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Economy - does this work?

Discussion in 'World Building' started by TopHat, May 23, 2013.

  1. TopHat

    TopHat Minstrel

    Alright, I've never been very good at this...
    I had to create a economic system for this city and from the looks of it now, it seems to work. My knowledge of economy and society are bad, very bad. But I managed to make a system to this city. What do you guys think?

    In this city there are three social classes: The Emperor, The Nobles and the Poor/Average man. The average man and the poor work. All businesses are owned and divided among the nobles. The nobles only real job is to make sure that some of their profit goes to the royal treasure-chamber. This means that the nobles don't have to work and can live a rich, happy life. The poor doesn't make much money and live in a dirty, dark and poor district of the city, unlike the nobles who live in the rich, beautiful center of the city.

    The Emperor doesn't bother much of how the money reaches the treasure-chamber, as long as it does. The nobles can do pretty much anything, treat their workers how they want, as long as the money reaches the treasure-chamber.

    Does this sound like a legitimate economic system? Does it work or have I gotten it all wrong?

  2. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

    Mostly, if a bit simplified, but it depends a little on the type of work people are doing. The more skill or specialty involved in the work, the more power begins to shift to the worker, so the nobles would need a greater degree of influence to maintain that kind of status quo with those kinds of workers. And it would be hard to construct an economy without some percentage of a specialized work force. If you have unskilled labor working at the machinery, for instance, you would also need a repair crew that wouldn't be easy to replace.

    Simplistic can be fine sometimes - especially if things are seen from the perspective of a character who only sees that simplified version - but if you're going for realistic, you need to consider that extra layer of complexity.
    Last edited: May 23, 2013
  3. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

    Close enough.

    I'd point out a couple of things, though:

    1) First, your nobles *WILL* have other tasks. There will be a whole slew of imperial offices they'll be jockying for, if nothing else.

    2) There will also be some especially talented / capable among the lower orders: master smiths, supurb wood workers, that sort of thing. These people are likely to be a bit better off than the rest. Nobles who 'own' such people have an increase in status.
  4. Feo Takahari

    Feo Takahari Auror

    I'd like to propose another level between nobles and commoners: guards/soldiers. If the nobles aren't numerous enough to defend themselves, they'll need trained fighters to protect their manors from robbers and rebels alike. These guards will probably be better paid and better off than common laborers.

    (It's possible that house servants may also be better off, receiving "scraps" like better food and better clothing as rewards for their work. If you want to go really dark, this may occur in conjunction with coercion of sexual favors.)

    P.S. In some ways, this sounds more like a slave plantation than a city. If you want to run with that, I'd suggest looking up information about how slavery worked, particularly in the U.S. and the Caribbean.
  5. Alexandra

    Alexandra Closed Account

    Your city is a breeding ground for a revolution; when does it begin and how are the poncey nobles put to death? :mad:
  6. CupofJoe

    CupofJoe Myth Weaver

    I'd also add a layer at the bottom of the pile...
    There are the taxed working [poor]...
    There will also be the untaxed population.
    Whether not working [but looking], actively criminal or some way unable to work there will be a slice of humanity that barely [and possibly not for long] survives hand to mouth. If actively criminal they could actually make a very good living and rub shoulders [in private?] with the very top of society.
    All cities seem to attracted those escapes other places or just looking for a better life, let alone those looking for safety and refuge...
  7. TopHat

    TopHat Minstrel

    What do you mean?

    Feo Takahari: Of course, the guards! I had almost forgotten them! Yes, it seems only logical that they are more valuable than the common man.
    Yes, it is supposed to be a kind of slave-thing. Some of the nobles actually own some of the poor families, their home etc.

    Alexandra: Oh yeah, this is a real powder-keg! There is a small rebelband of commoners and poor people, but they haven't had much success. The big revolution will happen later in the story ;)
  8. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

    Your nobles will have other duties and interests beyond collecting taxes. Some will hold military commissions (officers). Others will govern provinces and cities 'in the emperors name'.
  9. The Unseemly

    The Unseemly Troubadour

    This actually reminds me of the feudal system (used in the medieval era, surprise, surprise), and particularly the feudal system used in Japan. To add onto what people said, the feudal hierarchy:

    0. God - do I need to explain?
    1. Top dog, the Emperor/Shogun - he sits at the top of the pile, gets all the good stuff, and usually, everybody below him suffers or benefits depending on his character/intelligence/what he had for breakfast this morning. Equivalents to your Emperor, so tick checkbox number one. Has his own (and probably the largest) army, land, castle, amount of wives, etc.
    (Side note on land: in the feudal system, if you owned the land, you owned everything on it - including the plebs/people who lived there)
    2. Nobles, rich kids - they wish they're the Emperor, but their not; there more of his shadows. Own land, armies, castles, make up the rest of the business/politics of the land. You had this, so another tick in your checkbox.
    3. Samurai (aka: knights), and otherwise educated peoples, such as your doctors, scribes, etc. - more benefits, cash, your own land (so the guys above you didn't own you... but you still had to do what they said), a few of your own people to help you (knights "owned" squires, for example). You didn't seem to have this.
    4. Soldiers/respected poor peoples (such as village owners) - you're a step above the lot below you - so, slightly more benefits, pay, but you're subjected to doing what the people above you tell you to.
    5. Plebs, farmers, etc. - taxed to the max, you basically do the work and get nothing. You are the property of everyone else.

    And, as far as medieval japan goes...
    6. Merchants - considered a nuisance to society, the people's little bug, so you live on your own wits. Everyone hates you (theoretically), but no-one owns you.

    So, to answer your question: yes, give or take a bit, your system does look like a legitimate economic system. It's a bit rough around the edges.

    Of course, I'm not saying to copy the feudal system: it's merely there as an indicator for you to see what a real economic system in the 14-17th century looked like.

    Furthermore: there were actually nobles who got away with doing nothing for most of their lives. They had errand runners, and people who thought for them, working something like this...
    1. A guy who has some brains befriends a noble. The noble trusts this person enough to run their businesses/errands for them. This person is paid a fair amount of money. In some countries in medieval Europe, there were actually agencies that you went to to hire such people.
    2. The noble's affairs are managed by the person. Money flows in from the workers (who are getting nothing but hard work). Noble sits backs with his money hoard, gives a bit to this brainy person, and lives his life doing only those things which entertain him.

    Hope this helps.
  10. psychotick

    psychotick Auror


    Filling the treasury just from the nobles would be hard unless the nobles were also able to tax the poor. Its the old story one rich person maybe able to pay ten times the gold as a poor man, but if there are twenty poor for every rich one you end up with only half the tax take.

    Now if the nobles are the only ones who can own businesses / property etc you hit another problem. Where are your specialists? Your artisans eg potters, smiths, apothecaries and book keepers. What about your traders and shop keepers? Your society doesn't seem to have a middle class of any sort. As was said above its more like a slave society. The poor have to work or starve, effectively becoming serfs. No middle class just slaves and owners and a head honcho.

    Cheers, Greg.
  11. Canz

    Canz Dreamer

    You'll need a middle class of specialists as some have said.
    Thus, that will also solve the demand problem. If your workers earn little money and are the biggest in number in your society then they won't be able to afford most of what they actually make at work. Nobles can't buy EVERYTHING.
    Also, you need to think about a possible revolt. Dude, If I were a poor man in your society and there was no police/army or what so ever I would find a group of big guys and kill/steal your nobles.
    Does that army/police exist? If so, who is in it? Nobles? Poor man? That's were the middle class comes in to solve your problems.
  12. TopHat

    TopHat Minstrel

    Thanks for pointing out these things, some of them I've never even considered :)

    Ok, I've made a few changes. This is roughly what the society looks like, tell me what you think:

    Social classes: Emperor, Priests, Holy knights, Nobles, Middle class, Poor.

    The religion has a very strong presence in this Empire.
    The gods have chosen the Emperor to be the ruler, a title his sons will inherit.

    The Priests and the church are very powerful and rich, almost equivalent to the emperor. Although they may be The Voices of the gods, he is Chosen by the gods. People pay about a tenth of their income to the church (this applies to all people except the White knights). It could be money, goods or land.

    Holy knights, also called the "White Knights" are a religious-military order of warriors. They serve as the Emperors personal bodyguards, witchhunters and officers in the army and the city guard. These knights have received special training, privileges and power. They answer only to the Emperor and the church.These people don't need to pay tax.

    Nobles own most of the businesses in the Empire, they own some land and some of the peasants who live there. Some of them own smaller cities and runs them in the name of the Emperor. They get taxed by both the government and the church.

    Middle-class are not rich as the nobles but they aren't poor either. They are usually merchants or specialized in a particular line of work. Most of the cityguard are middle-class people. They get taxed by both the government and the church.

    Poor people are either owned by the nobles or beggars. They majority of this class work as miners, farmers etc. They get taxed by both the government and the church.
  13. Canz

    Canz Dreamer

    Your economy will definitely be better this way. Much more credible.
  14. Addison

    Addison Auror

    You have a solid economy and you clearly know it's in's and out's. So long as you know it in your head, you're set.
    Good job.
  15. MaccosBridgman

    MaccosBridgman Dreamer

    Yeah that sounds just like the kind if system you would have in medieval Europe even later periods for quite some time. But I would also like to say as others have said the nobles while already wealthy are always going to want to be more powerful and will want better positions in the Imperial court, this is something I have between the minor royal families in my own novel to gain infulence and friendship with the High Royal family. As well do the nobles have lands outside the city or is this a city state were the surrounding lands are in the emperors possession, this could add another layer of society and more money to line the emperors pockets. Hope I helped :D :)

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