Sunday, October 3, 2010

A Fantasy Sandbox in Detail Part XVIII


This is the eighteenth in a series detailing the 34 steps I recommended for making a Fantasy Sandbox Campaign. Today's post will cover part of the following step.
Use Medieval Demographics to get an a idea of how many shops are in the town.
From previous steps we know that Mikva has a population of 800 people. Looking at Medieval Demographics we see that tailors have a value of 250. Diving 800 by 250 we get 3 plus change. So we know there are at least three Tailors living in Mikva.

While Medieval Demographics by S. John Ross is a great article the professions lists seems incomplete. I have Life in the Medieval City by Joseph and Francis Geis and found the list that S. John Ross started from. There the authors admitted that while taken from the Paris Tax Roll of 1292 the list was truncated and paraphrased. So taking a chance I did a search and sure enough the Paris Tax Roll of 1292 in it's original form can be found on the internet. Thanks to the SCA and Colm Dubh.

I knew that if you look at an actual list of medieval occupations it would look rather insane. A combination of lack record keeping, the trend to protect even closely related profession from competition, and the fact that in real life everything is just more complex means there is a bewildering array of distinct professions.

This is a case where a referee needs to apply some editorial judgment to make something gameable out of reality. I been a big fan of Harn and it's price list. I think how the guilds are organized under that setting is about at the right level of detail for gameable realism. So inspired by Harn I came up with a similar list of guilds and professions. I then went through the Paris Tax Roll categorizing everything into one of the guild/professions I created.

You can see the result here in the form of an excel spreadsheet. I even added a little generator. Just change the cell next to Population and the calculated number will change by each guild. I also wrote an article summarizing my own research with the new numbers I calculated. You can download it here.

Note this is a first draft so it is bit skimpy on explanations. I intend to gather all these "How to make a fantasy Sandbox" into a book that I will publish. This is a part of one of the chapters I intend to include. The basic gist is that you divide the value for each profession into the total population. If it is 1 or greater that is how many of that profession is present. If it is lower than 1 then it is a percentage change that profession will exist.

So I plugged in Mika's 800 population. This what I got.

artist          1
baker           3
carpenter       4
chandler        1
finesmith       3
fisherman       1
herbalist       1
jeweler         2
laborer         5
leathercrafter 10
legal           1
mason           3
merchant        3
metalsmith      1
miller          2
ostler          2
physician       2
religious       1
sailor          1
scholar         2
servant         5
tailor          8
tavern          6
weaponsmith     1
weaver          6
Roughly 75 shops in the castle town of Mikva. Now the key to creating a Sandbox Setting is managing the level of detail. Which is why in the next step we are only going to pick 6 to 12 of the most interesting shops and just leave the rest as one line entries to be used in later campaigns.

That it for part XVIII next is Part XIX where we go into further detail about the shops of Mikva.


The Badger King said...

Can I be the first to pre-order a copy of the inevitable book to result from this series? 8)

m.s. jackson said...

It certainly could be one, directions on how to do this yourself, along with the example you are making now. It would make a interesting study.

Jim said...

I too would like a copy.

I would also be remiss not to point out the nice work by expeditious retreat with their Magical Medieval Society stuff; much of the same information. Also, Gygax has the Living Fantasy book which does some of the same kinds of stuff.

But the step by step approach you have here is simply fantastic.

Scriptea said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Scriptea said...

I doubt that this comment will get much attention nowadays, seeing as how the last one of these were posted a long while ago, but will you ever resume this series?

Concerning the excel document: the artist sub-fields may be calculated wrong due to a mis-entry.

Also: does the "I" column do anything? I don't see it referenced anywhere else in the sheet, and the numbers were put in as constants, making me think that these relate to either the Paris Census, or a proportion you wanted to keep, or a junk column that you used for numbers you needed to keep for something else.

Jordan said...

man, I'd love to see this series finished.

Darin Clisby said...

I'd love to see it completed as well!

The Caterpillar said...

It's not completed?! Suicide time.