Thursday, November 26, 2015


In answer to the problem discussed on this post, I think I may have a solution.

Let's start with the original map of Harnia:

The idea is to divide the region above into parts, recognizing that the population of gnomes in the entity is much higher than it would have had were it human.  This is to manage problems of tech levels for non-humans, all of which are relegated to empty parts of the real world where territory size is large precisely because those areas are empty.  Since those territories are not empty in my game world, it follows that some of them should include parts with smaller borders.

The first step is to determine where those smaller borders should be.  I believe this should be based upon what rivers exist.  Because my maps features rivers in the center of each hex, rather than each edge, the map can be drawn along hex boundaries/ridges that separate the valleys from each other politically.  Then we can make a few adjustments:
  • any valley without a town can be added to the next valley, preferably the one that causes the different territories to keep the most globular shape possible
  • ensuring roads cross as few borders as possible.
  • assigning towns on the ridges to empty valleys, when possible.
  • retaining previously created boundaries, even where those boundaries cross rivers.

Here's Harnia, so divided, below:

This gives us 7 sections.  1 to 5 are sections of Harn, while 6 & 7 are the two sections of Seraphina.  The small tail of the valley of the Garl river, in Seraphina, is given over to Section 6 because - while part of the river flows through Harn/Section 3, it then flows through Section 6 again.  And it makes the two regions more globular in shape, whereas awarding that one hex to Section 7 would give the section a straggly tail.

We have two examples where more than one center is in a given section: the city of Harn includes the town of Taladuin ('n' is cut off) in Section 4, while both Durrin and Bodumis of Section 6 are in the same hex.  All other five sections have only one town.

Well, right off, Bortrun is a market (as is Harn) and therefore deservedly should be seen as a separate province.  I already divided it economically in the Spring of 2015, so it makes sense now to divide it politically as well.

This leaves four sections in Harn.  We want to retain previously existing boundaries, so Seraphina is another issue.  We have two choices for what to do with Harn's four sections:

Option 1. We can roll a d4 to determine how many there are, then randomly join them together.  If we do this and we roll a '1', then all four sections become a single province, or thane.  On a '4', we get four separate thane.

On a '2', we can roll further dice to determine which thanes join with which.  Sections 1 & 4 or 3 & 2 are out, since we want to keep that globular necessity - but 4 could join with 2, leaving 3 & 1 together; or 4 could join with 3, leaving 2 & 1 together.

On a '3', we just have to roll odd man out.  That might even be 3, as 1, 2 & 4 are reasonably globular without it.

Option 2. Give preference to the most populous section and combine less populous sections together.  This contributes to offering the best possible tech level for preferred sections while relegating other areas to hinterland status.

This can be based on the comparative population of the different towns (which will be the deciding factor on how many people are in each section.  See this table below:

Sorry, this is a table I use so often, I forget that it lacks headings.  The first column next to Haraduin is the year the town was founded, 787.  Haraduin's population is 2,158.  It is at latitude 52.47 N and at longitude 44.22 E.  It is at an elevation of 620 feet.

The city of Harn is so much larger than the other centers in the Harn Zone that it dwarfs them.  Haraduin, Taladuin, Tarrum and Vallin are just big villages.  If one of them were much bigger, say Bortrun's size (13,788), then they might deserve their own section - but they aren't, so it makes some sense to put Harn's section by itself while putting the other three together.

It could look like this:

I've made a few adjustments, giving the south central ridge to the West March but keeping the north ridge to Harn, being nearest to the big city.  I've also taken the lowest hex from the Bortrun section, given that it is closer to Taladuin, on the same plain that Harn and Taladuin occupy.  Bortrun is 400 feet higher up the valley, inconvenient for cartage.  And it makes Bortrun much smaller.

Seraphina is a less interesting issue.  Using Option 2, the two regions both exist, as Seraphis is a large village of 2,185 whereas Bodumis and Durrin are, together, only 960.  This would give section 6 a total population of 20,133 and section 7 a population of  45,824.  Unfortunately, even if I give the whole ridge to the small villages, section 7 still covers 13.4 hexes (note the hex where it only controls the left bank of the river), giving it a density of 3,419.  This is only good enough for tech 10.  With the ridge being part of Seraphis, it's a density of 2,975, or tech 9. 

What about the other three new provinces?
  • The West March has 40,736 people and covers 24 hexes, for a density of 1,697 = tech 9
  • Bortrun has 71,230 people and covers 4 hexes, for a density of 17,807 = tech 12
  • Harn has 252,892 people and covers 14 hexes, for a density of 18,063 = tech 12

So, at the end of all this, frustration.

It occurs to me, as well, that if I give that ridge to Seraphis, then that would make section 7 the same tech as section 6.  I might just as well leave all of Seraphina as one thane.  Seems that should be a determining rule, too, in whether or not an entity is subdivided. 

I have made the tech level for part of the territory higher, but not sufficient to obtain that golden 15 intelligence necessary for the illusionist to exist in the territory.


When I think of it, that 15 intelligence requirement for the illusionist always did seem ridiculously high . . .

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The High End of Backward

One of the features I truly like about this tech system I'm writing is that it isn't based on a European metric.  This means the trials and benefits of civilization can potentially exist anywhere that a smaller bordered region is heavily populated - say, India, Burma or Arabia, despite the usual thinking of these places being backwards.  The key is in the size of the territory - a smaller territory will almost certainly mean a higher density, for someone at some time in history felt that this tiny region was as large as it needed to be.

This lets me paint such areas as 'islands' of technological development in an otherwise less established outland.  For an example I haven't published yet, the territory of Agra - where the Taj Mahal has been more or less completed in my world, with some minor work still ongoing - has a tech level of 17.  It only occupies 4.4 hexes.  This, however, makes the region perfectly suited for a highly civilized Indian campaign.  Nearby Hindustan, 14 million people and 187 hexes, has a tech level of 14 . . . which I find quite acceptable, even enjoying the fact that a significant portion of India is far more advanced than parts of Spain, France or Germany recognized for their technical contributions.

That's because the system I'm developing isn't based on military glory or technological supremacy, but upon culture and interpersonal associations.  Hindustan in the 17th century was absolutely unconquerable by the West; most of the people did read and write, were well-versed in their social responsibilities and completely content with their roles.  It would be more comfortable for you or I to dwell in 17th century Delhi than in 17th century Florence, also a tech 14 region.

High Tech
Naturally, there's a certain preconception that would have to be overcome with players, steadfastly seeing everything not quintessentially American or British as perceptually appalling.  That's comes from our perception of India having been based on a 19th & 20th century colony of England, where laws were passed that denied the population control and 'immoral' behaviour that had kept India stable for centuries.  Admittedly, part of that population control did include a number of massacres, that I remember reading extensively on when I was researching the kingdom to make my map.  But hey, massacres happened in Europe too, remember?

It isn't like any of the world at this time was peaceful and light.  Heck, absolute monarchy wasn't intellectually challenged until 1690.

Technology 11

This is the seventh in a series of posts intended to provide a technological framework for my world. The purpose of this framework is to create unique, regional settings for player interaction. A realistic simulation of the actual world is not a goal of this system and will not be given credence when approving comments.

Regions with a technology of 11 will have an average population density of 7,001 to 12,950 per 20-mile hex.  This includes the following regions, shown on this table:

151 regions.  This technology accounts for 3,517 hexes of my world, occupied by 34,756,621 humanoids.  Only 1,484,873 of these are non-human.

Available Technologies

See tech 10.  One thing about finishing these tech levels, I find myself wanting to get started on the next one, as I'm no more sure about what the next change is going to be than the reader is.  I'm very pleased that each level seems to a) be very different from the previous level; and b) relate directly to changes that ought to be made to troubles/problems created with the earlier technology.  That's a continuity I didn't plan for but seems to present itself at each stage as I go forward.

Tech 11 technologies are as follows:

Mathematics & Engineering.  I feel both deserve to be considered one and the same for the world at this tech level.  Fortifications proliferate, particularly in rural parts of the region, as nobles seek to solidify their power.  Fresh water is piped into the city from outside, deeper wells are dug (both for water and for the purpose of mining in the outer districts), while quays and wharves expand the capacity of ports to service shipping.  Temples and palaces reach impressive proportions, as do libraries, law courts, market squares and mills.  Dams and bridges are a distinctive feature of the rural and urban landscape.

Calendar.  Farms will grow more interested in growing crops that will produce wealth (particularly fibres) rather than food, beginning to challenge the self-sustainability of the region.  Taxes are now leveled on a yearly basis and rents paid monthly, while work among the lower classes in urban areas is regulated by clocks that chime from clock towers.

Optics.  Developments in naval tactics allow for signalling between ships and widespread use of telescopes for communication, along with improvements in cartography.  The region's shipbuilders will make three-masted ships able to cross the Atlantic, Pacific or Indian oceans.  Whaling is carried out by many ships.  The accuracy of firing siege engines is higher than at lower tech levels.

Literature.  With the widespread building of libraries and entrenched education of the young, at least 10% of the population is able to read the plethora of books that are bought and owned in the region.  The audience is caught up in a tradition of folk stories and morality tales, encouraging a large portion of the population to see corrupted persons as undeserving and malevolent.  Ideas of chivalry, love, the repudiation of villainy and the pursuit of goodness present themselves as enemies to the corruption in cities, challenging the status quo.

Assassination.  Whereas I mentioned in tech 10 that assassination had become a profession, it isn't until this tech that it becomes a 'power'; characters need an intelligence of 11 to become assassins.

Lifestyle - Rural

The countryside of this tech is defined by large estates that have gobbled up the small manor farms that once existed.  Since the size of these estates is greatly increased, often with areas up to half a hex in size, the environs are not so closely managed as smaller estates would be.  Thus the outlying edges of their domains tend to be loosely managed, making travel easy for players so long as they avoid the most carefully watched fields or estate works.

Upon the environs, family clans, sometimes operating as brigands, will join together in protective allegiances, paying their rents and subtly growing crops or gathering the land's resources to sell to the many villages or towns nearby.  This is often overlooked without much concern, since the lord, too, is making a great deal of money and the small pickings of these groups can be too much trouble to roust out.

When brigandage happens, the dwellers in one lord's land will often travel a great distance to be sure and strike in land controlled by someone else; sometimes, booty will be divided with the lord's agents, so that the lord will overlook their activities and even provide them with a degree of protection (not playing the lord's hand, of course).  These arrangements will sometimes grow to be generational.

In areas nearer to the lord's personal domain, villages carry forward a small industrial existence.  Gangs of up to a hundred will work a field together, mine the hills, build infrastructure, drain swamps, clear forests, beachcomb or whatever labor is needed.  There are always a half dozen overseers for these activities, present and very aware.  Laborers under the control of the lord do not work alone or in small numbers.

Adventurers abound, spurred by the tales of knights, ladies, magic and the protection of the innocent.  Many of these tend to be dreamers rather than practical souls - some on the scale of Don Quixote - but a few will be experienced.  Their presence, however, tends to make the population, even the lords themselves if they are directly approached, interested in an adventurer's tales or what an adventurer's quest may be.  Many will be helpful, so long as their own power isn't challenged.

Because the growing of food is on the decline, periods of extensive famine can severely hurt the poorer districts in the region (and the towns and cities).  Indifferent lords do not share food when it is scarce, so that it can happen that hundreds or thousands can die of starvation in bad years.

Lifestyle - Urban

Towns and cities both become defensive strongholds, sometimes on a grand scale.  Cities may show signs of having to expand their walls to include more residents - which will have the effect of disallowing much of the corrupted town from gaining access into the more 'civilized' portion of the city.  This inner district may only be accessible by writ and it may even be necessary to be met at the gate by an indentured servant or agent before entrance will be allowed.

Private gardens surrounded by walls become common, with many palaces owned by merchants and lords being also being fortified.  Lower districts will be squalid and the residents treated with disdain; the law has become so oppressive that mass executions intended to end rebellion are seen as a necessary measure to keep the peace.  Press gangs roam the streets looking for vulnerable persons, particularly drunks or anyone too poor to find a place for the night, being paid fees for every head they can find.  As such, many of the vice-directed professions will hand over clients, deadbeats or troublesome persons to the press gangs for a piece of this fee, rather than commit murder.  Some places in the red light district (now several streets) do a booming business in subtly removing a person's defenses in order to make them sailors, soldiers or wage slaves.  Of course, in some parts of the world, complete slavery is a common thing.

Outside the walls (and often inside), every available space is dedicated to the growing of food.  The 'suburbs,' then, feature scattered dwellings growing vegetables, fruits and tubers, all of which provide the best potential food mass per acre.  This is delivered to the gates, where carters collect it to take inside to the urban dwellers daily.  Travel in and out of the town is rare, as the guards will often turn away people, regardless of their ability to pay the exorbitant fees to enter.

Government & Military

In most ways this is unchanged from tech 10, except for an increased interest in naval maneuvers, where the region meets the sea.  Sappers and artillerists are a bigger feature of the standing army.  The rural lords have an greater power with the monarch, being that they control so much more territory individually, while urban lords tend to look more inwardly with regards to their problems.  There is a certain resistance in the latter to turn over wealth, though of course the greater number of men are collected from the towns and cities.


I know that it is probably getting difficult remembering the individual tech levels, as they tend to blur together.  Allow me to quickly run over them again:

Tech 5.  Nomadic, living in tents.  Villages are impermanent, with a steadily changing population, in fords and established exchange points.

Tech 6.  Agricultural, with villages wholly dedicated to farming.  No artisans, leadership is clan and tribal based.  Some mining.

Tech 7.  Towns feature workshops for simple manufactures, with less emphasis on farming.  Councils gather to make decisions while religion remains a personal choice.

Tech 8.  A widening of the gap between rich and poor, money is common, inns and taverns as well, with caravans.  Towns and the military are run by autocratic rule, with little law or restraint.

Tech 9.  Writing and law helps make towns more open, though the rural districts are increasingly oppressed.  Artisans and the religious become the most visible urban influences.

Tech 10.  Feudalism shuts down the rural countryside completely, while towns grow corrupt and full of filth, disease and dangerous vice.

Hope that helps.

In The Gap

"There are two opposing armies drawn up on the field, but there's a heavy fog.  They can't see each other.  Oh, they want to of course, very much.  You are in the gap between them.  You can just see us.  You can just see them.  Your mission is to get near enough to see them to signal their position to us, so giving us the advantage - but if in signaling their position to us you signal our position to them, it is they who will gain a very considerable advantage.  That's where you are, Quiller.  In the gap."

The Quiller Memorandum, 1966

The principle success in any mission that involves intrigue is the lack of certainty surrounding what to do.  If the players in an adventure thriller are certain they know what the next step should be, then the adventure isn't thrilling at all.  The thrill is in stumbling around in the dark, trying to do the right thing, never knowing for certain if they're going to avoid doing the wrong thing.

How does the reader, as a DM, learn how to make this possible?

See the right sort of movies.  Read the right sort of books.  Multiple times.  Try to learn something.


I wrote this last night, before I went to bed, and now I am regretting it.  That sounds horribly pretentious and lazy - not to mention confrontational.  I believe that I wrote it this way because of an earlier argument I'd had with a very young hipster who feels that No Country For Old Men is the greatest movie ever made.

I was reaching for the premise that some works cannot be fully grasped in one go - and that very often what we think we're seeing is only the veneer of the plot that hides the importance of what's happening between characters.  The Quiller Memorandum (video here) has always been this for me because the story itself is very simple and - as people have described it to me - painfully slow.  Like endlessly waiting for the other shoe to drop, only to find that it never does.  That is because the plot is immaterial to the purpose of the film.  It is really a study more than a story; an in-depth examination of the way people in dangerous situations must expose themselves, being vulnerable, before anything can be discovered - with the expectation that they will lose everything.

I think good role-playing is that.  The recognition that keeping safe is not the key; and at the same time, approaching the issue cautiously, rationally and with every expectation that failure will probably mean an unfair or undeserved demise.

I know I cannot properly convey that feeling, as it comes from my gut while I watch or read something that is meant to challenge my preconception.  I sense the realization rather than find myself forming it in words.  A hard confession for a writer to make.

Anyway, it came out badly last night as I tried to punch that sentiment rather than hand it over gently.  I apologize.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Technology 10

This is the sixth in a series of posts intended to provide a technological framework for my world. The purpose of this framework is to create unique, regional settings for player interaction. A realistic simulation of the actual world is not a goal of this system and will not be given credence when approving comments.

Regions with a technology of 10 will have an average population density of 3,334 to 7,000 per 20-mile hex.  This includes the following regions, shown on this table:

152 regions, scattered through every part of my world.  This technology accounts for 3,860.3 hexes of my world, occupied by 18,800,751 humanoids.  Only 1,409,396 of these are non-human.

Available Technologies

See tech 9.  I don't have much to say at this point, so let's get right into it.

Feudalism.  Because all my world takes place in 1650, many of the lower techs have had a sort of land tenure, but with this tech the peasantry are fully enslaved to the land.  Rural land is now wholly ruled over by manors - even remote areas in the territory are owned by someone.  No person, anywhere, can set up in the wilderness without eventually butting up against an authority.  At the same time, titles among the nobility are now fixed and rigorously managed - so that the monarch or the oligarchy has the power to strip a person of their privilege and their land if fealty is not properly given.  At lower tech levels, this would have to be done through a civil war; at tech level 10, a given lord would willingly let themselves be deposed, knowing they'd receive no support.  Of course, disputes over heredity, like the War of the Roses, are still possible.  In rural areas and for war, the long bow becomes a terror weapon, largely wielded by peasants.  

Construction.  Roads throughout the region improve and are maintained continuously.  Arenas for sport or games appear in many cities.  Towns and cities have built walls, separating the inner city (trading, upper classes) from the exposed suburbs.  Private walls can be found around homes and gardens, along with specific neighborhoods, to segregate some populations (particularly foreigners).  Siege engines are placed on walls and used in wars and elephants become platforms for missile warfare.  Griffs are trained and raised in cots.  Public buildings and temples are recognizably more ornate and profound than lower tech levels and palaces are popular.  Manor houses grow large but castles are reserved for a higher tech level.

Machinery.  The primary influence is the industrialization of the rural, as manors begin building much bigger mills that are run on water and wind-power (those of tech 9 would be largely manual and small).  Artisans are supported by lords and can be found in hamlets associated with manors, churning out materials for the lord's benefit and accumulation of wealth.  Crossbows, requiring less practice to use, are the preferred missile weapon for urban infantry.

Compass.  The two-masted brigantine can be found as the preferred ship, a square-sail and lateen sail together, while deep water travel defines both the merchant and military fleets.  Ports are full of foreigners, who are more respected there than inland.

Currency.  Coins are minted locally.  Usury is a common practice but is usually available only to those with credit.  Bonds, partnerships, promissary notes, monopolies, the transfer of debt and foreign investment are common features of the economy.  Markets cease to be haphazard collections of peddlers and sellers and traders become a class unto themselves.  It requires a license to sell goods openly; players are permitted only to sell their goods to traders at a pre-set price.

There would be other adjustments to magic, based on sage abilities, but as those are not well defined at this point, I reserve the right to let these go for the present.  I'm definitely feeling a stronger pressure to do something about at least getting a total outline of all sage abilities (they are taking far longer to define one by one than I would have ever dreamed).

Lifestyle - Rural

This is fairly well defined already by the existence of calcified feudalism.  Players travelling through rural areas would encounter haywards, reeves, wardens and a host of residents that would make harassment of strangers common.  On the other hand, the lowest peasants would tend to be more forgiving of outlaws and less likely to turn players over to the authorities.

Even a well-built road might turn out to be private, so players should recognize that the manor lords may not be forgiving - at all - of interlopers who would be seen as thieves, saboteurs, agitators or some other threat to the established money-making machine the lord has set upon upon the domain.  Any movement off road, therefore, should be pursued carefully, exactly the same way one might case a house.  For those who know the land well, it is easy to discover tracks or signs that someone has been moving through even a forested rural area who shouldn't be there.  Of course, a ranger might cover the party's tracks . . .

Lifestyle - Urban

The restrictions on rural life has turned towns and cities into places where refugees would desire to go - so these have built walls to keep such riff raff out.  Fees to enter the town walls are designed to deny entrance to those without wealth, though they cannot be so high that it restricts trade.  Still, any rural dweller able to steal or accumulate enough to enter a town immediately sets out to remain there, creating a considerable unemployed population.  This is made worse by the intense competition that now exists between various artisans (a guild still has not been established) as different groups fight to obtain a monopoly over various products.

Workshops and artisans have begun to take over large parts of the inner city, moving their processing inside the walls to avoid fees for entering the towns, creating considerable amounts of filth.  Now a significant part of the people are employed in the management of this filth: gong farmers, haulers, rat catchers, collectors of the dead, gravediggers and so on.  Clean water becomes a premium, regularly hauled into the city.  Disease is rampant.  Slums are everywhere

Those unable to get work turn to desperate activities.  Seasonal workers are indigent and threatening at times, beggars are supported by gangs, assassination becomes a profession (but not a class, not yet), as does widespread prostitution, gambling, fencing of goods and forgery of paper, permitting movement around the city or past the walls.  These activities are taken over by corrupt authorities, who protect their existence rather than taking steps to end it.


The oligarchy has formed themselves into a legitimate body with which the monarchy must now share power.  The nobility is above the law of the lower classes, but every strata of society has their own set of values and rules that they must follow.  Oppression and exploitation of the lower classes is the norm.

The nobles in particular will be remote in their activities, preferring to do everything through agents, who in turn will seek to recruit anyone who will further the nobles' power.  Foreigners are popular recruits, as they are expendable and unknown entities.  Hiring mercenaries to commit oppressive acts against enemies of the upper classes is normal.  The party, if they establish themselves for more than a few weeks, are certain to be approached - after all, if the party does something nasty, the noble involved is untouched, the agents are protected by the nobles and everyone hates foreigners anyway.

Players can make good money if they don't mind beating up or killing innocents or agitators.


The state, now organized, is getting interested in using the military to affect the actions of foreign territories or acquire power in foreign theatres (recognizing that we're defining another province in the same empire or kingdom as 'foreign').  Obviously, these warmongers would prefer to attack lower tech levels, but population is a consideration and often a tech 9 or 8 region can be much larger and more populace than one of tech 10.

On the other hand, a tech 11 to 13 region might be much smaller and vulnerable . . . but as there are many tech 10 regions that are interested now in foreign policy (along with all the other techs above 10), the higher tech lands tend to play these off against each other.  There are so many 'players' in the game that interest in maintaining a level of stability in order to achieve long-term goals has become the order of the day.  Figuring out what these alliances are and how to exploit them forms a potential campaign full of intrigue for higher level players, if this is what interests them.


This is a very dirty tech level.  Many of the techs above this one include 'reforms' to control some of the problems that are occurring, though others will of course make things worse.  The trick in developing higher tech levels from here, I can see, are founded more upon the problems created by the technologies rather than the solutions.  Disease, for example, or the rattling of sabres.

I've been thinking about the cost of entering a town or city - I've always felt that a gold piece was just too small an amount (particularly since the party can easily afford it).  I wonder if it shouldn't be an amount so onerous that no one in the world would willingly pay the money.

One way to control it for the players might be to limit the cost upon things like being a resident of the territory or town (show papers), writs of free travel (show papers), "Do you intend to wear that armor or carry those weapons inside the walls" (that's gonna cost you), "Do you have a spellbook to declare?" (oo, expensive) and so on.

Perhaps I could build a system that enabled a low-level, unarmed, familiar person to pay 1 s.p. to enter while charging the party 40 g.p. per person.  Sounds like fun.

Monday, November 23, 2015


I just want to pause and take stock of the tech levels so far.

Early in this process, I had a faction of respondents who suggested that I should subdivide those first tech 5 regions into multiple technologies - to reflect that a single region, especially one as large as the Lungos Nad example I gave, should be more than one technology.  By now, with hundreds of regions now accounted for, ranging in tech levels from 5 to 9, I wonder if it can be seen now why I wouldn't want to subdivide this issue still further into sub-regions (and presumably, sub-sub-regions . . . oh, where would it end?)

I have about 33 remaining technologies to spread among the remaining 9 tech levels - though I can improve that by updating various lower technologies (separating 'agriculture' from 'irrigated agriculture', for example) and adding in things associated with magic - say, the creation of magic items.

I've been thinking about the relationship between tech levels and the percentage of leveled persons, as well.  While there are 619 regions with a tech level between 10 and 14, there are only 96 of 15 and above - and I like the idea that most of the residents of those higher tech levels would be actually leveled.  There are only 10 entities with an 18 technology, and all of those are free cities in either Germany or Italy, being 1/10th of a hex in size with 99,000 or more in population.  Why not make a completely leveled population as a distinctive feature of those places?

That would certainly give the players pause before entering such places, putting them somewhat on edge.  And on edge is where I like my players to live.

As technologies climb, it only follows that the level of civilization would become less comfortable for adventuring.  Population and densities climb, there are more potential enemies around, loaded up with weapons and magic . . . it is only natural that if the players start something, there are going to be plenty of personages around to put the hammer down.

In many ways, I can see the players preferring to retreat to the lower tech levels, where they can reasonably count on being the toughest fish in the pond, free to operate as they like without a lot of intrigue, accountability or social mores.  Then again, some players like that sort of thing - and since my world is a buffet, the fish can swim into whatever troubles personally suit them.

All I want is a much clearer glass to demonstrate what's going on where, so that the players can fine-tune their own experience to the sort of environment in which they'd like to play - with the freedom to drift from one end of the scale to the other without my having to do it for them.  It really makes a mess when the world shifts radically from one extreme to the other, attempting to keep every kind of campaign in the same space.

Letting the players do that, taking up their stuff and moving when it suits them, gives them greater power to create a narrative that works their way.  Me, I'm happy to manage whatever campaign they like.

This is perhaps a major reason why I don't get bored with 'one' campaign after ten years - because I'm not running a heterogeneous world.  I'm running a multi-world, with as many variations all in one place as a score of DMs running a very fixed and narrow concept-driven campaign.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Technology 9

This is the fifth in a series of posts intended to provide a technological framework for my world.  The purpose of this framework is to create unique, regional settings for player interaction.  A realistic simulation of the actual world is not a goal of this system and will not be given credence when approving comments.

Regions with a technology of 9 will have an average population density of 1,588 to 3,333 per 20-mile hex.  This includes the following regions, shown on this table:

This technology accounts for 4,882.6 hexes of my world, occupied by 11,629,904 humanoids.

Available Technologies

See tech 8.  I can see from the tech tree I'm working from that already the total number of technologies before the deadline (too technical to exist in my world) are running out.  The developments from here on must become more refined - but the goal remains to retain the distinctiveness of these cultures (above) from those with more or less technology.

I'm adding these for tech 9:

Metal Casting.  This brings in a considerable number of changes, particularly for war.  Suddenly there are many different weapons: flails, maces, hammers, pole arms, sabres and various designed weapons for fighting more effectively from horseback.  And metal armor!  I'm limiting the options st this tech level to scale and chain mail, arguing that more elaborate armor requires better training, schooling (and possibly guilds, which don't exist at this level).

Skirmishers.  The tech sees a lot of raiding by horseback, as archers on horseback (using a shorter, more easily managed bow) proves superior to the disorganized cavalry of this and lower tech levels.  Of course, such tactics are more limited in woodland areas - though there is a general improvement in military tactics, as soldiers are trained to act as a unit despite minimal communication.

Writing.  Since the whole world occurs in the same time period, the 'alphabet' technology can be skipped - particularly as I have only one language in my world, common (decision of the gods and my inability to adequately create the illusion of alternate languages in game play).  Writing brings a great host of changes, with developments in social reform and the law, the codification of religion, writs for property and privilege, the development of spellbooks enabling magic to be taught and spread through the region, a call for tutoring and schooling and opportunities to learn more about the outside world.  All these things together help to make the region a safer, less threatening place to outsiders that tech 8 presented - but of course it also makes the individuals in the population more equipped to be personally threatening.

Priesthood & Magic.  Schooling produces a significant number of persons able to cast spells.  I had considered limiting this tech level to only first level spells, but after some thought I think it would be better to leave this alone; however, I think the number of higher level casters would be diminished enough that players would have access to obtain only the use of 1st level spells and cantrips from non-player churches or magi - identify, remove curse, cure light wounds and so on.  With each increase in tech levels, then this availability would be increased by one level.

Lifestyle - Rural

With the presence of schooling being limited to the urban areas, the rural areas would acquire their reputation for being full of ignorant, easily dismissed persons.  Everything about this technology level serves to oppress the countryside: with the fixing of property lines where agriculture goes on, we have the appearance of 'no trespassing' signs everywhere.  Whole forests are sectioned off and made private reserves for hunting.  Poaching becomes a severely punished crime.

The wealthy landowners now have personal militias that are armed and armored in ways the peasants cannot compete against, so oppression of peasant privilege and freedoms commences.  Peasants are still free to travel, sell their land, sell their goods in town - but now they must pay rents.  And sorry to say, jus primae noctis is in full swing (despite certainty by modern historians - typical - that it never existed).

Still, for the most part, peasants simply keep their heads down and live their lives as their tech 8 cousins do; upward mobility is gone, the local tavern is strictly watched by spies of the landowners (who no longer appear in these establishments) and homes are well cared for, with a few more luxuries: metal jugs, glass decanters, a small fireplace with pots (cooking is done indoors now) and communal smokehouses, mills, reliable wells and even the occasional artisan who would rather dwell in the country than the city.

Lifestyle - Urban

With the advancement of writing and law, the personal armies of town leaders and the monarchy are gone, replaced by guardsmen and militia who receive their wages solely by taxation of the wealthy.  Pressure is put on the regional leaders by the oligarchic coalition to maintain order (good for business) over personal privilege.  Moreover, because it is impossible to tell who on the street may be a personal friend of which important person, a practice has developed to treat everyone somewhat politely - just in case.

The children are gone off the street.  There are still apprentices and helpers in shops, but now town children are given moderate tutoring and with it they work as messengers, serving boys, cabin boys, mineworkers and endless other tasks that keep them busy.  Contrariwise, beggers - safe now from summary execution - are common.  They are regularly rousted out of some parts of the town but they inevitably congregate in areas where they can annoy vendors, foreigners and 'happy' persons emerging from one of the taverns.  For game purposes, it's presumed the players know how to deal with these persons (without having to role-play it every time), but it should be noted that they are there to serve as witnesses to crimes committed, easy victims if a little human blood is needed and so on.

With property taxes and some town planning, bad neighborhoods have been torn down and various streets widened into avenues, making these towns less congested.  With a rise in awareness of the outside world, there is a greater interest in luxuries and oddities, along with curiousity, so that foreigners tend to be treated as interesting persons rather than threats.

All about the towns will be seen two-story, even three-story buildings, warehouses, public kitchens, armories, areas inside the city where processing is done (including slaughtering) and signs for potential disease in various aspects like the filling of graveyards on the edge of town, cremations, the haulage of gong and so on (populations are rising), for even if the town itself has a population of only 6,000, the number of visitors on a particular day may double that number during the afternoon.  Bathing in some parts of the world is done en masse in rivers or ponds near the town or city.

Religious signs, practices, peoples, temples, preaching and pressure by strangers to convert or repent are uncomfortably common for those used to lower tech levels.  The local population is indifferent, even approving, though most will not take any part in this themselves.  Some towns are now religious centers where this behaviour is exacerbated by thousands of pilgrims.

Competition is becoming vicious, with some persons actually sabotaging others - though the law prohibits this.  As vigilantism has declined, disputes are settled in law courts, usually one large building in a town or several such in a city.  Theft and secretive murder is common.  Family disputes are still settled outside the law.


I've already covered a lot of this above, but just a word or two about players in this maelstrom; generally, the players should be informed that any action they take in a town or city is likely to be witnessed, reported and consequently dealt with very seriously.  While summary execution by mob or soldiers is a tech 8 thing, the law courts are quick to apply severe tortures, removal of limbs or yet execution for anyone without friends in the neighborhood caught behaving badly.

More and more, as tech levels rise, players should view the region (particularly the town) as a place where they should choose their fights, seek information, get involved in intrigue and behave very carefully.  Unless acting with the support of the local authorities (or some group that can ensure the party's well-being), going at things without much planning or thought is bound to get them in very hot water.

Thus, before adventuring in a town, get to know the government first, get to know what's allowed, get some friends, establish residence and then move forward towards a conclusion.

It is recognized that this will make tech 9 and above towns somewhat less appealing to many adventurers - but at the same time, people in these towns know things and have resources that more borderland territories do not.


Given the technology described above, with all sorts of weapons and armor, the military of a tech 9 area will act quite close to what D&D usually assumes.  Above tech 9, I hope to introduce military practices that D&D normally doesn't account for - stuff from my sage abilities plans.  I'll just have to see how that goes.

I should add that levels will be more common among people, since many have gone off into the world and come back, from sailing journeys, wars, errands for business and the monarchy, far flung caravan trips to buy luxuries and so on.  Players shouldn't presume that their opponents are mere weapons fodder.  A 'typical' guard may well be 5th or 6th level.


This tech level, I think, is what most people usually assume a D&D world is like (with a few exceptions that will be introduced with higher tech levels).  Personally, I think the steady development in techs is progressing nicely.  I really like that all the weapons come into play at this point and that the people in towns are now a lot smarter and self-aware.

Regarding the levels thing.  I feel I need to point out that experience isn't a limited resource.  When a character acquires experience, whether through combat or injury, there's no depletion of the amount of experience still out there in the world.  Therefore, a whole town of 3,000 persons all attaining 1st level is really just a matter of sustained training, enthusiasm, resource management and time.  There is absolutely no legitimate reason why any town with the will couldn't simply organize themselves accordingly and manage the feat.

This is why we shouldn't assume that just because an individual has the lowly position of 'guard' that they're an easy kill.  That guard could easily have gone aboard ship as a 13-year-old cabin boy, become a full sailor by 18, become a marine by 21, fought in a dozen ship-to-ship skirmishes, been marooned on an island, survived four years alone, been rescued by a merchant ship, returned home and now seeks an occupation he can do, with enormous patience acquired from being alone with his own company, with no ambition to do anything but serve the merchant that saved his life.  And now the merchant owns a small tinsmithing shop in a minor town with a 13th level guard relaxing in the corner most of the day.

Presuming that every person with a great amount of experience will automatically be a braggart, a bully, an ambitious megalomaniac or a social climber is failing to understand the profound differences in one human being from another.  If we want our worlds to possess character enough to interest players, we must invest that world with characters unique enough to surprise players.

Okay.  Going to take a break for a few days before going on to tech 10.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Technology 8

This is the fourth in a series of posts intended to provide a technological framework for my world.  The purpose of this framework is to create unique, regional settings for player interaction.  A realistic simulation of the actual world is not a goal of this system and will not be given credence when approving comments.

Regions with a technology of 8 will have an average population density of 756 to 1587 per 20-mile hex.  This includes the following regions, shown on this table:

one error: South Fjords should be 'halfling'

This technology accounts for 4,192.6 hexes of my world, occupied by 4,554,747 humanoids.

I've created/updated a similar table for tech 5, tech 6 and tech 7, that includes the general location of the region and which race dominates there, for those who would like to go back and look.

Available Technologies

See tech 7.  Picking which developments apply to which technologies is a tricky issue.  As a guideline, I'm attempting to include just enough new technologies to make a different world - but I can tell that in the upper levels that is going to take a lot of brain sweat to see fundamental changes in the culture.  At these early levels, a change like iron working can have big, obvious consequences - but with something like scientific method, that's been applied for about 58 years in my world by only a few individuals, those consequences are harder to see.

Nonetheless, we'll go with these for tech 8:

Agriculture develops a range of plant textile crops: cotton, jute, hemp, ramie, sisal, flax, etc., kicking off a whole artisan culture in the making of cloth goods.

Swords.  I meant to mention on the tech 7 page that swords were exempt from the tech, not because the weapon couldn't be made, but rather to make it wait for developments in sword mastery/balance that would make the sword more effective than an axe.  Plus it is nice to give one tech level where axes are common and swords are not.  With tech 8, however, swords become common.

Monotheism.  Significant tech areas adopt these alternative religions to polytheism or meditation, particularly in the west.  Regions in Asia, however, steadfastly retain their preferred religious forms - but the foundation of those religions become increasingly identified with one figure (Buddha) or a small collection of figures, giving them primacy over lesser gods (Shiva, Kali, Garuda), spawning cults that largely worship a single entity in the pantheon.

Monarchy.  Leadership of regional entities becomes profoundly hereditary, along with a rise in oligarchy that establishes a strong heirarchy of status within the culture.  Whereas previously the leader or an important person may have been accessible on the street by an ordinary person, common persons are now deliberately excised from the process of authority.  Laws begin to reflect the status of the defendant/property owner.

Fortifications.  Masonry is now increasingly applied to defense of the region, much more so to defend the existing upper classes from commoners.  There is, however, no significant castle building.  A 'keep' will be little more than a gatehouse and compound surrounded by an imposing stone wall, good for defense against riots but hardly sufficient for times of war.

Harbour.  For towns upon the water, significant efforts will be made to build stone quays, boat shelters, lighthouses and waterfronts for storage of goods.  Larger ships, cogs, develop to carry bulk trade goods such as grains, oils, ore and livestock.  Marines, soldiers expressly trained for fighting aboard ship and being able to swim, are commonly encountered, as are the pirates they defend against.

Horseback Riding.  Combat is carried out upon horseback, with the stirrup, not because this has been developed but because significant numbers of equestrian trainers exist in the region.  Camels become instruments of war as do elephants - but the elephant howdah and consequent fortified defense of elephant combat must wait for a higher tech level.  At this level, elephants are driven at the enemy and hope for the best.

Cantrips.  While magic spell use has not be created, the ability to use cantrips is possessed by a sub-mage class, or mage apprentices, which I'll call 'sibyls' for want of a word that describes a conjurer of very low power that creates rather than prophesies.  A 'sibyl,' I know, is an oracle - and the substance of most cantrips has little or nothing to do with mental abilities or effects, but are mostly modifications to the environment.  Unfortunately, I can't come up with a word that corresponds more to that than to possesing powers of divination; and some cantrips are person-affecting, so . . . sibyl it is.

That's a lot - but I'm satisfied all these should exist at about the same level.

Lifestyle - Rural

I've already said a lot about lifestyle in the above.  The individualism of culture will be much more pronounced than at lower tech levels, so it would take a long time to establish what every part of the culture would be doing - so I'll try to stick to sweeping definitions for generalized parts of the culture, changing my previous framework for headings (that's going to happen continuously as I go forward).

Clan leaders who have done well in resource management, who built larger houses, will acquire land, establish family names and allow inheritance of their offspring to continue their superior status.  Labor for these premiere families will take precedence over clan leadership, reducing many of the rural population to the status of wage slaves.  Those who distinguish themselves as trouble makers will be shut out and will become villeins or criminals (poachers, brigands, thieves, etc).

Inns will pop up along roads, attached to hamlets and villages within a mile or two of a major trade route.  Even tiny villages of a hundred persons will have a tavern, all of which will take coin in payment.  Coins are everywhere, now - for though no mint exists in the region, enough movement of money from outside has put a coin in everyone's pocket.  Virtually every rural denizen will seek ways to raise a bit extra of some product or accumulate some tiny amount of resource to collect a copper or two that will enable them a drink at the pub or pick up something useful that will make their homes more comfortable.

Rural homes will have pottery dishes, a real chair, a small instrument like a recorder, drum or box-lute for entertainment.  Beds will include feathers as well as straw.  The value of these will be a few dozen coppers, given that the pottery will be chipped, the chair well-worn and so on.

On the roads, caravans of wagons are starting to appear, bound for the largest cities, hauling primarily bulk goods (particularly food).

Lifestyle - Urban

Money will be everywhere and people will be moving about busily.  With the appearance of town walls and earthworks, the main center of town will be squeezed together and in some places passing through the narrow streets and lanes will be difficult.  Towns (3,000 to 9,999 humanoids) of this tech level will lack boulevards, as they have been built haphazardly by the people and not by administrative decisions (a higher tech level).  As such, congested is the order of the day for places where the artisans gather.

So far, guilds have not sprouted into being (also a higher tech level).  As such, competition is common but not fierce.  New goods are wanted so new makers, smiths and suppliers are free to begin in business as best they can.

On the edge of the town's center will be a number of inns and taverns, typically one of each for every 500 persons.  In cities (10,000+ humanoids), these will become defined by status, employment, ethnic background or whether they cater to outsiders/rural persons.  Persons will be asked to leave/denied lodging if they enter the wrong establishment.

In non-market towns, players will be able to find goods (when available) at the stockyards, the mason, the innkeeper, the chandler's and the carpenter's.  This includes the town market as well, shown below (random example):

In market towns, the selection is potentially anything.

I won't offer a breakdown of goods to be found in a typical home.  I'd like to write a long post about that sometime, but it's been in my head for years and I'm still not sure how I'd structure it.  But then, this tech thing has been in my head for years, too; everything gets addressed eventually.

Surrounding the town or city is an area of intensive agriculture.  Even at that, however, cities are beginning to challenge the potential for the surrounding hinterland - or indeed, the whole region - to supply it with enough food.  Thus the appearance of the cog and caravan, both noted above.

Despite being crowded, towns and cities are still relatively clean; most artisans continue to separate the unpleasant parts of their refining (animal slaughtering, oil distilling and the like) on the edge of town, so that the center is primarily employed for buying and selling of the finished goods.  Obviously, this will change.


I don't want to say much about this, except to emphasize that it should not be a force that the players will have to reckon with.  At lower tech levels, it is probable that if a fight occurs, it will concern only a portion of the population that the players might annoy.  Now, however, we see the creation of a town guard, whose sole purpose is to keep fights from happening.  In the rural areas, fear of the leading families will cause most persons to tattle on players doing bad things in the country.

As such, there is now pressure on the players to behave themselves when under observation.  Problems, like starting bar fights, will probably be solved with summary executions (law courts and reasonable defense of self would be a higher tech level).  In many ways, therefore, a tech 8 town is more dangerous than a tech 12 town, as the players will probably not be given any chance to explain themselves.  This should be expressed very clearly to the players, outlining their character's ability to feel the 'mood' the region has towards strangers who don't play nice.

If the players won't listen, well, dogpile them with two or three hundred guards and kill their characters.

Admittedly, the guards shouldn't be treated as that bright.  And there will be a lot of things the guards won't bother to protect (the fields surrounding town, entry into the town, carrying weapons, hiring, buying land, etcetera), which can all be done without having to pay any tithes, tolls, fees or the like.  These things, too, are for a higher tech level.  Taxes exist, but these are usually obtained through pressure against the largest families and houses in the region.  The only tax the player character is likely to pay would be to have all goods seized following the character's summary execution.


Along with the aforementioned marines and guards, we also have a small standing army, employed by the monarch (by whatever title is locally used).  This army exists for the monarch's personal use and is usually paid for by the monarch's resources (being a big landowner and probably an investor in a number of resource-oriented ventures).

However, this military carries the stamp of the state and as such its actions will be largely supported by the population.  When soldiers walk through the streets, the populace will melt back and struggle to be invisible.

As I saw, swords will supplant axes; daggers can be added to that.  Archery continues to hold its importance but now that accounts for perhaps a fifth of a troop's number.  Horses and cavalry will be at least half of any force (since the army and guard are still largely private in form), while ground troops will be those who cannot afford horses.  In effect, many soldiers will forsake training with a bow in favor of training with a horse and sword.  Lances will be popular.

Leather armor will be improved by studs, rings, small plates or whatever the reader likes that explains the apparent non-existence of 'studded leather armor.'  I'm content, personally, the pure leather covering can be and has been strengthened through many means that definitely fell short of scale and chain mail - so it, what ever it is, settles the AC 7 category satisfactorily.

A word or two about cantrips, I suppose.  Even with my changes, cantrips are not especially effective in combat.  Moreover, because the mage is a higher tech, it should be imagined that a single individual may possess one cantrip, possibly two - but no more, since a fundamental school of thaumaturgy doesn't exist in the region.  People, therefore, have learned what they might have a minor skill in picking up.  This is reflected in my character background generator, but that's not actually important just now.  For combat/military/encounters with the average enemy purposes, presume that 1 in 20 unusual persons (skilled, wealthy, stats averaging above 70) may possess a single random cantrip and that 1 in 20 of those might possess two.  Further magic use should be reserved for when actual mages appear.


I could write a lot more about this level of tech.  I've been working on this post three hours already, however.  I need to view this series in terms of giving a reasonable overview of the culture, not a detailed point by point account of the whole culture.  Though that would certainly be interesting to research and interesting to read, I think.

The quibbling seems to have settled down; I hope that is due to the clarification that this system is not meant to be a perfect representation of anything.  It's meant to help run the game.  Matt said it well the other day.  I'm not interested in 'realism,' I'm interested in results.  The detail is here so we're not wallowing around looking for an explanation for what the peasants and guards are trying to accomplish when talking to the party (get coins, defeat threats).  This does arm the players, for now they know what to expect when entering a pub or considering starting a fight there.  The world becomes less of a silly free-for-all where the players must make their own stupid entertainment and more of a mystery/thriller where every action has import and every success is contingent on skill and practice.

I think that most people who play don't believe there's room for skill in gaming because that would require a world where it was possible to fuck up.  Many players, I know, want to be consequence free in their play; or they have adapted mentally to the game where the only consequence - death - doesn't matter because every character they run is just another actor playing another interchangeable Dr. Who.

If my campaign has run for this long without becoming dull, it's because not fucking up is a huge element of the player's sense of purpose, ambition and motivation for victory - one that can't be dismissed so long as I provide endless possible ways that they can both fuck up and predictably avoid fucking up - allowing their skill at the game to supersede an innane quest for random fantasizing.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Technology 7

This is the third in a series of posts intended to provide a technological framework for my world.  The purpose of this framework is to create unique, regional settings for player interaction.  A realistic simulation of the actual world is not a goal of this system and will not be given credence when approving comments.

Regions with a technology of 7 will have an average population density of 360 to 755 per 20-mile hex.  This includes the following regions, shown on this table:

This technology accounts for 6,282.6 hexes of my world, occupied by 3,246,333 humanoids.

Available Technologies

See tech 5 and tech 6.  This gets more complicated as I go forward.  To keep it straight at this time, I'd like to address the new technologies in greater detail, starting with advancements on previous technologies.

Agriculture now includes irrigation in areas where water must be managed for crops (the deserts in particular).

Animal Husbandry expands to include elephants, mules, trained dogs and the breeding of menagerie-forms, such as birds, leopards, fur-bearing animals, D&D forms (worgs) and so on.  More sophisticated forms of leatherwork and other animal textile making develops among artisans.

Mining - I meant to make a note that tech 6 mining is largely the accumulation of placer deposits, silver, copper and gold.  Tech 7 mining would expand to include the four other most commonly identified metals, tin, iron, lead and mercury.  This enables the expansion of:

Bronze & Iron working, through the development of the charcoal furnace.  Since the tech system is not based upon historical development of learning how to work metals, but upon availability of knowledge, we skip right past bronze being the primary metal into iron.

Masonry, with quarrying, promotes the construction of permanent buildings, with consequent temples, palaces and public buildings (few in number, occasionally large in size but this would not be common).

Polytheism & Meditation are discussed below, under Religion.

Pottery promotes the storage of food, easier transport of goods, keeping accounts and greater security against drought (with consequently far fewer nomadic entities in the region).  Pottery and Agriculture together promote a greater population not involved in the matter of food production.

Sailing becomes common in regions adjacent to seas or large bodies of water.  This consists mostly of ketches or skiffs employing a lateen sail for short distances, typically less than 40 miles - however, denizens of the region begin to take their goods elsewhere by boat, now being less dependent upon outside merchants.  Sailors from these regions will begin appearing in foreign ports (in very small numbers).


With larger and more permanent settlements and refined daily habits, the function of villages and towns orient more towards the artisan and administrator than towards herding and agriculture. While much of the village still moves outwards to fields during the day, the location of these fields is more stable from decade to decade as new soil and fertility is laid down by irrigation (silt) and natural fertilizers (cleaned manure by gong workers).  Hunting and gathering cease to be full-time occupations as the hinterland (and game) retreats from civilization, as timber is cut for kilns (pottery and smelting) or for building.

Clans and tribe associations have broken down in favor of status based on skills, occupation, talent/ability/chutzpah in the accumulation of friends or wealth (most often reflected in building larger homes or gathering larger flocks).  Resource acquisition/management defines much of what is important to the residents.  Even in the rural areas, there is a strong sense of developing one's life around gathering and trading in a village or town rather than living in perpetual isolation.

Money begins to appear (for even if currency is not part of the local technology, some leaks in), but by and large it is only accepted by persons who specifically deal with foreign matters (sailor/traders & administrators who must pay a tribute to more sophisticated entities).  Charity towards outsiders will disappear.

Theft will be minimum as there is very little to steal.  Most conflict will be violence-oriented, founded on feuds or possession of women.  Laws have been imposed to define ownership of property and personal rights, but taxes are unheard of.  When tribute is due, most of it is obtained through donation or social pressure against disliked persons.

Roads will be hard earth and beaten by wheels; traffic and foreigners along roads will be rare but familiar enough throughout the region to be ignored by locals.  Brigandage will exist but for the most part it exists to obtain food, animals or transport, all without the desire to murder.  Virtually no order or militia exists outside of towns, so brigands have very little to fear (they are starving for the most part, however, since traffic is minimal).

Children are everywhere.  A few are put to work as helpers or apprentices, depending on their age.  Street urchins are common, as there's enough charity towards youths to allow them to avoid the fields until age 8 to 10.  Beggars are rare unless there is a particularly genial individual who is well liked.  He or she is usually a drunk.  Villagers or townspeople will vigorously defend such a person or children if strangers are rude or abusive.


Dwellings gather closely together and there grow specific streets organized for bartering (done mostly through agreed upon contracts).  Village buildings will be made of broken stone, mortar and timber (called 'half-timbered') when in long use.  In desert areas these buildings will be made of mud adobe (brick, timber and dried mud used as plaster).  Doors will be everywhere, promoting privacy.  Streets will be wide, open and buildings towards the edges of town will be scattered along pathways rather than lanes.

Gardens, small plots for pasturing animals, green spaces, fruit trees or ornamental shrubbery is a common feature, for population density in centers is very low compared to more urbanized tech levels.

Satellite homes, crude in construction, will appear outside of the village but nearby, owned by cotters and villeins, poor people who will find themselves pushed out of a developing social/status structure.  In desert areas these will still be tents.

In town, a watch has been imposed.  This is not ordered by authority but by artisans who are interested in protecting their shop stores and tools.  The watch has very little interest in defending the homes or property of farmers, who at any rate are safe for they have nothing to steal.

The range of activities increases.  A tavern appears that allows gathering for drink.  Common events associated with religion (weddings, burials) are complimented by monthly gatherings organized by occupations or authorities (for decision-making, announcements, spreading of news from outside, harvests, celebrating a new king, royal birth, etcetera), so that picnics and organized drinking fests gather large numbers upon green spaces or among the fields.


Decision-making manifests largely as a service industry to ensure good will between agriculturalists, herders, artisans, religionists and everyone else, promoting smooth interaction and protecting everyone against outsiders.  As this tech level suggests a region that is likely to receive steady attention from a distant emperor or king, some reporting is necessary (usually delivered by word of mouth) while word from above is passed down,  Opportunities are offered for young who want to go and become soldiers, as weapon use at this tech level is sophisticated enough (see below) to be of use to someone.

Usually, the leader is appointed by outsiders from among the most popular clan heads in the area (there are still clans, they are just less important), imposed upon the area or elected locally by agreement.  Rarely is this position hereditary.  Usurpation or public lynching is common when things don't work out. The leader protects himself with a private guard that receives lodging, good food, privileges throughout the region or territory and generally the freedom to seize or act as they will so long as this is not perpetrated against anyone important.  Outsiders are, by and large, fair game.


With the development of buildings and a population not dependent upon personal food production for survival, a religious class emerges.  These possess many of the sage abilities (up to and including authority level) which, I'm afraid, I haven't completed as a list.   The amateur level should give an idea of the wide range of abilities by such religious persons, denoting their importance to the community even though they are unable to use even 1st level cleric spells.

Gods and philosophy emerges as the locals embrace either Polytheism or Meditation as a belief-system.  Since these gods/practices are real, true enlightenment is developed about the will of the Gods, their desires, the general value of expanding the God's purpose, how the body and mind can find relevance in things like chi, atman and tantrism, etcetera.  The monk class appears (check it out, no mandatory minimum to intelligence in the original Player's Handbook).


With the introduction of the battle axe and hand axe, along with the spear head (making the spear less likely to break in combat), there's a development in weapons that promotes a bilateral use of melee and archery when attacking the enemy.  Count on a half & half mix of either when meeting with a local enemy.  With this comes combat training and morale, so that the defenders will stand and fight rather than retreat . . . along with a host of fighter sage abilities that I also haven't written yet.  Just writing this here as a place holder.

Farmers will tend to use weapons based on tools - scythes, bo & jo sticks, quarterstaves and various clubs, rather than metal-based weapons.  Slings will continue to be traditional among the lower classes who do not have the time/wherewithal to train as archers. 

Leather armor appears but shields are considered impractical given weapon preferences.  While horsemanship (and other mounted combat) isn't part of the region's tech ability, a great emphasis will be placed on the importance of animals in the military - their treatment, the importance of using them for supplies, communication and so on.

Overall, a force can be gathered by the region of volunteers that will seriously challenge an enemy's potential for conquering the region - though not, obviously, an enemy of vastly superior technology.


My decision to advance through these particular technologies for this level (and every level) has been with a focus to how much is necessary to truly change the perspective environment the player would encounter upon entering the region.

I don't know what more I can say to emphasize that this system is designed to service players, not historical accuracy.

Stumbling Blocks II

Okay, back to brass tacks.

My second stumbling blog in the algorithm again puts me in the position of having to explain the presence of something not accounted for in the tech 5/tech 6 descriptions I've offered: market cities.

It says very clearly on the tech 6 page, quoted, "There will be no market, no money exchange, no services of any kind, nothing that can be bought . . ."  We can presume the same is true for the lower tech of 5, so what the hell.  How can there be markets?

Hm, yes, it is a puzzlement.

As with the first stumbling blocks post, the brand spanking new tech system has no direct relationship to the very old trade system - a trade system that established where market cities were located long before I remotely conceived of the present technological limitations.

So, as before, we have things to consider:

a)  Even though the tech in an area is very low, this doesn't keep outsiders from establishing trading posts within a given territory.  The Arabs did it along the coast of East Africa, the Chinese did it throughout the East Indies, Europeans did it in West Africa and the Caribbean, etc.  Other examples would be the Portuguese in Japan and Oman, the English trading post at Archangelsk and Venetian traders in the Crimean Tartar.  Many of these trade posts never developed as a political entity, so that they were under the suzerainty and legal system of the region with which they traded.  Some did develop political hegemonies (the English, Portuguese and French in India) but often after as much as a century of being at the mercy of the locals.  These foreigners did not freely share tech with the locals for damn good reasons; we shouldn't think that magic isn't treated with all the restrictions of chemistry and firearms (which didn't become widespread in native populations until the 18th century, a hundred years after my world takes place).'

b) Many of the low tech regions are part of larger political entities; it follows that trading posts would be established by higher tech masters in order to usefully exploit resources in low tech regions.

c) Players want to buy stuff.

All three of these, particularly the last, are reasons to maintain the presence of market cities.

Prior to this tech idea, I've allowed players to buy provisions and a limited number of artisan services (farrier work for horses, blacksmithing repairs, things an inn would sell or whatever local goods might be produced in an area) in any village, town or city, regardless of its trading status.  If, however, the players want something more sophisticated, they have to make a trip to a specific town designated as a market.  Not all markets are large cities and not all large cities are markets.  The encyclopedia I use must make specific reference to a city being a port, a junction, a commercial or economic centre, a trading center for the region's products and so on - which the encyclopedia describes readily as this is one of the chief ways in which to describe a city's value and importance.  If the encyclopedia makes no mention at all of a city's economy, I've chosen to read that as saying the city exists for some other reason than trade.

The change for a tech 5/tech 6 culture would be that NO products or services of any kind are available in ordinary settlements, period.  The markets, however, would still import and sell goods as they did previously.

Before an assumption is made about these markets, however, I must rush to assure the reader that these have never been market towns of great importance.  I had already designed my market/trade system to severely punish any town, even a market town, if it was out of the way - and most of these towns really are.

Garka, for instance, mentioned in the previous post, is a market town in the tech 5 region of Lungos Nad.  It is located on the Yenisey river and imports/exports with just two other market cities:  Yaxjasso, a city 18 days upriver, also on the Yenisey, and Dik'Don, an outpost on the Kara Sea some 140 miles beyond the Yenisey's mouth.  Dik'Don is 11.8 days away.

This may not seem far, but in terms of available products for purchase, it is crippling.  Dik'Don is literally in the middle of nowhere and connects to no other trading city except Garka.  Yaxjasso is a really big hobgoblin city, 49 000 people, with as many as 44 references (the world possesses more than 31 thousand total).  Yet Yaxjasso is 20+ days from any other trading city beyond it.  What actually reaches the market of Garka is not much. Mostly, Garka exists as a distribution point, gathering the goods of Lungos Nad (15 references) and pushing them up river.

So when I say the market towns in tech 5 regions are active, that's not saying much.

Some markets in tech 6 regions are more important.  One notable example is Tsaritsyn (modern day Volgograd, also Stalingrad), on the Volga river, a connecting link along the northern Silk Road from Astrakhan to the Black Sea.  Tsaritsyn cannot be described as off the beaten track - it is dead on the track as 'beaten' is defined.

Yet Tsaritsyn wasn't founded until 1589 (look it up).  The place where goods are transferred from the river to caravans heading west was used for centuries before anyone built a city there.  Thus, most of the trade going past Tsaritsyn bypasses the town - and no wonder, since it only has a population of 6,794.  It is a burg, hardly worth noticing, even though it does gather in 32 references from all over the territory it masters.  None of those other towns in the territory have as many as 650 residents; these are scattered over 94 hexes.  So while Tsaritsyn logically does have some trade, tech 6 perfectly defines the rest of the territory.

The question is, does the presence of a market make the town of Tsaritsyn itself better than tech 6?

I don't think so.  Even if there are goods that are available for purchase - a sword, say, which wasn't included in my tech 6 description - I would argue there's no one to teach a local resident how to use the sword.  If a local bought one, they'd pretty much use it as a club; and I'd define it as a club in a battle for combat rule purposes.  Only, given the cost of a sword vs the cost of a club, a sword would probably be kept as a decoration in this tech 6 province, not as a weapon.

But compare this argument (and this system) with actual history regarding the region of the Don Cossacks, which I've also defined as tech 6.  History, actual history, says that I'm wrong. That the cossacks did use swords, in fact they were famous for using swords.  And I've said so right on this blog.

Uh oh, what do I do now?  The algorithm has failed, hasn't it?

Bullshit.  I'm not running a simulation. Guess what - the details surrounding the lifestyle and practice of Don Cossacks has just been changed.  What a pity.  I guess all those sword details now apply to other cossacks, from other regions with a higher tech.

I don't feel a bit bad about that.  The algorithm, to me, is more important than maintaining historical accuracy.  I'm running a game here, not a history class.  I'm quite content to deviate from the world's reality if it means nailing down, at last, just what life for the Players will be like in a given part of that world.

Some people online will shake their heads and care about that.  But my players?  They won't feel a bit bad about it, either.  Plenty of places in the world will still exist that use swords.