Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Worldbuilding 5h: Buildings of Worship

The Reader seems to understand that tackling a game world on this level has more to do with understanding how things work than with providing a lot of details.  For example, I don't need floorplans of quays and storehouses to make use of these things in my game world.  I don't need stats for the gong farmer who might attack the party in the dark, thinking they're bandits.  I don't need fifty village street maps for fifty villages.  I don't need the squire's family tree drawn out to know he has one.  Misconceptions about what "worldbuilding" is lie behind the failure of designers to produce something deep and complex.  There's some idea going around that the actual "building" part requires tables, pictures, plans and excessively gritty details ... when in fact, what's needed is knowing how a shore front or a transshipment point works.

The actual layout can be scrawled out in five minutes during the game, while the players watch (as we're getting rid of the screen).  When I do this, I draw a box and say, "This is the storehouse."  Then I draw a crooked line.  "This is the water line; there's a quay and this is another quay."  Then I draw an oval next to the quay.  "Here's the ship.  What do you do?"  The players don't give a damn that the ship doesn't look like an actual detailed ship plan for a one hour adventure, with my taking 8 hours of fastidious work to make it look "real."  It's as real as it needs to be in the player's heads.  They only need to know where the ship is.  The rest we can play without pictures.

For me, this is the real "tradition" that underlies D&D thinking.  You tell me your mage wants to be a "Moon Witch."  I say okay.  Then we figure out what that means as we go along.  We don't need 55 pages in a splatbook telling us the 32 kinds of moon witch your character can be.  It's just a waste of our time.

Because I get asked endless questions by players about everything, I've given considerable thought to everything — as is evident in this string of posts.  With each conceived thing, such as the present list of facilities, I'm on the hook to discuss what that thing is.  The answers rely considerably upon research, but let me explain something about D&D.  We will never find all the information we need, because the answers being given out there in the world are not tailor-made for people who are interested in a space where people can walk through and take action there.  Where it comes to details about a "simple village house of worship" in the 15th century, we can find examples; but we won't learn how the church residents were organised or what their jobs were at that time.  We might find a few tiny details about how these churches were planted, but those details won't be sufficient for D&D.  Therefore, we have to understand something very well.

Worldbuilding is fictional design.  By necessity, we have to sit back, close our eyes, consider everything we've been able to learn from research and then tailor make the remainder out of whole cloth.

So as I approach the subject of village churches, mosques and temples, understand that I'm talking about D&D, not the real world.  Perhaps some expert knows the truth about the interactions between church leaders and their authorities or congregations, but I don't choose to become a similar expert.  For one thing, the next facilities post has to be about making and marketing in the period, so I can't waste my whole worldbuilding verve on religious edifices alone.

And hell, what difference does it make anyway?  I run a game world where the gods are real, where they fight one another for every believer because another believer is what makes them a wee bit more powerful ... and so the religious systems in my game world are built by people who have actual, physical proof of the existence of these gods.  This makes a religion in my world NOTHING LIKE the real world, which must run all it's services on faith and little else.  There was a Martin Luther in my world, but the 95 theses he hammered on his door absolutely did not include the argument that by faith and faith alone did one know God.  He knew better.

Because of this competition, a type-4 village has only one church, mosque or temple.  More developed hexes have sub-cultures, and therefore sub-temples, with certain religions being tolerant of others.  The hard and fast rule, from Medieval history, is that the least tolerant church or religion is Christianity.  The most tolerant is ... Islam.  Go figure.

I've been meaning to write a post about the development of religion in the game world, but I keep putting it off.  I shall have to get on that this week; in the meantime, let's limit our interest to the building itself, its inhabitants and its function.

The easiest example is the Christian church, since I know it best and have had much personal experience with its doings.  I was raised Lutheran, though I no longer believe in its teachings, or that of any religion.  Unlike a rabid youtuber atheist, however, I concede that the advancement of religion and it's function were necessary for the advancement of society and civilisation, though not in the interpretation of the Bible as a "moral document," which it most definitely is not.  Were I to find myself in a church, I would attend the service respectfully, I would sing the hymns when appropriate, kneeling and praying when appropriate, and I would smile and greet the minister and others without creating an incident.  I would not stay longer than strictly necessary, however.  I bring this up to explain where I come from with regards to religion.  I have studied theology and can defend it; I find large parts of its thinking process fascinating and worth deconstruction; but I don't believe in it as a faith.  I don't really care who does, however, unless they take it upon themselves to sell me their religion.  This is where things get sticky with me.

The purpose of the Church is to bind the community together.  The duties of the pastor or priest are to do more than deliver a good sermon and overlook the proceedings of the service.  A pastor attends his or her flock, daily, addressing their physical and emotional needs as best one can.  Much training in being a pastor involves speaking with the devout and people like me with RESPECT, something rarely found or understood among Pentacostals or Evangels, who don't receive practical training and are therefore in it for the power, the prestige and the money.  An excellent example of what it is to be a parish priest can be found in the 1978-81 humorous British series, Bless Me, Father.  Here's an example of the show dealing with the supernatural from a church perspective.

Members of a small temple include the priest, potentially a curate, which is a sort of apprentice priest (and not, as Gygax thinks, a member senior to a priest), a housekeeper and a caretaker, called a verger.  Here's a nice story from Somerset Maugham about a verger, from the 1950 movie, Trio.  The verger segment starts at 02:41.

Most likely all these people are kind, friendly, generous and most often interested in strangers, particularly if they're of the same religion.  It's their business to bring in new blood ... and an outsider's contribution to the collection plate is always welcome.  Perhaps it's my personal view on things, but in part it's my experience as well.  A church leader is always looking for people to lead, and wisely does not seek to turn away anyone and make enemies.  Religious strife only occurs when each side of the matter simply refuses to be patient and respectful.  The Spaniards would have done much better for themselves in the Netherlands if they hadn't been so bloody minded about their Catholicism.  The same can be said about the Protestants in Ulster, the Protestants in Scotland and the Protestants in the American colonies.  It's the confounded way people have sometimes about insisting that their answers are the "right" answers, coupled with the like resistance of other peoples who are just as certain and inflexible.

In any case, these larger contentious religious warring peoples can hardly be found in the rustic setting of a back-country village church.  Let the people of Florence battle in the streets; let the rivers in Paris run with Huguenot blood; let some pigheaded heretic scream epithets in Zurich, Geneva and Prague.  This village is none of those places ... and so, "You're a moslem, are you?  Why, what a strange person to have come around here.  Have you had your dinner yet?"

It isn't that I'm naive.  Rather, it's that I believe the earnestness of a religion depends upon its proponents — chiefly, what they think they have to lose if they concede a little ground.  The Count of Wittembourg has taxes and land to gain if he switches to the Protestant church, while the Emperor of Austria and the Pope in Rome have something to lose if he does.  A demand is made, followed by an insult, followed by further demands and threats and raising of armies ... much more of it for the sake of which hands the peasant's coins fall into rather than the fleshiness of bread and the bloodiness of wine.  But we say its the latter because that makes us sound so much holier than a grubber of Mammon, which the Bible plainly counsels against.  After all, the Bible clearly counsels in plain Hebrew, Greek, Latin and so on that killing the Ammonites is absolutely in the cards.  Thus, Ammonites, Saxons, what's the difference?

The country priest has a slice of mutton to lose and the company of a traveller to gain.  So the exchange rate plays much better towards complaisance and beneficence ... provided the traveller doesn't remain and import too many of his or her "kind."  Whereupon everyone gets ridiculous because that fundamental principle, "The Priest is there to bind the community together" gets threatened somewhat.

There's a reason my game world takes place in 1650.  Just prior to that date, Europe had ruthlessly decided to test the theory that the musket and the sword are stronger than faith (and the desire for money and power), only to find it piles up a lot of dead and fails to settle anything.  The Spanish have withdrawn from the part of the Netherlands that doesn't like them, European Catholicism has decided to be more tolerant, the border with the Ottomans is in a relative state of peace ... and while peaceful co-existence doesn't reign everywhere, it is a brief period of concluding that winning through trade, nationalism and education is perhaps a better tactic.  England drags its feet on this for another 10 bloody and annoying years, but 1650 is nevertheless on the cusp of the Restoration.  It is a time that suits me.

Listen, I should talk about the church building, but I think we'll let that go until I get into hexes with 3 hammers.  There's a lot to say about that, enough for a whole other post.

I'll finish by saying to my Patreon supporters, thank you for your support and your input in the comments.  I have very much left to say about worldbuilding, though I must also take some time out to discuss some other things this week and the next.  Rest assured, my patience and commitment to this series remains intact.

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.

Overall, docks can stand up to most storms, short of a strong gale or a storm.  Wrecked docks retain their pilings, so that only the upper part need rebuilding. 

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

Sorry to plow straight into this subject again, but really, there's no good time to discuss it.

Returning briefly to our earlier discussion of the dead, a hamlet designates a small area, most likely out of the way and high above the waterline (as learned from experience), as "gravesites" for their ancestors.  If the bodies are meant to be left out there in perpetuity, then likely they'll be grouped according to family and then clan.  On the other hand, many cultures would bury a body in a manner that let the earth reclaim the flesh and leave the bones. 

Such burials included a "marker" so the descendents could find the bones again, clean them and store them elsewhere ... and as in the picture, these bones weren't necessarily laid out so as to distinguish one person from another.  In some cultures, that didn't matter.

For the purposes of cultural development of villages over hamlets, I'm granting crypts, cemeteries and catacombs equal status.  A cave will serve as a crypt; several caves make a catacomb.  It really depends on how long the village has been around ... some villages have existed for thousands of years, reaching back into the time of Rameses.  I'm suggesting, then, that a hamlet leaves its buried bodies in the ground, scattered in groupings on a hillside, or in a glade; and that a more sophisticated approach carefully preserves the bones in a dry place, or defines a piece of land rigidly as a cemetery — deciding who and who cannot be buried there.  Obviously, the local priest decides, as the matter of burial is left to the professionals.

Now, long ago I proposed that a body not given a proper burial — presumedly as the clerical ability and in the appropriate place — would rise as the undead.  I'd like to amend that for the sake of the model I'm building.  To maintain the body in a state of grace after death, it must be buried according to some procedure, not necessarily provided by a classed cleric (the sage ability is sufficient).  To rise as undead, the individual must have spent a "questionable" life.  That would describe any and all player characters who have brought about the death of intelligent beings, for the record.  Most living persons wouldn't qualify, having been rather weak, cowardly, gentle persons who spent their lives farming and, in many cases, died too young from disease or in childbirth.  Still, there's an argument to be made that it's easier to raise undead from a disorganized gravesite than it is from a church-organised cemetery or crypt.  That is, unless the crypt is especially organized to house the bones of criminals, blasphemers and the like.  That kind of crypt would be a very, very easy place to raise undead from ... and the criminals must be buried and re-buried somewhere.

Just one last foreshadow on this subject; there is such a thing as a "necropolis."  This is literally a "city of the dead," where so many bodies are buried that all living persons have abandoned the area.  Necropoli have been built specifically in desolate areas, or upon destroyed cities that were never rebuilt, waiting there to be found by a group of hardy adventurers.  The only reason I bring it up is because these, too, must exist somehow due to an infrastructure number — i.e., a number of hammers.  Since hammers accumulate in very populated areas, and necropoli don't, I haven't quite figured this out.  I suppose some kind of designated hitter — er, populated area — will define an existing necropolis such and such a distance away.

Let's put down the dead and move onto the not-quite-dead-but-soon-to-be-made-so: the gallows.  This is a convenient word to describe a collection of articles, not always ending in death ... for example, the gibbet, the breaking wheel, the flogging post, the burning post (you know, for witches), the block for chopping heads and the ordinary, far-less-lethal village stocks.  These items take the place of rational, reasonable jurisprudence ... and which particular object depends upon the area's culture, religion, climate, degree of education and year-to-year level of violence.  The more war a culture experiences, the more likely the repercussions for stealing a chicken will have a more ... mm, final solution than we might find in quaint quiet backwaters, particularly in colder climes when having another set of hands to cut wood makes a people more forgiving.  In southern climes, where you can get through the winter on no wood at all, people seem to be more ... dispensable.

There are other reasons harsh punishments were popular.  The Spanish occupying the Netherlands had a considerable hate on for their subjects, and thus the breaking wheel was a popular choice.  A patrol could happen by, grab an accused seditionist, drag him or her to the nearest wheel laying on the ground — and once the victim's arms and legs were broken, the patrol could hoist the sufferer into the air and leave him ... and damned would be anyone who dared bring him or her down.  These were harsh times.

This seems an odd "facility," but it nevertheless serves a purpose.  The maintenance of law and order is central to civilisation, and as we collect people together there is a greater need for it.  On the other hand, law courts and lawyers are in rare supply in large hamlets and tiny villages, so we must turn to other means ... and as a matter of policy, the locals are given to understand the exact circumstances under which each kind of available device can be used — for example, what's appropriate for stealing a chicken.

It does well for players to see the device and learn precisely what gets them there ... because if the whole town decides the right circumstances have occurred, ALL of them will help.  For one thing, it makes a different kind of Sunday, and anything different is good.  For another, the best way to soothe one's conscience after a trial in the village stocks is to watch someone else get theirs.  Call it motivation.

Plus there's always the possibility someone is getting theirs as the players arrive.  There would be one person in the village, an executioner ... only no one knows for certain who he or she is, as a hood is worn for that purpose and the executioner never speaks.

Another thing that can turn up in a large hamlet is the guardpost, which is essentially a hovel and a raised platform, from which a single guard can look down and see that all is right.  The guard is the final word on disturbing the peace and breaking the law, just like an old west sheriff ... but in this case the guard isn't a "shire reeve" — that's actually a different post.  In this case, the guard is a simple constable; there to keep the peace, settle disputes and forward any serious infractions of the law to the local elders and priest of the temple, if the place is large enough.  In a type-5 hex with two hammers, it isn't; but in a type-4 with a village, yes, there's a temple.  The compass of authority in the town is the constable, who is the eyes and ears of the elders, who turn to the priest for advice.  If a matter turns out to be something not local, the local squire might be consulted, and word sent to the nearest noble to send a troop, who then move in unilaterally to deal with it.  Such cases include widespread heresy or an uprising ... including a refusal to pay taxes.  Otherwise, not much can occur to get outsiders involved.

Should the players make a pest of themselves, likely they'd be gone before a troop could arrive.  As such, members of the town will join in and help the constable.  Rest assured, it won't be the film High Noon.  The locals aren't soft.  Many of them have joined together to rid the village of wolves and other vermin, participated in hard brutal sports such as wrestling, fisticuffs and tossing heavy objects ... and participated in honour killings as well, not to mention the foregoing executioner.  Add to this a few who have gone abroad, seen battle and come back.  It's a bone of contention with me, where players assume rural folk are weak, 2 h.p.-bearing easily killable wimps, but the idea is just the sort invented by suburban mamma's boys without rural relatives to visit.  Country people in my youth were hard; and were nothing compared to their fathers and grandfathers, who grew up on farms without electricity or tractors.  A 14th to 17th century farmer, especially in honour-cultures like the Irish, the Scots, the Slavs or the Italians, would have given a 4th level PC as good as he or she could take.  It's a misnomer to assume these people can't fight, have no experience, next to no skills and therefore a dearth of hit points.  That's the ignorance of someone who grew up in a pretty house with sidewalks, thinking the whole world is paved or covered in mowed grass.

Well, I've got a long way to go.  We'll take these three at a time I suppose.

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

We're Not Just Mustard Farming Now

Just dropping a quick post this evening, as I've spent some time creating an establishing page on my wiki.  There are too many things now for me to keep track in my head — thus the need to build this table:

Sorry about the colour, but every reference on this table ultimately needs its own page, so the text is in wiki-links' red.  The page gives an explanation for how the table above works.  With my next post, I expect, I'll be addressing a number of facilities mentioned here, merely expanding my earlier notes with some things.

It should be obvious from the above that just with the bare bones of a game world that gets no more complicated than a rustic village, we have 32 spaces and settings — though some of these are merely different forms of the same thing, such as a gravesite and a cemetery, or mills for cloth vs. mills for grain.  Still, we've merely scratched the surface.  More hammers and more civilised hexes are sure to drown us in possibilities ... I can't say entirely that I look forward to creating a wiki page for each and every one of these, specifically discussing how they work and why they should matter to a player.

Speaking for myself, I'm finding this progress very promising and beneficial.  I'm most pleased that I finally have a template on which to establish the game world's structural layout on both a rural and urban level.

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Worldbuilding Archive: Settlements

Part 1

I'll start with how I create settlements.

I start with a map from my 1952 Colliers Encyclopedia.  The only way I have of copying it at the moment is to take a picture with my phone, so please forgive the shadow and the slight fuzziness.  The map shown corresponds closely to this area of map that I've published.

I copy all the cities on the map into an excel file, with their corresponding 1952 population.  Then, one by one, I research them to find out when they were founded, how many times they were destroyed, defenestrated, plundered or suffered a plague, among other similar disasters that arise.  I find their latitude and longitude, and their elevation ... and with so many cities, which often have the same names as other places, I make mistakes.  That's why the "Bistrita" in my game world is located near Ramnicu-Valpes and not at the top, north of Reghin.  Most of the time, by the time I learn of the mistake, I decide not the fix it.  As I've said, it's "my world," not the real world.  Slight differences are interesting ... and, as it happens, helpful in a copyright dispute.

If a place hasn't been founded prior to 1650, I discount it.  Sineia and Slanic-Prahova, which are near Brasov/Stalin (1952, remember), are examples.  Mind you, this applies according to when I originally searched for the place.  Wikipedia adds data and changes founding dates all the time, so that searching for a place in 2005 might say that it was founded post 1650, whereas an article today might say it was founded in 1161.  I'm not going to check every location every day, so the existence of the settlement depends on when I happen to research it.  Many places, especially in Romania, were searched before Wikipedia was expansive.  I once used several textbooks and encyclopedias as my primary source.  Not that it matters at all how accurate I am.  If I found no data for when a place was founded, I left it in; I only removed places where the founding date was definitely listed as post 1650.

Next I would create a list like the one shown for each region.  This one is for Moldavia.  The upper list in white are places existing in 1650, according to my research.  The lower part in black with white lettering were founded after 1650.  The numbers are their population according to the Colliers Encyclopedia.  "TOTAL" means the total population of all cities.  "Region Pop. 1952" is the population of Moldavia as given by Colliers.

For some regions, occasionally, there would be no population figure.  In those cases, I would determine the average population of those cities below the median.  That is, of that the lower half of cities.  I'd then generate a random number between 1,000 and the bottom-median average.  I chose "1,000" because there were hardly any places on any map appearing in the entire lexicon of Collier's maps.  Of a place appeared on a map, about 99.99% would be listed as 1,000 people or more.  I tend to think those listed with less were typos.

Incidentally, letting the encyclopedia decide what cities were the most important seemed the best course of action.  Someone somewhere that was an expert in their field decided that these were the places in Romania that deserved representation.  I was willing to go along with that.

Next, I used a formula to calculate the 1650 populations for the existing places from the 1952 population.  Take Botosani; it was founded in 1350.  For it, I used the formula (1650 minus date founded) divided by 4000, multiplied by the 1952 population.  I chose "4000" since that represented the year 2,350 BCE.  There were cities that were founded prior to that date, but most of those had been deserted, abandoned or utterly destroyed, sometimes moved, up to or prior to that date.  For example, Jericho was founded somewhere around 8000 BCE.  It had also been destroyed more than a dozen times before Joshua was supposed to have destroyed it.  So, 4000 sounded like a nice easy number.

Botosani had 29,145 people in 1952.  (1650-1350)/4000*29145 = 2,186.

If a city had been razed or plundered or suffered a terrible earthquake of some kind, I reduced this population by 10%.  If it was plundered twice, then the total was multipled by 0.9 x 0.9.  If the city was destroyed, I reduced its population by half.

Here are the populations for Moldavian settlements using this formula. As can be seen, Bacau has more people than Botosani in 1952, but because it was razed twice, and founded slightly later, it's game population is reduced to 1,689.

During my research, I also look to find what name it was called in 1650.  That's why "Iasi" on the left is renamed "Jassy" in my game world.  If I couldn't find an alternate name, I went with the one I had.  "Piatra-Neamt" is probably two places, but I was unable to find when they were merged, so I left it be.

Calculating a settlement's population demands the founding date; so if I had no founding date, I took the average of those I could find.  For example, the average of the above is 1396.  I then divided the difference of this number from 1650 by 36 (which would be 1650-1396 =254, divided by 36 = 7.1).  I then rolled 6d6, multiplied by the product.  Thus, for example, if I rolled a 22 on 6d6, that's 22 x 7.1 = 156, +1396 equals 1552.  This would mean that places for which I couldn't find a founded date would always tend to be more recent (but not always) than settlements with confirmed founding dates.

I am discussing this at length to show the lengths I will go to establish a universal system that applies to EVERY settlement, everywhere.  And as it happens, it works very well.  If a huge city, like Manhattan, is founded in 1626, it gets a population of 11,748 — not far off the real number in 1650.

The next step is to take the total urban population of this last list, 17 908, and compare it with the total urban population of 1952, 402 761.  Notice I include those places that don't exist at all, since their population influences the total population of Moldavia in 1952.  We divide 17,908 into 402,761, and multiply that number by 2,782,182.  This gives us a population for Moldavia of 123,707.

Now, when I research each place, I also search for who the place belonged to in 1650.  All of Moldavia at that time was within the Ottoman Empire; as such, it was under the authority of an Emir.

Part 2

Now we can play some games.  Counting only the world that I've actually designed, using 1952 figures, the largest cities are, showing thousands of population, Berlin (4339), Moscow (4137), London (3390), Paris (2850), Cairo (2100), Vienna (1731), Hamburg (1712), Rome (1583) and Rangoon (1502).  Keep in mind that these are city populations, not metro, and that the way things were counted back then was slightly different from today, particularly with non-European places.  For example, I have a population figure of 1,490 thousand for Bombay, or Mumbai ... which surely has to have left a lot of people off the rolls.  Nonetheless, it's these figures I used to calculate my populations.

The largest cities of my game world are as follows, again in thousands of population.  I'll list the top 20.  Remember, these are according to my calculating system, so don't expect a perfect alignment with the real world in 1650.  I only include this for interest sake:

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)

Casablanca, Glasgow, Birmingham and Palermo are the most off, I think ... but really, it is just a game.  English population figures are always quite high, causing me to wonder somewhat about the original figures.  Casablanca was founded in 650 BCE, however, and was the leading city of the large Saadi Empire at the time of my world.  Baku was a major center of the Safavid Empire.  Italy was a heavily urbanised part of the world in 1650, even though it had lost its grip on incoming world trade by then.  All in all, the figures work ... and I leave them here as a suggestion for how large the reader might want to make their own cities.

Because Jericho was an empty field in 1650, it doesn't appear on the list of "oldest" cities in my game world.  Here's a list of the oldest twenty.  All founding dates are BCE:

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).

Not a very spectacular list.  Seemingly, anything really old just didn't catch on, long-term.  

As a last bit of play, counting only cities with an adjusted population above 5,000, here are my world's newest cities, date only (the largest of these is Bucharest, with 24,873).  Again, might as well include the top 20.  All dates are AD:

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.

Part 3 

One problem the reader will have in designating settlements is to answer, "How many?"  This isn't easy to answer.  The world as a whole is inconsistent on this matter.  The best I can do is to offer a series of examples and hope this imparts some of my experience to the reader.

All I can do is give examples:

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.

I guess we could say that regardless of the area, civilised places with a single settlement, or even just two, will be very tiny in size ... whereas large uninhabitable places will also have a minimum of settlements, just one or two.  All of Ireland in my world is carved into tiny pieces, with each individual settlement representing its own clan and, effectively, it's own country.  These pieces gang together to attack larger enemies, but then fall back into disputing every rock and rill that lays on their perceived boundaries.

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

If at all possible, I'd like to stress the idea that each part of the world represents a moment in time, in which a sequence of events have caused this place to grow and reach a kind of fruition, whereas that place hasn't reached fruition yet.  Take the two hexes shown: the type-5 on the right and the type-4 on the left.

Fifty years ago, the type-4 might still be a type-5 ... with the "village" of Dragasani being no better than the "hamlet," as we've discussed.  Fifty years from now, the type-5 may have expanded into a type-4.  But there's no certainty of either; each part of the world grows at a different rate, depending on circumstances and how much care has gone into it's development.  The consequence for the game's players is an understanding that every part of the game world should be progressive, as well as interactive.

In a video game, interactivity is limited by the game's intended representation, which is in turn influenced by how long the programmer wants to spend building interactive elements.  D&D doesn't require programming.  If the player wants to interact with any part of my game world on a moment's notice, I have the potential to immediately enable that interactivity.  Want to bash through a wall in Dark Souls?  The programmer has to think of it first.  Want to bash through a wall in my dungeon?  Have at 'er.  I'll figure out the consequence in seconds and we'll see what results.

[yes, of course many DMs prefer to treat RPG's like they're preprogrammed inviolable entities, but we don't need to be limited by them]

Therefore we can look at Dragasani's hex and see that it must have once been a type-5 ... except that now it's richer (+1 coin) and more developed (+1 hammer).  All type-4 hexes get this increase ... and the addition of a village ... leading us to define the village.

Like hamlets, there are villages and villages.  Type-4 is "entry level" ... a scattered collection of houses, hovels, gardens, nearby fields and mills — something like the image shown, but don't take such images too much to heart.  Images like this are designed to provide a general overview of different building forms ... but the ratio of homes would be far greater, the mill's wheel probably much smaller and without the magnificently built weir, and as far as manufactures not every village would feature specifically a blacksmith and a large stone house on the scale shown.  Artists have a tendency to embellish.  My goal is to convey the space found between the houses and structures, and to stress the absence of an enclosing wall.  In some parts of Europe, walls became the rage as a way to buffer sea raiders, who could row up a river and plunder towns far inland.  However, walls take time and lots of money to build and maintain — and the sort of village that occurs in a type-4 hex has neither.

There are four important advancements between the hamlets we've talked about and a "scattered" village.  The first is the making of surplus goods.  The handicrafts produced for local use in a hamlet reach a tipping point where enough of an article is being made that it's quantity is sufficient to be sent to distant parts.  Anything might be the "article" in question: tools, pots, blankets, polished gems, pressed oils, powdered dyes, frankincense, resin, honey, glass ornaments, carved bone, planks, wine, cheese, toys, ponies and hundreds of other things.  Saying this, however, we shouldn't imagine some great quantity of these things.  Two score polished gemstones of a size smaller than a pea, per year, would be a tremendous boon to a single village of 350 people.  Nor should we assume these things are made in "factories."  The making of fifty embroidered chemises a month might be work shared out between a dozen labourers working in ordinary local cottages, the work being done in parlours and bedrooms — the literal meaning of "cottage industry."  No single type-4 village is going to threaten the Potter's Guild of Delft, but as we can see from the map I've devised, there are dozens and dozens of little villages in one small corner of the Carpathian Mts. (and in real life, many more than I've depicted).  Combined, a given product produced in twenty villages and gathered together in a market town like Kronstadt or Jassy would matter on the world market.

Secondly, a village has traffic and tradeThe type-5 above has it's road (and many haven't that), but Dragasani is a minor crossroads.  Not enough to justify an inn (still only has two hammers), but certainly there are enough people passing by to create a slight demand for goods and services by outsiders.  This in turn culminates in a weekly "market day" ... which, traditionally, would happen on Sunday in Christian regions, opening once services were completed.  Sunday was best because as a "day of rest," the peasants were permitted to set down their labours, fill a cart with wares and drag them to the village greenspace.  Why this was not seen as "work" baffles me ... but the Sabbath was made for man and not the reverse, so the powers justified it somehow.  Nearby villages would agree to have different market days ... so that while Dragasani would have their market day on Sunday, nearby Strejesti (a larger type-3 village) would have two or three market days a week, none of them on Dragasani's day.  As the two villages are a mere 12 miles apart, vendors could drag their carts back and forth, benefitting from a unique group of buyers at each end of their journey ... while the locals could ask for things that a peddler might remember to bring next week or next month.

Thirdly, there's the likely presence of some kind of temple.  I don't like to say there will definitely be a singular building for this; or even that if the place of worship exists, there's certainly a priest to occupy it.  Priests pass away from old age all the time; and villages are often to poor to build more than a small shelter.  Many villages are serviced by priests who make a circuit of three or four parishes, preaching at each one no more than once or twice a month.  And some religions don't require temples in the same way that the Judeo-Christian culture does.  Therefore, there's plenty of wiggle room ... and opportunity for a player character cleric to be "assigned" to a distant village somewhere that needs a priest.  This would eliminate the need to build a temple, as the old player handbook requires.  Though this doesn't keep the player from expanding or rebuilding the local church once he or she arrives.

The temple's presence reflects the number of people.  I haven't said yet, but a village on the type-4 level would have between 200 and 400 residents ... though some of these would live in houses on the extreme village periphery.  Imagine instead a close cluster of 20 to 30 structures at the core, with 5-8 persons per structure ... and outlying this, a scattering of adjoined yards, paths, intermittent fields and the inclusion of wells, shrines, sawpits and all the stuff we've discussed being located in thorps and hamlets.  This greater number of people, plus those in walking distance whose cottages and hovels are definitely outside the village, makes giving a service to a congregation a worthwhile affair.  Most visitors wouldn't have any money to give; so the priest's livelihood depends on his or her ability to pull in distant people who come to hear a good performance ... creating a customer base for the village and thus a reason for the few wealthier artisans and landowners to fill up the priest's collection plate.  A poor performer wouldn't get much, for the same reason a bad circus plays to empty seats.

Finally, there is most likely the presence of some form of authority.  Not every slight village would be blessed with a "noble lord" ... but a wealthy squire is certain to have built an extensive house amidst a yard with stables, grape press, chandlery, loom and hired servants would likely be located adjacent to the village.  In fact, the squire — or the squire's ancestors — would be the reason the older type-5 hamlet became a village.  It has everything to do with that "care" I mentioned earlier.  A squire, who for general purposes we can think of as a financially liquid, educated individual with friends in high places, would have justification to provide capital to build roads, better mills and promote trade (the "coin" which the type-4 hex possesses).  He or she might be liked or disliked, but the money pouring outwardly through the neighbourhood would be taken and appreciated.  And in turn, the squire would have the power to exercise considerable will upon the locals by the withholding of that money, or the purchasing of people to deal with troublemakers.

In place of squires, we might have a baronet, invested for some service that was done to the monarchy.  Some villages may be entirely made of a single clan, so that the central authority might be a clan chief or a thane.  Other cultures have their equivalents.  It should be understood that any potentate with real clout or prestige through the land would certainly be found in a more important hex type, since their influence would increase the size and scope of the village and it's environs.  A type-4 is really a backwater among villages.

The exception is the type-4 settlement, like Vaslui here.  I've veered away from talking about settlements, doing little more than mentioning them in passing.  There's got to BE settlements because these determine the originating distribution of infrastructure, which in turn fills out the various villages, hamlets, thorps and wilderness that comprise the detailed map.  I've been asked specifically to discuss the placement of settlements, and that with other thoughts in my head deserves its own post, which I will attend to forthwith.  For the moment, consider Vaslui.  As a "settlement," it gets +1 coin, +1 food and +1 hammer.  This is more of any of these things than what we've seen so far ... and commensurately, this means more produce to be collected at harvest, special kinds of food that are produced throughout the year, a market that takes place on multiple days (like a type-3 hex), the presence of a permanent constabulary, a village hall and an inn.  More hammers means many more kinds of facility, which will need to be discussed eventually.  So, all in all, a considerable expansion beyond anything we've seen yet.  And all this for a village with a mere 665 residents.

In short, we've barely begun to discuss the enormous expansion of services and elements of worldbuilding provided by the game's urban setting ... a setting which is usually boiled down to one inn, one tavern and one market place.  As such, we have a long way to go yet.  So please understand, if it takes me five or six days to get a new post up, remember I have commitments and that I'm describing things which, honestly, I've never thought about myself on this level.  Like anyone else, I've trusted that I'll invent these things in the moment of gaming.  Structurally explaining and resolving each detail in concrete terms for the blog is a mental exercise that forces research and the expansion of my thinking.  It takes time and effort and very often, not a little doubt before I'm ready to dive in and do a good job.

And ... let me say firmly, thank you to everyone who supports me on Patreon.  It makes a terrific difference with regards to my enthusiasm and desire to work hard on this blog as often as I'm able.  You're great for helping.  Be good to yourselves and take care.  I'll try to get the settlements post up by Wednesday, maybe Thursday.  March has been something of a trial regarding my other responsibilities.

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Worldbuilding 5d: Way Stations & Shrines

With Part 1, I spoke of the emergence of gong pits, cemeteries and granaries.  We can continue from there, but first we have to justify which of things things are to be found in which hexes.

Now, obviously, the reader can organise his or her world in whatever manner that works.  My preference is to have the world tell me what to find there, rather than the reverse.  This way, I'm not making up everything on my own ... I'm employing a semi-independent program that does some of the thinking for me, so I can apply my thoughts to other problems.  This saves me time and bends my will towards the world's logic ... which keeps me fit and trim where creativity is concerned.  That is, I avoid inventing the same arrangement set over and over.

So, let's look at a type-6 and a type-5 hex, in keeping with our earlier post about hamlets.  The two hex-types are nearly the same, except that the type-5 possesses three food as opposed to two.  Since the symbols reflect a (1,0) number system, "three food" is more than double "two food" (7 vs. 3 in a 10-based number system).  This increase may appear due to the small strip of blue stream flowing through the hex, but no; all this land is well-watered throughout.  The type-5 hex indicates irrigation, extensive well-building, reduction of vermin and the surrounding of fields with low walls and fencing to keep out larger grazing animals.  In turn, this assumes the presence of rat-catchers and gamewardens, who protect the crops and manage wilderness populations.

Thus, if the player characters want to advance a type-6 hex to a type-5, there's the program installed in the infrastructure.  Get ready for a larger movement of harvested goods, build wells and walls, lay out irrigation, kill rats and deer, build a bigger mill, enlarge the cemetery, hire extra gong farmers and rat-catchers ... and, probably, introduce a local constable to handle disputes over property, location of walls, drunkeness, poaching and so on.  AND then inspire, in part with the above and also with ingenuity, a lot more people to move to your hex.  Because more than anything else, a type-5 hex has more people.

Here we see a modification to the above, brought about by the presence of water power.  The left hand map shows a river, not a stream, flowing through the type-6 and type-5 hexes.  The stream doesn't increase the amount of food produced, but it does increase the infrastructure for both, by one hammer.  Again, because of the (1,0) number system, two hammers is three times as much as one hammer (3 vs. 1 in a 10-based system).  This means enough development to build more than one mill.  Extra mills can be used for pounding cloth, sawing wood, smashing minerals, working suction pumps for water supply, churning butter, even to press bellows for making brick.  None of these things on the type-6 or type-5 level are extensive enough to create trade goods, but the presence of such things on a very small, local scale, for the local residents, form the beginning of the village that appears in type-4 hexes and the handicraft industries that eventually manifest with real growth.

This adjustment to the hex's life pattern also draws more visitors from the outside, who collect taxes, observe the state of development and consider investing capital ... as well as those squires and church-folk whose interest in the area urges them to act as intermediaries, taking their cut each harvest season.  This encourages someone to found a way station in order to serve passers-by moving on roads or pathways through the region.

A way station is like a campground — except that instead of helping the visitors get in touch with nature, the station is designed to protect the visitors from it.  A space of an acre or more is cleared off and made into a greenspace, surrounded by a windbreak made of fencing, shrubbery and trees.  This break encircles the property, enabling entrance by a single gate, which costs 2 copper pieces to enter.  The station includes amenities like a well for fresh water, possibly a corral that enables animals to get exercise, cut firewood, fire pits, a privy and plenty of space to park a wagon.  These things resemble a campground in many ways.

The way station also provides player characters plenty of opportunity to meet other people, learn about distant places, exchange goods in barter, do good deeds, couple up with other persons moving in the same direction as protection, learn about the best routes for travelling to their destination and in general make friends.  A way station also makes a good jumping off point for the wilderness, as the surrounding region tends to be less inhabited than that surrounding a village.

Other additional amenities might also be introduced, such as an actual barn, a natural pool for fishing or a hot spring.  The way station's owners may have built a stone house with a large kitchen that enables visitors to sit, buy hot meals or drink ... and there may even be a stone cabin or two for those ready to pay extra money to sleep indoors, provided they arrive before the cabins are taken.  The residents might have local cheese, spirits, minor cloth goods or tableware for sale, just as we'd expect with a curio-shop located along tourist routes.

Players might consider buying out a place like this and running it themselves, or building a permanent residence adjacent or across the road.  The way station makes a good stub for eventually starting a village.  There's nothing to stop players from physically willing a village into existence, even if the type of hex hasn't reached type-4 level.  This is exactly how a settlement like Campulung forms: heavy investment, which by-passes spontaneous growth in favour of founding a village whole.  Campulung has 601 people and adds 1 food, hammer and coin symbol to the type-6 hex (which would normally have 2 food and 1 hammer).  Though water power is lacking, Campulung is surrounded by mountains and serves as a transshipment point for ore and founded metal.

Making a settlement, as opposed to an ordinary village, requires an unusual find or the introduction of some unusual good or service.  But this is something that has to be covered later, when someday I get around to talking about trade, references and their relationship to worldbuilding.  At the rate I'm going, we should get there sometime around ... June?

I can't really say.

The added presence of local clergy inspires a different sort of "facility," though we rarely think of it that way in our non-supernatural world.  A real world example would be Lourdes ... but on a much, much smaller scale.  A shrine is "a sacred or holy space dedicated to a specific deity, ancestor, hero, martyr, saint, daemon or similar figure of respect."  For you and I, we visit a shrine for the sense of place and interest it offers.  But it stands to reason that a D&D shrine located where anyone might visit could have incorporated some kind of magical quality, from which visitors could benefit.

I created the sage ability, Seek Shrines, for precisely this purpose.  In essence, I was thinking of hidden shrines in the wilderness, which clerics could locate by feel and signs that only they could interpret.  The ability encourages the players to "hunt" for shrines ... with a day spent in each 6-mile hex to first comprehend whether a shrine exists there, and then another 5-20 hours to find it.  Once a shrine is located, it's presence is permanent; and each day they come back to it, the characters are able to take advantage of the shrine — or glade, sanctuary or holy crypt.  The players could thus create a "shrine map" of the game world, which they could share with others or keep wholly to themselves.

At present, it occurs to me that more "common" shrines might occur in any hex with two hammers ... offering a much weaker but yet beneficial degree of magic.  These "monoliths" might provide a +1 morale for any town resident within 300 ft., or have a 1 in 20 chance of healing an injury ... for those of the same religion as the monolith, or perhaps limited to town residents and those able to understand the proclivities of demi-gods.  There might even be a 2% chance of bringing back the dead, within a certain time period of course.  The presence of literally a thousand monoliths scattered throughout the nearby gameworld could allow for really unusual gifts, like a one-time increase in knowledge, a one-time vision, a one-time rush of experience or anything else that would make a pilgrimage of hundreds of miles really meaningful.  We might even insist that to gain the benefit — a full level, say — the individual must go to a "starting point", walk the whole distance of 763 miles, forego wearing armour or carrying weapons other than a dagger, eat poorly, sleep outdoors without a tent and so on, with the possibility that the character would actually die making the attempt.  And still, if the character were to do it, circumventing wandering monsters the whole way, it would be both well-worth the gained level and memorable as an adventure ... particularly since each character could attempt it only once, and that the benefit would be greater for the 7th level trying to be 8th, than the 1st level trying to be 2nd.

I think that about covers it.  

Monday, March 14, 2022

Map Redux

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.