Accuracy of Fallen London's Cost of Living

In the most recent Exceptional Story we learn that clothing, food, and enough money for a month’s rent is possible with just five Echoes. But how accurate is that? If I recall correctly, when the Bazaar took over London they made the value of a Pound equal to a penny, with one hundred pennies making an Echo. This would make an Echo worth a hundred pounds, and thus 500 Pounds should allow someone to survive a month in Victorian London. I posed this same question regarding the Pounds to Pennies to Echoes conversion over in this week’s edition of the Weekly Questions but so far no one has been able to find the snippet so I may be outright imagining it.

Now, using this sources here, here, and here I’ve calculated that:

[ul][li]A month’s worth of rent would be about 9 Pounds.[/li][li]Clothing for the Mother and child is about 3-6 Pounds.[/li][li]And food costs equal about 9-12.5 Pounds.[/li][li]Additional expenses is about 4-5 Pounds.[/li][/ul]So we can see that at most, the total cost of living barely even reaches 40 Pounds a month. Unless our character decided to be exceptionally generous as well and donate over 450 extra pounds for spending money to this lucky family.

I have to say that this is the most immersion breaking thing I have ever encountered in all my years of playing Fallen London. I demand a refund for this month’s Exceptional Story as well as a hand-written apology for this grievance. What a travesty, I am so disappointed in you FailBetter.

Just kidding. Where You and I Must Go has been one of my favourite Exceptional Stories to date. Plus I’m certain that there’s something wrong with my math that someone will be quick to point out shortly.

edited by Blaine Davidson on 8/28/2016

EDIT: Ok, so assuming my recollection is wrong (and it likely is) the next best bet would be that the Pound to the Echo is equal. But there is no way that 5 Pounds is enough to cover our 40 Pound cost of living.

So my next step is to look at the Fistful of Surface Currency. The picture has ~20 coins, and I think most of us could fit 20 coins in our hands.

So a Fistful of Pounds equals 3 pennies. We’re getting somewhere. Do the math and 5 Echoes would be worth…

166.67 Pounds. Still too immersion breaking FailBetter, please fix. This could pay for 4 months of living in London.
edited by Blaine Davidson on 8/28/2016

woah

Do you remember where you read this? I didn’t think the value of the echo had ever been set in stone. Otherwise, I’m endlessly fascinated by discussions of the everyday side of life in Fallen London - something I particularly loved about this Exceptional Story was all the glimpses of the Neathy economy and the resources it demands.

Do you remember where you read this? I didn’t think the value of the echo had ever been set in stone. Otherwise, I’m endlessly fascinated by discussions of the everyday side of life in Fallen London - something I particularly loved about this Exceptional Story was all the glimpses of the Neathy economy and the resources it demands.[/quote]

I only vaguely remember reading a short bit of text way back when I first started playing the game. Because I recall after reading it having a small chuckle at how worthless the Masters had made the Pound.

And from there I always had it stuck in my head that &quotone Echo is actually worth a hundred Pounds&quot. I’m really hoping someone can verify or clarify this. Because it’s very possible I misread the Bazaar tab text’s &quot100 pennies&quot as &quot100 pounds&quot by accident.
edited by Blaine Davidson on 8/28/2016

[quote=Robin Alexander]I couldn’t find anything on the lore wiki, or flicking through the ‘snippets’, but I did find this old thread: http://community.failbettergames.com/topic9865-our-friend-the-echo.aspx

It doesn’t really explain the exact conversion rate, but one person says that there are a hundred pennies in an echo, which seems to be the general consensus in terminology I’ve heard used about the community. So I’d guess it’s one pound to the echo?[/quote]

I’ve added an alternative calculation to my original post but thank you for looking for me.

In the “Bazaar” tab of the browser version, you can find it:

“Welcome to the Bazaar. We are looking forward to meeting your money. Echoes are the currency of the Bazaar. One hundred pennies are one Echo. Get Echoes by selling the treasures you acquire. Mouse over an item to see details.”

I find it more than possible that 5 echoes are enough to cover a modest living for a month. Let’s just remember that 5 pounds then are worth a lot today, due to inflation and other financial black magic things. Besides, jsut think that people then didn’t have to pay electricity and phone bills, which makes life significantly cheaper.

EDIT: Just found this table: Inflation and Contemporary Equivalents to Victorian Money

According to this, 5 pounds then were worth 360 pounds now. Enough for a modest one month life, I think.

Just keep in mind this: Wages, the Cost of Living, Contemporary Equivalents to Victorian Money

So what I’m hearing is thatt the heptagoat costs enough that you could reasonably live close to ~2700 years on its echo value. Alternatively, you could help ~2700 individuals live for a month for free.

One of those numbers is wrong, if both are using the same base numbers: 2700 years != 2700 months

[quote=Blaine Davidson] So my next step is to look at the Fistful of Surface Currency. The picture has ~20 coins, and I think most of us could fit 20 coins in our hands.

So a Fistful of (Currency) equals 3 pennies. We’re getting somewhere. Do the math and 5 Echoes would be worth… [/quote]

I think the elusive element in trying to compare surface currency to echoes is that the Masters themselves (presumably at the behest of the Bazaar) have obscured, outlawed, or devalued many of the trappings of the former surface life, such as London maps, unexpurgated historical records, and the like. So surface currency might very well be discouraged/undervalued as &quotOh, those old things? How dull. They don’t even tingle if you taste them.&quot
edited by Lady Taimi Felix on 8/29/2016

I would not assume that the cost of living in Fallen London is the same as it was in London. For one thing, there’s no fresh produce! Beer, bread, wine, and many other staples have all been replaced with fungus-equivalents, which may be more expensive to produce.

London was also a commerce-centric city at the time, and it’s likely many goods and services were cheaply available through trade rather than local production. Fallen London is now much further away from countries that it previously had a trade relationship with, increasing the cost of imported goods.

[quote=Lady Taimi Felix][quote=Blaine Davidson] So my next step is to look at the Fistful of Surface Currency. The picture has ~20 coins, and I think most of us could fit 20 coins in our hands.

So a Fistful of (Currency) equals 3 pennies. We’re getting somewhere. Do the math and 5 Echoes would be worth… [/quote]

I think the elusive element in trying to compare surface currency to echoes is that the Masters themselves (presumably at the behest of the Bazaar) have obscured, outlawed, or devalued many of the trappings of the former surface life, such as London maps, unexpurgated historical records, and the like. So surface currency might very well be discouraged/undervalued as &quotOh, those old things? How dull. They don’t even tingle if you taste them.&quot
edited by Lady Taimi Felix on 8/29/2016[/quote]
Of course, that blade cuts both ways- it’s equally plausible that those items are over-valued because they are slightly- or more than slightly- forbidden. I mean, I’m pretty sure that a street sign is not worth 250 bottles of wine, even the trashiest kind, on the surface. We know that some constables have seized it, so it might be a little bit illegal, though law is not exactly properly up-and-running down here.

Actually, no. While a hundred pennies equal an Echo; a hundred surface pennies were not one surface Pound. (Decimal system!? What are we, Bonapartists?) To do a conversion for 19th century Pounds, 12 pennies give one shilling, and 20 shilling give one soverign, which is one Pound (Sterling). I spare you guineas, crowns, farthings etc.
So, a Pound is 240 pennies, or 2,4 Echoes. When you needed 5 pounds to make a living on the surface, you’ll need 12 Echoes in the Neath.

It would hardly be fair to compare London’s current market to that of bygone years. London’s current vertical deficit definitely throws pricing for a loop. It can be hard to tell what’s priced due to true scarcity, due to exorbitant taxes, due to being outlawed or due to the entirely arbitrary nature of the Bazaar. Before the Fall, it would have been absurd to even think of paying sixty pounds for a brass skull, but we have found new uses for it, haven’t we?

Regardless, I suspect the common person doesn’t make much use of Echoes. Trade in the streets seems to be mostly by way of barter, with secrets having a preference, so it would be more fair to speak in terms of that. At the usual exchange rate (purchase for .02E, sell for .01E), a generously estimated five echoes for five hundred whispers seems… well, generous, but not overly so. If you’re a person of repute, you can trade the equivalent for a bag full of 45 flawed diamonds (.12E each). By comparison, a single purchase of rubbery lumps from the Carnival is two tickets, or about ten moon-pearls (.03/.01E each). From the Labyrinth, it’s fifty jade (.01E each). A single helping of carnival food is worth more than a diamond! Even assuming that cost is doubled or tripled due to circumstance, that’s terriby expensive. A mother and her children would be able to live a month on five echoes, even with the inflation we see in the Bazaar, but not well, and not entirely comfortably. Hopefully they have other sources of income.

Having been casually comparing various aspects of the Traitor Empress’ personality to the real Queen Victoria’s diary, for a lark, my conclusion is that no one’s particularly interested about the precise details of historical accuracy. (Was the Queen’s wedding dress made of ivory organza? No it wasn’t, so what you’ve bought from the Relickers is a 312.5 echo fake.)

Even allowing for the squid-men running about London, making comparisons will only end in tears.
edited by Teaspoon on 9/3/2016
edited by Teaspoon on 9/3/2016

[quote=Teaspoon]Having been casually comparing various aspects of the Traitor Empress’ personality to the real Queen Victoria’s diary, for a lark, my conclusion is that no one’s particularly interested about the precise details of historical accuracy. (Was the Queen’s wedding dress made of ivory organza? No it wasn’t, so what you’ve bought from the Relickers is a 312.5 echo fake.)

Even allowing for the squid-men running about London, making comparisons will only end in tears.[/quote]

The fact that one can go to Labyrinth of Tigers to eat Rubbery Lumps and somehow come out an Echo richer is big enough of a warning sign.

A sign that one ought not eat rubbery lumps.

A pretty clear one too.

A sign that one ought not eat rubbery lumps.

A pretty clear one too.[/quote]

If everyone eats Rubbery Lump for good living money instead of doing petty thefts for 1 penny per action we won’t even need Constables.