Sunday, March 20, 2016

Transport Section Finished

I am steadily moving through the trade system; I've just finished the section on calculating references through transport.  The next goal will be to write about the pricing of raw goods.  I will get to that in good time; I'm going to be working on the book for the rest of today and I feel I'm going to take a break from the blog for that purpose tomorrow.  I'm beginning to feel the pressure.


Tim said...

I have nothing more to say than great work so far! Your methodology is straightforward and sensible; I'd say it sits comfortably between simple and complex. I'm excited to see how you continue these posts.

Maxwell Joslyn said...

Alexis, when you've returned from Planet Book, I have a question about part 3, Locating References.

"I've put brewing and metal goods into the forest because the fuel from the trees makes the best opportunity for heating the grains and the forges that are necessary. These details matter. It means that although the Crow's Nest mountains produce no meaningful ore, the ore from those mountains that do (around Marzarbol and Heap) must be hauled to the furnaces and waterwheels of the Border Forest to be processed. So what will the party find on the roads? Wagons full of stone making their way steadily north to dump their valuable loads."

So in my own implementation of your system (which is proceeding merrily along), the only snag I've hit so far is the kind of stuff you bring up here. Specifically, the placement of service/manufacturing references (as opposed to raw materials). I don't know ANYTHING at all about which things go where based on climate, vegetation, etc. I was just going to distribute them based on where the materials come from -- so anywhere with iron has blacksmithing, etc -- but you've made it clear here that I should think twice on that.

Plan #1 is of course to go google these various trades and crafts -- weaver, blacksmith, forging/smelting, and so on -- and see what details I can glean. And I'll do that tonight after class.

(or maybe right now ... ah, I've ended up on "Brickwork" in wikipedia. There's so much here!)

But plan #2 is to take advantage of this big Alexis-shaped resource over here and ask you if you'd be willing to provide a few examples of "environmental and regional factors" influencing resource placement. Maybe discussing the manufactured goods you've presented in the trade system explanations so far -- wine, wool, leather goods, and so on.

Distributing them randomly is of course right out.

Alexis Smolensk said...


It is certainly an issue I admit I haven't addressed.

It wouldn't hurt to accept that research is your best option. I have only taken 21 different items to start - that's not too onerous.

You may feel at least a little reassured that wherever you put things, some story or justification can always be found. For example, we could as easily put the metal goods in the Heap, where fuel is obtained from dung and deposits of very soft coal and power from windmills located throughout. Rather than the clay coming from a scrub area, typically a low flat sedimentary plain, this particular clay might be an ancient, hardened deposit under the forest that is tunneled into, hauled out and then pulverized with rams run by the waterwheels. Thereafter it is sent out in sacks and mixed with water when needed, like cement.

Even if you are illogical in your picks, there's always a chance to shift things around as you learn or as your players point out that you're an idiot for not knowing this or that (I get told this all the time). A big aspect of the system is that it is relatively flexible, particularly on a small scale.

Now, I am juggling 30,000 references of more than 800 different types strung over 962 markets (not including Spain, Portugal, Morocco and Burma, which all have to be added yet). I have researched at length into what the hell is bird's nest soup, meerschaum, iroko, witherite and santonin - but then, I'm crazy. I like this stuff.

My main point is that you should not worry too much about accuracy. The big issue is, as I said, scarcity. This is managed through diversity - by ensuring that each specific type of reference you scatter around is given a LOT to a few specific places, a little to about twice as many as that and none at all to two thirds of your markets.

It won't hurt to be consistent - if forests in Pon produce such and such, try to keep that in mind when introducing other forests into the system. Saying that, of course, it helps to differentiate forests, too - this one is really timber-oriented and this one is more of a manufacturer. This gets easier when you add more specific types of references - but I was going to talk about that AFTER getting the initial system in place.

Maliloki said...

That was a great follow up comment, Alexis. Really helped me come to terms more with how (and how many) to place references. Especially the manufacturing.

I was using what you mentioned by trying to use the references to build the culture for each city, which helped quite a bit, but really hammering home the idea of scarcity makes things easier for my brain to process.

Alexis Smolensk said...

That's great to hear, Maliloki.

Because I have that big world, there are some products that are so plentiful (like grain everywhere or wine around the Mediterranean) that create a culture based on something being very plentiful (rice in India, for example). But I have found that the players really relate to scarcity more than the reverse.

Agravain said...

Long time reader, I must say I really love this kind of posts.

I was wondering, are you manually imputing the references for each market?
If so, when you add a new market to the list with its own production, do you have to change each market in the world?

Ozymandias said...

In regard to research - and I don't know how relevant this really is to the conversation, but it's on my mind because I'm reading non-fiction like this a lot recently - there are a lot of books out there that are detailed enough to help understand how economics can impact a society, but that are also more accessible than higher academia-style books.

For example, the one I'm currently reading is "Salt: A World History." It's certainly not academic - it's far too light for a history text. But it's an easy read which helps in my case, since I do a lot of hard thinking during the work day. It helps me stay just focused enough that I can get creative with my understanding. And thus, it has helped me realize the impact that something like salt has on everything around it.

Which brings me to an actual question: how scarce was salt production, really? The book makes it seem like it wasn't scarce, yet when you look at a map of the world and consider those places where salt production was managed at an industrial level, maybe it was relatively scarce after all. Or do we then have to consider scarcity in terms of demand? Since salt is a necessity for everyday life (or near as close as you get to a true necessity), then the demand is much higher which balances against the supply to create a higher need.

...then again, I probably just need sleep.

Alexis Smolensk said...


I have a solution for that issue, which I promise I will address after covering other more fundamental issues. Be sure to check out the post I'm putting up today, covering this wiki page:

Undeveloped Goods Prices"

Alexis Smolensk said...


There's room in the system for adjusting prices for issues like the one you bring up, as I shall eventually address when I explain how to set prices for single items on the equipment list.