Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Of Rank and Fighting Ability - a rant

I'm thinking about the major NPCs of my City on the Ice-Choked Sea setting for D&Dish weird fantasy. Part of it includes deciding what to do with the high-level NPCs I've detailed earlier for that setting. And here I come face to face with a very common trope: many video games and face-to-face RPGs equate social (or military) rank with fighting prowess. and i don't think that this should be the case.

Assuming that fighting prowess equals social or military rank is assuming that the society or military force in question is a perfect meritocracy centered on fighting ability - where the more competent people are promoted to positions of power. While this might be true for groups such as pirates or viking raiders, where people literally fight their way up the rank ladder to the top (and have to keep themselves in good shape to stand against challengers), many more civilized organizations and societies do not work this way.

Examples of this abound. In the typical western state, the military is, ultimately, under the command of a civilian politician, who may or may not have any military experience; this is quite extreme in the USA where the President - an elected civilian - is actually the direct commander in chief of the military. But this is not only a case for democracies - not all medieval monarchs were warrior kings; many were even invalids, yet had armies at their command.

Furthermore, even inside the military hierarchy, ranking officers need not be high-level Fighters. After all, climbing the ranks and administrating armies require quite different skills than fighting in the battlefield. And this is not to mention the even less meritocratic forces where a noble (or other dignitary) could earn a military rank by the virtue of his social status... In many cases, indeed, a Sergeant might be more experienced as a soldier than the Lieutenant he answers to, especially is the Sergeant has plenty of real combat experience and the Lieutenant is fresh out of officers' college...

So the game stats of people in power will vary in my settings. Some would have powerful stats, other will be (in LotFP terms) be level 0. But in many cases, a low-level (in game terms) person in a position of power will have mighty warriors at his or her disposal - bodyguards, elite units and the like.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Demographics in the City

As part of my work on the City on the Ice-Choked Sea, I'm trying to figure out the general make-up of the city's population, and, particularly, the rarity of classed and leveled characters in the City.

Note that the City is a well-established city with early-industrial technology and an incipient industry; technology should look like something out of the Age of Sail rather the Middle Ages, with Mad Scientists getting into steampunk proper.

First, I'll have to decide how big the City is. Of course Medieval Demographics Made Easy is an excellent reference, but I'm aiming towards something more similar to the Age of Sail (circa 1600-1800) rather than the Middle Ages themselves (that article gives examples from the 1400s). What I have in mind is a population of about 100,000, of which about 70,000 are the relatively new urban working-class formed by newly (last century) disenfranchised peasants. Most new workers live in ramshackle slums around the harbor and the industrial districts, outside of the old city walls. The remainder are mostly urban craftsmen and merchants, with a small nobility (about 1,000 people split into 3-5 major families and numerous lesser houses) and a wealthy merchant class (about 2,000 people split into numerous families). There are also about 3,000 clergy and monks of the New Faith.

A good source of inspiration for the class and level breakdown of the population is this EnWorld thread. However, I feel that with the large amount of mercenaries, guards and thugs attracted by such a fractured, decaying city, there would probably be more Fighters and Specialists in the population than the 1E assumption of %1 classed characters. What I have in mind are about 5% classed characters, of whom 2% are Specialists, 2% Fighters and 1% all the rest of the classes (including level 1 or higher Changelings and Elders - i.e. Elves and Dwarves). So we're talking about circa 2,000 Specialists, 2,000 Fighters and 1,000 other classed characters (200 M-Us, 300 spellcasting Clerics, 400 Changelings and 100 Elders).

As for Changelings and Elders, they should be a minority. Changelings are 5% of the total population, Elders are 1%.

So the class breakdown I'm thinking about is:

Level 0 Normal Men/Women
5,000 Warriors (higher end of HP, usually armed with something - thugs, guards, rank-and-file soldiers and so on)
84,600 Non-Warrior Normal Humans
4,500 Level 0 Changelings
900 Level 0 Elders

1,000 Level 1 Fighters
500 Level 2 Fighters
250 Level 3 Fighters
125 Level 4 Fighters
62 Level 5 Fighters
32 Level 6 Fighters
16 Level 7 Fighters
8 Level 8 Fighters
4 Level 9 Fighters
2 Level 10 Fighters
1 Level 11 Fighter

1,000 Level 1 Specialists
500 Level 2 Specialists
250 Level 3 Specialists
125 Level 4 Specialists
62 Level 5 Specialists
32 Level 6 Specialists
16 Level 7 Specialists
8 Level 8 Specialists
4 Level 9 Specialists
2 Level 10 Specialists
1 Level 11 Specialist

150 Level 1 Clerics
75 Level 2 Clerics
36 Level 3 Clerics
20 Level 4 Clerics
10 Level 5 Clerics
5 level 6 Clerics
3 Level 7 Clerics
1 Level 8 Cleric

100 Level 1 Magic-Users
50 Level 2 Magic-Users
25 Level 3 Magic-Users
15 Level 4 Magic-Users
6 Level 5 Magic-Users
3 Level 6 Magic Users
1 Level 7 Magic-User

Changelings ("Elves")
200 Level 1 Changelings
100 Level 2 Changelings
50 Level 3 Changelings
25 Level 4 Changelings
15 Level 5 Changelings
6 Level 6 Changelings
3 Level 7 Changelings
1 Level 8 Changeling

Elders ("Dwarves")
50 Level 1 Elders
25 Level 2 Elders
15 Level 3 Elders
6 Level 4 Elders
3 Level 5 Elders
1 Level 6 Elder

How much would these numbers (in a 100,000-people city) fit a LotFP campaign?

Also, assuming an ice-age on one hand and higher-than-usual technology (and mammoths as draft animals) on the other hand, how many 24-mile-wide hexes would be necessary to feed a 100,000-resident city?

Input would be welcome.