Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Technology 11

This is the seventh 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 11 will have an average population density of 7,001 to 12,950 per 20-mile hex.  This includes the following regions, shown on this table:

151 regions.  This technology accounts for 3,517 hexes of my world, occupied by 34,756,621 humanoids.  Only 1,484,873 of these are non-human.

Available Technologies

See tech 10.  One thing about finishing these tech levels, I find myself wanting to get started on the next one, as I'm no more sure about what the next change is going to be than the reader is.  I'm very pleased that each level seems to a) be very different from the previous level; and b) relate directly to changes that ought to be made to troubles/problems created with the earlier technology.  That's a continuity I didn't plan for but seems to present itself at each stage as I go forward.

Tech 11 technologies are as follows:

Mathematics & Engineering.  I feel both deserve to be considered one and the same for the world at this tech level.  Fortifications proliferate, particularly in rural parts of the region, as nobles seek to solidify their power.  Fresh water is piped into the city from outside, deeper wells are dug (both for water and for the purpose of mining in the outer districts), while quays and wharves expand the capacity of ports to service shipping.  Temples and palaces reach impressive proportions, as do libraries, law courts, market squares and mills.  Dams and bridges are a distinctive feature of the rural and urban landscape.

Calendar.  Farms will grow more interested in growing crops that will produce wealth (particularly fibres) rather than food, beginning to challenge the self-sustainability of the region.  Taxes are now leveled on a yearly basis and rents paid monthly, while work among the lower classes in urban areas is regulated by clocks that chime from clock towers.

Optics.  Developments in naval tactics allow for signalling between ships and widespread use of telescopes for communication, along with improvements in cartography.  The region's shipbuilders will make three-masted ships able to cross the Atlantic, Pacific or Indian oceans.  Whaling is carried out by many ships.  The accuracy of firing siege engines is higher than at lower tech levels.

Literature.  With the widespread building of libraries and entrenched education of the young, at least 10% of the population is able to read the plethora of books that are bought and owned in the region.  The audience is caught up in a tradition of folk stories and morality tales, encouraging a large portion of the population to see corrupted persons as undeserving and malevolent.  Ideas of chivalry, love, the repudiation of villainy and the pursuit of goodness present themselves as enemies to the corruption in cities, challenging the status quo.

Assassination.  Whereas I mentioned in tech 10 that assassination had become a profession, it isn't until this tech that it becomes a 'power'; characters need an intelligence of 11 to become assassins.

Lifestyle - Rural

The countryside of this tech is defined by large estates that have gobbled up the small manor farms that once existed.  Since the size of these estates is greatly increased, often with areas up to half a hex in size, the environs are not so closely managed as smaller estates would be.  Thus the outlying edges of their domains tend to be loosely managed, making travel easy for players so long as they avoid the most carefully watched fields or estate works.

Upon the environs, family clans, sometimes operating as brigands, will join together in protective allegiances, paying their rents and subtly growing crops or gathering the land's resources to sell to the many villages or towns nearby.  This is often overlooked without much concern, since the lord, too, is making a great deal of money and the small pickings of these groups can be too much trouble to roust out.

When brigandage happens, the dwellers in one lord's land will often travel a great distance to be sure and strike in land controlled by someone else; sometimes, booty will be divided with the lord's agents, so that the lord will overlook their activities and even provide them with a degree of protection (not playing the lord's hand, of course).  These arrangements will sometimes grow to be generational.

In areas nearer to the lord's personal domain, villages carry forward a small industrial existence.  Gangs of up to a hundred will work a field together, mine the hills, build infrastructure, drain swamps, clear forests, beachcomb or whatever labor is needed.  There are always a half dozen overseers for these activities, present and very aware.  Laborers under the control of the lord do not work alone or in small numbers.

Adventurers abound, spurred by the tales of knights, ladies, magic and the protection of the innocent.  Many of these tend to be dreamers rather than practical souls - some on the scale of Don Quixote - but a few will be experienced.  Their presence, however, tends to make the population, even the lords themselves if they are directly approached, interested in an adventurer's tales or what an adventurer's quest may be.  Many will be helpful, so long as their own power isn't challenged.

Because the growing of food is on the decline, periods of extensive famine can severely hurt the poorer districts in the region (and the towns and cities).  Indifferent lords do not share food when it is scarce, so that it can happen that hundreds or thousands can die of starvation in bad years.

Lifestyle - Urban

Towns and cities both become defensive strongholds, sometimes on a grand scale.  Cities may show signs of having to expand their walls to include more residents - which will have the effect of disallowing much of the corrupted town from gaining access into the more 'civilized' portion of the city.  This inner district may only be accessible by writ and it may even be necessary to be met at the gate by an indentured servant or agent before entrance will be allowed.

Private gardens surrounded by walls become common, with many palaces owned by merchants and lords being also being fortified.  Lower districts will be squalid and the residents treated with disdain; the law has become so oppressive that mass executions intended to end rebellion are seen as a necessary measure to keep the peace.  Press gangs roam the streets looking for vulnerable persons, particularly drunks or anyone too poor to find a place for the night, being paid fees for every head they can find.  As such, many of the vice-directed professions will hand over clients, deadbeats or troublesome persons to the press gangs for a piece of this fee, rather than commit murder.  Some places in the red light district (now several streets) do a booming business in subtly removing a person's defenses in order to make them sailors, soldiers or wage slaves.  Of course, in some parts of the world, complete slavery is a common thing.

Outside the walls (and often inside), every available space is dedicated to the growing of food.  The 'suburbs,' then, feature scattered dwellings growing vegetables, fruits and tubers, all of which provide the best potential food mass per acre.  This is delivered to the gates, where carters collect it to take inside to the urban dwellers daily.  Travel in and out of the town is rare, as the guards will often turn away people, regardless of their ability to pay the exorbitant fees to enter.

Government & Military

In most ways this is unchanged from tech 10, except for an increased interest in naval maneuvers, where the region meets the sea.  Sappers and artillerists are a bigger feature of the standing army.  The rural lords have an greater power with the monarch, being that they control so much more territory individually, while urban lords tend to look more inwardly with regards to their problems.  There is a certain resistance in the latter to turn over wealth, though of course the greater number of men are collected from the towns and cities.


I know that it is probably getting difficult remembering the individual tech levels, as they tend to blur together.  Allow me to quickly run over them again:

Tech 5.  Nomadic, living in tents.  Villages are impermanent, with a steadily changing population, in fords and established exchange points.

Tech 6.  Agricultural, with villages wholly dedicated to farming.  No artisans, leadership is clan and tribal based.  Some mining.

Tech 7.  Towns feature workshops for simple manufactures, with less emphasis on farming.  Councils gather to make decisions while religion remains a personal choice.

Tech 8.  A widening of the gap between rich and poor, money is common, inns and taverns as well, with caravans.  Towns and the military are run by autocratic rule, with little law or restraint.

Tech 9.  Writing and law helps make towns more open, though the rural districts are increasingly oppressed.  Artisans and the religious become the most visible urban influences.

Tech 10.  Feudalism shuts down the rural countryside completely, while towns grow corrupt and full of filth, disease and dangerous vice.

Hope that helps.


  1. You have, on your Wiki, a writup of Harn, both the Thane and it's Archthane Seraphis, owned by gnomes and possessed of, importantly, a college of Illusionists.

    Your intention here is no doubt to tweak that in recognition of your new knowledge, importantly, that neither Thane is of high enough intelligence to possess Illusionsts as a proper class. My question then is, how do you intend to go about this, and naturally any similar "retcons" that might crop up?

    At tech 10 and 11 respectively, a Mage school isn't out of the question, even if the specific class of Illusionist isn't available, but since Gnomes can't become regular Mages, that raises other questions. There are a handful of other areas where things seem counter-intuitive, like the Elves of low-tech Norway being unable to become Rangers and so on.

    I'm very interested in your thoughts here on how non-human races handle tech and their otherwise quite limited available classes, even if those thoughts boil down to "sucks being a low-tech non-human; them's the breaks".

  2. I was thinking this very thing as I was coming home these last 30 minutes, Arduin. Well spotted.

    In AD&D, elves are exempt from being rangers - page 14, Player's Handbook. Unfortunately for me, my daughter started an elven ranger 8 years ago and ran it for four years before either of us had a reason to look at that page - when as a group we agreed to eliminate race level limits. As such, by precedent, I do have elven rangers. But I digress.

    I was thinking specifically of the gnome illusionist problem - and you're right, like the Don Cossacks, the illusionist school was put there before the tech level design. And I admit, I'm a lot less willing to let go of that school than I am of Don Cossack swordsmen.

    So what indeed do I do?

    A big part of me wants to embrace the 'sucks to be non-human' argument. That certainly works for orcs, trolls, hobgoblins and most of the gnome and dwarf cultures I've developed. I'm even good with the elves taking it in the teeth because I hate the smarmy elf pontificating superiority ideology. And I really, really hate when people fetishize that shit.

    A big part of the creative problem comes from the origin of non-human territories in the first place. They're all based on human-made regions of the 18th-20th century that were empty of people. As such, all these non-human areas are HUGE. Note the post I wrote today about Agra.

    As such, kingdoms like Harnia, Altslok (dwarven), Vostoch (hobgoblin), Magloshkagok (goblin), Jagatai (orc), Ilistan (githyank) and so on have borders that were defined because with so few people in those parts of the real world, management per sq.m. is comparatively easy.

    Perhaps the solution would be to build a random table that randomly carves up such regions into chunks based upon geographical features.

    (to be continued)

  3. For example, a part of Altslok, the Dwarven kingdom, is called Khath. This region corresponds to the most southern quarter of the huge Russian Krasnoyarsk Krai (the same that includes Lungos Nad and it's compliment state, Lungos Sog) plus the Republic of Khakassia. I awarded that part of Krasnoyarsk to Khakassia because I wanted to combine both parts of the Minusinsk Hollow to the Dwarves. I did this way, way back around 1998, at a time I wasn't running any campaign.

    The reason is that the Hollow (I call the river through it the more dwarven name of 'Moth') is a mining and agricultural basin, with gold, coal and iron, supported by pig iron foundries. In the mountains. It just seemed to fit.

    I've defined Khath as tech 8, with 152,269 dwarves and 138 hexes. But the basin is only about 20 of those hexes and easily 90 percent of the dwarves live in it. That would make the whole basin tech 10 (6,852 per hex). A random border-defining table might split the basin into two, even three territories - the Fergana basin in Uzbekistan is divided into five entities, though it has a much higher population.

    That would also solve Gilkask and a lot of other non-human kingdoms, all of which suffer from the same issue (no small territories such as those found in human areas).

    This is as far as my thinking goes, at present. One thing I really don't want to do is cut every one of those territories into pieces that award all or most of them with a certainty of higher tech areas. As I said, "sucks to be non-human" sounds good to me.

    But it is clear the situation needs addressing. Perhaps even the Don Cossacks - though human - can be carved up in a way that will give some of them swords.

  4. Carving them up into territories based on geography seems about as fair as it gets in terms of granting subdivisions where historically there were none, and of special note here is that this would actually increase the number of hexes that are 100% pure wilderness, since the territorial divides would stop any influence from those bastions of civilisation (however small) right off.

    Someplace like Khath might jump a tech level or three, only to be immediately adjacent to an area lacking any tech at all. That could be neat. Doesn't solve anything for poor Harn, given that it's wedged delicately between Mosovy and the Jagatai, but I suppose somebody has to get the shaft in the whole arrangement.

  5. Ah, but Harnia, too, is comprised of the relatively sparsely inhabited Mordovian Republic (that I call Seraphina) and the Penza Oblast (that I call Harn). Both are well populated now, but not so much in 1650; so the same rule applies to them that applied to Khath. Arguably, they could be split up randomly also.

    The main question is, how does that random table that divides up provinces work?

  6. I'm thinking you might be able to use a variant of the infrastructure system number system. Assign the non-human cities a number based on their population, and then watch how far the influence spreads. Natural features that block authority would lower the influence number. It could even potentially define which cities belong to the same region, based on whether/how the cities' influence overlap.

    For adjusting the numbers to fit, you could look at some of the human areas, and see which numbers those cities would have had to form the regions that they have. Some tweaking would probably be necessary to account for cities lying near the border and other edge cases.

  7. Rubberduck beat me to the mention, but I've been wondering what your ideas are on the intersection of your infrastructure numbers and the tech levels.

    Correct if I'm wrong: they are both based on population, but infrastructure is derived directly from the exact population of a market town, while tech levels come in 18 broad slices of the population density figure (between A and B density is tech such and such, between B and C density is the next one, etc).

    You originally proposed infrastructure to determine features of a hex -- perhaps useable as a target number for a percentage roll for presence of an inn, tavern, fishery, sewers, etc.

    Now with the advent of tech levels there is clear delineation on what technological and social features will exist in each area, so it seems infrastructure's focus could shift, since it no longer has to determine available/not-available. Perhaps the infrastructure number could represent the strength/quality of the features of the tech level, or the tightness of the grip of the local lord. Or perhaps this is a way to limit availability of items/services: for example, tech 11 means siege weapons with better accuracy than tech 10, but even in a tech 11 region you can only hire siege engineers with tech-11 skills in the parts of the region which have highest infrastructure.

  8. We're on the same page, Maxwell. I was thinking something like that myself.


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