Friday, October 3, 2014

Conquerors and Kings, part 2 - Tiny Realms

I made a recent post pointing out and trying to resolve some parts of the domain and realm rules that I found confusing. I could have saved myself some effort by digging through the Autarch forums before instead of after writing the post. Such is life.

I am still going to write several posts exploring the domain game prior to level 9 because I find something compelling in game play that interacts with the broader game world instead of treating that play as some sort of "end game" campaign focus change.

Domains and Realms

For our purposes, a domain is an area of land that has been cleared of monsters and secured with a stronghold. According to the published rules, domains can be as small as one square mile or as big as 16 six mile hexes, approximately 500 square miles. The average domain is 1 six mile hex, about 32 square miles. 

Realms are defined by the rules as composed of multiple domains. The rules further list the smallest realm as a barony, though it shows the number of domains in a barony as one, a seeming contradiction.

Alex Macris, the primary designer of ACKS, stated in several different posts on the Autarch forums a couple of things that shed light on this conundrum. First, he posted that an early draft of the rules drilled into the barony size realms with rules for knight level domains smaller than 1 six mile hex. He also stated, in a different post I believe, that he changed his rules design to an expected domain size of one regional, 6 mile, hex; so a barony is the base domain assumption.

Population Assumptions

Alex wrote two blog posts, here and here, about his underlying math for domain and realm population. Based on the economic output and subsistence costs for agrarian populations, Alex uses an assumption of 21 families per square mile, or 105 people per square mile. The stated base assumption for overall realm populations is 50 people per square mile. [Note: I believe, but am not completely certain from my reading, that this is supposed to be exclusive of urban settlements.] 

I feel, for my game, that the most interesting way to represent this population is through sets of manors, or latifundia if you want a classical feel, each with about 21 families. That would mean an average barony with 160 families would have 8 manors of 20 or so families each. These 8 manors would be spread over 16 square miles, which coincides with the Revenue by Realm table.

My light, hobby-oriented research on manors shows that a "typical" manor is 1,000 acres or more composed of croplands, common areas (pasture land, deer parks, and such) and support areas (administrative centers, temples, and so forth). Again, this fits in pretty solidly with Alex's assumptions of 21 families per square mile. I think it is safe to assume that between 40 and 50% of a manor would be cropland.

Land Value and Population Density

When I started down this rabbit hole of what an exploded view of a 6 mile hex should look like, I created a spreadsheet that tied land value to population density. At first blush this seemed intuitive; the more economic output you could get from a particular piece of land the more peasants you can attract and support on that land, right? Maybe, but the more I read on various historical models of land ownership and how that affected agrarian land usage the more I become convinced that population density is actually a factor of land ownership and degree of centralization of governmental authority, at least within the limited range of normal values ACKS uses to generate land value (3d3 gp/family).

This entire exploration of domains, realms, population density, and land value started from a fairly simple question I asked myself while creating some regional maps for my campaign. "Should every hex in a multiple hex domain have the same land value?" When I mentally stumbled over the notion that a "serpentine" domain composed of a line of 16 six mile hexes stretching nearly 100 miles would have a uniform land value; I fell into the rabbit hole of what is the right level of economic and population detail for a domain. My ultimate conclusion: I am going to split the most import 6 mile hexes in my campaigns into local hex maps with hexes 1 1/2 miles across to mirror the scale from the 24 mile campaign hex to the 6 mile regional hex. This gives me local maps with hexes of about 2 square miles (about 1250 acres) which is a good size to use for a manor.

Finally, to answer the question that started all of this; no, every hex in a multiple hex domain should not have the same land value.

Here's how I've decided to handle it in my games. If the primary terrain type of a domain hex matches the primary terrain type of the stronghold hex, I'll use the stronghold hexes land value adjusted by d3 - d3. For any domain hexes where the primary terrain is different than the stronghold hex, I'll roll a new 3d3 land value. Manors will start with a land value that matches the regional hexes land value. In a later article I will add some house rules that will expand on the upkeep and investment rules to allow for land value changes over time.

No comments:

Post a Comment