I've now asked some questions about the viability of a pure mana economy, and the answer is that it could work. I don't yet have a full world in mind for this, I'm mostly building up what a viable economy would look like, once I get one I like I can stick it into whichever world I think would benefit from the concept. The details decided so far:
- Mana is produced by all humans just by existing, I have not yet decided how much mana production varies per person, but I'm slightly leaning to there being no significant fluctuation.
- Mana is expended to cast spells, there is a sufficient demand for casting of magic to surpass supply so mana still works as a viable 'scarce' resource.
- Due to supply and demand we can infer the amount of mana produced by a peasant in a day should be noticeably less then the cost of paying for food and shelter for a day, ie you still need to work to survive, your daily mana influx can't cover your expenses.
- Humans can store a certain amount of money, say ~100$ worth, in their body naturally, if they wish to carry more then that they can charge coins of various denominations to hold excess mana.
- Humans trade mana as a currency, the coins are government regulated and used as a means of ensuring an agreed amount of 'mana units' are transferred between people during a transaction.
I imagine people would prefer to keep their personal mana charge high before transferring mana to a coin, thus allowing them to use mana if they need it, and if nothing else making it harder to be pick pocketed. Given the average net worth of peasants it's likely the majority of folks have all their 'pokey money' stored as mana within their body and only bother charging coins immediately before handing them off to someone to make a payment.
Now the main question, what happens to the mana when someone fully charged with 100$ worth of mana dies? I can imagine three potential scenarios.
- The mana is completely lost, thus 'currency' is regularly destroyed at death. I imagine this would significantly hurt the stability of a mana currency?
- The mana lingers on the body, someone nearby can consume it. So basically if you kill someone you can steal his mana reserve. This does encourage thieves to kill in theory, but then again killing people to steal their money is hardly new, nor is holding a gun (sword? wand of fireballs?) to someone's head to demand they transfer their wealth to you so I'm not sure this actually increases total criminality over our world significantly.
- The mana still is lost into the either, but having a side effect of increasing the ambient mana and thus allowing those who live in the vicinity to generate mana a little faster for a few days until that extra ambient mana was transferred to others. This prevents currency from being destroyed, but also implies mana generation depends on where you live, how many have died relative to number of people living locally, how much mana the average local carried at death etc which may cause odd economic problems by allowing income to vary by virtue of location alone?
- Some other great idea I haven't thought of yet that you smart folks will suggest as a better alternative?
My question is which of these options would still allow a stable mana based economy if we assume death mana, as I have just dubbed this, to be a small but non trivial amount of our total mana reserve? Are there any funky affects on the economy that choosing one of these options would cause I should know of, and which gives a feel closest to how our current fiat currency works?