Friday, December 15, 2017

Four Burghs

The compulsion to keep posting material from my infrastructure-development system is fairly strong ... I've always liked to share.  I'd hoped the post earlier this week would be enough to satisfy me, but I guess not.

It occurs to me that it might be instructive to expand on other settlement hexes, larger than the type-5 (I'm just going to assume the reader understands these references ... details can be found on the link above). Therefore, let's give a look at four hex descriptions, all from development-6 cultures, for bigger settlement hexes.


Described is a small town, loose in arrangement, the quiet sort of burg where we'd expect to find a relaxed, convivial atmosphere.  People work, but the focus is on living ~ not on industry or money-making.  Still, it's a good deal more connected than a settlement-5 hex, which we looked at before.

Note that we're feeling a little pressure to find money, but that individuals donate to the town rather than the town actively taxing the population.  There are guards at the gates now, but "lightly supervised" means that they notice people coming and going; no harassment. There's a chance, still, for a monolith, because this town has been around for a long time (and the monolith would date from hundreds, perhaps a thousand years ago).

There is a town market, now, which will sell raw foods and forage, as well as other raw materials like wool or wood, but not most things one would associate with buying equipment.  The town has no specialist artisans, and is fairly backward, being Dev-6, so a lot of things just don't exist here.

The town is full of green space: actual fields full of growing plants, numerous places where the vegetation would be thick enough to hide within, presuming we don't find a few teenage locals exploring their sexuality. The houses would be collections of gardens, quiet spaces, sprawling yards and low walls between friendly neighbors.  Note that clan and tribal identity is gone now.  Outsiders bring news and new things, so they are treated as welcome rather than with suspicion.  Besides, they are particularly common during the seasonal festivals.

From here, as the population grows denser, we begin to lose this idyllic scene.


While the civic efforts described for all of these are the same from table to table, the maintenance and replacement of structures differs as we compare an earlier settlement with a later one.  For example, we're steadily replacing old wattle and daub houses with vernacular houses or those that are half-timbered (and half stone).  Here the term describes those houses which begin to develop a sprawling, multi-use purpose, such as the English Hall House of the Tudor era.  The half-timber house, in turn, is similar to what most people think about when thinking about traditional D&D housing.  While the vernacular might be more luxurious (relatively), the half-timbered house will ultimately be built upwards and in rows, creating a higher building density for towns and cities.

The town has now become a collection center for the surrounding region.  Being Dev-6, there are no water or wind mills, but there are animals so some milling can be accomplished.  Animals are gathered together for slaughter, grains for cleaning, fruit for pulping and making wine, milk for cheese and so on.  All this "industry" produces a need for shipping out of town, the development of taverns for day workers, a tighter layout for the town overall and a change in the governorship.  Now money counts, not age and wisdom.

With all the animals coming into town, the Town Market of settlement-4 hexes is augmented by a stockyard, where a party could buy animals and some basic equipment for managing them.

The distinct individualism noted describes a viewpoint that we're familiar with but which only occurred in large towns and cities back in the day.  The notion that one's attitude, rather than one's upbringing, could influence one's future is a staple in town life.  That is because towns provide opportunity which the rural culture does not.


Details are increasing as the population density increases.  Health and happiness are a factor, as they both drop (though not enough to be troublesome, not at this development level).  The layout grows denser, and though there is little stone or simple material for road surfacing, earthen cobblestones begin to make an appearance.

Taxation is required, now.  The gates are firmly supervised, which means that people are verbally shaken down before entering.  There are inns as well as taverns.  Foreigners appear in larger numbers and marriages with outsiders happens often enough that it loses its distinctness.  Food supply takes a jump, as does wealth.

Basically, this is just a deepening of other details; the town is less friendly, more money oriented, provides more services and, on the whole, is a less healthy place to visit.  Unlike a country town, which is comfortable, the residents here are business and labor minded, with expectations that "success" means getting out of the town and living comfortably in the country.  All these features just increase as the population reaches the highest expected density:


Plenty of labor and wealth as the city's wealthy become better organized as guildmasters.  Even those wealthy who are not part of a guild are necessarily influenced by guild money, just as politicians now are heavily influenced by the money of corporations.  Monopolies control various industries (so that certain items made in the town can be purchased).  Heavy taxation is common.  There are city folk who are paid to watch the population (town guard) and those that do it as organized volunteers (town watch), the latter to be sure their personal wealth is protected.

Socially, there's very little leeway for those not willing to compete.  No one wants to give up income to someone else who might want to start a new venture.  The guards at the gates treat everyone who enters like a criminal.  Health and happiness take a serious 2 point hit, meaning that the place, without some other mitigating factor, could be a real sewer.

Gardens and orchards exist, but are likely very private.  Foreigners are everywhere.  The city has decided that there are not enough seasonal festivals in a year and has decided to create a big, extra festival to bring in more money, probably celebrating a political event, since at Dev-6 there is no organized religion as yet.

The atmosphere is far less rigorous culturally than one might imagine.  Think of it as a boom town, or a dock city that might have been found in the New World colonies before they became "civilized."  Plenty of raw materials pouring through the town, plenty of money being made, but little intellectualism and responsibility.

Last Thoughts

There you have it.  Four different kinds of settlements, factored by size, none of them including a single church, palace or higher cultural feature.  Those things will start to appear with development levels of 7 and up ... which will, of course, mean that the cities themselves will change.  These four places above will share certain characteristics of more developed cities, but they won't be the same!  We still have plenty of opportunities for creating different, interesting combinations, producing more suggestions for how adventures might be developed.


Ozymandias said...

How much of this information do you envision as available to the players?

Obviously, the descriptions are applicable when characters are in the immediate vicinity. And some details will come through in interactions with NPCs. What I'm referring to is the total labor or food production, the exact health or happiness rating. Do you see making these numbers known to players when their characters travel through a hex? Or is that DAM only info? And might we use it as a benefit of a sage skill ~ could a mage with enough points in Mercantilism learn the production values for a given hex, along with any modifiers from improvements or specific industries?

Alexis Smolensk said...

The players are entitled to what they see and what they can discover. They can ask who runs the place or identify the various buildings or activities. But as characters on the ground, there would be no way for them to know what the total value of the hex would be, or its total production. We don't know these things are we are walking around the real world. We need statisticians to make mathematical guesses at it.

I can see some sage ability connections. For example, let's say that a party decided to build a lighthouse on a promontory near a fishing village. Lighthouses are a development-7 building that adds food. A mercantile ability would give a good guess as to how much food the lighthouse would add ... and more to the point, in which hex a lighthouse should be built in order to get the greatest increase of food. That knowledge wouldn't be expressed in numbers, but in the character "just having a feeling" that it ought to be in this hex and not that one, or that any of these hexes would probably produce the same result.