...As for the economics of the Black and Grey markets - excellent questions. Of course this is a world by world challenge, but I am getting some pretty good ideas myself on approaches to this. Of course, there's the big wigs and what they do. If you read some of the other posts on the subterranean monsters recently you'll see that I'm heading off in that direction. What are dragons up to, really? What do Mind Flayers really want out of life? What do they trade? Is gold really the universal currency? If not, why not? According to Alexander Del Mar, a very eloquent economist, gold is, in fact, the ideal medium of exchange for a variety of reasons. So if that's true for Elthos, and it remains true for the Big Kahuna's, what else do they trade for? The list goes on and on. Well again, it's going to be a race by race decision and also highly subject to local variables, such as terrain, resources, politics, religion, etc.
So I think the thing to do is to individually weave scenarios and campaigns that deal with these questions, and craft stories that resolve them.
I have to stress again, to myself at least, not to jump overboard with this idea. I am concerned about the literary aspect of these concepts, and I do not want Elthos to devolve into a series of plays about Orc politics, as amusing as that might be. It would be a bit too shallow I'm afraid, unless woven against the backdrop of the heroism and glory of the opposing Society. King Oswald The Good and the Twelve Golden Peers would be too lofty a group to tackle the goblin village, and the Hamfest Hell Hounds too low level, though they could manage it with the help of the Fey possibly. And of course one does not have to "take out" said village. One could, even in Feylandia, wander through, be astonished and still manage to get out if one were cool enough about it. Or, one might just as easily end up in the slave pens. And it goes almost (but not entirely) without saying that finding the Goblin Village should not be easy. And finding it a second time should also not be easy.
One might also ask when thinking about this, is there an Ogre? Is there a witch involved? What does she do? What does she feed her pets? What does she trade? And so on.
And furthermore, while gold may be the great medium of exchange, it does not mean that it trumps the old familiar motivations, Revenge, Lust, Pride and Gluttony. Conversely we must include their opposites on the other side, Love, Honor, Faithfulness and Courage.
What makes a good story, in other words, is not a mere delving into a series of "what ifs" about monsters and their economies (interesting and helpful as that may be), but to contrast the high and the low, the light and the dark. Sometimes the tide is high... sometimes its low. Sometimes its dark out, sometimes its light. My aspiration is to help steer World Weaving toward the crafting of beautiful and intriguing Stories. Ones that not only explore interesting ideas, but also carry within them deeper themes flowing from and through the depths of human nature and the spiritual cosmos.
You can pick up the start of the thread here: Business Orcs & Troll Masters