The Common Commoner - Page 7




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  1. #61
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    A very interesting thread, but premised on the demographic rules as per DMG. Nothing wrong with that, other than the demographic rules as per DMG are designed to give the D&D game a pseudo-medieval Tolkein-esque fantasy world flavour. In reality, access to 1st level spells would change the world in deeply fundamental ways within a century or two of their "discovery".

    Let's take cure light wounds as an example. The argument seems ot have been that the local cleric won't cast his spells except in dire emergency, for special people, or for a price well above the capacity of most commoners to pay. Let's take the "dire emergency" option. Farmer's wife is having a difficult labour. Farmer's son runs to local cleric asking for help. Cleric consults his god's teachings and, assuming that his god is good-aligned, somewhere he'll undoubtedly find something about protecting/nurturing/caring for mothers and children. Irrespective of whether the farmer has been attending church, the cleric will attend upon the stricken woman having a difficult labour. Cleric uses a cure light wounds plus a healthy dose of his heal skill and saves mother and child. The cleric is responding to a real emergency and saving two lives - but of course, he wouldn't use one of his daily allotment of 1st level spells doing so, would he? NOT!

    In your typical medieval world, childbirth was the most dangerous thing a woman ever did. Women in childbirth died in their droves. Now, woo hoo, thanks to the miracle of 1st level spells, childbirth is as routine and life threatening as it is in the 21st century First World.

    Now extrapolate a bit further. Every life threatening injury is treated by a cleric provided one gets there in time. So we have most babies being born alive to live mothers, and death by accident only occurs when the death follows closely (in time) upon the accident. Populations start to creep upwards - actually, they increase exponentially. What you have occurring is the exponential increase in population which occurred IRL from the end of the 18th Century. Human capital increases exponentially. With that additional human capital the human race progresses in all fields of endeavour exponentially - including magical capability - unless you place some artificial limitation on it, like "the gods wouldn't let that happen". Without such a contrived limitation, "magic as technology" naturally occurs. And pretty soon, those little hamlets with less than 100 people in which "most" of the population live disappear and "most" of the population live in highly urbanised environments surrounded by all of the benefits of magical transportation, communication, health care, defence, law enforcement etc.

    So let's imagine your "commoner" 300 years after the first cure light wounds is cast... Little Johnny has just got cursed by the evil outsider he was playing with through his magical Summon-o-tube (TM), so you call up "Clerics'R'Us" on your Sending-o-phone and they teleport a 15th level Cleric specialising in removing curses from evil outsiders into your living room, who charges the reasonable fee of 150gp for the service. Your annual salary from the world-spanning Government is, of course, around 50,000gp, less taxes, and the price is so low because of competition from "Heal-2-your-Door" and the effect of rulings of the Ecclesiastical Services Consumer Protection Tribunal...

    P.S. You also send the Summon-o-tube to the local service centre to have its Abjuration Circuit fixed, 'cos summoned evil outsiders shouldn't be able to curse your children.

    Cheers, Al'Kelhar
    Last edited by Al'Kelhar; Friday, 13th August, 2004 at 08:35 AM.

 

  • #62
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kamikaze Midget
    I'm thinking of running a campaign where the PC's start as NPC's....any great ideas for me evoking this bumpkin feel?
    1) PCs adventurers must be honest, or have some obligation of being honest. They are poor thus must borrow money to buy their equipment. The first idea is that they owe a great deal of money to someone!

    2) Then they go on adventure and find a useless magical item. At least useless to them, but useful to commoners or nobles in the vicinity.

    3) Now the second idea is to wait for players say "Let's sell this magical item, after all, in the DMG it's told it costs 1500 gp!"

    4) Players quickly find someone willing to pay 1500 gp for the item. Ahem, not exactly that because he only has 1382 gp available. But being the only one available customer around, the PCs let him buy the item. (Then the NPC quickly disappear...)

    5) The players are heading onto a new adventure, when they meet the king's soldiers led by the constabulary. The taxes that were recently collected were STOLEN by some brigands, exactly 1382 gp... Of course, the explanation that the adventurers got it in selling a magical item is so absurd that they will be immediately thrown in jail.

    6) Conclusion: There is no such thing as a magic shop in your world...
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  • #63
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    Now extrapolate a bit further. Every life threatening injury is treated by a cleric provided one gets there in time. So we have most babies being born alive to live mothers, and death by accident only occurs when the death follows closely (in time) upon the accident. Populations start to creep upwards - actually, they increase exponentially. What you have occurring is the exponential increase in population which occurred IRL from the end of the 18th Century. Human capital increases exponentially.
    On Earth maybe. Not in the typical D&D world where the common Ankegh, Dire wolves, Gnolls, and whatnot, will eat most of them continuously...
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  • #64
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    Quote Originally Posted by BelenUmeria
    Dude, channeling divine energy is exhausting!
    This is an assumption - there is nothing anywhere to indicate this. I don't deny it takes the clerics constant devotion - so involves his time, but he is a servant of his god... he isn't going to spurn the use of his devotion to his god in times of need.

  • #65
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    Quote Originally Posted by Piratecat
    Well, I'd argue that very few cleric PCs end their day, every day, with no spells left because they've cast them all on villagers or cityfolk. It's a little tricky to mandate that every day. I suspect that like most English pastors, a small town cleric would make the rounds to everyone's house over the course of a week to check up on his flock.
    Absolutely right Piratecat... my point is that at some point most are likely to have benefited from the cleric's aid... not that he has a queue outside his door every evening with people waiting to see if he's got any magical energy left.

  • #66
    Quote Originally Posted by Al'Kelhar
    A very interesting thread, but premised on the demographic rules as per DMG. Nothing wrong with that, other than the demographic rules as per DMG are designed to give the D&D game a pseudo-medieval Tolkein-esque fantasy world flavour. In reality, access to 1st level spells would change the world in deeply fundamental ways within a century or two of their "discovery".

    Let's take cure light wounds as an example. The argument seems ot have been that the local cleric won't cast his spells except in dire emergency, for special people, or for a price well above the capacity of most commoners to pay. Let's take the "dire emergency" option. Farmer's wife is having a difficult labour. Farmer's son runs to local cleric asking for help. Cleric consults his god's teachings and, assuming that his god is good-aligned, somewhere he'll undoubtedly find something about protecting/nurturing/caring for mothers and children. Irrespective of whether the farmer has been attending church, the cleric will attend upon the stricken woman having a difficult labour. Cleric uses a cure light wounds plus a healthy dose of his heal skill and saves mother and child. The cleric is responding to a real emergency and saving two lives - but of course, he wouldn't use one of his daily allotment of 1st level spells doing so, would he? NOT!

    In your typical medieval world, childbirth was the most dangerous thing a woman ever did. Women in childbirth died in their droves. Now, woo hoo, thanks to the miracle of 1st level spells, childbirth is as routine and life threatening as it is in the 21st century First World.
    Well, let's assume that most real midwives had heal skill. So that's a wash. What you're claiming would make the difference is Cure Light Wounds. And it would--provided that deadly childbirth does 1d8+1 damage. If deadly childbirth sometimes does 2d8+2 damage, it may be that a cure light wounds doesn't save women from death in childbirth. Or maybe, a breach birth actually does 1 point of damage per minute of labor. When does the priest cast the CLW? If he casts it too soon it might not save her. If he waits too long she might die. Given that hit point costs for specific injuries are rather difficult to actually quantify, and there are no mechanics for childbirth complications, I don't think it's possible to tell how many childbirth deaths cure light wounds would avert. The exact quantity of lives saved will vary greatly from campaign to campaign.

    Now extrapolate a bit further. Every life threatening injury is treated by a cleric provided one gets there in time. So we have most babies being born alive to live mothers, and death by accident only occurs when the death follows closely (in time) upon the accident. Populations start to creep upwards - actually, they increase exponentially.
    Maybe and maybe not. This assumes that the dangers are roughly the same as IRL. It's quite possible, however, that rampaging orcs, manticores, magic and the sacrifices required by mens' dark gods will keep the population growth in check. It could also be that the preying of vampires and other creatures who specifically feed on humans would keep populations in check.

    A D&D world is undoubtedly full of many things that are more dangerous than anything our ancestors faced. The existence of magic and the social instability it might cause (as explored earlier in this thread) would also serve to reduce populations. So there might be an increasing population and there might not be. It's trivial to change the assumptions of the world to match whatever kind of population trends you want.

    What you have occurring is the exponential increase in population which occurred IRL from the end of the 18th Century. Human capital increases exponentially. With that additional human capital the human race progresses in all fields of endeavour exponentially - including magical capability - unless you place some artificial limitation on it, like "the gods wouldn't let that happen".
    My, what a whiggish view of history we have here. Historical inevitability and all that rot. Again, maybe and maybe not. There have been a lot of times of great population expansion other than the end of the 18th century and in case you didn't notice, only the 18th century in Europe and North America produced the kind of Progress you see as inevitable. The culture and faith of 18th century Europe and North America had as much to do with that Progress as population growth. Even in Europe, some areas grew experienced more Progress than others. Population growth isn't even half the story.

    Without such a contrived limitation, "magic as technology" naturally occurs.
    Dude, "technology as technology" didn't naturally occur just because populations reached a certain density. IRL, it occurred in western Europe in the 18th century, most particularly in England and later in the United States. There are innumerable times and places where it didn't occur for various and sundry reasons.

    Heck, if technology (which, as philosophers like George Grant and Martin Heidegger, et al point out is dependent upon a particular way of looking at the world) were the inevitable consequence of population growth and "human capital" the Aztecs, Incans, and Mayans would have used the wheel for something more than a child's toy and the Chinese would have had effective firearms long before the europeans.

    And pretty soon, those little hamlets with less than 100 people in which "most" of the population live disappear and "most" of the population live in highly urbanised environments surrounded by all of the benefits of magical transportation, communication, health care, defence, law enforcement etc.

    So let's imagine your "commoner" 300 years after the first cure light wounds is cast...
    At the end of this implausible paen to the inevitability of technological Progress, let's imagine the world 300 years after the first running water, flush toilets and showers were installed on the British Isles, massive roads were constructed, laws were formalized, etc. Oh, that's right. Three hundred years after all of that, this ragged guy (or clean-cut romanized celt) named Arcturos (or Arthur or something like that) was busy leading a group of warriors from Caer Camel or thereabouts to fight the saxon invaders on Mount Badon. Or at least, that's what the legends say. A thousand years after that, the saxons were standing around a hill at Hastings with shields and greataxes, waiting for the Norman knights to charge and break like water upon their shieldwall. Then a lucky arrow struck down their king. (Who, according to some reports, survived that arrow but was killed later in the battle). All the wonder and glory of Roman Britain turned to dust. History has been full of golden ages, conquering heros, progress and advancement. Most of thoe inheritors of the golden ages have descended into decadence and returned to barbarism. Most of those conquering heroes are food for the worms. Most of that ancient progress is forgotten only to be rediscovered in part by later civilizations at later times. We dig up Roman plumbing from the ruins of Hadrian's Wall. At present, we in the western world are fortunate to be living in one of the longest lasting eras of technical advancement and prosperity. However, there was no guarantee it would happen, no guarantee it would continue, and no guarantee it won't return to dust and fond memories like all of the empires before us.

    Inevitable "Progress" is a myth. Our current situation is the result of divine favor or happy coincidence (depending upon how one looks at the world). Eithe way, its continuance is far from guaranteed.

  • #67
    Quote Originally Posted by Kamikaze midget
    No, they wouldn't. 'average' NPC stats are 10's or 11's, plus racial modifiers. No race in the PHB has a bonus to Intelligence, Charisma, or Wisdom. All spellcasters, even those with PC classes, are limited to 1st level spells. A few (maybe 5%) might have 'elite' stats, but all those really do is make him better at keeping the militia alive. The real benefit is the scrolls of cure light wounds that he can produce, since those give him extra castings of the spell for emergencies, for tough encounters, etc.
    "Average" NPCs may have 10's or 11's in everything but that's no ground for supposing that most NPCs have 10's or 11's in everything. (It may be grounds for assuming that typical NPCs are 15 point buy but that's a different matter). Assuming a bell curve distribution traditional in D&D, while 10 or 11 may indeed be the average score for any given stat, it's more likely that any given person will not have a 10 or 11 than that they will. One might further assume that people will tend to gravitate towards things that they do well. A blacksmith is likely to be stronger than a scribe. A scribe is likely to be smarter and more mentally developed than a nightsoil collector, etc, etc. So, reasoning from this, one might conclude that the cleric is likely to be wiser than most people, the wizard's apprentice is likely to be smarter, and the bard is likely to be more charismatic. I would expect the vast majority of clerics to have a 12 or 13 wisdom rather than an 11. (I assume that you don't expect 50% of clerics to have a 10 wisdom just because the average NPC score is 10.5)

    Even if you don't buy that, aging modifiers and stat bumps for levelling will bring the clerics' wisdom up. A fair number of clerics will have advanced to middle age which gives them a wisdom bonus.

    On a different subject, if you apply the same kind of population assumptions to the nearby goblin tribe, what does the constant skirmishing between the human village and goblin tribe look like? If they are subject to frequent raids that are frequently beaten back, it can't be raids by the goblin chief and his elite warriors, nor can it be any kind of scorched earth battling. What are the goblins after? How often do they get it and what are the typical casualty ratios between the men and goblins do you suppose? How many of those casualties die and how many are healed by the village priest/goblin shaman?

  • #68
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kamikaze Midget
    A god certainly doesn't wish people to become dependant on one man, ne? He's serving the community, but nothing says he needs to spiritually drain himself nightly just to serve the community...it's a "feed a man a fish/teach a man to fish" kind of scenario. Yes, I could heal you right now. But then you wouldn't learn your lesson ("do not play with Alchemist's fire!"), or you wouldn't learn how to heal yourself ("I may not be around forever"), or you would come to me every time you needed it, when others may deserve it more.

    It takes effort to get spells...these aren't free gifts from the gods, these are the reward for a pious supplication. On his "day off", he simply doesn't spend the effort to prepare his spells. Most priests perform mass only once a week, after all.

    There's a fair chance that the leaders of the community are Evil. If they are, and they have enough friends, you're in a situation where a god of wickedness could rule your daily activities, and you supplicate out of fear, not out of hope. If you DON'T, you die. If you DO, you live. Even if they're not evil, every village has it's witches, it's outcasts, it's wierd mad scientists...if you've only got a cleric or three, it's not hard to imagine that those three serve a god that most of the populous is terrified of.

    True, most people will at some point...those two spells are for emergencies like that. But I'd say it's probably much more efficient and exhausting to heal the militia than it is to bother usually with the commoners...which is why a lot of commoners, at some point, join the militia and gain some XP. It's got a health plan, after all.

    When your neighbors are getting attacked twice a day, your healing spells will probably go for them, not for the clumbsy farmer who walked off the cliff following his flock of lemmings.

    So magic can help against emergencies, but 'survival of the fittest' still applies; but some extremes of chance are reduced. And clerics are people, too.


    Most nights, at dusk, you either heal those who are near death from the nearest goblin attack, or you preside over their funeral and cast bless on the corpse (no need for goblins AND undead...).

    You create holy water. You perform a ritual to grant your brother luck (guidance, bless, aid, etc.). You maybe write a scroll if you have enough gold (that's why you're charging for the spell for most folks in the first place, after all. ). You don't bother touching the wierd stranger on the corner who stinks of alcohol....at least, most of the time. You instead set up a charity for them, while helping your Sunday Night poker game with a guidance.

    Clerics are people, too...there are so many things you could do with those powers, many of them still in your god's interest (if I'm richer after poker, I can make more scrolls!; If my brother has luck in the harvest, the town will be better fed!), without having to have everyone go frolick with lepers before bedtime.

    Though I'm sure frolicking with lepers happens before bedtime, too...but on special holidays, or when he's feeling very generous, or when his god's been being reticent about that healing magic recently....I don't imagine in most towns ever really having the problem with "Well, I've got this cure light I haven't used yet today..." Especially not with two attacks each day from monsters, and only two 1d8+2's to go around.
    No the god doesn't want dependence on one man, but does want a flock (again assuming a good deity here) so is going to mandate that his/her magic is used for the benefit of that flock. No the cleric won't drain himself every night, but he's also not likely to hold back every night. Remember this cleric has direct access to a god, he has truly "seen the light" and spends his life in the constant worship and service of his chosen deity... why on earth would he not drain himself to further his deity's goals - afterall he will be rewarded on the Planes. No not every day... but enough of them that most commoners within his parish will have had the benefit of his abilities. And as jmucchiello pointed out - mass once a week is a modern phenomenon... and also a Christian one... In a world where gods palpably exist, and with 20 deities, mass should be a lot more frequent.

    You're point on evil town leaders is well taken, and yes the cleric will use his magic for emergencies and won't squander it on twisted ankles, broken arms, etc. Instead he will use it on child birth, serious farming accidents, and the really big killer - disease. I can't see any cleric saying no to such an emergency because - well the goblins might raid tonight and one of the soldiers could die - when he's faced with someone dying right in front of them. Just as doctor's won't refuse to use their medicine cause 'something worse could turn up in a minute'.

    And I'm still not comfortable with this 2 attacks per day theory of yours. I realise that it's well founded on the basis of the rule books, but I don't think that it is a realistic interpretation of what the average village would face. I guess that is something that will depend on your world... If you've got high monster levels then yes this is possible, but only really probable on the fringes of your kingdom. Your average commoner that lives in an area that has been cultivated for years and is 'in the middle' of the country with less wild lands around for monsters to nest in, orcs to camp in etc. is going to have a much easier time... they just won't face your 2 attacks per day. By comparison your frontier area village very probably could face two encounters a day but in exchange the population is going to very quickly become more experienced, including your cleric (XP for keeping people alive may not be mandated in the rule books but is certainly valid IMO). So your healing goes up in power as well.

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  • #70
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    A reminder: if you're quoting someone else's long post, please just quote the relevant part instead of the whole thing. Thanks!
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