D&D General Need wheat. Too dangerous. (worldbuilding)

Ixal

Hero
Well, sure, somewhere in the world there is a war going on pretty much all the time. That doesn't change the fact that for about 90% of the population of the world, they aren't involved in an armed conflict at any given time. And, yes, cities were enslaved. Sure. But, again, these are outliers.

To put it another way, how many times was London enslaved? London's a couple of thousand years old. Must have happened many times.

And, what kind of industrial center are you thinking about? What time period are we looking at? Again, looking at Japan, Japan was more or less self sufficient and trucking along for centuries.

Something I think people tend to forget is just how empty the medieval world would be. The population of all of England in the 11th century was what, 2 million? About 1/30th what it is now. That's a LOT of empty space. D&D worlds are freaking ginormous. The population density should be about what you see in Siberia or northern Canada.
London was sacked several times during the roman and viking times. And remember that is one of the most defensible cities out there, on an island, far away from any borders and too large to be raided by random viking bands.
Same for Japan. An island with usually very peaceful neighbours most of the time. Those are the exceptions, not the rule.

And I am not talking about globally, even regionally conflict was constant be it wars, rebellions or just raiding.
The time after WW2 till now was the most peaceful time (western/central) Europe ever experienced in recorded history.

The industry I was thinking of was large iron smelting operations. From the numbers I have seen 1 ton of iron goods required 100 tons of wood which need to be locally sourced because bulk transportation is limited unless you find a fantasy solution for it or are on the coast. So even when the total requirements for wood can be balanced with the total forest of the entire country to be sustainable, the wood is required in very few areas and locally a give and take forestry does not allow for industry.


During the ancient and medieval era there was significant deforestation and Europe was nearly stripped of most forests in the span of a few centuries, forests only really recovering in times of catastrophic loss of life which freed up farmland to be overgrown.
 
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Chaosmancer

Legend
Odds definitely are not that we killed them off. Odds are that changes in climate did.

But like you say we don’t know.

I agree that it should be up to individual dms. But it would be nice if we at least got a couple of examples in the published settings instead of every setting presenting a single view of how species interact.

No one is talking about what you do in your game and I have no idea why you are getting defensive about it.

I think this is the larger point. When I read the Mordenkainen entry on elves... I get little or nothing about how they interact with non-elves. Let alone with the wider world.

DnD doesn't really discuss the monsters they put in it as part of the world, they just sort of... appear. A large variety of monsters just wander the world, find caves to live in, and attack people, but rarely interact with each other. I don't think I want a full monster ecology series, a lot of that information got to be too much, I don't need special skin cells to scientifically explain how a Displacer Beast works... but I'd like a setting where the monsters felt more like part of the setting instead of "the stuff over there"
 

nevin

Hero
I think the frequency of item 3 is the real sticking point. If the city in question has enough raiding or monster attack events to make yearly agriculture not feasible, then the city is either currently sinking into famine, or has another source of food.

Since massive famine and starvation aren't the baseline for most settings, I think we have to assume that monster attacks and raiding on farms are a relatively infrequent occurrence. The whole reason an adventurer might get called into looking into those events is because they've become disruptive enough to threaten livelihoods.

I was not implying that goblins are eating wheat. I was implying that goblins are eating farmers.
Again unless attacks are constant farmers should be able to farm. post scouts warning pyres whatever. If they are so constant they cant farm then city needs trade, or support or it dies. No other real option. unless its an excessive number of attacks, its no different than cavemen hunting and avoiding bears and cats or polynesian fisherman trying to avoid big sharks. People are remarkably resilient they'll find a way or find another plce.
 


Dire Bare

Legend
In a standard fantasy world . . . . farmers are not in constant danger of being eaten by monsters.

The occasional monster is a threat, just as is the occasional bandit or natural disaster. But monster attacks are not happening on a regular basis.

We sometimes view fantasy world-building from the lens of the D&D play table . . . . as player characters, we focus on the monster slaying, we rarely interact with farmers unless we're trying to save them from a rampaging monster! It can skew perceptions.

It's the same world-building issue that sees PC classes become common NPCs in the world, with wizards on every corner, selling "rare" magic items in shops in the market of every town . . . . or clerical healing and resurrection magic seen as commonplace . . . .

Now, if you want to build a world with common and constant monster attacks . . . . go for it! There are examples in the literature, for sure.

I just stumbled back on Matt Forbeck's Shotguns & Sorcery setting, which builds a world overrun by the undead, with those left alive retreating to a single city protected by a dragon . . . . this world is overrun by monsters! If I remember correctly . . . the inhabitants of the last city send out armed foraging parties for food and resources, grow crops within the city walls, sometimes utilizing D&D magic to maximize gains. It's a cool setting, but not your typical D&D campaign or fantasy world.
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
I think this is the larger point. When I read the Mordenkainen entry on elves... I get little or nothing about how they interact with non-elves. Let alone with the wider world.

DnD doesn't really discuss the monsters they put in it as part of the world, they just sort of... appear. A large variety of monsters just wander the world, find caves to live in, and attack people, but rarely interact with each other. I don't think I want a full monster ecology series, a lot of that information got to be too much, I don't need special skin cells to scientifically explain how a Displacer Beast works... but I'd like a setting where the monsters felt more like part of the setting instead of "the stuff over there"
this is why I recommend the 2nd edition monster manual. Each monster/creature had an "ecology" section. It was really useful.
 

MattW

Explorer
Imperial Rome imported vast quantities of grain from Egypt. Maybe your cities have a similar arrangement: trading partners (or colonies?) in safe agricultural areas.
 

Tonguez

A suffusion of yellow
Imperial Rome imported vast quantities of grain from Egypt. Maybe your cities have a similar arrangement: trading partners (or colonies?) in safe agricultural areas.
that doesnt solve your monster problem though, since now you open your supply lines to be threatened by sahuagin and sea serpents
 

I think this is the larger point. When I read the Mordenkainen entry on elves... I get little or nothing about how they interact with non-elves. Let alone with the wider world.

DnD doesn't really discuss the monsters they put in it as part of the world, they just sort of... appear. A large variety of monsters just wander the world, find caves to live in, and attack people, but rarely interact with each other. I don't think I want a full monster ecology series, a lot of that information got to be too much, I don't need special skin cells to scientifically explain how a Displacer Beast works... but I'd like a setting where the monsters felt more like part of the setting instead of "the stuff over there"

What do you thin about the ecology entries in the old 2E Monster Manual? It has been a while since I've read them, but seem to remember them getting more into the monster's place in the world.

I suppose one challenge here too is most monsters are general purpose for all worlds (unless it is an entry for a specific setting). So that might make it harder to fit them to a world.

One technique I have found useful for world building in this respect, and I mainly use it for intelligent creatures with societies, not quite as much for monsters that are more animal-like (though you could use it for them as well), is I photocopy a map of my world (usually about 10 times, but could be more or less), then I treat each page as an age or era before the present day, and track the movement, migration, settlement, expansions, etc of all the peoples and races. My main interest is stuff like dwarves, elves, humans, orcs, ogres, etc. But I also divide those group by language and chart the movement too (which comes in handy for things like naming conventions of locations later on). I find this gives me a better sense of where the orcs are, where the ogres are. I may well still have orc hill tribes that are a threat to cities and such (usually will have human hill tribes too), but I also tend to have more melting pots for cities, where there is a big orc population living in this capital, or a large ogre population in this city.
 

that doesnt solve your monster problem though, since now you open your supply lines to be threatened by sahuagin and sea serpents

The romans had to deal with things like bandits, storms and pirates. If Sahuagin and Sea Serpents are sinking ships or attacking ships at about the same rate, it all kind of washes out in the end
 

Dire Bare

Legend
that doesnt solve your monster problem though, since now you open your supply lines to be threatened by sahuagin and sea serpents
It's a lot easier to guard a caravan or merchant ship than an agricultural region.

In the real world, caravans or ships that traveled through dangerous regions, where bandit attacks were likely, traveled with armed guards . . . or risked being attacked.

It would be no different if your bandits are sahuagin or the occasional sea monster. And these types of attacks, again, are not common in a standard fantasy setting.
 

Argyle King

Legend
I'm not sure if this helps at all, but...

Living in rural Pennsylvania, I'm aware that many farmers here struggle against an overabundance of white tail deer. So much so that extra hunting tags are issued to help cull the deer population (and cut down on damage to crops).

It's not sexy, but, in a D&D world, there may be adventures in which the conflict isn't saving the world but protecting Farmer Joe's fields from a creature so that the nearby city (which relies on food from Farmer Joe) doesn't starve this coming winter.
 

Dire Bare

Legend
I'm not sure if this helps at all, but...

Living in rural Pennsylvania, I'm aware that many farmers here struggle against an overabundance of white tail deer. So much so that extra hunting tags are issued to help cull the deer population (and cut down on damage to crops).

It's not sexy, but, in a D&D world, there may be adventures in which the conflict isn't saving the world but protecting Farmer Joe's fields from a creature so that the nearby city (which relies on food from Farmer Joe) doesn't starve this coming winter.
Nice comparison!

That's essentially what rangers are for . . . . ranging the boundaries between civilization and the wilderness to protect the good folk of the kingdom . . . .
 

Chaosmancer

Legend
In a standard fantasy world . . . . farmers are not in constant danger of being eaten by monsters.

The occasional monster is a threat, just as is the occasional bandit or natural disaster. But monster attacks are not happening on a regular basis.

We sometimes view fantasy world-building from the lens of the D&D play table . . . . as player characters, we focus on the monster slaying, we rarely interact with farmers unless we're trying to save them from a rampaging monster! It can skew perceptions.

It's the same world-building issue that sees PC classes become common NPCs in the world, with wizards on every corner, selling "rare" magic items in shops in the market of every town . . . . or clerical healing and resurrection magic seen as commonplace . . . .

Now, if you want to build a world with common and constant monster attacks . . . . go for it! There are examples in the literature, for sure.

I just stumbled back on Matt Forbeck's Shotguns & Sorcery setting, which builds a world overrun by the undead, with those left alive retreating to a single city protected by a dragon . . . . this world is overrun by monsters! If I remember correctly . . . the inhabitants of the last city send out armed foraging parties for food and resources, grow crops within the city walls, sometimes utilizing D&D magic to maximize gains. It's a cool setting, but not your typical D&D campaign or fantasy world.

I understand this view, but I always take it with a grain of salt, because when you look at the Monster Manual... that's just too many things.

Just to give a rough example, @nevin mentions that the Polynesian people fish in shark infested waters. That is impressive, because we know that sharks are a dangerous threat.

But oceans in DnD have:

Giant Crabs
Merfolk
Tritons
Sea Elves
Giant Seahorses
Sharks
Giant Sharks
Sahuagin
Giant Octopus
Sea Spawn
Merrow
Plesiosaurus
Sea Hags
Deep Scions
Killer Whales
Kraken Priests
Water Elementals
Dragons
Sea Serpents
Dragon Turtles
Marid
Storm Giants
Krakens
Leviathans


And there used to be more, so you can pull from older editions as well for even more ocean or coastal threats. Now, obviously, it isn't going to be all of these things all of the time... but a lot of these things have large populations, and any of them could pose a major problem for a fishing village.


Now turn your gaze towards "forest monsters" or "surface cave-dwelling monsters" and these numbers swell. And, again obviously, a DM doesn't have to use all of these, but all of them do exist somewhere in most DnD worlds, and while in the real world something like a tiger can't really threaten a village or city too greatly... that's doesn't hold true for giants or a troll which could actually kill an entire village.
 

BookTenTiger

He / Him
I understand this view, but I always take it with a grain of salt, because when you look at the Monster Manual... that's just too many things.

Just to give a rough example, @nevin mentions that the Polynesian people fish in shark infested waters. That is impressive, because we know that sharks are a dangerous threat.

But oceans in DnD have:

Giant Crabs
Merfolk
Tritons
Sea Elves
Giant Seahorses
Sharks
Giant Sharks
Sahuagin
Giant Octopus
Sea Spawn
Merrow
Plesiosaurus
Sea Hags
Deep Scions
Killer Whales
Kraken Priests
Water Elementals
Dragons
Sea Serpents
Dragon Turtles
Marid
Storm Giants
Krakens
Leviathans


And there used to be more, so you can pull from older editions as well for even more ocean or coastal threats. Now, obviously, it isn't going to be all of these things all of the time... but a lot of these things have large populations, and any of them could pose a major problem for a fishing village.


Now turn your gaze towards "forest monsters" or "surface cave-dwelling monsters" and these numbers swell. And, again obviously, a DM doesn't have to use all of these, but all of them do exist somewhere in most DnD worlds, and while in the real world something like a tiger can't really threaten a village or city too greatly... that's doesn't hold true for giants or a troll which could actually kill an entire village.
To me the idea of all these monsters roaming around the wilderness is more Pokemon than D&D.

Your average villager doesn't encounter monsters. When they do, it's an adventure hook for the characters.

The fishing village knows of the sea serpent near the big cave. They either avoid the cave, or bring a sacrifice to appease the serpent.

One day the serpent is charmed by some kuo toa priests, and this is when the adventure begins...
 

Dire Bare

Legend
I understand this view, but I always take it with a grain of salt, because when you look at the Monster Manual... that's just too many things.

Just to give a rough example, @nevin mentions that the Polynesian people fish in shark infested waters. That is impressive, because we know that sharks are a dangerous threat.

But oceans in DnD have:

Giant Crabs
Merfolk
Tritons
Sea Elves
Giant Seahorses
Sharks
Giant Sharks
Sahuagin
Giant Octopus
Sea Spawn
Merrow
Plesiosaurus
Sea Hags
Deep Scions
Killer Whales
Kraken Priests
Water Elementals
Dragons
Sea Serpents
Dragon Turtles
Marid
Storm Giants
Krakens
Leviathans


And there used to be more, so you can pull from older editions as well for even more ocean or coastal threats. Now, obviously, it isn't going to be all of these things all of the time... but a lot of these things have large populations, and any of them could pose a major problem for a fishing village.


Now turn your gaze towards "forest monsters" or "surface cave-dwelling monsters" and these numbers swell. And, again obviously, a DM doesn't have to use all of these, but all of them do exist somewhere in most DnD worlds, and while in the real world something like a tiger can't really threaten a village or city too greatly... that's doesn't hold true for giants or a troll which could actually kill an entire village.
The D&D Monster Manual isn't a catalog of all the creatures that DO exist in any given fantasy world, it is a toolbox of creatures that MIGHT exist in your fantasy world. And, that doesn't make any of those creatures common occurrences.

If you want your world to be so dangerous that it's crawling with monsters, farming and trade isn't safe . . . . go for it, that can be cool, but . . . . it's not the baseline.
 

UngainlyTitan

Legend
Supporter
I understand this view, but I always take it with a grain of salt, because when you look at the Monster Manual... that's just too many things.

Just to give a rough example, @nevin mentions that the Polynesian people fish in shark infested waters. That is impressive, because we know that sharks are a dangerous threat.

But oceans in DnD have:

Giant Crabs
Merfolk
Tritons
Sea Elves
Giant Seahorses
Sharks
Giant Sharks
Sahuagin
Giant Octopus
Sea Spawn
Merrow
Plesiosaurus
Sea Hags
Deep Scions
Killer Whales
Kraken Priests
Water Elementals
Dragons
Sea Serpents
Dragon Turtles
Marid
Storm Giants
Krakens
Leviathans


And there used to be more, so you can pull from older editions as well for even more ocean or coastal threats. Now, obviously, it isn't going to be all of these things all of the time... but a lot of these things have large populations, and any of them could pose a major problem for a fishing village.


Now turn your gaze towards "forest monsters" or "surface cave-dwelling monsters" and these numbers swell. And, again obviously, a DM doesn't have to use all of these, but all of them do exist somewhere in most DnD worlds, and while in the real world something like a tiger can't really threaten a village or city too greatly... that's doesn't hold true for giants or a troll which could actually kill an entire village.
This is the fundamental world building problem in D&D. There are too many monster, to many predators and the cities do not have enough hinterland to support them, most of the Kingdoms cannot secure their borders. You can ignore it, or world build with a curated subsection of the monsters. Or, perhaps, treat the more rarer or exotic monsters as one offs, explained by magic.
 

Silvercat Moonpaw

Adventurer
I understand this view, but I always take it with a grain of salt, because when you look at the Monster Manual... that's just too many things.
In Full Monster Manual D&D, "regular people" should be incredibly badass, like your average peasant should look like they stepped out of Monster Hunter.

(Obviously this will go against the tastes of many, which I respect. But it's kind of fun to imagine a world where everyone has had their challenge rating boosted.)
 

cbwjm

Legend
In Full Monster Manual D&D, "regular people" should be incredibly badass, like your average peasant should look like they stepped out of Monster Hunter.

(Obviously this will go against the tastes of many, which I respect. But it's kind of fun to imagine a world where everyone has had their challenge rating boosted.)
This is pretty much how I imagine everyone living in Eternia or Masters of the Universe. All of them just incredibly muscled and capable of handling themselves in a fight.
 

Tonguez

A suffusion of yellow
It's a lot easier to guard a caravan or merchant ship than an agricultural region.

In the real world, caravans or ships that traveled through dangerous regions, where bandit attacks were likely, traveled with armed guards . . . or risked being attacked.

It would be no different if your bandits are sahuagin or the occasional sea monster. And these types of attacks, again, are not common in a standard fantasy setting.

I'm not sure how pulling a group of guards is easier than having a settled population of them in your town, especially as I am thinking that in DnD world sea monsters and sahuagin attacks are in addition to the regular storms, pirates and bandits - the dangers of DnD world are amplified compared to real earth. Is strange you think that attacks arent that common in standard fantasy.
Animal attacks were common once, as were bandits and pirates. In a world of orc raids, marauding gnolls, hungry ankhegs and mad necromancers they would be common enough that the arrival of armed mercenaries wandering from village to village seeking adventure, isnt at all unusual.

This is the fundamental world building problem in D&D. There are too many monster, to many predators and the cities do not have enough hinterland to support them, most of the Kingdoms cannot secure their borders. You can ignore it, or world build with a curated subsection of the monsters. Or, perhaps, treat the more rarer or exotic monsters as one offs, explained by magic.
Absolutely this, monsters need to be curated and that is one of the best things about the Birthright setting - monsters were unique. There was only one Kraken, only one Hydra, one Chimaera, one Monstrous Boar, they constitute mythic legendary encounters.
 

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