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01-14-2008, 09:22 AM #1
One thing it would be very nice to work out is what population densities are normal (baseline) for given terrain types. It would also be nice to have a normal maximum figure (the carrying capacity) of a province so that before a DM gets carried away, he pauses to consider where the food comes from. After all, if a province is importing food, someone else is exporting it.
Starting with the terrain types in the Rulebook, we have plains, hills, tundra, marsh, forest, forest hills, mountains, and high mountains. I've combined marsh, moor, and swamp, because the differences between them are not going to radically effect populations of PC type races.
Agriculture requires three things, sun, water, and flat land.
Plains would be provinces that are mostly flat, mostly grassy. If they are well watered they might be able to hold the largest populations. If they are very dry they could be empty. The best conditions for a 1000 sq mile province would be 120,000 to 135,000 people. If its too cold, too hot, or too dry, the population can get pretty low. The best baseline figure is probabaly just under 100,000 people for a normal plains province. I'd go as low as 50,000 for a Rjurik plains along the Hjarring River and lower as we move north.
Hills take away one of the three things agriculure requires. The normal human responce is to pasture animals on hills, because its easy and productive. Terracing is an option, but its labor intensive and the rewards are only seen in the distant future. Dwarves might expect to see terracing pay for itself in their lifetime, and regard it as investment. For humans it would be quite rare. A province with some hills shown on the map (say Nalhorske in Rjuvik) have 75% of a plains province, but half is perfectly resonable as well, if you like. A province that is all hills might have 10% of a plains province, but produce food for three times that number.
Tundra doesn't support agriculture, and hunting is pretty slim, so a population of several thousand quite reasonable, and the province could be empty as well.
Marsh A province like Jakkajoen in Jankaping that is all marsh will have several thousands. Under ideal conditions, a maximum of 10,000 is not out of bounds.
Forest On a smaller scale I divided forest in to total forest and mixed forest and farm. If you want to imagine a province that is all forested on the map, but still pretty well farmed, I'd suggest one third of a plains province. A province like Gundviir in Hogunmark is along the Hjarring river and would be worth 50,000 if all plains, but its at least 80% forested. As such I could estimate that the province produces 25,000 people worth of food, but as a level 4 province, I'm guessing its got 40,000 actual people in it, and the surplus 15K is almost certainly in Veikanger. So I'd imagine there are a lot of animals in the three provinces to the north, good fishing in the Hjarring, and a steady flow of animals into Veikanger. Djaalfund is harder to explain, so you can make recourse to the presence of gold or silver mines, as well as vast fishing fleets. I'd normally see 15,000 folks there, but as a 4 province, I'll say there are 25,000 in Aaldvika. The neighboring 0 level provinces may also pay taxes and purchase goods, tithe and the rest in Aaldvika and live free in their neighboring jarldoms. That allows you to spread the population around some, but leave the wealth in Djaalfund.
Forest Hills are a double wammy against agriculture, but still support a rich animal population which can be exploited by men. I'd treat the province like a hills province in terms of population, although we're talking about different animals and this can effect how markets work. Pigs are forest creatures, and like cows and goats, will walk to slaughter. Deer and elk are wild and need to be prepared (salted, smoked, &c) to bring to market. Of course the forest offers other virtues that might counter act the higher cost of some meats, such as abundant firewood and building material.
Mountains limit agriculture to a few valleys and also limit animal production. Many of the Rjurik provinces with mountains seem to be peppered with mountain areas, but could be quite arable in other parts of the province. If one imagines Skapa Hjarring to be 80% arrable, then 80-90% of plains seems quite reasonable. Add a large fishing fleet and this important city could easily have 20,000 people plus the 40,000 in the rest of the province. Provinces full of mountains would have very little habitable land for men, and would have several thousand people at most. Dwarves are likely to predomainate if they choose to.
High Mountains are basically empty of humans, though dwarf populations could still be hard at work. Mountains and high mountains are still restrictive to dwarves, but significantly less so. They are more likely to extend mountain valley agriculture with terraces, to raise larger herds of goats and sheep at steeper inclines and higher altitudes, and to construct agricultural places inside the earth to augment agriculture with fungus farms and so on.
In general, and one's mileage may very considerably here, dwarves treat hills as plains (90,000 in Bran's Retreat?), mountains as half as good as plains (50,000 in Rivenrock), and high mountains as 1/3 as good as plains.
Its always easy to go lower by stating that rainfall is scarce, the soil is poor, or the climate too hot or too cold. If a plains province is roughly 100,000, and up to a third higher under special ideal conditions, and then as low as you like if you want empty places. The adjust from there.
01-14-2008, 03:25 PM #2
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Are you figuring on preserving a modifier for River and Seacoast? Those add significantly to potential productivity, I would say even more significantly than the original rules suggest, since nearly all reasonably-sized cities for most of history have been positioned on them.
Also, I recognize the simplicity of 1000sqmi provinces; that's helpful, but would you be modifying up to the 2500sqmi province sizes for the 50-mile-across provinces suggested by many here to account for a sufficiently-sized Cerilia?
You also noted Carrying Capacity. This is a very moldable concept for humans, considering different levels of sophistication that exist even within time periods (like iron age technology). Rule Province, then, would seem to allow exceeding normal limits by enhancing productivity due to the increased sophistication of the population (after all, what is all that government money spent on? ).
It's a good baseline, though.
01-14-2008, 06:56 PM #3
I would not keep a modifer for rivers and coasts for every province, but assign the total bonus to cities that are on the map. From Stormpoint in Taeghas to Newelton in Talinie there are four cities on the map. I think those cities should get the benefit of the coast, rather than spreading it evenly to every coastal province.
I would assume that larger provinces have more waste land that is not arable, and smaller provinces have less. Smaller provinces can also be richer in other ways that nevertheless allow the populations to be the same size as larger provinces.
Different levels of technology had surprisingly little effect on carrying capacity. Most places have the same population during the Roman era as they do during the Rennaisance, and most points in between. Egypt supports four millions, France 20 millions, Italy 30 millions, and so on. The Vos (with their dark ages technology) can support basically the same as the Anuireans with their renaissance technology. Climate has a dramatically larger effect than technology (until well after the renaissance).
Return on investments of capital (digging a canal, irrigation, terracing) should only show noticable returns on investment well into the future (25-50 years?).
01-14-2008, 09:33 PM #4
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I beg to differ about the impact of technology on population growth. While we are talking about pre-Agricultural Revolution tech levels, it's still readily apparent from that example, and that of the Industrial Revolution, that tech affects carrying capacity.
New methods of crop rotation, better plows, better trade, safer travel, etc. in the 12th century onward allowed Europe to expand, both in population and power, sufficient to empower crusades and expand empires, leading to Western power and colonization. Population grew along with it.
(And several offline sources that I could point you to)
If the Vos are nomadic or semi-nomadic, they definitely can't support the same populations as a renaissance Anuire: agriculture alone allows for much greater populations. However, it may be true that the land the Vos live on they are already making maximum use of (that is, Anuireans may not be able to farm much of it or use it any better).
Still, population numbers aside, tech levels certainly affect prosperity, which is what province levels really reflect in game terms, since they most directly affect income and resources used to fund further development and military activities.
I take it from your approach (and your consideration of larger land areas) that you're focused more on establishing a baseline population of Cerilia, rather than a set population density level?
As for returns on investment of capital, I agree mostly, but in game terms that's just not fun. Few games are going to last 25 years of game time, much less 50.
01-15-2008, 12:49 AM #5
I agree that the industrial revolution substantially impacts agricultural performance. It has nothing to do with a game that has a technology hundred's of earth years from a similar technological change. Even supposing such a revolution was possible, which I am dubious of.
The sweet spot of technological analogies are dark ages, medieval, and renaissance. Getting to far out of this zone is either evidence of special pleading or poor reasoning.
While there was significant population growth from the dark ages to the high middle ages (when population topped off before the plague), it was distinctly not due to improved technology, but adding new land to cultivation. We know how much land was added to cultivation because we have records of the vast land grants issued by various crowns. By the middle of the 13th century however, the only lands remaining to add were very marginal lands, and they were exhausted by the early 14th. The populations of France during the iron age Gauls and the 17th century French would top off around 20 millions. This barrier was not broken until the 18th century, the end of which saw the population climb to 30 million. Likewise England had a similar population curve, flat at 5 millions until by 1800, she reached 10 millions. Since these iron age population barriers are firm until the 18th century, unless you imagine Anuire in wigs, frock coats, and tricorns, there is no difference in carrying capacity due to technology.
As for returns on investment of capital, I agree mostly, but in game terms that's just not fun. Few games are going to last 25 years of game time, much less 50.
Now there are other ways, methods directly connected to the renaissance, that allow a domain to get richer and more powerful. I cannot see why I should consider ridiculous economics, when I can do just as well with sensible alternatives.
The reigns of Henry VIII, Francis I, and Isabella profoundly reform the state from a feudal, household administration, to a bureaucratic administration based upon new ideas and Roman law. The state becomes stronger and richer. Therefor, it makes much more sense to see the rule action as first setting up an administration (at low levels, say 1-4) and then reforming and improving administration as we move into higher levels. A state is always fighting to reform itself because its supporters learn to game the system (whether as outright corruption, or just organizing things to their benefit at the expense of the system), because the problems of the past are solved and new problems need to be addressed, because experience shows the way to still more improvements.
These changes can be performed within the reign of single PC ruler. The effects of technology or economic development are too slow to influence the power of a state in single ruler's life. Of course in the long term, economic and technological achievements are cumulative, while organizational reforms quickly become dated and need to be reformed again.
01-15-2008, 06:09 AM #6
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"1050-1200 CE: Medieval Europe - The first agricultural revolution of Medieval Europe begins in 1050 CE with a shift to the northern lands for cultivation, a period of improved climate from 700 CE to 1200 CE in western Europe, and the widespread use and perfection of new farming devices, some previously discovered by the Carolingians and the Romans. Technological innovations include the use of the heavy plow, the three-field system of crop rotation, the use of mills for processing cloth, brewing beer, crushing pulp for paper manufacture and many other advantages that before were not available, and the widespread use of iron and horses. With an increase in agricultural advancements, Western towns and trade grow exponentially and Western Europe returns to a money economy."
From http://eawc.evansville.edu/chronology/mepage.htm, a good quick summary of what I was referring to. If you assume that these advancements have already been made, then sure, we can be on the same page. Except that I'd leave the Vos and perhaps the goblins out of this one, maybe even Rjurik.
"Even supposing such a revolution was possible, which I am dubious of."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medieval_technology --> for a table of advancements. Note that I agreed that the Industrial Revolution was not within reach, but just an example of how tech can impact populations. However, why preclude Agricultural Revolution ideas from inventive societies otherwise trapped in the Renaissance for hundreds if not thousands of years?
IMO, there has always been a tech stasis problem in D&D, where cultures are expected to remain at about the same level of development for thousands of years. Sure, gunpowder, steam, and electricity don't work. But iron/steel plows, seed drills, privatization/enclosure, cottage industry, shuttles and looms, wind/water mills and wheels, clockwork, advanced animal husbandry/selective breeding, concentrated animal feedlots, 4-field crop rotation with legumes, hybridization, planting of more nutritious foods, etc. could. In fact, I'd expect people to continuously come up with some crafty mechanical and methodological solutions. I'm just saying here that tech need not be static, and that it can have at least as much impact as the assets you suggest.
As for game mechanics vs. economic/diplomatic/military simulations, I think the game needs to be much more complex if you're looking for a simulation. While certain administrative reforms could be made, I doubt that such things as ruling any type of holding would provide a full ROI in less than half a year. The Fields of Blood book by Eden Studios (which takes BR into finer detail, but becomes too cumbersome in the process, IMO) slows down those ROI's a little more realistically, and includes the impacts of province assets and basic administrative styles and so forth.
What I was referring to about "baseline populations" was that if you're just trying to say that okay, at this point in time, we have these tech levels, amounts of cultivation, and associated population levels within which to work for the MR 551+lifetime time period, then great. I'm arguing over nothing. However, when I talked about increasing to 2500sqmi provinces, we'd either have to assume populations 2.5 times higher than your original suggestion, or assume that population levels are the same and densities go down, reflected far less land under cultivation. If there is less land under cultivation, then simply increasing it should easily support higher population levels--but again, this would be over generations, excepting immigration.
01-15-2008, 09:41 AM #7
The fact that we can name advancements in technology doesn't mean that they have any noticable impact over the short term or the long term when comapred to climate.
Citing population growth after a population collapse doesn't indicate the potency of technology, only that the the catastrophy which caused the collapse ended.
Many of the innovations you mention don't actually increase the food yield, they stabilize it. In fact some of them reduce the food yield by adopting practices, crops, or organization that yield less than prior models. Their benefits are found in sustainability, stability of yields, or equity between peasants.
Take all the inventions on your list and I'll withhold 15% of rainfall and drop the average tempreture 5 degrees and we'll see if populations rise or fall.
I think the game needs to be much more complex if you're looking for a simulation.
What I was referring to about "baseline populations" was that if you're just trying to say that okay, at this point in time, we have these tech levels, amounts of cultivation, and associated population levels within which to work for the MR 551+lifetime time period, then great. I'm arguing over nothing.
When I talked about increasing to 2500sqmi provinces, we'd either have to assume populations 2.5 times higher than your original suggestion, or assume that population levels are the same and densities go down, reflected far less land under cultivation.
If there is less land under cultivation, then simply increasing it should easily support higher population levels--but again, this would be over generations, excepting immigration.
01-15-2008, 03:30 PM #8
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"Many of the innovations you mention don't actually increase the food yield, they stabilize it."
Any innovation that increases manpower effectively increases yield, such as the use of draft horses over oxen, good plows, seed drills, wind and water mills, etc. Further, stability for a long lived species like humans is the very thing that allows for population growth. The population can only get as large as the drought/famine years can sustain. Irrigation and use of legumes and rotation methods are ways of reducing the impact of bad multi-year cycles.
That said, I haven't argued that climate doesn't make an impact. It certainly does. As for population rebounds, human biotic potential indicates that the population could rebound from significant lows in the span of a few generations, easily within 1-200 years. Yet we see longer sustained diminishments because of all of the factors of production changing: climate, land under cultivation, loss of Roman Empire technology until rediscovery, war, instability, disease, lack of trade.
"Why impose an modern idea of progress (a product of the Enlightenement) on a mideval setting?"
You don't have to impose an idea upon the people to observe as an outsider that progress tends to happen, despite numerous setbacks--the table I gave was just giving evidence of that. That said, what prevents Enlightenment thought from entering the game? Again, we need not force our conceptions of our game worlds into static 10,000 year stretches of the 14th century. I won't argue if you want to, I just don't like to because thinking about how life might change in fantasy worlds is interesting to me.
"What else would we do?"
It's two approaches. One is to total up province levels and index to population numbers (the default implication of the rules). Another is to set Cerilia at 50 million people (or whatever) and say this is the max settled capacity regardless of what we say the land size is (what you seem to be indicating). Another is to decide on the land size, then let the populations be determined by currently-settled densities, then modified by cultural advancement, climate, etc (more complex, but what I was talking about). In other words, if we want to make provinces average 50 miles across rather than 30, I wouldn't keep the population levels the same just by saying that all that extra land us unusable.
"Rules make people stupid."
Then why have them at all? Because they help multiple people agree on and understand how things will be run, so they can understand how the GM will interpret things and they can have some amount of predictability. I've devised many rules systems on my own and I like the exercise; it helps to make a game run in a sensible fashion. I've also played games without any guiding rulesets whatsoever, with players that trusted my judgment and storytelling. But now I find that I like having rules for the next major reason they exist: plug-and-playability. They can save tons of time. That's no remark on the intelligence of a person, just the fact that they can't or dont' want to spend the time or energy crafting rules or working without them.
01-15-2008, 09:12 PM #9
Innovations and yield
I have been arguing since the beginning that peak populations have not increased substantially prior to the 18th century, so I reject arguments that rely on population increases as evidence of anything, because I believe they have different causes.
Of the things that will influence agricultural production, and hence population totals, technology is by far the weakest. Climate and culture will have very large impacts, while technology has a slow, steady, cumulative impact. This is why I discount technology as a factor. Given that soils are not canon, rainfall, temperature (other than hot, warm, cold), the practices in use, the crops preferred, why try and fix the influence of technology, when its going to be much smaller than these other factors? If we knew how much a given province met these other conditions, it might make sense to consider technology. But since we're making things up from the roughest evidence, worrying about whether the people in question have invented the button or not, seems to be bad analysis.
campaign is an imagined world. Whether the world is like ours or magically different is always an issue. My preference is to start with a medieval world view as the medieval's had it themselves, and then modify that to the setting as presented. I don't want to start with a modern view of the middle ages and then modify. I think that medieval views on magic, dragons, religion, government are all goofy. If I used my own views of what is real, there would be no magic, no religion, no monsters, and government would be so primitive that you could chuck the whole realm system and make kings into passive observers of their realms. This doesn't sound like BR because the assumptions that I have as a modern person and the assumptions of the setting are too different. So, in the spirit of role play, I put aside my own view of the world, and adopt world views from the past. Dragons are real, magic exists, gods are real, government is conducted with divine sanction and kings are (or can be) heroic figures who achieve great things and become legendary.
That said, what prevents Enlightenment thought from entering the game?
And people would dress fabulously!
Again, this doesn't sound much like the Birthright setting. So it would appear these ideas as not well suited for the game. Renaissance and medieval ideas do seem well suited to the game.
Again, we need not force our conceptions of our game worlds into static 10,000 year stretches of the 14th century. I won't argue if you want to, I just don't like to because thinking about how life might change in fantasy worlds is interesting to me.
It's two approaches. One is to total up province levels and index to population numbers (the default implication of the rules). Another is to set Cerilia at 50 million people (or whatever) and say this is the max settled capacity regardless of what we say the land size is (what you seem to be indicating). Another is to decide on the land size, then let the populations be determined by currently-settled densities, then modified by cultural advancement, climate, etc (more complex, but what I was talking about).
If we want to make provinces average 50 miles across rather than 30, I wouldn't keep the population levels the same just by saying that all that extra land us unusable.
"Rules make people stupid." Then why have them at all?
Because they help multiple people agree on and understand how things will be run, so they can understand how the GM will interpret things and they can have some amount of predictability.
I've devised many rules systems on my own and I like the exercise; it helps to make a game run in a sensible fashion.
I've also played games without any guiding rulesets whatsoever, with players that trusted my judgment and storytelling. But now I find that I like having rules for the next major reason they exist: plug-and-playability. They can save tons of time. That's no remark on the intelligence of a person, just the fact that they can't or dont' want to spend the time or energy crafting rules or working without them.
Rules as a perfect example of the garbage-in-garbage-out phenomenon. If the situation going in doesn't fit the expectations the rule was designed for, you get bad results. Plus rules get complicated when you attempt to model complex things. So you either over-simplify, or accept some junk results. Its easier to just use judgment first, and let the mechanics be a tool for the referee, not rules for him to follow.
01-15-2008, 09:52 PM #10
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Any of these arguments about factors influencing population don't really matter on the time scale that most games are played, I'd agree, except for the difference in cultural patterns and technology indicating different land usage across the races.
What was the province size Ryan determined? About 30 miles or 50 miles across? I've heard a lot of 50 talk here, which is why I brought up the question about your population densities as discussed in the original post; yours were based on about 30, and I assume reflect some average idea of the land available for cultivation and habitation. If provinces are larger, you wouldn't have to calculate anything for individual provinces, you'd just adjust your baseline number by a suitable multiplier, like 2.5.
As for the rest of it, we're talking about different play styles, I think. I like using rules because this is a leisure activity for which I have limited time; I don't want to have reinvent rules systems or worry about consistency if I'm not using rules, and I'm more than willing to be lazy and let the rules do some work for me, accepting a simplified game to focus on the things I find fun. Then I just toss in the extra flavor in the game and more historical or new ideas as I have time and inclination.
So I'd be more likely to add in pieces of the occasional philosophy to BR than to adopt something wholesale and apply it universally as your satirical example going from nihilism of your modern day worldview to a utopian view of the Enlightenment presented. For instance, one implication of bloodlines is that the idea of Divine Right could not so easily be dismissed as in the Enlightenment.
I agree that rules should serve the story, but as a player I've been jerked around enough by by GMs who have little skill or consistency, questionable judgment, and anti-player stories that I prefer the rules to be a mediator between player and GM. As GM, I remember that player experience and leave them in place for that purpose (though I'm generally very favorable towards player interests anyway), choosing to make exceptions to the rules when needed rather than turning to rules only when I need help figuring out how to resolve something. It's the safeguard against possibly GM-tyranny that I give my players.
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