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View Full Version : Random Worldbuilding Questions (Biology, Geography, Society, etc.)



jseah
2013-08-05, 09:40 AM
Last thread reached 50 pages:
http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=243828

The MST3K Mantra: "It's just a show; I should really just relax."

But that's no reason to just make stuff up without giving any thought to how elements of a setting are supposed to work. They don't need to work exactly as in nature, but to many creators it is desirable to stick to nature for as long as it works and only starting to come up with entirely fictional explainations when it becomes actually neccessary. That way things appear more natural and can stand up under a closer second or even third look.

That's what this thread is for. Sharing knowledge on how things actually without needing to resort to "it's magic". Since this is not only relevant to people who are actually making up entire worlds or creating new creatures, but also to common GMs making adventures for their own groups, I think it's best to put it here in the General RPG-Forum and not put it far away out of sight in the Worldbuilding-Forum.
If you have a better title for this thread in mind, let me know and it can be changed.

If you have a question regarding military technology and tactics, there's the Real World Weapons or Armour Questions Thread. There's a lot of experts on these things, who can help you out with almost anything on this subject. For everything else, like animal biology, cave formation, agriculture, government systems, architecture, industry, or whatever else you can think of that might be relevant to making your campaigns realistic, or at least plausible, this thread is the place to go.
I would suggest to not have discussions about electronics, robotics, and space travel, because I think they have a tendency to grow into very big debates that might overshadow more minor questions that would fall to the side. The Media Discussions forum usually has very interesting threads on such subjects and I think you'll get very good answers to questions regarding these subject there.

Another suggestion is to highlight if you have a new question, so they don't get missed when they are posted in the middle of a larger discussion on something else.
Social/Economics Question:
What would the social and economic impact of an almost insatiable demand for unskilled labour be?

More specifically, in a setting that I am building, there is a common job that can be performed by anyone who is willing to put in the time and does not require physical fitness. Demand for it is very high as this underpins most of the capital industry in this magi-tech setting.
What would the impact of such have on society?

This is not D&D.

Background:
In the variant of the magic system I am using, everyone can use magic. Some are good at it, some not so good; a bit like how not everyone is suited to being an engineer.

Enchanting magic items is a complex task which is mainly bottlenecked by the humongous magical power requirements (something to the tune of 8700 times more power than the per-hour magical output of the item).

Obviously, no single person can enchant magic items, or will take absolutely forever to do so. Fortunately, someone discovered how to crystallize raw magic and any caster can use stockpiled magic crystals to augment their own power and do enchantments in record time.

Since this is a magic-tech setting, everything uses magic. They have not even discovered how to use electricity. Their non-magic technology level is roughly on par with knowing how to make steel reliably.

So everything runs on magic, from the enchantments that keep the skyscrapers from collapsing under their own weight, to the levitation tubes that shuttle people up and down floors. To airship magic engines and self-boiling kettles.
All of that needs copious amounts of magical enchantment, which requires huge amounts of the magic crystals.

Fortunately, learning how to crystallize magic is ridiculously easy. Anyone smarter than a 10 year old kid should be able to do it and learning how to do this is on the mandatory schooling requirement. To date, only the vegetables can't, even bed-ridden quadriplegics can still crystallize magic.

There exists a magic crystal market, there are buyers that post daily prices per magic unit, and with 8 hours a day, a single person can sell enough magic to feed himself. Magic crystals are perfectly interchangeable and therefore the market for raw magic is about as close to a perfect market as you can get. These buyers then sell onwards their magic crystal stocks to companies and firms that enchant machines, engines, structures, just about anything.

Yora
2013-08-05, 10:24 AM
If the job is easier and pays better than some skilled jobs or other unskilled jobs, people would quit those job to also get the new one.

As a result, the demand for those skilled professionals would increase, which would probably be compensated by raising wages and prices for the products and services they provide.

In the end, overall wages would rise until the new unskilled job is once again the worst paying one.

However, that means the cost for any other products and services will rise, possibly quite significantly. Which I would assume reduces the average standard of living, since people have to pay more for food and clothing and don't have any money left for less basic neccessities.

TheStranger
2013-08-05, 10:33 AM
There probably isn't a hard and fast answer to this question, especially as regards the social impact.

Economically (and socially, I suppose), I'd be inclined to treat it as just another form of unskilled labor. Demand can't be unlimited; it's still limited by the demand for whatever the crystallized magic is used for (which is itself limited by numerous factors). If it's something that anybody can do, I would assume that it'll be paid about as well as other things that anybody can do. Presumably, there are still things that it makes sense to pay somebody to do by hand, whether that's loading trucks, digging ditches, mopping floors, or whatever. If crystallizing magic is less physically/mentally demanding than these things, it might even be lower-paying.

In fact, I'd suggest that this should occupy pretty much the lowest rung on your economic ladder. You could easily justify magic-extraction "sweatshops" where people work 12+ hours a day for starvation wages. Because ultimately, this is work for people with no special skills; if anybody can do it, it's going to have a larger potential labor pool than anything else, and replacement labor will be cheap.

Alternately, you could play it so that everybody is paid a living wage and there's enough of everything to go around. My inner cynic rejects that idea, but it all depends on how things are regulated and/or your assumptions about the behavior of unregulated markets. Which is a potentially-divisive topic that we probably shouldn't discuss too deeply on this board.

So I'd suggest that you just decide what you want the social and economic structure to look like, and then worry about justifying it. You could play this as utopia, dystopia, or anything in between (including pretty much any historical era with the serial numbers filed off).

Animastryfe
2013-08-05, 10:42 AM
Does this method absolutely require humans to do it? If not, then why has no one found an automated way to create these crystals? Is it a simple case of manual labor being cheaper than automation? If so, then this reminds me of the early industrial revolution.

jseah
2013-08-05, 11:03 AM
Yora:
Hmm, so a bit like Australia, where everything labour intensive is ridiculously expensive.

Yeah, I can see that.


TheStranger:
The idea was to have this pay roughly equivalent to a minimum wage job in present RL. Barely liveable, not very nice.
The idea was to have it be the lowest rung of the economic ladder. The social term "mana farm" being it.

I didn't envision sweatshops when I thought of it though. I was thinking more like a pawnshop style arrangement where counters check and verify the crystals and pay the list price in cash, instead of the suppliers being directly involved in the mana farms.
People just do it on their own time and pop down to the shop once a day to turn in their day's work and collect the day's earnings.

There's also the unrelated idea of a "mana tax" where the government takes a 1% slice of the entire crystal market in crystals. Usually paid by suppliers in cash equivalent of the list price, but the government can and has demanded it in crystals before.
The military applications are obvious of course, and a 1% slice guarantees the military will get its magic needs.


Animastryfe:
The method does not absolutely require humans. But due to the way the magic system works, enchantment-based magic crystal factories take something around 5 years to break even in terms of magic output (that's the 8700 times multiplier), to say nothing about the skill needed to use crystals in the first place.

Until you start to saturate other capital industry needs, which will take a long long time, automated mana farms aren't quite cost efficient yet.

TheStranger
2013-08-05, 12:02 PM
Another thought, given the 8700x multiplier - how efficient is it, really, to use magic for anything?

Let's say a person spends all day creating a crystal. That crystal has some concrete value in terms of magical "work" done - that stored mana can be used to heat water, or move rocks, or whatever. Given the 8700x multiplier, that value is probably pretty low - so you have a person who's working all day to imbue a crystal that does the amount of actual work that person could do in ten minutes, even at medieval tech levels.

It just seems like there's no incentive to do anything with magic if it can conceivably be done mundanely. And even if it can't, the magical solution is likely to be prohibitively expensive, just because literally thousands of man-hours go into creating even a simple enchantment.

Unless I'm misunderstanding your system, it seems like the economics of this are mind-boggling. Not that this is an argument against doing it, because it's a neat idea. But just be aware that fridge logic might be working against you on this one.

jseah
2013-08-05, 12:20 PM
It just seems like there's no incentive to do anything with magic if it can conceivably be done mundanely. And even if it can't, the magical solution is likely to be prohibitively expensive, just because literally thousands of man-hours go into creating even a simple enchantment.
Which will work and keep working. I've envisioned capital depreciation (cost of maintenance and occasional replacements) at maybe 1% or less per year. And zero running cost.

Also, its worse than your ratio. You don't spend a day to make a machine that will do ten minutes of worth work continuously every hour. You spend about a man-year doing that. Maybe more.

Building something like a magic-based suspension bridge takes a small army of people making crystals to fuel the construction requirements. The engine of an airship out-costs the rest of the airship by hundreds of times. But the bridge will still be there 60 years from now, and your airship still flies.

In a certain sense, the capital industry in this setting is somewhat similar to the egyptians building the pyramids in terms of man-hours needed to get stuff done.

5a Violista
2013-08-05, 12:46 PM
To me, it sounds like the enchanted objects are things that only millionaires, governments, military, and big businesses can afford. Maybe, once in a while, there'll be a smaller group that has enchanted objects and stuff.

As a result, I would expect the advanced MagiTech to be commonplace wherever the leaders of the country meet, and in other big cities. The further away you get from those city, the more mundane the environment. Get far enough away, and the main industry will be this minimum-wage crystal production.

From there, we can assume that the big money-makers far away from the large cities will be the merchants, the deliverers, and the middle-men between the production and the big companies. If you find a large, opulent house, then chances are the person is a salesman or businessman, not a factory-worker (crystal producer).

In the larger cities, there will be more options of work, more education, and fewer people wanting to this crystal production. Much of the supply will probably come from outlying cities, and crystal-production will become a family trade, much like farming or craftsmanship. Because of the distant supply from the demand, the middleman and caravan merchants will be able to raise their prices and still earn a profit when selling to the government and big companies.

Then, from what I understand, life goes on.

TheStranger
2013-08-05, 01:25 PM
Which will work and keep working. I've envisioned capital depreciation (cost of maintenance and occasional replacements) at maybe 1% or less per year. And zero running cost.

Also, its worse than your ratio. You don't spend a day to make a machine that will do ten minutes of worth work continuously every hour. You spend about a man-year doing that. Maybe more.

Building something like a magic-based suspension bridge takes a small army of people making crystals to fuel the construction requirements. The engine of an airship out-costs the rest of the airship by hundreds of times. But the bridge will still be there 60 years from now, and your airship still flies.

In a certain sense, the capital industry in this setting is somewhat similar to the egyptians building the pyramids in terms of man-hours needed to get stuff done.

I had a long post written out about why it still wasn't economical, but I think I changed my own mind in the process of writing it. Basically, my conclusion is that it might make sense to pay for "constant" magical effects, like keeping an airship in the air. If I'm understanding you right, a constant effect returns its magical investment in about a year, which sounds reasonable (depending on the efficiency of magic in general). Of course, the marginal benefit of the magical solution over a mundane alternative needs to be sufficient to justify adding magic in the first place.

I don't think it makes sense to pay that multiplier for one-time effects, though. In that case, it's probably cheaper to pay for castings as needed, unless you'll need them insanely often. The only exception I could see is military; it might be worth stockpiling that magical energy, even with the 1/8700 discount, just so you can "go nova" when you really need to.

Yora
2013-08-05, 02:13 PM
Maybe someone here might have a very rough estimate for me:

The situation at hand is: How much gear would a character in pathfinder have to carry around when going on a one week hike through the wilderness?

Now I don't want to make a list of all the items I would put into a characters inventory and calculate the weight, since the listed weights are probably all over the place and I don't know what an actual 5th century frontiersman would carry around with him.

Ignoring weapon and armor for now, how much would he be likely to carry in food, water, spare clothing, tools, blankets, and a small tent perhaps? What do current day hikers take on an outdoor trip, though that would probably have to account for modern leightwight materials.
Could such a character stay under 20kg and still be reasonably prepared to take on the wilds?

jseah
2013-08-05, 02:41 PM
I don't think it makes sense to pay that multiplier for one-time effects, though. In that case, it's probably cheaper to pay for castings as needed, unless you'll need them insanely often. The only exception I could see is military; it might be worth stockpiling that magical energy, even with the 1/8700 discount, just so you can "go nova" when you really need to.
Oh, well, certainly not for one-time effects no. You won't enchant a crane just to lift a heavy block of stone. You'll enchant a general purpose Engine, attach it to harness the motive power, which you can use to pull a pulley to power a crane.

And then after it's done, you take it out of the crane and put it work somewhere else, like a factory. Or a millionaire's car-equivalent. Or drive a turbine to pump water or drive an airship.

There should be a massive reliance on general Engines that do Work, and you put those expensive things into various applications as needed. Chassis are cheap after all, at least in comparison to the Engine.

TheStranger
2013-08-05, 04:07 PM
Ignoring weapon and armor for now, how much would he be likely to carry in food, water, spare clothing, tools, blankets, and a small tent perhaps? What do current day hikers take on an outdoor trip, though that would probably have to account for modern leightwight materials.
Could such a character stay under 20kg and still be reasonably prepared to take on the wilds?

From extensive personal experience, I can say that a modern backpacker would carry well under 20kg on a one-week trip. I'd say mid-range modern gear allows you to go for a week at ~15kg. If you go with ultralight gear and strip out everything that isn't essential, you could go as low as 10kg.

But as you said, that assumes modern materials. It also assumes a pretty narrow definition of "essential." I don't normally carry a tent (usually I bring a small tarp). Or a first aid kit. Or any tools other than a small knife. Or rain gear. That also assumes summer conditions. Winter clothing and bedding are much heavier. Also, if you're unprepared in winter, you're more likely to end up dead instead of uncomfortable.

But I'd say you could easily stay under 20kg, even without modern materials. Although I've never played in a game where it was an issue.

Just for fun, here's a gear list:
Backpack
Bedroll
Tarp or other waterproof covering (about 8'x10' for 1-2 people. Botched survival rolls may result in unhappiness; bring a tent if you're worried. Omit entirely if you're hardcore.)
Knife
~25' of lightweight rope (lighter than PHB rope; I use clothesline)
Waterskin (multiple if you're in a dry area)
Purification tablets (unnecessary in a fantasy setting)
Toilet paper (you can use leaves if you know what poison ivy looks like)
Flint & steel
Cookstove (recommended, but optional if you trust your fire-building skills)
Fuel
Small cookpot (~1 liter)
Spoon
Food (~1 kg/day)
Flask of good whiskey (optional, but recommended)

I probably forgot something, but I think that's the basics.

Yora
2013-08-12, 06:58 AM
In a society where iron is not commonly used, what would use to cook food while traveling through the wilds. A copper pot?

Thinker
2013-08-12, 09:45 AM
In a society where iron is not commonly used, what would use to cook food while traveling through the wilds. A copper pot?

Pottery/ceramics, turtle/tortoise shells (with clay coating), bronze, copper, cooking basket (with clay coating).

Yora
2013-08-12, 02:43 PM
Those seem pretty troublesome to drag around on a long footmarch. Did people do that or was food on the trail either fruits or roasted meat?

Thinker
2013-08-12, 02:57 PM
Those seem pretty troublesome to drag around on a long footmarch. Did people do that or was food on the trail either fruits or roasted meat?

People used those sorts of things for cooking historically, though I don't know about on the trail. Still, you only need one small pot to make food for oneself, to boil water (for tea or purification or something), to use as a plate, and can be used to hold stuff while it's stowed away. A single small pot isn't that heavy, regardless of material and when I've backpacked in the past, I've taken one with me made of cast-iron.

elliott20
2013-08-12, 03:09 PM
re: using magic to do stuff

you have to remember though that if magic crystal creation is such a critical component to societal functioning, it would be natural for people to start rushing towards that industry in an attempt to find ways to make things cheaper to do.

i.e.
- find ways to make energy consumption more efficient (maybe try pushing the energy requirement down to 5000x to 500x)
- find ways to make crystal creation faster / cheaper
- find alternative sources of energy
- find ways to utilize the crystals

the situation OP described is actually an example of a perfectly competitive market, with no entry barrier, and incredibly high demand. As such, you'll see prices of said crystals start getting pushed down as people start to crowd the industry, basically commoditizing energy crystals.

That is, until one of the people figure out one of the things I list above, at which point said person will probably start growing by acquisition, creating a magic crystal conglomerate, as it swallows up local competition.

In addition, I am surprised that local authorities have not laid down a metric ton of regulations surrounding this, seeing as magic crystals are such a critical part of society.

TheStranger
2013-08-12, 03:16 PM
Thinker's answers are spot on, and a copper pot is a fine substitute for steel/iron, but I'll add that it depends on the culture, the person, and the reason for wandering around in the wilderness. A skilled woodsman who's only out for a short period might travel light, relying on food that doesn't require cooking (nuts, dried meat, granola, etc.) and what he can find (which might be plenty anyway). A frontiersman who's planning to pretty much live his life in the wilderness will probably have a cookpot, even if it's a little heavier than he might like (but he might not be as concerned with traveling fast). A wealthy explorer might have a whole expedition worth of people to carry that sort of thing, leaving him free to strike heroic poses with his spyglass. Generally speaking, people would do some cost-benefit analysis with the options available to them - including cooking implements, foodstuffs, wealth, and survival skills.

Two other points: first, if you're with a group of people, you can designate one person to carry the cookpot, in exchange for another person carrying the tent, and another person the bulk of the food, and so on, so that even if the cookpot is unwieldy, the burden is spread around. Second, pack animals can be helpful; there's nothing wrong with throwing all your heavy gear on a mule.

Yora
2013-08-12, 03:46 PM
Speaking of mules. If you had a group of "bronze age"-ish warriors like in northern and western Europe, who are on a several day long trip to visit another village, would they be traveling by foot?
In North America, there were no horses or even cows, but people still used dogs to pull loads. And in central asia, people were apparently riding horses before they were walking according to some probably exagerated expressions. So availability of mounts or pack animals would obviously be the greatest factor, but where such animals where available would it be common for the more well off people to take one on long travels rather than doing it all on foot with a backpack?
Or instead, are there any good reasons not to take a mount or pack animal if one is available? If I run a setting with huge open wilderness, should the PCs perhaps start out with ponys from the very beginning?

This is of course fantasy, but how about an educated guess?

TheStranger
2013-08-12, 04:20 PM
Speaking of mules. If you had a group of "bronze age"-ish warriors like in northern and western Europe, who are on a several day long trip to visit another village, would they be traveling by foot?
In North America, there were no horses or even cows, but people still used dogs to pull loads. And in central asia, people were apparently riding horses before they were walking according to some probably exagerated expressions. So availability of mounts or pack animals would obviously be the greatest factor, but where such animals where available would it be common for the more well off people to take one on long travels rather than doing it all on foot with a backpack?
Or instead, are there any good reasons not to take a mount or pack animal if one is available? If I run a setting with huge open wilderness, should the PCs perhaps start out with ponys from the very beginning?

This is of course fantasy, but how about an educated guess?

Again, it depends. If the terrain is conducive to horses, people will probably ride horses given the choice, particularly if they have a significant amount of stuff to transport. If it's a dense jungle, they probably won't (and there might not be horses available anyway). And PCs, of course, will seldom bother with pack animals because they can't go in dungeons, there are other things to spend money on, carrying 50 lbs. on your back doesn't hurt as much on paper, and the Barbarian can carry more weight than the horse anyway.

fusilier
2013-08-12, 04:21 PM
Those seem pretty troublesome to drag around on a long footmarch. Did people do that or was food on the trail either fruits or roasted meat?

To the best of my knowledge they did carry such items on marches. Pottery was very popular for a long time. It might break, but it was usually cheap and easy to find. You don't need to carry around a huge pot or skillet either, a couple of small ones will usually suffice for a small group of people.

Brother Oni
2013-08-12, 07:25 PM
As an example of multipurpose cookpots, the Japanese peasant foot soldier (Ashigaru) helmet or jingasa, was used out of combat to cook food in.


http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/81/Ashigaru_jingasa.JPG

Given that the main staple was rice with possibly some vegetables, it was probably a lot easier to clean for wearing after eating than a more typical western meal.

Beleriphon
2013-08-12, 08:03 PM
Given that the main staple was rice with possibly some vegetables, it was probably a lot easier to clean for wearing after eating than a more typical western meal.

I don't know about that, some water and cooked grain isn't that hard to clean. Mind you bronze age armour wasn't usually made of bronze, or even copper, but rather things like linens so those don't usually make very good pots for cooking.

Thinker
2013-08-13, 09:20 AM
Speaking of mules. If you had a group of "bronze age"-ish warriors like in northern and western Europe, who are on a several day long trip to visit another village, would they be traveling by foot?
In North America, there were no horses or even cows, but people still used dogs to pull loads. And in central asia, people were apparently riding horses before they were walking according to some probably exagerated expressions. So availability of mounts or pack animals would obviously be the greatest factor, but where such animals where available would it be common for the more well off people to take one on long travels rather than doing it all on foot with a backpack?
Or instead, are there any good reasons not to take a mount or pack animal if one is available? If I run a setting with huge open wilderness, should the PCs perhaps start out with ponys from the very beginning?

This is of course fantasy, but how about an educated guess?
Many animals had been domesticated for thousands of years by the bronze age (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_domesticated_animals), many of which can be used as pack animals:


Dogs - 30,000 to 15,000 BC
Cattle - 8,000 BC
Donkey - 5,000 BC
Water Buffalo - 4,000 BC
Horse - 4,000 BC
Camel - 4,000 BC
Yak - 2,500 BC
Llama - 2,400 BC
Alpaca - 2,400 BC

If your PCs are going to be adventuring on the frontier, I would recommend that they take dogs with them. Dogs were used during war by the Celts so there is precedence for ancient guard dogs. They've always hunted alongside people, so could help with foraging for food. When carrying many objects, having a pack dog would be useful, especially if they need to descend into a dungeon. They can also go through thickly wooded areas and other rough terrain while also having the stamina to keep up with a horse, should the PCs want to ride horses. Basically, dogs are awesome for adventuring.

Yora
2013-08-13, 10:16 AM
Basically, dogs are awesome for adventuring.
Basically, dogs are awesome. Their abilities complement those of humans very well and vice versa, while they both have the brains and the stamina for sustained long-distance, cooperative hunting. They work with the team but also take initiative by themselves. There's really good reasons canines were about the first animals to be domesticated and do stuff that still can't be taken over by machines.

Yora
2013-08-18, 07:06 AM
More wilderness travel:

In a world where there are basically no roads, traders transporting goods over long distances would probably have to go either by boat or mule, right? Unless you're traveling through plains with firm ground, carts would probably not do it?

Jacob.Tyr
2013-08-18, 08:15 AM
More wilderness travel:

In a world where there are basically no roads, traders transporting goods over long distances would probably have to go either by boat or mule, right? Unless you're traveling through plains with firm ground, carts would probably not do it?

A lot of major human routes are based around large animal trails. The Natchez Trace was a large game trail built up around animals accessing salt licks, and wound up being adopted for human use. So assuming your world has salt and large quadrupeds it might already have some early roads.

Aux-Ash
2013-08-18, 08:24 AM
Just by boat really. While a mule can handle difficult terrain, multiple ones will be difficult and the more you bring the slower you'll move. A cart is really unfeasible off the road, particularily ones dragged by heavy beasts of burden. Dromedaries and camels are decent alternatives though (usually because where they're used you don't have to worry about paths being completely overgrown).

But in temperate, moist tropical and sub-arctic climates you really don't have much choice to take larger bulks of cargo on boats or make roads. Swamps becomes virtually impassible with cargo without roads, as does forests and mountains really.
They don't really need to be constructed roads as much as a travelled path mind. All it takes is regular travel along it for it not to be overgrown (which is why so many roads are the shortest and safest distance between settlements). So most roads develop rather naturally as people travel that distance anyways.

Wintertime sleds and skies make excellent alternatives though. Ice, frozen ground and snow pretty much eliminate the need for roads on flat land (it makes travel over mountains hopeless though).

Raum
2013-08-18, 10:03 AM
More wilderness travel:

In a world where there are basically no roads, traders transporting goods over long distances would probably have to go either by boat or mule, right? Unless you're traveling through plains with firm ground, carts would probably not do it?Goods of any quantity are going to go by boat. (Even today transporting cargo by water is cheaper than any other method...by a factor of 15 or so.)

Short distances may go by mule but longer distances are going to have to deal with feeding the mules...which means a large percentage of what they can carry gets dedicated to food. If you try to rely on grazing you'll cut back the distance you can travel in a day and the amount of weight you can put on the mules. Additionally, you limit your travel to the growing season.

Yora
2013-08-18, 10:22 AM
That would strongly indicate that merchant companies in my setting are mostly opperating by boat. That certainly adds an interesting new element to it. :smallsmile:

Can you travel upriver on a sailship if winds are not completely in your favor? The geography would be somewhat like the United States eastcost (though without the Appalachians causing the land to rise quickly) or the Chinese coast, with rivers generally flowing from Northwest-West to Southeast-East. I think in those longitudes, winds would be mostly Southwest to Northeast, which isn't exactly pushing any ships against the current.
Could you still use sailships, or would you have to switch to rowboats?

Beleriphon
2013-08-18, 10:48 AM
Can you travel upriver on a sailship if winds are not completely in your favor? The geography would be somewhat like the United States eastcost (though without the Appalachians causing the land to rise quickly) or the Chinese coast, with rivers generally flowing from Northwest-West to Southeast-East. I think in those longitudes, winds would be mostly Southwest to Northeast, which isn't exactly pushing any ships against the current.
Could you still use sailships, or would you have to switch to rowboats?

Generally speaking you can't easily sail up most rivers without some kind of outside power source. That can be dragging barges via beasts of burden, wind or oars. If the winds aren't favourable you'd be looking at rowers propelling the boat up the river.

Yora
2013-08-18, 10:55 AM
I think having different types of crafts for sea travel and river travel would probably the best way to handle it. Which means having trading posts at the mouth of every major river where goods are reloaded. Since it would be different crews and they don't want to make the return trip with an empty hold, there would be lots of trading going on in those places, making them attractive for nearby locals as well.
Lots of opportunity to flesh out a setting.

Raum
2013-08-18, 10:57 AM
That would strongly indicate that merchant companies in my setting are mostly opperating by boat. That certainly adds an interesting new element to it. :smallsmile:

Can you travel upriver on a sailship if winds are not completely in your favor? If the river is large enough, yes. (I've sailed on rivers - granted, it was a 28' boat not a cargo barge. :smallsmile:) Other methods include poling, water wheels, or using your mules on land to pull the boat. Each has been used at one point or another in history.


The geography would be somewhat like the United States eastcost (though without the Appalachians causing the land to rise quickly) or the Chinese coast, with rivers generally flowing from Northwest-West to Southeast-East. I think in those longitudes, winds would be mostly Southwest to Northeast, which isn't exactly pushing any ships against the current.
Could you still use sailships, or would you have to switch to rowboats?You can still sail, it will just limit the size of the ship compared to the river. Sailing upwind means you need to tack. That said, relatively flat coastal areas probably mean slow rivers so poling upriver is a good option.

When you're looking at the size of your craft, do remember you'll need to portage them past serious rapids and any falls. Of course you could also put trading cities at those points and simply sell / transfer the goods to another craft on the other side of the obstacle.


I think having different types of crafts for sea travel and river travel would probably the best way to handle it. Yes, you'll almost always have different types of craft for sea vs river. If nothing else, you typically need a relatively shallow draft craft in the river to navigate shallow water and deeper draft craft in the ocean to make them more seaworthy. A river craft in an ocean storm is a recipe for a disaster movie. :smallwink:

Vortalism
2013-08-18, 11:14 AM
I have two questions really, if that's ok with everyone. Also you'll notice that these questions are sorta newbie, I'm fairly new to world-building as I've always been more of a player, now turned GM.

Biology/Ecology: Question A
In a world supposedly populated by tons of high functioning predators (Monster Manual) how would they support themselves off of the relatively light additions the MM makes to prey animals and herbivores? With so much competition it would be expected that there would be at least twice as many permutations of prey to avoid said predators and their "supernatural" abilities. How do I make sense of this without adding tons and tons of magical prey animals?

Roman Economics: Question B
So my campaign world is set in a pseudo-Greco-Roman Empire with technological levels of the Late Middle Ages (think late 1300s-1400s), and since I don't know how to put this in any elegant way whatsoever... how do I "not-break" the economy with Wizards that could potentially transmute all the iron needed for raw materials ever? I just need help justifying how high functioning magic exists without the a huge percentage of value being lost in just about everything.

Yora
2013-08-18, 11:19 AM
I think with predators and prey, every situation will eventually find a point where the numbers are steady so the predators can sustain their numbers without causing the prey population to drop anymore. In practice you frequently have regular fluctuations, but in the end the "high predator" periods and "high prey" periods should level out in the long run.
When it comes to adding more species to a made-up ecosystem, you are not really adding more predators, but you're simply making the range of predator species more diverse. Instead of 10,000 wolves, you then have 4,000 wolves, 2,000 worgs, and 1,000 dire wolves, who eat just the same amount of prey.

As long as the same amount of prey is consumed by the predators, it doesn't really make much difference how many different species the predators are.

Regarding magic economy: Simply limit the amount of spellcasters who can do certain things in relation to the amount of work that has to be done. If you need 10,000 units of something and the wizards can make only create 500, you still need normal means to get the other 9,500. And of course, the wizards will want to sell their creation at just a tiny bit lower than the market price for common goods. Just because they have lover production costs doesn't mean they will sell it cheap.
Also, they have better things to do than making things that can just be done equally well by manual labor. They will want to do things that can only be done with their magic.

Beleriphon
2013-08-18, 01:58 PM
Roman Economics: Question B
So my campaign world is set in a pseudo-Greco-Roman Empire with technological levels of the Late Middle Ages (think late 1300s-1400s), and since I don't know how to put this in any elegant way whatsoever... how do I "not-break" the economy with Wizards that could potentially transmute all the iron needed for raw materials ever? I just need help justifying how high functioning magic exists without the a huge percentage of value being lost in just about everything.

For the same reason a person with a doctorate in some engineering field doesn't work in a factory pulling plastic bits out of a machine: It isn't worth their time.

fusilier
2013-08-18, 04:16 PM
Yes, you'll almost always have different types of craft for sea vs river. If nothing else, you typically need a relatively shallow draft craft in the river to navigate shallow water and deeper draft craft in the ocean to make them more seaworthy. A river craft in an ocean storm is a recipe for a disaster movie. :smallwink:

Historically, some ocean going ships have been able to penetrate fairly deep into large rivers. It depends upon the ship and the river.

Raum
2013-08-18, 04:38 PM
Historically, some ocean going ships have been able to penetrate fairly deep into large rivers. It depends upon the ship and the river.Of course, there are too many variations in both river size and ship design to think anything else.

Gnoman
2013-08-19, 04:38 PM
Roman Economics: Question B
So my campaign world is set in a pseudo-Greco-Roman Empire with technological levels of the Late Middle Ages (think late 1300s-1400s), and since I don't know how to put this in any elegant way whatsoever... how do I "not-break" the economy with Wizards that could potentially transmute all the iron needed for raw materials ever? I just need help justifying how high functioning magic exists without the a huge percentage of value being lost in just about everything.

Simple. Just rewrite the laws of magic slightly to include a Law of Equivalent Exchange or similar, so that, for example, the DnD 3.5 spell Wall of Iron sucks iron out of the earth (or, potentially worse, the surrounding area) instead of creating it (or sucking it out of an elemental plane or whatever). This will be too minor to affect players, but make magic a limited choice on a large scale.

Yora
2013-08-19, 04:54 PM
It would still be a very neat way of iron extraction. Much more efficient than digging the ore from hard rock and processing it in a labor and energy consuming process. With mages available for regular work in the mines being probably rare, that method would probably be used in areas where digging through the rock would be especially difficult and slow. Where digging is easier, hiring a mage to suck the iron from the surrounding rocks would probably be too expensive.
Getting a hired wizard to cast wall of iron costs over 6,000 sp. You can pay 2,000 miners and smelters per day with that money. Or 65 of them for a whole month. Not sure how much iron you get from ore, but 65 people working for a whole month every day should produce a quite considerable amount.

Tirunedeth
2013-08-19, 06:11 PM
It would still be a very neat way of iron extraction. Much more efficient than digging the ore from hard rock and processing it in a labor and energy consuming process. With mages available for regular work in the mines being probably rare, that method would probably be used in areas where digging through the rock would be especially difficult and slow. Where digging is easier, hiring a mage to suck the iron from the surrounding rocks would probably be too expensive.
Getting a hired wizard to cast wall of iron costs over 6,000 sp. You can pay 2,000 miners and smelters per day with that money. Or 65 of them for a whole month. Not sure how much iron you get from ore, but 65 people working for a whole month every day should produce a quite considerable amount.

According to the SRD, a Wall of Iron has an area of 5 square feet per caster level and a thickness of 1 inch per four caster levels. At the minimum caster level of 11, this equates to some 12.6 cubic feet of iron, or 0.357 cubic meters. Given iron's density, this works out to some 6,200 lbs of iron. While I don't know how much iron 65 people could mine in a month, I do know that the SRD puts the cost of a pound of iron at 1 sp. So, the D&D economy is somewhat consistent in at least this regard, although I should probably note that the amount of iron conjured goes up quadratically while the cost to get someone to cast a spell is linear, so it becomes more economical the higher the spellcaster's level is.

Edit: Well, I forgot to multiply by five in there when figuring the volume, so I'm actually off by a factor of five, and even at minimum caster level Wall of Iron is vastly cheaper than buying iron. So, yeah, never mind.

Beleriphon
2013-08-19, 06:18 PM
Getting a hired wizard to cast wall of iron costs over 6,000 sp. You can pay 2,000 miners and smelters per day with that money. Or 65 of them for a whole month. Not sure how much iron you get from ore, but 65 people working for a whole month every day should produce a quite considerable amount.

65 people isn't that many when you're working a mine. Even a modern mine using high explosives employs hundreds, if not thousands of people working twenty-four hours a day. Ancient Roman mines were almost universally manned by slaves, so you don't need to worry about pay. I'd wager to run a fully operational mine you'd need at least 300 workers, just to keep three shifts constantly pulling ore out of the ground. This isn't taking into account the need to at least smelt the metal out of the raw ore to get a remotely usable form.

Vahir
2013-08-19, 10:23 PM
Question: Is it possible for self sufficient underground societies (Such as, say, dwarves) to exist? More specifically, can edible crops realistically be farmed underground? Also, would living forever underground be possible from a health perspective?

Other question: How do trade hubs become so wealthy? Let's say City A produces something which is needed in City C, but all the traders have to pass through City B. Selling supplies to traders doesn't seem lucrative enough to justify such prosperity in City B.

Jacob.Tyr
2013-08-19, 11:41 PM
Question: Is it possible for self sufficient underground societies (Such as, say, dwarves) to exist? More specifically, can edible crops realistically be farmed underground? Also, would living forever underground be possible from a health perspective?

Lots of animals spend their entire lives underground, so it's more than possible from a health perspective. Dwarves would just have different physiologies/diets to make up for production of things other races might be using the sun to do.

As far as farming goes... leaf-cutter ants might be a natural example? Oyster mushrooms grow on cellulose, so they can be mass produced using wood pulp as a base. I guess if your dwarves are willing to drag some dead trees underground they could farm fungi pretty easily.
More than likely, though, I'd assume they would live off of some sort of underground river with cave fish.
Alternatively if they're in a particularly volcanic region there might be sulfur based life that forms around vents and doesn't require sunlight.

So no farming other than fungus, and that would probably require input from above ground. But fish/crustaceans in underground lakes/rivers is a possibility. Converting your subterranean fish into fungus doesn't seem worthwhile, though.

I always just assumed dwarves imported most everything, having long ago realized they could "make" more food by just purchasing it with what they can mine.


Other question: How do trade hubs become so wealthy? Let's say City A produces something which is needed in City C, but all the traders have to pass through City B. Selling supplies to traders doesn't seem lucrative enough to justify such prosperity in City B.

For your second question: Presumably if City A is sending the needed goods to City C, City C is sending something back in return. City B might be a good halfway point, where traders from both cities exchange goods with each other and head back home. City B probably takes a cut of goods entering the city, or a fee per caravan wagon load, and in exchange offers protection. A safe place to sell valuables is worth a decent bit, and when access to that place allows you to sell those goods after only traveling half the distance it is more than worth a little bit off the top.

Aux-Ash
2013-08-19, 11:54 PM
On wall of Iron as opposed to mines:
Remember that the wall of iron can't just be molten down like that. You need to take it apart and melt it down piece by piece as well. Just because you can summon it does not mean you do not need a massive workforce to turn the wall into objects.
And need I say that sawing and hacking off chunks out of a thick sheet of iron with no modern tools is not at all easy. The mine might very well be much quicker.

Futhermore, if the WoI is pure iron, then it may be unsuitable for making tools, armour and weapons since it'd be much too brittle for any prolonged or high-stress use.


Question: Is it possible for self sufficient underground societies (Such as, say, dwarves) to exist? More specifically, can edible crops realistically be farmed underground? Also, would living forever underground be possible from a health perspective?

Based on our world? Doubtful. There's plenty of organisms that do not need sunlight, and some are even funghi. But it would not be a very rich diet. Maybe you can find the odd fish as well, but they're hardly very big.

And if dwarves are anything like humans at all, they need the Vitamin D that we get mostly from exposure to sunlight. A lack of that is going to lead to depression, lethargy, scurvy and other forms of malnutrition.

Personally, I'd have the dwarves build underground fortresses in the mountains and then have surface dwarves in hidden valley and such tasked with growing and breeding the food for the fortress.


Other question: How do trade hubs become so wealthy? Let's say City A produces something which is needed in City C, but all the traders have to pass through City B. Selling supplies to traders doesn't seem lucrative enough to justify such prosperity in City B.

Short answer: The same way anyone does, by buying cheap and selling with a profit.

To elaborate: No farmer can afford to take his crop halfway around the world, no matter how much it is worth. So he sells it at the market at the local town. There the smallscale merchants rent space on riverbarges or with caravaneers. These transports haul the goods to the first trade hub, where the large merchant houses buy the goods at a price both parties are satisfied (-ish) with.
Said merchant houses then pack the crates on ships (or another caravan) and haul it over to the next centre of trade where they do the same thing. These journeys are expensive and risky so they don't want to pay for too long ones. Plus, shorter trips means you can afford to do it more often.

And so the goods travel from one trade hub to the next. Every time the merchants involved takes off a piece for themselves, tolls are paid and the price increases. Couple with that some of it is continously sold off for consumtion, bandits and thieves stealing part of the cargo and so forth.

So every leg along the journey the price increases and the difference stays in that trade hub. That's why trade hubs become so rich. They do not sell goods as much as facilitate the trade, and they charge a reasonable sum for it.

And, to finish up with your example, if City A and City C are so close to one another that there's no point in selling in City B... then City B is not a centre of trade.

hymer
2013-08-20, 12:43 AM
Aux-Ash is spot on.
It's also worth noting that trade attracts trade. Once a trade hub becomes the centre of commerce for the region, once you get your hands on a shipment of X, where better to find a buyer quick? And because everyone knows that this is where the merchants go, so do people in search of specific things. Which makes even more merchants go, etc.
The only place you are likely to find a better bargain is where they produce the stuff. So if the mines are east of the trade hub, the marble quarries to the west, the great forest to the north and the expansive wheat fields to the south, you can either journey in a great circle to get the goods from these regions, or you can go to the hub and pick everything up at once. It may be more expensive there, but you can arrange to get your stuff in a few days instead of a few months.
Trade is also what builds cities. Add 100 new merchants and their dependents to a city, and the local landowners have more people to sell agricultural products to, the local carpenters get more work making buildings, furniture and such, the seamstresses get another batch of bodies to cover up. As demand rises, supply scrambles to follow, which means more people to work the land, make lumber for the carpenters and make cloth for the seamstresses. So demand rises again.

Tirunedeth
2013-08-20, 08:28 AM
Edit: Well, I forgot to multiply by five in there when figuring the volume, so I'm actually off by a factor of five, and even at minimum caster level Wall of Iron is vastly cheaper than buying iron. So, yeah, never mind.

And it turns out there are more errors, including forgetting to divide by twelve when I was checking my work. So, for the sake of setting the record straight, I've redone all my math:

Caster level: L
Area of wall: A = (25 ft2)*L <- This is where I made one mistake: a five-foot square is 25 square feet, not 5 square feet. I really should know better...
Thickness of wall: t = (0.25 in)*L = (0.0208 ft)*L
Volume of wall: V = A*t = (25 ft2 * 0.0208 ft)*L2 = (0.52 ft3)*L2
3.2808 ft = 100 cm => 35.3 ft3 = 106 cm3
Volume (in metric): V = (0.52 ft3 * 106 cm3 / 35.3 ft3)*L2 = (14,700 cm3)*L2
Density of iron: D = 7.874 g/cm3
1000 g = 2.205 lbs
Density of iron: D = 7.874 g/cm3 * 2.205 lbs / 1000 g = 0.0174 lbs/cm3
Mass of wall: M = D*V = (0.0174 lbs/cm3 * 14,700 cm3)*L2 = (256 lbs)*L2

Minimum caster level for Wall of Iron: Lmin = 11
Then, mass of wall at minimum caster level is:
Mmin = (256 lbs)*L2min = (256 lbs)*(11)2 = 31,000 lbs

To reiterate the price from the SRD, 1 lb of iron is worth 1 sp. The cost to have someone cast a 6th-level spell is 60 gp per caster level plus the cost of any material components (which is 50 gp worth of gold dust for Wall of Iron). That equates to 7,100 sp for an 11th level caster. Of course, as Aux-Ash notes, there are all kinds of costs associated with processing the Wall of Iron into usable form. Whether that would make up the difference is another question.

Stray
2013-08-20, 09:57 AM
Other question: How do trade hubs become so wealthy? Let's say City A produces something which is needed in City C, but all the traders have to pass through City B. Selling supplies to traders doesn't seem lucrative enough to justify such prosperity in City B.

Some cities in mediaeval Europe had something called Staple right or Storage right - merchants passing through were obliged to offer their goods for sale on the local market. This could range from "display your wares for set amount of time and then you can leave with the rest" or "sell a fraction of your goods and you can move on" to extreme example of "you have to sell all your cargo here". This kind of privilege was granted and enforced by a king or other lawgiver in the region. Avoiding it would turn merchants into outlaws, and it's hard to run from justice with wagons full of goods. Seems nasty from modern free trade point of view, but those were different times.

fusilier
2013-08-20, 09:17 PM
Some cities in mediaeval Europe had something called Staple right or Storage right - merchants passing through were obliged to offer their goods for sale on the local market. This could range from "display your wares for set amount of time and then you can leave with the rest" or "sell a fraction of your goods and you can move on" to extreme example of "you have to sell all your cargo here". This kind of privilege was granted and enforced by a king or other lawgiver in the region. Avoiding it would turn merchants into outlaws, and it's hard to run from justice with wagons full of goods. Seems nasty from modern free trade point of view, but those were different times.

They also just straight out taxed them.

However, if a lot of trade is passing through a particular city then it will become a logical point for merchants (especially middle men) to set up business. It would make it easier to coordinate different trading enterprises, and would be a logical base for freight carriers.

Yora
2013-08-30, 06:40 AM
Are there any animals that actually impale their prey on their horns or use them to stab attackers?
All honed animals I know of actually just headbut each other with their skulls, but don't stab at each others with the horns.

TheStranger
2013-08-30, 07:42 AM
Well, I've heard of people getting gored by bulls.

I think the thing to look at is the shape of the horns (or antlers). Blunt, curving horns = headbutting. Pointy, forward-facing horns = goring. That's probably a gross oversimplification, but my thinking is that any animal with horns of the right configuration can and will use them to cause injury, even if that's not its primary attack.

hymer
2013-08-30, 07:42 AM
For actual horns (not tusks or the sort of protuberance a rhino sports), the main function is arguably cooling down. Blood passes through the horns in order to cool down (and do what blood does in general).
That said, bull fighters have been known to get impaled on a bull's horns. When you use your horns for dominance fights, they shouldn't really impale too easily, or you'll kill rather than subjugate your rival - bad for the species overall to have young males killed off by the older ones. So a bull's horns are more likely to impale someone trying to avoid getting trampled than someone who puts his forehead to the bull's forehead. If they're not a bull themelves, though, odds are they won't be trying something so foolish.

Spiryt
2013-08-30, 07:45 AM
There are countless gorish videos and pictures of people being impaled by bulls horns. Mostly during many different Spanish festivals, of course.

Roguenewb
2013-08-30, 07:55 AM
Question: Is it possible for self sufficient underground societies (Such as, say, dwarves) to exist? More specifically, can edible crops realistically be farmed underground? Also, would living forever underground be possible from a health perspective?



Question 1: Short Answer: No. Long Answer: Not really, but maybe somewhere that isn't Earth. There are complications like Vitamin D and such, but there are biosynthetic pathways that bypass the need for high energy photon input, and would theorectially be evolved in dwarves/drow/whatever; the real problem is thermodynamics. All the cave systems on earth eventually get their energy from the sun, if you backtrack. Leafcutter ants bring in plants from the surface, water carries in bacteria and debris and bats eat outside then die inside, so on and so forth.

:vaarsuvius: : Every living thing requires X amount of energy every day to maintain its internal environment, a condition essential for life. A portion of this energy (X/Y) is released as low density heat and is essentially useless for all future interactions (If you are familiar with the concept of Entropy, this is it, right here) as it lacks sufficient order to be exploited. If you consider energy released as heat to be lost, which it essentially is, it becomes very clear that a source of energy is needed. On Earth, almost (not quite, but very, very, veryx99 close) all this energy is provided by electromagnetic radiation from the sun (light). The light has a high degree of order, as well as energy, and can be fed into various systems to tie up the energy for later use. On Earth, plants use the light to invest in creating energetic chemical bonds found in glucose (eventually, photosynthesis is a multistage process). Some of the light energy is moved into those bonds, some is lost as heat, and some bounces off as green light.

In the underground environment, you can, with diligence, set up a nearly perfect cycle of nutrients, minerals and vitamins. This doesn't include energy however. Every second, those creatures are radiating energy that entered the underground as glucose bonds, and is being lost forever. Because of the fundamental principles of entropy, its not even possible to recover that radiated heat in a meaningful way, some will always be lost.

But, as Fantasy and Science Fiction Writer (which all DMs are to an extent) you have a cool situation to be in. Undersea vents have demonstrated that there are multiple ways to make glucose (they steal the energy from high energy sulfur bonds and move it into those glucose bonds), and you can write a new one! Maybe, deep beneath the earth, the energy of the Magma God Voristtha leaks off his prison, and a strange red leafed plant called God's Leaf grows off that energy instead of sunlight. God's Leaf provides a basis for all food webs. Supports fungi, insects, mammals and so on, just like grass and trees.

Or maybe an archmage cast the epic spell "Enthalpic Mastery" a million years ago on this cave, and zero energy is ever lost on reactions underground. Spellcraft DC 12934 because it is the best transmutation ever. Plus, for underground farms, Wizards could just create magic light sources. In this case, the energy flow of arcane magic from wherever/divine power from the gods, replaces the flow in of fresh light energy that normal ecosystems need.

Maybe as the souls of the dead pass downwards into hell from the world above, some of their energy is leeched by Ghost Grass, a strange glowing fungus type growth that covers many walls in the Underdark. Maybe arcane energy from spells cast above drifts downward from above, and provides energy like drifting animal debris feeds the bottom of the deep oceans.

All of this is possible answers, but, you need an energy source for the community. Closed cycles are definitionally impossible. Even life on Earth isn't a closed eternal cycle, it just lasts 10 billion years so we can't really concieve of it ending. Have fun writing your answer!

PS Fungi isn't a plant. It grows on dying, decompising things. The classic undergound glowing mushrooms are b*******. They don't make fresh sugar, they eat the world around them. I know its classic enough to forgive, but technically, its wrong.

Second Question: Yes. There are immortal living things on Earth right now. Some trees to name just one. There are some animals as well that theoretically don't have senescence in the way we experience it. Death is, to an extent, preprogrammed in our genes, because it creates room for the next generation and makes evolution easier. You die so your kids can replace you, harsh.

Immortality is difficult for us right now because our cells have these timers called telomeres that wear out and do cell damage as they get too short. Accumulated cell damage, from this process as well as damage from DNA affecting exposure to light and chemicals builds up and our systems get weaker, and something eventually kills us (note, age doesn't generally actually kill us, if nothing else, cancer will eventually get you from all this DNA damage). Since our cells lengthen these telomeres/timers every time a fresh egg is made, and you consider a mother->child->grandchild succession a single organism (which cellularly it is in a lot of ways), we are currently making up part of a 3.4 billion year old living thing. Not to get Gaia-ish on here (CURSE YOU LOVELOCK), we aren't really a single being, but in terms of overcoming cellular aging and death, we are.

You can easily have a species that replaces its telomeres every division, and is functionally immortal (from aging). I believe there are reports that some fish on earth are like this, but I don't wanna stretch my google fu to prove it.

Geostationary
2013-08-30, 11:01 PM
Fungi isn't a plant. It grows on dying, decompising things. The classic undergound glowing mushrooms are b*******. They don't make fresh sugar, they eat the world around them. I know its classic enough to forgive, but technically, its wrong.

Fungi are also vitally important plant and algal symbiotes, so less wrong than you think. If you're making up an underground ecosystem, lichenesque symbioses could be a great way to add energy to the system using archaebacteria that can subsist off of chemosynthesis.


You can easily have a species that replaces its telomeres every division, and is functionally immortal (from aging). I believe there are reports that some fish on earth are like this, but I don't wanna stretch my google fu to prove it.

One way to avoid the end replication problem is to just not have ends in the first place, or to have methods by which it becomes a non-issue. For example, anything with a circular genome doesn't have to worry about this as it has no ends to shorten.

And I believe you're thinking of certain jellyfish species. Fish don't do anything like that to my knowledge.

Jacob.Tyr
2013-08-30, 11:16 PM
On the living underground permanently idea: There's another way it might be plausible to continuously grow fungi. It, again, requires an input.

****.

Literally, ****. Maybe the "farm" rests under a rather permeable area of rock beneath a rookery or other place large numbers of animals flock. If sufficient nutrients trickle in via permeable rock you might be able to establish fungal agriculture based on it (mycoculture?).

Alternatively **** could come in via your world's equivalent of bats. Bat guano can create a large nutrient source in caves, as thousands of bats enter during the day and release feces to the ground.

Gahrer
2013-08-31, 05:46 PM
You can easily have a species that replaces its telomeres every division, and is functionally immortal (from aging).

That would not be enough, I think, for a multi-celled organism. As Roguenewb pointed out external factors will slowly but steadily damage the DNA in the organisms cells which will cause some of them to "misbehave" in one way or another - for example by dividing uncontrollably (cancer) or simply malfunction. A truly immortal, multi-celled organism would need to find a way to counter this damage far more efficently than we humans do and to more efficiently deal with and replace large sections of the body as the start to deteriorate from external wear and tear.

Single-celled organisms doesn't suffer as much from these problems. If one bacteria in a group starts to "malfunction" the rest of them can keep on going without much trouble. Also, it is really difficult to define lifespans for bacteria since they divide and create two "new" individuals without leaving an "old" one behind. In practice a given bacteria are immortal since all it's "offspring" can be considered to be the same organism in some manner.

(For an example of immortal human (more or less) cells, check out the HeLa cell line.)

Zahhak
2013-09-01, 01:26 AM
I'm sure this has been brought up before, but does anyone have any resources on things like basic strategies to counter predators (ie, not being seen, being faster than the predator, being bigger and meaner than predators, etc), basic predator strategies, and info on how animals form and fill biological niches? You know, all of the basic stuff you would need if you were trying to build a functional flora and fauna for a place.

awa
2013-09-01, 12:28 PM
thing is there is no standard set of things all ecosystems have. Deep sea vents share very few similarities with say a jungle.

Eric Tolle
2013-09-01, 01:37 PM
Well in D&D land, the solution for your Dwarven city is simple: have someone cast "Stone to Flesh" on the cavern wall. One casting can provide approximately 4,500 pounds of flesh, which can then be eaten or used as a good source for fungi. So the answer is literally, "A wizard did it."

Beleriphon
2013-09-01, 06:28 PM
I'm sure this has been brought up before, but does anyone have any resources on things like basic strategies to counter predators (ie, not being seen, being faster than the predator, being bigger and meaner than predators, etc), basic predator strategies, and info on how animals form and fill biological niches? You know, all of the basic stuff you would need if you were trying to build a functional flora and fauna for a place.

Okay, you're going to need a few things here.

Predators need several things to survive. The largest one is a way to kill prey. The usual method is teeth or claws. Most quadrupeds use their jaws and teeth as the killing blow, although many terrestrial predators will use claws to grasp prey. That being said there are some creatures that use venom (snakes and a variety of insects for example), or the mantis shrimp (http://theoatmeal.com/comics/mantis_shrimp) just murder sticks things to death.

Prey needs to do one of three things to avoid being food. Be faster than the predator, hide better than the predator can find it or be too hard to kill for the effort. Deer do the first, many birds do the second and most large mammals do the last.

As it stands though your best bet is to take an existing ecosystem and decide how D&D monster fit, or what animals/creatures they replace. For example a jungle with howlers (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/monsters/howler.htm) running around is probably not going to need jaguars. The same thing if you put deinonychuses in the savannah you don't really need lions as predators.

Yora
2013-09-02, 04:50 AM
There are two standard survival strategy for non-predatory animals. K and T (forgott which one is which).
Either they get too big to be threatened by anything (elephants, rhinos, moose), or they simply breed faster than they get eaten (rabbits).

Cattle and their relatives do a combination of both, being rather big and also very numerous. In practice, that leads to the old and sick getting killed, who won't contribute to the herds reproduction anyway, or the very young, who still havn't consumed much resources and are soon replaced.

Birds have another strategy, which is being amazingly good at running away.

avr
2013-09-03, 04:07 AM
Another defensive strategy is to be undesirable food. Either poisonous or hard to digest. Very little hunts vultures.

OTOH most plants offer food in exchange for help with their reproductive needs.

Scavengers are another niche which is neither predator nor prey.

TheStranger
2013-09-03, 07:12 AM
All very good points. I'll add that one of the important things to keep in mind is that evolution doesn't drive towards an end goal. It's not a designed process - it's natures way of throwing stuff at the wall and seeing what sticks (and even that is anthropomorphizing it too much). Random chance plays a huge role, in the form of climate, environment, and genetic variation. And the present isn't an end state, it's a snapshot of an ongoing process. All animals are good at filling their particular niche, but they weren't designed for it, and very different animals can fill very similar niches. Heck, I'd argue that bears and pre-agricultural humans do very nearly the same thing in an ecosystem.

Also, many (most?) animals have biological or behavioral adaptations that serve absolutely no purpose other than attracting a mate, and may even be counterproductive otherwise.

The take-away is, nature makes no sense. Things that are familiar to us are completely arbitrary in the abstract, and you want to reflect that if you're designing animals.

Zahhak
2013-09-03, 02:31 PM
I was sort of hoping for something more in depth. Like a paper someone has written

TheStranger
2013-09-03, 03:04 PM
I'd suggest grabbing a used wildlife ecology textbook somewhere. Individual papers seldom give any kind of big-picture view (although it's not impossible). What you're asking for is (at least potentially) roughly equivalent to a semester-long class in college, and even then it's likely to be more academic than practical. But you could probably grab an older edition textbook for next to nothing.

Or, find a website that hosts study guides/outlines for college finals and grab an outline for a class with a name like "Ecology 101." (This should go without saying, but don't do anything that might get you in academic trouble).

If you tell me what you're trying to accomplish, I can try to give you a better answer. It's been a long time since I've had to worry about academic research in the ecology field, and I recall that academic articles can be hard to find for free online without a student login somewhere. However, I've retained a fair bit of the substance of it, and I'm happy to help if I can.

Zahhak
2013-09-03, 03:44 PM
Basically, I'm building a setting in a jungle and I want the environment and wildlife to be the primary "antagonist". Because of that I wanted the setting to feel real, and that needs it being realistic.

I'm aware of online resources that explain how, for example, the weather works, so I was kind of hoping that there was something similar for ecology.

Roguenewb
2013-09-05, 01:05 PM
On the living underground permanently idea: There's another way it might be plausible to continuously grow fungi. It, again, requires an input.

****.

Literally, ****. Maybe the "farm" rests under a rather permeable area of rock beneath a rookery or other place large numbers of animals flock. If sufficient nutrients trickle in via permeable rock you might be able to establish fungal agriculture based on it (mycoculture?).

Alternatively **** could come in via your world's equivalent of bats. Bat guano can create a large nutrient source in caves, as thousands of bats enter during the day and release feces to the ground.

You don't technically need faeces. We use it as a fertilizer, not for chemical energy but for nutrients. You can use corpses for nutrients just as well. The problem is energy. Faeces is low on energy, so not a full subsistence diet. These problems are why caves on Earth have very low biomass densities (excluding huge swarms of things that only shelter in the cave, like bats). Guano provides nutrients, but very low amounts of energy, not zero, but not enough to grow large plants/fungi without any light input.

@Gaher: there really is no reason that proofreading problems can't be solved. The entire collection of living things on the planet has been undergoing a continues cell division for more than 3 billion years, and proof-reading systems have prevented an accumulation of fatal mutations.

In an individual with hypothetical telomere extending cell divisions, you would need a little more than we humans have in terms of proof-reading. Or, a way to stop cancer. Auto-curing your cancers combined with the inherent proof-reads at every division/telomere extension would theoretically make you immortal.

Any given cell struck by a radical or high-delta UV ray would go down one of three fate paths:

1)The damage disrupts normal cell functioning. The cell immediately dies. Decreases in local cell counts trigger mitosis in nearby cells, and the tissue is maintained. If a large swath of cells are killed this way (essentially a very bad radiation burn/sickness) you could still suffer badly, but at that point, this effect isn't aging but direct radiative attack. This happens in our bodies all the time. Normal part of multicellular life on Earth.

2.)The cell forms a t-dimer or other DNA error in a non-protoncogenic region. You get millions of these everyday. When the cell goes to divide, a complex system is in place to detect and fix these. The vast majority are fixed, but even if the miss happens, it only affects one line of cells in your body, likely not enough to decrease tissue function. The odds required for this to happen over, and over, and over, and over again to the point where tissue function is damaged are.....low. Especially if your wound recovery and healing elements of your immune system are working well.

3.)A protooncogene is triggered, and the cell starts down the path to cancer. The vast majority of these problems is detected by an apoptosis system and the cell kills itself. But for some unlucky individuals, the cell begins to form a tumor. Dividing and losing specificity. This is the hurdle for your immortal organism, and likely one of the major reasons that true multi-cellular immortality is rare/nonexistent. When you use sexual reproduction, and pare the organism away to 1 cell, you can insure that all the various pre-cancers have been removed (cause only 1 cell is left, and you know it works!), which is how life on Earth deals with the 3 billion year accumulation of these. This is where the magic would be required. If remove disease cures cancer, casting it on yourself once every year or so should make you immortal. Get an eternal wand and do it daily if you want.

lsfreak
2013-09-06, 06:35 AM
Basically, I'm building a setting in a jungle and I want the environment and wildlife to be the primary "antagonist". Because of that I wanted the setting to feel real, and that needs it being realistic.

I'm aware of online resources that explain how, for example, the weather works, so I was kind of hoping that there was something similar for ecology.

While I haven't done a lot of searching, honestly the best source of that I've found is Wikipedia articles on various animals, and articles of the form "List of mammals of India," etc. Use those to fill out the major ecological niches, keeping in mind that the roles of the larger animals are likely to be those most important to both the feel of the setting and what the players interact with most. Most Wikipedia articles on predators, for example, have a section that talks about their interaction with other predators whose range they overlap, and how they avoid (or fail to avoid) conflict with one another. You can then use this information to get the niches filled by most of the largest animals, and filter down.

For example, from my own research, here are a few predator-prey pairs, grouped by rough size:
Tiger - bovine (ex: lion/wildebeast, tiger/buffalo, sabre-tooth tiger/ground sloth)
Wolf - bovine/deer (ex: grey wolf/elk, Tasmanian tiger/kangaroo, hyena/wildebeast, komodo dragon/deer)
Leopard - antelope (ex: leopard/antelope, cougar/deer)
Lynx - rabbit (ex: lynx/rabbit, ocelot-clouded leopard/monkeys, wolverine-serval-coyote/whatever)
Cat - mouse (ex: cat/mouse, ferret/prairie dog, mongoose-genet/mouse)
Fox - mouse+omnivorous (foxes, raccoons and coatis, civets)
Otters - fish
Seals - various aquatic
Of course, distinctions can be made and they aren't clearly-defined. Africa has lions and hyenas that are in direct competition for identical niches. Jaguars and cougars could both eat deer, but where they overlap in range the cougars are smaller and turn to eating rabbits instead.

The other major animals are ones like large birds (large eagles, ostriches), large reptiles (boas, crocodilians), and flocking waterbirds (gulls, flamingos, etc). And region-specific, "mass organization" animals, like crab migrations, mass frog spawning, migratory butterflies, etc that are going to have large, but short-term, effects. Other than this, you can kind of handwave the animals - knowing mouse-like, squirrel-like, and lemur-like animals exist is enough, you don't really need to know how many shrews versus mice there are, or whether the "monkeys" are lemurs, colobus monkeys, or squirrel monkeys. This is especially true in a jungle setting, which are so rich in wildlife that you don't really ever need to worry about accidentally over-filling, like you would in something like the steppes/Great Plains (just keep in mind it is a jungle, predators will be ambushers not chasers, megafauna like elephants will be smaller or nonexistent, etc).

hymer
2013-09-11, 08:15 AM
A hypothetical situation: Six major (and mostly aggressive) powers are currently not at war with each other, but it will only be a matter of time. The most obviously strategic area is a small archipelago (for a fantasy campaign) or cluster of stars (space opera). This region borders each of these major powers and holds decent resources. As such, it is the perfect place to establish naval bases and colonies, a springboard by which the owner can attack any of his rivals.
The most aggressive of these six powers has already tried to seize the area, but three others soon combined forces and drove them out, and then retreated back to avoid starting a war among themselves, which the mightiest would be able to use to regain the ground.

The locals are not completely united, and their numbers and organization are no match for any of the major powers. What can they do diplomatically? Is there any way they can retain their independence? Anything they can do to avoid their homeland turning into a battlefield of the world's major navies and ground troops?

All thoughts, ideas, opinions, etc. are welcome.

Yora
2013-09-11, 08:26 AM
The most aggressive of these six powers has already tried to seize the area, but three others soon combined forces and drove them out, and then retreated back to avoid starting a war among themselves, which the mightiest would be able to use to regain the ground.
This seems to be the most problematic part. I am not aware of any military power ever doing that. Once they move out, the enemy they kicked out can simply move back in again.

Diplomatically, I don't see the locals to be able to do anything. They would need something to bargain with, which as described now, is not the case.
The only thing they could possibly do is make it easier for the other powers to move around the region than straight through it. However, the islands or planets would still be strategically valuable if they are simply barren rocks where the major powers can repair damaged ships and refill their water suplies. And taking that away means making the place completely uninhabitable for the locals.

The only option that I would see is for the people of each island/planet to ally themselves with one of the major power as a vassal state. Promissing them to give them free access to their docks and water supplies, while fighting off everyone else with guerilla tactics.

Gnoman
2013-09-11, 04:01 PM
If your hypothetical group can form a solid alliance, then they have a few options, IF they are willing to accept temporary losses in territory.

Strategy 1: Mosquito Boats

What they would need (In either case) is lots and lots of light warships, and freighters to set up mobile bases. Whenever they are attacked by one power, they rebase their fleet right next to the power most hostile to the one invading them, and allow the invasion to succeed, then cutting the supply lines with fast, light warships. The only counter to that sort of strategy (other than heavy escort, which is a logistical and manpower drain in and of itself) is to attack and destroy the base from which they're launching their attacks. Because this base is so close to their greatest enemy, they will be extremely reluctant to attack it, lest the other power pounce on their fleet and destroy it while it is battle-damaged and low on ammunition.

Downside: All your eggs are in one basket. The first time this doesn't work, the game's over. You lost. Good-bye.

Strategy 2: Enemy of Mine Enemy

Establish a conditional treaty of Alliance or even Annexation with EACH of the surrounding nations, that if A attacks, B's treaty is invoked, and vice-versa. In each case, you would target the trigger on that nation's greatest enemy out of the other six. This would, if you managed to get the treaties, invoke Balance of Power politics AND put your small nation in a much better position if all else fails, as Willing But Reluctant Partner is much better than Conquered Subject.

Downside: You ARE going to war. You have a good chance of delaying it, but sooner or later one of those treaties will be invoked.

Strategy 3: Headshot
Simply put this relies on WMDs and/or assassins. If any nation looks like it is about to attack, special ops teams are infiltrated into that nation. If the attack is launched, their leaders get shot in the head and their main cities go up in smoke.

Downside: You are much easier to destroy than they are. If your attack doesn't break them, they will certainly retaliate. This one should only be considered as a fallback to one of the other strategies, by an alliance that absolutely refuses to go down with any rounds left in the chamber.

hymer
2013-09-12, 03:04 AM
@ Yora: Thanks for the analysis. And good point, I must make sure to explain fully how and why this unusual situation came about. Thanks!

@ Gnoman: Three interesting options, thank you very much!

PersonMan
2013-09-15, 07:05 AM
A question: What would the effect on ocean currents/wildlife/climate if you have a massive, roughly 100 feet in diameter piece of metal on the ocean floor, kept at a constant 500 degrees Celsius?

Beleriphon
2013-09-15, 07:23 AM
A question: What would the effect on ocean currents/wildlife/climate if you have a massive, roughly 100 feet in diameter piece of metal on the ocean floor, kept at a constant 500 degrees Celsius?

Probably minimal. Water is very good at diffusing heat. The local area might be functionally free of most types of life but the end result isn't going to be any different than a magma leak on the sea floor. Oceans just have too much water to do much to them with something that small.

If you had a smallish lake it would probably boil off in short order though.

Yora
2013-09-15, 07:45 AM
Given the amount of underwater volcanos and sunlight hitting the surface of the oceans, the effect should be undetectable on a global scale.

TheStranger
2013-09-15, 07:58 AM
A question: What would the effect on ocean currents/wildlife/climate if you have a massive, roughly 100 feet in diameter piece of metal on the ocean floor, kept at a constant 500 degrees Celsius?

I guess it depends a little bit on the depth of the ocean in that area. But overall, yeah, it wouldn't do much of anything except create a localized warm spot comparable to an undersea magma vent. If it was on the continental shelf, the effects might be noticeable throughout the water column (and even impact local weather a bit), but you probably wouldn't even know it was there if it had a few thousand feet of water over it. There might be some minor contribution to ocean currents, but there just isn't enough energy there to affect things in a significant way.

Now, if you make it 100 miles across...

PersonMan
2013-09-15, 07:59 AM
How large would it have to be to have a large effect, and what effects would it have at such a size?

Beleriphon
2013-09-15, 11:50 AM
How large would it have to be to have a large effect, and what effects would it have at such a size?

Hundreds, if not thousands of miles. At best you'd have a large very warm current though. You'd probably end up with large and more violent seasonal storms. Beyond that I doubt you'd see much if any effect beyond the coastal areas.

TheStranger
2013-09-15, 01:03 PM
I would think not quite that big. Assuming that it's an infinite heat source, and that the water never actually creates a temperature drop on the object's surface, you're talking about an enormous amount of energy that the ocean has to dissipate. In fact, it's an unlimited amount of energy; the limiting factor is the speed at which the ocean can dissipate it. The physics would be very different from simply dropping a hot object in a body of water; in that case, the object cools at it heats the water (and cools faster on the outside), so the extreme temperature difference only lasts a few seconds.

Again, the exact size is going to depend somewhat on the depth of the water. If the object's in shallow water, a smaller object would affect more of the ocean's surface. In general, however, I'd expect that once your object got to be measured in miles, you'd have enough heat to boil the entire water column. The water for some distance around that is likely to be too hot to support life, since the nearby ocean should circulate towards the object at depth and away from the object near the surface. The intensity and scale of that circulation is going to depend on the size of the object.

If your object was measured in hundreds of miles, I wouldn't rule out the possibility of the center being dry, as water boils off faster than it can flow in from outside the object's radius. That's not an immediate effect, of course, but I think it's a possibility over time. I'm not equipped to do the math on how large an object you'd need for a given depth of water, though.

As for the effects on climate, you're introducing an enormous amount of heat energy into the atmosphere, along with a huge amount of moisture. I'd expect near-constant rain, including severe storms, as that warm, moist air began to cool. Most likely, that rainfall would be concentrated in a rough plume in the direction of the prevailing winds.

Unfortunately, I'm not equipped to say what size the object would need to be to be driving force in the global climate, rather than a local anomaly.

Yora
2013-09-15, 04:25 PM
Population Size and Growth

In my homebrew setting, there is a human population that has migrated into the region during a period between -400 and -200 years from the present and now numbers at about 1 million people.
Given that the total population of the region is now only 20 million, that's a significant increase by about 6 to 7%, which given the very low population density shouldn't be a too dramatic shift. Except for the people who lived in the newly settled areas, of course.

But I am wondering how plausible that seem statistically.
The region is home to 4.5 million wood elves who hired mercenaries to protect their caravans travelling through the human homeland and when they proved to be a great addition to the elven troops, some elves recruited entire clans to help fight their wars in the elven lands. And eventually some of those clans brought their whole families with them to permanently settle near the elven lands and become vassals to the elven lords.
Given that the humans used to be steppe nomads like the mongols and now had 300 years to learn and master agriculture, some kind of population explosion doesn't seem to be that implausible to me.

What would you consider to be a good number for the original settlers who migrated from the stepped to the elven lands, given that there is now a million of them?
Assuming their population numbers doubled in the last 200 years and for every mercenary there was also three family members they brought with them. That's still over 100,000 mercenaries (and supply units) to help out 4 million elves. Would that in any way seem plausible?
Or would that indicate that those wars 300 years ago were massive conflicts. If the 4 million elves had 10% of their numbers as warriors, that would still be just 400,000. Boosting your forces by +25% with foreigners from distant lands seems quite significant to me.

All those numbers are adjustable, except for the 4.5 million elves and 1 million humans in the present day, and a period from the beginning of recruiting to the end of the migrations from -400 to -200 years ago.

TheStranger
2013-09-15, 05:03 PM
The population only doubling over 200+ years seems very conservative. Assuming immigration is negligible, I could see the population doubling approximately every 50 years. That's not really implausible - the world population more than doubled from 1950-2000. Walking back in 50-year increments gives you a population of 62,500 200 years ago, and a population of 4,000 400 years ago.

Of course, that's kind of an ideal case, but I think somewhere in the neighborhood of 50,000-100,000 initial immigrants could easily give you a million people after 200-400 years if the circumstances were conducive to rapid growth.

oudeis
2013-09-15, 05:14 PM
I hesitate to comment on a topic being discussed by those far more informed than I, but you can find charts/graphs of the historical populations of some of the more well-known cities on Wikipedia as well as the estimated population of the American colonies from founding through independence. These might be of some use.

TheStranger
2013-09-15, 05:24 PM
I hesitate to comment on a topic being discussed by those far more informed than I, but you can find charts/graphs of the historical populations of some of the more well-known cities on Wikipedia as well as the estimated population of the American colonies from founding through independence. These might be of some use.

Trust me, we're not particularly well-informed around here - all comments are welcome.

TuggyNE
2013-09-15, 05:46 PM
That's still over 100,000 mercenaries (and supply units) to help out 4 million elves. Would that in any way seem plausible?
Or would that indicate that those wars 300 years ago were massive conflicts. If the 4 million elves had 10% of their numbers as warriors, that would still be just 400,000. Boosting your forces by +25% with foreigners from distant lands seems quite significant to me.

Some armies recruited the majority of their forces as mercenaries, so it really doesn't sound too improbable to me, even if the elves only had 50,000 of their own troops.

oudeis
2013-09-15, 05:59 PM
The Romans would recruit whole villages of slingers (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Auxiliaries_%28Roman_military%29#Slingers)as auxiliary troops. The renowned story of the Anabasis (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anabasis_%28Xenophon%29)(retold in modern terms in the movie 'The Warriors') recounted the adventures of an entire army of ethnic Greek mercenaries in Persia.

Thinker
2013-09-15, 06:45 PM
Population Size and Growth

In my homebrew setting, there is a human population that has migrated into the region during a period between -400 and -200 years from the present and now numbers at about 1 million people.
Given that the total population of the region is now only 20 million, that's a significant increase by about 6 to 7%, which given the very low population density shouldn't be a too dramatic shift. Except for the people who lived in the newly settled areas, of course.

But I am wondering how plausible that seem statistically.
The region is home to 4.5 million wood elves who hired mercenaries to protect their caravans travelling through the human homeland and when they proved to be a great addition to the elven troops, some elves recruited entire clans to help fight their wars in the elven lands. And eventually some of those clans brought their whole families with them to permanently settle near the elven lands and become vassals to the elven lords.
Given that the humans used to be steppe nomads like the mongols and now had 300 years to learn and master agriculture, some kind of population explosion doesn't seem to be that implausible to me.

What would you consider to be a good number for the original settlers who migrated from the stepped to the elven lands, given that there is now a million of them?
Assuming their population numbers doubled in the last 200 years and for every mercenary there was also three family members they brought with them. That's still over 100,000 mercenaries (and supply units) to help out 4 million elves. Would that in any way seem plausible?
Or would that indicate that those wars 300 years ago were massive conflicts. If the 4 million elves had 10% of their numbers as warriors, that would still be just 400,000. Boosting your forces by +25% with foreigners from distant lands seems quite significant to me.

All those numbers are adjustable, except for the 4.5 million elves and 1 million humans in the present day, and a period from the beginning of recruiting to the end of the migrations from -400 to -200 years ago.

Why did the mercenaries have to all come at once? Couldn't there have been some mercenaries hired in current year -400, then CY -350, CY -300, CY -250, CY -250, etc? Then you also have all of the non-mercenaries who would migrate like merchants to open new trade routes, the artisans to make goods along the way, the horse whisperers who train the horses, priests to save their souls spiritually, etc. Though the whole modern population might tell stories about their warrior ancestors, not everyone in the past need to have actually fought in the Elven Wars.

Yora
2013-09-16, 05:42 AM
I think of it as a gradual process. First there were just small groups of a few dozens of warriors serving on a temporary basis, which later on became small armies numering several hundred warriors plus supporting camp followers. When it became evident that this wouldn't be a job for just a few years but a more permanent arrangement, they build their own homes and villages and had their families come and join them.
And over the following generations other clans migrated independently because farming in the river valleys along the coast seemed an atractive alternative to living in the steppes. Since then, the development has been primarily population growth with only negible amounts of new settlers arriving.

Massive population growth with numbers doubling within a generation do happen, but those seem to be the result of modern industrialization. Until 1800, global population growth was much smallers.

Roguenewb
2013-09-16, 07:35 AM
Assuming a reasonable amount of clerical magic, medicine and life expectancy are probably comparable to the current first world. A quick trip to wikipedia demonstrated a peak world growth rate of 2.2% in 1963. Assuming reproduction in the 20ish year span, you can make a crude model where each generation is 1.022 times the size of the last one, and three generations are alive at any given time.

Historical data does suggest that modern medicine, and cultural practices of the last half-century in regards to world birth rates, suggests a doubling time of about 40 years. 200 years is 5 doublings, so 2^5, which is 16, suggests that you need as few as 62,500 original inhabitants.

If you use a slightly different culture, India appears to have a current doubling time of about 30 years. That's more than 6 doublings in 200 years, or 31250 original inhabitants. If you take it to the max, Liberia, the fastest growing country in the world, appears to have doubled their population in the last 15 or so years. That's more than 13 doublings in 200 years!!! Which is a goofy 122 inhabitants, 200 years ago.


Use those as brackets, determine how much your culture values reproduction. African cultures, for example, place a huge onus on reproduction as a proof of masculinity and status, and have correspondingly high growth rates. America has a lower approach, and some European cultures have a low enough emphasis that they are shrinking. Pick your spacing, and you get some free cultural development, and you know how many starting people you need.

Yora
2013-09-16, 09:46 AM
Yeah, I think baseline is that my scenario isn't really that implausible. Given the parameters that are defined by the regional history of the last five centuries, such an outcome does not require too extremely other factors.

However, that brings up the issue of future development. It's meant to be a kind of Point of Light style setting where humanoid settlement is just a footnote compared to the massive wilderness. If the human population growth keeps progressing as in the model now, it will be a matter of a couple of centuries until humans are the dominant race that controls most of the entire region. And the notion that the dominant elf and lizardfolk civilization are on the verge of vanishing doesn't fit with the setting at all.

What would be a plausible limiting factor to keep the new human population at about 1 million people for the next centuries or even millenia? In post-industrial societies, we now see a a maximum reached after about 100 to 150 years after industrialization with strong tendencies for decline. In current models, the predicted population size for Japan in 2150 is just right back at the number it was before industrialization. However, that's an effect shown by industrial revolutions. Is there something similar for agricultural revolutions? The change in lifestyle from herding to farming would almost certainly have a significant impact on the population. But it probably should stabilize again at a new level after some generations, right?

TheStranger
2013-09-16, 09:47 AM
I'll add that, although historical growth rates were less than current, that's not to say that there was never a region where population grew rapidly even though the global population was relatively stable. That's especially true if the population is dispersed, as disease is less likely to be a major factor. Add relative peace to that, and you've got a near best-case scenario.

Another point to consider is, humans have been well-established in most parts of the world since well before we began tracking population. Which means populations in most areas had probably already stabilized at near what the then-existing technology and culture would support. Population growth in recorded history has probably been driven primarily by advances in medicine and agriculture, rather than unchecked reproduction. That's very different from your scenario, in which a human population is entering a new area and expanding rapidly to fill it. (I'm assuming that the established elven population isn't acting as a check on human population growth).

Edit: Ninja'd by a new question. There are lot of possible limiting factors. We don't have a lot of experience with agricultural revolutions in recorded history, but it's reasonable to expect that population would stabilize once it reached what the area could support with the new agricultural society. The only problem with that is that it would probably continue to grow, albeit more slowly, as technology improved. Other possibilities include disease, war, or strict population controls enforced by the elves to ensure that they remain a majority.

Roguenewb
2013-09-16, 11:15 AM
Yeah, I think baseline is that my scenario isn't really that implausible. Given the parameters that are defined by the regional history of the last five centuries, such an outcome does not require too extremely other factors.

However, that brings up the issue of future development. It's meant to be a kind of Point of Light style setting where humanoid settlement is just a footnote compared to the massive wilderness. If the human population growth keeps progressing as in the model now, it will be a matter of a couple of centuries until humans are the dominant race that controls most of the entire region. And the notion that the dominant elf and lizardfolk civilization are on the verge of vanishing doesn't fit with the setting at all.

What would be a plausible limiting factor to keep the new human population at about 1 million people for the next centuries or even millenia? In post-industrial societies, we now see a a maximum reached after about 100 to 150 years after industrialization with strong tendencies for decline. In current models, the predicted population size for Japan in 2150 is just right back at the number it was before industrialization. However, that's an effect shown by industrial revolutions. Is there something similar for agricultural revolutions? The change in lifestyle from herding to farming would almost certainly have a significant impact on the population. But it probably should stabilize again at a new level after some generations, right?

After some quick searching: the dream medieval farming countryside, medieval france, had a population density of 100 people/square mile (counting cities averaged into the whole). Hunter gatherer societies (despite some wierdness about scaling factors) appear to have a density of about 7.9 people per square mile! Going through an agricultural revolution will increase population density by more than 12 times.

For limiting factors, look at the first sentence of my earlier analysis, modern life expectancy/medicine provided by virtue of clerical medicine. If you remove this, and go back to medieval growth rates and life expectancy, than the population will grow much, much slower. However, if you set that, then how did the population grow so fast in the beginning? Maybe a limited number of clerics are possible so the population growth tapers off dramatically? Clerics only work in certain areas? Clerics are suddenly way rarer so growth is now dramatically slowed after growing to a certain size?

Thinker
2013-09-16, 11:35 AM
Yeah, I think baseline is that my scenario isn't really that implausible. Given the parameters that are defined by the regional history of the last five centuries, such an outcome does not require too extremely other factors.

However, that brings up the issue of future development. It's meant to be a kind of Point of Light style setting where humanoid settlement is just a footnote compared to the massive wilderness. If the human population growth keeps progressing as in the model now, it will be a matter of a couple of centuries until humans are the dominant race that controls most of the entire region. And the notion that the dominant elf and lizardfolk civilization are on the verge of vanishing doesn't fit with the setting at all.

What would be a plausible limiting factor to keep the new human population at about 1 million people for the next centuries or even millenia? In post-industrial societies, we now see a a maximum reached after about 100 to 150 years after industrialization with strong tendencies for decline. In current models, the predicted population size for Japan in 2150 is just right back at the number it was before industrialization. However, that's an effect shown by industrial revolutions. Is there something similar for agricultural revolutions? The change in lifestyle from herding to farming would almost certainly have a significant impact on the population. But it probably should stabilize again at a new level after some generations, right?

Disease, famine, or war will stifle population growth. Other factors might be the fertility of the land -- it simply can't produce much more food than it currently is without some sort of technological breakthroughs. Add in surrounding area that is unsuitable for farming (hazardous terrain, belligerent neighbors, poor soil, rampaging monsters, etc) and the human population won't climb all that rapidly.

What is stopping the lizardfolk and elf populations from growing?

Yora
2013-09-16, 12:42 PM
I don't know, but they've been around for thousands of years, so the matter isn't that pressing. With the humans going from 0 to 1,000,000 and then stagnating seems to be something that might lead to inconvenient questions, though.

Ormur
2013-09-16, 12:47 PM
Rapid population growth is perfectly possible with the right conditions and plentiful land even without modern medicine. French settlers in 18th century Quebec had astonishing fertility rates, the whole French speaking population there is descended from maybe 10000 immigrants. 18th century isn't exactly medieval but that's still before modern medicine or other advances start to matter much.

There are many more things that limit population size than just the land you can work. It took Europe centuries to get over and acclimatize to the plague and other diseases that kept population growth in check. Wars and invasions can wreck havoc and if a population is close to the carrying capacity of the land it might develop social constraints on growth like late-marriage, limits on marriage, inheritance rules and so forth.

When you have a healthy environment with plenty of land and the means to develop it even a pre-modern agricultural population can explode. A migrant population of a 100.000 should be enough I think. Another consideration with human migrations that might no apply here is that former inhabitants might get absorbed into the new group (taken for slaves, inter-marry, take up their language or something like that) and complement natural growth.

The growth will level out though when there isn't enough easily exploitable land left, a greater population density also breeds diseases and they might develop those social structures to keep the population in check. The sudden growth of humans might also put pressure on the other species and wars might start breaking out.

Roguenewb
2013-09-17, 08:57 AM
Rapid population growth is perfectly possible with the right conditions and plentiful land even without modern medicine. French settlers in 18th century Quebec had astonishing fertility rates, the whole French speaking population there is descended from maybe 10000 immigrants. 18th century isn't exactly medieval but that's still before modern medicine or other advances start to matter much.

There are many more things that limit population size than just the land you can work. It took Europe centuries to get over and acclimatize to the plague and other diseases that kept population growth in check. Wars and invasions can wreck havoc and if a population is close to the carrying capacity of the land it might develop social constraints on growth like late-marriage, limits on marriage, inheritance rules and so forth.

When you have a healthy environment with plenty of land and the means to develop it even a pre-modern agricultural population can explode. A migrant population of a 100.000 should be enough I think. Another consideration with human migrations that might no apply here is that former inhabitants might get absorbed into the new group (taken for slaves, inter-marry, take up their language or something like that) and complement natural growth.

The growth will level out though when there isn't enough easily exploitable land left, a greater population density also breeds diseases and they might develop those social structures to keep the population in check. The sudden growth of humans might also put pressure on the other species and wars might start breaking out.

The problem is trying to find a scenario that will balance out at Points of Light style population density, rather than Pre-Plague England, which had a very high density, such that people were farming really nasty hillsides and marshes trying to find somewhere to live.

I am having trouble trying to imagine an entirely real-world scenario that balances out at points of light, which is probably why its never really been a part of human history. You need magic considerations or such to make it work.

TheStranger
2013-09-17, 09:31 AM
I don't know, but they've been around for thousands of years, so the matter isn't that pressing. With the humans going from 0 to 1,000,000 and then stagnating seems to be something that might lead to inconvenient questions, though.

Are you open to making the elves bad(ish) guys? They could have put some restrictions on where the humans could settle and how much land they could clear. Once you hit the magic number, infighting and disease could keep the human population relatively stagnant.

Ormur
2013-09-17, 04:51 PM
The problem is trying to find a scenario that will balance out at Points of Light style population density, rather than Pre-Plague England, which had a very high density, such that people were farming really nasty hillsides and marshes trying to find somewhere to live.

I am having trouble trying to imagine an entirely real-world scenario that balances out at points of light, which is probably why its never really been a part of human history. You need magic considerations or such to make it work.

There are a few options can think of. One is scaling back agricultural technology. If the area is analogous to Europe then it might require heavy ploughs to make full use of the heavy rain-watered soils, they might not have invented the three-field system etc. Pre-plague Europe was very densely populated but that was after those advances. Going back further, maybe to pre-Roman times you'll find a much smaller population that's still agrarian. I'm not completely sure about this though, not exactly my era.

The second option is having the population stabilize around extensive agriculture, pastoralism for example, with sheep perhaps. There are theories that my native country could have supported much larger pre-modern populations with different agricultural practices but the system in place put a lower limit on population size.

Those also don't have to be long-term stable balances, they probably don't exist anyway. Isn't it sufficient for the purposes of the setting that for the time being, for whatever reason, populations aren't growing much?

Roguenewb
2013-09-18, 08:39 AM
There are a few options can think of. One is scaling back agricultural technology. If the area is analogous to Europe then it might require heavy ploughs to make full use of the heavy rain-watered soils, they might not have invented the three-field system etc. Pre-plague Europe was very densely populated but that was after those advances. Going back further, maybe to pre-Roman times you'll find a much smaller population that's still agrarian. I'm not completely sure about this though, not exactly my era.

The second option is having the population stabilize around extensive agriculture, pastoralism for example, with sheep perhaps. There are theories that my native country could have supported much larger pre-modern populations with different agricultural practices but the system in place put a lower limit on population size.

Those also don't have to be long-term stable balances, they probably don't exist anyway. Isn't it sufficient for the purposes of the setting that for the time being, for whatever reason, populations aren't growing much?

If you scale back the agriculture, how did they grow fast enough to reach the current point? And pastoralism will support a lower density, but unfortunately it spreads it out. You need something that supports a high density, but which at the moment is only supporting that high density in limited pockets, with wilderness between them. Which...didn't happen on Earth for a reason. Unless he wants all his points to be in nile like areas in a vast desert (which sounds like a kinda cool setting, but different from standard Fantasy France adventuring).

A non-equilibrium works, especially if there was a die-off that caused migration inwards to the points, but thats up to the DM to say whether that fits his world.

Yora
2013-10-09, 02:41 AM
Here is a thought:

If a space ship can travel faster than light, would it be able to escape from the event horizon of a black hole? There would still be a point where the ship no longer can get fast enough to get out again, but that point should be deeper than the distance for normal light.

fusilier
2013-10-09, 03:02 AM
Here is a thought:

If a space ship can travel faster than light, would it be able to escape from the event horizon of a black hole? There would still be a point where the ship no longer can get fast enough to get out again, but that point should be deeper than the distance for normal light.

Wow, this is an awesome question. I'm probably far from qualified to answer, but there may be a problem with it --

Black holes are a result of the mathematics of special-relativity physics, we do have physical evidence of them now, but they were theorized long before.

Einstein's special-relativity is pretty explicit about not being able to travel faster than the speed of light -- so you may be asking how something that violates the laws physics, interacts with something that doesn't. Which would be unanswerable. :-/

However, I will point out that the space-ship has mass (I assume), and so the strength of the gravitational attraction between the black-hole and ship is both a function the two masses and the distance between the objects. Although the ship's mass would probably be insignificant compared to the black holes, unless . . . The faster something travels the more mass it has (according to Einstein), it would have infinite mass at the speed of light. What does that mean? If you could travel close to the speed of light the mass of the ship might become a significant factor, but it only worsens the ability to escape.

Of course, we have no idea what it might mean for the mass of an object to travel faster than the speed of light. Maybe it develops negative mass, and would be repelled by the black hole? Who knows. ;-)

--EDIT-- I think that it's not how fast the ship can travel, it's how much force it can generate, that would be key to escaping a black hole. --EDIT--

TuggyNE
2013-10-09, 03:12 AM
Here is a thought:

If a space ship can travel faster than light, would it be able to escape from the event horizon of a black hole? There would still be a point where the ship no longer can get fast enough to get out again, but that point should be deeper than the distance for normal light.

It depends on the mechanism for FTL travel; if it's just Going That Fast, fusilier is probably right, but if it's an Alcubierre drive, wormholes, hyperspace, or something else, the answer might range from "same event horizon" to "how else do you think it gets around?" to "it doesn't matter, it can get out anywhere" and possibly others. :smallwink:

Rhynn
2013-10-09, 03:16 AM
There's no single event horizon, as such; usually it refers to the distance from which light is unable to escape, but an event horizon is just the distance at which some phenomena cannot make it from the inside to the outside.

According to Wikipedia, though:
"a more accurate description is that within this horizon, all lightlike paths (paths that light could take) and hence all paths in the forward light cones of particles within the horizon, are warped so as to fall farther into the hole."

So it's not just that escape velocity is higher than the speed of light, it's that space is warped so that it all leads into the hole.

It's sort of impossible to say whether something moving faster than light could escape, since things can't. It's fictional superscience territory where you can pretty much make up anything you like (just like you've had to make up the means of FTL travel).

Salbazier
2013-10-09, 06:15 AM
Well, not really 'fictional superscience' (thought still wildly theoretical) since apparently there are people who do some serious research on this topic:

Tachyon motion in a black hole gravitational field (http://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/papers/1301/1301.5428.pdf)
Black Holes and Tachyons (http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=7&ved=0CG0QFjAG&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.researchgate.net%2Fpublicatio n%2F238569448_A_new_view_about_Black-Holes_(and_tachyons)%2Ffile%2F72e7e51f324d5c4b60.p df&ei=mTdVUomzDISBrgfF54DIAQ&usg=AFQjCNFUTziks6PlM52VqT6kPPjICqSBzg&sig2=5KL40W3xdy269dk1HZmHNg)
Black Holes as Detectors of Tachyons (http://www.iucaa.ernet.in:8080/jspui/bitstream/11007/1502/1/91A_1978.pdf)
Tachyons and black hole horizons in gauge
theory (http://iopscience.iop.org/1126-6708/1998/12/002/pdf/1126-6708_1998_12_002.pdf)

Trekkin
2013-10-10, 04:30 PM
This is actually a knot of interconnected questions, but how do (the L4 and L5) Lagrange points keep things in them from aggregating together? Why, for example, aren't the Trojan asteroids their own little planet by now?

And if I assume perfectly circular orbits, can I somehow figure out if a given mass at l4/l5, moving along a given vector, is in a stable orbit about the point?

I'm trying to flood a Niven ring with mass, particularly metals, and I can't figure out how to put lots of smallish rocks in there without them all being a biggish rock.

Oh, parent question to all of this: is there a simple (read: not via simulation) way of estimating the size/density of a gas torus?

Salbazier
2013-10-10, 08:53 PM
This is actually a knot of interconnected questions, but how do (the L4 and L5) Lagrange points keep things in them from aggregating together? Why, for example, aren't the Trojan asteroids their own little planet by now?

And if I assume perfectly circular orbits, can I somehow figure out if a given mass at l4/l5, moving along a given vector, is in a stable orbit about the point?

I'm trying to flood a Niven ring with mass, particularly metals, and I can't figure out how to put lots of smallish rocks in there without them all being a biggish rock.

Oh, parent question to all of this: is there a simple (read: not via simulation) way of estimating the size/density of a gas torus?

1. Hmm, too small mass (and therefore gravity) to overcome range and kinetic energy I think.

2. It's possible, I think.

3. I don't get what's the problem exactly here.

4. I have to google what is gas torus is so I don't know. I think it is unlikely. This seems like too complex to be solved with simple analytical solution. Then again, I do not have any authority whatsoever in regards to plasma physics so I maybe wrong.

Tirunedeth
2013-10-10, 10:35 PM
This is actually a knot of interconnected questions, but how do (the L4 and L5) Lagrange points keep things in them from aggregating together? Why, for example, aren't the Trojan asteroids their own little planet by now?

And if I assume perfectly circular orbits, can I somehow figure out if a given mass at l4/l5, moving along a given vector, is in a stable orbit about the point?

I'm trying to flood a Niven ring with mass, particularly metals, and I can't figure out how to put lots of smallish rocks in there without them all being a biggish rock.

Oh, parent question to all of this: is there a simple (read: not via simulation) way of estimating the size/density of a gas torus?

As far as I am aware, L4 and L5 behave somewhat similarly to point masses (at least, in the reference frame rotating with the planet/whatever secondary object you have) so long as you are considering objects near them and not massive enough to destabilize the system. Thus, they don't aggregate for the same reason that asteroids orbiting the Sun or ring particles orbiting Saturn don't aggregate, which I believe is largely down to small particle masses and low densities (in terms of particles per cubic meter, not the density of the particles themselves) leading to pretty much zero attractive forces. There's also the fact that collisions may also be energetic enough to tend to fragment bodies rather than combine them.

Note that the point mass behavior should allow you to determine whether an orbit around a Lagrange point is bound or not, based on the same criteria as for orbits (basically, bound if the kinetic energy of the object plus its potential energy (relative to infinity) is less than zero, open if it is greater). Stability can probably be figured by considering the Hill sphere of the Lagrange point. Both of these methods will require finding out what the effective mass of the Lagrange point is, though, which I haven't been able to find or derive.

As to the gas torus, assuming you mean a torus of gas following a particular orbit around a star and which hasn't been significantly ionized into a plasma, I think you could get a reasonable estimate for the width of the torus by assuming the gas to be ideal and finding the root-mean-squared speed for that temperature. Then find the apoapsis distance for a particle moving at orbital speed plus rms speed, and the periapsis distance for a particle moving at orbital speed minus rms speed. The gas should roughly fill the torus reaching between those two distances, albeit at varying densities (more tenuous towards the inner and outer most parts, since only a few gas particles have higher speeds). If it is a plasma, you're not going to get anything for which the adjective "simple" is appropriate; just wave your hands and pretend it's an ideal gas, even though it is very much not. Oh, and you'll need to come up with some kind of approximate for the temperature.

Apologies for not working out more details for these things; I've got some homework which I've already procrastinated enough or I'd try to work out the details a bit more.

Trekkin
2013-10-10, 11:53 PM
Apologies for not working out more details for these things; I've got some homework which I've already procrastinated enough or I'd try to work out the details a bit more.

You've been tremendously helpful already.

I probably should have specified that, yes, the gas torus is supposed to be at a breathable temperature. I've been using 300 K as a round number. It gives a very tight torus for oxygen using the orbital velocity +/-RMS method, but I suppose that makes sense.

Tirunedeth
2013-10-11, 05:52 PM
You've been tremendously helpful already.

I probably should have specified that, yes, the gas torus is supposed to be at a breathable temperature. I've been using 300 K as a round number. It gives a very tight torus for oxygen using the orbital velocity +/-RMS method, but I suppose that makes sense.

Hmm. When I tested it this morning, I was getting something on the order of a torus radius of 1600 km for a central radius of 10000 km around an Earth-mass planet. What sorts of numbers were you using? The equations I wound up getting were:

v_0 = sqrt(G*M/r_0)
r_out/r_0 = 1/(1 - v_rms/v_0)
r_in/r_0 = 1/(1 + v_rms/v_0)

where r_0 is the radius of the central orbit, v_rms is the rms speed of the gas, v_0 is the orbital speed at the central orbit, and r_out and r_in are the outer and inner radii of the torus, respectively.

Trekkin
2013-10-11, 11:48 PM
That makes sense for an Earth-mass planet.

I've been cribbing very heavily from Niven, and from Cray's revamping of Niven's original setting, to essentially put a gas giant four million kilometers away from a 1.5 m(sun) neutron star (long after its formation, of course) and let its atmosphere bleed off into a gas torus around the star, leaving behind an Earth-mass rocky core as a big lump in the ring. The numbers I've seen (http://www.sarna.net/forums/showflat.php/Cat/0/Number/80188/an/0/page/9) suggest the torus should be two million kilometers wide.

I just can't figure out how they're deriving them.

Corenair
2013-10-14, 04:08 AM
Hello,

I am currently building a map of resources for my campaign setting, and I'm having trouble finding resources online that indicate where and how the seven original metals (gold, silver, iron, tin, mercury, lead and copper) could be found, as well as other valuable resources such as charcoal. I already have a fairly detailed map with regards to terrain and climate, but somehow saying "yeah there's gold to be found in the mountain and iron inn every alluvial plain" doesn't seem right ...

hymer
2013-10-14, 04:20 AM
Although it will take a bit of digging, I think you'll find wikipedia to be your friend there. Look each of the things up, and I'm thinking you will find some description of the geology involved in finding each.
Charcoal, by the way, is produced rather than found.

Rhynn
2013-10-14, 05:54 AM
Yup, Wikipedia. Metals have different ores (hematite, limonite, and magnetite for iron, for instance), which are found in specific kinds of rock. Here (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ore) is a decent starting place, and looking up the articles for each metal will probably give you their ores, and looking up those ores will tell you what type of rock layers they're found in.

Of course, this is going to result in you needing to figure out what type of rock layers are in which area, which frankly is more work than I'd ever put into a setting.

Coal is found as bituminous coal and as lignite (although charcoal-burning - wood to charcoal - is probably a more common source in a medieval-ish era).

Beleriphon
2013-10-14, 08:29 AM
Coal is found as bituminous coal and as lignite (although charcoal-burning - wood to charcoal - is probably a more common source in a medieval-ish era).

It is still probably one of the most common sources of high temperature fuels. Hardwoods are especially good for making charcoal, so if that is the route you go a solid supply of hardwoods like oak, maple, cherry, mahogany (which is actually a very dense heavy wood) or apple is needed. In any kind of hamlet apple trees shouldn't be a problem. Just as a quick aside, because I know somebody will mention it, hardwood doesn't necessarily mean the wood is actually hard, it is a way of describing the structure of the wood compared to softwood trees. Yew for example is a softwood but is actually very hard, while balsa is hardwood but is actually very soft.

The Random NPC
2013-10-19, 01:51 AM
Wasn't there a guy who would make a weather map if you gave some details of the area a while back? Does anyone have a link to his thread?

Salbazier
2013-10-19, 02:47 PM
Wasn't there a guy who would make a weather map if you gave some details of the area a while back? Does anyone have a link to his thread?

Here you go:http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=282969

The Random NPC
2013-10-19, 02:59 PM
Awesome, I knew the Playground would come through.

hymer
2013-10-21, 09:14 AM
Another one for our astronomically minded friends and contributors:

Is it reasonable to have more than one planet in a given star's goldilocks zone? I notice that gas giants hog a lot of space, basically doubling the orbital diameter every time you go out a planet. But the terrestrial planets seem a little closer (more like +50% for the next planet out). So could two (or more) fit into a goldilocks zone? Are there other ways to fit more planets into that zone? Terrestrial double planets? Two planet-like objects sharing the same orbit from each their own side of their star?

While I'm at it, it would seem that moons are not to be expected for terrestrial planets. Am I correct in assuming that gas giants form naturally with a system of moons (and then proceed to catch more like as not), but that terrestrial planets tend to acquire their moons through some different means?

Garimeth
2013-10-21, 10:49 PM
Economics questions regarding commodity production and population support. Semi homebrewing a 13th Age game I am trying to balance the following community's populations in order to support them all and all of the agricultural needs. Society has paved roads in between major cities, a good weather almanac to predict sailing and occupies an area of 103k square miles. I tried balancing this off of the 3e DMG figures, but this seems way off to me, any help is appreciated.


Axis: the metropolis seat of the Empire, near the sea and with a waterway leading to the city.
Population 235,000

Glitterhaegen: mercantile capitol, entry point for dwarven goods entering the empire, located on the central sea, major trade hub.
Population: 75,000

Tramore: A holding located on the highway in-between Axis and Glitterhaegen, Tramore is only noteworthy because its farms are able to support the number of travelers who use it as a waypoint – causing it to become the unofficial pit-stop between the two cities.
House Martens: The Governor’s Son Kenneth Martens, 34, manages his estates here.
Population: 1,800 in Tramore, with another 3,800 in the surrounding agricultural area.
Major Exports: Commerce.

Greenhill: The produce grown here supports all of Glitterheagen. The land is unusually productive, and McDurglebadger has special enchanted greenhouses that allow him to grow year-round all manner of exotic spices and fruits found nowhere else in the empire.
House McDurglebadger: Managed by his Steward Master Bildgman.
Populations: 4,200 in Greenhill itself, 15,600 in the surrounding farming villages.
Major Exports: Agriculture

Delos: Delos is the only major holding in the Bitterwood, unless you count Shadow Port. Delos is mostly supported by the lumber trade and there are three very productive mills. The other portion of income is derived from animal hides and meats.
Lord Quentaine: Managed by his steward Master Quinn, a halfling. Delos is not a profitable holding.
Population: 1,200
Major Exports: Lumber, Leather

Kashel: The primary source of revenue here is metal from the mines in the Giantwalk. Most of the workers here work the mines, but there are a few small farms as well. The two famous taverns here have something of a feud going between which establishment brews the better beer.
House Gratina: The affairs are managed by Lady Marta.
Population: 4,700 in Kashel itself, and another 2,200 throughout the province.
Major Exports: Iron, steel, tin, copper, and gold.

Ruskil: Located on the plains in between the northern Bitterwood and Calamity, Ruskil is the seat of House Rahon. Famed for having the best horses, and riders, in the empire many of its citizens have served in the Legion’s cavalry. Ruskil is a pastoral community consisting mostly of shepherds, cattle farms, horse breeders, and fishermen.
House Rahon:
Population:2,100 in Ruskil itself, with another 5,400 spread out around the countryside.
Major Exports: Horses, Lumber, wool, leather, cheese, and beef

Ballina: (on a peninsula just south of the empire's capitol)
House Alrian
Population: 5,000 in Ballina and another 17,000 in the surrounding areas.
Major Exports: Agriculture, sailing vessels,

Mr. Mask
2013-10-22, 12:03 PM
Hymer was kind enough to point me here.


I was thinking about human breeding. Those of you who giggled my leave.

I had an idea for a story where aliens captured a variety of humans, then bred them as humans breed dogs and other animals. The idea was interesting... but I don't know enough of what would be possible through breeding programs to utilize it.


Any quick way I can get a basic understanding of what kind of "breeds" of human beings aliens could get, if they went hard at this?

I imagine the complex the humans are kept in would be segregated into different ethnicities (possibly with some new ethnicities created through the extended breeding program). Along with breeding perfectly healthy examples, I can imagine deformities and unusual genetic traits (giantism, dwarfism) would also be interesting to the aliens. Breeding humans who are really good at certain tasks (natural boxers, etc) and similar things would also be likely avenues.

oudeis
2013-10-22, 12:58 PM
...
I imagine the complex the humans are kept in would be segregated into different ethnicities (possibly with some new ethnicities created through the extended breeding program). Along with breeding perfectly healthy examples, I can imagine deformities and unusual genetic traits (giantism, dwarfism) would also be interesting to the aliens. Breeding humans who are really good at certain tasks (natural boxers, etc) and similar things would also be likely avenues. You have some fairly dangerous wording here and might want to edit this. I'm not implying there's any prejudice at work here but I suspect that there are many here who are going to jump on you with both feet.

'Ethinicities' is a human distinction made to differentiate within the grouping of humanity as a whole. Aliens wouldn't think in these terms. Human dog breeders certainly don't, nor do those who breed cattle, horses, and other livestock. Artificially-created breeds are usually named according to their function (wolfhound, cocker spaniel, draft horse); place of origin (Arabian, Waler horse, German shepherd); specific physical characteristics (Belgian shorthair, longhorn cattle); or even the breeder himself (Jack Russell terrier).

Given that we are in fact talking about alien thought processes here we have no way of knowing what sort of taxonomic system they would use. If it was anything similar to the above, however, the result might be unfortunately like the aggravatingly simplistic naming conventions you see in RPGs, giving you Longstrider humans bred to run long distances, Quickfoots for sprinting, Broadbacks for heavy lifting, and Stonehands for fighting. It is to be hoped a more advanced species would be above such banality, though. I'll leave someone else to come up with the names they might come up with for the sex breeds.

What? We all know aliens have an irresistible sexual attraction to humans and are anatomically compatible as well.

Gnoman
2013-10-22, 02:36 PM
Another one for our astronomically minded friends and contributors:

Is it reasonable to have more than one planet in a given star's goldilocks zone? I notice that gas giants hog a lot of space, basically doubling the orbital diameter every time you go out a planet. But the terrestrial planets seem a little closer (more like +50% for the next planet out). So could two (or more) fit into a goldilocks zone? Are there other ways to fit more planets into that zone? Terrestrial double planets? Two planet-like objects sharing the same orbit from each their own side of their star?


IIRC, both Venus and Mars are within the ill-defined "goldilocks zone", and both would easily be habitable if not for specific components of their planetology rather than their position relative to Sol. (Venus's only bar to habitability is her extremely heavy and corrosive atmosphere, while Mars lost whatever atmosphere it once had, and lacks a magnetic field to ward off excess radiation. If either had a earth-normal atmosphere, they would be perfectly nice planets to live on.)

In addition, I'm aware of no reason why an Earth-Luna pairing couldn't have a less significant discrepancy in size, and thus both could be habitable. As for Gorian-style "counter-planets", I have no ida.

Aux-Ash
2013-10-22, 02:49 PM
Regarding human breeding:

As with all breeding, what traits will be honed depends on what traits are desireable. Humans bred for beauty would be bred to express traits these aliens consider endearing. Humans bred for handling a stronger sun would be bred for darker skin. Humans bred for small tunnels would be bred to be shorter. It's simple artificial selection, the desired traits will be given preference.

That said... a lot of our traits are anything but simple, spread over several genes and dependent on good training and proper nutrition. Size is one of those. Our intelligence also seem to rely heavily on proper training (though for very understandable reasons there's been no exhaustive research in this field).

The most immediate effect however would be that some genetic disorders will be eliminated in the short term (though too heavy breeding will eventually lead to the development of new ones through the increased likelyhood of cosanguinity).

It's also well worth pointing out that human breeding would be an, to us humans anyways, rather slow process. 20 years generations (technically they could be shorter, but not everything is fully expressed until we're roughly 19.5 years). If your aliens have lifespans not significantly longer than ours, they may want to consider genetic therapy instead.

But as for which breeds would be possible:
Which breeds do you need?

TheStranger
2013-10-22, 04:30 PM
I suppose that, in theory, you could breed humans for almost any traits you found desirable. As noted, training is a huge factor, but assuming that humans could be made to cooperate in training (and really, it would probably be easier than we like to think), it could probably be done. I don't think the genetic complexity is an issue; just breed humans with the traits you want, and it'll sort itself out over enough generations.

I'd actually expect an *increase* in genetic disorders, as I don't think it's enough of a problem that the aliens would make a great effort to avoid it. In the short-term, certainly undesirable specimens wouldn't be selected for breeding (be very, very careful how you define "undesirable"). But assuming no great attachment to an individual human life, what we would consider a high occurrence of genetic disorders isn't a real obstacle as long as you're also getting a high occurrence of the desired traits.

The thing about breeding humans is that it would be purely for amusement purposes. By the time the aliens have mastered interstellar travel, I can't see any practical reason you'd need specialized humans badly enough to put up with the hassle. So I guess the "breeds" you'd come up with would really depend on the aliens. What do they find interesting enough to breed for? What do they want humans for?

Mr. Mask
2013-10-22, 11:22 PM
Oudeis: The aliens are racist and speciesist. These humans aren't bred for uses (though some are bred to be good at tasks, they serve no utility to the aliens other than amusement), they're bred to be exotic pets. They don't care about the well-being of their, "pets," either..... there will be a group of humans which are continually inbred, to see how messed up they can become.

Human sex slaves is a disturbing possibility I hadn't considered.


Ash: The aliens breed humans for amusement. Somewhere in the process they might say, "Hey, these guys are perfect to do X task for us," and then start breeding those humans more extensively for their utility. Overall, they're playing God/Science, seeing what forms of life they can achieve with he human species.

The aliens feature long lifespans for the reason you point out. I decided to keep away from gene-therapy just because I preferred to explore humans being bred the way we breed animals. I'll hint that some of the humans from the different breeds get shipped out, to what sounds like another complex where gene-therapy experiments take place (another adventure for another day).

Besides the amusing variety and occasional utility, the aliens would also breed humans for sport. Boxing, eating contests, a variety of human and alien events where raising the best neo-pet human is worth major props from your fellow aliens.


Stranger: They could get their humans to invade Earth if they desired. After more than a hundred generations raised in the alien compound, the aliens would seem less like a kidnapping force, and more like benevolent gods (this reminds me, human psychological experiments will have to be considered).

The aliens would define undesirable by the genetic code of given humans. Out of two people who seem exactly alike, one could be undesirable due to minor problems in their DNA to the aliens purpose (there are enough breeding programs that they can probably move the undesirables somewhere else).

Amusement in the alpha and omega of their research campaign. If they find humans breeds who have some obscure utility (they make a really nice soup!) it is an nearly incidental finding.

TheStranger
2013-10-23, 10:53 AM
The aliens would define undesirable by the genetic code of given humans. Out of two people who seem exactly alike, one could be undesirable due to minor problems in their DNA to the aliens purpose (there are enough breeding programs that they can probably move the undesirables somewhere else).
I mean that it would be incredibly easy to unintentionally offend somebody with this. As soon as you send somebody with any given trait to the glue factory, you're running the risk of making somebody at your table really uncomfortable. You might think that it would be obvious that this is a fictional situation, but you never know what somebody might be sensitive about. I'd tread very, very carefully.


Amusement in the alpha and omega of their research campaign. If they find humans breeds who have some obscure utility (they make a really nice soup!) it is an nearly incidental finding.
You definitely need to make this an inverse "To Serve Man" joke. The humans being bred because they make an amazing soup know how to make a lobster bisque that the aliens can't get enough of.

Other things to breed humans for:

Fighting in all forms, including against aliens in the style of a bullfight. I wouldn't use boxing , though - there's no point in having rules to protect the participants. Think of it more like cockfighting.

Entertainment: breed and train for the ability to "do tricks" like juggling, dancing, tumbling, and a few bizarre alien forms of entertainment that they find it amusing to see a lesser species do. Circus acts, basically.

Pretty much any physical characteristic that the aliens might find interesting or appealing, which might or might not be characteristics that we would consider noteworthy.

If alien/human physiology is relatively similar, laboratory purposes. We make some pretty crazy mice for lab testing, you could probably go somewhere with that (straight into the realm of nightmare fuel, probably).

It seems cheap to do anything for purely arbitrary reasons (just to see how messed up they can become). Think of how humans breed dogs, for instance. We don't think of it as messing with them, or actively try to get screwed-up results. There's a goal in mind, even though it probably wouldn't make much sense to the dogs. It's just that worrying about whether it's fair to the dogs is a relatively new idea. An alien equivalent of PETA (PETH?) would be kind of interesting, though, depending on how you played it.

Mr. Mask
2013-10-23, 12:58 PM
Stranger: Definitely. Thank you for pointing it out, all the same.

Yes, modern boxing would be pointless under the circumstances. So they would participate in the original bare-knuckle style of boxing. The aliens don't really need to worry about prized fighters being injured, with tech suitable for repairing any damage a punch can inflict (kills are more fun, so they'd only preserve popular examples--would probably take sperm samples from the fighters who good genetics as a backup).

PETH is an interesting idea. They could even give the characters alien technology, so that they could do some terrorist actions without it tracing back to PETH.

TheTrueMooseman
2013-10-24, 06:32 PM
As for Gorian-style "counter-planets", I have no ida.
To expand on this, Lagrangian points are positions relative to two massive bodies (in this case, a star and a planet) where a third object would assume a stable orbit based solely on the relative forces between the bodies. The points known as L3, L4 and L5 lie almost directly on the same orbital path as the planet. Now technically, these points are only stable if the object in question has negligible mass relative to the two other bodies, but there's no reason a bit of hand-waving couldn't place a small planet at one of these points, and thus in the same Goldilocks zone as the other!

hymer
2013-10-27, 03:22 AM
@ Gnoman & TheTrueMooseman: Thanks for the replies. I'll just go wild, then. :smallsmile:

Salbazier
2013-10-27, 07:53 PM
To expand on this, Lagrangian points are positions relative to two massive bodies (in this case, a star and a planet) where a third object would assume a stable orbit based solely on the relative forces between the bodies. The points known as L3, L4 and L5 lie almost directly on the same orbital path as the planet. Now technically, these points are only stable if the object in question has negligible mass relative to the two other bodies, but there's no reason a bit of hand-waving couldn't place a small planet at one of these points, and thus in the same Goldilocks zone as the other!

(Without handwaving) A body of significant mass relative to any of the other bodies could be stable for a while in L3 or L5 (the other L point are less stable). 'A while' in geological/astronomical sense, that is.

Weirdlet
2013-12-08, 10:32 PM
I'm hoping this is the right thread for this question- in a world where the dwarves have moved above ground and are making a deliberate push to displace the orcs from their usual territory, I'm wondering what sorts of efficient-if-unethical methods the dwarves could be using to roust the orcs from where they've wandered the last several centuries. There's outright military action, of course, but dwarves have a low birthrate and smaller numbers than they'd like, despite their great craft at weaponsmithing and huge cultural emphasis on being effective warriors. So they're looking for anything they can use to get the orcs to go away, without risking themselves too much, and without completely ruining the lands that they want to take over and use for themselves. I've thought of a combination of industrial runoff from their surface mining and possible deliberate poisoning of rivers to make the land seem inhospitable to those they'd like to run off, but that runs the risk of making it impossible for themselves to use, just as spreading disease could backfire and kill them.

So what sorts of dirty tricks should my dwarves be trying here?

Zeb
2013-12-08, 11:05 PM
I'm hoping this is the right thread for this question- in a world where the dwarves have moved above ground and are making a deliberate push to displace the orcs from their usual territory, I'm wondering what sorts of efficient-if-unethical methods the dwarves could be using to roust the orcs from where they've wandered the last several centuries. There's outright military action, of course, but dwarves have a low birthrate and smaller numbers than they'd like, despite their great craft at weaponsmithing and huge cultural emphasis on being effective warriors. So they're looking for anything they can use to get the orcs to go away, without risking themselves too much, and without completely ruining the lands that they want to take over and use for themselves. I've thought of a combination of industrial runoff from their surface mining and possible deliberate poisoning of rivers to make the land seem inhospitable to those they'd like to run off, but that runs the risk of making it impossible for themselves to use, just as spreading disease could backfire and kill them.

So what sorts of dirty tricks should my dwarves be trying here?


That really depends on what kinds of lands they are trying to take form the orcs.

The best options might still deal with their crafting ability by offering a bounty of dwarvencraft items for X number of orc heads.

Or they could try something that could poison the orcs counting on their high Constitution and racial bonus.

Yora
2013-12-09, 02:14 AM
Poisoning rivers sounds like a good idea, but it would have to be a substance that naturally degrades after a few months and become harmless. Or at the very least something that won't contaminate the riverbeds.
Not sure what stuff could do that, though.

hymer
2013-12-09, 05:19 AM
In areas dependent on rivers, they could dam those. Then they could cause the river to be a small trickle for a week or a month, and then cause a deluge when their reservoir is getting full. Repeat as needed, and be sure to set up some water mills wile you're building the dam to make the most of it.
Forest/brush fires are another way to go. Dwarves live long enough that replanting forests are not too impractical. Wait until the weather has been dry for long enough, wait until the wind is just right, start some fires and run for the mountains; because you never know when the wind may change.

Edit: My own question. I seem to be stuck on coming up with the mentality of a group here. An elven nation is overrun by humans and undead, most of it burned down. Most of the survivors flee, as the king manages to create a refuge for them. One group, however, stay, fighting to the last against the undead hordes in their ruined homeland. What do these elves call themselves?

Weirdlet
2013-12-09, 05:09 PM
Yora- that's definitely the sort of thing that was on my mind. Temporary devastation, without leaving it a wasteland forever sort of thing.

hymer- The Last Batallion/Brigade/Company?

Thinker
2013-12-09, 05:18 PM
Edit: My own question. I seem to be stuck on coming up with the mentality of a group here. An elven nation is overrun by humans and undead, most of it burned down. Most of the survivors flee, as the king manages to create a refuge for them. One group, however, stay, fighting to the last against the undead hordes in their ruined homeland. What do these elves call themselves?

The Light Brigade

Raum
2013-12-09, 10:05 PM
My own question. I seem to be stuck on coming up with the mentality of a group here. An elven nation is overrun by humans and undead, most of it burned down. Most of the survivors flee, as the king manages to create a refuge for them. One group, however, stay, fighting to the last against the undead hordes in their ruined homeland. What do these elves call themselves? Forlorn hope (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forlorn_hope) or maybe cannon fodder. Though the Light Brigade isn't bad. :)

hymer
2013-12-10, 04:34 AM
Thanks guys, you've jogged my imagination back into action! Now to translate some of those into Quenya and see how they sound...

ellindsey
2013-12-10, 11:25 AM
As for Gorian-style "counter-planets", I have no ida.

Two planets opposite a star in the same orbit is only stable in the short term. The stability only works if the planets are exactly, precisely opposite each other. If either gets even a tiny bit ahead or behind the other, the gravitational forces between them will pull them further and further away from being precisely opposed. Eventually they'll either collide or pass close enough to slingshot both out of the solar system, into the sun, or into wildly eccentric orbits. Note that even if you do somehow start with them perfectly opposed, if you have any other planets in the solar system at all those will be enough to nudge them out of position.

hymer
2013-12-10, 01:27 PM
Thanks for clearing that one up.

Sapphire Guard
2013-12-11, 09:55 PM
How big does an industrial revolution type city (think pre-plague Dunwall) have to be to sustain a 30+ per month murder rate without being depopulated or significantly negatively affected? A cabal of vampires has to live there for over 200 years without completely destroying it or ruining the tourist trade /business reputation. Their targets are picked out of random opportunism.

Rhynn
2013-12-12, 12:35 AM
How big does an industrial revolution type city (think pre-plague Dunwall) have to be to sustain a 30+ per month murder rate without being depopulated or significantly negatively affected? A cabal of vampires has to live there for over 200 years without completely destroying it or ruining the tourist trade /business reputation. Their targets are picked out of random opportunism.

There's some data that suggests medieval cities may have had (yearly) murder rates on the order of 50 to 110 per 100,000 ... so yours is going to be pretty insane. Is there a reason your cabal of vampires has to be so big, has to eat so much (maybe they can share?), or has to eat so often? (Maybe they can keep part of the cabal in "hibernation" until they're needed.)

In order not to depopulate the city, you'd need growth that outstrips your murder rate and then some. It's a city, so people might be moving in - especially if there's new jobs created all the time. Say 2% yearly growth (pulled out of my behind); make it a city of 18,000 and you're gonna break even. I can't find any actual growth rates for industrial revolution cities, but I'm sure someone searching more extensively could.

Zeb
2013-12-12, 12:43 AM
How big does an industrial revolution type city (think pre-plague Dunwall) have to be to sustain a 30+ per month murder rate without being depopulated or significantly negatively affected? A cabal of vampires has to live there for over 200 years without completely destroying it or ruining the tourist trade /business reputation. Their targets are picked out of random opportunism.

Well depending on your number of vampires and how stealthy/controlled they are about their feeding. there was some math done awhile back on Buffy vampires assuming they only needed to feed once a month. Libris Mortis for 3.5 says vampires are diet dependent and need to feed every 3 days or start taking ability damage. With 30 deaths a month that is 10-30 vampires.

If you assume the percentage growth rate is 1.09% or less given the industrial setting before your vampire 'harvest' with no replacement you need around 2753 people. You could require up to 12 times as many since this assumes the vamps are feeding on people who have already reproduced.

Really it depends on the vampire feeding habits and the reproduction rate of the population. Depending on those it could range form 100-5000 per vampire.

(Could you imagine how big an elven population would have to be just to support one vampire even feeding only once a month? At 12 a year and even if they reach physical maturity at 25 you need a starter population of just over 600 elves plus you have to eat the ones who have already reproduced twice just to stay even)

TheOneHawk
2013-12-14, 11:28 AM
Question: I'm creating a continent approximately the size of Australia. The time period is late medievalish, definitely pre gunpowder though. I'm curious about how much of the land would be civilized and controlled by kingdoms and how much would be harsh wilderness, taking into account scary monsters. How large would the average kingdom be and how many would there be?

Viros
2013-12-14, 11:46 AM
So I need a little astronomical help for a geocentric world in a fantasy setting

The world is an earth-sized planet in the center of the universe. It turns around a fixed point at its center. The "sky" is a hollow sphere that surrounds the planet. The "sun" is a disc embedded in the sky. It gives off light identical to the sun's. The diameter of the disc is the same as the diameter of our sun, just as the planet is the same size as ours. The distance from the disc to the planet is the same as from our sun to the Earth.

Would it be possible in this environment to have a similar day/year length and system of seasons as Earth?

If so, what angles would sky and planet have to rotate at?

Thanks!

hymer
2013-12-14, 11:55 AM
@ TheOneHawk: As much or as little as you like. :smallsmile:
A rule of thumb is that medieval population density caps at about 12 per square kilometer (this is decent farmland we're talking about). But this doesn't mean that every area is that heavily populated - or populated at all. The size of the kingdoms could vary widely. A small state which can't be conquered due to geography is quite possible, and so is a huge empire, spanning several kingdoms.

Rakmakallan
2013-12-14, 12:51 PM
Looking for proposals for planetary characteristics that wouldn't allow for the appearance of fossil fuels, chemical weapons, or black powder. Trying to run hard-ish sci-fi of the sword and planet sort, but need compelling arguments as to why firearms or more lethal weaponry have not arisen, and scarcity seems like reason enough.

Brother Oni
2013-12-14, 02:09 PM
So I need a little astronomical help for a geocentric world in a fantasy setting

It's an earth-sized planet in the center of the universe. It turns around a fixed point at its center. The "sky" is a hollow sphere that surrounds the planet. The "sun" is a hole in the sky that lets in light from outside.

Roughly, what angles and speed would the planet/sky have to turn to create a similar day/year length as we have on earth?
Thanks!

I'm not a physicist, so this is all conjecture.

You haven't stated how big the hole in the 'sky' or how far away from the planet it is (ie the radius of the hollow sphere), so it's not possible to give you a speed of rotation.

You also haven't said whether there's a star nearby; if there isn't one then the planet could be completely uncovered and it'd still be a dark lifeless rock.

In order to keep with your proposal of this planet being the centre of the universe, a star would have to orbit the planet - that is more likely to determine your day/night cycle. If the hole is never aligned with the sun, again dark lifeless rock (assuming that the sphere is 100% effective in blocking out all radiation from the star.

Your seasons would be determined by how far away the star drifts away from the planet. I'm not sure what conditions you'd need to mimic the opposite seasons in the northern/southern hemispheres that Earth has.

In conclusion, more information needed.


Looking for proposals for planetary characteristics that wouldn't allow for the appearance of fossil fuels, chemical weapons, or black powder. Trying to run hard-ish sci-fi of the sword and planet sort, but need compelling arguments as to why firearms or more lethal weaponry have not arisen, and scarcity seems like reason enough.

What is the culture/technology level of your planet? It could be as easy as the planet isn't developed enough to discover any of your prohibited items.
Is the environment of your planet significantly different to Earth? If the life forms have developed different, then that could prohibit development of certain technologies.

Could you clarify what you mean by 'fossil fuels'? We've been using coal for metal work since about the 4th Century BC.

Again some clarification by what you mean by 'chemical weapons'? Poison gas has been known since about the 3rd Century AD (the Persians used it against the Romans during the siege of Dura).

Rakmakallan
2013-12-14, 02:39 PM
Throughout history, culture has moved from Roman tech, to current levels with power armors, some biotech with medical applications, large scale geothermy exploitation. The environment is something i have not developed fully yet, but I was considering a lithosphere consisting predominantly of metal (minerals of iron, titanium, magnesium, zinc), lack of plate tectonics, large oceanic bodies possibly of different composition, higher percentages of atmospheric oxygen, existence of four satellites, dominance of fungal and algal life in lieu of vascular plants, extensive volcanism. Humanoid/primate species with higher intelligence do exist, but are of completely different appearance.
By fossil fuels I mean petroleum and its derivatives. Coal could exist in traces, but the main source of energy would be hydroelectric, wind, or geothermal.
Chemical weapons would refer to post-18th century, when progress of chemistry and means of deployment would suffice for a genocide. I'd like the players to be able to adventure without the fear of being gassed, nuked, or shot cheaply, along with entire cities.

Viros
2013-12-14, 03:17 PM
In conclusion, more information needed.


Added corrections to my post.

Silverbit
2013-12-14, 06:03 PM
I've searched for this with no luck for quite a while, so I come to the esteemed halls of Gitp for the answer: could someone please inform me approximately how many soldiers would be in these forces:
A small raiding group (enough to plunder a village of about 500).
A medium raiding group (enough to plunder a town of about 2000).
A (very) large raiding group (enough to plunder a city of 12000).
A lord's personal retinue (the people he'd have with him if travelling through dangerous territory).
An army in the field under the sole command of a fairly important lord.

For all the above, assume late dark ages (approx 600-1100 CE) in a Generic Europe rip-off with no magic.
My immense thanks if you can clear this up, I've been trying to find the numbers for ages.

@Rakmakallan: have you thought about environmental characteristics yet? If the climate is overly damp and humid, with very frequent rainfall, gunpowder (especially early types) would misfire rather a lot, rendering it less useful. Also if i recall correctly gunpowder needs sulphur to make. If you remove convenient sources of sulphur (no nearby volcanoes) then it becomes harder to produce in great amounts.

Tridax
2013-12-14, 06:23 PM
Okay, I've got a question related to biology. How do dragonborn reproduce? And perhaps the same question about turians from Mass Effect, since I've got some sort of a mix between the two in my setting.

TuggyNE
2013-12-14, 07:14 PM
Okay, I've got a question related to biology. How do dragonborn reproduce?

3e or 4e? 3e don't; they come only from a special ritual of hatching as an adult formerly of some other race.

Brother Oni
2013-12-14, 10:03 PM
The world is an earth-sized planet in the center of the universe. It turns around a fixed point at its center. The "sky" is a hollow sphere that surrounds the planet. The "sun" is a disc embedded in the sky. It gives off light identical to the sun's. The diameter of the disc is the same as the diameter of our sun, just as the planet is the same size as ours. The distance from the disc to the planet is the same as from our sun to the Earth.


So to confirm, you have a hollow sphere of 1 AU radius with an Earth sized planet in the centre, and a disc of 0.009 AU diameter emitting the same output as our sun? The sphere is stationary and the planet rotates?



Would it be possible in this environment to have a similar day/year length and system of seasons as Earth?


Similar day is easy, the planet just has to spin at the same speed the Earth does.

Similar seasons could be replicated by changing the inclination (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inclination) of the planet towards the disc (7.155 degrees if I'm understanding it correctly).

The summer half is whichever hemisphere was closest to the disc last: Earth's orbit (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earth%27s_orbit).


Throughout history, culture has moved from Roman tech, to current levels with power armors, some biotech with medical applications, large scale geothermy exploitation. The environment is something i have not developed fully yet, but I was considering a lithosphere consisting predominantly of metal (minerals of iron, titanium, magnesium, zinc), lack of plate tectonics, large oceanic bodies possibly of different composition, higher percentages of atmospheric oxygen, existence of four satellites, dominance of fungal and algal life in lieu of vascular plants, extensive volcanism. Humanoid/primate species with higher intelligence do exist, but are of completely different appearance.
By fossil fuels I mean petroleum and its derivatives. Coal could exist in traces, but the main source of energy would be hydroelectric, wind, or geothermal.
Chemical weapons would refer to post-18th century, when progress of chemistry and means of deployment would suffice for a genocide. I'd like the players to be able to adventure without the fear of being gassed, nuked, or shot cheaply, along with entire cities.

The problem is, you have technology of our current level, biological and chemical weapons are well known - most modern chemical weapons are based from accidental discoveries for agricultural pesticides, fungicides and herbicides, which would be necessary for food production to support a large population.

The fix is that you've listed the humanoid intelligence capable of generating this technology is significantly different. Give them vastly different biology and either have the players immune to it (I assume they're human?) or they're so durable that NBC weaponry was never found to be useful.

It'd also fix the gunpowder issue - however rather than elemental sulphur to hard to come by as Silverbit suggests, I'd make high quality potassium nitrate hard to come by (make all natural deposits contaminated by calcium nitrate or have that abundant in the environment).


I've searched for this with no luck for quite a while, so I come to the esteemed halls of Gitp for the answer: could someone please inform me approximately how many soldiers would be in these forces:
A small raiding group (enough to plunder a village of about 500).
A medium raiding group (enough to plunder a town of about 2000).
A (very) large raiding group (enough to plunder a city of 12000).
A lord's personal retinue (the people he'd have with him if travelling through dangerous territory).
An army in the field under the sole command of a fairly important lord.

For all the above, assume late dark ages (approx 600-1100 CE) in a Generic Europe rip-off with no magic.

It's hard question to answer as it's very vague.

How well defended are the population centres? Very few raiders would be required to take an undefended village or monastery (maybe ten armed and armoured raiders versus a token resistance of peasants with farming implements) while you'd need considerably more to take a well defended Polish or Russian village where the inhabitants go about their daily business well armed (assuming about 25% of the population in a fit state to fight, that's ~100 odd men ready, willing and able to defend their homes, so you'd need considerably more).

A city of 12,000 people would have a militia or other armed forces, along with walls/fortifications. You'd need a full sized army of thousands and siege weapons to go along with it, not to mention the supply train with another few thousand people.

How many soldiers in an army in the field varies according to how many men could be mustered. The Battle of Hastings in 1066 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Hastings) had somewhere in the region of 5-13 thousand men on each side.

I suggest just looking up battles in the time period to get an idea of a sense of numbers. You could also try in the Real World Weapons and Armour threa (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=308462)d as that's the sort of question we field there.


And perhaps the same question about turians from Mass Effect, since I've got some sort of a mix between the two in my setting.

Everything you wanted to know about Turians but were afraid to ask (http://masseffect.wikia.com/wiki/Turian).

hymer
2013-12-15, 05:21 AM
A small raiding group (enough to plunder a village of about 500).

Depends. A single guy could come in from the outside, go into a home and plunder it, and then leave (if the village isn't fortified). 20 guys attacking in the dead of night with no standing guard and no fortification? They could stick together and behave with enough aggression that they could plunder until they're out of carrying room. But they better be back out before someone organizes resistance and it becomes pitch fork time.


A medium raiding group (enough to plunder a town of about 2000).
A (very) large raiding group (enough to plunder a city of 12000).

Needs your version of 'raid'. 1 guy can do a raid. Sneak up near a guard, shoot him, vanish. That's a raid, albeit a small one.
City walls make raids of the kind you're probably thinking about impractical, if the wall is guarded. The idea behind 'raid' is to get away before the enemy can mount their forces against you. Fortifications make approaching unnoticed and escaping quickly difficult.


A lord's personal retinue (the people he'd have with him if travelling through dangerous territory).

Depends on the dangerous territory. Is he worried some lone peasant might assault him? Bring a guy or two, you best knight and his squire, perhaps. Moving through an area at war? Julius Caesar liked to travel with about 800 horsemen in such circumstances - when he didn't just go alone out of desperate need. It's a question of what do you think the danger is, and what resources do you have at hand?


An army in the field under the sole command of a fairly important lord.

Vagueness prevents an answer. What is the size of the population? What is he trying to accomplish? You don't field an army larger than necessarry. Armies are expensive, time-consuming and the igger they are the more so. The larger the army, the more impractical is it to campagn as well (large forces are harder to feed and such). Once again looking to Roman times, the Romans had close to 100k men in a single force up to Cannae, commanded by the consuls (command alternating between them from day to day, a Roman convention to prevent abuse of power). On the other hand, late western Roman emperors would sometimes command small forces in small engagements, in the 1000-man class or less. It varied for many reasons.


For all the above, assume late dark ages (approx 600-1100 CE) in a Generic Europe rip-off with no magic.

Well, it would have varied widely. The village of 500 you mention would be a huge town for Scandinavia in 700. But in the Eastern Roman Empire around this time, you have Byzantium at over 500k inhabitants. The variations are vast.


My immense thanks if you can clear this up, I've been trying to find the numbers for ages.

Sorry I couldn't clear it up for you, but maybe I have managed to elevate your confusion to a slightly higher level? :smallwink:

Silverbit
2013-12-15, 07:12 AM
Brother Oni:


It's hard question to answer as it's very vague.

How well defended are the population centres? Very few raiders would be required to take an undefended village or monastery (maybe ten armed and armoured raiders versus a token resistance of peasants with farming implements) while you'd need considerably more to take a well defended Polish or Russian village where the inhabitants go about their daily business well armed (assuming about 25% of the population in a fit state to fight, that's ~100 odd men ready, willing and able to defend their homes, so you'd need considerably more).

A city of 12,000 people would have a militia or other armed forces, along with walls/fortifications. You'd need a full sized army of thousands and siege weapons to go along with it, not to mention the supply train with another few thousand people.

How many soldiers in an army in the field varies according to how many men could be mustered. The Battle of Hastings in 1066 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Hastings) had somewhere in the region of 5-13 thousand men on each side.

I suggest just looking up battles in the time period to get an idea of a sense of numbers. You could also try in the Real World Weapons and Armour threa (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=308462)d as that's the sort of question we field there.



Thanks very much for answering my questions. The numbers you've given will be a good starting point. I hadn't really thought about looking up battles to get an idea of numbers, thanks for that.

hymer:

Depends. A single guy could come in from the outside, go into a home and plunder it, and then leave (if the village isn't fortified). 20 guys attacking in the dead of night with no standing guard and no fortification? They could stick together and behave with enough aggression that they could plunder until they're out of carrying room. But they better be back out before someone organizes resistance and it becomes pitch fork time.

Needs your version of 'raid'. 1 guy can do a raid. Sneak up near a guard, shoot him, vanish. That's a raid, albeit a small one.
City walls make raids of the kind you're probably thinking about impractical, if the wall is guarded. The idea behind 'raid' is to get away before the enemy can mount their forces against you. Fortifications make approaching unnoticed and escaping quickly difficult.

Depends on the dangerous territory. Is he worried some lone peasant might assault him? Bring a guy or two, you best knight and his squire, perhaps. Moving through an area at war? Julius Caesar liked to travel with about 800 horsemen in such circumstances - when he didn't just go alone out of desperate need. It's a question of what do you think the danger is, and what resources do you have at hand?

Vagueness prevents an answer. What is the size of the population? What is he trying to accomplish? You don't field an army larger than necessarry. Armies are expensive, time-consuming and the igger they are the more so. The larger the army, the more impractical is it to campagn as well (large forces are harder to feed and such). Once again looking to Roman times, the Romans had close to 100k men in a single force up to Cannae, commanded by the consuls (command alternating between them from day to day, a Roman convention to prevent abuse of power). On the other hand, late western Roman emperors would sometimes command small forces in small engagements, in the 1000-man class or less. It varied for many reasons.

Well, it would have varied widely. The village of 500 you mention would be a huge town for Scandinavia in 700. But in the Eastern Roman Empire around this time, you have Byzantium at over 500k inhabitants. The variations are vast.

Sorry I couldn't clear it up for you, but maybe I have managed to elevate your confusion to a slightly higher level? :smallwink:

Thanks to you too, hymer. Yes, it does vary a lot by location and defence and stuff. So many variables... Anyway, yes you have elevated my confusion :smallbiggrin:. Thank you. I've got a better idea of the numbers involved now.

Rakmakallan
2013-12-15, 07:17 AM
@Brother Oni
Thank you very much for the excellent fix. So without firearms, nukes, and ineffective chemical or bio weapons, how would warfare be conducted apart from advanced material swordfights? I have been considering small scale power armors, railguns, and small wizard-like units specialised in tricks anywhere from geoengineering and weather manipulation to improvised nanotech (Think a cross of D&D scout/rogue, with alchemist and engineer).

Berenger
2013-12-15, 08:51 AM
I've searched for this with no luck for quite a while, so I come to the esteemed halls of Gitp for the answer: could someone please inform me approximately how many soldiers would be in these forces:
A small raiding group (enough to plunder a village of about 500).
A medium raiding group (enough to plunder a town of about 2000).
A (very) large raiding group (enough to plunder a city of 12000).
A lord's personal retinue (the people he'd have with him if travelling through dangerous territory).
An army in the field under the sole command of a fairly important lord.


As it has been said, the numbers would vary wildly. There can be no universal answer, but a general guideline I would find believable for a work of fiction would be:

1 fighter for every 20 civilians
2 fighters for every 1 enemy fighter (that is armed, awake and thus ready to fight)

So, for a village with 500 inhabitants with a garrison of 10 men-at-arms, 45 men would be enough. I assume this proportion will reduce the attackers losses to a minimum, because they will be able to overwhelm the enemy quick enough to prevent organized resistance.

Attacks on settlements with walls are not raids but sieges and require significantly more manpower, unless you manage to carry out commando raids to disable the defenses before an alarm is raised.

Factors influencing the skill and behaviour of the victims and thus the amount of manpower needed by the raiders would include:

1. Compliance: If the victims think they can survive the raid with enough stuff left to survive, they might just surrender. If they think they will lose everything, including their life, freedom, family, house etc. they might fight you regardless of the odds.

2. Ability: Victims trained and equipped with weapons will tend to fight back both more readily and more efficiently.

3. Attitude: Civil pride or loyalty to a lord that depends on the settlement may encourage people to put up a fight or withstand a siege. Downtrodden serfs won't be accustomed to stand their ground.



The lords retinue:

May range from "a squire and a man-at-arms" to "dozens of knights with their personal retinue and several hundred men-at-arms plus a baggage train". Factors include the wealth and importance of the lord, his personal nature (foolhardy, cautious) the nature of the dangerous territory, the need for quick travel, the need to station the available fighters elsewhere...

Silverbit
2013-12-15, 09:11 AM
Thanks Berenger! I'll be able to use those numbers.

Berenger
2013-12-15, 09:29 AM
No problem!

Just keep in mind that those numbers are not scientific or anything.

Brother Oni
2013-12-15, 12:02 PM
@Brother Oni
Thank you very much for the excellent fix. So without firearms, nukes, and ineffective chemical or bio weapons, how would warfare be conducted apart from advanced material swordfights? I have been considering small scale power armors, railguns, and small wizard-like units specialised in tricks anywhere from geoengineering and weather manipulation to improvised nanotech (Think a cross of D&D scout/rogue, with alchemist and engineer).

With no NBC strategic or tactical weapons and no gunpowder, I'd guess a more advanced version of Middle Ages tech, so updated crossbows and things like trebuchets.

The sphere of military influence would be dramatically reduced since you can't get troops or materiel to places quickly, as with no internal combustion or steam engines, motorised transport wouldn't have been invented.
Electric engines are unlikely since with the different metallurgy and chemistry in place, battery development and hence high yield portable energy storage methods (which is what coal and petrol are) are going to be fairly undeveloped.

I think communications would be limited to radio or possibly telephone, but telecoms tech is a bit beyond my field. This would also have a distinct effect on global and national range.

You've stated that wind and geothermal power is ubiquitous, so that assumes the steam turbine is a valid invention. You potentially have a power grid, just that you're going to have a lot of trams and other similar sort of vehicles that use a fixed track power system.

The exception is if you use magic to fill in the blanks missing by technology, in which case you effectively have a Tippy-verse world where you can just insert magic instead of tech, so you have wands of magic missile replacing small arms, teleport without error systems for mass transport, etc.
The geomancy magic would be far more valuable keeping the agricultural base going since intensive farming would be the order of the day.

It's tricky as you've said that the culture is equivalent to present day, but by removing certain key inventions and discoveries (all fossil fuels being a prime one) the culture would have developed very differently; you can't simply remove and replace things.

Mr. Mask
2014-08-28, 06:11 AM
Could creatures like elves have smaller populations than humans, even when each group has similar resources?

Elves live longer, are more resistant to disease, generally depicted with constructive societies where murder and domestic troubles seem less frequent, and in this case can be assumed not at peril from outside forces (if they're not assumed less at peril). This adds to them not having a high population deficit.

The main arguments for elves having lower population is:

Less desire to have children (for a variety of reasons);
Less ability to have children (lower chance of pregnancy);
Children being more difficult to raise (take longer to mature, higher mortality rate for mothers in labour, few or no cases of twins/etc., elves don't handle relationships with multiple children well);
And the possibility of resources being scarce (if elves lived frugal lives and were non-expansive, or if they had higher standards of living so everyone gets a bigger cut of resources).

Someone had told me that biological creatures, particularly sentient ones, will expand to make use of what resources they have available naturally and someone will want to expand and have more children. Even if you slowed down their birthrates by emphasizing the detriments, they would still soon or eventually fill their potential population. I have wondered how quickly a culture's resources can expand in relation to their population expansion, and whether a race like elves might be playing catch-up for a long time after expanding in resources dramatically.


What are your thoughts on whether a race can be kept fewer despite having the same if not more resources?

Yora
2014-08-28, 07:09 AM
Population explosions are something that tends to happen only in the early stages of industrialization. After about 100 years the population reaches the top and then starts to decline again at a similar speed. Other than this special case we've been seeing for the past 200 years, populations are quite stable and grows only very slowly.

The main factor seems not to be available resources, but the demand for labor. And children are a major source of labor power in agrarian societies. However, once a stable balance is reached, additional children become a burden instead of an asset. Population explosions happen when a society is in the process of finding the new optimal balance, as children mortality, live expectancy, and labor demand improve significantly. Far from being an expert on it, I am under the impression that populations much stronger tend to maintaining their numbers instead of growing. Growth happens only very slowly.
If the elves in that scenario can maintain their food production with a smaller number of individuals per family, families will be smaller. As generations are longer for elves, their growth rate would be slower than that of human populations.

So as I see it, no adjustments of any kind are neccessary. Having a large human population side by side with a smaller elven population is in no way implausible.

Silus
2014-08-28, 07:14 AM
Ok so a bit of an odd one for geography:

If a setting/world had been subject to apocalypse-levels of war, munitions usage and high level magic, how adherent to proper geographical creation...things should the world be? I know it's not the most clear of questions, but I don't really know how to ask it...

Yora
2014-08-28, 07:35 AM
Geographically there shouldn't be any noticable effect. Maybe a couple of big craters, but they won't make a difference on a global scale. For environmental effects, it depends entirely on what weapons and magic has been unleashed on the landscape.

Vahir
2014-08-28, 11:51 AM
@Mr. Mask

From what I've read, population booms and busts were a regular occurrence in per-industrial societies, and they occured in a cyclical fashion. Population would rise, among both the nobility and the peasantry, until eventually food production reached its peak and there was simply no more land to labor. At this point, real wages would decline among the peasantry, driving them into poverty but making the nobility fabulously wealthy. The overpopulation would bring plague and war, and the lower classes would be greatly reduced.

The nobility, who didn't suffer the immediate effects of the overpopulation, would continue growing in number, competing for a smaller number of peasants. Their incomes would start declining, and they'd fight local skirmishes, duels, and civil wars to maintain their wealth at the expense of others until their own numbers were reduced to a stable level. Then population would start to rise again. This happened to both France and England during the Hundred Year's War, and you could argue that it's what brought down the Roman empire.

So, in response to the original question, I'd hypothesize that the elven population is maintained stable through wars with their neighbors. Considering how arrogant elves usually are, I'd say this fits in their character.

Thinker
2014-08-28, 01:11 PM
Could creatures like elves have smaller populations than humans, even when each group has similar resources?

Elves live longer, are more resistant to disease, generally depicted with constructive societies where murder and domestic troubles seem less frequent, and in this case can be assumed not at peril from outside forces (if they're not assumed less at peril). This adds to them not having a high population deficit.

The main arguments for elves having lower population is:

Less desire to have children (for a variety of reasons);
Less ability to have children (lower chance of pregnancy);
Children being more difficult to raise (take longer to mature, higher mortality rate for mothers in labour, few or no cases of twins/etc., elves don't handle relationships with multiple children well);
And the possibility of resources being scarce (if elves lived frugal lives and were non-expansive, or if they had higher standards of living so everyone gets a bigger cut of resources).

Someone had told me that biological creatures, particularly sentient ones, will expand to make use of what resources they have available naturally and someone will want to expand and have more children. Even if you slowed down their birthrates by emphasizing the detriments, they would still soon or eventually fill their potential population. I have wondered how quickly a culture's resources can expand in relation to their population expansion, and whether a race like elves might be playing catch-up for a long time after expanding in resources dramatically.


What are your thoughts on whether a race can be kept fewer despite having the same if not more resources?
Aside from resources, if you want to keep the elf population limited, just say that there is a set number of elves in existence. It can be a part of their physiology. When a thousand die in a war, a new thousand will be born in the coming decades. It would also be an interesting way to differentiate them from a fluff perspective from other races.

Alternatively, you could say that there is some other resource required for them of a magical nature that they are infused with or that greatly increases fertility. That could be a nice way to emphasize a fey nature (if that's your goal).


Ok so a bit of an odd one for geography:

If a setting/world had been subject to apocalypse-levels of war, munitions usage and high level magic, how adherent to proper geographical creation...things should the world be? I know it's not the most clear of questions, but I don't really know how to ask it...

Even our greatest tools of war do not inflict large geographical change on the world. You might see a few new lakes from craters or some new forests where people don't inhabit, but nothing on a global scale.

2014-08-29, 10:48 AM
Thieves guild. Should it be subtle or not subtle?

Brother Oni
2014-08-29, 10:58 AM
Thieves guild. Should it be subtle or not subtle?

Depends on the culture involved and the history of the Thieves Guild.

Historically speaking, some criminal organisations have arised from vigilante groups to protect the civilian population from the excesses of an occupying force and even though they've since transitioned into crime, provided they don't go above a certain level of criminality, the general population and the police tend to turn a blind eye.

Other groups are just plain criminals intending to rule through power and wealth from the shadows. Once they've achieved a level of power and wealth, they pretty much ARE the establishment, so subtle doesn't really come into it.

Yora
2014-08-29, 11:06 AM
Depends. One type that makes sense is a powerful gang that has enough influence with the local fences and criminals that they can effectively find and drive out any freelancers who are trying to sell stolen stuff without giving the gang leader a share. The gang my bribe guards and be too dangerous for the local lord to take action against them, but they would still have to maintain the appearance that no such organization exist. With the exception of towns that are so lawless that the gang leader is the effective ruler of the place and the guards are his men.

The other option is a legitimate business that makes big profits from additional illegal activities. Their legal business would be out in the open and they would likely go to some lengths to make everything look legitimate, so they can maintain relationships with other business people who have to maintain a reputation. But inofficially, their inolvement in illegal activities might still be an open secret.

But nobody would ever hang out a sign out front that says "Thief Guild Office". The yakuza do, but they attempt to make everything look like legit private banks and estate brokers, even though everyone knows that their main business is crime.

Yora
2014-08-29, 04:13 PM
An interesting question has come up:

Is there a way to have feasibly underwater pottery? Making pots from materials found on the seafloor, manufactured entirely without traveling to the surface?

If neccesary, I would allow for gas chambers made from sandstone, build over natural gas vents, to create something similar to a kiln, where objects can be left to air dry.

Aux-Ash
2014-08-31, 04:29 AM
Ok so a bit of an odd one for geography:

If a setting/world had been subject to apocalypse-levels of war, munitions usage and high level magic, how adherent to proper geographical creation...things should the world be? I know it's not the most clear of questions, but I don't really know how to ask it...

Like Yora said, it depends on the weapons really. You wouldn't notice any major differences on a global scale unless people start dropping asteroids, but depending what fallout the weapons have and how long conflict have undergone you could see poisoned lakes and massive deforestation in conflict zones. If we're talking truly apocalyptic I supposed we could also see significant desertification in arid climates and abandoned cities turning into forests.

But nothing of this is quick.


An interesting question has come up:

Is there a way to have feasibly underwater pottery? Making pots from materials found on the seafloor, manufactured entirely without traveling to the surface?

If neccesary, I would allow for gas chambers made from sandstone, build over natural gas vents, to create something similar to a kiln, where objects can be left to air dry.

I don't think so. The whole idea of pottery is essentially draining moisture from clay and then waterproofing it. Needless to say this is nigh impossible in an enviroment underwater. The clay itself will more or less dissolve while you work it, impossible to shape. And even if you, by some chance, would succeed: you'd need to fire it. And any temperature hot enough for that would mean that the surrounding water is boiling (which needless to say you don't want to swim through).

But even then, you'd need to glaze it as clay pottery isn't waterproof. And for that you need ash, salt, glass or specific dyes. The three former aren't available and the latter will dissolve in water.

Not to mention that it'd be rather pointless. Since you couldn't keep whatever is inside away from contact with water anyways. If you need to carry something a net or a basket (out of rope, shell, bone or coral) would be far superior anyways. Much less work, all the neccessary materials are readily available and not very dangerous to collect and there's not much point in waterproofing anything regardless.

Stray
2014-08-31, 03:17 PM
I don't think so. The whole idea of pottery is essentially draining moisture from clay and then waterproofing it. Needless to say this is nigh impossible in an enviroment underwater. The clay itself will more or less dissolve while you work it, impossible to shape. And even if you, by some chance, would succeed: you'd need to fire it. And any temperature hot enough for that would mean that the surrounding water is boiling (which needless to say you don't want to swim through).

But even then, you'd need to glaze it as clay pottery isn't waterproof. And for that you need ash, salt, glass or specific dyes. The three former aren't available and the latter will dissolve in water.

Not to mention that it'd be rather pointless. Since you couldn't keep whatever is inside away from contact with water anyways. If you need to carry something a net or a basket (out of rope, shell, bone or coral) would be far superior anyways. Much less work, all the neccessary materials are readily available and not very dangerous to collect and there's not much point in waterproofing anything regardless.

Couldn't you use volcanic vents on an ocean floor? Lowering the pots in some contraption from safe distance?

Yora
2014-08-31, 03:23 PM
Doesn't need to be actually produced by firing. It just seems to me that baskets probably won't last long in seawater. As far as I know, waterplants don't really become wood and it would be quite annoying for an underwater society to replace all storage containers every month. Same problem with leather. Pretty much anything that allows you to store small things would work.
The only useful material that I can think of is whalebone. Maybe shave off stripps and weave them like birch bark?

Brother Oni
2014-08-31, 05:33 PM
Couldn't you use volcanic vents on an ocean floor? Lowering the pots in some contraption from safe distance?

It doesn't help with driving the moisture out and the superheated water and pressure is likely to cause the unfired clay pot to collapse.

Aux-Ash
2014-09-01, 02:09 AM
Doesn't need to be actually produced by firing. It just seems to me that baskets probably won't last long in seawater. As far as I know, waterplants don't really become wood and it would be quite annoying for an underwater society to replace all storage containers every month. Same problem with leather. Pretty much anything that allows you to store small things would work.
The only useful material that I can think of is whalebone. Maybe shave off stripps and weave them like birch bark?

That could probably work, and as I mentioned: the carving of bone and coral could probably produce decent goods as well.


It doesn't help with driving the moisture out and the superheated water and pressure is likely to cause the unfired clay pot to collapse.

Not to mention that these vents are often highly toxic.

Silus
2014-09-01, 02:14 AM
Like Yora said, it depends on the weapons really. You wouldn't notice any major differences on a global scale unless people start dropping asteroids, but depending what fallout the weapons have and how long conflict have undergone you could see poisoned lakes and massive deforestation in conflict zones. If we're talking truly apocalyptic I supposed we could also see significant desertification in arid climates and abandoned cities turning into forests.

But nothing of this is quick.


How about dropping a magical thermonuclear warhead into a volcano providing geothermal energy for a magitech weapons factory? ^^;

Aux-Ash
2014-09-01, 02:30 AM
How about dropping a magical thermonuclear warhead into a volcano providing geothermal energy for a magitech weapons factory? ^^;

I'm not too well versed with what happens if you drop bombs like that in volcanos. I suppose at the very worst the volcano will erupt and destroy everything in it's path. Chances are that eruption will be considerably weaker than it would be if it erupted on it's own though.
If it's windy, the nuclear fallout could render farmland unusable I suppose.

Globally it'd be no more significant than any other eruption though. It's simply not enough to change a lot. Locally it'd be kinda serious though. But it wouldn't be noticeable on a map.

Storm_Of_Snow
2014-09-01, 07:12 AM
Ok so a bit of an odd one for geography:

If a setting/world had been subject to apocalypse-levels of war, munitions usage and high level magic, how adherent to proper geographical creation...things should the world be? I know it's not the most clear of questions, but I don't really know how to ask it...
Short term, not a lot. IIRC, most, if not all bombs, would be airbursts to increase the area of effect, so there may not even be that many large craters.

Longer term, if there's an ice age initiated by a nuclear winter, glacial formation could change the landscape.


I'm not too well versed with what happens if you drop bombs like that in volcanos. I suppose at the very worst the volcano will erupt and destroy everything in it's path. Chances are that eruption will be considerably weaker than it would be if it erupted on it's own though.
If it's windy, the nuclear fallout could render farmland unusable I suppose.
Globally it'd be no more significant than any other eruption though. It's simply not enough to change a lot. Locally it'd be kinda serious though. But it wouldn't be noticeable on a map.
Drop a nuclear weapon into a volcano, and chances are that either everything will melt before you can trigger it, or you'll get a misfire because the initiating explosive charges will cook off randomly in the heat.


That could probably work, and as I mentioned: the carving of bone and coral could probably produce decent goods as well.

Possibly also large shells, and maybe they could potentially catch squid and octopi for food, then gut them in such as way that the skin is left intact as a bag. Or you could weave living seaweed strands together, so long as they can photosynthesise and get other nutrients, the container may even be self-repairing



Not to mention that these vents are often highly toxic.
There's sulphur in particular - although I'm wondering if things like fish/squid skin could be put into the outgassing and effectively vulcanised by the heat and sulphur.

I was also thinking about sand getting sintered into glass by the heat of a thermal vent - maybe use something like hagfish slime as a temporary glue to keep the sand in the required shape.

Yora
2014-09-04, 05:42 PM
For a city of a given size, let's say 10,000 for ease of calculation, how much farmland and farmers do you need to provide food?

Almost all major cities in my setting are ports. How significant is the impact of fishing on the requirements of farmland?

Does anyone know?

Brother Oni
2014-09-04, 06:31 PM
For a city of a given size, let's say 10,000 for ease of calculation, how much farmland and farmers do you need to provide food?

Almost all major cities in my setting are ports. How significant is the impact of fishing on the requirements of farmland?

Does anyone know?

What era are we talking about? An early agrarian civilisation would need a lot more people than a modern day city with intensive farming methods.

A port would aid in the distribution of food, but is of minimal help in subsisting from the sea, since small fishing villages need nothing more than a small dock to just a sandy beach, depending on the era. Depending on the culture, it could make a significant reduction in the amount of farmland required - I've seen values from 20-50% of the Japanese diet deriving from the sea (not just fish, but shellfish, seaweed, sea urchins, etc).

Yora
2014-09-04, 06:45 PM
Tech level would be late Bronze Age with the majority of cities in an environment like southern France, though mostly heavy forest beyond the clearings. The most extreme case would be a location comparable to Stockholm.

Storm_Of_Snow
2014-09-05, 02:58 AM
If it's pretty much all woodland outside the settlements, then you've got little to no land for farming livestock - in that case, fishing is going to be the primary source of proteins, with some game animals (boar, deer, wild fowl etc).

You could also potentially harvest seaweed and the like (making things like laverbread), which would start to reduce the land requirements for crops.

Mr. Mask
2014-09-05, 03:16 AM
Wish there was an easy way to look up the different levels of food production per square mile of land that have existed. It's not a simple subject, but the amount of cryptic data that needs to be read through is nevertheless surprising.

hymer
2014-09-05, 03:16 AM
150 square kilometres should about do it for a communitry of ten thousand, and account for some decent sized bogs, forested areas, etc.
In medieval times, the rule of thumb is that 70 people per square kilometre is the high end of a region's population density. That includes farming, housing, and infrastructure and assumes arable land. I am assuming farm yield changed little between the invention of the plow and the introduction of artificial fertilizer, but I could of course be wrong there.

Edit: Source (http://www222.pair.com/sjohn/blueroom/demog.htm).

Yora
2014-09-05, 04:05 AM
It doesn't need to be accurate, just somewhat plausible and not completely oversized or undersized.

People per Area is a number you can easily find, but does that really tell us much about the food supply of cities? After all, the farmers who work the fields need to be fed too. If it takes 60 people working the land to produce the food that can feed 70, you need much more fields than if the work could be done by 10.

hymer
2014-09-05, 04:48 AM
People per Area is a number you can easily find, but does that really tell us much about the food supply of cities? After all, the farmers who work the fields need to be fed too. If it takes 60 people working the land to produce the food that can feed 70, you need much more fields than if the work could be done by 10.

You asked about size of farmlands and number of farmers. The latter, as you say, is more difficult, but I answered the first part. As for needing 'much more fields', no. You may need more or fewer people working those fields, but the fields yield the same as long as they are worked properly.
The question is, as you say, how many farmers does it take to work those fields. And that I can't tell you. I can tell you that if they have horsedrawn ploughs with multiple shears, then fewer people are needed to work a given field (a given farmer increases his productivity, but the individual field does not - the farmer can merely get more done when it's time to sow), but since I don't know the numbers, this won't help you much. And I can tell you that people will probably move back and forth as needed. Farming takes most work when clearing (which presumably is done already), planting and harvesting. So when needed, people living in the main settlement would likely come out and work the fields; or when there's little to do, the people on the farms would find something to do in between the busy times.
So the answer you could choose (and until you get a real answer, you might as well pick something) is that pretty much everyone who can work is a farmer once in a while, but very few do nothing but farmwork the year round.

Yora
2014-09-05, 05:01 AM
If you get a city of 10,000 people who do not produce food, you need not only food for 10,000, but for 10,000 plus farmers. If it takes 6 farmers to feed 7 people, we end up with 70,000 people who need to be fed, which means seven times as much farmland as it takes to support 10,000 farmers.

The real question here is how much farmland would have to surround a city to be sustainable?

hymer
2014-09-05, 05:19 AM
If you get a city of 10,000 people who do not produce food, you need not only food for 10,000, but for 10,000 plus farmers. If it takes 6 farmers to feed 7 people, we end up with 70,000 people who need to be fed, which means seven times as much farmland as it takes to support 10,000 farmers.

The real question here is how much farmland would have to surround a city to be sustainable?

Oh, I see. I thought you included the uplands in the ten thousand. Here (http://rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/10123/pre-modern-farming-what-percent-of-the-population-is-in-agriculture)'s a discussion, with some posts that give reasons for the numbers they end up at.

chainer1216
2014-09-05, 05:47 AM
So I have a question on population growth. Given an infinite amount of low quality food/drink, how would a population of roughly 30K breeding capable people grow over 100 years, assumeing a fairly even gender split.

Yora
2014-09-05, 05:57 AM
Oh, I see. I thought you included the uplands in the ten thousand. Here (http://rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/10123/pre-modern-farming-what-percent-of-the-population-is-in-agriculture)'s a discussion, with some posts that give reasons for the numbers they end up at.

That's what I was looking for. A 1 to 10 ratio seems to be the most common estimate. I think that will work for me. So for every person that lives in the city, I need farmland that can support 10 people.

Remains to figure out how much worked land you need per person.

One useful number I could find that poor farmers in Africa who just scrape by have about 1 acre per family. So lets's say 5 people per acre for this fantasy scenario. Combined with a ratio of 10 farmers per citizen, that would be 2 acres of fields for every person living inside the city.
A 6-mile-hex of nothing but fields would be 31 square miles or 20,000 acres, being able to support a city of 10,000 people. Since it's unlikely to have one massive field, it's probably more like a city of just 5,000.

Since all numbers for that equation are really rough guesses, the result could be all over the place, but I think for a fantasy world it might be good enough.

hymer
2014-09-05, 06:31 AM
So I have a question on population growth. Given an infinite amount of low quality food/drink, how would a population of roughly 30K breeding capable people grow over 100 years, assumeing a fairly even gender split.

There are a huge number of factors unaccounted for; wars, epidemics, room and drive to expand, medical knowledge and technology (including family planning), etc.

Storm_Of_Snow
2014-09-05, 06:59 AM
So I have a question on population growth. Given an infinite amount of low quality food/drink, how would a population of roughly 30K breeding capable people grow over 100 years, assumeing a fairly even gender split.
There's too many unknowns in that question - for instance, how's health care? If it's poor, families are liable to have many children, on the basis that some won't survive into adulthood. If it's generally good, then people will have fewer children, but live much longer.

Also, are we assuming there's no conflicts that would both remove adults and potentially lead to wartime/post-war baby booms, or diseases? And sufficient space for housing?

Are there any other factors - such as China's "one child" policy? Is the population freely able to select mates, or are there restrictions from things like mobility within the region, social class and so on? Is there monogamy, or is there no such concept, and people are free to choose partners at will?

Having said all that, for each 0.1% the birth rate is higher than the death rate, you're looking at an extra 3154 people at the end of the century.

chainer1216
2014-09-06, 01:41 AM
There's too many unknowns in that question - for instance, how's health care? If it's poor, families are liable to have many children, on the basis that some won't survive into adulthood. If it's generally good, then people will have fewer children, but live much longer.

Also, are we assuming there's no conflicts that would both remove adults and potentially lead to wartime/post-war baby booms, or diseases? And sufficient space for housing?

Are there any other factors - such as China's "one child" policy? Is the population freely able to select mates, or are there restrictions from things like mobility within the region, social class and so on? Is there monogamy, or is there no such concept, and people are free to choose partners at will?

Having said all that, for each 0.1% the birth rate is higher than the death rate, you're looking at an extra 3154 people at the end of the century.


There are a huge number of factors unaccounted for; wars, epidemics, room and drive to expand, medical knowledge and technology (including family planning), etc.

No major conflicts, though there is the occasiona Monster incursion, magic/tech levels would be preLast War Eberron, so fairly standard DnD. Plenty of room,to expand, more or less this city is low on comforts, but is pretty safe and peaceful.

Yora
2014-09-06, 04:33 AM
If it's an already industrialized society, I would expect one or two generations of slow population growth, followed by a steep and rapidly increasing decline. With free food, almost all economic activity is for luxury, not for survival. Having children would be a lifestyle descision, not an economic one. And all over the world we see that resulting in significant population decline.

Storm_Of_Snow
2014-09-08, 10:49 AM
Personally I'd say that there's no reasons or pressures to have a birth rate significantly higher than the death rate or vice versa - so at a guess, the population size would remain fairly constant.

chainer1216
2014-09-08, 08:23 PM
hm, i would of assumed the birthrates would be higher due to the amount of resources and the sheer amount of boredom such a situation would create.

Silus
2014-09-08, 09:16 PM
*Waves* Hi, me again, got another question:

What would keep a world from advancing beyond the standard fantasy norm of sword and sorcery? Counterwise, what would help a world advance further down the road of technology?

The world I've been working on has moved up to steampunk levels of tech thanks to a lack of planar hostilities (so no demon/devil invasions), magical apex predators (Dragons are dead and/or gone) or forces that would keep the world docile and primitive (Aboleths, mind flayers, etc). As such, I reason that since the world is more or less safe from the ravages of beasts and such as those previously named, the people would have the opportunity to advance their tech level unmolested. I would, however, appreciate an outsider's opinion on this though.

Beleriphon
2014-09-08, 10:56 PM
*Waves* Hi, me again, got another question:

What would keep a world from advancing beyond the standard fantasy norm of sword and sorcery? Counterwise, what would help a world advance further down the road of technology?

Desire, accidental discovery of gun powered not happening, lack of sufficient natural resources such as coal to power furances on an industrial scale. Mind you it isn't strictly necessary, since the Sri Lankans were running furnaces driving monsoon winds, but any industrial scale production requires vast amounts of heat, and the easiers sources are from coal or natural gases. Also, take into account that magic covers much of what industrialization (even Age of Enlightenment technology) covers since why bother giving peasants dangerous weapons when you can hire skilled magicians.


The world I've been working on has moved up to steampunk levels of tech thanks to a lack of planar hostilities (so no demon/devil invasions), magical apex predators (Dragons are dead and/or gone) or forces that would keep the world docile and primitive (Aboleths, mind flayers, etc). As such, I reason that since the world is more or less safe from the ravages of beasts and such as those previously named, the people would have the opportunity to advance their tech level unmolested. I would, however, appreciate an outsider's opinion on this though.

If anything you'd think that apex predators like dragons would drive the development at SAM sites and recoiless rifles so that commoners can hurt the damn things.

Storm_Of_Snow
2014-09-09, 03:13 AM
hm, i would of assumed the birthrates would be higher due to the amount of resources and the sheer amount of boredom such a situation would create.
Not really, you're probably getting into the stereotypical elven society in those stages, where the population are into "higher thought".


*Waves* Hi, me again, got another question:

What would keep a world from advancing beyond the standard fantasy norm of sword and sorcery? Counterwise, what would help a world advance further down the road of technology?

The world I've been working on has moved up to steampunk levels of tech thanks to a lack of planar hostilities (so no demon/devil invasions), magical apex predators (Dragons are dead and/or gone) or forces that would keep the world docile and primitive (Aboleths, mind flayers, etc). As such, I reason that since the world is more or less safe from the ravages of beasts and such as those previously named, the people would have the opportunity to advance their tech level unmolested. I would, however, appreciate an outsider's opinion on this though.
What would really stop technological advance is a lack of reason to advance - and unfortunately, one of the biggest drivers for that is warfare, which kicks out a lot of technologies that other fields can use (better metals for swords and armour also mean you've got better metals for things like ploughs and building construction).

If you've got stuff that's good enough for what you think you want, you'll probably not research other technologies (for instance, China never invented glass because they had porcelain, which allowed Europe to advance beyond them), or you may never discover a precursor to particular advances (charcoal to get the higher temperatures needed to smelt iron into steel), or you may be completely lacking in a particular resource that would allow you access to those technologies (e.g, Bauxite for Aluminium).

Or you've got the 40k version, where technology is kept in the hands of a priesthood, who take a very dim view of anyone who messes with it (including themselves in quite a lot of cases). Or a deity uses their preisthood to collect together such things, in order to prevent the population advancing technologically, whether to keep them at that level and prevent them from moving to a stage where they begin to question the deity, or to stop them showing up and thus protect them from outside threats.

Yora
2014-09-09, 04:06 AM
Two of the biggest changes in european technology were the result of raw resources for current manufacturing processes simply running out. When the supply of tin ran out in the mediterranean, producing more Bronze became impossible and people were forced to find ways that would make steel a viable replacement. Iron had been known a very long time, but with bronze being available, there simply wasn't a need to experiment to find out if you can make an equally good or better metal based on iron.
Coal mining in England started when it became clear that charcoal production would completely collapse once all the forests in Brittain had been cut down, which appeared to be the cast not too long into the near future. To allow more efficient coal mining, steam engines were invented to pump water out of the mines. That you could put those steam engines on wheels, or use them to create electricity, where ideas that came up only much later. The charcoal problem came up in China as well, which an inventor adressed by developing oil drilling.

And you could say that the whole development of nuclear energy and research in fusion power is the direct result of an approaching oil scrarcity.

So one thing that would impede technological development would be an abundancy of natural resources for power and manufacture.

Storm_Of_Snow
2014-09-09, 05:35 AM
And you could say that the whole development of nuclear energy and research in fusion power is the direct result of an approaching oil scrarcity.
well you could say that, but you'd only be covering a small part of it since the oil crisis of 1973 (which is when the JET project was started).

Most of the research into nuclear fission has been around military aspects of the technology, especially producing plutonium for use in warheads and bombs.

In some respects, actually producing electricity has been a side benefit.

Yora
2014-09-09, 05:42 AM
A nuclear reactor is a very different machine from a nuclear bomb. There is some overlap, but being able to build one doesn't give you the know-how to make the other. Nuclear power generation is not just a byproduct. What nuclear weapon research provided was the knowledge that you can get huge amounts of energy out of uranium and plutonium.

Beleriphon
2014-09-09, 03:47 PM
A nuclear reactor is a very different machine from a nuclear bomb. There is some overlap, but being able to build one doesn't give you the know-how to make the other. Nuclear power generation is not just a byproduct. What nuclear weapon research provided was the knowledge that you can get huge amounts of energy out of uranium and plutonium.

This true, although a nuclear reactor is a more a steam turbine where the nuclear fuel core just heats the water. Nobody actually harnesses the energy of nuclear fission directly.

Geostationary
2014-09-09, 11:21 PM
Additionally, reactor technology is necessary for the synthesis of elements such as plutonium, which do have a direct weapons application. They're also useful just in terms of helping to understand how the physics work in the first place- a nuclear bomb is essentially a really fast nuclear reactor. Also, naval nuclear reactors, while alleviating oil concerns for the ships in question, provide a variety of other benefits over oil- primarily longer operational times such as only needing to refuel every few decades.

But in general, most of the original nuclear research was military in nature. Power generation just happens to be easier and plays a role in developing the weapons.

Yora
2014-09-13, 12:42 PM
Can someone tell me something about life in homesteads? As I understand, it means a kind of self-sufficient settlement of very small size, that is more like an extended single household.

I am working on a setting where there are very few larger settlements with people making a living by trading goods and there are no real lords or kings other than a highly respected local leader. People would band together with their neighbors against major threats that can't be dealt with by a half dozen strong men. Homesteads seem to be a concept of social organization that might work very well for such a culture.
How would society be organized, with special duties and tasks for individuals and hierarchy between them?

Aux-Ash
2014-09-14, 07:26 AM
Can someone tell me something about life in homesteads? As I understand, it means a kind of self-sufficient settlement of very small size, that is more like an extended single household.

I am working on a setting where there are very few larger settlements with people making a living by trading goods and there are no real lords or kings other than a highly respected local leader. People would band together with their neighbors against major threats that can't be dealt with by a half dozen strong men. Homesteads seem to be a concept of social organization that might work very well for such a culture.
How would society be organized, with special duties and tasks for individuals and hierarchy between them?

Homesteads are no less dependent on society around them than villages are, really. In praxis the only real functional difference is the size of the households.

But as how society is going to be structured: Along family lines.

The core of the society will be the farmer, the one that owns the homestead, and his family. They aren't nobility, but they might as well be because their proparty will mean they wield power. However they'll be working in the fields like any other people living there. Some will be very wealthy, often dependent on how many people they can keep in their household.

Joining them at the homestead is what essentially is a servant class or caste (in swedish, the men where known as sven/dräng and the women hjon/piga). They're employed by the landowner (the farmer) and many come from the sons and daughters of farmers who will not inherit. In theory, once they earn enough they could set up their own homstead, though many will never reach that point. Often enough, these farmers will agree to take in second sons and daughters of friends/relatives.

Another core pillar of homesteads are the wandering traders. They're few and often poor, very rarely do they show up more often than once a year. But they're extremely important to making homesteads work since they're the ones providing it with luxuries and tools that they cannot make themselves. They also seem to be the primary venue for news.

However, while self sufficient, they aren't isolated. Often you know who the people in the other local homesteads and frequently visit/trade with them. It's not terribly uncommon to gather your sons and servants and head over and help them with their harvest (and they'll return the favour). For matter os justice and defence, they gather up and decide things collectively. Here in sweden, this was the Ting (Thing in english). The farmers speak for their households, but other than that the power structure is very much informal. Often political alliances are formed around family lines, with extended families being led by the family head.

I've dragged up sweden as an example, because it's the one I'm most familiar with. But from what I can gather, the homesteads of the vietnamese highlands worked similarily. In a sense, the roman villas are good examples of the same sort of society though connected to a very advanced society. From what I've gathered though, homesteads virtually always means farmers. As soon as specialized or collective labour (such as fishermen, minners or quarryworkers) is needed (in farms it's more or less just when it's time to bring in the harvest) then people seem to form villages instead.

Yora
2014-09-14, 07:51 AM
I hadn't thought about inheritance. Is single-heir inheritance neccessary for this system, or can it work with equal share inheritance as well?
Splitting seem highly impractical to me in an environment where unclaimed land is plenty and there are few opportunities to get "credit" in the form of food when your farm is not doing well. And you can't even sell your land when it's in the middle of nowhere as all potential buyers are concerned. If you want to expand your farm, clearing some more land on the edge of your current one is probably much more sensible.
And while you can split land, you can't split the farm buildings.

Aux-Ash
2014-09-14, 10:04 AM
I hadn't thought about inheritance. Is single-heir inheritance neccessary for this system, or can it work with equal share inheritance as well?
Splitting seem highly impractical to me in an environment where unclaimed land is plenty and there are few opportunities to get "credit" in the form of food when your farm is not doing well. And you can't even sell your land when it's in the middle of nowhere as all potential buyers are concerned. If you want to expand your farm, clearing some more land on the edge of your current one is probably much more sensible.
And while you can split land, you can't split the farm buildings.

It more or less is.
Sure, if the landlord has massive fields then it's probably a safe bet that his children can divide it between one another. But chances are he won't have that huge lands and that the pool of people they can employ won't be enough to let either use the lands to max. And as you say, you can't split the buildings down the middle.

Plus, if you were to split the lands. The homesteads would now be competing for the same labour pool. That might work if the population is dense, but if it isn't then splitting the lands down the middle might mean neither inheritor can use them to the max. Farming is extremely labour intensive after all.

Yora
2014-09-14, 10:36 AM
The more I think about it, splitting land really is sustainable only when you can sell it. At some point each individual property becomes too small to be economically useful. And by selling part of your inherited land you can finance the construction of your new house (either through money or in direct exchange for assistance with the work).
Probably no coincidence that the practice was common in western Europe and southern Germany, while everything went to a single heir in northern Europe and northern Germany.

But I believe in many cases this only applied to land anyway. Any other wealth the family owns would be devided among all the heirs. I would also assume that in most cultures the primary heir has a duty to see that the other members of the family are taken care of and can't just kick them out.

Gnoman
2014-09-16, 11:12 PM
It doesn't really matter wether you have a single heir system or a gavelkind type where the land gets divided among all heirs. If kept up long enough, the result is always war, no matter the size of the groups involved. Either the amount of usable land gets divided so much no single share is useful (nescessitating conflict to grab enough land to use), or there's too many excess sons and daughters of the landowners that inherit nothing, so they have to take land at the point of a sword. This, for example, was a major cause of the Crusades. The land of Europe was too carved up to create new holdings, the monastaries and other priestly institutions (a prime means of disposing of excess sons) were full to bursting, and the only way to keep this situation from escalating into full-scale warfare (and particularly bloody warfare at that, due to the sheer number of holdings) was to find some new place to carve out estates - the Middle East.

Yora
2014-09-17, 03:50 AM
In a highly populated region where land is owned by nobles, perhaps.
But I think in an environment with mostly unclaimed land, low population growth, and independent farmers, such a stage would be hundreds or even thousands of years off in the future, if ever.

Eldan
2014-09-17, 04:23 AM
Switzerland used a "division between heirs" system (combined with Ultimogeniture) for a long time and they went about it in the most complicated way too: instead of just dividing the entire holding, every field was divided into equal halves, because that was seen as the fairest way of giving each heir equal value.

This had the effect, of course, of creating, over time, fields that were too small to work effectively. Which is where the concept of - I'm translating very loosely here - "cleaning up the land" (Flurbereinigung) or "pooling the goods" (Güterzusammenlegung) comes in. Every X years, I think 50 and 100 were customary, the lands in a community were pooled and re-divided. The idea being that everyone should get a share of the value equal to how much they owned before, but larger fields that were easier to work effectively.

So, you could do something like that.

snowblizz
2014-09-17, 10:21 AM
Switzerland used a "division between heirs" system (combined with Ultimogeniture) for a long time and they went about it in the most complicated way too: instead of just dividing the entire holding, every field was divided into equal halves, because that was seen as the fairest way of giving each heir equal value.

This had the effect, of course, of creating, over time, fields that were too small to work effectively. Which is where the concept of - I'm translating very loosely here - "cleaning up the land" (Flurbereinigung) or "pooling the goods" (Güterzusammenlegung) comes in. Every X years, I think 50 and 100 were customary, the lands in a community were pooled and re-divided. The idea being that everyone should get a share of the value equal to how much they owned before, but larger fields that were easier to work effectively.

So, you could do something like that.
This is also what was done in Sweden (and later in Finland after independence) starting in the 18th and continuing in the 19th century. Where often villages were broken up and spread out and, ironically, replaced with homesteads basically. Of course the lack of land and the problem of not being able to divide the inheritance was one of the major reasons for emigration from the Scandinavian countries.

Yora
2014-09-17, 10:39 AM
Though by that time we are entering industrialization, which was a major game changer. Inheritance might have been a significant influencing factor, but I think changes in labor demand where the primary trigger. Even if clearing land for subsistence farming would still have been an option, people were most likely much more interested in finding employment that could get them a life with much more comfort and security.
That being a factory worker was awful in its own way was probably something people really realized only after they had settled in a modern city.

snowblizz
2014-09-17, 04:54 PM
Though by that time we are entering industrialization, which was a major game changer. Not in the region mentioned actually. And farming wouldn't really undergo mechanisation until after WW2.


Inheritance might have been a significant influencing factor, but I think changes in labor demand where the primary trigger. Even if clearing land for subsistence farming would still have been an option, people were most likely much more interested in finding employment that could get them a life with much more comfort and security.

Interestingly we *know* why it was done, because it was a government decision to fracture the old villages and give each farmer a larger and more cohesive area to farm. It was expected that more effectiveness could be gained and increase production by consolidating each farmer's lands and allow each farmer to decide what he'd cultivate on his fields. Instead of the old system where people had shares of each field in villages. It seems to have worked (though it was more successful depending on if areas were suitable or not), but it also took along time, most of the 1800s to consistently cover the entire country. During the time when the
So in fact the type of homestead farming in Scandinavia only came about because a government could enforce it.

The village/shared type of ownership seems a more "natural" way of organising, but also comes about as there was only so much arable land and new cultivation was limited. That's why the homesteads are more typical to the "colonies" where land was "freely available" (ie mostly discounting any previous inhabitants).

If we tie this together older village type settlements would sprout new homesteads further away, but the question is how to reconcile the first guy gets best land with the need for security and cooperation.

Shoot Da Moon
2014-09-18, 01:06 AM
Hey, guys.

I've been working on a modern day secret magic-conspiracy setting (some alternate history, first major diversion point was somewhere between the World Wars) and I've been wondering;

What kind of...slurs or derogatory slang would a Mage have for a mundane (non-magic user)?

I've already got 'empty bottle' (for a mundane completely ignorant of magic), 'broken bottle' (for a clued-in mundane) and 'blunt' (for a mundane who has magic resistance).

Eldan
2014-09-18, 03:15 AM
I think that depends a bit. How do you get magic in your setting?

Enlightenment? Then the non-magical are sinners, or poor souls, or simply haven't broken out of their delusions about how the world works, yet. Maybe they need another few rounds of incarnation first. Slurs: something along the lines of sinners, crudes, savages, the obscured, illusions, outsiders, stained souls.

Academic study? A bit similar to above, but more insulting of their intelligence. Jocks, morons, idiots, the masses, plebs.

Are they chosen by a higher power, or the spirits? Or is it a randomly occuring talent? Unchosen, normals, mutants, baseliners, the unexceptional.