Dungeon Born: I Am Beginning To Suspect The Economics Of This Book Were Not Thought Through

Chapter 13-Dale

Dale is super tired and goes straight to sleep after the dungeon raid. He is then woken up by a guy tossing a bucket of water over his head.

“Good morning sunshine!” A grinning menace, Hans was the group member who had been wielding daggers the day before. He loomed above Dale, holding an empty bucket.

So on top of a bunch of characters not being named at all, some of them are picking up names a full chapter after they’re introduced. Really does feel like the author is just naming people as he goes, not bothering with characters who aren’t important, slapping names onto people who turn out to be more important than anticipated, and not bothering to edit their newly given names into the chapters where they previously appeared.

Hans and Dale talk about the benefits of being in the guild. It’s nothing we haven’t heard before, except that we do confirm that a drastically extended lifespan is one of the benefits of a working chi spiral. Dale is shocked to hear this. It is not clear why an ability this useful and this easy to teach isn’t common knowledge. There is both large demand and large supply, but instead of being a huge market that turns a massive profit off of charging everyone and their dog, it’s instead a rare technique apparently not for sale. I’m guessing this is pilfered from xanxia. You wouldn’t expect the really awesome chi techniques to be taught for money. Real life monastic training is regarded with reverence so it usually makes sense for chi wizards with superpowers to have the same perspective on teaching the techniques. Indeed, I’d expect most people who want to buy chi cultivation techniques would be inherently unable to learn them.

These adventurer guys, though? They’re mercenaries, and the techniques they’re teaching are pretty much just basic meditation. Why aren’t they teaching chi cultivation for profit?

Hans has this weird accent:

He stopped and looked at Dale, “Meeting Frank was the best thing that ever happened to you, and don’t you never forget it, boy-oh. People kill to get into the Guild, if we ask them to. You’ll notice pretty quick that you are about to become a whole helluva lot stronger, and harder to hurt. That’ll be your Essence toughening you up. There’s a whole slew-a benefits. Including that enchanted armor you’re wearing.”

Except when he doesn’t:

Hans looked at the chef warily, and responded in a voice that was almost bereft of his previous accent, “Hmm. Dale, I’m gonna let you in on a secret to a long life. Never piss off your chef, your Boss, or your wife. I even rhymed it for you, that’ll help ya remember. Also, when you get famous never let someone make a song about you. Never ends well.” He advised sagely.

Is there a reason for this, or did the author just get sick of the accent as fast as I did? And also has a word processor that’s incapable of editing existing text, and so must keep everything he writes, unable to fix anything even if it’s only a few pages of dialogue that he just barely wrote?

Dale’s raiding party forms up and they hack through the mushrooms again. No sign of any rabbits this time.

Chapter 13-Cal

Dani asks why Cal didn’t send the rabbits this time.

<Sure! You were in their camp yesterday right? Well there were other groups getting ready to come down if I am not mistaken, yes?> I was asking a leading question, so she stayed quiet.

When she nodded, I continued, <Here is my thought. We give off a sense of weakness to the really strong groups like this one, and they eventually become overconfident. When a weak group comes down, we catch them entirely off guard and make sure none return to warn the others. The strong group thinks the weak ones were killed accidentally, because they know how easy the fights are.>

Two things I wanna note here.

One, while this is reasonably clever, it’s not so clever that it should be unheard of. When weak groups go into the dungeon and don’t return, the stronger adventurers’ response shouldn’t be “I guess those guys were total scrubs,” it should be “oh, this is one of those dungeons that baits and switches. May as well just quarantine the place, then, since it holds all its treasure and mobs in reserve for groups it expects to kill.”

Second, remember earlier when the justification for killing anyone who sets foot in the dungeon was “well, they know they’re risking their lives coming here, therefore their lives have no value?” Ignoring how messed up that is, even that justification kinda falls apart when you’re actively plotting to mislead people about the danger so you can trick the weak ones into entering a dungeon they’re unprepared for and getting slaughtered.

[“]I propose that we give regular fights to most of them, and only wipe out a party once a week or so. Enough people are showing up out there that I think that could be attributed to poor group decisions.” Dani amended my plan prototypically making it a better one.

Firstly, there’s an adverb and thesaurus abuse in here. Attach that dialogue tag to one of Dani’s exposition dumps and we’ll get a hat trick.

Secondly, sending a single weak guy to hang out with a powerful group until he levels is my default means of replacing veterans in XCOM. It’s such a common tactic and so effective that Darkest Dungeon had to make it impossible by having adventurers arbitrarily refuse to enter a dungeon that was too far below their level. Power leveling is so common in MMORPGs that we have a specific term for it. Why would the guild ever send a group of weaklings in without, at minimum, one high-level guide?

A weaker group enters the dungeon and drops a few ‘shrooms. In a dungeon clearing way, not in a 420 blazeit kind of way.

They continued onward, pushing through the pain as the promise of treasure stirred them from inaction. Already a few coppers richer, apparently the equivalent of a week’s pay in the area, they were determined to make it big.

Holy shit, how much is “a few?” If it’s seven coppers a piece – which is more than the standard range already – that means that most people get paid one copper per day. How do they make purchases? How can they actually buy anything when their daily income cannot be divided into smaller currency? Is there a sub-copper coin? Do they have to set up some scheme whereby multiple peasants pay into a pool, the pool is divided between a grocer, a carpenter, a blacksmith, etc. etc, and then those craftsmen provide services everyone who contributed to the pool?

After a second room, the group is feeling much less bold and consider turning back.

One of the men, trying to convince them to keep going, pulled off his helmet and started arguing energetically that the group should continue.

And is then immediately sniped by a thorn ‘shroom. That’s not just me sarcastically commenting on the inevitable result of taking your helmet off in the middle of a dungeon for no reason, that’s actually what happens next. Because obviously.

Equally obvious are two other things that happen: One, Cal is unable to follow through on his plan to exterminate them completely, but two, no one’s going to catch on to the bait-and-switch plan in spite of this because that guy wasn’t really ambushed by a stronger than expected dungeon, he was just colossally stupid. Once again, Dungeon Born doesn’t fail to explain the consequences of an action (the explanation even happened in reasonable order this time, so there was no moment where I was asking “why the Hell is character X doing action Y?” and then got an answer only later, when it didn’t matter anymore because the scene was over), but once again, the opposition facing Cal is so light that it’s hard to get invested.

Also note that, with no fanfare at all, Cal has now killed a dude for no reason except to amass more power. That’s a level of villainy so blatant that when the antagonist has that motivation, we tend to call it boring and played out. The narrative hasn’t even noticed.

Cal’s mysterious ability to shove corruption around at will allows him to shove a bunch of corruption into a beast core, which will…uh…It’s not actually clear what it will do, but I don’t object to Cal experimenting with what happens when he uses his unique power in weird ways.

Cal’s able to create an enchanted dagger, and he gets so into making the thing that an adventuring party is practically in his boss room by the time he’s done and paying attention. They clear the boss and he drops a silver coin for them, at which point Dani explains that yes, standard conversion rates apply. 100 copper to a silver, 100 silver to a gold, 100 gold to a platinum. She also refers to the copper piece dropped as “a month’s wages.” So we’re back a day’s wages being more like 3 copper, then, and the earlier reference to “a few coppers” meant, like, twenty.

Apparently, I had drastically overpaid these guys. Silver and copper were easy to make, so I wasn’t worried about it until Dani informed me of what the consequences may be, ”If everyone thinks you are going to be worth a month’s pay for an hour of fighting, they will come in and kill absolutely everything over and over, just looking for a way to avoid working elsewhere. Humans can be rather… enthusiastic in their greed.”

Well, yeah. I don’t mean the “humans are greedy” thing, I think Cal’s supposed to come across as naive on that one, I mean the thing where people want the dungeon to be worth a lot. It fucking kills people, there had better be significant rewards to go along with that. I mean, come on, if there was a dungeon that spat out a month’s wages for an hour of fighting that kills the unwary, how eager would you be to delve it? I’d consider it, sure, just play it real safe and turn around with whatever coppers I’ve picked up if things start looking bad, but I don’t know if I’d actually do it. What if my party insists on going ahead without me, and I’m ambushed on my way back alone? What if I get stupid with greed deep in the dungeon, talk myself into thinking my situation isn’t really that dangerous, and push on when I should retreat? What if it’s one of those bait and switch dungeons and I go in expecting evil rabbits and instead there’s like a vampire or something?

If you aren’t offering a hefty payout, who’s gonna risk their life dungeon delving?

2 thoughts on “Dungeon Born: I Am Beginning To Suspect The Economics Of This Book Were Not Thought Through”

  1. > It is not clear why an ability this useful and this easy to teach isn’t common knowledge. There is both large demand and large supply, but instead of being a huge market that turns a massive profit off of charging everyone and their dog, it’s instead a rare technique apparently not for sale. I’m guessing this is pilfered from xanxia.

    It’s not. In xanxia wizard sects usually operate as a massive scam and charge insane prices, or just kidnap you and use you as slave labor and some lucky slaves get to become level 1 wizards.


    1. And in xania it continues on up too, with each tier basically being the rung of the pyramid supporting the next above it by sending all their *really* good stuff to the next cultivation level, in exchange for being trickle taught the super powerful techniques above them.

      It’s a scam all the way down, until the protagonist shows up and cheats the system by having something that lets them bypass the economy.


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