Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Technology 15

This is the eleventh 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 15 will have an average population density of 88,644 to 186,150 per 20-mile hex.  This includes the following regions, shown on this table:

55 regions.  This technology accounts for 250.2 hexes of my world, occupied by 30,593,386 humans.  There are no non-humans.

Many of these will be familiar to people now.  Ile de France, incidentally, includes Paris and the suburbs around it.  And while most of the above of plainly western European, more than half of the actual population of the tech level is in Asia, mostly India.

Available Technologies

Funny, it has only just occurred to me that many people will think I am stopping short on tech levels that could be included, that I'm not going to.  For example, I'm not including chemistry, replaceable parts, rifling, steam power or steel . . . though in some degree, many of those things do exist to a certain degree in my world.  However - and I want to stress this - the social characteristics of those technologies absolutely does not exist in my world.  That is why I'm not including those things.

So, to start.  See tech 14.

Banking.  As above, this presumes general access to banking for the majority of the population, rather than a situation where lending and investment was available only to the rich and powerful.  As well, the technology describes the geographical origin of banking, not it's reach.  For example, Genoa in the previous tech level is a notable banking center, even though it is only tech 14.  It only means that the Genoese merchants have, by the time of my world, lost control of their banking system to the French and the Germans, noted above.  That's how I intend to run it, anyway.  For the players, it means being able to safely keep money in a bank, being able to prove their identity through magic and collect their wealth across the globe, if need be.  Again, not the D&D the reader played in high school (nor me!)

Education.  This, too, is similar to the banking issue.  Highly educated persons may exist anywhere, but I wish to use this system to establish where the intellectuals gather and develop the new ideas that dominate the world.  For me, this means that universities and colleges become the impetus for things like the creation of potions, not chemistry.  Where intelligent people gather to study, ideas are shared and new things are born.  A substantial portion of the population begins to write books (or create other methods of conveying knowledge) that may make their way into lower tech levels but will always be most available in libraries of the above entities, in the highest numbers.  This will necessarily draw player characters to these regions when they are investigating some puzzle that requires sages of the highest level (or, if the reader prefers, 'professors').

Astronomy.  This seems out of place in a D&D world; the ancestors of Copernicus could have asked the gods about the heavens and Kepler could have gotten his math right with a proper divination spell.  Still, we can posit a comparative association between the large ships that become available with the Civ IV technology and suppose that come tech 15, shipyards are building Galleons of enormous size - designed, I suppose, in some manner that lets spellcasters really have a go at each other, in the absence of cannon.  I've never really considered it.  How does one build a warship that will empower a magic user or a cleric?

I usually find it best in these situations to go with something like the real world's version of the thing and let the players innovate if that's their thing.  As ever, I'm not trying to create a realistic magic-using world but rather a world where the players can predict the actions of others and play their game in that atmosphere.


Here, at last, I am stumped.  There's no question that the people of the land are going to be vastly more worldly, less superstitious, more considerate of others, less confrontational towards players who are polite and far, far worse to players who are abrupt and violent.  Imagine a population that is hideously jaded by sellers, propagandists, decrying religious voices, public debates, casual arguments with people in coffee houses and so on - much like we ourselves living in this world - that the players would have to play their characters on the level.

Imagine that when the players try to act all smooth and oily, the NPCs immediately see through the act.  They've met charlatans before.  Imagine that they can tell a lie the moment it's told - or are wise enough to ask one of the many, many leveled persons thereabouts with a detection spell to say whether or not the character is truthful.  Imagine a player boasting and drawing attention to their own importance, only to have the spectators break into a laugh.  Imagine laughter as the first response every NPC has towards the party - the sort that emerges from polite condescension:  "Aw, look at the poor fighter; he thinks he's scary.  Bless his heart."

Played right by a DM, that would be an amazingly hard situation to play - for some players.  A munchkin could go crazy.  For other players, who don't see every person of the world as an enemy, it would be no harder than going about in the world now.  The fantasy would still be there, since a host of campaigns could easily be run that would reflect Call of Cthulhu, Paranoia, the Masquerade and even Castle Falkenstein (without the steam).  Because of the dangers presented by so many leveled persons in the crowd, of unknown level, such games would naturally downplay the mechanics of combat (which would become so dangerous) and follow the principles of interactive - ugh, I don't want to say 'storytelling' - narration of combined strategies to achieve their goals.

Could I run that game?  Absolutely.  I sometimes have four or five sessions in a row where no treasure is obtained, where combat - if it happens at all - is a brief one or two round affair.  The players don't seem to mind, since they are still engaged and they know, eventually, combat will come around again.


It should surprise no one that these posts are going to get shorter.  The description of the technologies is just going to make the world I've just described harder and less friendly for straight player combat adventuring.  Each technology only further empowers the society one degree more - by giving the population more magic, more training, more solidarity and a greater sophistication in how they see interlopers in their environment.  But I'll do my best to make the next three tech levels interesting, just the same.

Incidentally, for players with a higher intelligence, this should serve as a sort of guideline for how that ability score should work.  The 13 intelligence (or wisdom) chooses an afternoon at the theatre rather than the pub, while seeing positive action being more valuable than destructive action.  The 14 intelligence sees value in the community, in allowing others to assume the role of leadership and in letting others express themselves.  The 15 intelligence adds to this a judicious judgement as to the legitimacy of things and places the highest premium on honesty.

What might the 16 intelligence citizen think?  I'll have to work on it.

1 comment:

  1. "How does one build a warship that will empower a magic user or a cleric? I usually find it best in these situations to go with something like the real world's version of the thing."

    I'm going to try to discuss this without leaning on "the way I do it."

    A cannon was something heavy which carried heavy ammunition and volatile powder. This powder was in fact one of the only ways to destroy a ship of the line: cannonballs typically produced mere pinpricks during the Age of Sail, and "injury" was much more common for these craft than "death".

    Magic turns this on its head. Ten mages might weigh as much as the largest cannon and a few shots and their powder; and one of these mages could unleash horrific devastation on either the enemy craft or its crew. The mage is not restricted by requiring redundancy down the firing line, or its duplication on the opposite side.

    So the smallest craft can have the equivalent firepower to the most destructive result for a real-world ship. So navies focus on stealth and detection as protection; then, countermeasures for the same. I foresee round after round of maneuver and counter. The only fact saving us from a world of full-on High Magic at Sea would be the daily spellcasting limits.

    Even so, skilled battle mages would represent many years of training and large sums invested, so maybe they would be comparatively rare: the equivalent of a Master of Artillery required for serious sea-borne mayhem.

    (Yes, I'm going through your Tech posts again; I've always liked the way you tied the Tech Level to the INT stat, and broke down what societies do when enough intelligence is built upon over time.)


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