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    Canonfire :: View topic - Anachronisms in Greyhawk?
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    Anachronisms in Greyhawk?
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    Adept Greytalker

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    Tue Jun 13, 2006 4:25 pm  
    Anachronisms in Greyhawk?

    By "anachronisms", I mean ideas, social institutions, or anything else that might not have existed in our real-life Middle Ages, but could exist in a fantasy world like Greyhawk. I am generally open to anything that would not lead to an industrial revolution, but might not have existed in our real world in medieval times:

    -A perfect example are card games like poker, blackjack, and whist. I do not know if they existed in medieval times anywhere in the world, but I have no problem with seeing the Queen of Clubs, the Eight of Hearts, or the Three of Spades referenced at places like the Wheel of Gold gambling house. Similarly, games like hockey and football, although they obviously won't resemble what we have in real life, might have been pioneered by enterprising sparks who are seeking new forms of amusement. (Given that Gary Gygax is apparently a huge football fan, I doubt he would object to seeing football, or whatever its D&D equivalent is, introduced to the world).

    -Political and philosophical ideas that first appeared in the Enlightenment or later, introduced by philosophers from Voltaire to Nietzche to Sartre, might be present among some human or non-human thinkers, even if they are not widely accepted. Philosophers might also debate the merits of scholasticism versus utilitarianism, or the merits of deductive and inductive reasoning, but such matters would be of little interest to adventurers, unless they are exceptionally studious wizards and priests who like to delve into those things.

    Naturally, such ideas would be shaded by the presence of sentient non-human beings and the fact that sorcery is a very real aspect of life. As to how the ideas of Rousseau or Chomsky would be modified by the presence of dwarves and elves, well, that's a nifty idea to sketch out.

    -Seafaring technology the likes of which might be seen in the "golden age of piracy" in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, such as the astrolabe, or even a timekeeping clock at sea, to say nothing of safer and stronger shipbuilding, could be seen in lands such as the Sea Princes, the Sea Barons, or the Lordship of the Isles. Gnomes living in these lands could pioneer new types of technology (that would still have to be wound or powered by hand, such as the aforementioned clocks), but even they could not get steam engines to work, thus ensuring that all ships remained wooden, driven by oars or sails, and that steam-powered ships and the attendant technology would never pollute our beloved Oerth.

    Other thoughts and ideas?
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    Grandmaster Greytalker

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    Wed Jun 14, 2006 5:47 am  

    It would be interesting (like watching NASCAR for the crashes) to see a Greyhawk without anachronisms. Part of the appeal of GH, IMO, are the anachronisms and how they work or can be explained within the setting without a high level/frequency of magic to offset, obscure or explain them. I can't see GH without the anachronisms.

    I guess one question is whose anachronism is actually anachronistic? To my knowledge, the there is no direct historic analog to any period of Greyhawk's history set out anywhere in black and white. So depending on what one sees as such an analog, one person's anachronism is another persons ordinary development.

    While we use the term Middle Ages as a quick shorthand to describe most of D&D, historically that term is imprecise and can have a variety of meanings or definations or qualifiers added.

    As you say, personally, I can accept pretty much any anachronism that would not lead to an industrial revolution. I'll give the specific example of gunpowder.

    Gunpowder is, as smoke powder, canon, at least to the extent of the clerics and paladins of Murlynd. Since picking up the d20 Skull & Bones game, which is set in the Golden Age of Piracy, and last weekend the followup product to Skull & Bones called Corsair, I am sold on the wider use of gunpowder. S&B and Corsair present simply the best ship combat rules for D&D that I have ever seen and they are also not overly complicated. While Corsair presents the fantasy option of using medieval seige engines in place of canon on board ships, using Golden Age ships without canon just seems too odd. I am planning on running the Savage Tide adventure path as part of my GH campaign and using the S&B and Corsair rules. This would be my biggest anachronism that is openly noticeable to players.

    I don't see the use of gunpowder as leading necessarily to an industrial revolution, however. Guns benefited from advances brought about by the Industrial Revolution but they were not a necessary precursor.

    I think the core technology that inevitably leads to industrialization is steam. Yet, the first known steam engine was built by Heron of Alexandria in the first century AD and there was no Roman industrial revolution. Heron saw no practical application for his invention and steam as a harnesed technology lay dormant for centuries. As with other odd technologies of ancient times (the Baghdad battery, the Antiketheria clock etc.), the thought is that society was not prepared, in the sense of having developed sufficiently allied technologies, to make use of the invention, so mass utilization and development had to wait.

    This last idea, if accepted, allows for "one off" anachronisms that will not necessarily signal the onset of an industrial revolution.

    Permanently tapping down a Greyhawk industrial revolution is a more daunting task. How far can one go with anachronisms before one has gone too far and an industrial revolution is inevitable?

    Magic, arcane or divine, are unsatisfactory answers IMO to provide a blanket explaination. The best rationalization I can come up with is - a lack of fossil fuels. No coal means no industrial revolution on any scale like 19th Century England. No oil means no advancement to an automotive or jet age. Mass generation and transmission of electricity is almost out of the question.

    While wood is a substitute for fossil fuels, it is neither as efficient nor found in suffient quantity, at least not without massive environmental consequences. Neither is primitive wind power sufficient, nor primative water power, for a full blown industrial revolution in 19th Century fashion, though both technologies could be locally important

    Of course, no fossil fuels suggests a geologic history for Oerth at stark variance from our earth. If Oerth is as old as Earth, what happened that over millions of years animal and plant matter were not transformed into coal and oil? Were they never formed, suggesting a vastly different tectonic model? Is there a monster type that consumed them as fast as they were formed? Were they "elementally" (ie magically) consumed?

    Whatever the case, if fossil fuels are removed from the picture, any 19th Century industrial revolution is virtually impossible. That leaves the Ebberon model of magically harnessed elementals. That, however, is easy to avoid as magical development and advancement is entirely fantasy.

    IMC, fossil fuels are rare as a consequence of "elemental consumption." Fossil fuels breal down quickly "bleeding" into the elemental planes or being consumed by their close proximity, so to speak. The plane of earth, and the Dao, and the plane of fire, and the Efreeti, both value and consume fossil fuels that might otherwise be found more frequently on Oerth. On Oerth, IMC, coal and oil are comparitively rare, sufficient to forestall a 19th Century style industrial revolution.

    Of course, we won't talk about alien technology from crashed spaceships and the like. Wink
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    Wed Jun 14, 2006 9:00 am  

    Are fossil fuels really necessary for an industrial revolution, or are they just what we happened to use? The fuel cell was invented a few decades before the combustion engine on our world, and some think we could have just as easily gone that way instead if petroleum hadn't been so convenient.

    What "centuries" do you see the Flanaess going through, and when? Were the Suel fifth century Romans at the time of the cataclysms? Were the Oeridians equivalent to Visigoths of the era? Was everyone involved a tenth century Norman? Maybe they were all nineteenth century Victorians. Have Oerik and Earth progressed at a one-to-one rate since then, so the Flanaess is now roughly in the fifteenth century? Or the twentieth? The twenty-ninth?
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    Wed Jun 14, 2006 11:21 am  

    rasgon wrote:
    Are fossil fuels really necessary for an industrial revolution, or are they just what we happened to use? The fuel cell was invented a few decades before the combustion engine on our world, and some think we could have just as easily gone that way instead if petroleum hadn't been so convenient.

    What "centuries" do you see the Flanaess going through, and when?


    Well, without fossil fuels, we would not have had the exact same sort of Industrial Revolution seen in Britain in the 19th century and thereafter.

    Could there have been a fuel cell based industrial revolution? Doing just a bit of research, fuel cells were theorized in 1839 with the first working model believed to have been created in 1843. However, the first 5 kilowatt fuel cell was not created until 1959 and to this day, fuel cells remain an emerging technology that cannot easily replace fossil fuel technologies. This suggests to me that a fuel cell industrial revolution, with suffficiently powerful fuel cells, without fossil fuel technology as a precursor, would not have been possible. And that if it were possible, it would, at the least, have taken a terribly long time compared to the fossil fueled industrial revolution of our Earth.

    I guess we will never know for sure. I'd put the speculation in the same realm as "what if" Babbage's Engine had been developed - would the "computer" age have dawned early? This makes for nifty speculative, "steampunk" Victorian fiction but I'm not sure it is more than that.

    I feel fairly safe saying no fossil fuels means no industrial revolution in any meaningful, global or even national sense.

    With respect to analogies between specific periods in Earth's history and Oerth's history, I find it similarly speculative as the anachronisms are sufficiently strong, to say nothing of cultural idiosyncracies, magic and monsters, to make analogies more wild guesses than anything else. I certainly can't see a 1 to 1 ratio beginning at any point as Oerth is simply to divergent and various at all periods when compared to Earth.

    More to the point, for me anyway, I have never found such analogies useful. I take Oerth on its own terms for the most part. A specific analogy is sometiimes helpful but any grand analogy I just have never found to be worth much to me.

    YMMV
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    Wed Jun 14, 2006 3:10 pm  

    I personally hope the Flanaess never industrializes, although new ideas and cultural development can proceed apace. IMO, new technology can never get a proper foothold until it is developed by gnomes. Given how slowly gnome technology progresses...well, we can see why people are still using plate mail and swinging swords when the Suel calendar has been going for 5,000 years.

    I personally think that the various races of Oerth have better things to do with coal and oil (eating it, using it to heat their homes, using it to fuel their forges and smithworks, making flaming missiles out of it, burning trolls and deadly puddings with it) than experiment on machinery. Non-human monsters that eat fossil fuels will slowly erode the world's supplies, and the ever present danger of monsters that can only be killed by fire, and the continuous need of various races of fuel for their furnaces, basically guarantees that there is little if any surplus oil and coal left over for industrial development.

    As for fuel cells and steam engines, I see no reason why we can't muck around with the laws of physics a bit so steam power won't work. D&D and fantasy literature in general already break some of the major laws of physics and thermodynamics by creating energy out of nothing when casting fireballs and lightning bolts, so it isn't that much of a stretch for me. Without steam power, oil or coal, I guess we're safe.

    But what about the other types of anachronisms I mentioned, like political ideas, card games, or musical instruments? How would those fit into Oerthian society, and what kind of anachronisms would there even be?
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    Thu Jun 15, 2006 2:55 am  

    No/insufficient/hard to reach fossil fuels is a good way to short circuit an industrial revolution, if such is your goal. To be honest, unless you plan on running a really long term campaign, all you have to do is forestall industrialisation until after the fading of magic (if you have such in your campaign).

    Gnomes have to be the innovators of technology? I thought tinker gnomes were a Dragonlance abberation? I don't buy it in GH. Technology will be developed where there's the welath and opportunity to do so. You need surplus food and population and all the other socio-geogrpahical factors discussed in Guns, Germs and Steel. If gnomish societies are where this is all at, then fine - but I don't see much evidence of it in the Flanaess.

    There's an assumption that technology accumulates in a linear fashion over time. So - if the Suel and Bakluni had plate armour 1,000 years ago, the fact that we still have plate armour in 591 CY must indicate technological stagnation. Not so, as the Antikythera computer and Roman concrete prove. In a pre-printing press world, tech innovations can be very localised and can be invented and lost several times. I'm sure the Suel Imperium and Baklunish Empires had tech at least as advanced as the present day Flanaess (perhaps more so - though Eberron-style archano-tech, not so much). And a lot of of that was lost in their mutually assured destruction.


    I can easily see the Flanaess immediately post cataclysm having an equivalent tech level to early dark age Europe. You have some advanced ideas preserved by some Suel refugees (like the Byzantines in the RW), you have a lot of relatively unsophisticated "barbarians" - in the form of the Oerids and you have indigenous peoples whose tech developments (those that have survived the local collapses of their advansced civilisation) get stolen or bulldozed by the invaders.

    Run the clock forward about 1,000 years and there's little surprise that the tech of the Flanaess is similar to that of the High/Late Middle Ages.
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    Thu Jun 15, 2006 6:15 am  

    CruelSummerLord wrote:
    But what about the other types of anachronisms I mentioned, like political ideas, card games, or musical instruments? How would those fit into Oerthian society, and what kind of anachronisms would there even be?


    Some anachronisms off the top of my head:

    Platinum coins. Platinum was not discovered as a unique material in Europe until the 1700's, although Central American peoples knew of platinum earlier. Platinum coins were not introduced until the 1970's. To mint platinum coins requires presses that deliver tons of pressure per strike and a platinum coin requires multiple, rapid strikes to have an image placed into the metal. The presses need to strike so hard and so fast that the platinum surface actually liquifies for an instant and then flows into the outline of the impress. Tours of the San Francisco Mint, where most US platinum coins are minted, will provide all the details. What is more, platinum is so valuable that the bullion value vastly outstrips any face value of the coin. The notion of platinum coins in a quasi-medieval settings is highly anachronistic and even illogical.

    General stores. The idea of a store selling a variety of goods, none of which were made on premises did not appear until the 1600's. Earlier, merchants either 1) operated out of their shop, selling almost exclusively what they themselves could manufacture, 2) travelled with samples to the homes of individuals, again selling only what they manufactured or the manufactures of the persons for whom they acted as sales agent, 3) traveled as itenerant merchants, frequently tinkers or the like, or 4) traveled from fair to fair or market to market, setting up shop and then moving on, again selling their own speciality manufactures or a limited number of similar manufactures of the same type, acting as agent for others. In the medieval period, the market and the fair took the place of the general type store. The market tended to feature more local agricultural surplus and was not held more than once a week - market day. Fairs were held even less frequently and were the great medieval emporiums, the only medieval equivalent to a general store. One of the things that impressed the crusaders so much were Middle Easteren suqs, virtually permanent fairs or markets, where a broad range of goods could be regularly and immediately had. Here again, however, most suq stalls offered specialist manufacturers, so the general store idea, even in a suq, was more by amalgamation than anything else.

    Given time, it is possible to identify numerous aspects of D&D that fall outside the middle ages melieu, were various within it or which were simply impossible at the time. All would be susceptible to being classified as anachronisms. All are seemlessly accepted as part of D&D and fantasy gaming.

    This is where "corn arguments" strike me funny. The anachronisms in D&D and within WoG are so inbedded that arguing for any historic realism for the sake of historic realism is of limited utility. The better argument, IMO, is whether a given historic fact is so anachronistic that it breaks the pseudo-medieval "reality" set up by the game itself. Corn where corn might not be found fails this test. Put corn wherever you want and it is unlikelly to impact much. Gunpowder is a magnitude greater issue, probaly alongside printing presses and Age of Sail sailing technology. Steam power would yet be more magnitudes removed from corn. Space ships are at the farthest end of the continum from corn.

    When I consider an anarchonism, I judge it not by the fact or degree or anachronism but by the likely impact on the feel of the setting. Accepting anachronisms, I believe, is required if one is to play D&D. Individuals will, of course, vary in their tolerance of this anachronism or that.

    Maybe we need to further consider anachronisms in terms of impact as much as pure anachronism?
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    Thu Jun 15, 2006 8:23 am  

    Yeah - Platinum. I've always assumed this either required some magical process or secret techique jealously hoarded by certain (hideously rich) dwur clans.

    Corn arguments. Well, Oerth's magical climate notwithstanding, when there's no detail on a location, I like to use the real world to fill in some of the blanks in terms of climate, fauna, flora etc. It then gives you a nice backcloth to set against the more fantastical elements. Not sure if that falls under the remit of a corn argument, but thar ya go.
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    Thu Jun 15, 2006 10:00 am  

    The rules between GH and the real world are different.
    Smokepowder/gunpowder not functioning on Oerth? Physics and the gods at work here...


    Maybe the platinum in GH and D&D is not the same as in the real world. "Bronze" in Runequest is a naturally occurring ore (the bones of the gods IIRC), not the copper/tin mixture we know.
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    Thu Jun 15, 2006 12:05 pm  

    Woesinger wrote:
    No/insufficient/hard to reach fossil fuels is a good way to short circuit an industrial revolution, if such is your goal. To be honest, unless you plan on running a really long term campaign, all you have to do is forestall industrialisation until after the fading of magic (if you have such in your campaign).

    Gnomes have to be the innovators of technology? I thought tinker gnomes were a Dragonlance abberation? I don't buy it in GH. Technology will be developed where there's the welath and opportunity to do so. You need surplus food and population and all the other socio-geogrpahical factors discussed in Guns, Germs and Steel. If gnomish societies are where this is all at, then fine - but I don't see much evidence of it in the Flanaess.

    Run the clock forward about 1,000 years and there's little surprise that the tech of the Flanaess is similar to that of the High/Late Middle Ages.


    Well, I made the gnomes the master technicians mainly to blast Weis and Hickman's tinker gnomes; how can they function as a society if nothing they build ever works right? It also fits into the interesting way I've developed the gnomes as being a race of contradictions-mainly concerned with magic that either works only in the mind (illusions) or the physical world (technology).

    Also, having the 600-year old gnomes be the pioneers of technology is a major help to making sure technological progress is very, very slow and very, very painful, when it occurs at all. Gnomes don't get it right all the time, and compared to them, humans don't have a chance.

    I rather like the idea of people still wielding the same swords and wearing the same plate mail armor they did 3,000 years ago; it maintains a much-needed continuity, prevents industrialization, and prevents one part of the world from getting a major technological advantage over the rest, which makes worldwide empires and colonization that much more difficult.

    Also, it should be noted that whatever is invented, it will still have to powered by muscle power and operated by hand. Man will never invent the internal combustion engine, he will never discover electricity (if it even exists outside of lightning bolts), he will never be able to fly without magical or monstrous assistance, and he will never invent the firearm.

    That lack of technological progress is one of the most important things we can bestow upon our beloved Oerth; Greek "computers" and ancient Chinese seismographs, and perhaps even ancient Baghdad batteries, can be and probably have been invented already, but it is still operated by hand and muscle power, so I'm not too concerned.
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    Thu Jun 15, 2006 12:11 pm  

    GVDammerung wrote:


    When I consider an anarchonism, I judge it not by the fact or degree or anachronism but by the likely impact on the feel of the setting. Accepting anachronisms, I believe, is required if one is to play D&D. Individuals will, of course, vary in their tolerance of this anachronism or that.

    Maybe we need to further consider anachronisms in terms of impact as much as pure anachronism?


    That pretty much sums it up. I can accept card games, platinum coins, new political ideas, and things like that because they won't necessarily lead to the fading of magic or the disappearance of non-human creatures. And given that Expedition to the Barrier Peaks never happened, we should be safe on that front too.

    Just because petrochemicals and electricity will never be invented doesn't necessarily preclude technological and social progress; the free exchange and development of philosophy and ideas continues unabated (with the demihumans and other sentient races actively contributing, of course), and new types of metallurgy, more sophisticated digging tools, better types of screws, new types of architecture, and other such things can and will keep technology going; in all cases it's powered by manual labor and muscle power, although of course things like magic, sympathetic giants, and the law of the lever can all make things easier.

    Even if Oerth does develop the way our world does (which it probably won't, given that it won't industrialize, won't invent the firearm, and has demihumans and humanoids spread all over the world just like humans, and having just as much impact on their development), people will still be swinging swords, studying magic, and probably fighting orcs and goblins to boot.

    How sweet it is.
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    Thu Jun 15, 2006 1:15 pm  

    Well, I don't consider the world to have been stagnant quite to that degree. I don't think the old Suel and Baklunish empires were in plate mail with the latest in weapons technology, for instance. Although I haven't thought it out in precise detail, I generally figure that in some things they were more advanced and in others, less advanced. Much like the relationship between the Roman empire and the middle ages.


    Coinage is the biggest anachronism inherent in D&D, I'd say. A five metal currency? I don't think that *ever* existed in the real world. Some highly centralized states (Byzantium, China) had three (gold, silver, copper) but it required a lot of government intervention to minimize arbitrage opportunities.

    Still, its hard to say what is an anachronism and what isn't. The Flanaess is clearly not a middle ages Europe sort of place. There is far too much travel, too much of a currency based economy, too much political and economic sophistication, too much social mobility. Its much more of a rennaissance style, IMHO.

    Oh, speaking of Gloranthan bronze.... is there any indication of where tin and zinc are mined in the Flanaess? They are not listed as a resource of any nation in the LGG, afaik. Yet tin was a major trade commodity even from ancient days, being necessary for bronze and pewter. Zinc is needed for brass. Both, at least in Europe, have pretty specific locales where most of the region's production comes from.
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    Thu Jun 15, 2006 3:51 pm  

    The magic v.s. science/engineering thing reminds me of a discussion I had lately with a friend of mine. Our main conclusing was that the existance of magic would heavily dampen and greatly delay proceedings in science and engineering.

    First of course is that magic diminishes the need for trying to solve problems through engineering. Especially if you look at the precursors of now known and well established machines you can agrue that their performance when compaired to spells (even low-level ones) is quite poor. The incendive to spend time and money to develop solutions to practical problems when magical alternatives are available would be lower than when magic was not.

    Second, science and engineering is and was most often done by the percentage of the population that had the time, money, curiousity and off course intellect. However as the study of magic needs the same qualities, the magicians are pulled from the same subpopulation that could commit themselves to the study of engineering and science. This offcourse further diminishes the amount of people studying engineering and science.

    As the growth and advancement of engineering and scientifical knowledge is greatly dependant on the amount of same knowledge available the decreased amount of scientific and engineering studies done ,due to the above reasons, would itself further hamper the growth.

    I'm sure that there are many more arguments like the above. Think about it, would Newton have worked as hard on his theory of gravity if alchemy had really worked?

    One can even argue that the amount of (midievil) technology available in Greyhawk or general D&D is much to high given the amount of magic available.
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    Thu Jun 15, 2006 10:12 pm  

    Quote:
    Well, I don't consider the world to have been stagnant quite to that degree. I don't think the old Suel and Baklunish empires were in plate mail with the latest in weapons technology, for instance. Although I haven't thought it out in precise detail, I generally figure that in some things they were more advanced and in others, less advanced. Much like the relationship between the Roman empire and the middle ages.


    My concept of the Pre-Cataclysm Empires is something like the Greeks and the Persians, at least as far as military innovation. I imagine that cavalry was just starting to come into offensive use during the Wars, with one or both sides using Oeridian mercenary cavalry and the Baklunish also with their own Southern Baklune cavalry. I'm thinking of the former as something like the Macedonian cavalry, maybe having become more heavily armored by the time of the Migrations. The latter I concieve of as similar to their descendants, primarily horse archers. To my thinking it was the Oeridian innovation of heavy cavalry that really allowed them to dominate the Flanaess, without the need for Orbs of Dragonkind, dweomerstones, and other such FR-type stuff.

    Quote:
    Still, its hard to say what is an anachronism and what isn't. The Flanaess is clearly not a middle ages Europe sort of place. There is far too much travel, too much of a currency based economy, too much political and economic sophistication, too much social mobility. Its much more of a rennaissance style, IMHO.


    I play my Greyhawk more as being at a rennaissance level, although I think you could effectively run it at a medieval level.

    Quote:
    Oh, speaking of Gloranthan bronze.... is there any indication of where tin and zinc are mined in the Flanaess? They are not listed as a resource of any nation in the LGG, afaik. Yet tin was a major trade commodity even from ancient days, being necessary for bronze and pewter.


    I think tin isn't listed because the scope seems to be pretty narrow. The earlier gazetteers only list 13 commodities, well 16 if you count the four different gem types. You could make an argument for tin nor being that important as a trade good. If iron is common enough the need for bronze isn't that great, especially in a world where you have Dwarves who are probably capable of producing fairly high quality steel. I'm just wondering why mithril and adamantium weren't included.
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    Fri Jun 16, 2006 12:24 am  

    Yeah, the '83 WoG resource list was pretty limited. There was no iron for example, though everyone has steel weapons...

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    Fri Jun 16, 2006 3:41 am  

    Well, the use for tin was much wider than for bronze weapons. Bronze and pewter are widely used in all manner of household goods and art objects for which iron and steel are not especially useful or attractive.

    Oh, and I was actually looking at the LGG resource list. ITs a bit better than the WoG list. Still not that great, though.
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    Fri Jun 16, 2006 6:30 am  

    For that matter, what are they making steel with? Don't you need coal because it generates a higher temperature needed to make good steel?
    So where is the coal?
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    Fri Jun 16, 2006 7:07 am  

    Nope - you don't need coal (it helps, but you don't need it). You can use charcoal instead (which means lots of deforestation!) to make crucible steel:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crucible_steel

    There's more here:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steel

    It's likely that the Flanaess uses Crucible or Blister Steel and that the Bessamer Process, if it exists at all, is likely to be confined to a minority of dwur clans.

    PS: Oh and magical fire, obviously can be used too - but this'd be very rare, I imagine.

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    Last edited by Woesinger on Fri Jun 16, 2006 8:07 am; edited 1 time in total
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    Fri Jun 16, 2006 7:09 am  

    About card games: late Middle Ages and Renaissance upper classes enjoyed tarot cards/trumps games which were very different from poker or blackjack, but quite similar to a number of games still played in many European countries. Wikipedia has some info about this topic. Playing cards varied wildly in design from place to place (and, to this day, there exist a differently designed traditional deck of cards for almost any single Italian city). Their designs suggested allegorical, numerological and assorted "mystical" meanings - still, the cards weren't used in divinatory "readings", which are a fairly modern invention.

    About "general stores" and other socioeconomical developments: judging from the cities in town described, say, in Dungeon Magazine's Adventure Path(s), the World of Greyhawk feels way "past" European Renaissance development. XVIII Century-like, even XIX Century-like in place (when not mimicking XX Century, in which case it's either overt parody, or I start blaming the authors for anachronism).

    Two more thoughts:
    - Most people in the Flanaess can read and write (well, according to the core rulebooks, that is). How can that possibly be, without printing? I'm seriously considering adding print technologies to my own home campaign.
    - "Plate armor" is actually more of an "advanced" techology than gunpowder and firerarms are, as much as real life Earth is concerned: plate armor actually appeared later.
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    Fri Jun 16, 2006 10:00 am  

    Raphael_Maure wrote:

    - Most people in the Flanaess can read and write (well, according to the core rulebooks, that is). How can that possibly be, without printing? I'm seriously considering adding print technologies to my own home campaign.


    According to W. V. Harris, Ancient literacy, Greco-Roman antiquity's highest achieved percentage of literacy was 20-30%, in the Hellenistic cities (it has to be said, though, that the evidence is exiguous). It is very hard to do much better than that in the absence of printing.
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    Fri Jun 16, 2006 10:36 am  

    Do the core rulebooks say that most people are literate? I know it says all PCs, other than barbarians, are literate.

    It is possible to have fairly widespread literacy, though. Medieval Novgorod has turned up letters and documents from a wide range of social classes and lots of them. But the more rural the society, the less likely that literacy will be relevant to peoples' lives and the more difficult it will be to actually have teachers available for everyone.
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    Fri Jun 16, 2006 3:09 pm  

    Woesinger wrote:
    Nope - you don't need coal (it helps, but you don't need it). You can use charcoal instead (which means lots of deforestation!) to make crucible steel


    Thanks!

    On literacy:
    From a number cruching standpoint in 3E rules, a metropolis of 25001 is about 10% PC characters of any level and NPCs above 1st level. Get rid of barbarians and "higher level" NPC class people and you number goes down to 7% or so. How is 7% literacy in a midieval city?
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    Fri Jun 16, 2006 6:11 pm  

    NathanBrazil wrote:
    For that matter, what are they making steel with? Don't you need coal because it generates a higher temperature needed to make good steel?
    So where is the coal?


    It's being used by dwarves, gnomes, humans, and all kinds of other races to make that very steel you mention. This, of course, eats up a lot of the surplus coal that could otherwise go to develop industry. Then, of course, there's all the various creatures like xorn and dao that literally eat coal and oil for breakfast.

    Combine this with many bright youths studying sorcery instead of science, as alissenberg so wonderfully pointed out, scientific progress takes a double blow; not many people contributing to its development, and thus less base knowledge to fall back on.

    Take that, Joel Rosenberg.

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    Sat Jun 17, 2006 2:34 am  

    Vormaerin wrote:
    Do the core rulebooks say that most people are literate? I know it says all PCs, other than barbarians, are literate.


    From the SRD:

    Quote:


    Illiteracy: Barbarians are the only characters who do not automatically know how to read and write. A barbarian may spend 2 skill points to gain the ability to read and write all languages he is able to speak.
    A barbarian who gains a level in any other class automatically gains literacy. Any other character who gains a barbarian level does not lose the literacy he or she already had.



    So it technically says that all characters (not all PCs) know how to read and write except barbarians. Of course, since plenty of NPCs are not even humanoid, this gets very silly on a literalist reading (literate dire apes! literate gelatinous cubes!... of course, this is all moot if the creature does not have a language, though)

    The implication that all other classes (again, not PC classes) bring literacy could be taken as suggesting that, for example, all commoners (who are at least commoner 1) , are literate. There again, you might argue that the PH is simply not considering NPC classes at this point.

    Vormaerin wrote:

    It is possible to have fairly widespread literacy, though. Medieval Novgorod has turned up letters and documents from a wide range of social classes and lots of them.


    I am not disputing that. Quite a lot of the practices of the classical Athenian democracy only make sense if one assumes that labourers either could read or had at the very least ready access to someone who could read for them. But even 30% literacy (almost 1 in every 3 people) can generate a sizeable quantity of documents.


    Vormaerin wrote:

    But the more rural the society, the less likely that literacy will be relevant to peoples' lives and the more difficult it will be to actually have teachers available for everyone.


    True enough.
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    Sat Jun 17, 2006 4:56 am  

    I don't consider playing cards as much of an anachronism. IIRC, playing cards turned up in Europe in the 1300's with the arrival of woodblock printing techniques from China. And the four suits speak to a (late) medieval sensibility of the four classes of society - spades symbolize the warrior class, clubs the peasant class, hearts the priest class, and diamonds the merchant class.

    As to general stores, perhaps they were not in "settled" europe until the 1600's, but what about frontier settlements in the americas? I don't know, but I could imagine a "trading post" style general store in the spanish missions of central america and the french canadian towns that received the trade of fur trappers in the 1500's.

    For me, the most obvious anachronism is the strength and clarity of nation states and the general feeling of nationalism. There is a clear national boundary between furyondy and veluna. All the nobles on one side owe allienge to King Belvor, all those on the other side to the ArchCleric of Veluna. The peasants know whether they are furyondian or velunese.

    In a more realistic, medieval type setting a peasant would know what village he was from and the name of his feudal lord. The lord would hold the land from some noble, but the noble probably held land both from King Belvor and from the ArchCleric in different patches.

    Now, the anachronism of nation states certainly makes it easier on the DM. Clear boundaries on maps are much easier than the realistic confused patchwork of feudal relations.

    Other anachronisms further simplify the job of the DM. "Common", a language spoken across the continent and perhaps farther. A unified international currency system with a standard exchange rate. 1 gp = 20 sp etc...
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    Sat Jun 17, 2006 10:30 am  

    Heh, I don't know that I'd call those anachronisms so much as straight fantasy. They never existed in the real world at all.
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    Sat Jun 17, 2006 2:09 pm  

    I don't play 3rd edition but the previous post suggesting 3rd edition "core books" suggest everyone is literate except barbarians must be a misguided interpretation.

    Every sourcebook before expresses the literate population as rare certainly extermely few peasants are literate and many fighters or even nobles aren't literate.

    Being literate is obviously most common among the magic-user, priestly and merchant classes (some thieves).

    To paraphase Ivid the Undying; the commoner is simply trying to survive with little time to think about anything except getting enough to eat.
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    Tue Jun 20, 2006 7:35 am  

    Crag wrote:
    I don't play 3rd edition but the previous post suggesting 3rd edition "core books" suggest everyone is literate except barbarians must be a misguided interpretation.


    I quoted the actual words from the core book in question. I would wager a small amount of money that the designers did not intend to suggest that everyone in D&D except barbarians is literate. This does not change the fact, however, that they used the words "only characters" and "any other class" in the passage I previously quoted, despite the fact that these blanket statements lead to results that contradict both previous canon and common sense (as I noted in the original post). As I said previously, one (but not both) of these problems can be avoided if you assume that the book actually means "PC class" when it says "class" in this context - but that is still not what the PH actually says. I only elucidated the consequences of what the PH states - the fact that the results are unpleasing to both you and me (and I speak as someone who has written an LG module that hinges upon illiteracy in a fishing village) does not per se make the interpretation "misguided". If a reflection is cloudy, it is not always the fault of the mirror... Laughing
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    Sun Jun 25, 2006 10:10 am  

    Solutions to the anachronisms...

    General stores - There is a tradition across the Flanaess, one of the responsibilities of the local leader is the creation and maintenance of an indoor market for each settlement, a co-op of sorts. One individual is appointed or assigned responsibility for it, and his books are open for inspection to the authority. Sometimes this means corruption and graft, but it's a good way to find yourself treated like Rodney King instead of the Overking...

    This has evolved into an expected general store for each village. They usually don't have much stock, and are primarily used as a gathering place and market when the crops come in.

    Literacy - Part of the divine competition for believers is fought out in the arena of education. Teach your flock to read and not only do you attract new followers, but you can more easily indoctrinate those who already attend your services...

    Industry - Why spend time and resources inventing a way to do work, when a quick Mage Hand spell does the same? (Or a crack of the master's whip...)

    Coinage - The coins are obviously an alloy. Lazy DMs like me will simply state, "OK, it's not really exactly 500 pieces of 24k gold, each weighing 1/50th of a pound. But it weighs ten pounds, and is worth 500 of the local currency..."

    Technology - The Suel didn't have great industrial economies. They *did* have incredible magical ability (the likes of which has not been seen again), and slaves to do everything else. The Baklunish had the power of belief, and the hard lives to toughen them for everything else. I compare the Suel to the worst of the Roman emporers, and the Baklunish to a Fremen-lite or harsh early-'stani/turkic background.

    Keeping medieval weaponry/armor makes sense, in that it's What You Need to fight the nasties in the wilds without cheesing off the druids/fae, and to take out those damned wizards. And there's something in the Greyhawk soul that is stirred by armored warriors facing each other mano a mano...

    The one thing that hasn't been mentioned is the Yeomanry's Republicanism. By all rights, every ruler on the continent would want this abomination destroyed as fast as possible. I run a Yeomanry campaign, and temper it with a serious case of national isolationism, along with making the Yeomenry the laughingstock of monarchies, along the lines of "the inmates running the asylum". Throw in a bit of the history of the Swiss mercenary pikemen (everyone wanted to use them, but they'd turn against anyone threatening Switzerland), and the Yeomanry remains unmolested.

    Telas[/b]
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    Sun Jun 25, 2006 1:49 pm  

    Or you could just not have general stores and use intinerent peddlers instead, which have more adventure potential at low levels?

    Don't buy the literacy either in a feudal/medieval society. When are you going to have time to learn your letters when you need those kids to be out planting/reaping threshing/herding those cattle/sheep/goats etc? Subsistance agriculture is very labour intensive and book-larnin' don't get the crops in.

    Equally - the mage hand nixing industry explaination needs to explain why there isn't archano-tech. The explaination is, of course, there's not enough mages to make magicial tech viable or to make mundane tech unviable.

    And Republics are hardly anachronistic. Greece and Rome had them in classical times. So did medieval Italy. Not on the scale of the Yeomanry, but they still existed and weren't an automatic red rag to neighbouring autocrats.
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    Mon Jun 26, 2006 8:03 am  

    Telas wrote:
    Solutions to the anachronisms...

    General stores - There is a tradition across the Flanaess, one of the responsibilities of the local leader is the creation and maintenance of an indoor market for each settlement, a co-op of sorts. One individual is appointed or assigned responsibility for it, and his books are open for inspection to the authority. Sometimes this means corruption and graft, but it's a good way to find yourself treated like Rodney King instead of the Overking...

    This has evolved into an expected general store for each village. They usually don't have much stock, and are primarily used as a gathering place and market when the crops come in.


    At the risk of becoming the next "Corn King," Wink general stores present at least two extreme difficulties -

    1) A general store imagines a transport and economic system (mass produced goods or some source of goods available in quantity) sufficient to stock the general store sufficient for it to deserve that name. This is why such stores did not exist in the medieval period. If we say general stores are possible, let alone common, under any theory, we have explained away one anachronism by introducing two more - an advanced transport system and an advanced economic system.

    2) In the medieval period, markets and fairs were royal perogatives, heavily taxed and a coveted source of income. Only the king could grant the right to hold a market day or annual fair. Whomever was granted this right, taxed the commerce at the market or fair heavily. Because markets and fairs were scarce rights, yet necessary to economic life, they generated large attendance and very large tax receipts.

    If we say general stores are common (to say nothing of the transport and economic models necessary to their existence), there would be no need for markets and particularly fairs of the type held in the medieval period, and indeed up until the 17th/18th century. We would loose a great deal of the "color" of medieval life.

    Of course, we already have an anachrionistic monetary system - universally accepted coinage that moves across international borders without exchange rates, substantial adulteration, arbitrage, or trade deficets. We do not even have such a thing today! So, what's a mysteriously advanced transport grid and mass production of goods sufficient to fill a general store?

    And if that general store can stay in business with Greyhawks anachronistic, indeed impossibly low, population figures? Hey! One more anachronism.

    Or maybe those peasants are well enough off to keep the general store in business - another anachronism!

    I am ready for my Crown of Corn. Laughing
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    Mon Jun 26, 2006 9:25 am  

    Huzzah the Corn King!

    I fall back on the "because I'm lazy" final argument to most anachronisms. :-P General stores exist because I don't want the game to devolve into finding shops for every item needed.

    That said, the co-op in my campaign's starting village only stocks certain items handy to a mining or agricultural economy, and those are at a 20% markup.

    I'd explain away the transport issue with an active caravan network, and the arrival of larger caravans would be a festival unto itself... I did take the liberty of endowing the rulers of most kingdoms with some basic economic knowledge (did I mention I'm reading Stephenson's "System of the World" trilogy?).

    The size of the cities in GH is another anachronism that I don't want to tangle with. The amount of agriculture necessary to support the urban populations indicated leaves very little undeveloped land (adventuring territory). Unless there's an army of clerics Creating Food and Water, of course... :D

    Telas
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    Mon Jun 26, 2006 12:51 pm  

    I hate to be a pedant (really! Wink), but if my back-of-a-bank-statement calculations are correct, the Flanaess is underpopulated and the cities, by historical standards, are too small.

    OK - so Medieval Demographics Made Easy (http://www.io.com/~sjohn/demog.htm) states that a square mile of settled land can support about 180 people (I'm assuming his figures are well researched, or at least in the ball park)

    So let's look at Rel Astra, a city of 61,000 people in 591 CY. To support that population, you'd need approx 339 square miles of settled land. If we look at the 83 Darlene map, we find that the hexes there are 30 miles across. That means that the area of a Darlene hex is approx 585 square miles {(3 x square root 3)/2 x 15 squared; 15 being the length of one side of the hexagon}. That's more than enough to feed everyone in Rel Astra. Taking this wider - the overall population of the Solnor Compact in 591 is 380,000, which thus requires 2,111 square miles or so of settled land to feed, or about 3.6 Darlene hexes. Between Rel Astra and Ountsey alone there are about 5-7 whole hexes of plains, and that's not even counting the swathes of plain north of the Lone Heath. If these figures are correct, there seems to be plenty of room for adventuring country.

    That also seems to be the message if you look at the population of actual medieval cities (these figures are from The Later Medieval City by David Nicolas). In 1300, Milan, Venice and Florence each had 80,000+ inhabitants. Bologna, Verona, Brescia, Cremona, Siena, Pisa and Palermo each had between 40,000 and 80,000 inhabitants.
    And that's just Italy.

    MDME quotes figures of 25,000-40,000 for London (another site quotes a figure of 80,000 in 1300's covering an area of 448 acres! http://www.channel4.com/history/microsites/H/history/i-m/london2.html) and 50,000-80,000 for Paris (some sources quote 200,000!). The population of Constantinople at the height of its glory in the 12th century is estimated at between 400,000 and 1 million! The estimated total population of Europe in 1340 is 73.5 million (http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/source/pop-in-eur.html).

    By comparison, the most populous city in the Flanaess is Greyhawk with 69,000 in 591 CY, which puts it in the league of mighty Bologna, Pisa and Palermo. :)

    So, the problem is that the cities and overall populations are too small for the levels of tech and magic, not too large.
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    Mon Jun 26, 2006 1:40 pm  

    I stand corrected. I was presuming that most agriculture was near subsistence-level, with a very small portion sold/traded.

    I suspect that my assumptions regarding the relationship between production, taxation, and subsistence-level were off a bit... "Gub'mint do take a bite, don't she?"

    But hey, all that undeveloped land leaves plenty of room for forgotten crypts, mysterious caves, and wizard's towers...

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    Mon Jun 26, 2006 2:00 pm  

    GVDammerung wrote:


    Of course, we already have an anachrionistic monetary system - universally accepted coinage that moves across international borders without exchange rates, substantial adulteration, arbitrage, or trade deficets. We do not even have such a thing today! So, what's a mysteriously advanced transport grid and mass production of goods sufficient to fill a general store?

    I am ready for my Crown of Corn. Laughing


    Oh, they're there, they just tend to be overlooked by most DMs. What better (read: more evil) way for a DM to soak the PCs than exchange rates, arbitration, duties, excises, tariffs and tolls, in addition to the taxes on dungeon loot? If PCs have to pay tariffs in addition to taxes on the furs, jewelry, or whatever else they're bringing in, that'll cost them a fair coin; it might also inspire them to carry more copper and silver around to pay these annoying lower fees, such as road tolls) that aren't really worth covering with gold, but that still bring in a fair amount of revenue for the authorities based on how often they're collected.

    I don't know if medieval kings had sophisticated tax codes, but chances are, with all the revenue flowing in even a medium treasure game (where 10,000 gold pieces would be a staggering treasure IRL, but is a considerable but not excessive sum in many games), the costs of maintaining roads, infrastructure and armies in a world of dangerous and destructive monsters, gems changing hands, and being able to employ spellcasters to catch tax cheats, chances are most rulers will develop very specific tax codes and regulations to get as much of that loot as possible.

    So that might be an anachronism. OTOH, the hated taxman is just as much of a threat in Greyhawk as he has been in the past, the present and probably the future. Tax collectors can probably be the most fiendish opponents for 16th-level characters to face, especially when there's almost nothing the character can do to fight back...

    Funny how a diminutive bureaucrat can send shivers down the spines of brave heroes who face down giants and dragons without fear, isn't it?
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    Mon Jun 26, 2006 2:39 pm  

    CruelSummerLord wrote:
    What better (read: more evil) way for a DM to soak the PCs than exchange rates, arbitration, duties, excises, tariffs and tolls, in addition to the taxes on dungeon loot?


    The City State of the Invincible Overlord turned me on to that. To enter the city you must have legal coinage (coins minted during the reign of the current overlord) and the helpful moneychangers at the gate are more than happy to accomidate this requirement....for a percentage of course.

    Add to the fact that it is illegal to make change except at moneychangers. This has led to less scrupulous government offices paying their contracts with copper. "What's that? You mean you can't carry all that copper? Well, the moneychanger next door would be more than happy to convert it to a more manageable coinage......for a percentage of course."

    The players in my Wilderlands campaign love to hate the city.
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    Mon Jun 26, 2006 11:15 pm  

    Platinum coins are probably cast rather than struck with regards to the level of tech necessary to make them in a medieval setting.

    As to anachronisms, Murlynd's "hog legs" are probably the most obvious ones, other than all those oddities in Expedtion to the Barier Peaks adventure. I think there might be a few in Castle Greyhawk too, but I can't specifically recall what they might be.

    I prefer not to base anything too closely off of Real World examples regarding cultures in particular. Comparisons are somwehat inevitable though, so I just try to do something different with things. One might compare the Suel Empyrium with the Byzantine Empire, but mere similarity is where the comparison stops for me. I wouldn't for instance model the Suel Empyrium on the Byzantine Empire in any blatant way. I prefer to see new material for everything. It requires a bit more work, but I think it is worth the effort to make something unique for a fantasy setting, GH in particular.
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    Wed Jun 28, 2006 7:19 am  

    GVDammerung wrote:

    At the risk of becoming the next "Corn King," Wink

    Telas wrote:
    Huzzah the Corn King!


    Hey now, I haven't set aside that title...
    Laughing
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    Wed Jun 28, 2006 7:38 am  

    Crag wrote:
    I don't play 3rd edition but the previous post suggesting 3rd edition "core books" suggest everyone is literate except barbarians must be a misguided interpretation.


    D&D PHB wrote:
    A literate character (anyone but a barbarian who has not spent skill points to become literate) can read and write any language she speaks. Each language has an alphabet, though sometimes several spoken languages share a single alphabet.


    D&D PHB wrote:
    Barbarians are the only characters who do not automatically know how to read and write


    Not a matter of suggested or implied, the core rules clearly state that all characters, including human NPCs, since there is no longer a "normal human" monster except barbarians are literate. Note that in both citations, the PHB refers to "characters". The DMG section on NPC classes does note that they are not suited to be adventurers, but makes no other statements saying that the rules in the PHB pertaining to characters in general do not apply to NPCs.

    Monsters, such as the aforementioned "reading and writing dire ape", are not usually characters, so they don't count, unless some poor fool decided to awaken the ape and train him in a class.

    All it takes for a non-literate character to become literate is gaining a level in another, literate class. See the Barbarian illiteracy class feature.

    Now, I'm just playing devil's advocate here, in my games, noone starts out literate, though wizards and bards must take the skill/NWP during character creation to qualify for their class.
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    Wed Jun 28, 2006 7:44 am  

    Telas wrote:
    I stand corrected. I was presuming that most agriculture was near subsistence-level, with a very small portion sold/traded.


    Urbanization, which clearly exists quite often in the Flanaess, makes surplus farming and the agricultural industry a requirement for society to thrive.

    Without delving into a Yellowdingo-esque diatribe on the details, folks in a city simply do not have enough land to raise the crops and livestock needed to feed themselves. The rural farmers in the standard quasi-fuedal system most of the Flanaess assumes earn their keep by raising enough crops and livestock that after they, and their lord, are all fed, there is some left over for that lord to sell at market.
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    Wed Jun 28, 2006 7:48 am  

    CruelSummerLord wrote:

    I don't know if medieval kings had sophisticated tax codes


    Sophisticated, complex tax systems go back as far as Rome, Greece and Egyptian during their classic eras, and probably further than that.

    As soon as a society develops money, the people with the power to do so will come up with brilliantly devious methods of taking it away from those below them.
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    Wed Jun 28, 2006 7:54 am  

    GVDammerung wrote:

    And if that general store can stay in business with Greyhawks anachronistic, indeed impossibly low, population figures? Hey! One more anachronism.

    Or maybe those peasants are well enough off to keep the general store in business - another anachronism!


    In my campaigns, "general stores" only exist in a rare handful of places. Darkgate comes to mind.

    Any time a frontier boom town springs up, general store type trading posts, usually tightly controlled by whatever wandering merchant has the contacts and muscle to secure such a business in the community, appear rather quickly, and thrive during the early year or two of the community, when the normal providers of the goods have no established themselves. Once smiths, armorers, farmers, etc move in to town and start selling their goods without the trader's mark ups, the general stores go out of business fairly quickly.
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    Wed Jun 28, 2006 8:46 am  

    chatdemon wrote:
    In my campaigns, "general stores" only exist in a rare handful of places. Darkgate comes to mind.

    Any time a frontier boom town springs up, general store type trading posts, usually tightly controlled by whatever wandering merchant has the contacts and muscle to secure such a business in the community, appear rather quickly, and thrive during the early year or two of the community, when the normal providers of the goods have no established themselves.


    This is an excellent approach, IMO. It has been my practice to simply not have general stores, but I like your boomtown idea.

    Darkgate would be a perfect example. The general store(s) might even function kinda like an old west assay office, extending credit and supplies for a cut or paying cash (to be spent on supplies) for what has been discovered. I like this idea a lot! Happy Thanks!
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    Wed Jun 28, 2006 9:41 am  

    chatdemon wrote:


    Sophisticated, complex tax systems go back as far as Rome, Greece and Egyptian during their classic eras, and probably further than that.



    A good example of this is the Tax Law of Palmyra, attested on an inscription from CE 137. This records a Roman provincial city's enthusiastic taxation on the trades and services of, inter alios, unguent-dealers, sellers of asses, fish-mongers, skin-traders, renderers, and -believe it or not - prostitutes. If it was making money, the town council in Palmyra wanted some of it.
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    Wed Jun 28, 2006 9:56 am  
    ...best have my denarus...

    Prochytes wrote:
    A good example of this is the Tax Law of Palmyra... This records a Roman provincial city's enthusiastic taxation on ... sellers of asses ... and prostitutes.


    Redundancy?

    Laughing

    OK, sorry... nothing to see here.

    T
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    Wed Jun 28, 2006 10:03 am  
    Re: ...best have my denarus...

    Telas wrote:
    Prochytes wrote:
    A good example of this is the Tax Law of Palmyra... This records a Roman provincial city's enthusiastic taxation on ... sellers of asses ... and prostitutes.


    Redundancy?

    Laughing

    OK, sorry... nothing to see here.

    T



    *wiping coffee from monitor*

    Good stuff.
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    Wed Jun 28, 2006 10:22 am  

    GVDammerung wrote:

    Darkgate would be a perfect example. The general store(s) might even function kinda like an old west assay office, extending credit and supplies for a cut or paying cash (to be spent on supplies) for what has been discovered.


    Well, for a more traditional boom town, outside of a newly discovered mine, for example, sure. The problem in Darkgate that is going to prevent a whole lot of money lending and financing expeditions is the high level of doubt regarding whether or not the borrower is going to make it back alive.

    IMO, the survival rate among delvers into Slerotin's tunnel and beyond is going to be pretty low, given the Lerara and other nasties lurking within the tunnel, and other, even more horrifying dangers in the Sea of Dust beyond. I'd say that, at most only 10 to 15 percent of expeditions return, and of those, quite a few will be failures, coming back hungry, wounded and without any newfound loot. Not an ideal situation to inspire investors.
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    Wed Jun 28, 2006 10:37 am  
    Re: ...best have my denarus...

    Telas wrote:
    Prochytes wrote:
    A good example of this is the Tax Law of Palmyra... This records a Roman provincial city's enthusiastic taxation on ... sellers of asses ... and prostitutes.


    Redundancy?

    Laughing

    OK, sorry... nothing to see here.

    T


    Filth! Nothing, but filth, I say! Honestly, I do not know why I pollute my mind by hanging out with you people... Laughing
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    Wed Jun 28, 2006 4:49 pm  

    Woesinger wrote:
    I hate to be a pedant (really! Wink), but if my back-of-a-bank-statement calculations are correct, the Flanaess is underpopulated and the cities, by historical standards, are too small.

    OK - so Medieval Demographics Made Easy (http://www.io.com/~sjohn/demog.htm) states that a square mile of settled land can support about 180 people (I'm assuming his figures are well researched, or at least in the ball park)


    Well, he also has the area of a 30 mile hex as around 780 sq miles, but yes, a square mile should support around 180 people, on average, depending on the terrain, technology, and social organization.

    And I delved into the issue of severe underpopulation in this essay:
    http://www.canonfire.com/cf/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=751

    But the technology and social organization is very important, and all too easily glossed over. A nation can easily turn from major exporter to mass famine zone with very little effort. That is why identifying those factors is so important.
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    Wed Jun 28, 2006 5:49 pm  

    Samwise wrote:
    Woesinger wrote:
    I hate to be a pedant (really! Wink), but if my back-of-a-bank-statement calculations are correct, the Flanaess is underpopulated and the cities, by historical standards, are too small.

    OK - so Medieval Demographics Made Easy (http://www.io.com/~sjohn/demog.htm) states that a square mile of settled land can support about 180 people (I'm assuming his figures are well researched, or at least in the ball park)


    Well, he also has the area of a 30 mile hex as around 780 sq miles, but yes, a square mile should support around 180 people, on average, depending on the terrain, technology, and social organization. . . .

    But the technology and social organization is very important, and all too easily glossed over. A nation can easily turn from major exporter to mass famine zone with very little effort. That is why identifying those factors is so important.


    Not disagreeing with the importance of technology and social organization or how easily the apple cart can be overturned, particularly by mother nature in a pre-industrial (or even early industrial) society, but baseline data from the middle ages is just that. It is normative. Creating a model at variance with those norms is possible but is then by degrees susceptible to being described as anachronistic. Happy Even "fantasy." Wink

    In short, the Flanaess is so severely underpopulated that it is anachronistic and "explainable" only by the most tortuous/contrived explainations. You have to really want to believe the Flanaess' population levels make sense to get them to make any sense at all, as objectively, by "medieval norms," they do not make sense.
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    Wed Jun 28, 2006 6:23 pm  

    GVDammerung wrote:
    Not disagreeing with the importance of technology and social organization or how easily the apple cart can be overturned, particularly by mother nature in a pre-industrial (or even early industrial) society, but baseline data from the middle ages is just that. It is normative. Creating a model at variance with those norms is possible but is then by degrees susceptible to being described as anachronistic. Happy Even "fantasy." Wink

    In short, the Flanaess is so severely underpopulated that it is anachronistic and "explainable" only by the most tortuous/contrived explainations. You have to really want to believe the Flanaess' population levels make sense to get them to make any sense at all, as objectively, by "medieval norms," they do not make sense.


    Not exactly.
    The baseline data accounts for the general variables. As long as you (the designer) properly account for the variables, you will come up with reasonable data. That is:
    Don't expect mountains to support 100 people/sq. mile
    Don't expect nomads to support 50 people/sq. mile
    Don't expect people to support more than 25 people/sq. mile without hyper-intensive cultivation like in the South Pacific, or decent horse collars and decent yield cereal grains
    Remember that slavery is a highly inefficient economic system, and will keep yields, and thus population levels, down

    And no, the underpopulation is not anachronistic. As I explained in my essay, it follows the average growth rate of a pre-industrial civilization. Where it differs from the real world is in what the starting population was. That is not anachronistic, merely different.
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    Thu Jun 29, 2006 2:37 am  

    What the prevailing cultural values are is a factor too.

    It's possible that the Oerids, having been plains nomads, value wide open spaces for herding - be it cows, goats, sheep or horses (despite having been settled for 1,000 years, the Hungarians still respect the horsemanship and traditions of their nomad Magyar forebearers).

    So though you have enough settled arable agriculture in, say, the Flamni Basin, to feed the urban populations and have a significant surplus to trade, you also have a lot of land given over to horse herds.

    And of course - adventures always need wilderland. Wink

    PS: This also shows how what looks like pedantic analysis can give you interesting details. Now you can introduce the idea that Oeridians and Aerdi place a lot of value on horses in their culture. In game this can mean that Oerid characters tend to take horsemanship. it means that horse theft is serious business and that PCs might end up getting paid in horses instead of gold by a suitably grateful Oerid patron (who would be horrifically offended if the PCs demand gold instead).
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    Thu Jun 29, 2006 5:57 am  

    Samwise wrote:
    Where it differs from the real world is in what the starting population was. That is not anachronistic, merely different.


    The first cause was anachronistic as compared to the historic norm. The consequence is anachronistic as compared to the historic norm. Even if one allows that the first cause was merely different.

    Equally, even if the first cause and resulting consequences can be made to make sense within the setting; they are yet susceptible to classification as anachronistic as compared to actual historic norms.

    And, of course, population levels determine what can be achieved by the population - yielding in Greyhawk very questionable consequences.

    To stay on topic, without rehashing the population debate, suffice to say anachronisms frequently occur in Greyhawk. None are, IMO, bad things to the degree that they disable the setting. Of course, some will strike some people more strongly than others, and vis a verse. Population is certainly one such, but not everyone will equally agee. Surprise! Greyhawkers having differences of opinion! Laughing
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    Thu Jun 29, 2006 7:17 am  

    GVDammerung wrote:
    The first cause was anachronistic as compared to the historic norm. The consequence is anachronistic as compared to the historic norm. Even if one allows that the first cause was merely different.


    Ummm . . .
    No.
    There is no anachronism inherent in a changed population starting point. The cause is established, and the effect follows. No alteration of a normal flow of progression due to passage of time is engendered.
    Being different from the historical standard is not being anachronistic.
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    Thu Jun 29, 2006 7:21 am  

    Samwise wrote:
    Being different from the historical standard is not being anachronistic.


    Depends on the degree of difference, I'd think.
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    Thu Jun 29, 2006 7:46 am  

    GVDammerung wrote:
    Depends on the degree of difference, I'd think.


    No, it depends on the type of difference.

    An anachronism is, by definition, something against time.
    A population level is not against time.

    Giving the people of the Flanaess jet engines would be anachronistic.
    Giving them mega-magic steam-punk tech would be pseudo-anachronistic.
    Giving them immunity to disease and a super-population growth would be pseudo-anachronistic.

    Leaving them with a low post-cataclysm starting population and consequent low "current" population density is chronistically appropriate, if confusing and difficult to deal with, particularly because of the massive unsettled areas it leaves in the Flanaess.
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    Thu Jun 29, 2006 9:23 am  

    I agree GH is somewhat underpopulated but given the factors within GH that the real world didn't face; competing sentient species, inteligent monsters, devastating magical cataclysms. A convincing case could be made for low population figures perhaps GH hasn't recovered to the pre-cataclysmic population levels much like the Dark Ages in our world saw a population decline compared to the classical levels of the ancient world until society recovered.
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    Thu Jun 29, 2006 12:03 pm  

    Just about every PC I know lost his or her entire family to some unnatural cause of premature (and violent) death, so that makes sense... Confused

    The way most parties mow through humanoids, I figure there's got to be some payback there. Wink

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    Fri Jun 30, 2006 8:31 pm  

    Samwise: Do your population calculations take into account the demihumans, or just the human populations of a given state? It's worth noting that many demihumans, and even humans, live in the forests, hills and mountains, and as such don't appear in "official" population counts. No doubt they pick up some of the slack when it comes to producing and consuming food. They probably have their own industry and trade with the organized states-Greysmere near Greyhawk is just one example. Nulb is technically not part of Verbobonc (at least IMO) and so the viscount's census takers would not include them. The LGG mentions lots of small states that appear everywhere from Iuz to Keoland; those probably make up another fair amount.

    Even the humanoids and giants, as the 1E DMG notes, can keep herd animals to feed themselves in lean times, and given their numbers, might even farm fungi or grain, depending on whether they lived above or below ground.

    The Flanaess isn't underpopulated; it's just that the census-takers don't feel like going into the wilderness to count people. Their health benefits don't cover getting skinned alive by orcs.
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    Sat Jul 01, 2006 10:09 am  

    CruelSummerLord wrote:
    Samwise: Do your population calculations take into account the demihumans, or just the human populations of a given state? It's worth noting that many demihumans, and even humans, live in the forests, hills and mountains, and as such don't appear in "official" population counts.


    Yes and no.
    Obviously I don't have any comparable models for population growth rates of those races, so I couldn't project for them in terms of overall growth.
    But yes I did include them for the overall current population density when determining if there were "too many" or "too few" people running around.
    And yes, I did account for terrain as well, reducing the expected carrying capacity based on expected arability based on type and canon notations.

    Quote:
    The Flanaess isn't underpopulated; it's just that the census-takers don't feel like going into the wilderness to count people. Their health benefits don't cover getting skinned alive by orcs.


    Up to a certain point. It would be beyond absurd to presume there are 1.8 million more people within the borders of Keoland that were not counted. (That is, the entire known population of Keoland.) It would be near as unreasonable to presume there were even 180 K unaccounted for people (one-tenth of the local population). And neither would produce population densities equal to high quality European land circa 1400.
    (The population density of France was around 100 people per square mile right before the Black Death die back. The Flanaess is barely at 20 people per square mile. Go ahead, bem ridiculous, double the population, it is still underpopulated.)
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    Sun Jul 02, 2006 7:08 pm  

    Population in the Flanaess is like "dark matter" in physics. You can't see it. You can't detect it. But it has to be there, otherwise things just don't make sense - most notably the level of civilization ascribed to the Flanaess. But that is another topic. Suffice to say for most folks, population in the Flanaess is an anachronism. For others, like Goldilocks, the population in the Flanaess is - jusst riiight! Laughing Wink
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