Friday, July 30, 2010

References

A couple of things.

I want people to know that if they find a desire to ask a question in the comments on something that I wrote months, or years ago, they should do so with the reassurance that I will do my best to answer, under that same post.  All comments feed to my email, and I usually check there and not the blog itself, so a comment on something I wrote in June 2008 has as much chance of being noticed by me as a comment on something right now.

I don't have that many people crying out for my attention that I can't answer everyone that asks.  If the day comes and I become a national celebrity (yeah, like immediately before someone shoots me dead), then you might be disappointed asking a question in a comment.  But for now, none of us need worry about that.

Alexis, the Day he becomes famous.

A second point, which has been brought up in three different emails in the past week, would be in reference to the trade tables post from some weeks ago

It is a question about the number of "references" that a thing has, the confusion arising from my assertion that the greater the number of references, the greater the value of a particular thing.  If the system has 20 references to grain, and you double that number, shouldn't the price be reduced to half?

The difficulty is in the natural assumption that more references is equal to a greater supply, and we all know that as the supply climbs, price falls.  That is the error.  'References' does not refer to supply at all.  It refers to importance.

I dreamed up the term to describe the number of mentions that different products got from the set of encyclopedias I used in order to create the system.  An author writing about, say, Barcelona, only has a certain amount of space in which to list the various things that the city makes.  He will naturally center on those manufactures that have the greatest importance, as determined by the economic value the item represents.  I'm not suggesting that the author has taken the time to measure this importance, but I am suggesting that there is a sociological habit of grading things automatically.

As a culture, we place a high value on gold, or the manufacture of steel, or certain types of food.  I was virtually guaranteed that anyone writing about Holland would mention cheese and chocolate a great deal, while anyone writing about Spain probably would not; it isn't that Spain doesn't produce cheese and chocolate, it is just that in that region those two items don't amount to very much importance.  In Spain, there are many references to wine, olives, fruits, spices and so on ... things that wouldn't be mentioned in Holland.

If I were pulling the information from a few dozen sources, this would be utterly worthless.  However, I went through the encyclopedia page by page, and identified every article that was written about a city, a province or region, a country, a river, a sea, mountains, plateaus, forests and so on.  And because the encyclopedia I chose was from 1952, the emphasis of the encyclopedia itself was not extraordinarily on science and technology, but upon social science and history - such as it was with encyclopedias in that day and age, when space was still viewed as an impossibility, when oil was not yet discovered in many parts of the world (and much of the industry still ran on coal), when medicine and biology were still comparatively in the dark ages ... etcetera.

Thus, the Colliers Encyclopedia from 1952 is rife with descriptions of far away places, down to the smallest cities and with special emphasis on every geographical and cultural entity that was known to exist in that day.  The total number of articles describing geographical features (and their production, which I also believe was a more important consideration then) exceeds five thousand.  Holland has more than fifty references, and Spain has around a hundred and seventy five.  And I have methodically and pedantically combed through each one, starting with Russia and the old parts of the Soviet Union in 1998, writing down each reference when I came to it, occasionally stumbling across a reference I never heard of before and finding myself pressed to fitting it into the system as need be.

This is why, when finding more than 500 references to wheat and more than 2,300 references to every kind of cereal (including barley, gram, millet, sorghum, teff, tucusso, rye, oats, maize and wheat), I tend to think that the total importance of cereals is a lot greater than the exactly 2 references I've found for paprika.  And yet, pound for pound, the tremendous total value of cereals being 1150 times that of paprika, it is paprika that is far more expensive than wheat.  Paprika, even when it is produced, is not grown in great amounts.

That is why the greater the number of references, the greater the value of the product.  If the thing is mentioned at all, it is accorded a greater value than things which are not mentioned.  It is a sociological logic, similar to counting words in educational textbooks to get a grasp of what words have the greatest familiarity for readers, and therefore should be used in political stump speeches to obtain the greatest possible comprehension from the greatest number of listeners.

3 comments:

The Hex Master said...

It would seem your references are good indicators of demand if thought of as the exploited resources which serve to meet that demand. If a new reference were to be created in the course of play it would represent a new market openning up which is satisfied by the goods of that location rather than just a newly discovered supply. It sounds like that would be difficult to simulate as opposed to determining the exploited supply resources and getting the demand via some combination of population, culture and a random die roll.

I'm interested in how you determine the actual quanity of a given resource?

Thanks!

Alexis said...

I have answered that before. Statistics.

Carl said...

Alexis,

Regarding my ongoing issue with production quantities in Rome, I have found an article of critical importance:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_economy

I got this from 25-Mile-Hex Guy (thank you, 25-Mile-Hex Guy!) and through this simple article, I've been able to do a considerable amount of work on the Macro Economy of Italia, including the money and banking system.

Work has been demanding a lot of my time these last couple of weeks, and gaming has been suffering because of it (stupid work!) but I've promised myself some time on Sunday to get more of this production data into my spreadsheet along with adjusting the prevailing wages for skilled and unskilled labor.

As to banking and finance -- wow! This has been a real journey. There are five major economies in the "world" I have defined at the moment (Italia/Roma, Magna Graeca, Carthage, Greece and Aegyptus). Everyone but Italia uses the Drachma. Fortunately, the drachma corresponds to the denarii at nearly 1 to 1. Ah, Jesus. I'm completely geeking out here.

Anyway, I'm making progress.

Last week, I made some breakthroughs on NPC experience and levelling, appropriate class breakdowns, and so forth, giving me much better tools for determining who exactly the player characters are meeting.

I'll send you another copy of my spreadsheet soon. Thanks again for all the guidance.

-Carl