Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Technology 14

This is the tenth 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 14 will have an average population density of 44,322 to 88,643 per 20-mile hex.  This includes the following regions, shown on this table:


89 regions. This technology accounts for 670 hexes of my world, occupied by 41,604,255 humans. There are no non-humans.

It's all perseverance from here, with four levels left to go after finishing this.  I want to do a good job right to the end . . . but I must admit that the exact details of how what remains will serve to build a unique culture.  I'll just have to keep thinking.

I feel I should highlight that as these higher levels progress, the emphasis is upon culture and development, not the appearance of nifty devices for the population to use.  The lower levels were all about weapons, armor, bigger and better ships and other tools.  Things are bound to turn up still, but we shouldn't get caught up in the spread of things.  It's ideas that count.

Available Technologies

See tech 13.  I have four technologies from Civ IV to apply to this level, the first two as one unit:

Printing Press & Paper.  The key here isn't the actual press, which might be hauled anywhere and used, but in the customs surrounding its use by people who see printed materials as a way of life.  With the production of pamphlets, letters, images, postings and books - with the recorded knowledge these things represent - literacy climbs, we see the tenuous beginnings of journalism, the spread of ideas and a pervasive discord upon these ideas.  The very idea of discord being a part of daily life imposes itself on what behaviour is expected from strangers, associated and friends.  Fisticuffs and unwarranted violence become socially unacceptable behaviours, so much so that heavy penalties are imposed upon people who do not show physical tolerance towards their fellow man.  Argue, yes; draw weapons, NO!

With paper comes the making of scrolls.  The reader will note I haven't said anything about the formulation of magic - these things are absolutely designed for the highest tech levels.  Scrolls, however, are perhaps the least advanced.  They require the caster read the spell (rather than drawing it forth from memory) and offer no different magic than that already known.  Nevertheless, we would start to find specific places in these regions that would make scrolls - not for public purchase, obviously, but for the royal household, members of the elite civil service, the church, certain persons in the nobility and for units in the military and navy.  Each of these would have a 'workshop' that was responsible for churning out scrolls in the most practical way - I don't imagine it would be easy to make more than a few a month for each of the groups above, given that it takes a sage (80 knowledge points) of a very specific study to make such a scroll.

Divine Right.  This is tricky.  It is easy to get caught up in the idea of divinity conveyed upon or denied to the kings of Europe by the Pope going back to the time of Charlemagne (even earlier).  In this case, I'm taking my text from the sort of ideas that Thomas Hobbes promoted in Leviathan or the perception of taking on the crown as expressed by James VI of Scotland - that the monarch "acknowledgeth himself ordained for his people, having received from the God a burden of government, whereof he must be countable."  That is, that the role does not allow a lack of restraint upon the king, but that instead the monarch is restrained by his responsibility, his duty and the will of God.  As the monarch is restrained, so too are all the people of the nation.

I see the development of divine right, at least in my world, as a means to contain the expansion of the civil service, to gather the parliament of aristocracy under a single head, to provide a counterbalance to the church and ultimately to permit all three disputing rivals of the previous tech level to operate together peacefully.  In effect, I see divine right as the invention of executive authority - which in Canada we embody with a civil service that has no right to make decisions but the privilege of slowing down the implementation of anything the service sees as dangerous (it's a complex web, one dramatized brilliantly with this series).  In America, of course, it's an elected president.

Nationalism.  At this tech level, the conflicting cultures of town and country are at last united, as both begin to identify themselves as part of a single people.  This requires less effort than one might suppose, since density per square mile has climbed as high as 250.  With this tech, passage into towns is made free to anyone able to prove their citizenship - which is much more difficult to forge, since with the presence of paper and printing presses, a single false passport can take up to a week to make.  With the advancement of magic (see below), town walls become more accessible in times of peace and less vulnerable in times of war.  As citizenry applies to all, purchase of property (whether urban or rural) is free to all, breaking the feudalism that still exists in many lesser tech areas.  The reader should note, however, that this only applied to 948.6 hexes (including techs higher than 14) of my entire created world (so far) totalling more than 33,000.  Feudalistic entities cover far more territory than that!

I'm going to forego talking about town and country life, then, since I feel the above has given enough insight into that for the present.  Basically, a life much more like the one we live.  I want, instead, to talk about the two distinctive features that really make themselves felt with the presence of this technology.

Experience Levels

Earlier I made a remark on the percentage of population that might be leveled at various tech levels.  I suggested that tech 18 be all leveled persons . . . which got a very good worried-looking response from my party last Saturday night when I suggested it.  A DM must be allowed to enjoy these things.

I think I will probably make use of my favorite number series (I employ it all the time) and confirm that tech 18 would have 89% of its population leveled.  Here, let me put together a table:

Total 25,684,084 leveled population
I had to goof around a bit with the Fibonacci series, since I was working back from the convenient number of 89 out of 100, so that tech 10 was adjusted from 2% to 2.1%, letting all the other numbers come out.  There are doubtlessly other ways to mess with it, but this is good enough for now.  It gives a sense of the balance of power between the individual tech levels.

Tech 14 isn't quite the peak; even though it has more people than tech 15 entities combined, it falls short on levels.  Yet I think this is the turning point where an entity's resources are concerned, because this is the first level in which all the parts of society are combined together.  Nationalism and Divine Right draws together all the resources of the region's people into a single camp when facing an enemy, under one titular head with one agenda (well, relatively, we did mention public discourse and argument among the people).

Nations of this rank (for we can use that term, now) represent two thirds of the 'true Players' where it comes to the world's political discourse (it does help to remember that these are provinces of larger entities, so that Urbino and Ravenna are united as part of the Papal States, Vicenza and Berghem are united with Venice and so on).

Magic

I want to say that if 1st level spells become readily available with tech 9 (something I mentioned on that post two weeks ago), then tech 14 would have implementation of 6th level spells.  That may not actually work overall; there are 10 levels between 9 and 18 (inclusive) and there are only 7 cleric, druid and illusionist levels.  It follows that the highest of each should compliment the highest tech level . . . but that means figuring out some table that staggers the tech level where that particular spell level begins to proliferate and -

Heck, I've probably lost the reader.  Can we just presume that with higher tech levels and with more population able to use magic, that spells like permanent iron walls, guards & wards, fire traps, glyphs, spike fields and so on are going to proliferate to the point where pre-cast and spontaneously cast magic begins to dominate the battlefield more than common defenses like walls and moats?  The reader will remember that a similar thing occurred with towns that had to build walls to defend against cannon, all earth walls and angles that deflected shells.

I don't know how effective this would be against magic.
I feel that the presence of magic - the sort that can be employed by casters that won't go off until disturbed - would drastically reduce a dependence on any city defense that meant expensive walls that would come rattling down with a good cleric-generated earthquake.  Of course, players would do well to remember that poking around the edges of town might set off something they didn't expect - but I'm sure there'd be magic mouths to give warning to the general populace.  Most of the time.

Conclusion

This seems a little rushed, doesn't it?  What about the criminal element?  What about the religious perspective?  How do those things work?

Well, I think a lot of them would have to go underground.  We'd have the creation of many secret societies, criminal and otherwise, that would make agreements with one another to carve up the city and make sure that the lowliest scum followed their marching orders and didn't upset a major sting that the South Side thieves' guild had been setting up for a month.  On the whole, I think this social web would become the underground we speak of so casually and hardly ever see - a perfect foil for adventuring, since what we have is a secret government that serves to undermine the 'legitimate' government.  Lots of room for adventuring there - even if it doesn't seem like the reader's sort of D&D.

The best I can hope for at this point is to impress upon the system a feel for the degree of oppression the players would face.  Yes, the citizenry are united, but what of foreigners? I doubt the players would feel very comfortable moving about such a region.  They'd find a stalwart population that were pleased to have the players visit, so long as they don't make trouble and they get the hell out as soon as they've spent their money.  Acquiring a citizenship would be a difficulty - and players, on the whole, would probably skip that since they don't want to get mired down.  I think most players would be very happy to get out after their trip to the market - and back to more adventuresome tech levels.

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