[Runequest] (no subject)

Marko Perälä perala at student.uef.fi
Thu Feb 6 00:33:39 EST 2014

Here is a rather generalized question - not just for RQ, but for any RPG: How should mining operations be handled? Let's suppose PCs were involved in mining activity (owned a claim in gold fields, partners in a silver mine, owners of a copper mine shaft etc.). How could the mining activity be abstracted (for simplicity's sake, let's assume a pseudomedieval fantasy world)? Would it be a simple skill related production roll to see, how much is mined? Then there are various types of mining methods and different kinds of metals involved. Gold mining often utilized gold's heaviness in separating the metal from black sand, e.g. cradling, panning, sluice boxing. Silver mines are more classical mine shafts. Copper, lead, zinc, tin, coal...I don't know how those were mined historically. Nowadays there are lots of open pit mines with electrolysis refinement involved. So, how should this be handled?

My take on it would be:
1. for a small gold mine (panning or cradling a riverbank) some kind of skill roll for each miner to see, whether they succeed in panning some gold that day. Special or critical success doubles or triples the amount. I'm not sure, whether panning works with other metals. I have never heard anyone panning for anything else, but gold.
2. sluice mining produces more gold, but requires more workforce, so it would have to be some kind of groups skill roll to see, how much is produced daily. More labor force, but more profits per miner.
3. Underground mining (traditional mines, silver, copper, coal, other metals) are even bigger operations, so it requires lots of people and there is a risk of cave-ins. This operation has to either work above the groundwater level or have some kind of pump system to remove water (drowning hazard). This kind of mine is a large scale operation and individual success or failure probably has no effect on mine's production daily, unless a cave-in blocks the shaft. This level of operation is so expensive that no one bothers, unless the profits cover the high expenses or deposit is so large that the mine starts having scale related benefits. Miners may be (in big shaft mines) hired employees, slaves (common in historical mines) or equal shareholders in the mine (small mines, until owners get rich enough to hire diggers). Profits should probably be related to the amount of workers, rather than individual skill. Maybe a skill roll to, whether there is an accident, flooding or cave-in while working.
4. Open pit mining (coal, stone, chalk etc.) is mining for stuff that is a) needed in large quantities and b) needs very little refinement from its current state. Daily profits are rather constant in relation to the size of the operation. I think this level of mining is reserved for big mining companies and miners are just hired employees. Work is hard, but dangers are small, except for occasional landslide.

So, this my take on the matter. Now few things that puzzle me:
-How much a mine should produce per miner (depending on material mined) in levels 1-4? I don't know, how to estimate these.
-What skills should characters use in each levels 1-4? Craft: miner or perhaps Devise?
-How dangerous is the daily labor in each level of mine?

I'd appreciate if someone with actual knowledge of mining practices gave his/her highly valued opinion on this issue.
Marko Perälä

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