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The Marketplace

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Part of a project rated as a 'Project We Like' on KickStarter and successfully backed by almost 500 people!

This is a follow-on project from Orbis Mundi2 which covered the real background of the Medieval period, dealing with all the myriad of details pretty much every role playing game to date gets wrong.

The Marketplace is a massive book covering not just what items were available and what they actually (or were likely) to cost it also covers the economic underpinnings of trade and commerce. This allows a GM to tailor the prices (mainly from the 14th century) for a specific period within the overall range covered (the 11th to the 14th centuries).

For example, the nonsense that every RPG since the original D&D has peddled to the effect that Longbows are somehow worth more than a sword when, historically (depending on the 'sword') the reverse was true ... massively so ... is not followed in the book ... the real cost of a Longbow was not the Bow, but the training needed to make a competent Archer. There are even some suggestions as how to deal with this factor in most games.

The material inside includes chapters on –

* Markets, Fairs & Shops, covering the difference between Markets & Fairs and their organisation (including Tolls and Rents) as well as information on the differences between Medieval 'Shops' and their modern counterparts (and they are significant).

* Taxes & Trade, which deals with Economic Management (such as it was), Trade & Taxation (by specific country, as much as possible) which deals with Customs duties, Sales Taxes, Sin Taxes and a variety of other creative ways in which Feudal states raised money.

* Bullion & Banks, which covers Money (Barter, Kind or Coin) and only Silver or Gold ... no medieval European states used token coinage (Copper, Bronze etc.) during the period and none used anything other than Gold or Silver; Banking, inlcuding the religious strictures against Usury and the creative way(s) money-men circumvented the rules, and Merchant Banking (Bills of Exchange - ways of paying without moving money physically around), Interest Rates, Annuities & Corrodies (term or life income streams), Moneylenders & Pawnbrokers, Mortgages and Business organisation.

* Marketplace Basics, Boom & Bust cycles, feast & famine cycles, the Availability of Goods & Services (a system for determining such), Inflation & Price Variability.

* Wages & Salaries looks at what it says, covering mainly the 13th-14th centuries (the period for which the best data is available) and Cost of Living estimates (including line item breakdowns).

* Selected Price Series provides price data for selected items for the period, showing how prices rose and fell historically for a wide basket of products.

The next Chapters contain detailed and annotated price lists and descriptions for all the goods and services covered ...

* Alchemists & Alchemy covers all those things that medieval Alchemists were supposed to be able to do ... though mainly the believable ones. No turning Lead into Gold, sadly. Includes an extensive annotated price list.

The Armoury covers the armour and weapons actually available between the 11th and 14th centuries and their prices (including how they changed over time, where relevant) as well as rules for d20 and Runequest based game systems. No multitude of functionally similar (if not identical) Pole Arms, no Leather Armour (only used by SCA and modern pseudo-Re-enactors).

Camping Gear - which was never done for pleasure, or not in the way that it might be in modern times. Covers Tents, Camp Furniture and Utensils, Containers & Packs.

* Clothes & Fashion, covering Men's and Women's clothing, the general types of clothing worn and available, the cost of various types of cloths and dyes, and how to put it all together.

Farms & Farming, tools and equipment for.

Food, Fast * Otherwise - Eating In (buying food from the Market) vs Eating Out (buying pre-prepared or takeaway ... and, yes, there were Takeaway food joints, at least in the bigger Towns!), types of food available and costs. Rules for Butchering (wild game and all), Foraging, Nutrition & Preservation.

Hardware & Tools, covering Carpentry, Smithing and Miscellaneous tools.

Home & Furnishings, covering all types of furniture and household goods for all levels of Household from peasants to the nobility.

Learning & Letters, covering Books & Scrolls, Booksellers, Scribes & Notaries, Maps. Scribal materials, Legal Documents.

Lighting & Illumination - the Middle Ages was a lot darker at night or underground than any RPG allows for ... this chapter covers the actual light sources available, how long they provided light for, and what level of light they provided (pretty dismal).

Travel & Trade, covering Speed of Travel, Technology of Travel, Land Transport (Accommodation, Cargo Costs, Equipment & Gear, Livestock, Maintenance & Upkeep); Sea Transport (Speed, Technology; Building, Buying & Manning a Ship; Cargo & Passage Costs)

The book is rounded out with a Master Price List and Appendices on Church & Religion (price of Masses and Relics) and Manors & Castles (Income of as well as generic costs to construct).

If you think that your favourite FRPG has a background that is the most accurate representation of the Middle Ages since the Middle Ages, then Orbis Mundi is not for you.

If you don’t care about historical accuracy in even the slightest respect, then Orbis Mundi is not for you.

If you do care about historical accuracy and much, much, more ...

Then The Marketplace is for you!

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Discussions (1)
Customer avatar
Joshua F January 23, 2019 9:30 am UTC
how would you personally say this compares to "grain to gold?" From the descriptions, this sounds much more in-depth, but I'd like your opinion on the matter?
Customer avatar
January 23, 2019 11:28 pm UTC
I wasn't previously aware of 'Grain into Gold' ... but, after having a look at the sample pages available online (which cover 'grain', mostly), I've got to say that, while it's not *complete* rubbish, historically, it would be close to, oh, 80-90% rubbish.

Right at the start it accepts the copper-silver-gold coinage system that dominates Fantasy RPGs which is, historically speaking, absolute rubbish for medieval europe. The system was silver-gold ... you might (did!) often get debased silver, but there were no copper coins used as such between the fall of the Roman Empire in the West and way after the end of the 14th century (the books cover roughly AD 1000-1400). Silver was the coinage metal of choice in the west and gold was a rarity for most of the period.

Their information on cereal crop yields is more or less correct (with huge caveats, covered in OM2 and The Marketplace, but not even glossed over in GiG) but their understanding of how crops were grown (a *single* ox pulling a plough?...See more
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File Last Updated:
April 30, 2018
This title was added to our catalog on May 11, 2018.
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Phalanx Games Design
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