Comments on 2020-09-19 Goat rustling in Anthe

OK, giant goats… 😃 Or cows? I feel I half-know more about cows but really, I don’t know anything. I hear a cow feeds a family for a year when it’s butchered. Let’s agree that this family just eats the dairy products as well. Does that make sense or would that feed even more people? I have no idea. A cow gives birth when she’s two years old. Remember, this is not reference material. This is reference material, dumbed down to serve for a game, not the other way around! Like the entire game… OK, moving on.

How many cows to sustain a group? Ancient nomads roamed in groups of five to ten families. If we start with the assumption that a family is about five people, that gives us 25–50 people, which isn’t any different from the hunter-gathering model I’ve used of 30–50 people. (Ancient Steppe Nomad Societies, Nikolay Kradin, DOI: 10.1093/acrefore/9780190277727.013.3)

Perhaps that goes to show that the presence or absence of livestock – that is, whether a group lives as hunter-gatherers or as pastoral nomads – depends on the ecosystem they find themselves in.

I have yet to figure out whether I want the villages to be located on a map, with advantageous and disadvantageous geographic places: hill forts can be defended easily but need a hill; fishing needs a lake; a river attracts malaria; living higher up in the mountains means pastoral nomadism as agriculture starts to fail. Or do I want a game of steppe nomads vs. settled people, agriculture, land ownership, taxes vs. free roaming smaller units?

Perhaps the game orcs can all live as outsiders. One of the actions players could vote on would be: do we want to go to war? It’s risky because many people can die, but it can also be very rewarding (meaning less people die). That would point to some sort of “treasure” being available to hoard. If you have it, orcs spend it to buy grain and supplies from border towns. Plunder replenishes this. Big victories result in tribute being paid for a few years.

To be entertaining, the choice to go to war should be some sort of bet. The war would be a sort of “off-screen” expedition that you can join or not. The empire to the North, East, South or West is weak and ripe for plunder. The king of kings calls on his subjects. Do you join the expedition? If you go, your share of plunder is proportional to the number of people returning from the expedition. The mortality rate of the expedition depends on luck and is the same for everybody participating (if the empire was weak, it’s low; if the empire recovered quickly, it’s going to be high).

– Alex 2020-09-22


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