Tuesday, March 29, 2022
Worldbuilding 5h: Buildings of Worship
Monday, March 28, 2022
Lego and D&D
My grandson reaches the age of 18 months today, which is the sort of thing that reminds us of our youth and other things in the realm of shoes and ships and sealing-wax. Across the neighborhood is a quaint little shop I dodged into a few days ago that sells Lego by volume ... and, as it happens, is a bit of a Lego Mecca in Western Canada. The owner possesses a few fellows reminscent of Jack Black in the film High Fidelity, only as a Lego nerd rather than with music. Pleasant, playful, definitely the place where I'll go to build up a suitable Lego pile. No rush, of course ... I have probably another two years or so, I should think.
My original Lego ended up in my daughter's hands years ago, going out the door with her. So whether or not I collect another set, the grandson won't grow up bereft of the toy. But truth, there's no such thing as enough Lego.
It's a small shop, not much room for wandering, but as I took it in I made several connections that are worth discussing on a D&D blog ... since unquestionably Lego was a gateway drug that prepped me for D&D. I'll explain.
Because I'm very, very old, the bulk of my childhood experiences with Lego consisted of various shaped bricks and nothing else, as "sets" that included plans to make a pre-determined object, like fork lifts, police cars, tractors, helicopters and so on, did not become a thing until after 1975. I was eleven in '75. The first really big impressive themed object was the 493 Space Command Center, which emerged in 1978, by which time I'd moved on from Lego to other occupations. I remember feeling at the time that the Set idea was a bad one ... which suggested that a great many children were far too creatively challenged to make their own stuff. The outpouring of sets that followed and continues to this day seems to confirm this. I have images of parents writing to Lego with remarks like, "I bought your product for my children, but they don't know what to do with it. Can you please send ideas?"
For my friends and I, Lego was a group activity. My friend Neil had well over 15,000 pieces of Lego and so his basement would draw us in every few weeks, especially in the winter. We'd sit around building different objects, teaching each other how to follow and repeat our builds. Redesigning objects and improving on previous designs was a large part, with most of us keeping blueprints for tanks, houses and planes in our heads.
Unlike board games, Lego was a co-operative group activity, which usually included a pre-planning period in the first half hour as we decided what we would make together. Thus we built space stations and airports, towns, armies, navies and so on, with each person in the group having their preferences. An agreement would be made on who was to build the con tower or the aircraft carrier — with the usual fights and settlements that nine y.o.'s experience. Essentially, we were teaching ourselves how to act as designers working towards a common goal ... a goal that didn't exist except to us, as there were no sets to tell us what a spaceport should look like.
These experiences are probably the reason why I am so fucked up as a designer of D&D. The pattern that enabled Lego to expand its customer base to non-creative children looks quite like the same that eventually crippled D&D. Given an opportunity to make a world from scratch and have it be whatever we wanted, instead we were given modules ("sets") that told us what the world should look like, severing the creative backbone of thousands of potentially inspired children. Today, every time I approach the game from the standpoint that it ought to include worldbuilding elements like theatres, universities and other cultural aspects, I'm sure to hear from someone crying out that "traditional D&D" doesn't include these things. After all, where is the module where the players become world-class performing artists, or transform a village into a town, or become shipping magnates? The modules don't exist, because such things don't include dungeons and ten-foot-poles.
Of course, there are the rare brilliant psychopaths who recognise the value of Lego for its stop-motion potential, or those who buy the sets to get the special bits and pieces that are only available through the sets, but for every one of these there are 200 Lego Death Stars sitting in corners gathering dust in some kid's room, that asked for just enough effort to put the thing together — and now that it is, why would we ever take it apart? There's always more money in selling objects to people who want to be told "what to do," than there is in a pile of bricks with no plan.
If there's an underlying message behind the worldbuilding posts I've been churning out for months now it's this: the setting is rich with profound, highly variable opportunities. Making the whole game about a dungeon and a place to go where we buy stuff for the dungeon is a pathetically narrow perspective on something where, literally, anything can be tried. All that I'm saying only sounds weird because I'm the only person saying it. I seem to be the only person willing to run it. I've never been satisfied with being told how to put my bricks together. Seems to me, so long as I have bricks, I can make a lot more things than the company remotely imagines.
Sunday, March 27, 2022
Worldbuilding 5g: Docks, Quays & Storehouses
I understand that it seems I'm splitting hairs, but D&D is a game of descriptions and players interacting with stuff ... as such I feel that details matter. Whatever a thing might be, there are always iterations of that thing that describe a progressive development: hovels are distinct from square houses, long houses, hall houses and merchant houses. These in turn are distinct from manors, mansions and palaces. Understanding that not every house is the same expands the DM's repetoire for discussing the layout of a property, a street and a section of town. The same is true for any facility we might discuss.
For example, I included a "boat dock" as a facility appearing in a type-7 hex with one hammer, but I didn't discuss it because the map I'm working from lacks navigable rivers, lakes or seas. What exactly is a "dock" ... as opposed to a "quay"? What does one provide that the other doesn't? If the players were to build the former, how much would it cost as compared to the latter? The answers explain why one is available with 1 hammer and the other requires 2.
Excuse me a moment, but I must talk about the word "quay.". It's an unfortunate word in the English language, as it looks like "kway" but it's pronounced like "key." Turns out, the spelling quay begins in the 1690s, post my game word ... prior to that, it was spelled "key" or "keye," as it's pronounced. This word originates from the French word quai, for sand bank, which is why islands in the Caribbean were called keys, because for two hundred years these were used to load and unload ships in part of the world where no proper port was available. Hwearf in Old English and werf in German were used similarly in the Baltic and North Seas to describe the Frisian and Danish isles, among others, which were banks where ships could tie up. In America today, "wharf" is used rather than "quay," but originally the word described more than a place to tie up ... it also meant a shipyard as well as a dockyard. I could use "dock yard" as a replacement for quay, but this would confuse it with dock; I could spell quay, "keye," but this is sure to confuse players, so I'll continue to use the anachronistic "quay."
So. No matter what I call what, confusion will reign if definitions are not imposed. As such, going forward with ship services, I will use the following designations:
A dock is a wooden platform built on wooden pilings that extends outwards from a piece of land. Due to the limitations on how deep the pilings can be dug in a pre-industrial world, a dock is limited in width to 12 ft. A dock will service ships with a draft up to 10 ft. A wider dock needs to incorporate stone in it's construction, whereupon it becomes ...
A quay is a predominantly stone platform that extends outwards from the shore, sometimes incorporating some wood framing or ledges, but not necessarily. The water beside a quay is deep enough to enable ships with a draft of up to 20 feet to "park" adjacent to the structure. Quays usually include a storehouse. If multiple quays are strung together, the whole is called ...
A wharf, which extends along a shoreline, forming a harbour, which describes the enclosed water surface and not the wharf's servicing area — though this distinction is usually overlooked. A "port" describes the combined harbour and wharf together. Wharfs can also be described as the "docks," but this is a misnomer. Wharfs generally include warehouses as well as storehouses.Wharves occur with 3 hammers, which isn't on our facilities table yet but it's convenient to touch on them now and expand later with another post.
Please understand that I recognise this isn't "correct" ... but equally I'd argue there is no such thing. The designations are merely for game convenience, not because I give a damn what a dock can be or is or any other such thing. The same issue applies when I make a distinction between "storehouses" and "warehouses."
Docks. We might freely assume that the number of hammers AND the type of hex (7 through 5) indicates how many docks a hex includes. One hammer and a type-7 dock equals a thorp and therefore has one dock. Add another hammer to a type-7 hex, which can only occur with a settlement, and we have two docks. The type-6 hex gets a bonus dock over the type-7, two docks with 1 hammer and three docks with 2 hammers, and the type-5 gets an additional +1 dock in the same fashion. This may seem unnecessarily finicky, but the presence of multiple docks, and how many, would be something that mattered to the players ... and it would give them some idea of the size and importance of the backwater they're approaching from the water.
Docks can provide services to players, though clearly I need to write rules for how many boats occur per hex and presence of hammers. A nominal fee of 1-2 c.p. would be charged for tying up, with an understanding that at certain times of the day non-ownership of a dock might mean casting off because the dock is needed for transshipment of other vessels. Not sure how that would work also, but it would mean that a compliment necessary to untie and put off from the dock would be a day-and-night necessity, else the local laws may enable the boat to be impounded, i.e., taken over by other sailors and held until a penury fine was paid.
I can't say for sure, but building a dock would probably be simple enough, with the coast determining it's length (and possibly local ordinances as well) and therefore it's cost and time to build. I daresay a 2nd level party could easily afford it. I think the length of the dock would be limited to a water depth of oh, say, 15 feet? Needs research. Incidentally, a "dock post" is a single piling pounded deep in the sand; it's sufficient to hold a boat, but it would require another boat for unloading and loading of goods and passengers. It would also put the boat at risk during a storm, since the piling is necessarily close to the shore, provides none of the protection a dock would and might swing the boat into the shore, sinking it.
A shack can be built on top of a dock (remember, 12 ft. wide surface of indeterminate length). Someone could build this of stone or brick but that would seriously compromise the dock's ability to stand up in a storm. In general, a shack couldn't practically consist of much weight in its construction, nor in how much storage it provided. How much, again, would probably require some research ... which doesn't seem necessary until the day a player asks me.
Quay. This is an oblong extension of stone blocks, broken stone pieces, filling, sand, wooden framing, paving stone and mortar reaching out far enough that a really big ship can pull up to its side. The support for such an edifice requires a village-sized habitat, thus its appearance with a base type-4 hex. Because of its construction, a quay will stand up to a hurricane. A quay can be built so as to shelter a ship, but this is rare because the business of manuevering a big ship behind a quay in a busy port is impractically onerous. Usually, in a storm, ships put out to sea rather than remaining tied up ... there are many harbours that will provide excellent protection to ships on the water, so that escaping to open sea is unnecessary.
A type-4 village has one quay. Type-6 and type-5 settlements with 3 hammers have quays (not shown on chart yet), but again, only one. A type-4 with 3 hammers has 2 quays, or effectively a small "wharf," and those with 4 hammers (settlements) will have 3 quays. Better type hexes obviously have larger wharfs with shipyards and other support buildings.
Quays can provide other services for players, namely storage which we'll discuss later and the opportunity to register at the port, provided they have the necessary sage abilities and ship type. Once again, they can't leave a ship at a quay with the expectations that other ships will want to load and unload. A quay has a large flat area where hundreds of tons of goods can be temporarily stored as it comes off a ship or is put on ... and these goods can be sold on the quay, removing the need for the players to drag it into an actual market. Buying on the quay usually requires guild membership and the permission to buy specific goods as they roll into port. In the meantime, the quay has guards that can be hired to protect goods that can be left in place for a day or two before it's moved off the quay into town, or onto a ship ... and these guards are bonded, so that loss of the goods would fall to the bondsman and not the owner. Again, this is a benefit for those who have guild standing.
Quays are public features, so individuals cannot build structures upon them. However, quays do include storehouses, and these are also for hire.
Storehouse. Again, we must make a distinction between "stores" and "wares," and which kind of house is build to preserve them. For the record, stores can be stored in warehouses, and wares can be stored in storehouses, but this doesn't make wares stores nor stores wares. I want to be clear. "Stores" are quanties or supplies of things that are kept for the day when they are needed — either for maintenance or during a crisis. Empty water barrels are stored so they can be filled and rolled aboard ship when needed. Ropes, nets, masts, planks, mortar, canvas, shot, tools and so on are kept for when these things are needed in repair. Sand is kept in case of fire. Food can be stored in a storehouse, but usually this is kept in "garners" or "granaries," which we earlier designated as places to store foods. Storehouses tend to contain non-edible dry goods.
"Wares," on the other hand, are items that are specifically stowed away until they're sold. That is, any sort of manufacture or valuable commodity, things that don't accumulate sufficiently until a hex accumulates 3 hammers. Thus, not appearing on our list yet.
Storehouses tend to be smallish and narrow, about 12 by 20 ft., and 8 ft. high ... with multiple storehouses standing in a line on larger wharves. Incidentally, this is the length of a standard modern shipping container and about 45% wider. If there are multiple storehouses, each will house specific collections of items. Storehouses tend to be half-timbered, with a six-foot high 6 in. deep mortared wall with a wooden framed rafters and roof. A little pitch saturated as much as possible with sand can be spread atop a roof and won't burn easily, but some places will use green wood for the roofs, replacing them seasonally; still, the stuff inside a storehouse is potentially quite flammable. On the whole, storehouses aren't locked (locks actually being quite rare even as late as the 17th century, and non-existent as late as the 15th) or even guarded ... but quays are often in some kind of service day and night, so there are plenty of torches and lanterns burning, not to mention local dockworkers and gangers (supervisors) around to notice a door being opened. Plus there's not much inside to steal, as it's either heavy, takes time to find amidst the tangle or is quite cheap to buy.
Warehouses, on the other hand, include guards both inside and outside, have two floors, have no windows (which seems to confuse players who want a way to break in) and are often packed in such a way that even if a group were to get inside and kill the guards, it would take half an hour to find the "key stone" box before the goods can be wedged out of place and shifted out the door. And, once again, people constantly moving about the docks. Warehouses are typically twenty ft. square, 16 ft. high, and built in blocks of two — with "streets" between them and plenty of stored water in case of fire. Warehouses are often separated from the water by 40 to 60 ft., which although makes it a longer distance to carry, helps serve as a firebreak in case either the ships or the warehouses catch fire. Warehouses with copper fireproof roofs may appear in type-1 hexes; those are the ones to steal from, if a party gets ambitious.
Seems enough for now.
Friday, March 25, 2022
Worldbuilding 5f: Cemeteries, Gallows & Guardposts
Wednesday, March 23, 2022
We're Not Just Mustard Farming Now
Tuesday, March 22, 2022
Worldbuilding Archive: Settlements
Paris (941), Vienna (930), London (838), Napoli (590), Barcelona (534), Lisbon (505), Lahore (467), Constantinople/Istanbul (394), Casablanca (392), Cairo (358), Baku (354), Glasgow (326), Rome (314), Moscow (307), Turin (299), Milan (293), Birmingham (288), Bombay (279), Palermo (275), Tashkent (250)
Amman (8500), Edessa (8000), Gafsa (8000), Corinth (6000), Coleraine [Eire] (5935), Damascus (5500), Hamah (5500), Anantnag [Kashmir] (5000), Jubayl [Arabia] (4992), Qom (4500), Larnaka [Cyprus] (4000), Rodosto [Thrace] (4000), Sidon [Lebanon] (4000), Aqaba [Arabia] (4000), Chur [Switzerland] (3500), Paterno [Sicily] (3500), Qatif [Arabia] (3500), Muttura [India] (3228), Dvaraka [India] (3102) and Asyut [Egypt] (3100).
Hyderabad (1591), Tsaritsyn [Stalingrad] (1589), Samara (1586), Saratov (1586), Voronezh (1585), Amritsar (1574), Ivanovo (1561), Khortytsia [Zaporizhzhia] (1556), Liverpool (1550), Helsingfors (1550), Colombo (1517), Ahmadnagar (1494), Rawalpindi (1493), Surat (1490), Bikaner (1486), Las Palmas (1478), Hacibey [Odessa] (1466), Sarajevo (1461), Bucuresti (1459) and Jodhpur (1459)
Waste of time, really, since I can't say for sure that any of these founding dates are accurate ... except that they are absolute fact in my game world. All I can do is hope this sort of information provides some idea of how old or young your game cities might be.
Do remember, all these lists are for parts of the world that I have mapped and calculated regions for. Manhattan doesn't appear on the list because although I have sort of sketched out the area, I haven't yet incorporated it into the game world.
Andorra, an existing principality and one of the smallest countries in the world, exists in my game world also. It has one settlement, Andorra la Vella. As I count my areas in 20-mile hexes, not square miles or kilometers, my Andorra covers 1.5 hexes. The real Andorra is half that size.
On the other hand, the Duchy of Apuania in Italy has two settlements, Carrara and Massa, which are very close together; the duchy has an area of 1.3 hexes.
Astrakhan, on the other hand, is a large very poor soiled region of 117 hexes in area. It has two settlements: Astrakhan the city, with 12,841 people, and Langan, an outpost with only 182 people.
Buraydah is an Emirate in the heart of Arabia, 200 hundred miles or so south of Riyadh. It has two settlements, oases, Buraydah and Qusaybah; the region covers 67 hexes. It is a large desert area.
Sumi, the same city in Ukraine discussed in the news, is an independent het of 3 hexes; Sumi is the only city.
Nord-Trondelag in north central Norway covers 8 hexes and has two settlements, Levanger and Stjordalshasen.
Tyan-Shan is a monastical entity in upper modern-day Kirghizia; it has one settlement for its 44 hexes. It is a barren frozen country some 12 to 14 thousand feet above sea level.
The counties of England are relatively small, with between 2 and 10 hexes. Cheshire, Guildford and Nottinghamshire each have 4 settlements. Monmouthshire, Lothian, Hertfordshire, Elgin and Dorsetshire each have 3. Angusshire, Fifeshire, Glamorganshire, Hampshire and Somerset have 5. But many English counties are stuffed full of settlements. Yorkshire has 16. Sussex has 9. Lincolnshire has 10. Lanarkshire has 11. These last are much larger, are heavily populated and industrialised by 1952 standards ... so the encyclopedia crowd wanted to include many more of these cities, cramming them into the map.
A different problem occurs with France. Because the departments were established after the Revolution in 1689, I used the original provinces ... which are giant areas compared with English counties. Thus, Languedoc in the south of France has 51 settlements scattered over 38 hexes. The Ile de France, including Paris, has 24 settlements pounded into an area of 13 hexes. Forez, including Lyons, squeezes 21 settlements into 9.3 hexes. And Brittany, a sprawling backwater area of 35 hexes, has so many ports stuffed around it's coastline that it nonetheless has 52 settlements. And 15 of these are described as "market" towns. Which I adhered to with my trade tables, giving each the ability to assign its own local price.
It's slightly better in Asia, but this is because the population is predominantly rural. Hindustan is one massive region under the Moghuls, of 187 hexes ... but it still has 35 settlements - and an adjusted population of 14,144,861 ... which means many, many villages that don't appear on the map. Odisha has 40 settlements scattered into 281.4 hexes. The Punjab has 40 distributed into 290 hexes. Kabolistan, the region around modern Kabul in Afghanistan, has 17 settlements withiin 114 hexes.
It's difficult for me to say there should be such and such many settlements per hex, since the number for me is dependent on too many variables: the number of settlements actually included on the maps, for instance, or the tendency of a region to urbanise. Or the size of the regions in different parts of the world. The reader simply has to guess at an earth-region according to its climate, vegetation, culture, etcetera, count the cities in a square of latitude and longitude and decide that this is the right number of settlements to throw in. But there is no right or wrong answer.
I can say that one settlement produces a very dull infrastructure map. Two settlements or three help create shadows and dense places. Ten are even better, especially if there are about one settlement per three hexes. But that shouldn't be every place in the world, or the distribution will end up being the same everywhere. Some places ought to have one settlement per 30 hexes; and others should have four settlements in one hex. That's just how it should play.
Monday, March 21, 2022
Worldbuilding 5e: Village
Tuesday, March 15, 2022
Worldbuilding 5d: Way Stations & Shrines
Monday, March 14, 2022
Initially, I'd intended just to map out a few circles of the 6-mile hexes surrounding Kronstadt. But as the maps became useful for the worldbuilding posts, I went on expanding the map in bits and pieces. Each time I posted these online, my views shot up, so I know readers are liking the maps.
Problems, however, were forming. The work was spreading outwards to the edges of the map sheet ... which meant my having to create new sheet, as my computer will handle only so much data. The Kronstadt map had reached a size of 33 megabytes; that's pretty big for a publisher file. This is why I present my 20-mile sheet maps in sizes of 30 by 35 hexes ... to keep the size manageable.
Additionally, the location of Kronstadt happens to fall near the 30th meridian, east. This is one of the points that my world map shifts 60-degrees in direction, to maintain the map's projection. As such, every map I've posted of Kronstadt this year has been shifted 60 degrees to the right, so that "north" is in the map's upper right. Since none of the actual 30th meridian passes through any of the map I've drawn thus far, I decided to shift the whole map to date to the left, to put north at the top. Here's the redux:
This has also been shifted onto two sheets, shown combined above. If I continue (and I think I will), the map's bound to spread out onto other sheets as it grows. I'm really liking the colour scheme; I saw no reason to change it.
I have changed the hammer symbol throughout. These changes are time-consuming ... but a little done each day produces results over time. Eventually, I catch myself up to the place I was at before deciding to reformat; this is always a very good feeling.
I'm going to write a post about way stations and shrines in the next day or two. I'm feeling a lot better, by the way.
Friday, March 11, 2022
Worldbuilding 5d: Gong, Granaries & Graves
I must explain before starting this post that there's is no absolute boundary between a hamlet and a "village." This is why village-sized hamlets historically went on calling themselves "hamlets," even after they'd reached the size of towns. For convenience, however, I need my own definition of village, particularly in the context of this series of posts. So I will ask the reader, please, to understand that the difference between hamlets and villages are not made by size of population, but rather by type of hex. A hamlet in a type-5 hex may be as large as what we think of as a village; but it isn't rated as a village in this discussion unless it occurs in a type-4 hex or better hexes. There is an exception; the black-circled "settlements," as I call them, occur on the map as villages, towns and cities, according to their size. Any settlement (unlike the brown-circled villages) adds +1 food, +1 hammer and +1 coin to the hex's production; this is due to the characteristic importance of these special centres. I know it's all complicated, and that it seems needlessly so, but the reasons are baked into how infrastructure is designated in the first place.
The reader may remember that I alluded to hamlets as the largest group habitation that occuring in type-6 and type-5 hexes. However, there are hamlets, and there are hamlets. As a hamlet in a type-6 farmland hex increases its food supply, on the way towards the hex becoming a type-5, the community fosters children and sustains the lifespan of its elder residents. Growth adjusts the local dynamic, as more food needs to be hauled out at harvest, more care is needed for more residents, more roofs need thatching, more hands need more tools and so on. All these things could be made at home, but it becomes more practical, as exports of food rise, to obtain these things from elsewhere ... and this brings more outsiders into daily contact with the hamlet's residents.
There are other things that arise from an increased population, and the animals they begin to keep. For example, the accumulation of bodily waste that tends to fill up privies and cess pits. Called "gong," which is a convenient euphemism from the old English word gang, meaning "to go," tends to heap as the number of hamlet buildings swell from fifteen to fifty ... and this produces a new sort of specialist, a "gong farmer," or "nightman," as it was generally agreed that the work of digging up was something to be done at night and out of sight. Gong has an inherent value as a fertilizer, so it was gathered up and taken beyond the power of smell to official dumps called gong pits. There the gong was mixed with compost products like rotten food, straw, bones and wood ash. It takes about 8 months to naturally turn this into a sludge that could dry out, so gong pits were rotated at different times of the year, rather than the same pit being used all the time. The technical mixing of gong into serviceable fertiliser was more complicated than we might first imagine.
Gong pits, of course, might seem like a good place to get rid of certain kinds of evidence — but the local farmer responsible for these pits would be instantly aware that something was amiss, probably within a single day ... especially since the most sink-worthy pits would also be the ones most often added to nightly. Nevertheless, stumbling around the outside of a hamlet at night might incorporate these landmarks of the nose interestingly. That is, provided we're not running the sort of ridiculous disney-fied game that includes safe cards. After all, it is shit. Someone's bound to be offended.
Another added difficulty is the number of dead bodies that accumulate over time. Remember, the growth from small hamlet to large hamlet is slow, but even a community of 100 people will produce 800+ dead bodies in two centuries. At first, it seems practical to plant Papa and Mamma in the back yard, but six generations and a lot of infant deaths do become a problem, particularly in cultures that don't respect cremation as a solution. Some cultures favour such solutions as "torn apart by beasts" and quietly dug unmarked graves in forests for the shorter-surviving children, but the number of "important" people who are considered too celebrated for this treatment will mount up.
I'm sorry if I sound less than respectful of the dead here. In this culture more than any other in history, we greatly ignore the real social problem of what to do with all the past ancestors ... appreciating that a small and rarely-spoken of profession manages that problem for us. I address it here because there grows a very real need for a graveyard of sorts, once a community reaches a certain size ... even the size of a mere hamlet. Nowadays, we always associate graveyards with churches because our memories are skewed by movies and churchyards nearly always built 150 years after the actual community was founded. We have documents telling us that after that after the 7th century CE, that a burial in Europe was under the control of the Church and could only take place in consecrated ground. This sounds all nice and decent, but it can easily be recognized from any understanding of what Europe was actually like prior to 700 CE that this had to be ignored on a widespread basis — hell, in 700, isolated monks were busy in Ireland copying Bibles, preserving the last shreds of literature about God and Christ in a continent featuring widespread wars between "godless" Saxons, Slavs, Avars and Bulgars. The Franks may have found sunny Jeebus, but even they didn't have the wherewithal to track down every dead body in the hinterlands of a thousand ex-Romana villages and dictate how bodies were buried. What with the collapse of society, people still died in their beds and still had to be buried somewhere ...
The link on Wikipedia says that bodies were generally buried in mass graves, exhumed and stored in ossuaries — and this too sounds very dear and yet ridiculous for isolated farmers scratching out a living in the deep, dense forests of backcountry Europe, with little labour to spare on burying bodies and digging them up again. This may be all well and good for the village folk, blessed with roads and people who can read & write, who are the only people history has a hope in hell of caring about, but rest assured that tiny hamlets everywhere just do their best with what they have. Reasonably, a priest or a friar makes the rounds every few weeks and reads words over a body already buried ... and in a community without the drive to build coffins, a sack and a mass grave certainly meet the requirement. Nonetheless, this grave still occupies space, and that space can surely be called a "graveyard."
Take note that more civilised parts of the world will always do these things with greater sophistication. The village will have a small church, it will have a local priest, and the graveyard will be a neat little laid out affair. Cities go a step further, with large crypts and all the ossuaries the profession responsible can build. In a grander sense, really big places can build their own necropolises for the dead. But we're not talking about a place where a modern historian could expect to find anything, because the dead of nowheresham Germany were never buried in a manner that an archeologist might dig up. There are billions of bones buried under the soils of Europe and Asia, and the Americas too, that are simply lost to time.
Nonetheless, when dressing up the game world, we shouldn't forget to add that important repository. Player characters might take a moment and consider where they ought to bury their own, for one thing; and the manner in which a cemetery or a gravesite is respected could help with the locals sentiments. Some players are clerics, after all — though they should always be sure they are the right kind of clerics before irresponsibly chanting words over a body of another religion.
Yes, I know, I know. A discussion about graves and cemeteries should have said something about undead. The trope is so obvious, however, I don't see that anything needs to be said.
Let's move onto something else. I've mentioned a "garner" a few times now. For my game world, I'm defining a garner as a temporary repository for food, gathered together or "garnered" at harvest time with the expectation that it will be distributed or moved to a place where it can be sold off, most likely before winter begins. When I speak of long-term multi-year storage of food, it should be understood that I'm speaking of a "granary."
A granary is specifically built to keep grain, which can last for 5-7 years, while a beet or a carrot won't. The single most important part of a granary's design is to keep the grain dry, so it won't rot. This is accomplished in a variety of ways.
A granary can be independently built, but as a place grows it gains a sense of community, the idea that "we're all in this together." And because it's clearly understood that we all want to live when the crops don't make it some year, not just the most selfish among us, a large enough habitation will build an institution granary for the general welfare. A portion of everyone's crop for the year is added to the total, to be paid back when crops fail. So the granary is like a bank, where funds of grain are deposited for the future.
The granary is carefully managed by a steward who maintains the quality of the grain and keeps a close watch on how much is stored. Even a small theft would certainly be recognised, as this is the steward's bread and butter, the thing that sustains his or her family. It's a good job; with responsibility comes status, and a masterful granary steward can be a friend to the community.
He or she can also be convinced to trade grain for coin, since coin takes up much less space and can later be translated into grain in the future. With enough coin, the steward can send off for a load of grain from elsewhere and make sure the granary is very full, all the time.
I bring this up because I've often seen player characters lay in massive supplies of flour for journeys that will last only ten or twenty days. This, of course, increases their encumbrance something awful. The argument is always that as they eat the flour, their encumbrance will lessen ... and they don't want to be caught without food.
However, there's nothing to stop the party from buying grain instead of flour. A sack of grain is lighter than a sack of flour and any grain mill along the journey can be paid a very small fee to exchange a sack of grain for its equivalent in flour. This fee would be less than the difference between grain and flour at the market. Now add to this the possibility of buying the sack of grain from the local granary (again, for less than the cost of grain at the market) and then going around and having it milled. All without the burdensome demand of carrying around 10 forty-pounds of flour.
Look at the maps I've posted. Any type-6 hex or better will have a mill. Any type-5 or better will have a public granary as well. With most such hexes only six miles apart, is there really any need to lay in a hundred pounds of flour? Keeping in mind that the granary steward and the miller will be happy for the money, as money is scarce in a hamlet ... and can be used to shore up the buildings and feed cats to kill mice, along with other convenient uses. Each time the players come through, they make a friend or two, they save on their encumbrance and they gain a better sense for how the game world functions.
I have two other small facilities to discuss before moving onto bigger things, but I'm running out of steam. I seem to have caught some kind of cold; perhaps it's covid, but I don't it. No breathlessness so far. Take care, I'll write soon.