I'm coming across my first hurdle with the technology levels - the sort of hurdle that matters to me but which makes a lot of my readers pound their heads on desks wondering why in the hell I care. Let's just remember I'm both crazy and a nerd.
It's my trade tables. These are based on an encyclopedia, giving me a list of references for resources and services throughout my world. The actual things that are connected to their geographical source are not determined by me, but by that encyclopedia - and as such, are in no way limited by the so-called tech system I'm developing.
I'll give an example. There's a huge region that I've identified in my world as Lungos Nad. This corresponds to the central part of a modern day massive Russian territory (krai) in Siberia, Krasnoyarsk. It's the sort of world region that people in the west have never heard of. In the 17th century, when my world takes place, it was mostly empty - so I filled it with gnolls (in the far north) and hobgoblins, just to give the region some flavor.
In the krai, in the far north, there is a city called Norilsk. It was founded in the 1920s and quickly expanded into an important coal-mining centre, particularly during the World War II when Russia removed its industrial complex from the German front. A host of valuable mineral deposits were also found there and are now exploited extensively. At the time my encyclopedia was published, however (1952), the only thing worth mentioning - apparently - was the coal. My encyclopedia mentions coal mining there on five different occasions, making it pretty important.
When I made the area into hobgoblin land (Vostoch), I naturally located a hobgoblin city where Norilsk is, presuming it would have been founded centuries earlier (after all, hobgoblin culture originates in central Siberia, right?). I gave it a new name, Gilkask, something I think sounds more hobgoblinish. In my world, it was founded in 746 AD and has a population of 6,780. And in keeping with the spirit of the location, to give the city some dimension, I awarded the five references to coal mining in the region to 'Gilkask' that were given to Norilsk. Only, these are now hobgoblin coal mines, for the hobgoblin ironmongering industry that is to be found in the environs of southern Vostoch.
Follow? Well, even if the reader doesn't . . .
A couple of days ago, I've just designated that whole area as tech 5. No mining. Mining, I wrote yesterday, is tech 6. Do I:
a) call Gilkask an exception, creating a precedent for endless exceptions whenever things get inconvenient, until the exceptions basically break the system and make it worthless?
b) remove the coal from Gilkask - and all mining references from any tech 5 region - in order to refine the previous trade system to reflect the new tech system, dovetailing the two systems together.
I'm inclined to do the latter; in fact, that is my desire. There's just one problem. As it happens, of all the areas defined as tech 5, Gilkask/Norilsk is the largest single habitation. The next largest is a place called Garka (pop., 3035), also in Lungos Nad, based on a Russian city called 'Igarka.' Gilkask is incredibly off the beaten track and surrounded by the Tunguska plateau - a huge mass of ancient, extruded volcanic rock that doesn't even get a Wikipedia entry, it is so remote - known chiefly for the event that occurred there in 1908.
If I take away the coal, Gilkask has no reason for being there.
I would normally argue that it is therefore some sort of religious site or institute of learning, but neither of those exist in a tech 5 region, either.
So why is it there? Well, yes, because I'm shoehorning the real world into D&D, but buy into the fantasy, people! For what reason could it exist, that far north, if not for economic, academic, political or religious reasons? For my part, I can't embrace bullshit handwaving: "The Gods want it to be there" or some such crap.
My best argument is that the mammoth herds in the area are simply gigantic. Hunting is a tech 5 technology, so Gilkask could be a central gathering place for scores of clans that gather there in tough times to hunt meat and skin mammoths. However . . .
That should mean that Gilkask deserves a game meat or hides reference on the sources table, which would mean making one up and adding it, even though it isn't mentioned by the encyclopedia. That sounds fine - except that it would be making an exception, creating a precedent for endless exceptions whenever things get inconvenient, until the exceptions basically break the system and make it worthless.
Yes, something I care about.
Ah well, no party player is ever going to go there, right? And no player has the least understanding of any of these tables I post, or any concern about them, so if Gilkask is a big hobgoblin tent city in the middle of nowhere with no purpose at all, who is going to care - except me.
Sigh. That's just poor, lazy thinking. I'm sure I can do better. I'm sure, if a player ever does go there, for whatever reason, I will have a damn good reason for Gilkask existing. Maybe the hobgoblins just go there to pointlessly make tools.