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

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.

Balderdash, we all know agriculture is impossible in Pennsylvania, what with all those white tail dear roaming about :)
 

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Chaosmancer

Legend
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...

I don't know. If we accept the premise that there are THAT many monsters like the Monster Manual suggests... I just can't see them being that rare. It beggars belief that all of these creatures have existed in sufficient numbers to have viable populations, and yet encountering ANY of them are rare. A specific one, sure, but ALL of them?

It only works if A) they are dying out or B) You don't use everything the Monster Manual and other resources provide.
 


Chaosmancer

Legend
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.

I guess you didn't read my post terribly carefully. To repeat myself:

"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."


So, yes, I know that it isn't a toolbox of everything that does exist, and the DM could choose to use fewer monsters. And yes, I do know that not all of these monsters are going to be common. However, the Monster Manual doesn't say anything "Only three of these monsters should be considered common, and only 50 should be used" it presents all of them. So, it is valid to use... all of them.

And that makes them more common than people tend to suppose.

I did not say "If you want your world to be so dangerous that it's crawling with monsters, farming and trade isn't safe" AT ALL. And considering I get accused of this EVERY SINGLE TIME, I'd appreciate if you didn't put words in my mouth that is inevitably going to lead to posters making accusations and mocking me. Because, yes, it happens EVERY SINGLE TIME I dare to point out that there are an awful lot of monsters in the book, and that the game seems to assume all of them exist.

Which is why I triple checked to make sure I said that this was not a baseline assumption, and that DMs could choose differently, and that it doesn't mean the game world is a death world that couldn't possibly support civilization. So, if you aren't willing to engage with an actual point and instead want to put words in my mouth, don't bother replying again.

And I'm sorry if this seems harsh and me lashing out, but again, this happens EVERY SINGLE TIME, no matter how many precautions I take to not get accused of the same thing over and over again.
 

Chaosmancer

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.)

I need to check more of the lore for Monster Hunter, it seems to be a very well thought out ecology from what little I've seen
 


Tonguez

A suffusion of yellow
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..
We Polynesians are just natural badass and all start at level 3 :)
(seriously I have uncles that use to swim with the local sharks, unfortunately they’re a lot rarer these days (both sharks and uncles:()

that said Sharks need to be respected but generally Human isnt on their menu - thats different in DnD where some monster entries clearly state that their preferred food is humanoid
 

I always vaguely pictured a typical game world as ‘core areas of farms and towns, frontier borders in some kingdoms are patrolled regularly by the army.’ I always thought that kingdoms would have larger permanent military forces than our world did because of the ‘monster problem’
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
that doesnt solve your monster problem though, since now you open your supply lines to be threatened by sahuagin and sea serpents
Sahuagin are smart and rational, and sea serpents are very rare. Otherwise, we couldn’t have pirate ships chasing us.
Nice comparison!c

That's essentially what rangers are for . . . . ranging the boundaries between civilization and the wilderness to protect the good folk of the kingdom . . . .
That, yeah, along with protecting civilization from the consequences of being reckless with nature, and help keep civilized folk from destroying the local wilderness.
Or C) you don't invoke naturalism to explain how they live and/or reproduce.
not all of them, at least. I don’t even use the dream theory for beholders. New beholders come into being because they’re abominations from beyond reality and sometimes they just happen.

Other monsters only live in one region, while others live in terrain that tends to be remote, and others aren’t uncommon to see at some point in your life, but attacks by them are quite rare.

The world is full of wild predatory animals. Most folks wouldnt bat an eye at someone who said they’ve never encountered any of them.
We Polynesians are just natural badass and all start at level 3 :)
(seriously I have uncles that use to swim with the local sharks, unfortunately they’re a lot rarer these days (both sharks and uncles:()
Condolences on the uncles. I’m glad that you had such cool people in your life.
that said Sharks need to be respected but generally Human isnt on their menu - thats different in DnD where some monster entries clearly state that their preferred food is humanoid
I basically treat most monstrosities the same way. The owlbear fills the same niche as the Kodiak bear, polar bear, grizzly, etc. and exhibit similar behaviors. Very dangerous, but if you avoid them they aren’t gonna hunt you down (unlike polar bears, who are jerks)
The dire Wolf is a kind of wolf, and it may be a bit meaner than other wolves, but it would still rather hunt a prey animal that doesn’t have tools than a human, and just doesn’t want you in its territory.
 

Silvercat Moonpaw

Adventurer
not all of them, at least. I don’t even use the dream theory for beholders. New beholders come into being because they’re abominations from beyond reality and sometimes they just happen.

Other monsters only live in one region, while others live in terrain that tends to be remote, and others aren’t uncommon to see at some point in your life, but attacks by them are quite rare.

The world is full of wild predatory animals. Most folks wouldnt bat an eye at someone who said they’ve never encountered any of them.
I suggested it because naturalism can get us into the "Is it okay to kill babies?" line of questioning.

Not having monsters be natural is only one solution. Just one that doesn't seem to be proposed much.
 

NotAYakk

Legend
I've been having a suspension of belief recently over a commodity that is buyable just about anywhere - bread.

Here's what got me stuck:

1. Bread is a cheap, freely available staple food.
2. You need huge fields outside the walls to make lots of bread.
3. Huge fields outside the walls will inevitably be attacked and overrun.
4. No more bread.

Assuming 1-3 to be true, how do you fix this problem while keeping bread generally cheap and plentiful?
Magic. Ley lines and nodes fuel ritual msgiv thst enables high intensity agriculture. Like beyond today.

These are geographically limited by natural resources (the ley lines and nodes). So we get small areas of farming with high yields, and dangerous wilderness nearby. This also prevents the strategy from covering the land in farms.

Urban areas and homes are also warded against dangers. The protection is limited, more like sanctuary (makes you less noticed/ignored) than a forcefield, but being inside your home at night is a real boon.

Other ways of dealing with it exist, like monster herding (dinos), low intensity hunter-gathering, etc.
 


Chaosmancer

Legend
We Polynesians are just natural badass and all start at level 3 :)
(seriously I have uncles that use to swim with the local sharks, unfortunately they’re a lot rarer these days (both sharks and uncles:()

that said Sharks need to be respected but generally Human isnt on their menu - thats different in DnD where some monster entries clearly state that their preferred food is humanoid

If I understand correctly, I am sorry for your loss. But yes, I agree with your second paragraph. Most animals aren't "man-eaters" by nature. Human's taste bad and we are generally more trouble than we are worth.

And yet quite a few monsters and foes in DnD consider people to be delicacies, which changes how they would interact with human populations.
 

Chaosmancer

Legend
I suggested it because naturalism can get us into the "Is it okay to kill babies?" line of questioning.

Not having monsters be natural is only one solution. Just one that doesn't seem to be proposed much.

It does come up as a solution, but generally it involves a retcon, because for certain monsters that question never really comes up. No one really questions the morality of killing Kruthik, because they are basically super-ants that eat everything and wreck the ecosystem.
 

Hussar

Legend
If I understand correctly, I am sorry for your loss. But yes, I agree with your second paragraph. Most animals aren't "man-eaters" by nature. Human's taste bad and we are generally more trouble than we are worth.

And yet quite a few monsters and foes in DnD consider people to be delicacies, which changes how they would interact with human populations.
By the same token though, we can't really point to how monsters see D&D people as food but, then ignore the other side where various monsters and whatnot would probably have no real problems getting along with people and would likely see the benefit of it.

Like I said, most D&D worlds don't really delve too deep into this. I was being a bit facetious mentioning Monster Hunter, but, really, I do think that that world is probably far closer to what an actual D&D world would look like. Far more that than Middle Earth. No offense to Tolkien, but, when it came to building an actual world, he didn't do a very good job of it. And, since he's often held up as the sort of default standard for fantasy, most of the fantasy worlds that have proceeded from there haven't really been terribly well grounded in actually trying to make a functioning world.

IOW, far too many English majors and nowhere near enough biology majors. :D It's kind of like how fantasy world maps are often completely borked. Again, far too many English majors and nowhere near enough geology majors.
 


Hussar

Legend
I was thinking about this thread while looking at some maps on Reddit and a thought did hit me. So many of the villages and whatnot in D&D would never really look like they are shown. Take Phandalin. Fantastic module. Great intro module to D&D and probably one of the better written modules of all time.

Now, look at the map:

robert-lazzaretti-mp004-ep2-townofphandalin-rev1.jpg


Here we have a fair sized town, with no other major settlements nearby. What's missing from this picture? The wall, such as it is, is broken and largely abandoned, from the looks of it. No fort of any kind, not even a simple motte and bailey arrangement. No defenses whatsoever. In a town in the middle of Sword Coast. :erm:

Now, look at this:

shutterstock_1264824607-800x800.jpg


That's Castelifollit de la Roca in Spain. THAT'S what a fantasy town would look like. You could hold back an army in this location with a few dozen troops. Ok, sure, maybe this is an extreme example, but, still, things like palisade walls, motte and bailey castles, that sort of thing, should be pretty much the standard for any D&D settlement. Everyone lives inside the walls and works during the daytime outside in the farms.
 

Ixal

Hero
I was thinking about this thread while looking at some maps on Reddit and a thought did hit me. So many of the villages and whatnot in D&D would never really look like they are shown. Take Phandalin. Fantastic module. Great intro module to D&D and probably one of the better written modules of all time.

Now, look at the map:

robert-lazzaretti-mp004-ep2-townofphandalin-rev1.jpg


Here we have a fair sized town, with no other major settlements nearby. What's missing from this picture? The wall, such as it is, is broken and largely abandoned, from the looks of it. No fort of any kind, not even a simple motte and bailey arrangement. No defenses whatsoever. In a town in the middle of Sword Coast. :erm:

Now, look at this:

shutterstock_1264824607-800x800.jpg


That's Castelifollit de la Roca in Spain. THAT'S what a fantasy town would look like. You could hold back an army in this location with a few dozen troops. Ok, sure, maybe this is an extreme example, but, still, things like palisade walls, motte and bailey castles, that sort of thing, should be pretty much the standard for any D&D settlement. Everyone lives inside the walls and works during the daytime outside in the farms.
Both Phandalin and Castelifollit have the same problem from a D&D perspective.
No enough farms.

Using Phandalin as example you need a lot of farmland to sustain it, far more than those few specks of farmland on the map. Even when you have to support a larger number of non-farmers.
Having a wall was also something villages did not have but were reserved to towns. In fact, having a church and a wall is what defined being a town in the first place. Although in D&D that can be different.

As for Castelifollit, that is not as defensible as you think. Part of one side has a cliff, but the other three sides are open and as you can see from the small trail to the right you can also get up from the bottom of the cliff to the village on a slope.
 

Chaosmancer

Legend
I was thinking about this thread while looking at some maps on Reddit and a thought did hit me. So many of the villages and whatnot in D&D would never really look like they are shown. Take Phandalin. Fantastic module. Great intro module to D&D and probably one of the better written modules of all time.

Now, look at the map:

robert-lazzaretti-mp004-ep2-townofphandalin-rev1.jpg


Here we have a fair sized town, with no other major settlements nearby. What's missing from this picture? The wall, such as it is, is broken and largely abandoned, from the looks of it. No fort of any kind, not even a simple motte and bailey arrangement. No defenses whatsoever. In a town in the middle of Sword Coast. :erm:

Now, look at this:

shutterstock_1264824607-800x800.jpg


That's Castelifollit de la Roca in Spain. THAT'S what a fantasy town would look like. You could hold back an army in this location with a few dozen troops. Ok, sure, maybe this is an extreme example, but, still, things like palisade walls, motte and bailey castles, that sort of thing, should be pretty much the standard for any D&D settlement. Everyone lives inside the walls and works during the daytime outside in the farms.

Careful, pointing out that places out near dangerous enemy forces (there are literally orcs scouting Phandalin to destroy it for the SECOND TIME) might have walls to defend them gets you accused of making everything a Death World where civilization cannot thrive.

But yeah, I agree with you. DnD maps do not really take into account the actual facts of the world, instead just copying the medieval maps of places that were deep in uncontested territory.
 

Hussar

Legend
Well, of course you can get to the village. Would be a really strange one if you couldn't. :D

But, on the scale of that map for Phandalin, it's not surprising they wouldn't show the farmland. The map does end some 30 yards from the edge of town. I would presume that there would be significant farms surrounding the town that aren't being shown. That's not really a problem, IMO. The lack of wall, anything remotely resembling a defensive line or frankly any defenses whatsoever is a much larger issue.

As for your notion that walls were reserved for towns, I would point to the rather large amount of motte and bailey arrangements all over England. Doing a bit of googling for something that looks like this:

fc9449b01c8b1ab652f6816dbfc508c2.jpg
 

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