This week saw the release of Treasure Hunter, Jagex's 'Squeal of Fortune take two,' if you will, along with some improvements to the drop tables of demons, as voted by players in one of the Power to the Players polls. While there were some particularly nice patches this week (for example, some utility improvements in the citadel and extending how long an item can be loaned), the update most significant to gameplay may have been the least mentioned.
Some time ago, Jagex introduced a very useful item, magic notepaper. As the name might suggest to an astute observer, it allows a player to 'note' an item anywhere and anytime, without the use of a bank. Of course, you can always note an item by putting it into the back and then withdrawing it in note mode, but the versatility of this item is to be able to free up inventory space without taking time for a bank trip. (Note that the unused notepaper is also stackable itself.) Clearly such an item has some value, since it saves some time in running back to the bank. How much value? Until Tuesday, the question was more or less empty: either use it or lose it. That changed with this week's update when Jagex made it tradable.
So what should be the value of said notepaper? The RuneScape community is not always particular to logic, but there are some obvious bounds. Clearly the notepaper can't be worth more than the items that a player would choose to note, or it would just be silly! Even if the price of notepaper were comparable to those items, it's not really worth saving the bank trip if most of the potential profit from the item would be eaten by the expense of the paper in the first place. The ideal price would probably be a small fraction (ten, twenty percent) of the cost of the more expensive items still obtainable as common drops.
It should be noted, though, that a small fraction of something like frost dragon bones is still larger than the entire cost of lower level items, say something like big bones. Lower level players will struggle to find any good use for notepaper and will likely not find it profitable to buy. This suggests that the net economic impact is some free cash for low levels off their keys once in a while, and high levels buying and using notepaper to stay longer at spots.
There are of course several wild cards in the equation as well. The first is bots (and yes, I can feel a collective groan as people read that). As an example, if a bot is collecting Wines of Zamorak, will they opt to use notes to convert it and stay there indefinitely, or continue to bank? I've never botted and I'm not sure how quickly it's feasible to add this extra step, but let's take it as an (unfortunate) given that whoever is running the bots will attempt to maximize their profit.
There is an effect from speculation as well. Virtually every time a new item comes out, people attempt to merch it or flip it to make some cash. Assuming there is no good reason for it to skyrocket, it will eventually crash and come back closer to an equilibrium, once people have taken profits and the artificial demand has receded. Quite similar to this is the novelty factor. Just like with the most recently released discontinued item (the Black Santa hat), everyone wanted one at first to try it on, impress their friends, etc., but sooner or later people dumped it and the price crashed. Magic notepaper may not have quite the same show-off appeal, but why not buy a few and try it out? So is how the psychology goes.
Laziness is another factor-just note stuff and not have to bother going back to the bank, even if it's not so efficient. After all, if you've already paid for them, it's easy to dismiss that fact. A lot of people, on RuneScape or otherwise, don't have a good understanding of opportunity costs. If you pick up 1M off the ground, and waste 500K on something you don't need, you've done something silly and wasted 500K-yet most people would consider it a profit and disregard the frivolous spending. If a player gets a hundred magic notepapers off the Squeal and uses them on items worth less than the notepapers, in terms of opportunity cost it is a loss, but I guarantee you some will happily do it in any case.
Tradable magic notepaper has essentially provided a pay-as-you-go way to create more space (as long as you don't have many different types of unstackable items to carry). Economic pressure would seem to dictate it only being useful for high level players for valuable drops, or maybe some skilling like runite ore if the price becomes/stays low enough. At the same time, one wonders...what's next?