Thursday, January 11, 2018


Before we can sort out the placement of references for Wowotu, I'll need to explain improvements.  I've borrowed the term from the Civ-4 game; I have made my own alterations for convenience.  Improvements are basically the physical manifestation of a reference as it appears in a given hex.

Here is a table for the available improvements available with a Development-7 region.  More developed region would have a larger variety of improvements (as well as "buildings," but we'll get to those later).

I trust this is readable.  You'll have to click the picture; you might
want to save a copy so you can reference it as you read.

We have but six forms of improvement, but these should be sufficient for creating a respectable environment.  I'd like to skip over the "Notes" entry on the top line for the present, and dig into the material below with a short cautionary introduction.

An "improvement" is just that.  Hexes are improved when they have been made better by the inhabitants, beyond the usual, normal production.  Improvements do NOT describe an isolated, singular presence of a given good or resource, but rather an enhancement of that resource.

So, for example, if we have a reference for rice, this would mean we have a "farm" that produces the rice.  The "farm" here is a colloquialism.  Rice would surely be produced in many places, on many different ordinary, everyday farms, in every kind of hex, none of which would be classified as an improvement.  However, if we speak of a "farm improvement," we mean an area where the cultivation of rice is intensive and more highly productive.

It may have been inconvenient to choose to call intensive agriculture a "farm," given that the term also describes the usual presence of farms in virtually every rural hex.  However, I saw no other fit name for it.  If the reader likes, feel free to call it a "meta-farm." In any case, the term is strictly for the use of the DM; I would never have a reason to describe a given hex to the players by describing its structural details.  I would simply tell the players that there were a lot of farms in the hex, and that they were intensely cultivated.

Because of this, if the area has a mining camp for gold, this also does not mean that the only gold in the area comes from said mining camp; only that the majority of the gold does.  This is true for every product's reference.  The improvement system is merely there to provide a focus for various products, to the point where they are produced in a large enough amount that it is noticeable, and so that the food production, wealth, labor, health, happiness and culture can be measured, should the players wish to settle and build within, plunder or tax the region.

Improvement Details

Each type of improvement has four subcategories: description, placement and reference & effect.  The description is for the benefit of the players, giving the DM a general sense of the improvement's visual effects.  The placement indicates into what sort of hex the improvement occurs.  The reference field indicates what sort of reference is needed to enable the improvement.  If there are no crops are market gardening references, there can be no farm improvement in any of the region's hexes.

[This would not mean that there were no farms, no crops or no gardens.  The lack of a reference only means that there is no sufficient commercial value in what crops or gardens exist; what we call subsistence agriculture.  Therefore, there would be no intensive agriculture either, and therefore no improvements.  But there would still be inhabitants who would grow food for themselves]

Lastly the effect.  A farm adds two "food" to the hex.  The reader might recall from this post last month that a type-5 rural hex has a "natural" hex production of 1 food.  Add a farm improvement and this jumps +2.  In terms of raw food production, 1 food [binary numeral 1] is enough to feed 70 people.  3 food [binary numeral 111] is enough to feed 490 people.  That is a significant adjustment.

Likewise, the mining camp and the quarry each add 1 labor.  For this system, I am defining "labor" as an expression of the available labor resource that can be skimmed from the top of the working population.  A quarry improvement, for example, would probably employ virtually everyone in the hex.  The reader will remember from the last post that we had a population figure for the number of people in a given hex before carving the infrastructure into seven hexes.  Alas, I have no easy method for dividing the population as well ... we could come up with a number, but the reality is we don't need one.  We can guess the population by the amount of food available; or we can simply ignore the population and concern ourselves with what the players need.

There are only a few situations in which the players would need to know the exact number of quarry workers present: a) if the players wanted to start a quarry, in which case the number is what the players want to hire; b) if the players want to kill everyone in the quarry as an encounter, in which case most of the workers will run away and we only need to know how many might fight back; and c) if the players want to hire quarry workers and have come to a quarry to buy them.

The last is easiest.  We simply list 1 labor as 14 workers and have done with it.  How many would fight the party if they attacked?  About 14.  The bigger numbers, and their families, don't matter.

More than half of these 14 would be laborers hoping to get a job, or recently injured and laid off.  A few might be disgruntled, poor laborers (remember this post?).  If we want, we could use a general roll, like 4d6 (average 14) to get a changeable number.

All this means that I will have to change my hiring rules at some point, but that's also a problem for another time.

Placing Improvements

Okay, let's say we're going to put the gold reference somewhere on our rough map of the Port Tethys-Avalon district.  Here's the map again:

The improvement table says that a mining camp, where gold is produced, is placed in a rural 7 or 6 hex (type-7 and type-6).  It also says, "Balance random preference for less dense hexes."  Type-7 are less dense than type-6, so we want to roll randomly in a way that will favor the former over the latter.

There are fourteen type-7 hexes and ten type-6 (take note, even the sliver of land occupied by the two type-7 hexes east of Avalon would still have room for a gold mine).  If we give 2pts for every type 7 and 1pt for every type-6, we can roll a random number between 1 and 38 to determine where the gold ends up.

Here we come to the note at the top of the chart.  Basically, it says that rather than assign only 1 hex per reference, if it is possible, we should assign two.  These two references will not end up in the same hex.  I proposed this because it seemed cheap to plunk a single reference into a wide area, such as the district above.  Two references are far, far more interesting; and in the case of gold, each will add the prerequisite labor to the hex where the reference ends up.

If it turns out there is only a single hex of type-7 or type-6 in the region (and some of my regions are very, very small, equalling as little as one 6.67 mile hex on the above map), then only one hex is designated by the reference.  If there were no type-7 or type-6, then the reference would go into the hex most like the appropriate hex.  This means that yes, a gold mine could end up in the middle of a city, if that city comprised the whole region and had a gold reference.

There are different ways we could roll 1d38, but I'm going to use excel.  Counting the hexes from top to bottom, with each column from left to right, the possibles are, in order, 7-7-7-7-6-7-7-7-7-6-7-6-6-6-6-7-6-6-7-6-7-7-7-6.  My rolls are 24 and 26.

This puts the gold references in hex 1007 and in hex 1103 ... a good distance apart.  Avalon has good access to 1007, but 1103 is more than 25 miles away (assuming hex 1104 is rough hill-country and impractical for cart and wagon travel).  It is only 18 miles away from the manor house in 0804, which is only 15 miles from Port Tethys.  The journey, then, to Port Tethys is only 8 miles greater than it is to Avalon.  On the other hand, the coast in hex 1304 is only 12 miles away from 1104.  Perhaps the gold is shipped to a rough dock, with a protective blockhouse built just above the beach.

It is up to us.  We can put that gold mine anywhere in the hex, moving it closer to the water or closer to Port Tethys (within the six miles or so leeway the hex allows).  We can use this information to add character to the district; that blockhouse and dock could be an adventure, as the characters are hired to protect the gold or steal it.  In my open game, that is up to the players.  In any case, where we put the road will have an influence over a lot of things.

AND, we haven't placed our other references.  Where are the limestone and salt quarries?  Where are the four sheep pastures?  Remember, we had two references for sheep. What about the rice?  Rice requires a lot of water ... wherever it goes in this arid country, we'll have to create an extensive sink and probable lake to account for the cultivation of that grain.  How the two placement hexes line up on the map is bound to create a river for us, or two isolated oases.

This is the genius of the system I'm building.  We choose the references, splat down land and towns, easy peasy.  Then the infrastructure system builds a dart board for us; then as the references strike the dart board, the world evolves into focus. Thereafter, we simply juggling the facts to make sense of the semi-random placement (remember, we're controlling the placement to fit a certain hex type), to make the world real and purposeful.

Afterwards, we can calculate how much wealth, labor, and food we've created ... then establish the health and happiness of the region, as well as it's culture.  The more the pieces fit together, the more real it becomes.

Just think: all this, and the rules and adjustments change radically when we try this with a Development-8 region.


Pandred said...

How do the references from improvements fit into the structure of your trade system?

Are we just using "references" as a catch-all word for "that exists here", and for practical purposes assume that the goods within a given 6 mile hex don't amount to much for people outside the region?

Or, as you generate these, would you be adding their values into the system, increasing the value of the area in question?

I am very much enjoying these posts.

Alexis Smolensk said...

In fact, since the references create the improvements, and thus the close-up map, the structure of my trade system is unchanged.

If this were Rogaland, for example, I already have references generated for that region and for Stavanger (not many, as apparently the area in 1952 was very incidental). The location of the references inside Rogaland doesn't affect the way they are marketed, or transported, from the market town of Stavanger. The Stavanger market effectively sets the price throughout the region.

So, if we're speaking of Wowotu, the gold is produced in 1007 and 1103, but it is bought and sold in Port Tethys ~ which exports it elsewhere, and imports from other markets. We don't have to make any change to the foregoing system.

If we were going to run a world based on this region alone, however, we would either need to generate an availability in Port Tethys for everything not produced here, or simply not use the trade system at all, using the same static equipment list that most games use.

When I first started creating my present world, in 2004, I began with the province of Voronezh in Russia. Thereafter, I quickly gathered a pile of information for other references throughout Europe and Asia (which I had started generating in 1998), all of which was designated to large regions ("Germany," "India," "Russia east of the Urals") for market effects. Essentially, I had about twenty market sources, where everything from each region was counted as the same distance from Voronezh.

Then, as I began to carve up these big regions, I divided the multiple references into their individual markets, then added the groups of markets to the general system. Every time I would do this, the prices would adjust to a great degree, since things that were counted as 30 days away would suddenly be either 15 days away or 90 days away.

I've added enough markets now that even adding Britain made only a small adjustment (of course, most of Britain is the same distance from everywhere anyway, since it is such a small geographical area.

The solution, I think, is to create one region at a time down to the infrastructure level (20-mile hexes), and then generate close-up regions only when the party is set to run there. I can take a region like the Port Tethys-Avalon district from 20-mile hexes to 6.67 mile hexes in just a few hours ~ but I've had practice. Still, it isn't something that has to be done every session.

Alexis Smolensk said...

I guess I missed a part of your question, Pandred. I just got going.

Outside of the Port Tethys market, the importance of gold from here would depend on how much gold there was elsewhere in the world. If Wowotu controlled the only gold references in the general campaign, then the gold would be very important. If there was gold coming from multiple regions, then probably it wouldn't be important.

Here, we're most concerned with the effect of the gold on the actual geography. Remember that according to the system I've built, the one reference to gold is exactly as much value (GDP) as the one reference of rice, or tools, or shipbuilding, or sheep. In fact, the value the district gains from sheep is twice as much as that of gold, as there are two references for sheep.

However, all the gold production for a year from that reference fits into a much smaller bucket than all the sheep production, or rice production, or tool production. If we're talking about ease of exchange, transport, storage and so on, the gold is MUCH cheaper to manage; that's where the significance of the gold production really matters ... it doesn't cost as much to maintain, or move, as sheep or ships.

Pandred said...

Ha, I think I had a devilish misunderstanding.

The improvements by my reading, only exist in the event that a reference of that improvement's type exists, and only then provide the additive benefit to the specific hex stats.

Or, to paraphrase, there is no fishing ground without fish.

Still, I'm now curious if an area could be developed by the PCs, expanding into a greater DEV level and potentially increasing the value of the references found there.

I want a piece of the adventure in which the PCs take a nobody town and make it something valuable to the region.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Yes, well, it pretty much assumes that if there is a sea coast, there are fish. But a fishing ground or a hunting ground does depend on an unusual number of animals ... hard to "build" an animal supply.

On the other hand, YES, if you prospect for some metal, or decide to quarry, or build upon a rural hex (not, obviously, one of the grey ones, since there's no farming there), or add a building to a town, or any other investment, you can increase that hex's food supply, wealth, labor, etc, in a MEASURABLE way.

This is the idea.

Years ago, the Senex campaign was going to improve the island of Koufonisia, but the system wasn't properly in place and the details were sketchy and hard to comprehend. I've fixed that now.

Baron Opal said...

So thinking back to the different patterns of green (wild) and white (civilized) hexes, if it has a 7 or better score it's "civilized" and 8 it's "wild"?

Well, no, you referred to some hexes as "rural-6 vs. urban-6" So there could be some development and the hex could still be wild. Am I misremembering something or have you moved on from that?

Alexis Smolensk said...

I had better answer this before I forget all about it ...


Imagine each of these type-7 and type-6 hexes, and so on, being further divided into seven smaller bits, each 2.22 miles across. In a type-7 hex, six of these 2.22 mile hexes would be wilderness; in a type-6 hex, five of them would be ... all the way down to a type-1 hex, in which none of them would be.

In a type-8 hex, all of them are wilderness.

Thus, as the number decreases, less and less of the hex is uncivilized and more and more is civilized.

The "rural" hex vs. the "settlement" hex would have the same amount of wilderness, if both were type-7 or any other. The thing that makes it a "settlement" hex is that there is a designated village, town or city in that hex. A rural hex has no designated settlement - though it may have a manor house that has a built up manor "village." This is a different sort of collection of people, however, as the population would be all beholden to the lord, and would all work the lord's lands, industries, stables and so on, including the servants of the lord's household. To emphasize this difference, we don't call a manor village a "settlement;" it is more of a rural factory.

A thin line, perhaps, but I'm limited in what words exist to describe these details; I do what I can.