Happiness and Money: Ideas for the future

I’ve had quite a bit of fun playing with the new morale mechanics. Most of it is fairly straight forward. Hearthlings prefer a safe home, a cooked meal and most noticeably, not only a soft bed, but their own bed. That got me thinking, what’s next? It only makes sense as the settlement grows and becomes a town, the demand of luxuries by the hearthlings will only increase. We so far have one tier a town can move up to, but what happens in the next step up? Sure there will be quest requirements and a player will need to meet, but once those are met and the next tier is reached, perhaps the townsfolk a player oversees now want more. It’s no longer a new settlement and it’s not even a small town any more, and now they want more.

Would it be possible to introduce more complicated economics? Before you had a farmer farm in exchange for food and shelter. Well now maybe he wants a wage. He wants gold as payment for his work. Nothing extravagant, but something. That mason who’s just crafted 20 gargoyles for you to sell, well he wants a cut to. He wants to buy himself something nice from the carpenter. That carpenter has some fantastic ideas for fine furniture, but you haven’t added that to her work queue, so there she sits twiddling his thumbs. Maybe she takes the initiative, buys the wood from the town stores, crafts whatever ornate piece she has in mind and sells it to a visiting merchant. She than uses this gold to commission the weaver to create some fine outfit and the pattern goes on and on and on. This is how a real economy develops.

Right now the player is the undisputed lord commander of an army of happy slaves. What if with higher town levels, Hearthlings developed more autonomy. In exchange for demanding a wage or commissions for their labor, they could pay rent on their homes or compensate for the food they eat. Since guards would also start demanding a wage and fortifications and roads now required paid workers to build, taxes could be levied on transactions, wealth or income.

If your blacksmith, who through commissions has acquired quite a pot of gold, is sick of living in a small hovel, maybe he could request a plot of land. If approved, he could then commission the construction on a one of the standard home templates. The money for materials, decorations and the labor comes out of his pocket. If his money runs out, the work stops. Perhaps a small tax could be levied on his plot of land that further helps pay for the common welfare of the whole town.

As you could imagine, this whole system could get very complex, but it may be a rewarding complexity that makes the town and its citizens feel more alive and real. This is something that had been bouncing around my head for a while and I figured I would share. I apologize if I’m just rehashing ideas other have shared, but as a frequent forum lurker, I have yet to see anything else posted quite like this.


As of this point, hearthlings individually do not own very much, and collectively own a lot. I do not know what Radiant thinks of this, in whether it should stay the same or not.

Here is my opinion on this
Although I am very used to individually owning stuff in real life, but I know that that might not be the case in all towns and societies every player would create. I know there exists societies in which it is not a “normal and expected” thing to own things individually, or at least view of those societies. That is because this looks a lot like a certain discussion from real life, and I don’t want to go into the politics of it, but is what makes me not immediatly thinking it is the obvious next step (especially when you talk about “real economies”, no grudge :slight_smile:).
Stonehearth, according to the developers, is a game where you build the city and society, and tell a story with it. Whether hearthlings own stuff mainly individually or collectively might be subject to change from story to story. So ideally i don’t want to make the choice and leave it up to the player. If I had to choose, I would not know at this point wether that would be better.

By the way, I don’t want to stop you from being enthousiastic about this idea, if you are (its late and I don’t have full capabilities to think about how I come across now :sleepy:). By all means keep discussing this, I am just participating in the conversation.

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I agree with you that I don’t know how practical any of this would be to implement and it sure can spiral into a political discussion.

But in my head, you’re building a city not just to meet what ever aesthetic design you have in your head, but to meet the demands of the hearthlings. You start off just trying to meet the basic needs, food, shelter, safety. There’s a certain logic to you needing to meet more complex needs as your town gains additional status. In theory, it would add a more organic feel to the development of your town. Right now the biggest things that shape the practical requirements of your city are security and geography, two essentially external forces. Now add an internal dynamic that may cause you do consider deviating from your grand master plan. It’s your city, but they’re the ones who live in it.

I don’t think it’s unreasonable at all that Hearthlings collect a “wage”. I wouldn’t want to see it as a core element of morale though. Maybe more like once a week they all go and want to collect a single cold coin each (or more for higher professions) which gives them a morale buff.

This means the insertion of a visually pleasing mechanic which also doesn’t weigh too heavily on the difficulty. It would also fit nicely into Tier 2 (or 3?) as naturally once a town starts to grow it’s no longer a little self contained settlers group, but a functional city with a need for economy.


I feel like I’ve read a similar idea before, but I don’t remember where…

Anyway, as you guys have mentioned to transition from a dependent society to an independent society is not as simple as one day everyone owns everything to the next day everyone demanding money. The more realistic approach is that the carpenter requires wool from the weaver and the weaver requires wood from the carpenter, and the trapper has leather for both- so they trade one good for the other. It starts with trade, but the trapper has no need for anything but a knife from the blacksmith- maybe it needs sharpening and repairs occasionally? Eventually as wealth develops in the town, there is less value in the objects you barter for, as food is needed every day, as well as protection, but nothing else- that is when gold comes in.

This would first require personalized chests, and then a pricing system for X number of good to trade for X object for each object in the game. Also a new recipe for the blacksmith to pour and cast decorative ingots, and later stamp metal together to make coins. Then translate that into copper, silver and gold as the unifying currency for later in the game. Mods would have to calculate the raw resources and determine the price from the recipe & level requirement etc.

I think this could be a mod, with just a list and a few added recipes into the game for it to work. However I don’t know how you would get the hearthlings to interact? I guess you could have a sort of “mailbox” crate and a personal storage crate, so a trade would happen between two hearthlings where one drops off something in their “mailbox” and then the price is determined from that and they respond by paying with X thing they have available in return. It would just be a simple number game that would require them to move things from crate to crate. Naturally at first this would mean the people that can craft the most advanced things will become the most wealthy, until gold comes into play. This would make each game very unique.

As I said before though, everyone has to eat everyday so I think as long as the player creates a strong food network I expect the farmers to be the most wealthy, so maybe base most of the currency off of food to some extent? Like if a hearthling requires 3 meals and they have extra, then they can spend it on buying something new. This would limit the amount of trading a hearthling could do.

Also thinking about soldiers favoring patrols closer to hearthlings they have traded with recently, or want to trade with in the future and getting rewarded for paroling that area. Not quite mercenaries, but close.

Of course with morale being a thing now as well, more value is placed on anything that boosts a hearthlings mood. This would have be a “desire” mechanic that when a hearthlings mood is bad, the more they are willing to trade for a morale booster. This would be a calculation offset by the mood of both the buyer and seller and if the seller values the item highly because he currently has a bad morale, then the buyer that has a normal morale will refuse to pay the higher price.So the trade would be determined by hearthlings individual “values”.

Its a lot to think about as far as balancing goes, but I think it would be interesting and I’m sure there are people out there smart enough to put something like this together.

I understand where your logical progression to go to a barter economy first makes sense, but this isn’t a whole civilization developing from scratch. This is one town growing. There is already an established currency. The idea that you can trade money for goods isn’t new to Hearthlings because they already get visiting merchants that allow the town to buy and sell for gold. The idea is that the Hearthlings would see all this gold pour into the town treasury and want a cut. We wouldn’t need any specific recipes for the blacksmith to mint coins, which is fine. You would simply have money come into town with each merchant. If there’s a glut and you need more merchants with gold to buy stuff, just build more stalls for them.

You’re right, each Hearthling would need an assigned chest only they can access, sort of like we assign beds. This is where they would keep their money and other personal items. Ideally, the hearthling would be able to move these chests wherever they want to. In terms of trading, one brings the gold, one brings the good, and the trade is made. For the gold value of each item, well that already exists in game. No reason we can’t base it on that. Maybe the higher spirit the hearthling, the better price they can negotiate for themselves. An additional mechanic, would prices of goods fluctuate based on demand and supply? If the carpenter has 100 wooden chairs in storage just waiting to be sold that no one seems eager to buy, it makes sense that the price would drop. Conversely, if a merchant just came into town and bought most of the silver bars in town, afterwards, it would make sense for the going price for a silver bar to go up in price for the next person trying to buy them.

But as has been pointed out, this can get very complex very quickly, but it also can add some very interesting dynamics to the game. I’m sure some of this could be added in mods, but a lot would need to be core game mechanics.

you have a point about them already interacting with gold.

what could happen tho if something is not worth 1 gold coin? then you would be forced to barter for it or use silver or copper coins. maybe merchants are snobs that only use gold currency? who knows. I mean if this is setup you could even have the player decide the currency item for the town, that woudl be interesting. force everyone to barter using fur’s or blueberries. however, because the player chooses a renewable resource, the value of that currency would be incredibly low, versus a finite resource like gold. This would really make you think more carefully about the map you chose. actually you might want your towns currency to be renewable, if its mostly based on trade, then you can sell or use the finite resources without it effecting your town. there are a lot of possibilities

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We could introduce fractional gold units or just round up. Or as you said, adding silver and copper coins would also be an option but I’m not sure it really adds much. Since most (probably all) objects already have a round number value, this probably wouldn’t be that big a deal*.

*It all depends on how complicated the system would be allowed to become. Of course the idea of the richer hearthlings keeping their gold in vaults led to the idea of a central banking system. That idea itself branches out to obscene amounts of possible complexity, especially in a multiplayer type game.

I don’t think fractions should ever be a thing, this isn’t about a stock market, this is about trading real items within the game so it has to be whole numbers only. this is also why the system would be fairly simple once you figure out the value of different items you can adjust the currency easily by weighting everything on the currency item and the availability of that item compared to merchants.

thats the cool thing about this once multiplayer is a thing you could have competing currencies where in one town wood is more valuable than gold for a time because they are on a desert map or a rocky map.

I imagine that you could have a multiplayer where you have X number of people on the same big map, where its like sim city , they have connected currencies but everyone plays in their own small section of that map and they are only connected by trade. the merchants would simply sell what is available in the area that is sold by the other competing players.

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Here I think a safeguard of not letting money become abstract numbers might be necessary to keep some of those obscene amounts of complexity. It makes sure that every monetary unit is represented by something. While people might not like that, because it allows you to use less tricks real banker can use, it is precisely that, what keeps some of this complexity out.

As far as the round number value goes. Only beeing able to use natural numbers for monetary value, that will eliminate any prospect of a non-obscenly crazy interest system. Might be a plus, might be a minus, I just want to point that out. Interests beeing measured in multiples of 100%, ooi.

Would be fun to see the promised bankers and politicians come in the game though, if these systems are implemeented.

the main problem of this idea is how to have personal storage that is separate from the towns storage

for instance if I want to improve my town, I cannot use items that are in the hearthlings personal storage. I have to use the towns wealth. naturally this would lead to some kind of tax, or tarrif, for each transaction so that all trade within the town benefits and generates wealth for the town. this would mean some items are excluded from the players access, while piling up the item that is used for tax. so a hearthling could trade say 4 fur for a comfy chair ( and would simply replace the object that is in personal storage with the new item, and sell the old item for something else) but each hearthling has to pay a trading tax of 2 berries that would leave personal storage, so the town benefits 4 berries for this transaction. however they would not trade if food was low.

so while the player gives order to hearthlings, they are not paid for the work they do, but it benefits them as well as the player when that work is completed by making a more stable trading economy.

As I mentioned before, Hearthlings could have be assigned chests in the same manner they are assigned bed. Only that hearthling would be able to place or remove items or gold from that chest and they could only place items in it that belonged to them. In theory most stuff would still belong to the player. If I commission the carpenter to craft a chair, I supply the wood and the carpenter gets a nominal fee for the work. I could then sell the chair to a merchant, and that gold goes into the town treasury. However, if they’re not busy, the carpenter could buy their own wood log from a passing merchant, craft a chair of their own accord and sell it to the merchant. In that case all money would the carpenter’s to keep.

When it comes to taxation, there are a lot of way to go about it. You could have a sales tax, i.e. every time a hearthling buys something, they pay a certain % more which goes to the town. I personally probably wouldn’t implement this sort of tax. You could possibly also have an income tax. Everything a hearthling earns is tracked and they would have to pay a certain amount as tax. Since they player is the one who would be paying the hearthlings, I would shy away from this method as well. In effect, you would just be paying them less. I would probably just stick to a property tax or rent as the only real taxable income for the town. Maybe a merchant tariff, where every time a trader comes into town to sell their goods, they have to pay, lets arbitrarily pick a 10 gold fee. The size of the fee and your hearthling’s demand for the goods they peddle would determine how eager certain merchants would be to visit your town.

The town’s primary income would still be just to order your hearthlings to build and craft things that can later be sold to merchants or the hearthlings themselves. The farmers work town land. So they may get paid a wage for farming, the crop belongs to the town. Those crops can then be sold raw, or the cook can be employed in the same way as the farmer. They get a wage for their daily work, but the product of their effort goes to the entity that is paying them. That food can be given out for free to the town’s residents or sold to them. The cost and availability of food, would then be something that corresponds to happiness. If a worker needs to spend a whole days wage just to buy food for that day, they’re not going to be happy. If it’s a quarter’s day pay? Well that may be a bit more reasonable. It’s your town, so it’s up to you to decide if you want to keep the price of food low or to increase wages.

This is all before we get into multiplayer. I have no idea what the devs have in mind for going forward, but I would shocked if more complex monetary options weren’t involved. What would be the motivation to risk man and armor attacking a neighbor? Oh right, the city treasury is low and your neighbor is sitting right over the next hill, ripe for looting. After all, that’s how Rome got rich.