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

Steampunkette

Rules Tinkerer and Freelance Writer
Supporter
1 Acres for a family of 4 sounds rather on the low side assuming a European diet. If anything goes wrong they will instantly starve and even in the normal years won't have that much of a buffer.

One thing to remember though that long lasting sieges only worked because cities were supplied from the outside which also happened at Candia/Heraklion. They didn't have protected farms within the walls which could supply their population. No city has.
Also because without refrigeration you can't keep long lasting supply anyway.

Donut cities do not really work as the demand for fields vastly outstrips the ability of cities to encircle them. Protecting every field with walls is possible but very expensive. And without defenders a wall is useless.
1: I -specified- that it would be dependent on the diet, soil quality, availability of water, and loss of crop to pest and pestilence... and then talked a bunch about river valleys where 1 acre would be more than enough particularly when you include growing seasons. So you turned around and just went "European Diet"... What the heck, Ixal? Also there is no "European Diet". Diet was -massively- dependent on class, region, season, and political limitation.

You ignored pretty much everything I was saying in order to make it narrowly Eurocentric. Why?

2: Yes. That's why I specified that the supplies from the -French- and the -Smugglers- combined with what they grew in the city itself (Mostly in private gardens to supplement the bulk coming in as grain). I also specified that it was the longest siege in history and wasn't really representative of your typical siege which lasted a year or two, for which a given city would likely have enough long-term goods inside the city. 'Cause you didn't need refrigeration to keep grain and flour shelf-stable for years on end. You throw flour in a sealed barrel in a dark room under the castle and it'll last 2-3 years unless something happens to break the seal.

You ignored pretty much everything I said on the topic in order to try and make a point that I already made. Why?

3: Of course donut cities don't really work. There's a reason we never bothered with them. However we don't live in a magical fantasy world where constant violence and monster attacks target farms, and so don't need to do ridiculous things like having massive curtain walls with towers and armed guards.

That said, the needs of the populace are always going to be dependent on the same things I said, before. In a particularly warm and wet river delta it would be possible to create a donut city, for a long while... and when the population starts outstripping the inner fields, make outer fields surrounded by a new ring of "Donut City" creating a series of "Dyson Towns" surrounding the harvest. And because of the square cube law, each ring growing outward would both produce exponentially more food and require exponentially more people and housing to fully surround it. So you'd wind up with an ever thinning outer ring of people with either narrower and narrower fields between the concentric rings of your donut city, OR you'd have fields of similar size and just SO MUCH EXCESS that you can ship away.

In any case: It was a suggestion of a way to protect against fantastical threats and has very little impact on real world city-planning or metropolitan design.

Really weird that you quoted my post, ignored much of what it said, and then tried to correct me on it all...
 

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Steampunkette

Rules Tinkerer and Freelance Writer
Supporter
Here's another fun thing: Wheat wasn't the primary crop for Bread in the world for most of history.

Barley was. Barley is what they were growing in Mesopotamia when the whole Agriculture thing became a big deal.

Barley has a 2 month turnaround. And an approximate yield of 60 bushels per acre for a decent growing climate. A Bushel is 48 pounds. One acre provides 2,880lbs of barley in a decent grow, 40 bushels in a bad harvest (1,920lbs). In a particularly nice growing climate 80+ bushels is a good harvest. 3,840lbs/acre.

10 ounces makes a loaf of barley bread. There's 16 in a pound. So for a good harvest that's 61,440 ounces of barley or 6,144 loaves of bread for that 2 month period. A Family of 4 CANNOT EAT that much bread in that period of time. If each of them gets a loaf a day to themselves that's still 5,904 loaves just... sitting there. (4,608 loaves in a decent harvest, 3,072 from a bad harvest)

Which is why some of that Acre isn't Barley. Instead it's got a nice chicken coop for eggs. A few goats for milk. And guess what they're eating...? If you guessed "Barley" you're right! Take some more of that Barley space out to throw in lettuce, cucumbers, beans, maybe a couple of Date Trees... turnips, perhaps?

Yeah... 1 Acre is more than enough to sustain a family of 4, depending on their diet, growing season, soil quantity, and water availability...

(Especially if you mix some of that excess barley with hops, some honey, and a fermentation period)
 




Cadence

Legend
Supporter
Yeah... 1 Acre is more than enough to sustain a family of 4, depending on their diet, growing season, soil quantity, and water availability...

(Especially if you mix some of that excess barley with hops, some honey, and a fermentation period)

<Thank you for your posts, and feel free not to effort out answers and to tell me to google things when I finish grading>

Will they want more to rotate crops/leave things fallow? Or were there three sisters equivalents in Europe?

Does it scale straight up for wanting a group of farmers to be able to support dedicated non-farmers?

Are there real world examples of subsistence farmers having a family of 4 instead of a lot more (assuming their wasn't an epidemic or three sweeping through)?

(As an aside, I can't believe it took me until this year to learn about cenotes in the Yucatan. I wonder what other real world types of water sources there are that I never thought of, and what others there would be in a fantasy world, and what kind of agriculture that could open up).
 



Micah Sweet

Legend
Oh no! Fewer grell, Lovecraft ripoffs, try-hard attempts to recreate the githyanki, grey angry things that attack on sight and have the special power of 'HP', and walking blocks of listed spells!

And this is really weird in the context of making fun of the statblock that speciated monsters so they had multiple examples of their kind to represent their social structure instead of every goblin (a species previously too dumb to craft) havign scavenged a morning star and JUST a morningstar.
I understand where you're coming from, but I have hard time being happy with less content.
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
This is simply incorrect. grains and pulses keep a loooong time.

Exactly. The best way to keep the monsters from eating valuable farmers is to provide them an alternative food source.
See, the problem with Guards is that they don't keep terribly well, at least not without some prep. All I'm really saying here is that there's probably an untapped market selling salt to Ogre clans.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Here's another fun thing: Wheat wasn't the primary crop for Bread in the world for most of history.

Barley was. Barley is what they were growing in Mesopotamia when the whole Agriculture thing became a big deal.

Barley has a 2 month turnaround. And an approximate yield of 60 bushels per acre for a decent growing climate. A Bushel is 48 pounds. One acre provides 2,880lbs of barley in a decent grow, 40 bushels in a bad harvest (1,920lbs). In a particularly nice growing climate 80+ bushels is a good harvest. 3,840lbs/acre.

10 ounces makes a loaf of barley bread. There's 16 in a pound. So for a good harvest that's 61,440 ounces of barley or 6,144 loaves of bread for that 2 month period. A Family of 4 CANNOT EAT that much bread in that period of time. If each of them gets a loaf a day to themselves that's still 5,904 loaves just... sitting there. (4,608 loaves in a decent harvest, 3,072 from a bad harvest)

Which is why some of that Acre isn't Barley. Instead it's got a nice chicken coop for eggs. A few goats for milk. And guess what they're eating...? If you guessed "Barley" you're right! Take some more of that Barley space out to throw in lettuce, cucumbers, beans, maybe a couple of Date Trees... turnips, perhaps?

Yeah... 1 Acre is more than enough to sustain a family of 4, depending on their diet, growing season, soil quantity, and water availability...

(Especially if you mix some of that excess barley with hops, some honey, and a fermentation period)
Not to mention that most people throughout history foraged and hunted, even if thier farm provided plenty of food.
 

Ixal

Hero
This is simply incorrect. grains and pulses keep a loooong time.
In ideal conditions, yes.
But you won't find ideal conditions, instead vermin will eventually get to it and it will start to spoil or become unusable. You can't count on grain which is much older than a year.

Here's another fun thing: Wheat wasn't the primary crop for Bread in the world for most of history.

Barley was. Barley is what they were growing in Mesopotamia when the whole Agriculture thing became a big deal.

Barley has a 2 month turnaround. And an approximate yield of 60 bushels per acre for a decent growing climate. A Bushel is 48 pounds. One acre provides 2,880lbs of barley in a decent grow, 40 bushels in a bad harvest (1,920lbs). In a particularly nice growing climate 80+ bushels is a good harvest. 3,840lbs/acre.

10 ounces makes a loaf of barley bread. There's 16 in a pound. So for a good harvest that's 61,440 ounces of barley or 6,144 loaves of bread for that 2 month period. A Family of 4 CANNOT EAT that much bread in that period of time. If each of them gets a loaf a day to themselves that's still 5,904 loaves just... sitting there. (4,608 loaves in a decent harvest, 3,072 from a bad harvest)

Which is why some of that Acre isn't Barley. Instead it's got a nice chicken coop for eggs. A few goats for milk. And guess what they're eating...? If you guessed "Barley" you're right! Take some more of that Barley space out to throw in lettuce, cucumbers, beans, maybe a couple of Date Trees... turnips, perhaps?

Yeah... 1 Acre is more than enough to sustain a family of 4, depending on their diet, growing season, soil quantity, and water availability...

(Especially if you mix some of that excess barley with hops, some honey, and a fermentation period)
But no one only grew barely. If barely failed you are dead. Thats why the available land was split between many different products. You too overlook spoilage and other losses.

And also, flax. There are more needs than just food.
Just look at historical numbers. 1 Acre for 4 is too small.

Also your growth time for barely is too short. Even modern high powered crops take 3 months, in medieval times even longer. One harvest of barely is all you got in a year.
 
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Steampunkette

Rules Tinkerer and Freelance Writer
Supporter
<Thank you for your posts, and feel free not to effort out answers and to tell me to google things when I finish grading>

Will they want more to rotate crops/leave things fallow? Or were there three sisters equivalents in Europe?

Does it scale straight up for wanting a group of farmers to be able to support dedicated non-farmers?

Are there real world examples of subsistence farmers having a family of 4 instead of a lot more (assuming their wasn't an epidemic or three sweeping through)?

(As an aside, I can't believe it took me until this year to learn about cenotes in the Yucatan. I wonder what other real world types of water sources there are that I never thought of, and what others there would be in a fantasy world, and what kind of agriculture that could open up).
I was using a family of 4 as an abstract example. But to eat all that bread from a single acre you'd need a family of 102 eating a loaf of bread, each, every day of the growing cycle. You probably won't find many examples of subsistence farming families of a father, a mother, and their 100 children, either. ;)

In practice, particularly in Babylon and other Mesopotamian cities: Farmers grew crops for landowners.

Tenant Farming is and has always been kind of a huge thing. You get to live in a house the landowner owns, but you work the fields and get a share of the profits for it. If the Landowner wants Barely, you plant and harvest barley. If he wants Turnips, you're doing turnips.

So you'd get that plot of land, move your family into the provided housing, farm up acres upon acres of Barley with other tenant farmers, and hand it all over to the Landlord.

While it was growing, your Landlord would give you pay, which put you into Debt until the harvest. And if you needed more money than he was paying, for example buying medicine for a sickness or a goat for a wedding, you could bargain with your landlord to try and get more money before the Harvest as an "Advance", pushing yourself deeper into Debt.

At the end of the growing cycle, you (and your family, and all the other tenant farmers and their families) would head to the fields you'd been working to harvest everything and turn it over to the Landlord. He'd figure out the value of what you produced, put it against your debt, and if it didn't equal the debt you'd get in trouble, usually. If it was greater than your debt the landlord would pocket the rest, and pay you to go replant the fields (Or not, depending on season and such).

This is why the Code of Hammurabi includes a line which amounts to "If the harvest is poor because of storms or locusts, your debt-slate is wiped clean with a wet cloth." Tenant Farming was deeply important, and punishing farmers for a bad season would cost society more than the landowner.

Fields -rarely- lied fallow in Mesopotamia and other River-Cultures. Because you could take that rich dark beautiful soil from the river and spread it over a failing field to renew it.

We don't know nearly as much about subsistence farmers in such situations 'cause arable land was a resource that the people in power tried their best to control. Outside of the river valley of Mesopotamia, most people were herders and hunters. Using biological machines (Goats, Sheep) to turn unusable plantlife (Grasses, scrub brush) into food (milk, meat).
 

Stalker0

Legend
Here's another fun thing: Wheat wasn't the primary crop for Bread in the world for most of history.

Barley was. Barley is what they were growing in Mesopotamia when the whole Agriculture thing became a big deal.

Barley has a 2 month turnaround. And an approximate yield of 60 bushels per acre for a decent growing climate. A Bushel is 48 pounds. One acre provides 2,880lbs of barley in a decent grow, 40 bushels in a bad harvest (1,920lbs). In a particularly nice growing climate 80+ bushels is a good harvest. 3,840lbs/acre.

10 ounces makes a loaf of barley bread. There's 16 in a pound. So for a good harvest that's 61,440 ounces of barley or 6,144 loaves of bread for that 2 month period. A Family of 4 CANNOT EAT that much bread in that period of time. If each of them gets a loaf a day to themselves that's still 5,904 loaves just... sitting there. (4,608 loaves in a decent harvest, 3,072 from a bad harvest)

Which is why some of that Acre isn't Barley. Instead it's got a nice chicken coop for eggs. A few goats for milk. And guess what they're eating...? If you guessed "Barley" you're right! Take some more of that Barley space out to throw in lettuce, cucumbers, beans, maybe a couple of Date Trees... turnips, perhaps?

Yeah... 1 Acre is more than enough to sustain a family of 4, depending on their diet, growing season, soil quantity, and water availability...

(Especially if you mix some of that excess barley with hops, some honey, and a fermentation period)
This article would suggest your wrong about Barley being the principal source. All of the references are noted near the top of the article.

 

Tonguez

A suffusion of yellow
Take a look across allllll of history. And count the years and months where there were wars across the world. And count the years and months where there was no war, or at least none written about. None remembered.

And then consider that even in the places where there -was- war, the rest of the world -wasn't- fighting.

War and Violence are punctuation at the end of countless long sentences that we ascribe great importance to. There's a reason the history books don't talk about "Peace breaking out".

In Ur, in Mesopotamia? People controlled a valuable resource and others sought to join them. No "Surrendering of Sovereignty" or identity through force or pragmatism. They just moved into Ur with their culture and their lives and... that's it. Over the course of generations their children's culture became a mesh of the two. And their children even further, and on and on until Ur's culture became a blending of the different "Tribes" who joined together within it.

Mesanepada may have killed Lugal-kitan to make Unug/Uruk into Ur... but then he ruled for 80 years. And his son for 36. And his son for 40. And his son and his son and his son. And in each of those following monarchies there was a ton of peace, a little war, and a lot of people just being people.

Thats am interesting interpretation, sure there was lots of trade and tribes would certainly flock to the cities for social and religious functions or in times of crisis (ie famine). But it does gloss over the fact that those relationships were based on a system of vasslage, tribute and ransoms as power shifted between the Sumerians, Akkadians, Chaldeans, Assyrians, Babylonians and other semitic peoples including Egyptians.
Mesanepadas 80 years may been an entire dynasty (ie it overlapped/included his sons reign) and during the reigns of the respective kings there are also lots of reports of them going out to quell civil unrest amongst the vassal tribes which then provided the Slave labour that maintained the urban elite.
 

Steampunkette

Rules Tinkerer and Freelance Writer
Supporter
This article would suggest your wrong about Barley being the principal source. All of the references are noted near the top of the article.

From the top of the Article:
"For this series, we’re going to focus on wheat production, with a bit of a Mediterranean bias (but I’ve tried to pull in some evidence from North China as well; by and large I’ve found that wheat cultivation seems to create similar patterns everywhere, but there is local variation)."

If you're focusing on Wheat Production in Northern China and Rome then of course you're not going to discuss the importance of barley through history.

Meanwhile, thousands of years before Rome was a thing:
 

Chaosmancer

Legend
In a world with Dragons and Ankhegs and Orcs it's perfectly reasonable to redesign society to protect their fields with high stone curtain walls, or to place the fields in the center of town with a "Donut" of city around it to form a protective barrier.

Oooh, that's an interesting idea. I would say that it would make the idea of expanding cities harder, you'd really have to have a pre-planned size or be willing to move people into richer houses while you tear theirs down to make room for more fields.

But still, fascinating idea.
 

Steampunkette

Rules Tinkerer and Freelance Writer
Supporter
Thats am interesting interpretation, sure there was lots of trade and tribes would certainly flock to the cities for social and religious functions or in times of crisis (ie famine). But it does gloss over the fact that those relationships were based on a system of vasslage, tribute and ransoms as power shifted between the Sumerians, Akkadians, Chaldeans, Assyrians, Babylonians and other semitic peoples including Egyptians.
Mesanepadas 80 years may been an entire dynasty (ie it overlapped/included his sons reign) and during the reigns of the respective kings there are also lots of reports of them going out to quell civil unrest amongst the vassal tribes which then provided the Slave labour that maintained the urban elite.
Oh, there were of course vassal tribes and stuff... But I'm talking about -people-. Individual people.

People who left their tribe and went to Ur and became Tenant Farmers with their family in order to make a living. Or Babylon. Or anywhere, really. Keeping their gods in their home, keeping their songs in their hearts, keeping their culture while working another man's land.

Tribes may go to war. Tribes may rattle sabers and growl about how important their potentate/chieftain/whatever is.

But people just go about their lives. Being people.
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
This article would suggest your wrong about Barley being the principal source. All of the references are noted near the top of the article.

Hmm, well, two things. One, the article does list wheat and barley side by side. So there's that. Secondly, the article is quite broad in scope, moving from Han Dynasty China to Mesopotamia to Languedoc France. Anyway, just throwing that out there.
 

Ixal

Hero
Hmm, well, two things. One, the article does list wheat and barley side by side. So there's that. Secondly, the article is quite broad in scope, moving from Han Dynasty China to Mesopotamia to Languedoc France. Anyway, just throwing that out there.
Its not really that broad once you read past the introduction.
 

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