[City & Guild] Amount of "Macro Crunch"?

[size=75]Crossposting from RPGnet:[/size]

Okay, so although "Ancient Magic" will be out shortly, I'm itching to buy something now. I was pretty intrigued by "City & Guild" when I first heard of it, but then lost interest when I read about "labour points". Now while I like my game systems detailed and with a fair amount of crunch, I don't like crunch if it comes to meta-character or "macro" stuff - i.e. economy. So I wonder: what else is in "City & Guild" might be of interest to me, and what else might turn me off? (Yeah, this is Yet Another Sell Me Thread... sorry.)

I did think myself that the Labor Point system was a little excessive and will not be used in my game.

Whereas i will look forward to the Labour Points option. :slight_smile:

I really like the Labour Point system. It gives craftsmen and traders a bit more detail and the ability to upgrade their business. :slight_smile:


Much like Covenants, I doubt I will be using much of City & Guilds in my sagas. The emphasis on logistics in both volumes simply sucks the Mythic out of Mythic Europe. By bringing up the problems of finance and materiel in these books, more questions are left unanswered than answered. As such, I find it much easier to simply leave the whole situation vague and concentrate on the covenfolk and their stories rather than becoming mired in moneychanging and crop rotations, something best left of specialist covenfolk rather than the magi and companions.

This is still a mileage variation situation.
For myself , the more Crunch the better.
Unlike one of my maths-phobic friends who barely copes with anything beyond simple addition.

I assume that you've seen the table of contents in the sneek peek. (You're the same Toa who was asking about Ancient Magic at RPG.net?)

The book has descriptions of Medieval towns, Medieval city governance, Guilds, the lives of Craftsman and Laborers, Merchant organizations, lists of what trade goods are produced in what places in Eurpoe, and more along these lines.

The book has something on the order of a zillion story hooks.

For additional optional rules presented in the book you have:

The labor points system to give craftsman, laborors, and merchants things to do with their downtime in a maner not completely unlike magi but much, much simpler.

You have a few new virtues and flaws

One of the new virtues allows the crafting of limited enchanted devices by skilled craftsmen and there is a fair quantity of descriptive mechanics for this.

There are simple mechanics describing how long it takes a cratsman to create particular items and how high of quality the created items are (basically target numbers to compare to stat + skill with modifiers for raw materials and quality of the workshop that can be ignored unless you've got a PC who wants to improve their setup)

There are rules for ship to ship combat (drawn from the Ars 5 combat rules, don't expect to find a rewrite of wooden ships and Iorn men here)

IMO most imortantly there are excelent tables and maps deliniateing how long and by what methods one can travel from one spot to another spot within Mythic Europe.(which would have been even better if they explicitly marked where the junctions are rather than relying on the reader's geographic knowlege)

There is a price list accompaned by a moderate strength warning that price lists should be used with caution if you want a particularly historical game.

There are some rules for locks

I think that I'll use the book a great deal. I've already made use of the example craftsmen characters for a few NPC's. I've also made use of the travel inforamtion/rules, the ship information will probably come up in my next session.

I'm with Erik. I don't know whether we'll be using labor points: it depends on PC choices. (We will be using the covenant wealth rules from Covenants.) But the rules for changing wealth sources are just a few pages out of the book, and even if you don't end up using those rules, there's some interesting material just in tohse. That's just the crunchiest bit, so it's the bit people (e.g., me) are most apt to whine about.

Well, I asked about The Mysteries, but yeah, that's me. :wink:

Thanks for your post there - I replied on RPGnet in order to somewhat raise the awareness of Ars Magica over there (could use more of that). :slight_smile:

I'm just not sure how, in a chapter about merchants, the rules for allowing your character to imnprove his business can be considered meta-character. THat's a bit like saying a magus's Art Scores are metacharacter. I mean, it's true, but its also necessary in the sense of quantifying what the character can do.

Basically, as Erik said: a zillion plot hooks. To disagree with him for a minute though, the junctions are clearly marked in the trade table as junctions (or at least they were in the drafts, I don't have the finished book).

They're in the tables. They're not marked on the Maps.

There are no junctions in land trade, though...

To explain to people, what we are talking about are choke points in ocean trade, which we've called "junctions" in the book. Basically if you want, for example, to sail from London to Rome, you need to pass the Straits of Gibraltar, and so on our trade map all of the Altantic ports have a distance to Gibraltar. After than you go to the Med Table.

This doesn't happen in land routes, because there are no choke points as such, there are just shorter and longer ways around.

The maps are for land trade: they don't do sea trade, and so, no, they don't have junctions.

I haven't finished reading the book yet, and I myself find the Labouiequiyvebour points (or however you spell it) a little daunting, but I don't have a problem with the system being there if I want to delve into it later.

I think this is one of the "tightest" books for 5th edition, with rules clearly seperated from "color" text (colour?), and suscinct editing/writing which avoids most rambling.

If you would like to discover some information about the world your play in, buy this book NOW.

BUMP: My impressions on C&G. Copy-pasted from the berzerklist, so forgive the stupid formating.


I bought the book during this past week, along
with Ancient Magic and The Mysteries: Tremere Version

At first I thought it would be the book I would enjoy
the most among those 3, given that we plan on
centering our next campaign quite heavily on urban
adventures for companions. Sadly this has not been the
case :frowning:

As you open the book you start to see number crunching
all around, and few flavor. More than city and guild
it could have been called "economic metasystem for a
pseudomedieval game in any setting". I think it would
have been a mosre suitable title.

The book is centered so much on working up the labor
points for any given actrivity (number crunching and
bookeeping to the fore) and so low in story seed that
IMO are really interesting/novel (read: something I
cannot think on my own dedicating 5 minutes to it)
that I found the book of negligible use after
finishing it. It is too centered on trade and too few
on what a city is like. the few things about a city
and that add flavor like the deseases are already
number-crunched as well, giving concrete mights for
the demons et al. I did not really appreciate that. it
is a kind of bookeeping and chamber pot nailing that I
did not appreciate. YMMV. I am a little bit
disappointed, given the ammopunt of story ideas that a
city can offer using trade as an excuse to put
people in the middle of a city. In this book it is so
central that it seems tyou cannot run non-trade
adventures in a city.

Despite this rant, there are interesting aspects, and
cool ideas like the charters being rego vis, but I
failed to see much hermetic potential in there. I also
failed to appreciate how a city covenant could be
implemented. This is something I was sure would be
there, and it sadened me to notice it is lacking.

So to me the conclusion for this book would be: Too
much merchant numbver crunching. Too few ArM feel.

I think it is the first book of ArM that I put down
with distate. I got quite a few ideas even of book
that have been railed heavily against, like Living
Lore, buit I think this one will only collect dust in
my shelf. It is not useful for our adventures in the
city since we handwave income and stuff like that. The
price lists are the onlyn thing midly interesting to
us. A true pitty IMO. :frowning: I appreciate the effort of
the authors, but they do not seem to match my
expectations well here.

OTOH, the other 2 books that I got (AM and TMRE) are
amazing for story ideas. Further railings in brief.



OK, for the third and I hope final time: the point of the LP system, once you actually try to use it, is that you need to keep track of -one- number, and only -one- number that reflects the progress of your entrie trade empire. You do not need to do heaps of "number crunching and book-keeping" and I challenge each and every one of you who have suggested that this the case to prove that it is true, because it isn't and "too much number crunching" is a cheap shot.

I wrote three separate economic systems for this book, of which the LP system is the incorporated one. The first one allowed you to quickly sum up the value of everything you shipped in a year, and work out what your yearly profit on investment was. Too much book-keeping? OK... The next one let you simply sum up all of your worldly goods and apply a percentage representing your profit for the year. One single percentage calculation per year? Based on easily done percentages, like 5, 10, and 15? Too much book-keeping. Let's try again:

Now, all you have to do is keep track of -one- progress number and add to it each time you do something that is useful for your trade, until you hit a threshold on the table where your Virtues change and you go back to zero LP. This is childishly simple for people who put themselves through the Ability purchase system. It is simpler than the wounds system. It is far simpler than the enchanted device system.

If you can't manage the book-keeping in it and want some help, give me a concrete example from your game and I'll show you how it works. I don't mind Xavi, that you didn't like the focus on merchants: fair enough: you are a "magi and only magi" sort of guy...OK. That's fine, but this "too much book-keeping" line? It's not actually supportable from the book we are discussing, guys. Try to model it for a few years and you'll see: it's very simple.

Any internally displaced persons from the 'list' are welcome!

But I have to disagre on your assesment of C&G. There is a lot of crunch in it, mostly directed at companion characters - which I think neatly supply those who might want to colour their companions. It also offers crunch on the quality of items -especially concerning magic items- which is one thing I'll be using.

But beside the crunch which you might like or not, use or not, there is IMO great fluff in the book. Especially the opening section is very well-written.

Besides my generel appreciation of C&G there are parts I know we will probably be using actively. One long stury was about a long venture from England to Italy and onward to Constantinople. The story featured a Venetian merchant -owner of the ship on which this voyage was done- and several stories including the merchant mirror some of the hooks in C&G. In the end he fell from grace -with his daughter, the magus traveling with him and with his fellow merchants- and thus the future holds a string of stories on his rebuilding of his name and business. The C&G will eminent in this regard.

Finally if you miss material on the subject I can really recomend Timothy Ferguson's blog at this site. Even though he partly scrapped the project (and we are still hungering for more, Tim!!) you'll find some interesting elaborations on the fluff of C&G.

I'm sorry that the blog isn't working out, but basically I had the chance to take a far bigger section in a paid-to-write while also heaps-of-fun-to-write gaming book than I originally intended, and I leapt at it. The downside is that I really need to concentrate on it, and it has eaten up my blog time, which is basically a hobby.

I can't explain it in any more detail, but basically I have a pool of writing time, and there's something that's both bigger and better than my blog to come out of that pool right now.

I will go back to the blog eventually...but I need to get on top of this other project first. I'm sorry that I couldn't sustain the blog.

Yeah Timothy - I just saw you beat me to the post on this subject.

Who can blame you then! Gratz! In any case the pieces alrady in your blog might still be of use to those of interest.

Now you are teasing us! Can't you at least be allowed to tell us whether it is for Ars Magica? Or if not whether it is for Atlas at least? Would so hate to see you be whisped away by someone else.

Hey - no worries! Were just glad and appreciating of it in the first place and happy to at least have the couple of entries there.

Hi Timothy:

"too much book keeping" for us is the fact that you need to keep track of any numbers. We handwave it to "you work 3 seasons, 1 free season per year" to keep up your business. Improving your business is a stuff of stories, not on rolling higher on a kind of discoveries chart.

The examples around the book about the swordsmith mark it for me as "too much number crunching", since you have to calculate it. Covenants had the same "problem" (from our very particular POV) of forcing you to calculate things like loyalty points etc etc. They all add up to a single number, but the calculations are still there.

So yes, I sustain my "too much number crunching" for us. It is a game world view difference. In fact we are considering dropping even the difference in kinds of vis to reduce bookkepping, so guess. A more correct formulation would be "too much calculations involved" I guess.

However, and as a minor point, we do not consider ourselves to be "a band of only wizards", I grant you that. More than half our stories have no magi around. Magi are a bunch of freaks that are inside their wannabe little sanctums and do werid stuff. only when a grog comes running (after a suitable gaming session) and tells them that a dragon did eat charlie the farmer do they come out of their holes and pretend top be something more than sobbing losers that cannot wipe their own asses. Well, not exactly that, but you get the idea :wink:

This is why I was eager to get my hands on C&G. And why I got disappointed by it. I imagined it as a wealth of story seeds for the city, not an economics system. I guess I had a wrong idea there. Nothing bad about thye book per se, but it is not what I was expecting for a book dealing with cities in a world populated by the OoH.

Thanks for the link Furion. i will try to look into it during this afternoon. :slight_smile:



But, Xavi! Dude! All the LP system does is says "If you finish story X, you get Y progress points." You still improve your business with stories.

I can see that: I'm sorry you don't feel that it added to your experience. Is it that you already had a good handle on things like guilds and governance?