Monday, September 25, 2006

Thoughts On Celestial Economics

In thinking about the necessity of a Celestial (and implied Subterranean) Economy, as would be required due to the combination of needs and limitations of the Gods, I am currently looking over the Iliad for indications as to the nature, powers and limitations of the Gods. As another firm indicator that the Gods indeed have limitations, I find notable in the Iliad, Book I, the fact that the Gods not only were limited in the scope of their Powers but then even needed to sleep each night. This combined with the fact that the Gods are wounded by mortals during the combat itself, and must flee to Olympus for healing is indicative of the fact that the Gods were not All-Powerful Creators, but rather instead something more on the order of Super-Mortals with magical powers of transformation, illusion, weather control, flight, strength, and the like, as well as a limited variety of special Magic Items created for them by Hephaestus.

We learn, also in Book I, that Hephaestus created not only the artifacts such as the King's Scepter held by Agamemnon which is briefly described as having been created "with great pains" which I take to mean Great Craftsmanship, but even the (presumably magnificent) houses of all of the Gods which they individually retire to. We also learn that Hera is the Goddess of the Golden Throne (which presumably is made of a large quantity of Gold). So Hephaestus created Houses, and magic items, and objects of gold and other precious metals, magical and/or precious gems, and the like. I think it interesting to ask, where did he get the materials from?

All of this construction requires Resources - and not meager ones. Since we find that the Gods are indeed limited, being Super-Mortals rather than All-Powerful Creators, we ought to take into account that the acquisition of resources was important to them, and forms the basis of a Celestial Economy. Miners and chemists, food and logistics, transportation, exchange rates, loans, and accounts are all part of running any kind of large scale enterprise, especially where the products produced are on such a lavish (and magical) scale as those of the Gods themselves.

And and on the hermetic principal of "As above, So below", we find the implied probability of a nocturnal Subterranean Economy as well.

I started thinking about the nature of an Underworld economy in this post on the Yahoo Group RPG-Create from which I would like to quote the following passage for your consideration:

"I imagine a somber setting over a section of the world much like Cimmeria; gloom shrouded hills over-covered by steel gray skies over which Crom eternally sits and watches from his mountain. The monsters are lurking, Crom knows, in the subterranean depths. Great evil creatures, giants of the underworld, hidden in their halls of stone. Up crawl their minions into the outer lands, into the air, their goblins creep, seeking victims to bring downward. And so on the surface petty battles and fights occur. People are killed, goblins are killed. Orcs over there. Trolls in this region. Dragons in the far realms. But all serving the purpose of the masters of the depths. To bring down into the deep slaves and food. And so traps are set and humans are harvested from the surface world. Down to the depths they go, never to be seen again. And so Crom, with stormy brow, watches the lands. And in those lands he plants seeds of heroes who will battle the monsters that humanity may live. And even then, he knows that with some of those creatures (the Mind Flayers for example) there is no great hope, for the humans, even with the powers of magic, the might of their arms, and their propensity for organized warfare, the chances of long terms survival are slim. And so Crom watches and waits and gives life to the heroes as they come, and a will to victory. And so the heroes battle the goblins and the orcs and the trolls and the dragons across the surface of the world, from land to land in endless wars, and do well against them overall due to the gifts of the Gods, with the might of their arms, their magic and their holy weapons. And once in a long while some few manage to penetrate the far depths below, beyond the deepest dungeons, into deep places of the earth. And in those places our heroes battle the great monsters of the deep."

- Posted on RPG-Create

In this I describe a rough sketch of my vision of the Subterranean Economy (can anyone think of a more elegant name for this?), with the Greater Monsters running things to their own hideous advantage. This is the realm of the Underworld, and in Norse Mythology and Greek alike it encompasses entire kingdoms of giants, and mythological creatures, including the Titans themselves who sit in the bottom of Tartarus. And beyond that we might even consider the possibility of an Economy of Hell, over which the Diabolical forces have ultimate control.

So at this point I'm considering a Celestial Economy, and contrasting that with the Black Economy of the Nocturnal and Subterraineans. So how would these two Economic Systems interact? On what points would the compete? How would the Law apply? Are the Celestial Gods the Policemen of the Cosmos, in an unrelenting yet understated war against the Nocturnal and their Black Economy? What are the Boardrooms of the Gods like? Who works for them? And so on. All of these questions are grist for the mill for World Weaving, and the answers can provide some rather interesting background material for RPG Campaigns, especially when the pieces are fit into place and an overview of the system is comprehended by the Gamesmaster and/or World Weaver. My feeling on this is that building out the ideas of Celestial and Nocturnal Economics, if done well, could be a huge boon for story crafting Literary RPG Worlds.
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