Sunday, June 22, 2014

There are Square Meters on my Chart! (Sanctuaries and Believers Edition)

Did you know that a hexagon with a 10 km flat-to-flat distance covers a surface area of round about 866 square km? Yeah, it's an odd number. But on the other hand, if you were to take a number easier to the eye, you'd end up with strange numbers for the distances on the maps we use, right? But do we need distances on our D&D maps? Is there a, well, let's say pseudo-realistic approach worth using other then the plain old idea of using hex maps with a fixed distance of ... yeah, of what of exactly, to be honest? Flat-to-flat distance? Corner-to-corner distance? And what does that mean again? Where is it helpful? Where is the altitude? And how does it affect the distances on a map, for that matter?

What I'm trying to say is that I understand the appeal, but never understood the value of "old-school" maps. Frankly, in my opinion it's utter bullshit crap a relic.

Maps are lies!

Every cartographer will tell you this, maps never reflect reality. They might help you navigating an area, but often enough they'll just betray and mislead you. Nothing to do about that but to accept it, I guess. But what does it mean for the game? For our understanding of how it's to be played and presented? My answer to that would be that if a DM were to fully understand the system, if he is to make it his own, he'll (A) either ignore the discrepancies (which is a time-honoured tradition) or (B) he'll try to get to the bottom of this and develop his own system from scratch (which is a crazy huge amount of work ...).

Let's not ignore this and go for (B)?

Any solution to this problem would be, as anything in this game, an individual one. And it'd go far back into the early mechanics of the game: the war gaming roots. As so many other rules that just got copied and pasted from edition to edition of the game, the idea of moving pieces over a map (and all the baggage it brings forth, like movement rates and flat 2d dungeons or 5-foot-steps, you name it) is, in my opinion, one of the great annoyances of D&D that just can't die out, but instead spawns ever so many new ideas, expanding that nonsense.

To counter this one would have to go back even further and think about what a role playing game is and what it tries to accomplish. This is, of course, where it gets tricky. Arguably, what back in the day inspired the idea to have single characters instead of army units, was the desire to experience individual story lines. The game emerging from there on used as tools what ever was available, that's where the wargaming heritage gained some mileage.

I think one of the reasons why those rules still exist and keep on trucking is the false assumption that the illusion of accuracy - as far as measurements go - an essential part of a fair game is. Anyway, far more expedient would be to see what happens if those parts of the rules are dismissed that have their origin in the idea of anything related to rules regarding distances in D&D.

What the DM needs to know ...

Any role playing game lives from the information available to the players. Not the truth of that information or it's accuracy, but it's usability is what makes it spin a narrative at the table. Let's say the players want to travel north through a wilderness and ask for the way. A local ranger tells them the easiest way to go by using local landmarks and how much time they'd need in his experience to get there. As easy as that. The players won't need more information than that. If anything, more would only cloud their judgement.

The DM, on the other hand, should make sure that his data of a gaming world is as much as possible derived from actual game mechanics, not from arbitrary assumptions and decisions. He'll need some house rules for that ...

So why are there square meters in yesterdays post?!

Cutting a long story short, to be true to my assumptions and produce yesterdays chart (which, I now realize, needs to be updated, because I didn't get the numbers right ...) I'd have to make some rather unorthodox decisions. Or better yet, connect some old ideas I had since I started writing this here blog.

As far as those square meters are concerned, my main inspiration was a post I wrote about monster territory back in  May 2013. Mainly this chart:


So for the area of influence I'd go as per the above formulated rules and add all the radii in correspondence with all the levels associated with a specific shrine (the smallest shrine is level 1 (2 meter radius) and has a level 6 cleric caring for it (plus 60 meter radius), resulting in  the (now correct) 12.076 square meters (pi times (62 x 62)) or approximately the area of a Manhattan City Block according to The Measurement of Things or, taking a tenth of that before going for the area, 120 rooms in a dungeon environment.  Sounds about right. Right?

True believers

The next hurdle was to find a ratio for how many true believers should be expected for a cult. Main source of ideas for the result was a post I wrote about settlements back in July 2013. I decided to go for the sum of all the levels of clergy and shrine a cult had to offer as the number of D6* (D8) rolled (level 1 holy site (shrine) and a level 6 cleric means 7d6 true believers).

Sanctuaries

What is needed to get a temple build is a level 9 cleric and lots of gold (like in that other post about careers I wrote back in July 2013. And you'd have to start somewhere to build it, say, with a shrine. A shrine could become an altar, an altar might become a temple, which could become a cathedral with time and, given the gold to achieve this is paid, could end up becoming an extremely popular holy site (like Mecca). Some of those ideas started a few months back and I wrote about it here

All those ideas and assumptions together result in the following table (it also gives an impression where I aim to go with the 2d6 part of that idea ...):
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Sanctuaries and Believers

Level         XP     Status     # of d6* believers with 2 to 9 HD (or level)**
                                  2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9 ...
  1            0     Shrine       0
  2        2.000     Shrine       0
  3        4.000     Shrine       1
  4        8.000     Altar        2
  5       16.000     Altar        2   1
  6       30.000     Altar        2   2
  7       60.000     Altar        2   2   1
  8      120.000     Altar        3   2   2
  9      240.000     Temple       3   3   2   1
 10      360.000     Temple       3   3   3   2
 11      480.000     Temple       3   3   3   2   1
 12      600.000     Temple       4   4   3   2   1
 13      720.000     Temple       4   4   3   2   2
 14      840.000     Temple       4   4   4   3   2
 15      960.000     Temple       4   4   4   3   2   1
 16    1.080.000     Temple       5   5   4   3   2   2
 17    1.200.000     Temple       5   5   4   4   3   2
 18    1.320.000     Temple       5   5   4   4   3   2   1
 19    1.440.000     Temple       5   5   5   4   3   2   2
 20    1.560.000     Cathedral    5   5   5   4   4   3   2
 21    1.680.000     Cathedral    5   5   5   4   4   3   2   1 ...
 22    1.800.000     Cathedral    6   5   5   5   4   3   2   2 ...
 23    1.920.000     Cathedral    6   6   6   5   4   3   3   2 ...
 24    2.040.000     Cathedral    7   6   6   5   5   4   3   2 ...
 25    2.160.000     Cathedral    7   6   6   5   5   4   4   3 ...
 26    2.280.000     Cathedral    7   7   6   6   5   5   4   3 ...
 27    2.400.000     Cathedral    7   7   6   6   5   5   5   4 ...
 28    2.520.000     Cathedral    8   7   6   6   6   6   5   4 ...
 29    2.640.000     Cathedral    8   7   7   7   6   6   5   5 ...
 30    2.760.000     Holy Site    8   8   7   7   7   6   6   5 ...
 31    2.880.000                  8   8   7   7   7   7   6   6 ...
 32    3.000.000                  8   8   8   8   7   7   7   6 ...
 33    3.120.000                  9   9   8   8   8   7   7   7 ...
 34    3.240.000                  9   9   9   8   8   8   8   7 ...
 35    3.360.000                  9   9   9   9   9   8   8   8 ...
 36    3.480.000                 10   9   9   9   9   9   9   9 ...

*D6 for shrines, D8 for altars, d10 for temples, D12 for cathedrals and D20 for Holy Sites.
**Sum of all levels of a Church's active clergy plus the sites level as the number of dice, use a die according to the status of the site (as described above). Part of the result might be NPC with more HD than 1. The listing above shows how many of those higher level NPC are part of a faith and how they are distributed among that number (inspiration for this was the number of spells available per level for magic users ...).
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This should be enough for now.

So all the above needed to be done to produce yesterdays post. And then some. I'm still struggling with some of those ideas and I'm far from finished. But I hope I managed to gave those interested enough to read all this up to here a somewhat comprehensive and understandable impression of what I'm trying to do here and how I came to the decisions I made so far to get there.

I'll expand on those ideas as soon as I have the time to do so :)

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