Thursday, July 14, 2011

Hacker's Shop

In the last post, Eric questioned my results and thanks to him, the results were corrected.  I can't express how much I appreciate that a few gentle readers are really looking at the tables and helping me edit my work.  If any of you out there have worked with code, you know what I'm up against.  I may program in excel, but at the moment I estimate I have about 13,000 calculations in amidst 80,000 pieces of data.  Some of them are going to be wrong.

If there is one thing I hope from this table, it's that some reader will say, "In a million years,  I would never have thought of including a yule bough on an equipment list."

In the last few posts there's been a few questions about some items being found on the shelves next to other items, and with this in mind I'd like to explain a bit about how the shops work using the above table.

Medieval cities were generally organized so that artisans of a similar nature tended to populate certain quarters or certain streets in a given town.  If the reader would imagine, you come upon the start of such a street, and turn into the first 'shop' on the way, looking for a wood axe.  A shingled roof with a hole in the roof is attached to the front of his house, with coal burning upon a large stone brazier.  He is patiently hammering the head of an axe on his hearth, but you see that it isn't the axe you want.  "I don't make those," he says, "It's been five years, I work steady for the mount'n corps now.  What you want's further down the road.  Look for a man called Hengist."

You ask about an ice axe, and he quotes 25 g.p. as a price.  That seems high, so you move along.

Next to that shop is a shop selling pitchforks, and beyond that is a large lot with a pile of firewood as large as a gatehouse.  There are three boys throwing logs into the back of a wagon, and a man's holding the bridle of a horse harnessed to the front.  The man waves at you as you pass, asks about whether or not you want any wood this fall.  "Winter's comin', you know," he reminds you, though its only late August.  You note that there's a massive bough, weighing more than a ton and a half, resting beside the woodpile, and you ask if it isn't early for winter.  "Dryin' it out," he says.  "Be ready for the festival when it comes."  You reply that you're not looking for wood, that you are looking for an axemaker named Hengist and the woodseller sends you further along the road.

That's how it would be; not just one shop, but several specialized workers and such strung along a road, possibly mixed in a bit with others who might be selling coal or wood oil or what have you.  The collection of shops that wouldn't be 'general stores' would make buying everything a real hassle, the kind that would take you all day, but if you lived in the environment you'd know already where Hengist was, and Hengist would know you.  You'd wave to Branden the woodseller and he'd nod and say that he'd have your wood for you before the snow flew.

And as such, truffles and confectionary would never be in the same shop together.  The shops selling each would be side by side on the same street ... or groups of shops upon adjoining lanes in a larger city.


Zzarchov said...

A note on the working with code portion: I understand exactly what you are going through. I must confess that you are doing this all in excel (with the scope of the project) grates on the hair on the back of my neck as being the improper tool for the job. Like watching someone use a butter knife for a screw driver (my apologies if that comes off as Patronizing it is merely the only example that popped into my head). Yes it will work, but the ability to accidentally damage things, skew equations and break chains accidentally is so great. If you are an expert at excel this will no doubt greatly reduce these sorts of things.

And I cannot without being a hypocrite talk about using the wrong tool because I am familiar with said wrong tool and unfamiliar with the proper tool. I do that ALL the time including currently.

That said, once I hit a natural stopping point in my current project I would love to try and find a way to build this into a relational database (that set the scope of such a transformation would be daunting, and worse, also the same as my day job).

Off topic but just the nature of my career makes the thought of all of this going through excel unsettling to me.

Alexis said...

We work with the tools we have.

Anonymous said...

The "artisan street" example from above is both evocative and realistic. In Milan city centre are still, one following another, "spurmakers' street", "armorers' street" and "swordmakers' street". Which would be extremely useful for your adventuring-type chars as they could just stroll down the road to pick up kit :)

As aside note that could provide some campaign ideas, the wealth of the iron industry was hugely dependent on war expenditure (mentioned both in McNeill "The Pursuit of Power" and Meriggi, Pastore "Le regole dei mestieri e delle professioni: secoli XV-XIX"). I can totally see the ironwork guilds plotting to create casus belli or, bluntly, manouvering the city concil toward war.

In a similar way, brickmakers would profit from building city walls (and in fact it's a common strategy in the videogame Patrician).