My infrastructure/trade/development quandary continues apace, very slowly. That is because the problem, and the management of the problem in particular, is very deep and information thick. Still, I did say I would be writing about it on occasion, before eventually releasing some of the content here on the blog, once I have enough to make an impression.
The problem today is defining health. I mentioned this is a couple of posts just recently, here and here. I had said I wanted a number basis for comparing regions of appalling health with those where players would want to visit ... and to make those differences matter to the players in a way that they would really care what the environment was like. I think I have managed to create a general template, which I will outline here in a series of five tables:
Here we have a strictly managed public health policy. The above should be as good as it gets for a Renaissance culture ~ that's my plan, anyway. Rationally, there should be ways to slice the pie thinner, if need be, but this is a good start. As health is a little less well managed, it looks like this:
Not quite as clean or socially respectful, but still maintaining a lot of standards, such as good food, rest, control of disease and services. Still, this isn't the norm; an average health condition should look like this:
Now it is starting to get a little uncomfortable for the players. Adjacent gong pits would mean they were out back of most buildings and noticeable. With five or six players, the chance of someone catching a cold or a minor ailment, though 1 in 80 apiece, is now better than 1 in 14. Comfortable, safe accommodations are harder to find. But still, this seems civilized. In a less seemly part of the world, however, we have this:
This is now quite unpleasant. This isn't a place to rest. If the player is only first level, gaining back hit points from rest isn't possible (by my healing rules). The dead are loaded openly on carts. Getting a clean bed for the night is out of the question. The water tastes funny. The population is rife with disease. A week's stay will mean someone is bound to come down with something. But still, it is better than this:
At low level, player characters, not having been bred here, and toughened to the disease and conditions, would actually lose hit points from attempting to rest. There's nowhere to evacuate one's bowels except in a side lane. Gong is everywhere, as are flies, vermin and the occasional, ignored dead body. The population would be easier to kill, with less hit points and levelled characters, but is that really a blessing?
I suppose it could be worse ... but I'm shooting to make this around the bottom of the scale. I still need a means of generating a number between -4 and +4, but that will take some experimenting with actually describing specific regions of all kinds to get right. For the moment, this measurement scheme is a place to work from. If necessary, I can widen the range of numbers later and, as I say, cut the differences finer, making 7 or 9 degrees of health if necessary.
I hope to create similar tables like this for happiness/unhappiness and culture/uncultured. That's going to take some thought, but that's the goal. For those building and thinking about their own worlds, the above gives a simple scale that a given setting can be assigned, if going through the process of actually measuring a region's health (as I'm doing) is undesirable.