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Sun Dome Temples as centres of banking and finance

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43 minutes ago, MOB said:

There was some discontent at this, but Belvani called upon Yelmalio to rebuke him if he did wrong, and the heavens were silent.

Just wait until a real Gold Wheel Dancer shows up though demanding the return of the "hearts" of his kin!

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The problem with leaving your money with Chalana Arroy is returning to the temple where you stashed your loot and discovering that they have charitably donated it to those who needed it more than you did. Victims of illness who were starving, etc. Don’t worry, you get the full amount as healing credit against your future needs!

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On 2/14/2020 at 10:43 PM, Sir_Godspeed said:

I could be wrong, but doesn't this mean that Glorantha is incredibly more financially and economically advanced than RW iron age/classical societies? 

We partly already knew this due to the widespread availability of coinage, admittedly, but the potential for a banking system spanning the entirety of Central Genertela raises a lot of potential. 

That being said: do different Sun Dome Temples accept securities/warrants on an intra-Temple scale? Ie. if someone deposits coinage or bullion in one temple, then gets a writ or seal of warranty, can they then go to another temple and have it withdrawn (with some fees, one assumes)? Or is their banking practices limited to each temple's local area?

Essentially you are asking whether temples can issue letters of credit.  IRL the earliest letters of credit can be traced to both Babylon and Egypt in 3000BC so there is no reason to suppose that this sort of simple financial instrument shouldn't be around in Glorantha.  The driving impetus of the letter of credit involves 2 things. 

Firstly, literacy.  Most people in the bronze age are not literate, and not altogether happy with this newfangled "money" idea, and would much sooner be paid in kind, and it is only because the gold is seen to have intrinsic value that it is accepted happily (metallist paradigm). 

The second important factor is verification.   There needs to be a system of checks and balances that insure that the credit system is not being scammed.  This might involve detailed documentary seals, a verification of the handwriting perhaps, special colored inks, or even writing in code.  They might even use an object code, where the bearer is required to offer up a satchel with an unbroken seal to the temple official, and it contains the letter and three other items; a statue of issaries,  a beaded necklace, and a piece of cheese wrapped in leather, and it is actually the type of cheese that is the verification, but each piece can have a meaning too.

Of course a lot of people don't like letters of credit and are much more partial to precious stones as an easily transportable storage of value, but letters of credit have the advantage that they can be written out to apply only to a specific person, and not any old bearer, and so the letter is much harder for bandits to make use of, especially as if they could read they might be gainfully employed instead of being bandits.

Edited by Darius West
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8 minutes ago, Darius West said:

Essentially you are asking whether temples can issue letters of credit.  IRL the earliest letters of credit can be traced to both Babylon and Egypt in 3000BC so there is no reason to suppose that this sort of simple financial instrument shouldn't be around in Glorantha.  The driving impetus of the letter of credit involves 2 things. 

Firstly, literacy.  Most people in the bronze age are not literate, and not altogether happy with this newfangled "money" idea, and would much sooner be paid in kind, and it is only because the gold is seen to have intrinsic value that it is accepted happily (metallist paradigm).

An advantage of coinage, however, that was embraced was its portability. People really did like that. Women for the next X thousand years were wearing their dowries as jewelry only now it was made out of actual coins. I've posted modern images of this from the traditional dress of the Hemshin Armenians in Turkey, worn in some areas until the 1980s, but also attested by archaeology from the time periods not long after coins were invented.

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Just now, Qizilbashwoman said:

An advantage of coinage, however, that was embraced was its portability. People really did like that. Women for the next X thousand years were wearing their dowries as jewelry only now it was made out of actual coins. I've posted modern images of this from the traditional dress of the Hemshin Armenians in Turkey, worn in some areas until the 1980s, but also attested by archaeology from the time periods not long after coins were invented.

Agreed, a good part of the value of coinage is its portability... until you have 50 ENC worth and you can't carry all those coins.  However small the weight of coins, they still have weight, and eventually that too becomes a nuisance to carry, and a danger.  Gems are good because you can hide them more easily and they store more value than a coin of the same weight.

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On 2/14/2020 at 11:43 AM, Sir_Godspeed said:

That being said: do different Sun Dome Temples accept securities/warrants on an intra-Temple scale? Ie. if someone deposits coinage or bullion in one temple, then gets a writ or seal of warranty, can they then go to another temple and have it withdrawn (with some fees, one assumes)? Or is their banking practices limited to each temple's local area?

Letters of credit are effectively one of Issaries' special things (RQ:G 406), so I'd be hesitant about giving it to other cults, especially ones where trade isn't their main focus and temples have been separate for centuries.

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1 minute ago, Darius West said:

Agreed, a good part of the value of coinage is its portability... until you have 50 ENC worth and you can't carry all those coins.  However small the weight of coins, they still have weight, and eventually that too becomes a nuisance to carry, and a danger.  Gems are good because you can hide them more easily and they store more value than a coin of the same weight.

games overestimate the amount of money people actually had; women could wear a literal fortune as a fringe on their headdress. this was their own money, used to buy and sell their own items. this is Orlanthi society, and other more herding societies.

when we're talking about societies with massive inequality, we're not talking about these kinds of societies. this would not be Lunar Empire custom in civilised places, because honestly the Lunar Empire is Mycenean and Akkad and Egypt. Here we have stratified societies and all the trappings: slave bodyguards, treasure vaults, poverty-stricken neighborhoods, all the joys of modernity!

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3 hours ago, jajagappa said:

Just wait until a real Gold Wheel Dancer shows up though demanding the return of the "hearts" of his kin!

Actually, in regards to this, as I'm woefully clueless re: the Gold Wheel Dancers... were they all turned into Wheels, or rather are all Wheels Gold Wheel Dancers or just some of them? And, I'm almost afraid to ask, but why? 🧐

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10 minutes ago, Qizilbashwoman said:

games overestimate the amount of money people actually had; women could wear a literal fortune as a fringe on their headdress. this was their own money, used to buy and sell their own items. this is Orlanthi society, and other more herding societies.

when we're talking about societies with massive inequality, we're not talking about these kinds of societies. this would not be Lunar Empire custom in civilised places, because honestly the Lunar Empire is Mycenean and Akkad and Egypt. Here we have stratified societies and all the trappings: slave bodyguards, treasure vaults, poverty-stricken neighborhoods, all the joys of modernity!

Actually given the rise of the God Learners there is every reason to suppose that the amount of coin in the world would be realistic.  The Jrusteli were more magically competent than the Mostali, and very nearly as technically competent as them, and were pretty modern in their outlook, certainly financially, and they had a large demand for currency to fund their empire.  While the Third Age is a huge climb down from the technomancy of the Second Age, and lives almost perpetually in its shadow, it is reasonable to suppose that the metal dug for coins in that period would largely still be in circulation, even if they have been re-minted, perhaps a number of times.

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1 minute ago, Tindalos said:

Letters of credit are effectively one of Issaries' special things (RQ:G 406), so I'd be hesitant about giving it to other cults, especially ones where trade isn't their main focus and temples have been separate for centuries.

I asked that in Nochet once and they're cool with the amateurs piling on . . . every temple that supports the idea of commodity wealth as something more portable and sublime is doing god's work even if they nominally compete with us for fee flow. Come in, introduce the concept that coinage can travel ("dance"), blow the locals' minds and build the Market for us. Then the local temple invariably either gets bored and brings us in to handle what is effectively an inefficient non-core function for them OR discovers they have a natural talent for Fair Exchange and becomes a white label enterprise with shingle and everything. We don't mind. More places that accept abstract "credit" help money move faster outside secular systems, we can get points back there.

Wheels can be a serious challenge but because Sun Dome communities rarely interface directly with each other we are still essential as intermediaries and couriers, which is fun and lucrative in itself. Like a lot of locals they gather the assets and then feed them to the professionals for disposition / management. Also the Domes themselves are interesting unique warehouses of intellectual property so there's a covert spell banking opportunity there as various people launch their Hero Wars doomsday contingency hedges. 

The beards were one of the biggest initial competitive threats there because they can actually count past ten with their shoes on, but cutting them in on the evaluation side kept them fat, happy and just distracted enough to never seriously build out their own network. We don't really care what fantasy number they put on the treasure that goes into the account logs . . . high, low, we know the price of a thing is in the occasion so it doesn't really matter. But as long as the beards get to feel useful we remain the only truly reliable provider. Oh hey, is this recording crystal on? Where's the delete button on here. 

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29 minutes ago, Grievous said:

Actually, in regards to this, as I'm woefully clueless re: the Gold Wheel Dancers... were they all turned into Wheels, or rather are all Wheels Gold Wheel Dancers or just some of them? And, I'm almost afraid to ask, but why? 🧐

It's unknown but my preferred thought is: 1) not all Gold Wheel Dancers became Wheels; and 2) not all Wheels were Gold Wheel Dancers.

We know that Urrrgh the Ugly prayed to his pile of golden wheels in the Underworld (got a critical success in RQ terms) and one (and only one) of the wheels came to life. This was Pinchining who subsequently aided the Giants and the Cradle.

In the Broken Council LARP, the Gold Wheel Dancers were able to transform into useful shapes and tools (all golden of course). Eventually each would change into a favored form from which they could no longer transform back. Thus one might become a Golden Key, another a Golden Hammer, etc. I played Speaking Wheel, the last of the Gold Wheel Dancers, and I successfully transformed into a Golden Trumpet which was placed into the God Project and became the Voice of Nysalor.  If you follow that practice, then likely perhaps only one or a small number transformed into Wheels, but they showed Lokarnos how to use them and create more.

However, I really like the idea that somehow "cutting out" the center or "heart" the gold wheels breaks some ancient oath or pact between Lokarnos and the Gold Wheel Dancers. Perhaps there was simply one more Gold Wheel Dancer among this Yelmalion hoard, but which coin was it? And who now has the heart of the Gold Wheel Dancer? And what does it mean to the Lokarnos cult?  Perhaps the Wagon cannot cross the Styx in the Underworld, and gets stuck and doesn't rise! 

 

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2 hours ago, Ali the Helering said:

The issuing of credit might work in a metropolis, otherwise I would limit them to trader cults.

In a city (particularly Esrolia), you'd rely on the Asrelia treasury to store goods and provide credit (think ancient pawnshop here). But if you're traveling to another city, then that's where Issaries comes in. Lokarnos might vouch for the wheels you are carrying, and Etyries might provide credit as long as you make regular offerings on top of that to the Lunar temple, but otherwise it's Issaries you want to go to.

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5 hours ago, Qizilbashwoman said:

An advantage of coinage, however, that was embraced was its portability. 

Organised governments also like money, as an effective way to assess and collect taxes. The Lunars insist you pay up in shiny freshly-minted Imperials.

5 hours ago, Darius West said:

The second important factor is verification.   There needs to be a system of checks and balances that insure that the credit system is not being scammed.  This might involve detailed documentary seals, a verification of the handwriting perhaps, special colored inks, or even writing in code.  They might even use an object code, where the bearer is required to offer up a satchel with an unbroken seal to the temple official, and it contains the letter and three other items; a statue of issaries,  a beaded necklace, and a piece of cheese wrapped in leather, and it is actually the type of cheese that is the verification, but each piece can have a meaning too.

As noted above, there's a specialised use of the Seek Sun Dome spell that serves as an additional and definitive magical verification.

5 hours ago, Tindalos said:

Letters of credit are effectively one of Issaries' special things (RQ:G 406), so I'd be hesitant about giving it to other cults, especially ones where trade isn't their main focus and temples have been separate for centuries.

Good marketing on Issaries' part. I think such things are relatively commonplace - even the Kyger Litor cult uses them, see Balastor's Barracks:

Quote

The third scroll is a letter of credit for 15,000L drawn on the temple of Kyger Litor in Old Pavis. It is signed and sealed with a round black circle pierced with a golden sword. (Note to Gamemaster: This scroll is a trap. Presenting it to the temple gives notice that you have killed and robbed trolls.)

Like the Egibis were in Achaemenid Mesopotamia, Issaries are the acknowledged market leader, and probably have the broadest reach (and maybe will go into certain places other won't), but other cultures have their own trade gods to carry out similar functions (Etyries, Lokarnos, Argan Argar, etc).

5 hours ago, scott-martin said:

Wheels can be a serious challenge but because Sun Dome communities rarely interface directly with each other we are still essential as intermediaries and couriers, which is fun and lucrative in itself. Like a lot of locals they gather the assets and then feed them to the professionals for disposition / management.

If the Sun Domers have a verifiable way of checking the bona fides of a credit note (Seek Sun Dome), bringing in outside professionals to carry it - or having your Lokarnos agent join an Issaries caravan - is no concern.

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35 minutes ago, MOB said:

As noted above, there's a specialised use of the Seek Sun Dome spell that serves as an additional and definitive magical verification.

Where's that usage found? I can't spot it in Sun County, where all Seek Sun Dome does is allow the user to see a gleam of gold  on the horizon in the direction of the nearest sun dome. -- which really doesn't seem that useful in this circumstance.

26 minutes ago, MOB said:

Good marketing on Issaries' part. I think such things are relatively commonplace - even the Kyger Litor cult uses them, see Balastor's Barracks:

True, sloppy writing on my part, inter-temple letters of credit are a speciality of Issaries. That example one is only valid with the temple of Kyger Litor in Old Pavis, and would probably be useless if presented to the one in Crabtown (except for the aforementioned "getting killed for being an obvious trollfoe" use.)

41 minutes ago, MOB said:

Like the Egibis were in Achaemenid Mesopotamia, Issaries are the acknowledged market leader, and probably have the broadest reach (and maybe will go into certain places other won't), but other cultures have their own trade gods to carry out similar functions (Etyries, Lokarnos, Argan Argar, etc).

Etyries's cult has long been described as similar in terms to her father (to the extend of sharing magic in CoP), so it makes sense for her. Argan Argar maybe would have it in the Ralian chain, but it seems more ad hoc there. And of course the Lunar Empire and Safelster are of course mercantile and advanced enough for banking to be a serious thing there.

I guess it just seems too fantastic (I know, I know) to me for a region that's been isolation from its fellows since early on in its history, to be able to create and cash in letters of credit with temples from far off lands.

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6 minutes ago, Tindalos said:

Where's that usage found? I can't spot it in Sun County, where all Seek Sun Dome does is allow the user to see a gleam of gold  on the horizon in the direction of the nearest sun dome. -- which really doesn't seem that useful in this circumstance.

You won't find it anywhere because I just made that up, along with Belvani's Holey Wheels.

7 minutes ago, Tindalos said:

I guess it just seems too fantastic (I know, I know) to me for a region that's been isolation from its fellows since early on in its history, to be able to create and cash in letters of credit with temples from far off lands.

The practice would have worked just fine between the SD temples in the River of Cradles valley though (and maybe out to the tribes). Probably hasn't happened in a long time for the Praxian outpost beyond that, though possibly revived when Rurik starts bringing the various SD temples in Dragon Pass and beyond closer together under Argrath. What the great Sun Dome temple of Prax does provide though is a treasury on neutral ground.

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9 hours ago, Darius West said:

Essentially you are asking whether temples can issue letters of credit.  IRL the earliest letters of credit can be traced to both Babylon and Egypt in 3000BC so there is no reason to suppose that this sort of simple financial instrument shouldn't be around in Glorantha.  The driving impetus of the letter of credit involves 2 things. 

Firstly, literacy.  Most people in the bronze age are not literate, and not altogether happy with this newfangled "money" idea, and would much sooner be paid in kind, and it is only because the gold is seen to have intrinsic value that it is accepted happily (metallist paradigm). 

The second important factor is verification.   There needs to be a system of checks and balances that insure that the credit system is not being scammed.  This might involve detailed documentary seals, a verification of the handwriting perhaps, special colored inks, or even writing in code.  They might even use an object code, where the bearer is required to offer up a satchel with an unbroken seal to the temple official, and it contains the letter and three other items; a statue of issaries,  a beaded necklace, and a piece of cheese wrapped in leather, and it is actually the type of cheese that is the verification, but each piece can have a meaning too.

Of course a lot of people don't like letters of credit and are much more partial to precious stones as an easily transportable storage of value, but letters of credit have the advantage that they can be written out to apply only to a specific person, and not any old bearer, and so the letter is much harder for bandits to make use of, especially as if they could read they might be gainfully employed instead of being bandits.

Ah, I was of the erroneous understanding that letters of credit usable at multiple locations as opposed to just between two partners was a medieval (in the west) or Tang dynasty innovation. 

8 hours ago, jajagappa said:

It's unknown but my preferred thought is: 1) not all Gold Wheel Dancers became Wheels; and 2) not all Wheels were Gold Wheel Dancers.

We know that Urrrgh the Ugly prayed to his pile of golden wheels in the Underworld (got a critical success in RQ terms) and one (and only one) of the wheels came to life. This was Pinchining who subsequently aided the Giants and the Cradle.

In the Broken Council LARP, the Gold Wheel Dancers were able to transform into useful shapes and tools (all golden of course). Eventually each would change into a favored form from which they could no longer transform back. Thus one might become a Golden Key, another a Golden Hammer, etc. I played Speaking Wheel, the last of the Gold Wheel Dancers, and I successfully transformed into a Golden Trumpet which was placed into the God Project and became the Voice of Nysalor.  If you follow that practice, then likely perhaps only one or a small number transformed into Wheels, but they showed Lokarnos how to use them and create more.

However, I really like the idea that somehow "cutting out" the center or "heart" the gold wheels breaks some ancient oath or pact between Lokarnos and the Gold Wheel Dancers. Perhaps there was simply one more Gold Wheel Dancer among this Yelmalion hoard, but which coin was it? And who now has the heart of the Gold Wheel Dancer? And what does it mean to the Lokarnos cult?  Perhaps the Wagon cannot cross the Styx in the Underworld, and gets stuck and doesn't rise! 

 

This is all news to me. I am aware that the Gold Wheel Dancers died out in the Dawn Era, but I had no idea that they apparently turned into coinage. O.o

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17 hours ago, scott-martin said:

The beards were one of the biggest initial competitive threats there because they can actually count past ten with their shoes on, but cutting them in on the evaluation side kept them fat, happy and just distracted enough to never seriously build out their own network. We don't really care what fantasy number they put on the treasure that goes into the account logs . . . high, low, we know the price of a thing is in the occasion so it doesn't really matter. But as long as the beards get to feel useful we remain the only truly reliable provider. Oh hey, is this recording crystal on? Where's the delete button on here. 

Actually, the beards would be the best bet for verification of a letter of credit or deed! Who better than them to be able to tell you who precisely made up the letter, when it was done, and whether it was done under coercion or not?

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I think Asrelia mostly uses tally sticks to keep track of debts, which they can administer without any beard assistance if necessary. But this makes the free transfer of debts between temples complicated, so  there is always a fee and it’s really the province of Issaries etc. Asrelia is very into accumulating and dealing with wealth, but moving it around over distances is really the business of others. 
But their ability to preserve large quantities of perishable goods indefinitely effectively lets them arbitrage over time instead of space, which is a big deal (futures trading etc!). Plus now they have the greatest sea port in the world. 

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6 hours ago, davecake said:

But their ability to preserve large quantities of perishable goods indefinitely effectively lets them arbitrage over time instead of space, which is a big deal (futures trading etc!). Plus now they have the greatest sea port in the world. 

The saga of how top grannies weaponized the grain futures market in particular to take down Hendira and as a bonus sterilize the maximum contango left over from the Great Winter crash is endlessly fascinating to a handful of specialists while keeping tens of thousands alive. Love them. Don't know what crazy thing we would have come up with to feed people instead. Nobody dares trade that far out now of course . . . all the premium has gotten crowded into the near contracts and then goes over a cliff, which has the weird effect of compressing what used to be a theoretically endless future down into something the technicians call a "dragon's eye" formation. Weird stuff. Got to be money in it somewhere.

By the time it was liberated, Leningrad’s population was down to 600,000. Three quarters of them were women.

Edited by scott-martin
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