Saturday, November 28, 2015

Technology 13

This is the ninth 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 13 will have an average population density of 23,959 to 44,321 per 20-mile hex.  This includes the following regions, shown on this table:

94 regions.  This technology accounts for 1,117.1 hexes of my world, occupied by 38,640,273 humans.  There are no non-humans.

I am struck by the coincidence that these last three tech levels, 11, 12 & 13, have all had accounted for approximately the same number of people: 34 million, 37 million and 38 million each.  This was not intentional.  It does suggest to me that the simple algorithm I'm using (each tech above 10 includes entities 1.85x more dense) is correct - or it is just wildly coincidental.  Most probably the latter, heh heh.

By now, the reader is probably sick to death of these tech posts.  This being the ninth one, I'm getting somewhat weary myself.  These are a lot of energy and I'm getting tired of thinking my way through the developments involved - but I do want to press through until the end.  I hope, sincerely, that I don't end up phoning in these last six levels.  All, I'm afraid, will be fine-tuning aspects of the tech 12 baseline (I think, anyway; I could be wrong once I give more thought to what's ahead).  Certainly 13 doesn't make any great changes to the status quo of church vs. aristocracy vs. capital . . . this being a formula that continues until the mid-20th century, when the church starts to feel itself crumbling.  We're in the midst of that crumbling now, with the sound and fury of toppling institutions giving them the temporary illusion that their pronouncements still matter in a world that begins to hate religion.  Of course, people will claim that Islam still has a lot of power, but that's nonsense; religion has power when it is seen as a positive force in people's lives.  When religion merely becomes the excuse used by governments to oppress people, that is the illusion to which I refuse.  For most Islamic fundamentalists, religion is merely the left hand you're supposed to watch so you don't see what the right hand is doing (it does a pretty good job of fooling stupid people).

But I digress.

Available Technologies

See tech 12.

Civil Service.  The need for the three sides of power requires a set of principles to govern liaisons among themselves - and this entity goes a long way to supplanting the government itself.  Whereas the aristocracy channels taxes towards their own ventures, tech 13 has an institution that directs taxes to the good of all.  This help support the various ventures of government, promotes the construction of larger engineering projects and empowers many educated common persons who now have a vocational path that is not oriented towards trade or religion.

Philosophy.  Apart from interest in metaphysics and ethics, philosophy strengthens the originating ideas and themes proposed in tales and literature into fundamental ideals for how persons should act and behave.  This in turn has strengthened the new civil service, so that the principles of promoting welfare and the general interest have inculcated themselves into the social conscience (it did not begin with Jefferson, the hack).  This philosophy, in turn, is made manifest by the spread of . . .

Drama.  Tales are greatly elaborated by thematic purpose, that serves to educate even the lowest element of the culture with propaganda and a call for intellectual action with regards to social problems.  The presence of drama, in turn, helps unite the people into a common heritage, something that hasn't coalesced into 'nationalism' as yet, but retains suggestion of that ideal.

Music.  The development of martial themes and emotional coloratura further heightens the social culture.  This, too, aids in giving people a common heritage, from the sort of complex music played for the upper classes to the elaborate affairs now planned by the lower.  With drama and music we introduce the bard class, incorporating magic with the music of minstrels from a lower tech level.

I plan to speak this evening with my players with regards to reducing the intelligence limits of both bards (from 15 to 13) and illusionists (from 15 to 12) this evening, to see if they have any objections.  After some initial discussion, I don't believe that lowering these stat requirements will vastly increase interest in either class - nor will they, in any way that I can see, alter the balance of power in the class itself.  Those intelligence numbers are completely arbitrary - and in the face of the tech system going so well (it is for me!), I'm ready to rethink those numbers.

After all, gnome illusionists must come from somewhere.  I know the gnomish territories in my world - Harnia is easily the most populated.

Here and there, I can see, there will have to be minor adjustments all over my previous system.  I'm resolved, however; I can't wait to start playing this system.  At present, I have both my parties in each campaign at the front door of a dungeon.  It is convenient that this is where they both are, just now, as I play with this new concept.


I think it is fair to combine both rural and urban together again.  Population density has risen to around 80-100 persons per square mile, so that even in a large region like the Punjab (290 hexes), a big town is not very far away.  The countryside's mindset will orient itself more and more towards the town, as much redevelopment and infrastructure will begin with appealing to the civil service for monetary investment.  This investment in turn will begin to lock town and country together into a single geopolitical framework, the forerunner of nationalism (see tech 14).

With theaters, music halls, the incorporation of ballrooms into palaces, a general flourishing of the arts generally (allowing another chosen profession for the talented and technical), life for many persons will become more interesting and comfortable than the dependence on tavern and drink that will define lower tech levels.  For many persons entering a town, there will be more interest in washing, changing clothes and attending one of the daily events in the city (a far cry from weekly or monthly festivals found elsewhere) than in simply sitting in a tavern for six hours.  Of course, for some people, the appeal of the latter option will never go away . . . but this too will begin to separate the culture into people that 'matter' and people who do not.

The civil service, in an effort to save time, will create endless fees and monetary penalties for infractions, enabling the wealthy to 'break the edicts' with little suffrage while the poor will find themselves hemmed in further - and even compelled to leave, as town life becomes more restrictive for those who are not part of a faction.  Once again, this will mean that towns and cities are cleaner, lacking slums and even a red light district entirely - the latter replaced by a theatre district, where it may still be possible to get horizontal refreshment, only now through an agent rather than direct bargaining.

My world of 1650 is pre-Industrial revolution, so there isn't the opportunity for labor that would exist in a late 18th-century world.  Artisanship takes a very long time to learn; the remarkable simplicity of industrial manufacture through steam, gas and ultimately electricity created the filthy city we identify with the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  A well-fashioned 17th century town, one where the population was well educated and managed, was nothing like we imagine medieval cities to be (an invention of Hollywood).

This situation may seem strange for players who never think of things like attending the theatre or taking a seat in the observer's gallery of the local parliament - but I feel that with encouragement and a clear understanding of when this is possible, players will find the potential to be interesting.  I feel it will greatly improve their vision of my world and the opportunities that lay before them.


It should be clear to the reader that I am spending less and less time on things apart from lifestyle - that is because matters like government and the military substantially affect the players only so much as the players are interested.  I've stuck largely to what the military might be doing and what things the government's structure should be watched for; more than this may be added at a later time without filling space right now.

So the only point I want to make now about the military is that they, too, are being funded by the civil service.  With the support of martial themes and greater controls on entry (and less loyalty to anything except the paymaster and the general philosophy of the military itself), the army TOO becomes a profession for the poor.  Under the control of a more stable government than aristocracy, the military's precision will make it a more dangerous weapons both towards other regions and towards the state itself.  This will change many local attitudes about the military's purpose, status and general import to foreign action.


I've digressed a lot through this post, so I think I'll call it quits.  I'd like to hear on the intelligence of bards and illusionist and on further considerations due to the civil service and the army.  I feel I've fallen a bit short on both those topics.


  1. I'm definitely curious to see how those class changes proceed for you. These posts are certainly not boring -- keep them up!

    I am curious to know more about how you settled on the population density distinctions now that you mention the 1.85x increase you've been following. Meddling with those numbers would of course also affect setting comfortable minimum ability scores. By the way, would monks start appearing by Tech 15? And are paladins first appearing at this tech level (minimum intelligence 9, wisdom 13)?

    The list of polities with tech 13 is also very interesting in terms of hex size, since there appears to be a few enormous regions that manage to be tech 13 (like the Barbary Coast) compared to a whole bunch of mostly-European states which cover only a few hexes. I expect as things progress, the higher tech regions will become smaller and smaller (but of course, more and more politically dangerous).

  2. Well, militarily at some point the higher techs would try their best to expand on the domestication of griffons, hippogriffs, weak willed drakes or any other flying mount. Then the entire development of air superiority tactics becomes a thing, if it fits in your world.

    Higher techs may also use magic combined with diving bell type technology to develop some form of under water naval capacity.

    Regarding the civil service, well eventual expansions on public health care or welfare might be an idea but that may not fit the 1650s era either.

  3. Tim,

    I chose to follow monks at their intelligence, not their wisdom (see tech 7) and paladins at their intelligence also (see tech 9).


    I had thought about griffs (don't want the others you suggest to be available to earth/prime material cultures), but wasn't going to introduce them until military science/tradition.

  4. @ Tao:

    You don't have the your version of the bard posted to the Wiki yet, so I can't see what you've changed from the PHB. The AD&D bard required an intelligence of 12 (up from the "average intelligence" requirement of the class originally presented in the Strategic Review). Since there's this presumption of them belonging to "colleges" I don't think there's a problem with limiting the class to tech levels that support such institutions (I'm not talking physical buildings, but organizations similar to guilds). Like the druid, this isn't about some guy waking up in a low-tech village and finding he has magical singing ability.

    Personally, I think the illusionist should have the 15 intelligence...that's just my taste, but I think it is appropriate for the concept of the class as a very introverted, "playing-with-the-boundaries-of-perceptions" type. I understand it's a problem for your gnomish populations...though this is a function of the world you created (do you have humanoid races that are "inherently magical," like drow and svirfneblin with their auto-magic abilities? That would seem to run counter to a setting of "magic-as-technology"). Could you increase the population densities of the gnome realms (they breed like rats!) to account for an increased tech level? At least in the regions where you're likely to have illusionists? Give 'em extra underground fields of cultivated fungus to feed the expanded numbers? I mean, if they're subterranean, it's possible such a population explosion went unnoticed by neighboring powers, right? If they're an introverted, non-expansionistic species content to live in their illusionary fairy realm...

    While these tech level posts may be fatiguing to write, they are great food for thought, and I'm appreciative of the time you're taking to lay 'em out.

  5. The Player's Handbook lists a necessity for a 15 strength, wisdom, dexterity and charisma, with a 12 intelligence and a 10 constitution. This is based on Bards having to be fighters and thieves before they can become actual bards - a silliness on the highest level. So when I rebuilt the Bard, I settled on a 15 wisdom and 15 charisma, period.

    After a discussion with my party last night, where we debated the pros and cons of it, we agreed that a 12 intelligence for illusionists and a 13 wisdom for Bards shouldn't upset the balance of my campaign.

    I recognize that people seem to feel that I am tweaking the wrong elements in this system (size of territory, bleeding of one tech into another, increasing the population, changing the metric on what tech is baded upon, etcetera). I'm learning that this is so very typical of the internet.

    Step 1: Come up with something no one has ever thought about.
    Step 2: Admit not knowing exactly how it will be done.
    Step 3: Start doing the actual work.
    Step 4: Field endless criticism from people who did not come up with the idea, seem to feel they know what should be done despite doing no actual work.

    I'm quite happy with how the system is resolving itself; and quite happy with the solutions I'm applying.

    I recognize that this seems like I don't care about the opinions of others. Rather, its just that the sort of suggestion made above requires that I change my method in the work I'm doing. I don't hear or see anyone sitting down on their blog to write 14 separate in depth posts based on a great deal of steadily accumulated material to show how their method would work so much better than mine.

    Perhaps I am being stubborn. I feel I can see EXACTLY how the system as I'm building it will play out in the campaign I'm running. The population density that you're suggesting I change is based on a metric that has worked for 10 years, that has been rigorously applied for a long time. The ability score minimum for a bard (or an illusionist) is something that is applied ONCE in a character's existence and is totally arbitrary.

  6. Does a change to a class prerequisite have an impact on the total population of that class within the world? Or is that a non-issue given how many people are in the world?

  7. I think it would have to have an effect. Given the large number of people, and the fact that I am contemplating making leveled persons very common at high tech levels (as high as 89%), then lowering those prerequisites would mean many more illusionist and bards in the world.

  8. @ Alexis:

    Apologies if my comment came off as criticism. My suggestion was made without understanding the system you have in place for determining population, and certainly not because I feel I know better. I mistakenly assumed your last paragraph was soliciting input from your readers on the intelligence requirements of illusionists and bards.

    I'm definitely not in the camp that thinks you're "tweaking the wrong elements."

  9. I was soliciting. But I was looking for reasons why dropping intelligence/wisdom limits would break the game or break the player's experience. How will lowering stat requirements increase interest in those classes and what is the downside there?

    My campaign players brought up the point that if you don't need as much intelligence to be an illusionist, then a 12 can be used for that stat and the 15 applied elsewhere - to STR, CON, WIS or CHR. The lowering makes intelligence a sort of middle level dump stat, one that isn't as readily available if a 15 is needed. That was a good argument. I wanted to see if someone would make it on line. I answered that there are spell number levels per intelligence (Player's Handbook, p. 10), which give 7 spells as a max for a 12 INT and 11 spells as a max for a 15 INT. But a character has to be 10th level to feel that pinch.

    I suggested perhaps lowering the maximum number of spells; I didn't hear arguments to that.

    Stupidly, I was thinking I might hear something along those lines. Not another dissection of how the gnome kingdom might be redesigned in some off the cuff way (in a way that is NEVER, EVER employed in my world with regards to matters such as available production, population or world design - underground fields of cultivated fungus?) to pound its bloody corpse into submission.

  10. Um...okay. But I'd feel it'd be just as presumptuous to tell you how to modify a class for your campaign as it is to tell you how to modify...well, any other part of your campaign.

    I'm not sure the original stat requirements were "arbitrary;" I think there were probably reasons for why they were set as they were. But if they don't serve for your players and your world, there's no mechanical reason to not reduce 'em.

  11. I was actually going to mention how I don't see any reason not to lower them back on your post on Harn, but I was a few posts behind and wanted to see if you addressed it already.

    For me, the ability requirements aren't about inter-class balance so much as "world" balance and how rare they would be. As long as you take into account that lower requirements mean they appear a little more frequently (which it appears you have), there should be very little impact on gameplay. In my experience, players tend to lean towards classes they're interested in regardless of requirements.

    Side note, I know you're not fishing for approval, but I find these posts greatly interesting and (once I start updating my world map) I hope to implement some version of this and your trade tables (once I go back over the posts and attempt to process them coherently)

  12. Since you asked for feedback on the Intelligence-requirement changes:

    I personally think that the class-ability requirements are quite arbitrary, as developed by TSR - it's not like they ever said WHY an illusionist must have 17 Int! What you've done is find a reason to set these requirements by providing a framework for defining what those ability requirements SHOULD be.

    So - bravo. You're finally putting some sense into class-ability requirements. Don't let anyone else argue with you who doesn't have a better reason for the requirement, or a system that it fits perfectly into.

  13. Another thought, somewhat tangential:

    Do you TELL your players the Tech level when they walk into a new area/city/settlement? That is, are you expecting that players will have this information, or is it gradually revealed to them through description, or do they find out only if they ask, or ...?

    I got thinking about this because I was wondering if you were going to make a short-form description of each tech level, such that if you WERE going to tell your players, they wouldn't have to read through the entire technology level description to figure out what you meant by "Tech 11" or whatever.

  14. I suppose the best thing would be to reveal the tech level through description. Unfortunately, most of my players regularly read this blog . . .

    But I will probably just riff a description when the time comes for that. After all, the exact way a given tech fits with the region will have a lot to do with the environment, the religion, the part of the world (India vs France, Russia vs Morocco) and so on.

  15. I should add that inculcating the tech description into my headspace while running will be the crucial issue in whether or not this system works in the game.


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