One setting noted for it's detailed mapping of locales is Harn. Unfortunately it is a snapshot in to specific period of time where manorialism was the dominant form of rural organization. Manorialism means that the countryside is divided into dozens of small manors each with a small village of 20 to 50 families attached to the estate. Other time periods had vaguely similar rural organization like the latifundia of Rome and the plantations of the antebellum south.
I pretty much accepted this style for when I do detailed maps for my Majestic Wilderlands. But recently a question by Dwayne of Gamer's Closet got me thinking about this. What would the countryside look like if dominated by farms not manor/estates.
To play around with this idea I drew this base map. Each of the small hexes is 2.5 miles and roughly 3,000 acres in area. The large hexes are 12.5 miles across. The reason I chose this scale is that it take one hour over level terrain to cross one of the small hexes.
Below are the settlements common to both types of rural settlements. There is a castle (solid circle) by the large river and a two keeps (open circle) one on the west side of the map and the other on the east side. The yellowish striped terrain is cropland. The dotted terrain are hills, the green are forested areas with over 50% tree coverage. The light green are woodlands with <50% tree coverage. There are two swamps represent with an off green overlaid with a fill of swamp symbols.
A countryside dominated by manorialism looks like the below. Each diamond represents an manor with 20 to 60 families working 1,800 to 3,000 acres. Roughly one manor per full hex of cropland. Note I omitted the roads here. The two keeps and Castles serve as market centers for the surrounding manor up to 4 to 5 hexes away. Roughly 1/2 day travel.
A farmed countryside looks vastly different. There are few distinct settlements. The villages are rather large (think Hommlet size) with probably 80 to 150 families living there. All the farm within a 1/4 day (2 to 3 hexes) travel will use these villages for their day to day market needs. The two keeps and castles will serve as major market probably travelled to once a week.
Each full hex of cropland will have anywhere between 6 to 15 families each owning an individual farm. Farms range from 200 to 500 acres. There are a few large estates with small hamlets of 5 to 20 families likely attached in a sharecropping arrangement. These are marked by the triangles.
I am intrigued by the farming arrangement as this seem more like the world that the village of Hommlett existed in. A farm oriented setting avoids the grinding grittiness that the medieval manor exemplifies. While I like gritty fantasy it is nice to have an alternative when I need it and still be able to generate the numbers if I want to run a campaign where the players are raising troops.
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