revolting to the public.

I follow up with a scenario that is based off a popular piece of contempory fiction.

Imagine a small number of ‘working girls’ in the bad part of the city somehow fight for their independence, or maybe they got it legally. However, they assuredly will be controlled again if they leave things as they are. Being part of the nicer looking fantasy setting, something prevents sales on the streets. So they have to at some point let down their guard enough to be on display in the various establishments. (Or maybe they are on outdoor display like in the Classical Greek city states.)

So at some point they are ivulnerable/i. Somebody suggests guards. They need guards, but who will be guards and not use that muscle or power over the girls to bargain for control? Any strong man would eventually work into a position of control . Or so they fear… and even women can control others in this situation.

So these girls meet up with a necromancer (regular client,. family, or just a opportunistic person) and decide a unthinking, tireless, damage resistant, moderate to high end bone golem works for their needs.

Now, not only can they claim that working girls get more income than other establishments, they can claim that they still have security forces protecting the establishment. (After all, they charge the same as controllers, but give most of the money to the girls themselves after a small cut to help pay for golem maintenance and other work around the establishment.)

So more girls go working here. It expands, and other establishments follow suit (either controlled by somebody or self owned). However, all establishments start using golems. Another scenario: Somebody needs a quiet secretary and after a interesting night at a establishment finds himself looking into a necromancer’s catalog. He requests a golem with a 100 rpm (or ‘fast scribing’) ability to take notes. Perhaps this is for a secretary in a private office or a private study. He finds out how good the golem is at copying down various notes and letters, and decides to switch his regular secretary* for a golem. More are more of the company switches as they learn the smaller expense of a golem in a environment with little to no risk in injury.

Third scenario: A mobster wants help at the docks, but does not want to be spending money on human labor. He finds out it is cheaper to hire undead labor. He is handed 3000§ for every load of cargo he gets off the dock and into a conveyance. A worker is 500§ a night. A cheap undead laborer works for free, and requires on average 25§ for associated costs per week. (And 75§ for a replacement.) What do you think a greedy criminal will use for labor?

Fourth: Golems with a minimal of shaping to give it a appearance that is not ‘frightful’ to the public is brought in as security for apt. buildings in the bad part of town. It’s cheaper than guards at the door, it won’t take breaks, it won’t go off duty. It is limited, but limited ability is acceptable with greater variance to the lower classes.

Soon golems are the guard of choice, and the undead are the menial worker of choice. Several generations pass, and market penetration is complete.

You can even make automated bolt shooters by bone shaping and high end int for the finished golem. And once every person who knew of a world pre-golem is gone, then acceptance is granted (to lesser or greater degrees. Every change has it’s holdouts until centuries later.. or more.) Then just start applying these to various tasks. What is used where is a matter of where it is to be used (both the job it perform and how far this is from humans. Remember it is cheaper to make undead corpse miners than finely sculpted bone golems to do the same.rnrnIn fact, the more sculpted your bone golem is (let alone that you use bone golems) the higher your status in general society.

Thus, magical research (now that bone shaping is fine art), moves into the fields of artificial tendons and muscles. (as well as skin, if that has not already been invented already. These would probably be stretching the ‘necromantic arts’ and coming into contact with the ‘material arts’.) It would be a magical equivalent to cyberpunk robotics. And eventually you get realistic creatures of unrotting flesh that are good enough to be concubines by the unsqueamish or uncaring as concubines. (This is very far future.)  ‘Realistic’ golems are sought by the upper classes. (At this point, imagine the million and one uses of a high end female android from GitS.) Assassins, assistants, or any other use is possible for the highest end of creations. (Assuming the high end reanimated are even mass produced. Some might be one of a kind units made by master artisans. I hope I have shown you a magical equivalent of robotics, if you ever want a culture in your campaign that is out of left field.

This was a concept based on the scroll ‘Umdead Economy’ by manfred. I just went a bit too far with the idea and ended up with robots. :)

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Comments ( 5 )
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Fallen Angel
September 6, 2008, 6:43
Updated: Openoffice didnt' copy over to the field cleanly. Just some clean up.
September 7, 2008, 1:14
I see that you saw ]Undead Economy.
Might I point out....X-Jacks. I would also suggest you read some of Issac Asimov's Robot Novels? These novels take place a millenium into the future, where humans have colonized 50 planets and invented robots. They chronicle the unlikely partnership between a New York City detective and a humanoid robot who must learn to work together. This is my favorite of the three main series mainly because of the relationship between the spacers (those sneaky bastards who colonized the galaxy) and the earthers (the wimps who stayed home). This series also demonstrates how Asimov is able to work within a given set of guidlines (the famous 3 laws of robotics) and yet forward fresh and exciting ideas. Plus, they are really some of his best books all around.

Robot Visions: A collection of short stories dealing with robots (this book has more stories than the original "I, Robot"). Not necessary to read, though some of the stories about Susan Calvin (robotics pioneer) are referenced as well as a good short story called Mirror Image that takes place between the Naked Sun and The Robots of Dawn (its a Elijah and Daneel mini-mystery).

The Caves of Steel: The first novel in the Robot Series has a standard murder mystery storyline in which a prominent spacer is murdered and a Earth detective is paired up with a humanoid robot to solve the mystery. This is where we first meet Elijah Baley and R. Daneel Olivaw (the R. standing for Robot).

The Naked Sun: The second novel again teams up Elijah Baley and R. Daneel Olivaw to solve another murder, this time on the spacer planet Solaria. I remember this novel as having great plays on the 3 laws of robotics (he had robots attempting murder!). A good follow up to Caves.

The Robots of Dawn: Yet another murder mystery on a spacer planet for Elijah and Daneel to solve. A little slow, but it has a great ending. Typical 'Asimov going over your head until the end where he ties everything together and you kick yourself' book.

Robots and Empire: The last of the Robot novels is not exactly a mystery, but it is still a highly entertaining novel that bears a great importance on the later series. Elija appears briefly, but his Spacer friend Gloria and his old partner, Daneel, are the main characters. A good ending to the series (watch out for those sneaky Solarians!).

All that aside, I see one problem.

I see where you are going with this. I see some of the value. However, most of us dismiss the DnD allignment orientation you are starting from here. We either don't play a game with allignments, don't play DnD, or deal with games with different social complexes.

There are lots of societies, and game settings, where necromancy is not evil, shunned, or bad. (In fact, most shamans do a lot of necromantic magic, just seldom animate the dead).

This said, you are going to have to set up this a bit more to make it useful. You are going to need to avoid the Generic Adventure Fantasy Cliches (i.e. D&D ones).

Fallen Angel
September 7, 2008, 2:10
I should slowily go over the creations used in each stage of this presentation.

The endgame realstic models might not raise a eyebrow. (Or only just..) but that's at the end of the magiological cycle.

I'm intending on using this as a guide for my other metasetting, a galaxy sized setting mixing magic and technology (depending on the worlds in question.)

Yes I find X-jacks intresting. And I'll be looking at your reading list as soon as I get to the libary.

Lastly, I get the point about alignments. I'll skip them next time.
September 16, 2008, 18:52
The most difficult part with the U/G economics is the initial backlash. Once it gets a foothold in society, the rest will tend to fall into place. As someone once said, you don't win converts to your way of thinking by winning them over, but by outliving your detractors. A new generation grows up in their place without the resistance to the idea, because they have always known it to be.

I don't think that starting with hookers is the best route. Prostitutes are not widely known for having lots of money to invest in things like this, or they wouldn't be in that occupation. I love the idea of Pimp Bone Daddy, though. I'll have the mental image of a skeleton--morphed into something like the Cursed from and wearing a big purple hat & suit--stuck in my head all day. Necromancers gaining recognition and power socially--taking over the kingdom by force, being the big hero that all the kids look up to, obliterating all other forms of magic, or whatever--might be a better tactic.

Another route is to just get people used to necromancy in general through subtle little things. Here is one example from my own campaign. A pc necromancer sells shrunken heads. He makes a nice little profit doing so, which more than covers his own expenses while moving all over the place, as player-characters tend to do. Most of them are just little curios, with some painted bright colours to be more eye-catching while simultaneously less offensive to more delicate sensibilities. Some are enchanted to move or attack, but that's a different story altogether. As he is always on the go, none of the heads he sells in a given town uses corpses from that town, and thus no one is likely to recognise a loved one. All of this serves to make necromancy a little bit more acceptable all the time.
March 17, 2009, 1:31
Interesting Post.


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