Sunday, November 22, 2015

Technology 9

This is the fifth in a series of posts intended to provide a technological framework for my world.  The purpose of this framework is to create unique, regional settings for player interaction.  A realistic simulation of the actual world is not a goal of this system and will not be given credence when approving comments.

Regions with a technology of 9 will have an average population density of 1,588 to 3,333 per 20-mile hex.  This includes the following regions, shown on this table:


This technology accounts for 4,882.6 hexes of my world, occupied by 11,629,904 humanoids.

Available Technologies

See tech 8.  I can see from the tech tree I'm working from that already the total number of technologies before the deadline (too technical to exist in my world) are running out.  The developments from here on must become more refined - but the goal remains to retain the distinctiveness of these cultures (above) from those with more or less technology.

I'm adding these for tech 9:

Metal Casting.  This brings in a considerable number of changes, particularly for war.  Suddenly there are many different weapons: flails, maces, hammers, pole arms, sabres and various designed weapons for fighting more effectively from horseback.  And metal armor!  I'm limiting the options st this tech level to scale and chain mail, arguing that more elaborate armor requires better training, schooling (and possibly guilds, which don't exist at this level).

Skirmishers.  The tech sees a lot of raiding by horseback, as archers on horseback (using a shorter, more easily managed bow) proves superior to the disorganized cavalry of this and lower tech levels.  Of course, such tactics are more limited in woodland areas - though there is a general improvement in military tactics, as soldiers are trained to act as a unit despite minimal communication.

Writing.  Since the whole world occurs in the same time period, the 'alphabet' technology can be skipped - particularly as I have only one language in my world, common (decision of the gods and my inability to adequately create the illusion of alternate languages in game play).  Writing brings a great host of changes, with developments in social reform and the law, the codification of religion, writs for property and privilege, the development of spellbooks enabling magic to be taught and spread through the region, a call for tutoring and schooling and opportunities to learn more about the outside world.  All these things together help to make the region a safer, less threatening place to outsiders that tech 8 presented - but of course it also makes the individuals in the population more equipped to be personally threatening.

Priesthood & Magic.  Schooling produces a significant number of persons able to cast spells.  I had considered limiting this tech level to only first level spells, but after some thought I think it would be better to leave this alone; however, I think the number of higher level casters would be diminished enough that players would have access to obtain only the use of 1st level spells and cantrips from non-player churches or magi - identify, remove curse, cure light wounds and so on.  With each increase in tech levels, then this availability would be increased by one level.

Lifestyle - Rural

With the presence of schooling being limited to the urban areas, the rural areas would acquire their reputation for being full of ignorant, easily dismissed persons.  Everything about this technology level serves to oppress the countryside: with the fixing of property lines where agriculture goes on, we have the appearance of 'no trespassing' signs everywhere.  Whole forests are sectioned off and made private reserves for hunting.  Poaching becomes a severely punished crime.

The wealthy landowners now have personal militias that are armed and armored in ways the peasants cannot compete against, so oppression of peasant privilege and freedoms commences.  Peasants are still free to travel, sell their land, sell their goods in town - but now they must pay rents.  And sorry to say, jus primae noctis is in full swing (despite certainty by modern historians - typical - that it never existed).

Still, for the most part, peasants simply keep their heads down and live their lives as their tech 8 cousins do; upward mobility is gone, the local tavern is strictly watched by spies of the landowners (who no longer appear in these establishments) and homes are well cared for, with a few more luxuries: metal jugs, glass decanters, a small fireplace with pots (cooking is done indoors now) and communal smokehouses, mills, reliable wells and even the occasional artisan who would rather dwell in the country than the city.

Lifestyle - Urban

With the advancement of writing and law, the personal armies of town leaders and the monarchy are gone, replaced by guardsmen and militia who receive their wages solely by taxation of the wealthy.  Pressure is put on the regional leaders by the oligarchic coalition to maintain order (good for business) over personal privilege.  Moreover, because it is impossible to tell who on the street may be a personal friend of which important person, a practice has developed to treat everyone somewhat politely - just in case.

The children are gone off the street.  There are still apprentices and helpers in shops, but now town children are given moderate tutoring and with it they work as messengers, serving boys, cabin boys, mineworkers and endless other tasks that keep them busy.  Contrariwise, beggers - safe now from summary execution - are common.  They are regularly rousted out of some parts of the town but they inevitably congregate in areas where they can annoy vendors, foreigners and 'happy' persons emerging from one of the taverns.  For game purposes, it's presumed the players know how to deal with these persons (without having to role-play it every time), but it should be noted that they are there to serve as witnesses to crimes committed, easy victims if a little human blood is needed and so on.

With property taxes and some town planning, bad neighborhoods have been torn down and various streets widened into avenues, making these towns less congested.  With a rise in awareness of the outside world, there is a greater interest in luxuries and oddities, along with curiousity, so that foreigners tend to be treated as interesting persons rather than threats.

All about the towns will be seen two-story, even three-story buildings, warehouses, public kitchens, armories, areas inside the city where processing is done (including slaughtering) and signs for potential disease in various aspects like the filling of graveyards on the edge of town, cremations, the haulage of gong and so on (populations are rising), for even if the town itself has a population of only 6,000, the number of visitors on a particular day may double that number during the afternoon.  Bathing in some parts of the world is done en masse in rivers or ponds near the town or city.

Religious signs, practices, peoples, temples, preaching and pressure by strangers to convert or repent are uncomfortably common for those used to lower tech levels.  The local population is indifferent, even approving, though most will not take any part in this themselves.  Some towns are now religious centers where this behaviour is exacerbated by thousands of pilgrims.

Competition is becoming vicious, with some persons actually sabotaging others - though the law prohibits this.  As vigilantism has declined, disputes are settled in law courts, usually one large building in a town or several such in a city.  Theft and secretive murder is common.  Family disputes are still settled outside the law.

Government

I've already covered a lot of this above, but just a word or two about players in this maelstrom; generally, the players should be informed that any action they take in a town or city is likely to be witnessed, reported and consequently dealt with very seriously.  While summary execution by mob or soldiers is a tech 8 thing, the law courts are quick to apply severe tortures, removal of limbs or yet execution for anyone without friends in the neighborhood caught behaving badly.

More and more, as tech levels rise, players should view the region (particularly the town) as a place where they should choose their fights, seek information, get involved in intrigue and behave very carefully.  Unless acting with the support of the local authorities (or some group that can ensure the party's well-being), going at things without much planning or thought is bound to get them in very hot water.

Thus, before adventuring in a town, get to know the government first, get to know what's allowed, get some friends, establish residence and then move forward towards a conclusion.

It is recognized that this will make tech 9 and above towns somewhat less appealing to many adventurers - but at the same time, people in these towns know things and have resources that more borderland territories do not.

Military

Given the technology described above, with all sorts of weapons and armor, the military of a tech 9 area will act quite close to what D&D usually assumes.  Above tech 9, I hope to introduce military practices that D&D normally doesn't account for - stuff from my sage abilities plans.  I'll just have to see how that goes.

I should add that levels will be more common among people, since many have gone off into the world and come back, from sailing journeys, wars, errands for business and the monarchy, far flung caravan trips to buy luxuries and so on.  Players shouldn't presume that their opponents are mere weapons fodder.  A 'typical' guard may well be 5th or 6th level.

Conclusion

This tech level, I think, is what most people usually assume a D&D world is like (with a few exceptions that will be introduced with higher tech levels).  Personally, I think the steady development in techs is progressing nicely.  I really like that all the weapons come into play at this point and that the people in towns are now a lot smarter and self-aware.

Regarding the levels thing.  I feel I need to point out that experience isn't a limited resource.  When a character acquires experience, whether through combat or injury, there's no depletion of the amount of experience still out there in the world.  Therefore, a whole town of 3,000 persons all attaining 1st level is really just a matter of sustained training, enthusiasm, resource management and time.  There is absolutely no legitimate reason why any town with the will couldn't simply organize themselves accordingly and manage the feat.

This is why we shouldn't assume that just because an individual has the lowly position of 'guard' that they're an easy kill.  That guard could easily have gone aboard ship as a 13-year-old cabin boy, become a full sailor by 18, become a marine by 21, fought in a dozen ship-to-ship skirmishes, been marooned on an island, survived four years alone, been rescued by a merchant ship, returned home and now seeks an occupation he can do, with enormous patience acquired from being alone with his own company, with no ambition to do anything but serve the merchant that saved his life.  And now the merchant owns a small tinsmithing shop in a minor town with a 13th level guard relaxing in the corner most of the day.

Presuming that every person with a great amount of experience will automatically be a braggart, a bully, an ambitious megalomaniac or a social climber is failing to understand the profound differences in one human being from another.  If we want our worlds to possess character enough to interest players, we must invest that world with characters unique enough to surprise players.

Okay.  Going to take a break for a few days before going on to tech 10.

1 comment:

connor mckay said...

These tech posts are gold and I have been enjoying the constructive comments posted from the beginning of the series.

On the topic of running out of technologies that are not too advanced for your time period, could the creative use of magic be a method of advancing the technologies? Such as low tech locations 9-11 would not be able to comprehend the idea of irrigating a field with a decanter of endless water, but to a tech 20 or whatever society that's just how life is?

While there would be many complications with this methodology, it would potentially lead to having some locations that are fantastical in their use of magic at tech 25 or so and allows you to use the algorithm to determine where these truly fantastical places are, as opposed to making an ad hoc call on where "Atlantis" or whatever you want it to be is.

On another note, I'm going through all your posts again from the start and there is am immense amount of reread value in them.