Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Technology 6

This is the second in a series of posts intended to provide a technological framework for my world.  See this post for details.  I recommend reading that post before commenting here.  Here, a technology of 6 is meant to conform to the same degree of average intelligence of a given culture.

Regions with a technology of 6 will have a population density of 172 to 359 per 20-mile hex.  This includes the following regions, shown by this table:

This technology accounts for 2,432.3 hexes of my world, occupied by 651,209 humanoids.

Available Technologies

See tech 5.

Further technologies are dependent somewhat upon environment:

Boreal Forests: archery, mining; limited agriculture, animal husbandry and the wheel.
Desert:  animal husbandry, the wheel; limited agriculture and archery.
Steppe: agriculture, animal husbandry; limited archery and the wheel.
Steppe, Wooded: agriculture, animal husbandry, archery, mining, the wheel.
Tundra: animal husbandry, mining; limited agriculture and archery.

This breakdown has everything to do with the abundance of suitable land, potential animals for domestication, availability of timber, the presence of mineral deposits or the practicality of the wheel.

Whereas in the present day all of these technologies will have penetrated into all these areas, not so much in the 17th century.  Issykiang and Trakhan, for example, are mountain kingdoms above 8,000 feet in the Tien Shan and Himalaya mountains, high above the treeline and virtually impassible by road or cart; trade is accomplished by donkey and mule.  Comparatively, the boreal forests allow herding of reindeer, but not most traditionally domesticated animals.  For some of these, carts and wagons exist but not in high numbers and not generally used by the locals (outsiders, from more sophisticated cultures, would bring in carts but not in high numbers and only in very limited parts of the region).

Two technologies are not included in the above; both are also dependent upon the region, but on a case by case basis I don't wish to outline here.  These are animism and mantraism.  A description of both can be read below, under religion.

Note: neither of these appear in the Civ IV literature, which my tech system is trying to reflect.  I am struggling not to enable clericism (the spellcasting practice) until tech/intelligence of 9, since that is the wisdom that a character must have in order to be a cleric.  However, a primitive culture without a religion won't work and I want to acknowledge even at lower levels that some sort of magic exists in the religions that are practiced.  This will take some brain-sweat.


As agriculture and herding become widespread, much of the population will collect as a sedentary mass.  This will not describe everyone, of course; many will continue to hunt and gather, exclusively or during given seasons (the population might abandon their fields for a week or two if it is known that the salmon are running, for example).

Still, farms will demand a more permanent form of settlement, with fixed wooden buildings where wood is available.  Tent villages in desert areas will fix around reliable oases and will incorporate low brick walls (3-4 feet in height) - these will be nothing like true masonry, however, not possessing doors, lintels, roofs, etcetera.  Where settlements occur, fertile soils will also exist - though in regions where agriculture is limited such soils will only exist where settlements have been established.

Rivers and trail routes will become important for communication and there will be small groups of three or four persons who will travel solely for spreading information.  Camels, donkeys and horses will be employed for this work.  There will be less nomadic movement and clans that are moving will tend to be refugees rather than habitual wanderers.  Clans will grow large and subdivide into bands, organized by family; multiple clans will begin to identify as tribes and will seek aid from one another in times of trouble.

Children will increase in number and populations will expand to the limitation of the food supply. Women will work alongside men and children will often be carried along and left on the edge of fields where they will be cared for by other children.  Finding a group of untended children will not be unusual, but such children will usually flee if approached.

Persons will raise crops in small gardens around their homes and keep animals in adjacent pens; however, fields will be distant from the home as shifting cultivation is the norm.  That is because a piece of land that is farmed will become devoid of nutrients entirely after five or six years, with yields declining.  Farmers will then abandon these lands, clear a new plot somewhere else and allow the forest to reestablish itself or the river to flood and reinvigorate the land (which may take 10-20 years) before it can be farmed again.  Thus, the actual plot a given family (band) cultivates may be a mile or more away from their home, requiring daily travel.

At certain times of the year, various clans with gather with the rest of their tribes for festivals.


Villages will be scattered rather than tight in form.  A single village of 500 may cover an area up to a mile in diameter. Fortifications will not exist.  Villages will be quiet and unoccupied during the day, as most of the population will migrate outwards to the fields (or to herd their flocks) in the morning and back again at night.  There will be no market, no money exchange, no services of any kind, nothing that can be bought and for the most part no work to do for strangers; however, if food is abundant generosity will be in order, with players being offered three to five days of food freely if they are hard up.  In scarce times strangers will be threatened to go away.  During winters much of the population will largely hibernate until warmer months.  Desert peoples will loll during the hottest months.

Homes will be small, designed only for sleeping, as craft work is limited to fixing or repairing tools and equipment for animals and farming (done outside).  Most cooking and eating will be done outside.  No workshops will exist.


Decisions within clans (the size of the village) will be made among the eldest family leaders of each band, usually with the largest and strongest band carrying the power in the clan.  The term 'chief' will now apply to the tribe itself, who will choose advisors from the various clans.  Each advisor will be in communication with their clan but will largely give advice that is perceived as what the clan would want rather than directly asking the clan's decision.  This is due to limitations in communication, as chiefs must make decisions quickly.

Various tribes may have blood feuds against one another but continue to identify as part of a single whole.  Some regions, such as the Don Cossacks, the Zafara Beduoins or the Hat of the Issykiang will have no nominal leader above that of tribal chiefs - joint policy is determined by council.  Other regions may have a sultan, orkhan, subahdar, count, sheik and so on who is the leader of a very strong tribe that enforces tribute upon lesser tribes in the region.  Such leaders may then pay a similar tribute to the larger state on an annual basis.  Tribute always takes the form of luxuries (such as spices, incense, mined gems, etc) or provided soldiers (feudalism).


Both mantraism and animism are enlightened forms of shamanism (see tech 5) that offer greater control over wild magic.  While neither religion incorporates the use of spells by clerics, they do enable multiple members of a clan to work together through clans and ceremonies to more greatly influence the world around them (to locate lost animals, cure persons from illness or injury, succeed in competitive sport or battle, return safely from a journey and so on).

The effectiveness of this magic is extremely limited.  In game terms, it will mitigate the severity of disease, give a +1 to a saving throw, ensure a safe burial or allow some application of what in my world are clerical amateur sage abilities.  These are often obtained through chance enlightenment rather than individual skill (as a cleric would possess but a practitioner of mantras would not).


The chief advancement is obviously archery.  Without an additional improvement in hand-held weapons over tech 5, combat by such persons will largely be defensive, with archers backing away or fleeing to another position rather than advancing into melee.  Most combats will be ranged and consist of brief sorties or ambushes, lasting three or four rounds before the attackers withdraw.  The best tactic will be to repeatedly try to catch the enemy in surprise, do damage and then move away, wearing down an enemy force over time (several days) before making demands (tribute) in order to end the harassment.

Animals will not be ridden into combat but will instead be used strictly for transport to the battle area or for withdrawing.  Note, as I said, all technologies in my world exist in the same period and are not tied to historical development - as such, no peoples anywhere in my world use chariots.  The link explains why.


This is already becoming more complicated.  I can really see this dragging out longer and longer as I go forward - so the reader shouldn't expect that I'm going to do one of these every day.  For one thing, my finger is still broken.  My typing is up to 40 wpm but it is a steady annoyance to write and write and write - to say nothing of the research this process is going to require to nail down things.

Believe me, I'm not arguing that research is perfect.  Please point out issues, ask questions, promote my need to elaborate on things and be forward with critical analysis of my points.  Don't just take my word for it.  I'd like these tech levels to be as precise as possible (while the real world isn't, obviously) so that a given region can be presented to characters in the game to give them a FEEL for the region's culture and personal interaction.


  1. Personally, I find it fascinating. I realize it's a lot of work, but I can't help but hope we'll see some of the higher tech levels (in the teens) to get an idea of what THAT looks like compared to these more primitive cultures.

    The stuff above 18 (the other planes) can certainly be left to the imagination, being beyond normal human understanding.
    ; )

  2. I seem to remember in the DMG that shamans (as described by the DMG) had access to a limited selection of clerical spells. This allowed goblins to have "healers" that weren't as fully powerful as a cleric, but still within the scope of the rules. A similar mechanic was used for magic-user spells.

    It makes sense: If you can't create a proper worship site, your god won't really pay much attention to your pleas.

    Could that then explain something like Stonehenge, where a priest only had additional powers if within the borders of the site?

    Time to open up my notebook of ideas and make some entries.

  3. Yes, but the DnD Guide's shaman doesn't conform to actual shamans. Plus tech 6 can't build Stonehenge - no masonry.

    But I get your point. It's only that I need a more primitive religious-magic from than the original game makers imagined.

  4. Would this level of tech perform any crafts or arts? You mention wooden tokens at tech 5, so I'd expect that would be the case, but I'd be curious to know if anything was different, such as carved stone idols like Venuses. There's been a lot of interesting stuff dug up at Catalhoyuk for instance. I'd wonder how that example compares.

  5. Tim, you make me think of something I read in a Neil Gaiman comic: a story about the art of telling stories. It could be the basis of a chain of technologies related to story-telling and art.

    Tech 5: campfire stories. Tales that are passed from parent to child, that have no real purpose except what the teller chooses to focus on.

    Tech 6: family stories. Meant to entertain, to be an activity at night or to help the family relax and drift to sleep. But also, the start of keeping records or the start of morality tales.

    And yet, while I like the notion, it seems like there's no justification for tying this kind of development to a technology. Every culture has storytelling. The real advancements came from things like religion, writing or paper crafting.

  6. My chief concern is with the way the details above give answers to questions the players are likely to answer. Is there beer (agriculture, yes, pre-agriculture, no)? What weapons are the townspeople using? What do things look like? Can we get a room for the night? Are the people friendly? Who is in charge? Who won't like what we're doing right now? What sort of valuables can we steal? Are there guards? Can we buy food? Do these people know anything about the dungeon where we have to go to find the MacGuffin? Does the leader of the village look tough? My dog needs fresh meat - is there any? Can these people fix the axle on our wagon? Can they tell us where this river goes?

    And on and on. The details above should be enough that anyone can now answer those questions. That's my goal.

  7. 'likely to ask' . . . not answer. bleh.

  8. These posts are really intriguing. My only question is, do you need a different tech level for every point of intelligence? Wouldn't every 2 or 3 points be enough?

    This is not meanot to belittle your work, or desire for heavily detailed information, but I'm just wondering if that level of granularity is needed for this specific idea.

    I'm probably wrong.


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