The world of Witch Knight has an economy modeled after the typical fantasy role-playing game for the most part, although there are some differences that make the game stand out. As is usual for the RPG game, there is a currency. In Witch Knight there are silver pieces and gold pieces, where 1000 silver is equivalent to 1 gold.
The first thing we’ll discuss is how a character goes about earning “income” in the game. The first option is to complete quests given to them by NPCs. These quests can be anything from killing a monster, to delivering goods or letters, to tracking down a person. There are stated rewards given for these types of quests, and it’s a good way to make money. The final type of quest is the storyline quest. These quests allow the character to interact with the Order of the Witch Knights, and the reward given is representative of the salary paid to an employee. You can think of the primary quests as your main job, and the secondary quests as side gigs.
Another way to earn money in the game is to farm it. Walking around killing monsters and animals, harvesting edible or medicinal plants, and defeating unsavory sorts of characters can all net a character items that can be sold in shops. These drops vary both in monetary value, and in usefulness to the character. For the most part, the more difficult an opponent is to defeat, the better the game rewards you. For instance, killing the fluffy bunny might get you some roasted rabbit’s foot and pulling potatoes will keep you from starving, but if you’re farming to make money you’ll want to be killing the humanoid opponents and the great monsters, who will drop things that can be bartered away, or used yourself. See the bullets below to compare the different types of drops:
The character is also sometimes provided with another option within the game for making money, and that is theft. Farmhouses, lone travelers, drunk tavern patrons… all are targets for thievery if the characters choose to do so. But it is a risky way to make money, as it can carry heavy consequences. If caught, a character’s NPC reaction suffers, and fines can be levied if the authorities are notified. Some places where a character can utilize their thieving ability will be protected by traps or alarms that would make it a very unprofitable way to make money.
This section deals with all the ways a character can spend their well-earned gains. First off there are necessities in the game. Like real people, the characters must eat to maintain their health. If they go too long without eating, their health starts to fall, and they don’t regain heath after battles. Therefore food is a good that needs purchased or gathered. There are a number of ways to get food. It can be purchased outright in Taverns, or it can be hunted/gathered in the wild from animals and plants. The quality of the food, and therefore the benefit to the character, varies with the method used to procure it. For instance, hunting down a deer and eating venison is better than picking blueberries, and even better than just drinking water. Buying a full blown meal is the best benefit to the character.
Gear is another important part of how a character spends money. Caleb uses martial weapons and armor, and Mari uses arcane weapons and armor including scroll, potions, and spells. Some of these can be acquired directly from monster and humanoid opponents, but the gear is very sub-par. A better option is to purchase gear, which gives you an average quality item. Taking it one step further, characters can spend money to upgrade their gear, giving it special properties and increasing it’s damage range. One the other hand the very best weapons are given directly as quest rewards for specific quests, or as gifts to the characters from certain NPCs, but these are very rare. Money can also be spent on special items like gemstones, artifacts, toys and quest related items.
The character may also purchase training from professionals. Caleb can learn weapon-making, armor-making, and fighting techniques. Mari can learn potion-making, scroll-making, and spellcraft techniques. Each NPC they encounter that can teach them a skill will require something from them, usually a monetary sum and possibly an item as well. For example, Bob the woodcutter may be able to teach Caleb how to throw an axe, but in return he wants 300 silver pieces and a box of donuts from a nearby town.
We’ve talked about what characters spend their money on, but what about where they spend it? There are a number of places that a character can expect to find in the game in outposts and in explorable areas. The most obvious is the Merchant. There’s one in every outpost, and they’ll buy anything. You won’t get the best prices selling everything to them, but for getting rid of items in a hurry, they’re the best bet. They also sell general goods, although nothing fancy. Theirs are usually the items NPCs are wanting throughout the game.
To get better prices for your gathered loot, it’s necessary to find a specialist. There are four types of specialists in the game: weaponsmiths, armorers, alchemists, and witches. These can be found in shops in the large outposts, and sought out as individuals in the smaller ones. Occasionally you’ll find a merchant or a specialist in an explorable area, and those will usually have unique items. Other than buying and selling, specialists also have the ability to help a character upgrade their gear. Given the right materials, they will perform the upgrades for a price.
Along with goods, there are also places in the game that offer services. These are healing houses and taverns. Healers will offer resurrections, healing draughts, simple tonics, and charms. Taverns offer food and rooms.
Characters can buy and sell things, but this movement of goods is limited by what the character can hold in their inventory. There are a number of options available to the character.
First off is what the character has “on hand”. Caleb has two weapon slots, one for a ranged weapon, and one for a melee weapon. He also has slots for the armor he is wearing. Mari has two “weapon” slots as well. One is dedicated to a magical weapon such as a wand or a staff, the other is a scroll case with space for 5 scrolls. She also has slots for armor.
Each character carries a backpack for collecting additional items. Characters start with a small backpack that holds 15 items. They can purchase an upgrade to medium (holds 25 items) or large (holds 35 items) from merchants. They also each carry a rations bag that holds only food items and has 10 slots. For even greater storage, once the characters have been gifted (or purchased) a horse, they can purchase saddlebags for the horse that can hold 25 items.
Sometimes carried inventory isn’t enough, so the game also has a bank feature. The character starts with a single pane of 25 slots, and more can be purchased as the storyline progresses. A bank is located in each outpost and funds are available from any bank access point.
In addition to actually spending money, there are other ways a player can lose their hard-earned income. One of these is voluntarily transferring it between characters. Witch Knight is a co-op game, and the two characters can freely exchange goods.
Players can also use money to “bribe” the NPCs. This can gain them better reactions (or worse if the NPC takes affront), or it can get them an item they are trying to acquire, or a service from the NPC.
Players can also lose their funds involuntarily. There are certain NPCs throughout the storyline that will steal from the characters, usually as part of the storyline or as a quest starter. There is also a chance that if both characters are killed the bodies will be looted before the game resurrects the characters. Items are never taken in this way, but a portion of the character’s currency can be.
Fairness is a very relative concept in a game. What’s fair to the character from the player’s point of view can differ from what’s fair from the designer’s point of view. This game is suppose to have elements of the general “unfairness” in real life, as the story follows two misfits paired together that have to overcome their disadvantages to save the world. There are parts of the game economy that are both unfair to the character’s advantage (powerful weapons that can greatly increase a player’s ability) and to the character’s disadvantage (theft and destruction of items the characters carry).
I believe that while there are powerful items in the game, the tendency of characters to lose these items balances it out. Earning money is easy in small amounts as far as income goes, but if you want to earn a substantial amount of money it gets progressively more difficult and more dangerous. The challenge in Witch Knight is to overcome these difficulties and setbacks.
There are many ways to earn and spend money within the game, as shown above. Where choice really comes into play with these things, however, is in the way that the character goes about earning the money. A character carries a reaction modifier that is constantly changing as they play the game. The choices that the character makes when earning money, such as whether they kill people to get their stuff, steal it from NPCs, or complete quests to help people, will affect the reactions of NPCs in the future. It can raise prices in the shops, when merchants don’t like dealing with a notorious wanted criminal, or it can lower prices when word of the character’s fame spreads through the lands.
Caleb and Mari, as the only two characters in the co-op game, can work together freely to build their inventory and progress through the game. Each has a different reaction modifier depending upon their own actions, but affected by the “company” they keep. When it comes to buying and selling goods, the price will differ depending upon which character is doing the purchasing. For example, usually Caleb would buy the martial items and Mari would buy the arcane ones, but some situations call for a modified approach. Say Tina the enchanter has always yearned to be a great warrior woman. She would sell to Mari as she would to any witch, but Caleb could dazzle her enough to get a better price. In this sense, it makes sense for the characters to work together to manage their inventory.
Earning money can take a short time if you’re willing to play dangerously, or a long time if you play it safe and stay away from anything that will threaten the character. Quests are very rewarding, but they take time. Farming is tedious, but gives you a steady source of income in addition to allowing you to obtain items without purchasing them through merchants or specialists.
Taking the time to earn money and items within the game can be very rewarding. Some of the side quests have the best items in the game, and unless you go searching for them, they aren’t accessible within the main storyline. The endgame becomes much easier with better gear. But spending too much time playing around in the wild can also be detrimental to the characters. The storyline eventually proceeds even if the character isn’t following along with it. The idea behind the story is that they need to find the answers before the enemy can take over their world, and the enemy isn’t going to wait forever while they farm for cash. In addition, the more money they earn, the greater risk there is that they’ll be targeted for theft by NPCs.
The characters are given great freedom in what they do, but that freedom comes with consequences. If a character runs into a woman fleeing from bandits, the character can take her quest to help her find shelter in return for a small reward, or they can steal whatever the bandits are after themselves… the consequences come when the woman’s family hears about the choice the characters made and the character’s reaction modifier is adjusted accordingly. They’ll have some enemies when next they reach that woman’s village. Despite having to take responsibility for one’s actions, however, the player IS free to choose.
In all, the economy of the game is very similar to the general fantasy RPG. What Witch Knight brings to the idea of economics is morality. The choices the character makes affect more than just their own bank accounts, and they realize that hording money and items at the expense of others will ultimately hurt them in the long run. It’s the idea that it’s profitable to be the hero.