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  1. - Top - End - #1
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    AssassinGuy

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    Default Thought experiment: Guide humanity to the top of the pecking order

    Can you lead neolithic humanity to a position of power in a frightening world of monsters, magic, and eventually (and perhaps worst of all) class levels? Try my challenge:

    Okay, imagine the typical D&D world several thousand years ago, at the dawn of civilization. Humanity has just made their first agricultural settlement, which has the potential to become a permanent settlement. For countless generations, they survived as hunter-gatherers. Don't ask how, they aren't too sure themselves, what with wilds literally swarming with giant monsters and such. Even those annoying halflings were simply better hiders, and the cowardly humans of the world resent them terribly ...but this is getting off track.

    The other humanoids and the giants (most importantly, the strong ones with 3 or more basic hit dice to start with, and the ones that breed like rabbits on viagra) have not developed agriculture and therefore do not have much leisure time on their hands. Heck, they were never very smart....

    The Elves live in their own little woodsy paradise somewhere far away, apparently they made a lot of headway, what with being the first race and all. Humans hypothetically could join with the Elves for protection, but risk being integrated into pansy Elven culture. Might be

    Nobody has ever gone into the underdark since those insane Dwarves. They won't come back, I tells you! Everyone tried to warn them to give up their obsession with digging, but they wouldn't listen! And the gnomes....committed Seppikou when they found out what Wizards of the Coast was going to do to them in Fourth Edition. Such a tragedy.....

    Anyways, none of the standard "good" races are going to help us out, and it looks like humanity is own its own. Unless they ally with (or somehow integrate into their society) some of the barbaric humanoids (Ogres, Goblins and such). Halflings are not really much help, and nobody can even find the little buggers anyway.

    Your goal is to propose a theory for how humanity can use its minor technological lead to become a dominant force over the myriad monsters that share their immediate environment. Or, failing that, to insure that the world becomes safe enough for human existence so that their civilization has enough stability and power that if their was a free for all between all other players on the continent, the humans would have as good chance of surviving it with their autonomy intact as any of their opponents-and therefore, their are in fact "peaceful" times so that living in this world's society doesn't quite feel like living in a Blizzard RTS (If you forget to pause the game and keep it running for five minutes to go to the bathroom, you pretty much just lost.)

    The good news:
    -Agriculture is the most prerequisite for permanent settlements. And as it improves, people will have more an more leisure time.
    -Theres almost no undead except for a few wailing ghosts who usually exist because their deaths in life were particularly horrific. As a result, many sentient races are very deeply into ancestor worship. Necromancy isn't widespread knowledge because magic in general isn't either. Outsiders will pretty much only interfere to the same extent deities do.
    -Mankind has some very basic ability to mine out copper deposits, and shape the metal into tools and weapons.
    -Any flaws in mankind's current technology can be improved upon. This is only the beginning of the story, after all. Also, magic will of course, be a big help.
    -The PC classes are just waiting to be discovered, and nobody but the humans might need them the most, and therefore, they might be the first to invent and perfect them. The wilderness classes in general, and barbarian particular, might have already been perfected back in humanity's generations of hunter-gathering.

    The bad news: (each one corresponds with a matching point of good news)
    -The other races won't wait forever, Ogres and Gnolls and the like will not be hunter-gatherers forever (although I don't know how carnivorous humanoids like Gnolls will maintain permanent settlements....they are going to need a LOT of pasture land...) By the time they start building they agrarian society, humans better have some kind of countermeasure in place. There are over 60 intelligent monster species, and its unreasonable to assume they share even the same continent with the humans, but its just as unreasonable to assume that only the low-level monsters border human territory....
    -While the world is short on Undead and Outsiders (And I would guess, Elementals and Constructs), the number of Oversized, High HD Magical Beasts, Vermin, and Dire Animals alone might eat our little farming society out existence, nipping civilization in the bud!They call them "Devastation Vermin" for a reason. Even if there is some kind of barrier preventing Epic level Monsters (Like maybe, they only exist on the continent of Giants or something....wow, poor giants) theres still plenty of 4th to 20th CR stuff. Most noticeably, there is a colony of 5 Basilisks nearby the starting human village, and its reasonable to assume that more might migrate into the area every year.
    -Even though the humans *can* make copper tools, they aren't any good at it. There isn't a masterwork *anything* and most weapons are still made out of stone, wood, and bone. They can compete with the Dwarves in the same sense that an Elven Wizard is on par with an Archery-spec'd Ranger: they only have the proficiency, not the talent. Which is a shame, since the Monstrous humanoids' own claws and teeth are better weapons and the Gigantic ones' clubs are just bigger.
    -This also applies to the intelligent monsters. Wargs and the like lack opposable thumbs, but those not similarly handicapped can invent things that might be even superior to what humans have. Also, what magic the humans get will likely be limited to Adepts and Sorcerers (who are lucky fools who barely understand their own powers and probably cannot spread them to the rest of society)
    -Even if humans discover PC classes first, theres nothing stopping monsters from using them later. In fact, the 3.5 monster manual details such horrors as Harpy Archers or Troll hunters. And of course, with magic comes necromancy (and with Necromancy brings the possibility of mankind living under the dystopian rule of a powerful Vampire or Lich Necromancer.) Barbarians, likely the first PCs, might not be as powerful or as spread out amongst the early human population so as to help bolster the military might of the infant society.


    I hope I didn't write too much and chase you all away. Anyways, you win the challenge if you tell a semi-convincing story of humanity not merely surviving, but kicking ass and taking names in this scary world. Have fun!
    Last edited by Thoughtbot360; 2008-02-14 at 12:41 AM.
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  2. - Top - End - #2
    Librarian in the Playground Moderator
     
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    Default Re: Thought experiment: Guide humanity to the top of the pecking order

    Simply put, what will put humanity first is what usually put agricultural societies ahead of hunters and gatherers - the ability to produce a surplus at less work than the hunters and gatherers need for basic subsistence.

    Humans will produce a surplus, which will lead to population growth and specialization... since Bob is no longer needed to farm full-time, he can make better baskets, or clay pottery, or start figuring out how to make masterwork copper implements. Furthermore, humans will be able to trade for things they need... they don't need to become absorbed into other cultures if they can interact with them as equals, instead of servants.

    "Oh, Mr. Elf Dude. We like your bows. We like your plants. Would you like pottery made from this fine rich clay at our riverbank? How about honey from our beehives? Bread and beer from our fields?"

    "Oh, Mr. Dwarf Dude. We like your metal tools. We like your shiny rocks. Would you like beef that is feed on grass and sunshine? Would you like barley and wheat?"

    "Oh, Mr. Halfling Dude. We know you are tired of getting eaten by gnolls, because you are so firm and tasty-looking, and bite-sized to boot. If you come work in our fields, we will protect you, and you can grow fat and turn into hobbits, instead of being cursed to turn into kender by another name."

    "Oh, Mr. Orc Dude. We know you like to fight. Would you like to fight our enemies, while we feed you and give you weapons we bought from the dwarves? You have to do what we say, but you can kill your enemies, because they're also our enemies."

    Is this foolproof? No, because the other races are going to be wanting the valuables brought by this surplus. However, it only takes it succeeding in one place.
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  3. - Top - End - #3
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    Default Re: Thought experiment: Guide humanity to the top of the pecking order

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Hall View Post
    "Oh, Mr. Halfling Dude. We know you are tired of getting eaten by gnolls, because you are so firm and tasty-looking, and bite-sized to boot. If you come work in our fields, we will protect you, and you can grow fat and turn into hobbits, instead of being cursed to turn into kender by another name."
    "Laugh, and grow fat!"


    Sorry, had to say that. Good analysis, though.

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  4. - Top - End - #4
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Thought experiment: Guide humanity to the top of the pecking order

    Mark Hall did a good job of explaining how the humans would progress in there weapons and culture. Let me try to explain how they will survive long enough to do so.

    The key is that once they develop agriculture they make settlements. Settlements are on average much more organized than hunter gatherer tribes. Combined with the increased time they have on their hands, it's only a matter of time before the humans construct walls around their buildings, and organize watches night and day to prevent being caught off guard.

    At first the watch would be a volunteer militia of farmers, in a manner of speaking. But they do have more free time than the hunter gatherers, and will be likely participate in the historically most popular hobby of any species, procreation. Bigger population as time goes on, as well as better farming techniques and implements will free up time for professional watchmen (Warriors and eventually Fighters).

    Being an ambitious race, they will first focus on being able to handle the local threats. After they are capable of handling the local monsters they expand their influence to found new settlements. The cycle continues and the humans increase exponentially in all aspects. It only takes one foothold to start with.

  5. - Top - End - #5
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    Default Re: Thought experiment: Guide humanity to the top of the pecking order

    First things first: Gods. A god and/or gods will take an interest in humanity for one reason or another, or there will be enough humans at the start of agrarian civilization to raise a deity of their own. Actually, let's just assume that the god ascended due to humans and only humans, as it makes things easier. Assume that the deity in question is rank 6 or higher, and probably has the Knowledge domain. With divine intervention, we'll get Clerics and Adepts, and eventually Wizards (I'll explain this bit later).

    I'm going to assume that thealexandrian's realworld-DnDworld balance article from a while back is accurate, which means that most adult humans are level 2-3. This is just to help fit in with the real world; level 1 humans aren't as skillful as an average real-world person is, nor are they as durable or good in battle, while at level ~3 they are.

    The Clerics are extremely important for protection against the higher-Hit Die creatures. Their main duty is to use assorted divinations to determine when major threats are going to come in, and when they do, the humans are going to run and hide. This works off the idea that most predators are not going to go to a lot of effort to hunt down humans in particular; there are easier things to hunt that provide more energy, so even the local basilisk nest is going to be a minor issue as long as the humans know that they're coming. If something comes along that is likely to hunt down humans in particular, the people pray for direct divine intervention, which they probably get since their deity is kept divine only by virtue of these particular people's prayers.

    Most smaller monsters, with less than 5 HD or so, are still fairly easy for a group of a dozen Barbarians, Rangers, Fighters, or Warriors armed with javelins, slings, bows, spears, or other basic late stone-age/early copper-age weapons. While one human would be easily slain by these creatures, ambush and numbers can take even fairly powerful creatures out before they can react. The only real problems are creatures with damage reduction, which have to be taken out in melee. In this case, the humans either run and hide, pray, or mob the beast with Raging, Power Attacking Barbarians wielding greatclubs and punch through DR with sheer force.

    Now, next we'll assume that one or more Sorcerors are born at least once in every 2 generations (~40 years). These Sorcerors will eventually attempt to catalouge their knowledge so it can be passed down, in large part because they worship a god of Knowledge. Sorcerors are also likely to attempt to teach their children (who probably won't be Sorcerors, actually) how to be Sorcerors, which is of course impossible. However, between catalouged arcane lore and people actively attempting to teach the young Sorcery, it's a short jump to say that eventually some genius will learn magic, but not Sorcery. Wizardry is born, and as more Sorcerors catalouge their tricks, the Wizard and their apprentices (probably passed down in 1 family, at least initially) get an evergrowing library of spells to choose from. And, as most people who discuss class power will tell you, a Wizard's greatest strength is his ability to prepare the right spells for the right situation, and in this case the Wizards have an entire caste of Clerics doing little beside just looking to the future to determine what needs to be done to save the humans' lives.

    Besides these things, society will, surprisingly, develop roughly in parallel to real life. Agrarian society will come about in a river valley somewhere (those are the fertile zones where farming actually works early on), masonry will be developed (later enhanced with magic), and eventually walled forts will be built to defend the farmlands and rivers. Once this is done, the emergence of the Fighter class is all but inevitable, as is the elimination of major predators from human lands. From this comes cities, from which spring Rogues, "wild" areas (as opposed to previously, where there was no distinction between wild and not) where Druids come in, music as a major pastime which causes Bards, and different martial disciplines that spawn Paladins and Monks. From this, it's really only a matter of time before the humans become as we see them in actual game settings.

    Now, you're probably wondering what all of the other intelligent races are doing all this time. Well, for the most part it's the same thing; they're hiding from bigger fish, farming, and learning other things. Carnivorous humanoids will be kept from going away from hunter-gatherer societies (or just hunter as the case may be) for a long time because of the very point you raised; it takes a vast amount of pasture to support the herds needed to support the carnivores. Most of these races will actually probably never settle down, since they'll be forever following the herds. Giants will also have a problem forming an agrarian society; for one, they need a proportional amount of food which also requires vast fields, and also building actual structures to house a 10-foot person is much harder than housing a 5-foot one.

    Now, what about the other omnivorous, reasonably intelligent humanoids? Why are humans so much stronger socially than them in most campaign settings? Well, the answer may surprise you. Remember way back when, when I chose a god with the Knowledge domain? That's why.

    First, human Clerics can cast stronger Divinations more easily than those without a God of Knowledge (such as the war-worshipping Orcs, who are also genetically dumber to boot), meaning their forewarning against impending attack is that much stronger. They can also gain needed lore much more easily; they have all knowledge skills as class skills, after all, which implies that our humans are actively passing down knowledge, which, lo and behold, is also how Wizards come about! This means that humans have more Wizards, and human Wizards have more spells at their disposal. And Wizards are, frankly, ludicrously powerful when used in a cultural situation if you consider all of the things they can do in a village, town, or city to enhance the quality of life within.

    Oddly enough, humans having developed due to a God of Knowledge can actually be supported mechanically as well. They get free extra skill points and feats! That's the hand of the Knower, right there! It all comes down to knowledge being sacred to humans and no other major species, so humans developed faster, and then leveraged that sacred knowledge to victory.

    It's just because we're smarter, that's all

  6. - Top - End - #6
    Ettin in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Thought experiment: Guide humanity to the top of the pecking order

    1. Get allies. Elves would be willing to take surplus food from humans in exchange for protection, and a metallic dragon might feel a moral obligation to steward to the fledgling race. If they're lucky, a gray render might take a fancy to one of the children and look over the village.

    2. Refine the crafts. Work on the arts of blacksmithing and construction, eventually developing the means to make properly forged weapons and armor. If you can get a nice enough food surplus, either with a few generations' work or from the aid of a dragon or render, the elves might tutor some crafters and provide materials for food.

    3. Expand. Set up new villages outward, spreading away from the elven territories. This could encourage any number of cultural tendencies: orcs feeling their land was stolen, lizardfolk being territorial, and kobolds favoring traps and tunneling to deter human expansion. Odds are such low-tech races would be put at a disadvantage by technological and tactical inferiority.

    4. Reinforce. Do some mining, get some forest territories. Settle for swampwood for lizardfolk lands, if need be, as that's better than being subserviant to the elves any longer than needed. Set up a military proper, secure your borders, and set up a trade networ- hey, halflings!

    5. Here come the Clerics: By now, humanity has gotten the attention of some deity like Urbanus, Pelor, or Zarus for having formed a small empire in an single elven lifetime. They'll demand/request attention and worship in exchange for something extraordinary: magic.

    6. One thing leads to another: Someone has to figure out the Use Magic Device skill just as surely as some Cleric has to figure out how to scribe scrolls. Between the two, there's a potential for learning, for wizards. Now humans have arcane magic and divine magic, knowledge enough to secure their borders and their empire.

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    Default Re: Thought experiment: Guide humanity to the top of the pecking order

    Most of the useful stuff is going to come from learning magic. And, otherwise technology. This means having to put up with the village lunatics. (Sane people are rarely innovative :P) More than a few are likely to be Shamans.

    Find some of your less crazy people to attempt diplomacy with the other races. Maybe pay a Giant or a Dragon to help protect the village.

    At least some monstrous humanoids are likely to be approachable. Goblins being weak and cowardly might be happy to join the village, since they can get ranged weapons, and cover.
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    Default Re: Thought experiment: Guide humanity to the top of the pecking order

    Here is my take on this all, loosely based on the rise of our civilizations:

    Settlements would initially be located near rivers and hills with cleared areas for planting crops, the river for irrigation. Village walls would be made out of any available material, be it wood, stone, or clay. Since this is an settled society, dogs will have come about within a few generations of the first wolf wandering around and not getting killed. Dogs are one of the key elements in the rise of civilization, giving humans better ears and noses than we have for early warning, as well as something that can help tend herds. This gives the humans the leg up they need to deal with any migratory threats, giving them early warning, stores of food, and proper defensive structures to weather out the danger.

    The Copper Age gives the humans the metal tools and weapons needed to advance further. Copper battle axes, spear tips, arrowheads, and armor will provide the necessary advantage for wiping out predators (large hunting parties + bows/atlatls + caution = win). Or they could wind up doing what our ancestors did: exterminate what the monsters (smilodon) ate (mastodon). Rangers and Druids would probably arise as the next PC classes, tied as closely to nature as they are. With druids, rangers, sorcerers and barbarians we have four PC classes that can form hunting parties, and eliminate threats. Assuming the sorcerer doesn't screw up and kill everyone with his barely understood powers.

    With the monsters dealt with by the Rgr/Drd/Barb/Sorc parties, the violence will be directed towards other people. Fighters will come from hostile encounters with other settlements (either human or just humanoid). Rogues will come along once there is a large enough population to be anonymous and currency has been developed. Clerics... I dunno, dissenting druids aiding an upstart king and proclaiming him the son of one of the newly instated pantheon of gods? Or something. Paladins will grow out of the new belief system, some zealot fighter that believed hard enough in it all. Wizards will result from the study of the sorcerers. Bards come into play as the epic storytellers and jacks of all trade who were there at the Great Basilisk Invasion in the 2nd year of King Wutziznaym.

    Eventually some of the settlements get banded together under one tactical and political genius. That person or his worthy successor will proceed to take over the remaining human settlements, rally them together, and crush the savage humanoids, scattering them to the edges of the inhabitable world. Eventually they'll meet up with the other not-usually-evil races, make friends, and viola, we have a typical D&D setting.

    Definitely an interesting thought experiment.
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  9. - Top - End - #9
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Thought experiment: Guide humanity to the top of the pecking order

    Very good, all of you. Lets continue the experiment... Lets look towards-the future. Well, first the present, but eventually the future .

    Now, I want you to take the reasons presented here that humanity got to where it is, and explain to me why those same things cannot (or maybe they yet can) happen when dealing with Established elites in human society.

    The new question is: Considering the existence of magic and adventurers in society, how well does the average dictatorial regime last? Basically, a typical fantasy kingdom in our world as we've described it so far has crowned a Caligula, a Nero, a Hitler. A monster in human form. And he seems to raising the strongest army ever seen, silencing dissent terribly. And most aristocrats in neighboring kingdoms actually support him and his practices. He has started burning the temples of good Gods and is sacrificing political enemies and certain looked-down-upon minorities to the Evil ones in exchange for more power. Everyone else is talking about trying to appease him to keep him under control, but he truly won't ever be satisfied. Nobody really wants to challenge him. What happens?

    Mind you, this can be applied to any Empire with human society that truly attempts to take over the world.

    You can stop reading my post now, but the rest details an argument that occurred on another thread that might help stir your thoughts in the right direction.



    Basically, take a look at page 3 of this thread specifically posts #74 and 75

    In particular, I feel these posts encapsulates the argument I want to focus on:

    Quote Originally Posted by Me
    Throughout the history of the word they *have* been rulers who blatantly steal from their people and do other injustices. But they always, always, always have to justify it. I don't know what "Lord Overlord" is lord of, but if he is nothing more than a thug, he stands the threat of people getting wise to the fact that he wants it all. If he is an outside threat, Lord Overlord's mercenaries will one day feel the righteous fury of soldiers who actually believe in something and are a heck of a lot more motivated than they are. If he is an inside threat, then he is stealing from his peasants over time, and he has to slow down the public realization that he is really an overaged bully, and that he will never be appeased until he has it all. What slows down this realization is a little thing in between the citizen's ears called "legitimacy."
    An important note I wanted to mention, if the peasants have been driven to "retreat and leave the Overlord with nothing" then they will most likely try to build another attempt to build Which was responded to by Yahzi with:

    Quote Originally Posted by Yahzi
    In response to the "What if they retreat question

    To where? If they leave the protection of their lord, they will be gnoll food within a few days. A lord would have to be really, really, really evil to make life as a dog-biscuit preferable. So what if the local lord eats an infant every single day? The gnolls will eat all of the infants in one day.

    As long as the lord's depredations do not actually destroy the community, it will be preferable to instant death at the hands of inhuman monsters.

    About the "legitimacy" issue.

    What you are missing is that "Because I can" is an adequate justification. Just not for you.

    This is because you are the product of a long history of ethical thought and social development. You define your notion of self, of right and wrong, your expectations of what life is supposed to be about or can be about, from a huge cultural wellspring.

    Not every culture has that; not even on Earth. While I agree with you that people living under tyranny are necessarily less happy than people living under justice, that doesn't mean the oppressed realize there's any other way to live, let alone realize they could do something to make that change happen.

    In world full of horrible monsters like mind-flayers, the justification of Pure Strength works. The lord is entitled to take whatever he wants, because it means he has the strength to protect the community from worse. This justification has pretty much worked in our world - just look at our annual defense budget: in the D&D world, where Hitler and Stalin are choir-boys compared to actual demons like, say Asmodeus, or just compared to a mind-flayer that isn't even trying that hard, the justification of Strength is going to allow some pretty sick societies.

    And the fact that the lord can put down a peasant revolution single-handedly will only make it worse.

    A peasant whose sole goal in life is to bang his wife to make enough kids to feed him when he's too old to work is not really going to care that Lord Evil takes the firstborn of every woman and sacrifices it to demons. As long as it's only the firstborn, and as long as the peasant believes that Lord Evil is holding the mind-flayers at bay, it's going to look like a pretty good deal. Sure, Lord Paladin would be nicer; but the peasant may not believe that Lord Paladin has the necessary strength to do the job. In which case you could actually have peasants voting for demon-sacrifice.
    Really? Because somehow a people who are willing to accept regular infant sacrifice for no tangible benefit (to themselves at least) just because its arguably better than dealing with the scaaaary monsters that apparently crowd their immediate environment don't strike me as the dominant race humans are made out to be.

    What can an aristocracy throw at a truly aggravated populace that monsters didn't when humanity had nothing going for it save agriculture? Doesn't the fact that humanity survived long enough to have high level character classes in the first place imply that they don't really need some bozo's protection?

    Don't the established elites of fantasy society *still* have to hide behind an ideology justifying their position, because they can not maintain power otherwise? It seems that humanity either has proven capable of handling asymmetrical situations, or it didn't even make it into the bronze age.

    However, to drive the point home, I'll quote Yahzi and myself one last time:

    Quote Originally Posted by Me
    Lord Evil would only bring up the gnolls so as to de-motivate anyone from challenging him, or running away and starting their own society, or (and this one is most important) to suggest that, YES you do owe Lord Evil whatever he asks for, since you couldn't even survive without his protection.

    You should go work for Lord Evil, Yahzi. You could really help him convey the idea to the peasant of how helpless they all are.
    Quote Originally Posted by Yahzi
    In D&D, they are helpless. They already know this. They don't need me to tell them.

    There you have it. Helpless. Following Yahzi's logic, the war I've detailed doesn't look like it'll have a very good ending. Whoever gets his foot in the door first and levels up to ungodly power, and who attains lichdom and therefore immortality can rule the world forever simply because all threats will be easily put down.

    Just like theres no chance a humble farming village of humans can survive in a world of High CR monsters, right?
    Last edited by Thoughtbot360; 2008-02-14 at 11:46 PM.
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    Default Re: Thought experiment: Guide humanity to the top of the pecking order

    Possibility 1: Minority status. Mass immigrations out of the Evil Empire into the elven lands, probably being smuggled out in halfling caravans. Being under the rule of Calinerotler may not be as bad as being dog food, but it's most likely substantially worse than being a tolerated if looked down upon minority in elven lands.

    Possibility 2: Friends in high places. Good clerics bring on the magic mojo to spearhead a celestial assault to cut the head off the snake. That gold dragon that tended to humanity in her formative years comes back with a serving of humble pie for Darth Zarus. Odds are the tyrant does not get along with the half-humans (easily oppressed minorities) which means hostility toward the fullblooded counterparts. This may not provoke the elves to direct action (they take the refugees,) but the orcs are going to raise some hell when they hear that there's orc blood in the human streets that are already desecrating their ancestral lands. Oh, and let's not forget what the followers of Dallah Thaun are going to do when the search and seizure gets violent toward halflings.

    Possibility 3: A knife in the dark. Mirror Universe King Arthur may be a powerful leader, but he's not neccesarily a powerful individual. There's always a bigger fish, and odds are it's a batman wizard with a big extended family. Of course, a crack team of adventurers hired by the freedom fighters works just as well.

    Possibility 4: World peace only comes from two routes. One is that everybody dies, the other is that everybody else dies. The only sapients that reproduce as rapidly as humans are technologically backwards, leaving Yawgy in the best position to start the bloody march toward conquering the multiverse, if not finish it.

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    Default Re: Thought experiment: Guide humanity to the top of the pecking order

    Quote Originally Posted by Thoughtbot360 View Post
    The new question is: Considering the existence of magic and adventurers in society, how well does the average dictatorial regime last? Basically, a typical fantasy kingdom in our world as we've described it so far has crowned a Caligula, a Nero, a Hitler. A monster in human form. And he seems to raising the strongest army ever seen, silencing dissent terribly. And most aristocrats in neighboring kingdoms actually support him and his practices. He has started burning the temples of good Gods and is sacrificing political enemies and certain looked-down-upon minorities to the Evil ones in exchange for more power. Everyone else is talking about trying to appease him to keep him under control, but he truly won't ever be satisfied. Nobody really wants to challenge him. What happens?
    Ahhh, you should've stuck to Hitler. Caligula and Nero were both sacrificing to DIVVS JVLIVS, who was the descendant of Venus, Jupiter, and Quirinus, the civic god of Rome... they may have been a bit touched (though Stephen Benko gives a good argument why Nero would've had legitimate fears about Christian conspiracies in his Pagan Rome and the Early Christians).

    And remember, sacrificing to gods WORKS. The good gods are unlikely to take this lying down. These actions will result in civil war, unless the good gods are pansies, or he institutes a "Night of Long Knives" to deal with their priests.
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    I think the best defence against, not tyranny, but against evil leaders in a medieval world is the simple fact that it takes the vast majority of a family's labors to produce enough food to support that family. It's simply impossible to feed a very sizable army in most areas without higher technology levels, so every lost farmer to rebellion or death is a lost soldier, and you don't have many soldiers to lose. This means that it is in the king's best interests to be not terribly evil for the most part, which means that the selfinterested nobles will oppose any king that is a horrible individual, with selfinterested soldiers apposing evil nobles, and so on down the line.

    Realistically, this will actually change within a couple centuries of wider-scale application of magic; higher-level Druids can increase agricultural production tenfold, Clerics and Wizards can create obediant and tireless Undead workers, Clerics, Druids, and Paladins can basically annhiliate disease, and most any caster (particularly Wizards and Bards) can quickly and easily build high-quality tools and buildings. The improved agriculture in particular gives rise to cities, which focuses magical knowledge and research (magic is, in a world where it exists, everything science is in ours except with more immediate and obvious practical results. Incidentally, the existence of magic as it exists in D&D also promptly renders our world's science bunk, so science would probably never seriously emerge), which allows more mages to exist, creating a new middle class of crafter mages and artificers, which has an obvious parallel to late Rennaisance-era Europe.

    Once we have this city-based culture, we can start to get ideas like liberalism going around. Now, the middle class of merchants and mages has immense economic power. The mages are basically the equivalent to modern oil companies, actually; they refuse to work, and the entire economic basis of the society comes crashing down. As a result, this educated middle class can and, eventually, will demand rights. Any tyrants who may have previously been tolerated can be easily torn down; after all, if the king doesn't have the mages' support, the things that need to be produced don't get produced, and quite probably even if they do get produced they don't get to the king's men. Smart rulers do what the middle class tells them to, and the dumb ones get replaced.

    At this point, we're on the cusp of a pseudo-Industrial Revolution. We can have Teleportation Circle-based trade economies, Fabricate-based factories (either through magic items, custom-built Golems, or just Wizards), cities lit with Continual Flames, and significant social progress towards what we would call "Modern" constitutional governments. At this point, actually, the comparison between the real world and our fantasy world begins to break down. Literally the moment magic becomes commonly used, it becomes possible for assorted mages to replicate all of our modern amenities with some clever uses of magic, so presumably eventually this will happen. RAW, there's no reason why we can't have a city indistinguishable from, say, New York City, except powered by magic instead of electricity and technology, within a century after the discovery of Wizardry. This isn't something I want to go into here, but it is possible to improve on modern standards of living with the spells published by WotC.

    The lich issue is problematic, though... Thinking pragmatically, it's entirely possible that a Lich would just conquer the whole world, kill 3/4 of the population, animate them (at least partially intelligent undead), and keep the rest of the living as breeding stock until she can go Epic and make an Undead beastie capable of reproducing itself without anything alive. Rule forever, no real need of resources so everything goes into arts, and everyone is at least indirectly controlled! You can even command your people to command their spawn to not commit any crimes! It's something like what some people might actually call a utopia (though other would call it a dystopia, or maybe a necrotopia)!

    ...And this is why we WANT all of the Liches to be arcane spellcasters, as they tend not to have very good Wisdom scores

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    Default Re: Thought experiment: Guide humanity to the top of the pecking order

    Depends on what kind of Tyrant it is.

    If it's a competent evil overlord, the world doesn't stand much of a chance. Sure he might individually be weak, but chances are the guy has the same resources, but in a greater supply.

    Heroic band of adventurers sets out to defeat him? He can send out a heroic band of adventurers to stop the "evil usurpers".

    If there's some way to escape magical detection, an organized resistance has a shot at pulling it off. But if he is assassinated, society will just break down. And there may well just be a different tyrant at the end of it who might not be as good at management. Or, this might be when one of humanities enemies attacks. Perhaps one they don't even know about.

    It's also not just about defeating the Tyrant. It's about defeating the idea of the Tyrant. His death may just convince the people that what is needed is power, so that "the leader" can't be killed off by the "evil mutant half breeds".

    By declaring every adversary "evil", one doesn't have to actually address the many points they might bring up.

    There needs to be someone who can convince people to do hard things, instead of offering all the easy answers that people want to believe. There are so many people who have a basic need for a Tyrant. Any sort of resistance needs to be even more powerful than nature.

    Fortunately, D&D is full of people like that. The oppressive regime might have some pretty mighty wizards, but the protagonists might have a more creative wizard. When you can do anything, it's the one with the greater imagination who wins.

    You could also hope for help from the gods. But they'd be more likely to never allow something like this to happen in the first place. Also it wrecks plot. But this isn't really about plot.


    Of course, if we're using D&D as a guideline, dictators are born out of a vacuum and drop like flies. Dictatorships are as easy to topple as going through one dungeon, and one speech. Throw a bard into a standard party and you're pretty much set. "Good" wins because Evil is smaller.


    In otherwords, does the Dictator follow the spirit of the Evil Overlord list?
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    Default Re: Thought experiment: Guide humanity to the top of the pecking order

    How to conquer the world:

    1) Have high Wis. people be Clerics of some sort and Druids.
    2) Have high Int. people be Wizards.
    3) Have high Cha. people be bards or, if possible, sorcerers. Sleep with a few dragons if you have to.
    4) Have people without sufficient mental stats be Barbarian/Fighters.
    5) Keep a few Rogues handy.
    6) Develop an economy based on agriculture (hint: use the Druids!), and sell your surplus to, say, elves and thereby forge an alliance.
    7) Invest profits in defenses, maintaining a warrior culture, and the Batman Institute of Magical Studies.
    8) Rain magical death down upon those who would dare attack you.
    8) ???
    9) Profit!
    Last edited by Solo; 2008-02-15 at 01:07 AM.

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    Default Re: Thought experiment: Guide humanity to the top of the pecking order

    Due to excess food, humans will multiply like rabbits. Only they have copper spears, and fire. And brains. Using tactics and the ability to run for a long time and just generally being good at a lot of different things, they prove impossible to entirely squash out. Again and again they try new tactics to survive, again and again they're beaten until they get twice the numbers and try again.

    Out of this tenacity, some of the more intelligent monstrous species decide that it's not worth the trouble and try to live in peace. The rest soon fall under an onslaught of humans weilding ****ty weapons.

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    Default Re: Thought experiment: Guide humanity to the top of the pecking order

    Druid5/Planarshepard10/something else five.

    gg.

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    Default Re: Thought experiment: Guide humanity to the top of the pecking order

    ....

    ........
    DAMN YOU! I'm playing Fall From Heaven 2 for Civ4 now.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rutee View Post
    ....

    ........
    DAMN YOU! I'm playing Fall From Heaven 2 for Civ4 now.
    *feels guilty despite not understanding*

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    Default Re: Thought experiment: Guide humanity to the top of the pecking order

    Quote Originally Posted by NecroRebel View Post
    ... Music ... causes Bards.
    Soo sigged !


    "Der Krieg ist der Vater aller Dinge." - Heraklit
    'War is the Father of all Knowledge'. - Heraklit

    If all the civilisation building games have one thing in common it is:

    Knowledge = Power.

    Because: Knowledge -> Superior Armament -> Improved Expansion of Territory -> More Resources -> More Knowledge -> ...

    In every game, once you have enough military power to survive the initial testing by rival factions, go for maximum research.

    Attain and maintain knowledge superiority and military superiority is almost a by-product. In games where this exists, do not neglect to use espionage (mostly to protect your own investments into research but then again, no cheaper tech then one 'appropriated' from your foes).

    And that is something you should consider too: We have elegantly explained why the base classes exist. Prestige classes ? Well, the Spymaster certainly is going to be one of the first to emerge, precisely bcause knowledge is so damn powerful.

    And you don't want those gnolls/orks/elves/(insert rival faction here) to get their grubby hands/paws/appendages on some nifty spell/masterwork concept/(insert relevant technology/knwoledge here) that your mages/crafters/scholars worked so hard to create, now do you ?

    Ever considered a sword and sorcery espionage campaign? Your overlord may be an evil tyrant, but at least the coaches run on time and he makes sure that none of those filthy non-(or half)human spies (or human triators) sell our our secrets to the enemy (everyone else).

    Or if human supremacy is already established and they start running out of (exterior) threats to eliminate, the human kingdoms might start to turn on one another.

    Yes, i pretty much agree with NecroRebel: Humanity will be best served with a god of knowledge. Let the elves have art, the dwarves can take craft, orks will be happy with war. But knowledge wins the race for supremacy in the long run.

    Of course, you do have to survive the beginning.


    Oh and something else to weapons: Missile weapons rule. Period.

    Once man teaches stone to fly (bow or spear with a stone/flint point), the worst part is over. Animals and many monster may be much, MUCH stronger then even an experienced warrior (or fighter) but the ability to damage your target at a range, without it being able to retaliate, is THE decisive factor. Especially early on.

    How did you possibly think did the elves got away with their high fragility/low fertility lifestyle? Because their mastery of archery means they never have to put their HP on the line. They simply shoot down any threat before it gets to them. Once humanity manages to copy that trick, they're golden.

    Magic is another matter entirely though.

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    Quote Originally Posted by NecroRebel View Post
    ... Music ... causes Bards.
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    Bah. Lycar is absolutely right.

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    Default Re: Thought experiment: Guide humanity to the top of the pecking order

    Quote Originally Posted by Solo View Post
    3) Have high Cha. people be bards or, if possible, sorcerers. Sleep with a few dragons if you have to.
    8) ???
    9) Profit!
    So all the high-charisma female bards should marry Dragons or something?

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    Default Re: Thought experiment: Guide humanity to the top of the pecking order

    Alright, from a peculiarly rules-based standpoint, Humans are toast. No darkvision, no SLAs, no strength bonuses, no cool civ-building bonuses. BUT:

    Bonus feat and extra skill point.

    Your average Commoner 2 farmer is going to have skill focus(profession(farmer)) and maxed ranks in profession(farmer), no matter what race he's from. The trick lies in that humans get that bonus feat, which means the farmer can ALSO be a decent diplomat, without sacrificing farming ability. Or a blacksmith, or a snare-builder, or whatever. What this means is that 100 humans can support 100 specialists, instead of other races supporting 5-10 specialists(they aren't as good farmers, because they ditched SF(P(farmer))). Humans are going to get masterwork tools first. Then irrigation-based societies, and so on and so forth like standard civilization. Read your history books, just like that, but with magic instead of the Industrial Revolution. Also, democracy really goes out the window with magic. We're looking at a feudal society here, and it'll stay that way.

    Dictators become plot hooks. As soon a resistance movement gets going, those who survive a few battles level up. They're more likely to survive a few more battles, and level up again. See the pattern here? Sooner or later, you get a level 5 unstoppable beast fighter who hacks through your guards to practice. A resistance movement can pick its battles, earning its members exp.
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    Default Re: Thought experiment: Guide humanity to the top of the pecking order

    Early Human Society depends on a few things
    1. The Tarasque is far far FAR away.
    2. the local Dragons are lenient with worship/tithes/sacrifices
    3. all other high level super intelligent monsters are as above
    4. They have a friendly god.
    6. The other races don't get organised for generations after humans
    7. they sorcerors don't kill them all
    8. The druids/clerics don't kill them all
    The best chance humanity has to survive is to find something powerful and inteligent(I vote Dragons) and start worshipping, this provides
    1. A powerful protecter
    2. a powerful sorceror
    3. A protecter smarter than Einstein and Hawking put together, more charismatic then Hitler times 2(take THAT Goodwin)(need to remember some more faumosly charismatic people), and wiser than any humen has ever had any hope of being
    4 The protecter is generaly docile and lazy as long as its supply of entertanment, food and shiny things are not endangered.
    5. An infusion of sorceros blood to the vilages genepool
    other than that find a mountain and find a protective lightning god.
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    Default Re: Thought experiment: Guide humanity to the top of the pecking order

    Quote Originally Posted by Thoughtbot360 View Post
    The new question is: Considering the existence of magic and adventurers in society, how well does the average dictatorial regime last?
    D&D is defined by dictatorial societies, just like the medieval period it pretends to represent. Kings are dictators; even the vaunted Magna Carta had much less effect on the royal power than people think (for instance, while Parliament could vote on the king's edicts, it was still considered treason to vote against them!).

    How long does the average D&D kingdom last? At least as long as they did in earthly history; which is to say until the Industrial Revolution.

    Basically, a typical fantasy kingdom in our world as we've described it so far has crowned a Caligula, a Nero, a Hitler.
    Caligula was wildly popular with the people, and the army in specific loved him. As for Hitler, in the D&D world, he's a hero, because in the D&D world, Jews really are a sub-human race infiltrating and enslaving human society. They probably have a MM entry and everything.

    And Nero...
    Nero announced he sought to follow the example of Augustus' reign. The senate was treated respectfully and granted greater freedom, the late Claudius was deified. Sensible legislation was introduced to improve public order, reforms were made to the treasury and provincial governors were prohibited from extorting large sums of money to pay for gladiatorial shows in Rome.
    Nero himself followed in the steps of his predecessor Claudius in applying himself rigorously to his judicial duties.
    He also considered liberal ideas, such as ending the killing of gladiators and condemned criminals in public spectacles.

    In fact, Nero, most likely largely due to the influence of his tutor Seneca, came across as a very humane ruler at first. When the city prefect Lucius Pedanius Secundus was murdered by one of his slaves, Nero was intensely upset that he was forced by law to have all four hundred slaves of Pedanius' household put to death.

    It was no doubt such decisions which gradually lessened Nero's resolve for administrative duties and caused him to withdraw more and more

    http://www.roman-empire.net/emperors/nero-index.html
    A monster in human form. And he seems to raising the strongest army ever seen, silencing dissent terribly.
    Why would there be dissent? What's bad about a strong army? Heck, if he can raise the strongest army ever seen, he's a good king!

    He has started burning the temples of good Gods and is sacrificing political enemies and certain looked-down-upon minorities to the Evil ones in exchange for more power.
    Is he getting more power? Because if he is, that's a good thing.

    Unless he's going to sacrifice everyone to Cthulu or something. Again, as long as the society as a whole prospers, nobody is going to be concerned about a few sacrifices. Heck, it's hard to get them to care today.

    What happens?
    Like in most Earthly empires, his power will extend as far as his personal charisma can spread it. A ruler who is only interested in personal gain will produce a ruling class only interested in personal gain, which will tend to be a weaker society.

    Except, of course, in D&D, your Bad King will use all those sacrifices to become a 17th level Wizard. Which will make him actually effective and useful to his kingdom. Now he can gate in Solars and stuff.

    Really? Because somehow a people who are willing to accept regular infant sacrifice for no tangible benefit (to themselves at least) just because its arguably better than dealing with the scaaaary monsters that apparently crowd their immediate environment don't strike me as the dominant race humans are made out to be.
    Aztecs accepted regular sacrifice with no tangible benefit to themselves.

    What can an aristocracy throw at a truly aggravated populace that monsters didn't when humanity had nothing going for it save agriculture?
    A single Shadow could destroy our entire planet. Because we don't have even one magic weapon, or any spells to make magic weapons with.

    Doesn't the fact that humanity survived long enough to have high level character classes in the first place imply that they don't really need some bozo's protection?
    How they survived is by raising heroes to protect them. One 5th level fighter is worth 10 1st levels. One 11th level wizard is worth all of the 1st level fighters.

    Don't the established elites of fantasy society *still* have to hide behind an ideology justifying their position, because they can not maintain power otherwise?
    The established elites of real society didn't have to hide behind anything more than "because I was born to nobility and you weren't. Oh, and I have the sword."

    If what you are asking is, "how long would a self-destructive society last," the answer is, "as long as it takes for it to self destruct." However, if your question is "how long would an evil society last," the answer is "potentially forever."

    Just like theres no chance a humble farming village of humans can survive in a world of High CR monsters, right?
    That is correct. Look up "Shadow" in the MM. It's a CR 3 threat. Now tell me how any number of commoners of any level can survive just one Shadow.


    D&D is all about the hero, not the society. The rules of D&D are designed to give individuals awesome power, the power to defeat armies by themselves. Ergo, the society that grows up around that rule-set will be focused on the power of individuals, not societies.
    Last edited by Yahzi; 2008-02-16 at 02:17 AM.

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    Default Re: Thought experiment: Guide humanity to the top of the pecking order

    Double post.
    Last edited by puppyavenger; 2008-02-16 at 10:35 AM.
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    Default Re: Thought experiment: Guide humanity to the top of the pecking order

    Quote Originally Posted by Yahzi View Post


    Aztecs accepted regular sacrifice with no tangible benefit to themselves.

    .
    and they worked out pretty well intill someone with guns and came while they had a stupid/overly religios king.
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    Default Re: Thought experiment: Guide humanity to the top of the pecking order

    Quote Originally Posted by puppyavenger View Post
    and they worked out pretty well intill someone with guns and came while they had a stupid/overly religios king.
    Why are you picking on the Aztecs? Cortez's king was Charles V, the Holy Roman Emperor, who spent half of his reign killing Protestants.

    In those days, pretty much everybody had stupid/overly religious kings.

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    Default Re: Thought experiment: Guide humanity to the top of the pecking order

    Quote Originally Posted by Yahzi View Post
    Why are you picking on the Aztecs? Cortez's king was Charles V, the Holy Roman Emperor, who spent half of his reign killing Protestants.

    In those days, pretty much everybody had stupid/overly religious kings.
    I'm not picking on them, unfortunatly they had a myth that basicly let the spanish into Tenochtitlan Palace area. and the Spanish had no ssuch myth about meeting the a phropet leading a civilisation in the new World.
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    Default Re: Thought experiment: Guide humanity to the top of the pecking order

    Ok, here's how to do it.

    You need craft:trapmaking, and the ability to weave ropes, both neolithic skills. Build large net traps (CR 2) which don't deal damage. Customize them to have a 0 search DC, (-1 CR, -2000 gp cost), a 16 dis. device DC (-400 gp), no reset (-500 gp), drop the attack bonus by 1 (-100 gp), for a total cost of 0 gp. Since it costs 0, it requires no time to make, with a DC 20 trapmaking check. Now, since you can make this trap in under a round, you keep trying until you succeed, wasting 1/3 of 0 gold every time you fail.

    Now, why are we doing this? It's a CR 1 encounter with no possibility of inflicting death. If somebody else encounters enough of these (which you make sure of), they can get to level 9 at most. So, you find your town's shaman, adept, or whatever, and elevate them to level 9 by pranking them. Then, they can adequately defend the town. Repeat on everybody else you can get ahold of, especially the crafters in your economy, and even elevating warriors would help. It should only take a few days. Level 1 NPC humanoids stand no chance v. monsters, but level 9 ones aren't such easy pickings. Even with the magic of an adept only, magic weapon kills incorporeals, etc. 70 traps gets you to level 7, 101 to 8, 141 to 9.

    Now, humans might not think of this, but it easily explains how Kobolds became civilized... and why they revere traps so much, and hate tricksters so much.
    Last edited by F.L.; 2008-02-16 at 04:44 PM.

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    Default Re: Thought experiment: Guide humanity to the top of the pecking order

    Quote Originally Posted by puppyavenger View Post
    and they worked out pretty well intill someone with guns and came while they had sticks with pointy rocks in them.
    Fixed that for ya
    Quote Originally Posted by Cheesegear View Post
    Girlfriend and Parents: Why do you spend so much money on that stuff?
    Me: Would you rather I spent all my money on alcohol like others in my peer group?
    G&P: You keep spending as much money as you want!
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    Bossing Around Mad Cats for Fun and Profit: Let's Play MechCommander 2!

    Kicking this LP into overdrive: Let's Play StarCraft 2!

  30. - Top - End - #30
    Orc in the Playground
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
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    Default Re: Thought experiment: Guide humanity to the top of the pecking order

    Quote Originally Posted by puppyavenger View Post
    and they worked out pretty well intill someone with guns and came while they had a stupid/overly religios king.
    The guns were secondary to the conquest of the americas. Variola major and other fun pathogens were the real killers. It's a bit hard to put up resistance to invaders when 95% of your population is dying of disease at the same time, regardless of your level of technology. Guns didn't become lethal enough to really outshine sharp sticks until the invention of the machine gun, really (or at least improvements like rifling and cartridges). The main key to the gun is that it's easier to train a soldier to use than bows.

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