Saturday, December 6, 2008

The Evil, Insane Killer Distance Table

What have I been doing lately? I had my doubts about going into this, as it definitely defines one of my crazier views on what comprises D&D, but what the hell. If you're going to read this blog, you might as well have the whole picture.

Here is the whole picture:

The purpose for this flow chart, which vaguely resembles central Eurasia, is forthcoming. First, I recognize that it is none-too-clear. It has been processed twice, once from Publisher to JPeg, then onto the Blogspot it is naturally a mess. A slightly clearer version can be downloaded here, where at least you can read the names.

If you know nothing about my trade tables, and you care to know, I suggest you search "trade" on this blog and go through some of my earlier posts. In the meantime, I'll give a quick description:

Individual regions produce a given amount of product; this product is collected in "trade cities," which are represented on this chart. The distribution of the products once they are produced and gathered together at their export points (trade cities) is dependent on the distance these cities are from each other. What I have been working on, painfully slowly, these last two weeks is a complete distance table which would identify the distance of every city from every other city. Fun, eh? I'm not close to finished, and I won't be for far longer than I like to think about.

Two immediate problems. First, I have not made any specifications for production trade cities for Western Europe, most of Africa, India, East Asia or the New World. This would seem like a problem. However, since I can't wait until that stage of the process is completed (it has taken me five years to get to where I am now, which isn't bad, considering), I am forced to estimate the distances to those areas and basically ignore any portions I have not done. For example, while I don't know the trade cities for India, China, Indochina or Western Europe, I do know how much product those regions produce. Whereas for most of Africa, the East Indies and the New World, I have nothing. Haven't even started working on those. C'est la vie.

You will note that there are only a few sea distances noted on the chart. Sorry. These just don't work out on the table. I use the maps that I've made (you've seen some of those maps, hopefully) to establish the number of hexes between ports. Since ships can virtually travel in any direction, it isn't worth it to note all the possible existing relationships. Those which are noted are those which are important to Central Europe, where my party is and where I am concentrating on for the distance table.

You may also note there are rivers, which have two numbers associated with them. The first, lower number is the distance downriver, with the current; the second, is the distance upriver. This makes the table more interesting, as the difference can decide which path a particular trade route takes. It also means that I can't simply assume the distance between A and B is the same as between B and A. I have considered simplifying this and averaging the two distances, but...well, I'm nuts. I like the irregularity.

All told there are more than 400 cities indicated on the chart. I have no program or programming ability to enter the individual distances and have a computer find the shortest distance, although I know this is possible. Sadly, I'm deficient in this regard. So if any nerd has an idea how to make this process shorter, so that I don't have to calculate each and every distance by fucking hand...grumble, grumble...I would like it.

Oh, there are some interesting points on the table, for anyone nerdy enough to really have a close look. For example, they might see that the river which flows through Kiyev--the Dneiper River--inexplicably becomes a road between Kremenchuk and Khortytsia. This is because, up until the 20th century, this part of the Dneiper was not navigable, which served to make the Ukraine somewhat backward, and helps explain why historically there was little foreign control over the various hetman tribes which dwelt in the lower Dneiper Valley; also, why the Tatars consistently controlled the Crimea and the Sea of Azov so long. Goods shipped to Kiev tended to go westward, up the Pripet River to where they could be moved to the Bug and the Vistula, and floated down to the Baltic, rather than south to the Black Sea. The main passage between the middle east and central Russia was through the Caspian, to Astrakhan and up the Volga. I should also point out that Smolensk, the point of highest navigation for the Dneiper, was more often in Polish hands than in was less practical for Russia to trade from the Dneiper than it was for the Poles.