Modest cost normalization suggestion


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Ziggurat Zagger

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Post Sunday, 5th July 2015, 06:36

Modest cost normalization suggestion

So I just noticed this, and while it's certainly not a very interesting inconsistancy, it is something that's sort of awkward.

I noticed that books pretty much randomly have a shop value associated with them, more or less regardless of the spells contained within.

I suggest that books get a base cost (before shop greediness) based on the spells contained within.

The example that brought this to my attention:
  Code:
650 gold   a book of Ice (unknown)
 Spells                             Type                      Level
 a - Ice Form                     Ice/Transmutation             4
 b - Metabolic Englaciation       Hexes/Ice                     5
 c - Ozocubu's Refrigeration      Ice                           6
 d - Bolt of Cold                 Conjuration/Ice               6
 e - Freezing Cloud               Conjuration/Ice/Air           6
 f - Simulacrum                   Ice/Necromancy                6

  Code:
900 gold   a book of Envenomations (unknown)
 Spells                             Type                      Level
 a - Spider Form                  Transmutation/Poison          3
 b - Alistair's Intoxication      Transmutation/Poison          4
 c - Olgreb's Toxic Radiance      Poison                        4
 d - Poisonous Cloud              Conjuration/Poison/Air        6

Note that these two books are for sale in the same shop, so it's not a matter of two different merchants having different greed ratios, to be honest I'm not sure why Envenomations is so expensive, it's not really all that good of a book, and Ice is fantastic.

From the same shop:
  Code:
650 gold   a book of the Earth (unknown)
 Spells                             Type                      Level
 a - Leda's Liquefaction          Hexes/Earth                   4
 b - Bolt of Magma                Conjuration/Fire/Earth        5
 c - Statue Form                  Transmutation/Earth           6
 d - Iron Shot                    Conjuration/Earth             6
 e - Shatter                      Earth                         9


Note this book nets you a level 9 spell for the same price as the book of ice, and for less than envenomations.

I think a consistent base value based on the spell levels contained within a book would probably make things a lot less weird, and give us better shop prices for books in general, as well as give us something good to go off of for randart spellbooks. I think maybe that book values were just sort of ignored and that they could do with a pretty simple overhaul to make them proportional to the value of the book.

Something like:
Sum of (spell-level*spell-level*5) gold or something in that neighborhood would probably give close to ok numbers, as a shot in the dark.
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Post Sunday, 5th July 2015, 10:03

Re: Modest cost normalization suggestion

The value of a spell is not proportional to its level. Regeneration/rmsl/blink/spectral weapon/etc are usually much more valuable than higher level spells, depending on the character. Most characters have no use for firestorm at all, so its value to them is zero. So why give the less valuable spell a higher price?

This change would make it harder to get high level spells in shops, and easier to get lower level spells (assuming the average cost of a book is not changed). That would negatively impact mages, while making the game easier for everybody else.
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bel

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Post Sunday, 5th July 2015, 11:04

Re: Modest cost normalization suggestion

Berder's comment does not make too much sense to me. Why are level 9 spells much harder to find if they are not "valuable", for some definition of "value". If something has "value", it should cost more. This seems common sense to me.

As to this negatively impacting mages compared to fighters, that seems not on point to me. The correct comparison is not "fighters buying books" vs "mages buying books". It should be "fighters buying armour/weapons" vs "mages buying books".

I often find very good books quite cheap, though actually finding book shops is a pain in the neck, and often they don't have what I want, because there are so many books. I often have to go into Elf on the chance of finding a book shop on mage-type speedruns, for instance.

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Post Sunday, 5th July 2015, 11:20

Re: Modest cost normalization suggestion

bel wrote:Berder's comment does not make too much sense to me. Why are level 9 spells much harder to find if they are not "valuable", for some definition of "value". If something has "value", it should cost more. This seems common sense to me.

Value isn't the same as scarcity. One way to look at value is that it's how much you are willing and able to pay for something. If you're willing to spend 1000 gold to get the Regen spell, and 0 gold to get the Bolt of Fire spell, then those are the respective values of those spells to you. I think there are a lot more characters willing to spend 1000g to get Regen than there are characters willing to spend 1000g to get Bolt of Fire.

As to this negatively impacting mages compared to fighters, that seems not on point to me. The correct comparison is not "fighters buying books" vs "mages buying books". It should be "fighters buying armour/weapons" vs "mages buying books".

We're talking about books, not armour/weapons. If you propose a change that does harm mages, that has to be taken into consideration.

If you're comparing the prices of mage books to the prices of fighter armor/weapons, and want to use that to justify jacking up the prices for mages, I think you'll find that mages are already spending more. That's been my experience; a handful of times I've wanted to buy lots of books and not had the gold, and a situation like that has happened to me less often with fighters wanting to buy armor/weapons.


By the way, some high level books do cost more. A necronomicon will run you like 1200-1500g in a shop while a book of battle is more like 600g.
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bel

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Post Sunday, 5th July 2015, 13:11

Re: Modest cost normalization suggestion

I see your point now. We are arguing from opposite sides of "supply and demand". You say demand for Regen is higher, I am saying, supply of Fire Storm is lower.

However, I think the latter is definitely true, the former, I am not sure. I am not even sure whether the concept of "demand" makes sense here. Should shop prices be adjusted based on what characters people play? That's an interesting thought.

As to the latter point, I was talking about the comparison with armour/weapon shops because I usually don't find books expensive. I usually just find them rare (at least the ones I need).

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Post Sunday, 5th July 2015, 13:37

Re: Modest cost normalization suggestion

re: Books that are good, books that aren't good:

  Code:
mps book tier list:

SS: Battle

S: Spatial Translocations, Frost, Cantrips, Party Tricks, Minor Magic

A: Dreams (+), Enchantments, Warp, Unlife, Beasts, Flames, Necromancy, Summonings, Callings, Burglary

B: Grand Grimoire, Air, Changes, Transfigurations, Necronomicon, Geomancy, Fen Folio

C: Conjurations, Alchemy, Fire, Maledictions, Ice, Young Poisoner's, Envenomations, Sky, Earth, Akashic Record

D: Annhilations, Power, Dragon, Death, Hinderance, Debilitations

E: Tempests

?: Control -- idk what's in control in trunk, but without ctele, it's not a good book.


re: the OP, I don't see what he's talking about in the specific examples he raises, but in general I agree that books are priced in a more or less random way. Books full of junk that ruin more characters than they improve sell for big money, ones full of spells that are good for everyone who can use them are often very cheap.
Last edited by mps on Sunday, 5th July 2015, 17:44, edited 1 time in total.
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Post Sunday, 5th July 2015, 16:55

Re: Modest cost normalization suggestion

I think it's worth mentioning that the current system is just C * book_rarity, (where C is a constant that depends on the depth where the shop is found). To some extent this does make sense, in that usually something that's rare is worth more, but he problem is of course that you don't buy a book for the book itself, you buy it for the spells in it, so the formula is pretty dumb. I don't have a better idea for a formula though.

Ziggurat Zagger

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Post Sunday, 5th July 2015, 18:19

Re: Modest cost normalization suggestion

The point wasn't to try to price books by usefulness (which is ludicrous on the face of it, since usefulness is subjective and game-dependent) but rather by "powerfulness" in the same way that a plate armour costs more than ring or scale mail, because it's more 'powerful' (even if low-strength characters may prefer the lower EV penalty armour)

The reason I am suggesting using spell level is because spell level is *supposed* to be an abstract of how powerful a spell is, if indvidual spells' levels aren't representative of how powerful they are, I presume ultimately someone will decide that's the case and adjust it as appropriate

Rarity is already punished in the game, simply by virtue of being rare, difficult to find books are balanced by virtue of the fact that they are difficult to find, making them more expensive as well is just flavor, particularly since it has nothing to do with how powerful something is. If rarity was a good pricing model for crawl, hammers would be super duper expensive.

And really, you don't see the point I'm making where a book that has 4 spells, levels 3,4,4,6 costs 900 and one that has 6 spells, levels 4,5,6,6,6,6 costs 650 as being inconsistent? Even if you were to try to abstract 'usefulness' from the books, the higher-cost spellbook has spells that are more limited in application than the lower-cost one, however what struck me as inconsistent was the *power* vs *cost* ratio being so different between the two.

Note that what I propose is "some sort of formula to make book cost relative to power level" calling that a nerf or buff to anyone is somewhat premature since there's no set formula picked for it yet.
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Post Sunday, 5th July 2015, 18:33

Re: Modest cost normalization suggestion

Well spelllevel isn't the only power metric. You also have to consider number of spell schools a spell has. Sting would be an ok level 2 Poison Magic spell. Meph cloud might be op as single school level 3.
Last edited by byrel on Sunday, 5th July 2015, 18:46, edited 1 time in total.
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Ziggurat Zagger

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Post Sunday, 5th July 2015, 18:37

Re: Modest cost normalization suggestion

byrel wrote:Well spelllevel isn't the only power metric. You also have to consider number of spell schools a spell has. Sting would be an ok level 2 Poison Magic spell. Meph cloud might be open as single school level 3.

Sure, and maybe for cost-measuring purposes we should include spell schools in the formulas (So power level = (spell level+number of schools) or something like that) that had occurred to me, but I didn't want to overly complicate the discussion with minutiae about how the formula should work before having the discussion about whether, and what kind of, formula should exist.
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Post Sunday, 5th July 2015, 18:38

Re: Modest cost normalization suggestion

Siegurt wrote:And really, you don't see the point I'm making where a book that has 4 spells, levels 3,4,4,6 costs 900 and one that has 6 spells, levels 4,5,6,6,6,6 costs 650 as being inconsistent?

There's a certain charm to finding a great book for cheap. It's like finding a nice drop. It's fun to get lucky.

Note that what I propose is "some sort of formula to make book cost relative to power level" calling that a nerf or buff to anyone is somewhat premature since there's no set formula picked for it yet.

It's not too early to call it. If your change makes higher level books more expensive while making lower level books cheaper, this would hurt mages while helping others, regardless of the precise details.
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Ziggurat Zagger

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Post Sunday, 5th July 2015, 18:47

Re: Modest cost normalization suggestion

Berder wrote:
Siegurt wrote:And really, you don't see the point I'm making where a book that has 4 spells, levels 3,4,4,6 costs 900 and one that has 6 spells, levels 4,5,6,6,6,6 costs 650 as being inconsistent?

There's a certain charm to finding a great book for cheap. It's like finding a nice drop. It's fun to get lucky.

Note that what I propose is "some sort of formula to make book cost relative to power level" calling that a nerf or buff to anyone is somewhat premature since there's no set formula picked for it yet.

It's not too early to call it. If your change makes higher level books more expensive while making lower level books cheaper, this would hurt mages while helping others, regardless of the precise details.


I didn't say said the formula I was proposing did that. I am simply proposing there be a formula, maybe it will make lower level books more expensive and higher level spell books less expensive than they are now, I dunno yet.

Right now "higher level spellbooks" might actually be cheaper than "lower level spellbooks" because the value is purely arbitrary, and has nothing to do with the level of the spellbook at all, I *am* proposing that higher level spellbooks be more expensive than lower level spellbooks (Without reference to how the costs compare to what they are now)

Your definitions of "higher level spellbooks" and "lower level spellbooks" seems to actually imply that there *is* such a definition, and that it has some relationship to cost (And I think it should, but it doesn't) My point was that this relationship isn't actually codified, and is simply the result of a seemingly arbitrary set of numbers assigned more or less at random to some books (without regard to the "level" of the "spellbook") and there are cases where a higher level spellbook is actually significantly cheaper than a lower level one.
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Post Sunday, 5th July 2015, 18:55

Re: Modest cost normalization suggestion

Probably a more productive thing for this thread would be to come up with some such formula, even if it's just a very simplistic one, to get a vague idea of what kind of results it might have.

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Post Sunday, 5th July 2015, 19:04

Re: Modest cost normalization suggestion

I don't see the problem with rarity as the determinant of cost. It means the cost of a book is inversely proportional to how likely you are to find it (except for vaults screwing up the rarity in practice). If garbage books like envenomations are rare and therefore strangely expensive, maybe they just shouldn't be rare!

Also this part of the randart book cost formula is dumb, I don't need to explain why:
  Code:
                // Surcharge for large books.
                if (spells.size() > 6)
                    rarity *= spells.size() / 6;

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Post Sunday, 5th July 2015, 19:10

Re: Modest cost normalization suggestion

I dunno; you could just as easily be objecting to the idea or to the error in implementation.

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Post Sunday, 5th July 2015, 23:14

Re: Modest cost normalization suggestion

Alrighty just to get the ball rolling here's my suggestion for a formula and the resulting *base* costs (before modification for shop greediness) for some books:
Formula
  Code:
100+5*SUM( (spellLevel*spellLevel)+(schools *3) )

Or more verbosely:
PowerLevel = SpellLevel^2+(schools*3)
BookCost = 100+5*(SUM(PowerLevel))

Some random books and their costs under that formula:
  Code:
Cantrips  180
Minor Magic  395
book of ice: 1205
Envenomations: 605
Annihilations: 1880
Necronomicon: 1410
book of air: 465
Warp: 810

Obviously the constanants could be adjusted. But in a cost-to-power ratio that seems pretty reasonable to me.
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Post Sunday, 5th July 2015, 23:22

Re: Modest cost normalization suggestion

duvessa wrote:I don't see the problem with rarity as the determinant of cost. It means the cost of a book is inversely proportional to how likely you are to find it (except for vaults screwing up the rarity in practice). If garbage books like envenomations are rare and therefore strangely expensive, maybe they just shouldn't be rare!

Also this part of the randart book cost formula is dumb, I don't need to explain why:
  Code:
                // Surcharge for large books.
                if (spells.size() > 6)
                    rarity *= spells.size() / 6;

So you're solution is that if a book is crappy, or just has lower spells in it, that the solution is to flood the dungeon with them, so it's cheaper, that seems, back-asswards to me. I mean, really, why do we want to generate more crappy items just to make them cheaper? (If long swords were too expensive in the shop, would the best solution be 'generate more long swords'?)

The problem with book rarity is that is has *nothing* to do with *spell* rarity, much less with *spell value* because as wheals points out, you aren't specifically buying books, you're buying spells, do you care which book your copy of blink came from? No, you do not.
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Post Monday, 6th July 2015, 01:25

Re: Modest cost normalization suggestion

If you want to gauge the usefulness of spells in a non-ridiculous way, there's a lot of data on this. First, forget about pulling a formula out of your... mind. Second, realize that "usefulness" can be measured by looking at game data.

A useful spell has the following properties: 1.) If you find it and you can cast it, you'll learn it. 2.) A high percentage of winning characters who find it and win learn it. 3.) Lair percentage of characters who find it early will be higher. 4.) You might cast it a lot, but this is a weaker/more complicated indicator than the others. I suggest coming up with a script that measures things like this in recent online games and cooks up a base price for spells, then determines book prices from spell prices. Book prices will vary in a complicated, stock price-like way, but right now they're essentially random and there'd be some logic to the prices this way.

An even more market-y approach would be to add a random amount to the price and look at whether players buy the books at a higher or lower price when available, then adjust the the base price according to whether players tend to go for the higher price or not.
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Post Monday, 6th July 2015, 01:54

Re: Modest cost normalization suggestion

Yes, I could do all that, but that doesn't make any sense at all to do so, and in fact I completely disagree with your implicit premise that spells should have cost proportional to their usefulness as distinct from their powerfulness. I'm not trying to come up with a system that "balances" the shop cost of spells against how much people would want that spell in a typical game, that's absurd on the face of it, particularly since that has absolutely no bearing on the spell's availability (Which is already controlled by rarity)

For the same reasons that we shouldn't price triple swords lower than great swords, or plate mail at a lower price than scale mail, because *usefulness is not a measure of powerfulness* the amount that something should cost is representative of it's *powerfulness* not it's *usefulness*

The reason this is so is that shop prices have nothing to do with limiting the availability of something, but rather controlling *when* you have access to it, once it's in a shop, if a player wants an object that exists in a shop they'll collect the gold needed and buy it. The more expensive an item is, the later in the game it is purchasable, so higher shop prices are all about forcing a player to get those items at an appropriate part of the game.

Usefulness isn't a good thing to attempt to set prices by, because early game things are always more useful than late game things (because you have better access to them for longer) trying to price things by usefulness results in an inverted pricing pyramid where you can't have the things you want, but can have the things you don't need now and won't need until much later.
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Post Monday, 6th July 2015, 02:19

Re: Modest cost normalization suggestion

Siegurt wrote:
duvessa wrote:I don't see the problem with rarity as the determinant of cost. It means the cost of a book is inversely proportional to how likely you are to find it (except for vaults screwing up the rarity in practice). If garbage books like envenomations are rare and therefore strangely expensive, maybe they just shouldn't be rare!

Also this part of the randart book cost formula is dumb, I don't need to explain why:
  Code:
                // Surcharge for large books.
                if (spells.size() > 6)
                    rarity *= spells.size() / 6;

So you're solution is that if a book is crappy, or just has lower spells in it, that the solution is to flood the dungeon with them, so it's cheaper, that seems, back-asswards to me. I mean, really, why do we want to generate more crappy items just to make them cheaper? (If long swords were too expensive in the shop, would the best solution be 'generate more long swords'?)
But...that's exactly what's done with weapons and armour. For the most part, the better weapons and armour are rarer. Now that ankuses are gone, the noticeable exceptions I know of are greatsling, hat, animal skin, troll leather/hide, and maybe quick blade. (And bad artefacts, but that's not really relevant here). It just isn't true for books, and I don't see anything fundamentally wrong with changing book rarity so it is true. If book of envenomations is so awful that you'd see it as clutter, then it should just be removed. I guess flavourwise annihilations being the most common book would be weird, but that only happens because crawl's painted itself into a corner by making "high-level" spells uniformly worse than "low-level" spells. If you don't want to change that then sure, don't price them by rarity, but pricing them by their actual value is still going to leave the "high-level" books as the cheapest ones.

Siegurt wrote:The reason this is so is that shop prices have nothing to do with limiting the availability of something, but rather controlling *when* you have access to it, once it's in a shop, if a player wants an object that exists in a shop they'll collect the gold needed and buy it. The more expensive an item is, the later in the game it is purchasable, so higher shop prices are all about forcing a player to get those items at an appropriate part of the game.

Usefulness isn't a good thing to attempt to set prices by, because early game things are always more useful than late game things (because you have better access to them for longer) trying to price things by usefulness results in an inverted pricing pyramid where you can't have the things you want, but can have the things you don't need now and won't need until much later.
This is literally the system that book pricing uses right now, since "higher-level" books are rarer! That's how they generate at the "appropriate part of the game"! I'm seriously getting the feeling that your only actual problem with the situation is that book of envenomations exists.

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Post Monday, 6th July 2015, 02:27

Re: Modest cost normalization suggestion

Your notion of "powerfulness" is a nebulous, probably meaningless concept. If you want shops to price things in a way that makes sense from a gameplay perspective, usefulness is the right thing to price for.

Actually shop prices exactly limit availability. Pricing is such that except at the very earliest stages of the game, where your "powerfulness" idea wouldn't come into play, you can buy almost any single item. The problem is in buying more than one item and the choice comes down to which is the most useful at the moment.
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Post Monday, 6th July 2015, 02:35

Re: Modest cost normalization suggestion

Just divide the spells into a few tiers and calculate book costs using the maximum of its spells.
  Code:
    case SPELL_AIRSTRIKE:
    case SPELL_CALL_IMP:
    case SPELL_FLIGHT:
          return SPLCOST_LOW;

    case SPELL_REGENERATION:
    case SPELL_REPEL_MISSILES:
    case SPELL_REPEL_MISSILES:
          return SPLCOST_MEDIUM;

    case SPELL_HASTE:
    case SPELL_INVISIBILITY:
        return SPLCOST_HIGH;
     

    case SPELL_FIRESTORM:
    case SPELL_NECROMUTATION:
          return SPLCOST_HIGHEST;


Book prices would be the maximum of its spells:

  Code:
Cantrips -> SPLCOST_LOW;
Envenomations -> SPLCOST_MEDIUM;
Enchantments -> SPLCOST_HIGH;
Annihilations -> SPLCOST_HIGHEST;


And then assign monetary values based on these tiers.
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Post Monday, 6th July 2015, 02:51

Re: Modest cost normalization suggestion

mps wrote:Your notion of "powerfulness" is a nebulous, probably meaningless concept. If you want shops to price things in a way that makes sense from a gameplay perspective, usefulness is the right thing to price for.

Actually shop prices exactly limit availability. Pricing is such that except at the very earliest stages of the game, where your "powerfulness" idea wouldn't come into play, you can buy almost any single item. The problem is in buying more than one item and the choice comes down to which is the most useful at the moment.


In my case I'm using "Spell level" as a concrete stand in for powerfulness, I'm unconvinced that spell level is either nebulous or meaningless.

If you price things from a perspective usefulness the book of air would cost 3000 coins, and annihilation would cost maybe 600, I dont believe that would be better for the game, personally.
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Post Monday, 6th July 2015, 03:11

Re: Modest cost normalization suggestion

Prices should stay in the range that currently exists, books should just be rearranged within that range. Spell level is well-defined, but higher spell level makes spells worse, not better. If "powerfulness" is a quality that should correlate positively with price, then there must be more to it than spell level.

Also, pubby's suggestion is good. Taking into account number of best tier spells might be a good second order correction.
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Post Monday, 6th July 2015, 03:32

Re: Modest cost normalization suggestion

mps wrote:Prices should stay in the range that currently exists, books should just be rearranged within that range. Spell level is well-defined, but higher spell level makes spells worse, not better. If "powerfulness" is a quality that should correlate positively with price, then there must be more to it than spell level.

Also, pubby's suggestion is good. Taking into account number of best tier spells might be a good second order correction.

Well, my suggestion is to take the existing price paradigm (which is generally speaking higher level spellbooks cost more) and use a consistent formula to get the somewhat out of band prickly arbitrary prices out and make them consistent with other spellbooks.

Your contention seems to be that the current pricing paradigm is completely wrong and should be turned mostly on it's head. I disagree, but regardless of what pricing is used, I think that revamping the entire pricing model lies outside this particular suggestion (Particularly if you extend said paraidgm to items beyond spell books)

My intention here was to not rearrange the existing paradigm, but rather simply smooth out the existing weirdnesses.
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Post Monday, 6th July 2015, 04:02

Re: Modest cost normalization suggestion

eh, n/m
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Post Monday, 6th July 2015, 17:23

Re: Modest cost normalization suggestion

Lets do away with multi-spell books outside of starting characters, and just generate individual spell books instead. Now rarity can be set as is appropriate for each spell rather than trying to balance both the rarity of a given book and how many books a given spell is in. (Consumable spell scrolls that let you learn one of the two spells they contain might be cool too.)

PS mps you epic trolled me by listing book of air so low compared to stuff like cantrips but i'm not gonna make this thread about your list!!!

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Post Monday, 6th July 2015, 17:31

Re: Modest cost normalization suggestion

I see Siegurt's proposal as some aggregrate function of "spell rarity" instead of "book rarity" which makes sense, because you actually buy spells, not books. Using the level and number of spell schools of a spell as a proxy for its rarity seems a good idea to me. Overall, it seems a reasonable proposal.

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