Monday, November 23, 2015

Variation

I just want to pause and take stock of the tech levels so far.

Early in this process, I had a faction of respondents who suggested that I should subdivide those first tech 5 regions into multiple technologies - to reflect that a single region, especially one as large as the Lungos Nad example I gave, should be more than one technology.  By now, with hundreds of regions now accounted for, ranging in tech levels from 5 to 9, I wonder if it can be seen now why I wouldn't want to subdivide this issue still further into sub-regions (and presumably, sub-sub-regions . . . oh, where would it end?)

I have about 33 remaining technologies to spread among the remaining 9 tech levels - though I can improve that by updating various lower technologies (separating 'agriculture' from 'irrigated agriculture', for example) and adding in things associated with magic - say, the creation of magic items.

I've been thinking about the relationship between tech levels and the percentage of leveled persons, as well.  While there are 619 regions with a tech level between 10 and 14, there are only 96 of 15 and above - and I like the idea that most of the residents of those higher tech levels would be actually leveled.  There are only 10 entities with an 18 technology, and all of those are free cities in either Germany or Italy, being 1/10th of a hex in size with 99,000 or more in population.  Why not make a completely leveled population as a distinctive feature of those places?

That would certainly give the players pause before entering such places, putting them somewhat on edge.  And on edge is where I like my players to live.

As technologies climb, it only follows that the level of civilization would become less comfortable for adventuring.  Population and densities climb, there are more potential enemies around, loaded up with weapons and magic . . . it is only natural that if the players start something, there are going to be plenty of personages around to put the hammer down.

In many ways, I can see the players preferring to retreat to the lower tech levels, where they can reasonably count on being the toughest fish in the pond, free to operate as they like without a lot of intrigue, accountability or social mores.  Then again, some players like that sort of thing - and since my world is a buffet, the fish can swim into whatever troubles personally suit them.

All I want is a much clearer glass to demonstrate what's going on where, so that the players can fine-tune their own experience to the sort of environment in which they'd like to play - with the freedom to drift from one end of the scale to the other without my having to do it for them.  It really makes a mess when the world shifts radically from one extreme to the other, attempting to keep every kind of campaign in the same space.

Letting the players do that, taking up their stuff and moving when it suits them, gives them greater power to create a narrative that works their way.  Me, I'm happy to manage whatever campaign they like.

This is perhaps a major reason why I don't get bored with 'one' campaign after ten years - because I'm not running a heterogeneous world.  I'm running a multi-world, with as many variations all in one place as a score of DMs running a very fixed and narrow concept-driven campaign.

6 comments:

connor mckay said...

That is a much more elegant solution to differentiating intelligence levels than the one I mentioned about magical creativity in the last thread, I love it.

Would these locations also be inherently more socially progressive or not, as you do mention accountability and social mores?

To clarify "social progressiveness" I mean for the time around 1650, obviously not the type of progressiveness seen over the last century.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Several of the technologies of Civ IV are based on social progressiveness. The Dutch had redeveloped democracy by the early 1600s (differing from Greek democracy) and this document gets Liberalism in under the wire. I had intended to include the constitution as well (as the Dutch wrote one).

So the higher tech towns and cities will in fact be safer than tech 9 or tech 10, the one I'm half-working on now.

maxwelljoslyn.com said...

This is compelling stuff, Alexis. You're laying down concrete specifications for how advanced a given area and its culture is, and from those arise very clear information as to how the game will play in that area. Thus the players are informed.

As usual, you're putting the last 40 years of "design" to shame. "Treant heralds who rebelled," my ass.

I have a question about the availability of magic. In the "technology 9" post you say:

"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."

If memory serves, your trade tables include listings for availability and waiting times for each spell level. At this time, do those listings square with the availability expressed in the above paragraph? Or will the trade tables need some retrofitting to reflect these new tech level designations?

Alexis Smolensk said...

I have been thinking that I will need to refine a trade table list for each tech level, yes.

Ozymandias said...

What's the rationale behind leveled NPCs in the high-tech, safer regions if XP is acquired through violence?

I don't mean to suggest that you can't gain experience except by violent acts - though that is what I wrote and you've said as much in other posts - but rather, I mean to understand what method you might use to assign levels to NPCs if they are not exposed to danger on a regular basis.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Ozymandias,

In the very same post I described these areas being full of powerful, dangerous people.

Take Frankfurt, Germany, for example. Right in the path of the horror storm that was the 30-Years-War. Defending the city, fighting in the streets, going off to defend other people, carrying forth war to Austria and Bohemia, hauling back treasure and more treasure, ousting spies, ousting rebels and traitors, etcetera, etcetera . . . then coming home and settling down, using the money to buy shops, establish quaint little taverns, a stable, anything that seems peaceful and quiet.