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

Micah Sweet

Legend
This has long been one interpretation of Ravenloft. Because the dark powers create whole domains in an instant, populated with people and ancient ruins, yet it’s history only goes back centuries, that has been a viable contention (typically in older Ravenlift products the tendency is to ask questions and not answer them: something I think works better than answering them). Personally I am not as into the empty shell thing. It is pretty in keeping with existing lore and speculation in the books though.
See I feel this was made explicit so that the PC wouldn't become invested in NPCs who lacked narrative weight and were mostly there to make the place look populated and provide monster fodder. I know this was an issue in old Ravenloft as well, but at least in Domains of Dread and the White Wolf products (where they intended the setting to be more than Weekend in Hell) an effort was made for the setting to be somewhat sensible. That's always been my favorite Ravenloft.
 

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Micah Sweet

Legend
I get this complaint with a setting like HARN, but never understood it with ravenloft. Also the map has plenty of space for implied farmland. If you look at the maps of settlements many of them have farmland and homesteads and farms while not keyed on the map, are I think presumed to exist. But fundamentally it is a gothic world of dreams and nightmares. Counting grain to make sure the world building achieved some kind of realism just isn’t the genre it belongs to. People can prefer that, they can like it. Some later books veered into (though not by a lot, when you consider that the WW books for example stated that Ravenlift doesn’t have fixed distance (a journey that takes 1 day on Thursday may take 5 on Sunday because the labs is always changing). Even DoD seemed more about creating consistency in terms of tech levels and language—-and bringing in more dark fantasy (but you could still have a domain in the Stone Age next to one in the Renaissance period)
If you put a little effort in, imagination can fill in the blanks. When you say straight out that nothing makes sense, that becomes harder.
 

If you put a little effort in, imagination can fill in the blanks. When you say straight out that nothing makes sense, that becomes harder.

Sure. I think whether for realism or for a deeper setting, the original structure of Ravenloft (well original in the black box era, when it became a full setting) was to present things in a somewhat bare bones fashion with the understanding that the blanks were populated with more material. I am not saying put in no effort, and say it doesn't make sense, then call it a day. I am saying the original setting always struck me as more dreamlike, as not placing particular emphasis on things like where the grain comes from. I do think the people who populate it should feel like full realized characters though. Because I just don't like treating them as vacuous constructs (even if they are constructed by the dark powers, I find it more interesting that they'd be complete people). So in no way here am I saying put in no effort. Most of the fun in Ravenloft is taking that bare bones foundation and making it your own (this is why the WW stuff never really appealed to me, it was almost too fleshed out, and in directions that I just never imagined the setting going personally). The question is just what direction that effort should go. My attention was generally directed more towards things like creating interesting locations, villains, etc. I don't get as deep into realistic world building in Ravenloft the way I would in a more grounded setting (because the dark powers themselves can explain a lot of stuff that exists on the periphery of logic).
 

See I feel this was made explicit so that the PC wouldn't become invested in NPCs who lacked narrative weight and were mostly there to make the place look populated and provide monster fodder. I know this was an issue in old Ravenloft as well, but at least in Domains of Dread and the White Wolf products (where they intended the setting to be more than Weekend in Hell) an effort was made for the setting to be somewhat sensible. That's always been my favorite Ravenloft.

I think originally it was just speculated as part of a wider sense of mystery (the old books just asked questions to give you the sense that the dark powers were fathomless). I can't comment on the CoS reasoning, but personally I tend to agree that I just don't enjoy NPCs who are designed this way. I liked how in the old ravenloft modules and novels people felt like they were fully fleshed out. And this is a perfectly valid preference if you want Ravenloft that is more sensible. There has always been a back and forth on that, a tension between having Ravenloft be more out of time, and dreamlike, and more grounded. At the same time, I think the WW book was odd in that it leaned heavily into many of the dreamlike qualities (like the distance thing I mentioned). While black box was intended more as a weekend in hell, I actually ran it as a full campaign. Having it be dreamlike doesn't mean it needs to be shallow or thin. It was a full world to me, just not one grounded in things like the fine details of trade and agriculture (and that is stuff I have a deep interest in otherwise: one of my favorite books is the Wheels of Commerce). But for a gothic setting, I really like something that feels ore Hammer Film and more dreamlike (which I think the black box nailed).
 

NotAYakk

Legend
Not in the English language. Town and village are defined by population.
In England, "city" status was something granted by the crown and tied to having a Cathedral.

Town Definition and Example​


Town comes from an Old English word that referred to a walled or fenced place, such as a farm, village, or courtyard.

So, in English, calling large villages "Town"s comes from "a walled village".

Before you disagree with someone about the origin of words, you might want to google "origin of town". It wasn't hard to find.

In the modern day, Town and Village are defined by population in most spots. So is City. But the origin of the terms in English are not the same as how they are used today.
 

Faolyn

(she/her)
Yeah making most of the Ravenloft population hollow shades derived from Strahds curse was probably a sound idea to go with
Yeah, that took me a while to get used to. It reminded me of discussions from 2e Ravenloft boards, where people debated if it was evil to kill random people because they were just creations of the Mists and not "real" people.
 

Faolyn

(she/her)
Mostly we were talking about a lack of farmland to feed its population. Of course, since much of the population is fake now, maybe they dont need to eat.
No, they actually do need to eat. The people are real, they just lack souls and as a result, have very limited emotions; they mostly feel fear, anger, and sorrow. It also means they can't be raised from the dead properly, but that's more of a secondary effect.
 

Ixal

Hero
Greenfields in STK was entirely devoted to farming. But it was like... 25-50 miles away from Waterdeep, who was their largest customer. I don't know. It really doesn't make sense. I'm with the OP.
If there is a waterway between them like a river it might work in addition to the villages around Waterdeep. As only source of food? No way. Why would Waterdeep not be surrounded by farms like every other city in existence? Its much more practical.
Same goes if there is no river connection. Why walk 30 miles to your farms when instead you can have them on your doorstep. And bulk transport of goods without water before the era of combustion was hard and expensive. Especially food as everything you can use to pull the wagons with food (unless you are so high magic to use undead or golems) also needs to eat said food.

The other problem with Goldenfields (I think you mean that) is that a single settlement is supposed to supply multiple cities with food which is just not possible. Unless there is some amazing supermagical fertility enchantment there which quintuples the yield you get a single community, even with 5000 farmers all working their own plots, can't produce so much food that, after taking whatever they need to survive themselves, it can support even a single city as large at Waterdeep.

But Waterdeep is a bad example anyway as the population of 2 million for the area is just nuts and there is no way to feed so many people on such a small space without modern agriculture or an entire empire funneling their food reserves to you.
 
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Tonguez

A suffusion of yellow
If there is a waterway between them like a river it might work in addition to the villages around Waterdeep. As only source of food? No way. Why would Waterdeep not be surrounded by farms like every other city in existence? Its much more practical.
Same goes if there is no river connection. Why walk 30 miles to your farms when instead you can have them on your doorstep. And bulk transport of goods without water before the era of combustion was hard and expensive. Especially food as everything you can use to pull the wagons with food (unless you are so high magic to use undead or golems) also needs to eat said food.

The other problem with Goldenfields (I think you mean that) is that a single settlement is supposed to supply multiple cities with food which is just not possible. Unless there is some amazing supermagical fertility enchantment there which quintuples the yield you get a single community, even with 5000 farmers all working their own plots, can't produce so much food that, after taking whatever they need to survive themselves, it can support even a single city as large at Waterdeep.

But Waterdeep is a bad example anyway as the population of 2 million for the area is just nuts and there is no way to feed so many people on such a small space without modern agriculture.
Greenfields is an area north of Amn, different from Goldenfields.
iirc Greenfields is magically super fertile so grows an abundance of crops which they export.
I agree making it the only source of food for Waterdeep is silly, but Waterdeep is a huge metropolis and an obvious market for excess produce
 

Ixal

Hero
Greenfields is an area north of Amn, different from Goldenfields.
iirc Greenfields is magically super fertile so grows an abundance of crops which they export.
I agree making it the only source of food for Waterdeep is silly, but Waterdeep is a huge metropolis and an obvious market for excess produce
Greenfields supplying Waterdeep is questionable at best. Most of Greenfields is landlocked (>100 miles from the coast or a river) and trasporting grain over long distances is extremely inefficient. The nothern part can get to a river which leads to Baldurs Gate which would be a very good place to sell.
And from the grain that reaches the cost and is not sold in Baldurs Gate much would probably go to the closer Athkatla.

Only a fraction would reach Waterdeep and cost quite a lot.
Some texts about grain trade
And the problems of moving bulk goods over land (although mostly concerned about armies, but its about a raid for grain)
 
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Faolyn

(she/her)
Greenfields supplying Waterdeep is questionable at best. Most of Greenfields is landlocked (>100 miles from the coast or a river) and trasporting grain over long distances is extremely inefficient. The nothern part can get to a river which leads to Baldurs Gate which would be a very good place to sell.
And from the grain that reaches the cost and is not sold in Baldurs Gate much would probably go to the closer Athkatla.
For what it's worth, waaay back when they published Aurora's Whole Realms Catalogue, Aurora said that she transported things around the world via teleportation. The Realms are so high-magic that Greenfields may actually have a permanent teleportation circle that links to their main buyer in Waterdeep.
 

Ixal

Hero
For what it's worth, waaay back when they published Aurora's Whole Realms Catalogue, Aurora said that she transported things around the world via teleportation. The Realms are so high-magic that Greenfields may actually have a permanent teleportation circle that links to their main buyer in Waterdeep.
If you really play that high level it would work. Although you still need to get all the grain to the place with the circle (the area is huge on maps). But when you already have teleportation circles, why not also have airships for collecting it...

Of course when everything is linked it would also allow PCs to easily and cheaply teleport around the FR.
 

Faolyn

(she/her)
If you really play that high level it would work. Although you still need to get all the grain to the place with the circle (the area is huge on maps). But when you already have teleportation circles, why not also have airships for collecting it...

Of course when everything is linked it would also allow PCs to easily and cheaply teleport around the FR.
I would imagine that a major town in the center of Greenfields would have the circle, and it would only take at most a couple of days for outlying villages and farms to get their grain to that town. And I would also imagine that whoever controls the circle would charge quite a bit of money for adventurers to use it.

If, of course, it uses teleportation circles at all.
 

Al2O3

Explorer
Greenfields is an area north of Amn, different from Goldenfields.
iirc Greenfields is magically super fertile so grows an abundance of crops which they export.
I agree making it the only source of food for Waterdeep is silly, but Waterdeep is a huge metropolis and an obvious market for excess produce
Goldenfields is the one that pays a big role in Storm King's Thunder. And it is a >20 square mile large farm-temple of Chauntea located close to the rivers closest to Waterdeep. It is a safe bet that the area is as fertile as the goddess of farming and fertility can make it.

Unfortunately there is a statement in the adventure that the food is brought to Waterdeep by caravan...
 

UngainlyTitan

Legend
Supporter
Include "food production and transportation" as yet another sign that Forgotten Realms was designed by modern Americans with little other knowledge of history.
I do not think that is fair to say that they knew no history. I suspect that they knew quite a bit but that it was mostly the history of politics and battles. That is the way history has been taught. Not enough attention to the underlying stuff that drives the politics and battles.
 

Silvercat Moonpaw

Adventurer
I do not think that is fair to say that they knew no history. I suspect that they knew quite a bit but that it was mostly the history of politics and battles. That is the way history has been taught. Not enough attention to the underlying stuff that drives the politics and battles.
My bad: I couldn't figure out how to express what they didn't know.
 

Ixal

Hero
Goldenfields is the one that pays a big role in Storm King's Thunder. And it is a >20 square mile large farm-temple of Chauntea located close to the rivers closest to Waterdeep. It is a safe bet that the area is as fertile as the goddess of farming and fertility can make it.

Unfortunately there is a statement in the adventure that the food is brought to Waterdeep by caravan...
According to medieval census data one square mile could feed 180 to 200 people (that includes the farmers). So even with a lot of blessings 20 square miles are awfully small to supply even the core city of Waterdeep (200k) let alone the region with its ludicrous 2 million.
 


Include "food production and transportation" as yet another sign that Forgotten Realms was designed by modern Americans with little other knowledge of history.
The Forgotten Realms was created by an 8 year old American boy. At least that is when Ed wrote his first stories of it. He created the D&D setting at age 16 in 1975.

I think perhaps you give anyone too much credit for being able to produce a viable world that accounted for agriculture, commerce, etc at that age and in those years prior to the internet and the mass availability of knowledge that would allow such today. I know its fun to poke at Americans, but really, I don't think what you want could have been done by any child the world over in those years.

(And no, I'm not a fan of the Realms, but I do often run games set there because it is readily available and good enough setting for the feel that interests me.)
 

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