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Against the Grain


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Started a yet another playthrough after White March part 2 dropped, and got curious how people choose to finished this.  First time I played through this I convinced Sweynur to stop harassing Trumbel, but on subsequent playthroughs I realised that Trumbel was actually withholding food from them, and now find that I tend to help Sweynur more now though I still find it an awkward situation.  What do you do?

"That rabbit's dynamite!" - King Arthur, Monty Python and the Quest for the Holy Grail

"Space is big, really big." - Douglas Adams

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I don't think it's as cut and dried as all that.  Trumble is getting squeezed on two sides.  The angry townsfolk and the greedy assed militia.  At the point in the story, it seems he's trying to stay on the good side of the 'robber baron,' since the citizenry tends to get strung up rather hastily.  The PC can convince him that maybe it might be a good idea to keep on the side of the townsfolk since things are deteriorating rapidly.  None of it really matters because, if things don't improve, everyone will be as screwed as a two bit whore in a twelve dollar cat house.

 

So, to answer the question, the first two times I convinced the ruffniks to lay off the miller.  Last night, in my third run, I convinced the weasel elf bastard to cough up some grain for better prices.  ...But the only hope the town has for anything other than short term is for a certain Watcher to get to Watching.

bother?

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mmmm not sure having different prices for food for different people is capitalistic. Can you imagine if shops started doing it. Would be some slightly upset people:)

"Those who look upon gods then say, without even knowing their names, 'He is Fire. She is Dance. He is Destruction. She is Love.' So, to reply to your statement, they do not call themselves gods. Everyone else does, though, everyone who beholds them."
"So they play that on their fascist banjos, eh?"
"You choose the wrong adjective."
"You've already used up all the others.”

 

Lord of Light

 

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There's only so much grain, he's selling it to whoever can pay the most isn't he? Doesn't seem wrong, just capitalistic. Either way threatening him and his family in turn doesn't seem right.

That's the thing, he's not.  He's raising the prices for certain people because he doesn't believe they deserve it as much as others.  He's basically picking who lives and who dies based on his own opinion of them, and while Sweynur may come across as a jerk in the quest he IS essentially starving and is basically fighting for survival.  His providing food to Raedric's guards is also questionable, I didn't get the feeling that he was providing them good prices because they forced him to but because he thinks they should be well-fed 'because of the hard work they do' (his actual words). 

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"That rabbit's dynamite!" - King Arthur, Monty Python and the Quest for the Holy Grail

"Space is big, really big." - Douglas Adams

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There are some checks to find out the whole truth I believe, not sure if you need them to find out the whole truth though.  I passed a resolve check of 14 to demand that he 'stop lying to me and tell me the whole truth' and I think there's also a perception check that I did with a ranger to catch him out.  The questions then becomes for me: is he right to do this?  Is he just making sure the vulnerable stay healthy and the potential troublemakers are kept in line?  Would he actually let Sweynur and his friends die when there is food available?  Or is he basing his decisions on whether he likes people or not and then making up justifications for himself?  While Sweynur and co seem to have always been troublemakers the trouble they made was more drunken behaviour than anything that would warrant being left to die, and Trumbel even brings up the soul lineage of one of Sweynur's cohorts, saying that it is bad and therefore she is bad just because of her lineage.  And should he really be the one making these decisions by himself?  Then again, he is trying to save it for people like Aufra who are pregnant and in need, and if they don't have enough food to go around then choices do need to be made, and Sweynur doesn't seem the sort to sacrifice his needs for others...

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"That rabbit's dynamite!" - King Arthur, Monty Python and the Quest for the Holy Grail

"Space is big, really big." - Douglas Adams

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I'll try boosting my resolve next time and see how it goes.

 

Either way you look at it, he buys the crops from the farmers, after that it's his to do with as he pleases, so if he wants to sell it back at a huge markup that's his right. That said, really the smart option for Sweynur and co would be to rise the price of their crops in accordance with the rising price of grain, or just stop selling to Trumbel untill he guarantees them a fair deal in turn. :devil:

Edited by falchen
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Either way you look at it, he buys the crops from the farmers, after that it's his to do with as he pleases, so if he wants to sell it back at a huge markup that's his right. That said, really the smart option for Sweynur and co would be to rise the price of their crops in accordance with the rising price of grain, or just stop selling to Trumbel untill he guarantees them a fair deal in turn. :devil:

And that's a good argument for why capitalism sucks: it justifies letting people die for profit as 'rights'.  :p  The farmers can't not sell it to him, he is the only miller in town and they can't just sit on their crops otherwise they will rot.  They need the food and they need the seeds to plant another crop.  Trumbel knows this and could be said to be blackmailing the town into accepting his authority.  There IS something the farmers can do: they can take a club to Trumbel's face, which is what they are essentially threatening to do when you come across the confrontation.

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"That rabbit's dynamite!" - King Arthur, Monty Python and the Quest for the Holy Grail

"Space is big, really big." - Douglas Adams

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I just checked it out, FLJ, and you're right.  The miller believes the guards protect the village and deserve better prices.  However, what's the compelling argument to make him change his pricing?  A high resolve manages it by pointing out the townsfolk will assault him if he doesn't.  I'm sure the imminent threat of physical violence makes Sweynur and his mob of friendly townsfolk right.

 

As an aside, while the operation would start small, someone else would start milling grain, right?  ...And the miller doesn't just get the grain.  In a free market system (which isn't really what the game represents anyway), the farmers have the ability to hold that grain over the millers head.  After all, the miller can't make any money off of milled grain if he never gets any raw grain.  I don't have any problem suspending disbelief in order to enjoy the game, and I know anyone who actually defends the economic system that has provided us the opportunity to sit here and bash it must be inherently evil, but I wouldn't let the video game scenario dictate your understanding of how free markets (or capitalism as Marx might say) works.

 

...And, as a further aside, what's the alternative to the pseudo free market system (because it's not real capitalism and probably not actually definable on its face in the game) in Gilded Vale?  The people take over the means of production communally?  I doubt that.  The alternative to capitalism in Gilded Vale is government control, and we've all seen how well the government is running things there.

 

I think it's perfectly legit to think the miller is an ass.  It's clear that the farmer is an ass also.  Things are clearly broken in Gilded Vale altogether.  When I go around seeing that the grain growing in the fields is in dire shape, it makes me think that the prices won't get better no matter how you cut it because the place is clearly in rapid decline.

 

Anyhow, no hard feelings.  If I get any harsh blowback from the more Socialist inclined folks here, I'll just petition the government for my beer allowance and provide a beer for them to smooth things over.  After all, we all know the real importance of that grain is for brewing.

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bother?

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Um, I wasn't seriously getting into 'capitalism bad' thing, I was just pointing out that invoking "that's capitalism" as justification for letting people die for profits makes capitalism look bad as opposed to justifying the miller's actions.  Don't make me send Obama over to your house, now! :p

 

The situation is a morally iffy area, that's why I was asking it.  Both sides are being an ass, both sides are justified, this usually means that someone somewhere will have come up with some bizarre perception of the whole thing that somehow puts all the blame on Aloth's mum or something, and was curious.  Cutting off the Miller would require all the farmers working together and since he's not giving bad prices to all of them (just the unlikeable ones, which might be why he's chosen them in particular) not all of them will want to cut him off, and setting up a new Miller in this situation is not feasible, as they can barely produce enough food let alone set up a new windmill and train up people to operate it.

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"That rabbit's dynamite!" - King Arthur, Monty Python and the Quest for the Holy Grail

"Space is big, really big." - Douglas Adams

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It's a complex situation, and both getting Trumbel to lower prices and convincing Sweynur to back off can be seen as "good".

 

Personally, I just autopilot through the quick and easy early quest, while guffawing to myself about how close Trumbel is to Trimble (a brand of GPS).

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Phew you guys like complicating things:)

This is not about socialism, capitalism or even communism. It's just about right vs wrong.

Yes, they are both asses, yes Sweynur is a troublemaker. But the one thing I do know is someone who charges different prices for food depending on whether or not he likes you, whilst you are in the process of starving is flat out wrong. Nothing to do with capitalism or socialism, though it might be trumpism........

It's animal farm mark2.

Edited by rheingold

"Those who look upon gods then say, without even knowing their names, 'He is Fire. She is Dance. He is Destruction. She is Love.' So, to reply to your statement, they do not call themselves gods. Everyone else does, though, everyone who beholds them."
"So they play that on their fascist banjos, eh?"
"You choose the wrong adjective."
"You've already used up all the others.”

 

Lord of Light

 

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Phew you guys like complicating things:)

This is not about socialism, capitalism or even communism. It's just about right vs wrong.

Yes, they are both asses, yes Sweynur is a troublemaker. But the one thing I do know is someone who charges different prices for food depending on whether or not he likes you, whilst you are in the process of starving is flat out wrong. Nothing to do with capitalism or socialism, though it might be trumpism........

It's animal farm mark2.

 

Hmm, you never heard about discounts then. Of course displayed prices in shops are the same for everyone, but if you talk directly to the manager he might agree to sell you for a better price if you're a good client or if you buy a large quantity.

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Phew you guys like complicating things:)

This is not about socialism, capitalism or even communism. It's just about right vs wrong.

Yes, they are both asses, yes Sweynur is a troublemaker. But the one thing I do know is someone who charges different prices for food depending on whether or not he likes you, whilst you are in the process of starving is flat out wrong. Nothing to do with capitalism or socialism, though it might be trumpism........

It's animal farm mark2.

 

Hmm, you never heard about discounts then. Of course displayed prices in shops are the same for everyone, but if you talk directly to the manager he might agree to sell you for a better price if you're a good client or if you buy a large quantity.

Lol we not talking about discounts here, rather about price gouging starving people.... Edited by rheingold

"Those who look upon gods then say, without even knowing their names, 'He is Fire. She is Dance. He is Destruction. She is Love.' So, to reply to your statement, they do not call themselves gods. Everyone else does, though, everyone who beholds them."
"So they play that on their fascist banjos, eh?"
"You choose the wrong adjective."
"You've already used up all the others.”

 

Lord of Light

 

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There's only so much grain, he's selling it to whoever can pay the most isn't he? Doesn't seem wrong, just capitalistic. Either way threatening him and his family in turn doesn't seem right.

That's the thing, he's not.  He's raising the prices for certain people because he doesn't believe they deserve it as much as others.  He's basically picking who lives and who dies based on his own opinion of them, and while Sweynur may come across as a jerk in the quest he IS essentially starving and is basically fighting for survival.  His providing food to Raedric's guards is also questionable, I didn't get the feeling that he was providing them good prices because they forced him to but because he thinks they should be well-fed 'because of the hard work they do' (his actual words). 

 

 

Not to mention he gives the starving townsfolk the moldy, rotten parts of the grain after price-gouging them. He gives Raedric's soldiers not only the choicest parts of the grain but for less money (even though they're technically wealthier than the farmers and thus could afford higher prices) while giving the farmers who grew the grain he makes only the nasty parts and for far more money. And considering what health problems one can get from consuming contaminated grain, that's not "capitalism," that's just unethical.

 

I'm really tired of people using "capitalism" as the be-all, end-all excuse for amoral behavior. Like the pursuit of making money makes it okay to use, exploit, starve, endanger, and/or ruin the livelihoods of people. "Oh, he price-gouged the poor and has left half the town starving? That's okay, because it's all in the pursuit of making money!" And then act like the people being starved and price-gouged are the selfish and unreasonable ones for not just passively accepting being exploited for the sake of their exploiter making money. What are they supposed to say? "Of course, I'll happily go home to my hungry children, stare at my empty pantry, go to bed wrapping myself around my aching belly, and over the next season watch the skin draw taut around the bones of my family as we pick at the small scraps of moldy porridge, bread and ale that we spent our lifesavings on. We'll gladly endure our hunger because it's all in the name of YOU making money!" Give me a break.

 

 

Either way you look at it, he buys the crops from the farmers, after that it's his to do with as he pleases, so if he wants to sell it back at a huge markup that's his right. That said, really the smart option for Sweynur and co would be to rise the price of their crops in accordance with the rising price of grain, or just stop selling to Trumbel untill he guarantees them a fair deal in turn. :devil:

And that's a good argument for why capitalism sucks: it justifies letting people die for profit as 'rights'.  :p  The farmers can't not sell it to him, he is the only miller in town and they can't just sit on their crops otherwise they will rot.  They need the food and they need the seeds to plant another crop.  Trumbel knows this and could be said to be blackmailing the town into accepting his authority.  There IS something the farmers can do: they can take a club to Trumbel's face, which is what they are essentially threatening to do when you come across the confrontation.

 

 

Seriously.

 

I used to wonder, "Why don't the farmers just refuse to sell him their grain? As the miller, he can't make flour without their crops. If he refuses to sell it back to them at fair prices then why don't they just refuse to sell it to him in the first place? 'If we starve, you starve with us' and all that?" Then it occurred to me that, as the miller, he has LARGE stores of grain in his mill, and as a noble Raedric also has large stores of grain in his castle. Trumbel and Raedric's soldiers can live on the flour they have already far longer than the farmers can live without any at all. Eventually they'll become hungry and desperate enough to cave and give him grain and pay the huge prices just for any scrap to eat.

 

And since Trumbel has the only mill in town, and Gilded Vale is in the middle of bum-f*ck nowhere, it's not like they can just take the grain to the next town and use that mill instead. There are no towns close enough to make it a safe or cost-effective journey (given what bandits and monsters patrol the roads, and how far and likely expensive the journey is to the next town), so they're stuck. And Trumbel knows it. He's literally taking advantage of the town's isolation and desperation.

 

So, in a situation like that, the only things they can really do are can either accept their miller price-gouging and starving them (unlikely), or try to force him to sell their grain at fairer prices or take the mill from him (by either killing him or driving him out of town) so they can make flour for themselves if he won't comply.

 

And I'm with them; one guy making money doesn't excuse a whole town going hungry. Especially not because that same guy is arrogant enough to say the same farmers who grow and sell him the grain he uses to make money "don't work hard enough" or "deserve" the grain they grew back at affordable prices.

Edited by Faerunner
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"Not I, though. Not I," said the hanging dwarf.

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Silly. If the mill burnt down, would the town starve? The farmers have the ultimate upper hand on the miller because they can, in times of need, use their grain without the mill. It would take longer, of course, but the idea that the farmers would starve because they wouldn't have flour shows a decided lack of understanding of how things work.

 

Look, for the purpose of the story, I understand the ideas at play. So we can assume that the whole town would starve if the miller didn't mill the grain rather than making it a lot more difficult to process the grain if you want. Fair enough. Just don't talk about the market system because the miller doesn't have that kind of power. What he might have is pull with the guards because he provides them with the finished grain. Okay, but that's not capitalism. If the authorities in the form of the guards take over, then it's actually the opposite of capitalism.

 

The miller can't live without grain, but the farmers could, just like farmers did before wind mills, mill their own grain. In fact, they could separate the grain and simply use it with minimal milling. It wouldn't be as good, but they wouldn't starve. The miller, though...? He's f'd. By the way, when the miller no longer has any flour, and let's say her really does have a year of magical flour that won't end up eaten by rats or spoiled by any number of means, the other people who use the flour other than the farmers are going to be rightly pissed off that they're getting screwed. The farmers, meanwhile use their inferior flour to do things like eat and survive. The brewers, the bakers, and the other folks would be leaning on the miller also.

 

Like I said, I don't mind buying into the analogy simply because it is a game and you have to suspend disbelief somewhere along the line, but this situation does not represent a free market system. In an actual free market, the miller would have to compete with other ideas and, while the farmers were withholding the grain and using their inferior home milled flour, someone would see that he could take advantage and amass enough resources to create a mill. Of course, in the pseudo-late medieval society in Pillars, they don't have a free market system and I imagine Raedric and his guards would simply continue to impose martial law and hang more folks. To steal from some comedian I heard a while back, these people don't need a more reasonable miller, they need U-Haul.

Edited by why

bother?

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