I am not ordinarily the type to talk about my dreams, and I don't like to listen to others tell theirs. They don't make good stories and people over-describe what seemed to happen. I usually employ an agreement where they must tell me the circumstances of their dream in three sentences or less. I believe I'm going to break that rule and use four.
I was playing a violent game of hockey. The game paused long enough for the officials to clean the ice of blood, whereas I and a teammate went outside into the Southern California hinterland. There, I spent some time explaining to my curious companion the vegetative qualities of the chaparral and the manner in which the sun changes aspect with reference to the earth, producing the seasons. Then we returned to the violence of our hockey game.
The dream is so me. I don't play hockey anymore, but when I was young, I did, and violently. I took the part of a defenseman enforcer, not great on skills and finesse, but mean and energetic. This should surprise no one.
The other half of the dream, though, that speaks to something I love more; I love explaining things, answering questions, getting people to know something they didn't know. I feel that everyone should know what chaparral is, even if they've never seen it, even if they're never going to see it. And the change of seasons is just damn cool. I'm aware many people don't 'get it,' they can't picture the way the earth moves, or they didn't pay attention in school and no one has actually bothered to explain it to them since.
So why wasn't I a teacher? Honestly, it's because teachers are allowed to educate only upon very rigid lines and in rigid subjects, to a select number of persons yearly. I didn't like the idea of anyone peering over my shoulder, deciding what subjects to which I should limit myself. No, no, the preferred profession was writer ... which I am, and which allows me to be unlimited in my choice of subject. Potentially unrestricted, too, in the number I can reach.
Yesterday's post was of little interest to many readers, no doubt. Economics is not a major role-playing game driver, and my particular take is unwieldy for most and apparently purposeless. Why not just make numbers up? Still, a number of people did show an interest, and this post in particular is being written to answer the questions of one who commented on my facebook yesterday.
The arc of adding a market to the trade system is a multi-step process. This is a good thing, as when I get tired of working on one step, I proceed to another, and slowly work my way around the world one region - and one task - at a time. I don't think I've ever written down the full arc before, so honestly there's something pleasant in doing so, even if it bores three quarters of my audience stupid.
1) Research the encyclopedia. This is the stage at which the references quoted on yesterday's spread sheet are obtained. I'll post a small example from the encyclopedia, to give a feel for what data is being parsed:
PLYEVEN, a city, formerly known as Pleven, in north Bulgaria, the capital of the district of Pleven. The city is located on the important Sofia to Varna road, and is connected with the city of Somovit on the Danube, about 25 mi. to the north. It is an important Turkish commercial center. It has a large textile factory, and is a market for wine and livestock. Pop., 38,997.
There are five references here. Plyeven's commerce is mentioned twice, so it counts as 2 references for market. I use 'cloth' instead of textile (sounds more Medieval), while wine and livestock are plain. This is recorded, along with any other references to Plyeven's economy that might occur on some other encyclopedia entry, then I move on to the next location.
Here are a partial list of locations in South America that I haven't yet looked at:
... Managua, Manaus, Manizales, Manzanillo, Maracaibo, Maracaibo, Maranon, Mar del Plata, Marianao, Marie Galante, Martinique, Masaya, Matanzas, Mato Grosso, Mayan Architecture, Mazatlan, Medellin, Mendoza, Mercedes, Mercedes, Mercedes, Merida, Mesopotamia, Mexico, Mexico Federal District of, Mexico Gulf of, Mexico City, Minas Gerais, Mollendo, Mona Passage, Monterrey, Montevideo, Montserrat, Morelia, Mosquito Coast, Nassau, Natal, Netherlands West Indies, Nevis, New Granada, Nicaragua, Nicaragua, Niteroi, Neuvo Leon, North America, Oaxaca, Orinoco, Orizaba, Orizaba, Oruro, Ouro Preto, Pachuca, Paita, Pampa La, Pampas, Panama, Panama Canal, Panama City, Para, Paraguari, Paraguay, Paraguay, Paraiba, Paramaribo, Parana, Parana, Paranagua, Paricutin, Parnaiba, Pasto, Patagonia, Paysandu, Pelee Mount, Pelotas ...
At present, I don't know what might be included in any of these places. It is still a mystery. By the way, to get this list, I went through the encyclopedia page by page some 17 years ago.
2) Add the data to the Sources document, the one posted yesterday. This step doesn't need much explanation. Usually I record the actual material in word before adding the information to excel.
3) Identify cities. Using the map from the Collier's Enyclopedia, I create a list of cities that needs to be researched in order to identify if they existed or not in 1650, how many times they were destroyed or diseased (affects the present population), and who is in possession of the city at the time of my world. For an area like Spain, this would be upwards of 700 places. I also obtain the latitude, longitude and elevation for these cities from a website called fallingrain.com. The reader can find the Spain Cities Workbook on my wiki, if they want to take a look. I haven't finished gathering all the location numbers for these, but they've been researched.
Cities that are not in existence are removed from the map AND from the sources document. Cities that are mentioned in the Sources document (and from the Encyclopedia) but do not show on the Collier's map are combined with the region in which the city lies. Thus, if there is a town named Vuy in Provence, and it does not show on the map, then Vuy's produce is transferred to Provence in general, to simplify it. The alternative would be to create Vuy on the map, and since there are many, many of these places (A single French department may mention up to ten such locations) it would only increase the general workload. One draws the line somewhere.
4) Create the regional map. I still have the series of images I created on the blog for Switzerland long ago when I mapped that area. The purpose of the map, apart from contributing to the running, is to establish a consistent measure for the distance relationship of one city to another. Since the map is measured in hexes, and the trade system is based on the number of hexes (and elevation) separating cities, the map is essential. Because the map is multi-purpose, I complete it entirely before moving onto the next step. There are also reasons why this is helpful, as elements that matter in the distance measurement includes the existence of rivers, other towns, where the highest hexes are and so on.
There are plenty of examples of my maps around.
5) Update the cities table. This is the other table shown on the wiki link above, the one that says "Cities 19feb13." This is a list of all the cities I've researched to date that have been finalized, plus some notes here and there on other tabs. The population for the regions is based upon the individual adjusted population for the cities compared to the population in 1952. Some of the regions have the area measured in hexes; I haven't settled down to do nothing but count hexes in quite a while. It isn't that important, but there are reasons to do so that have a relationship to the character generator. That's another story.
6) Draw roads. The roads are the actual representation of the distances between trading cities. A trade city is defined according to whether or not there is a market there, such as there is at Plyeven. I only record the distances between trade cities, those establishing the price for goods for the region they are in. These road distances are recorded on the nightmarish distance maps ... also included on the wiki link, as "Central," "East" and "West." This helps me build the total distance calculation between cities, which is based on the shortest distance between two trade cities.
7) Actual distance table is created. These tend to be immense ... and they are obsolete almost as soon as I create them. I've included one on the wiki link called "Group 03_HOM to MOD_21jan12" - which tells the last time I created one. Warning: if you don't set your iterations to 1, you'll get a circular warning error the moment you open the page. I described how that's done here, but that may not be useful if you have a different operating system than me.
I say obsolete because I only generate the page so that I can steal the meaningful data from it. These are calculation pages, which run the numbers until they stabilize and give me the answers I need. I'm not a computer programmer, I don't understand macros, so I have to do it this way, which is a work around that doesn't actually take much time. The relevant data on the table is highlighted orange.
Every time I add a new market city to the table, not only do I have to calculate that city's distance from every other city, but I have to calculate every other city's distance from the new city. That means, with some 600+ trade cities so far, one new city means 1200 new distance calculations. And since I tend to add multiple cities all at one time, that means tens of thousands of calculations to add the 30 to 60 cities I add at a go. That's the reason I haven't done this since 2012. I only want to do it when I really have every new place I want to incorporate, as I don't want to go through this process monthly.
8) The distances are combined in the All Zones table. This is the most critical table in my whole trade system. The table has been included, as well, in the wiki link. The first tab, Market Provinces, shows the distance between the trade cities (side column A) from the 'zones' represented by other trade cities (top row 1). Some zones have multiple trade cities, but only the nearest trade city in that zone is relevant to this table. Thus, Gilead (Jordan) transports out of Amman and Aqaba - but those cities nearest to Amman import from Amman, and those nearest to Aqaba import from Aqaba. The actual distances inside the trade zone are discounted for marketing purposes (again, gotta draw the line somewhere).
By copying any line off this tab, I can then paste it on the 'Input Distance' tab. This tab, you will note, has a yellow line at the top; the numbers from the first tab must be pasted as values only on that yellow line, where they are then calculated against the source references listed below. These references come from the MASTER tab of the source document I posted yesterday. The numbers here are then divided by the distance and recorded on the 'Calculation' tab of the All Zones file. Take a moment to compare the population of Croft divided by the distance between Croft and whatever line of numbers you've chosen to copy over. For example, if I grab Sarajevo in Bosnia and paste it on the yellow line of the Input Distance tab, the Calculation tab adds 1 to every number (so there is no dividing by zero) and the population of Croft is divided by 105.1 hexes (the distance between Croft and Sarajevo). Answer: 3,197 persons in Croft affect the economy of Sarajevo.
This is done for every single item described in the previous post, from markets to turtles. The totals are listed in green on the Calculation tab.
9) Transfer the All Zones totals to the Prices Table. This, finally, is also on the wiki link. I cut and paste the green highlighted numbers onto the 'Input Data' tab of the Prices Table (again, as VALUES). Instantly, new prices are generated on the 'Market Display' tab.
The process to generate a brand new market from the All Zones data, starting from grabbing a city of choice, copying those numbers, grabbing the result, posting it on the Input Data tab of the Prices table, takes less than 30 seconds. It takes longer to transfer the numbers to another computer, or onto the net, than it takes to generate them.
I hope that explains the process straight through, at least in general.