Friday, May 18, 2018

Stavanger's Initial Growth

Prior to this, in the posts about Haugaland and about West Rogaland, we've been talking about rural culture.  As Rogaland in general possesses a 5 development (dev-5), these are hunters living on clan lands without much technology.

Stavanger is an actual village, the only one in Rogaland in the year 892.  It is but 20 years old.  Already, it has jumped to a type-6 settlement ... but before we describe that, let's for a moment remember that it would have been a type-7 settlement for a brief while.

I hate that I keep having to explain this, but a type-7 settlement is the lowest form of settlement; a type-1 would be the highest.  Between 7 and 1, the characteristics of a settlement are modified, according to a complex scheme that does not only account for size, population and production, but also for what happens to be produced as a reference in my trade system, and the cultural development of the region.  The idea here is to unify the various worldbuilding systems I've been describing on my blog for a decade now: trade, my maps, my hex-generated infrastructure system and the late coming development/technology system.

[the 10th anniversary of this blog is in just ten days; say something nice]

To explain briefly about the map: Stavanger shows four food (bread slices) and two labor (hammers).  Because of the infrastructure number (type-6), the hex naturally supplies 2 food and 1 labor.  Note how Randa, with type-7, has no labor bonus.  Stavanger gets +1 food from the fish reference.  Note how Osthus, which is also type-6, but has no settlement, also gets a +1 food from a completely different fish reference.  Finally, Stavanger gets a +1 food and a +1 labor from being a type-6 "settlement," rather than a rural hex.

To get a sense of how Stavanger grew, let's go back to when it was a type-7 settlement, rather than a type-6.  It is a year or two after Stavanger was founded, say 874.  There are some 150 people living there.  What might that entail?  First, that food production is noteworthy; not just because the hex itself would likely be the most productive in Rogaland, but because tribute to the tribal chief and bartering would cause food to find its way to the region's center.  The requirements of the chief, the need to protect and elevate the chief's family, the conditions of Norway's climate and the associations between the chief and the population would result in the building of a long house, to shelter most of the people.  A warmer climate might have a scattering of huts, but this is Norway; it gets cold.

The present labor of more than 75 strong-backed residents would mean it could be a fairly substantial long house, large enough to house all of Stavanger.  The house would be near the water, as fishing is the primary occupation (note the fishing symbol, or trade reference, on the map above).  Inside and out, there would be areas for assembling raw materials, making tools and garments, tanning leather, carving, cleaning and drying fish and building primitive boats.  Many of the residents would be transient; paying fealty and tribute to the chief, seeking shelter when shunned by their clans, small nomadic groups stopping before moving on and, of course, the occasional outsider.  The clan leadership itself would be minimal; the "chief" would be a figurehead, but he or she would likely have no real power without strong support from the main body of villager leaders.

Not a very exciting place.  Or, rather, tremendously exciting compared to life in the forest.  It is all a matter of perspective.  From a player character viewpoint, if our party of primitive fighters were to show up, this is where intrigue would be found, with varying leaders pushing to have their agendas addressed, for their personal gain.  The party would enter this milieu with their own agendas, being pressed to make more friends than enemies as we role-played the game.

All right, it is 892 again.  Stavanger has grown to 553 people ... still a village, but too large for just one long house.  Let's say there are three of note and a group of lesser shelters, of the sort depicted above but more distinctly built about six feel below ground-level (with turf on top) and large enough for two or three families (we'll get to why in a bit).  The three noteworthy buildings are divided according to their occupations.  Most of the fishing folk dwell in one that is nearest to the shore where the boats are protected.  The hunting long house, or "lodge," is closer to the forest; and it houses the more powerful chieftain and more influential and official body of village leaders, or elders.  Finally, a third longhouse, less ornate and protective, shelters much of the common folk; and this house is the residence of Stavanger's shaman and small body of the shaman's personal servants.  People who cling to the shaman in order to have a place in the village hierarchy.

The amount of free labor is greater ~ thus we add another labor to the symbols shown on the map above.  That accounts for all the benefits Stavanger gets from being a settlement (remember, it got a +1 food when it was just a type-7 settlement, back in 874).  This labor is applied to more boats, more tools, the making of weapons to protect the chief and the region (stone-and-wood weapons), possibly crude armor (cloth and shields) and the collection of more raw materials.  Brush and other wooden enclosures, less sophisticated than a palisade, have been built along the forest to protect the village.  Most of the wood nearest to the village has already been cut down for firewood.  During the day, much of this labor is gone from the village; the hunters into the forest, the fishing folk out onto the water.  Only the children, the women and the shaman's followers remains (the shaman might disappear for days at a time, seeking mushrooms, herbs, a vision, whatever).

So we can see the evolution of the village.  If we started our game in 892, the players would never see the type-7, early Stavanger that was there before.  But we want to have some of it in our heads; so that we can envision where the residents came from, what they see as important, to them ... and where do they want to go in the future?  But we will get to that.

Okay, I mentioned that I would come back around to families.  I will; but I'm going to start a new post with it, to help maintain one principle subject per post.  I know that this is a tremendous wash of information for the reader, and that it can be overwhelming trying to imagine keeping all this in one's head.  Keep this is mind: we are not talking about rules.  We can simplify rules until the cows come home, but we're still stuck with the necessary proposition that creating a believable, fascinating world with depth is an unbelievable, monumental task ... one that, again, the official company simply ignores, pretending that every adventure can be made entirely out of stereotypes.

If we can see how the village of Stavanger works, we can put ourselves and our players into the place; and help them to walk around, watching the residents work, watching the interaction between the residents present itself ~ and understand what is important to these people.  What would change their lives?  What would they want?  How does the party fit into that equation.

Until the next post, then.

2 comments:

Johnn Four said...

How much do you think winter would affect activity before and during the deadly season for these people?

Alexis Smolensk said...

You can see from this link that while it dips right down into die-from-hypothermia weather in Stavanger, it never becomes the continental climate that we see in Russia or where I live, in Canada. Norway has a wet mesothermic climate, where it rains heavily and unpleasantly cold in the winter, and is cool and damp in the summer. The sea freezes solid for brief periods, with a long fishing season, so food can be laid up against the hardest months with relative ease.

We know that during the coldest months was when the norse cultures fed their poetical tradition; large groups of people telling and retelling stories, memorizing the stories as a group, later disseminating those stories to other cultures. So, in winter, a bard's paradise.