Is there a particular reason to argue over the semantic language of exchanging one thing (LP) for another (gold necklace)? There's nothing wrong with using common language to describe the means of obtaining something (gold ring) in exchange for payment (fruits of your labor).
Sure, there is nothing to prevent the merchant from monetizing the salt, in some way, accruing all of the benefits of the proceeds of the sale to himself and investing it in his business as labor points. Of course, it's strictly forbidden for him to then convert those labor points to mythic pounds by the system, so that when it comes time to repay the magi, he's not liquid and can't repay the magi what they are owed. There is limited conversion of labor points allowed via the draw, as you indicate.
Why are you comparing spending a draw to saving up LPs to go to the next level? A draw is a distribution, a liquidation from the business for personal use, and not something done to improve the business, it is the opposite of an investment. Semantics are about meaning, a draw is a distribution. In the case of City and Guild, the draw is the opposite of accumulating labor points to achieve the next income level.
I haven't worked through the math of your proposal of holding onto the salt, investing it into the business and then speculating. I don't think it works, quite simply because the salt, or the proceeds from the salt that move him up to wealthy, which means he has no money to repay the magi. And then, putting the salt into the speculation box, as you put it just means that it is accumulating labor points. The main question you have to ask yourself, in a setting that makes sense, why isn't everyone doing exactly this? You're putting the perfect knowledge of the player or the SG to work as the character or NPC.
Looking at this more closely, inline with the guidelines from City and Guild, I'm wondering how you come up with the idea that £120 is 432 labor points. I only get there if his income is at trivial. See below.
Looking at the text, a merchant of standard means is considered to earn 10 mythic pounds per year, I know this ignores the 432 labor points. Using the table on page 40, and including the errata, we know that 9 labor points are worth 5 pounds to someone with a minor income source. Investing £120, proceeds from liquidating the salt, assuming it is all "invested" into his business is worth 216 labor points. Conversion to labor points represents investing in his business, and so, he would be unable to pay the magi back their £96 (or even a lesser or reasonably close amount) when asked; he wouldn't have the funds to pay them. So he could safely take the £24 pounds and invest that into his business, which yields 43.2 labor points per year. A greedy merchant might skim a £1 to round things off.
Finally, moving to Wealthy doesn't really increase his income level (the amount of income in mythic pounds he earns each year). What increases his income level is a change in his income band (trivial, minor, lesser, etc). Wealthy and Poor determine the amount of free time a character has, all characters in an income band have the same amount of income, regardless of whether they are Wealthy or Poor. To move to the next band requires 1080 labor points, that is, to change his minor income source to a lesser income source costs 1080 labor points, and makes him "poor" within that band, meaning he has to work 3 seasons per year to maintain his income level. Ideally you would have 1200 labor points in reserve to change your social band and preserve your wealth level (free time) with respect to the peers in the new band.
So a greedy character probably isn't likely to take all the proceeds and invest it into his business as labor points, but will instead skim profits from the magi. He will turn around and tell the magi that the salt didn't sell as well as he'd hoped, and they only got £80, or some number less than £96. All the while they see him improving his business and/or living lavishly on the profit from their material. Would the magi be happy with £80? Probably, especially if they can easily create 3 times as much next time around. Of course, next time they don't get £240, they get £220 because the merchant is greedy and ripping them off.
I'm comparing them because in both cases you 'spend' the LP. What you get from it doesn't change the fact the LP is gone in exchange for something, whether it be a business improvement or fancy clothes.
I was under the impression that the errata just changed the 6 to a 9, not the entire 6/12/36 sentence; and I had seen other people discuss on this forum the idea that the math doesn't add up unless you make it 12/18/36 (that latter part was an assumption on my part).
You have to change the entire paragraph, otherwise, it doesn't make sense to be Wealthy.
6 labor points per season multiplied by "wealth level", on average, is necessary to maintain the "wealth" level of the individual, their business interests. If we do labor points x seasons x labor point factor we have: 6x3x2=36 (poor), 6x2x3=36 (average), 6x6x1=36 (wealthy). We know also, that during that same time that a person is earning labor points that they are also earning a certain amount of disposable income, in the case of the minor income, that's £20 per year, or £20/seasons worked for the amount of mythic pounds earned in a season, but the rules say that you can reinvest 1/4 of the amount earned in a year into the business. For an average "wealth" level professional, that's 20/4=5.
The whole section on Money and Investment is somewhat tortured. I think it's saying that if a character wanted to give up the products of a season, he could gain another 1/4 of his income. Consider someone who has a base Characteristics +Ability of 8, they get 8x2x3=48 labor points. Over the course of 2 years (96 labor points), he could, acquire sufficient labor points to maintain his business (72 labor points) for both years and sacrifice a season of work in exchange for more money. In other words, he could work 3 seasons out of 8 to maintain his business interests and one season of work is converted into "cash." Those 24 labor points would be worth, according to the errata ~13.5 mythic pounds, since each 9 labor points is equal to 5 mythic pounds. The last paragraph on page 40 should probably say that there is no way to convert Labor Points into Mythic Pounds without sacrifice of an entire season, which is what the first paragraph is saying.
If we just changed the the 6 to a 9, instead of the entire paragraph, it would mean that a Wealthy person who creates 36 labor points in a season would still only get 5 pounds for the same amount of effort that someone who generates 6 labor points. A Wealthy would have to work MORE than the same professional/craftsman who is POOR, to get the same amount of income.
That being said, I think this particular chapter is a huge mess and falls apart if you poke it too much.
I'm not seeing how there's no sense to be Wealthy in that scenario; you can maintain your business with less work (36LP = 1 year of status-quo). Money having the same proportional value lines up with the repeated fact that income is unchanged between Poor & Wealthy. The same number of Mythic Pounds is required to buy a season's worth of Labor Points (and by implication, vice versa in regards to working more for greater income) regardless of them being Poor, Average, or Wealthy; and would imply why I've seen people say the math works better if it were 12/18/36.
I'll write it out with the original text as well as the errata, but I'll clip some text from the original to make it clearer.
This means that [...] 36 (labor points) from a Wealthy person are worth: Around 5 pounds to a character with a minor source of income.
If you make it as per the errata
This means that 9 Labor Points are worth: Around 5 points to a character with a minor source of income.
The original makes 6 (or 9 as you believe the errata says), 12 or 36 AND a season labor points all equal to 5 pounds. The errata makes it a season of effort, which for a Wealthy person is 36 labor points, and is thus worth £20 pounds.
Which would directly contradict the prior paragraph, which hasn't been changed by any errata, and further support the 12/18/36 theory.
Assuming the 9 to be the better option makes it so that a Wealthy person gets dramatically more money for the same amount of work than a Poor person, rather than just the Wealthy person having more time in the year and indirectly permitting a greater income if they put in more time.
Well, I would suggest that you point that out to David Chart as an additional erratum. Either eliminating "for one-quarter of his annual income" or substituting text so that it flows better with the next line.
I agree, it's a contradiction, but the errata clearly states (and your link to the forum discussion doesn't nay what the errata states in any way) that you replace the entire paragraph. I think it leaves it in worse shape to have a wealthy person work another season, earning 36 labor points earning only £5, while a poor person earns 12 and also earns £5. I'd much rather see that someone who is Wealthy who works another season gets £20.
Also, there would be no reason for a Wealthy person to work more, except to accumulate labor points and not material wealth.
It's repeatedly stated that Wealthy only means that the individual has more free time, and is not indicative of greater income; which would be contradicted if a Wealthy person working an extra season got four times as much as a Poor person. Accumulating labor points to eventually buy into the next income bracket is a justifiable goal. Following the 12/18/36 suggestion results in a Wealthy person making less per season than a Poor person that's in the next income bracket higher, which only further shows that the current errata is inferior to the 12/18/36 set up.
Because I forgot to respond to this earlier.
Because not everyone has access to £120 of product. Not everyone has access to a pile of product that wasn't previously in the market, and therefore less likely to be noticed by those enforcing the laws against commodity speculation. I don't think it to be a matter of perfect knowledge for a merchant to know the concept of commodity speculation.
That is true, Wealthy means more free time, to pursue other interests. A Wealthy character has more free time, and he can invest that free time in his business. Investing it in his business, accumulating labor points is a bit different than converting those labor points into material wealth. Interestingly, if he, or anyone of any wealth level, earns labor points in a season for the purposes of converting it to material wealth they lose the labor points, unlike his standard work practices (he gets money and he accumulates labor points). So, Wealthy doesn't mean has more money, it means he has more options. One option is he could have more money because he could choose to invest his free time into selling his services.
I'm not following this statement:
A Wealthy person always makes their income in one season. A Poor person always makes their income over three seasons. They, the wealthy, never earn less per season than the next income bracket. 10 in one season versus 20 in 3, or 20 in one season versues 40 in 3, or 40 in one season versus 100 in three, and so on. Now, the 12/18/36 suggestion, as you call it, just means that if a Wealthy person works another season, he doesn't get as much material wealth out of additional seasons. Which means, he should just accumulate LP until he has 1200 and can jump to the next income band at average wealth...
Then you're wanting a Wealthy person to be better off than a Poor person an income bracket higher than them. You seem to be misunderstanding the math here, because it's the yearly income that means more than seasonal. Let me spell it out for you...
Wealthy Minor = £20 for one seasonErrata = £40 for two seasons, £60 for three seasons (both £20/season)
12/18/36 = £25 for two seasons (£12.5/season), £30 for three seasons (£10/season)
Poor Lesser = £40 for three seasons (£13.33/season)Errata = £53 for four seasons
12/18/36 = £50 for four seasonsDo you not see how the 12/18/36 results in a nice continuum of improvement between the income brackets? The errata creates a major disjoint with legitimate incentives for once you're Wealthy to not spend your Labor Points on improving your business until you skip straight to Wealthy in the next income bracket.
Do you not see that under the original method a Wealthy person who has a minor income level who invests only 5 pounds of silver gets 36 labor points? Considering that a Wealthy individual at minor income essentially earns his 20 mythic pounds could reinvest his entire disposable income back into the business and turn it into [strike]720[/strike] 144 labor points (20 mythic pounds x 36 labor points/ 5 mythic pounds). And he could work another 3 seasons, accumulating another 108 labor points for a total of [strike]828[/strike] 252 labor points. [strike]Do it for another [strike]year[/strike], and all of a sudden he has 1656 labor points which is enough to put him at the next income level, upgrade his Poor to Wealthy (480 labor points) and still have 96 labor points available.[/strike] Do all that for 6.25 years and you have enough to move up an income level and be wealthy in that income level.
Like I said before, this table is best used to determine how much labor points you get for investing extra capital into the business (the section is money and investment). Since Ars Magica blatantly ignores money, most of my games do as well, so whether someone works for another season and gets 20 or 5 mythic pounds is largely irrelevant. What is important though is does it make sense that after two years of hard work, someone who is Wealthy can move to the next income level of wealth faster than they normally could by focusing on building their business (working more seasons and accumulating LPs) simply by investing their disposable income into the business.
Edited to add:
Of course Poor and Average move up to the next income level much more slowly, because their contributions of capital to their labor points are worth much less than a Wealthy person's, which shouldn't be the case, either. The idea is that if you have 9 labor points 1/4 of the average labor output of the average individual for a year equal to 1/4 of mythic pound income you can do much more reasonable calculations to determine how fast one could advance.
All of his disposable income is 144 Labor Points, not 720; because it's 36 Labor Points/£5. That makes your example require six years of never spending disposable income and working four seasons out of the year, which will give them a Miser Reputation of 2 at the minimum (maybe 3, the guidelines aren't clear).
If you treat Labor Points invested directly into the business as experience, and require Labor Points to be spent as you get them (no waiting in queue for years until you decide what to buy with them), then that gets around the issue of the Wealthy miser skipping Poor and Average when he breaks the income bracket by saving his Labor Points to take advantage of the better multiplier. I'm not sure whether the book states that to be the case or not.
That's not really my point, but was really exemplary of the idea of accumulating labor points as you suggest, albeit at a vastly reduced level than I miscalculated.
The RAW, going by the example of Toby is that labor points are accumulated and spent, as desired, by the player.
Going back to your example, the merchant wishes to enrich himself with the salt given to him by the magi. If the merchant were to take the full £120 and incorporate it into the business you are creating a narrative of an asset that is no longer liquid, the salt might be collateral to letters of credit against other interests, and thus unable to be liquidated when the magi want their money. Whether it is 12/18/36 or 9 (the actual RAW now, as per the errata) labor points being bought by 5 mythic pounds is irrelevant to the matter at hand, how much money can he get back out, when the magi come back asking for it. By your understanding the most he could liquidate in a season is 1/4 of his income level. Even under what I understand the RAW to be, 9 labor points per 5 mythic pounds, a Wealthy person would only be able to liquidate 20 pounds in a season. So, whether it is 5 pounds or 20 pounds, you're still well short of what the magi are expecting. Your answer might be to take a draw, and you could, but keep in mind that the Drawing is designed to take a single item, and while it might be valuable, it may not be anything close to what the magi want, it's not something that they can turn around and "spend" on their expenses. My suggestion, to incorporate the greedy narrative, is to skim a bit more, rather than he try and invest all the salt into his business.
Thanks for this exercise, it's demonstrated why I've had so many problems with City & Guild, reading and understanding it. It's a mess. I certainly don't find that he can put £120 into his business as labor points and be able to liquidate those to repay the £96 that they are expecting the moment that they arrive. Putting anything into the business is a long term investment. Undoing that is difficult and painful, and really doesn't benefit the character in anyway (a greedy character wouldn't do this). He's much better of skimming, saying that, no, sorry, You only realized £90 in sales, not £96.
Prokui's research into going to the Moon is going to hit a snag in Autumn of 1227, which is coming up soon. He investigated a piece of star-metal for Insight, which he'll use to invent an extreme version of Seven League Stride (ReCo 55); when he stabilizes the success, it will give him 7 Warp and send him into Twilight for 7 years (Warp Score 9 will do that); eventually coming back with a Twilight Scar and Flaw. The current decision I'm working with on that is his casting sigil is dramatically magnified and his touch/footsteps leave behind glowing moonlight for a time.
The question is what should it look like to the outside world. Should he just disappear and the party wonders why he isn't answering the door when it's time for the annual Council Meeting? Should there be a gratuitous lab explosion showing off his 'departure', and possibly leave behind a body while in Twilight (and if so, should it transform)? How much of his work should be destroyed if we go with the more destructive Twilight episode?
As of right now, Olrox is still in Neufchâteau as a kind of 'resting grounds' in between wide-area murder. He specifically avoids the Covenant because the Aegis was enhanced the last couple times he tried to enter it and the magi within killed its 'master'; he's a coward at heart, and firmly believes the players are enough of a threat to not be worth the effort.
Meanwhile, the old infernalist was originally a Strigae and was grooming a number of disciples, his lessons obviously cut short. At least one apprentice has some skill, one or two points in Debauchery, Effusion, and Phantasm; and has managed to make a sanctum within the castle have a perfidious infernal aura of 9 by 1228 through discrete rituals, and the rest of the castle is still at 4.
Based on the most recent events, how concerned should the players be in regards to their Oath? As I don't want the Infernal to be overly dominating the campaign, I'm going to avoid adding more threads. Which means no Mulhidun presence or plotting-oriented demons. Any further threat needs to be restricted to what can be brought to bear by the handful of surviving Strigae and the effects from the aura itself. Potential survivors, being human and thus able to exercise patience, can spend time 'underground' to marshal their power and not make an appearance until a decade+ from now.