Friday, May 22, 2020

Wilderlands - Baronies - further considerations

Ian Borchardt, whom I consider one of the luminaries over on MeWe, provided some excellent
Wolvesey Castle, Winchester
feedback on my last post.  So good that I asked for permission to address it directly in a post, as it gives me a chance to elaborate on my background thinking and intentions with my Wilderlands posts.

Technically a baron is anyone that holds land directly from the sovereign (or as an allodial [Rod - had to look this one up.  Land ownership by occupancy and defense of the land.] baron owns the land in freehold).   So counts, dukes, and marquis are also barons (but naturally socially outrank a mere Baron).  They just have larger holdings and greater responsibilities as officers of the sovereign.  Anyone else is a vasavor (a vassal of a vassal) [Rod - this one I knew] and holds from one of these barons, rather than the sovereign directly.

Rod - absolutely correct.  At Runnymeade, the most common title of nobility held by the rebel barons, was actually 'Earl'.  And looking at it that way, using the Chivalry & Sorcery domain rules, the largest possible 'barony', is 142.5 square miles for the main demesne PLUS 10 of the largest (118 square miles baronies) for a total of 1,326.875 square miles, rounding up to 62 five mile hexes.  [This tracks right on the figures from D&D and the Wilderlands baronies I calculated in the previous post, but it's a maximum rather than an average.] A strong king could control 2-3 times this amount of land.

I didn't pursue this for a couple of reasons, one of which I should have addressed.  The obvious one is that 'Baron' is a specific noble title in the Wilderlands, C&S, ACKS and the real world.  The one I should have addressed, and may have in an unsaved draft, is buried on page 59 of the CSIO booklet, under Boons and Duties.  One boon is a 'Bookland Grant'; Bookland being an alienation of common land into private ownership, a practice from Saxon England.  The boon grants a building in the city or 1-6 acres outside.  I had already decided that a grant of 1-6 HEXES to a noble man made more sense than acres.  Six acres being only half the size of a small Roman farm, it's not enough to support a nobleman.

I tend to use a six hex approach.  Something that is easy to patrol in a day looking for encounters.  Although I may deform the hex shape.  It will tend to avoid dedicated terrain hexes and follow rivers.  [I consider the "clear" hexes to be still heavily wooded, just not impenetrable forest.  It takes a lot of effort to clear land.]

Rod - personally I like to have natural borders for feudal polities.  It's much easier for the king to say
New Forest, Hampshire
you own from the river to the forest, than to give accurate geo-coordinates.   It still leaves a lot of room for dispute, but at least you can see the border.  Alas, the Wilderlands maps do not really provide much in the way of terrain to draw those borders, so I used a lot of hex sides myself.  I conceive of the clear terrain as a mixture of plowed fields, pasture and open woodlands with light underbrush - like the New Forest in Hampshire; rather than the heavy pine forests I grew up in in northern Minnesota.

On a quick note about patrols, please remember that whilst the local villagers may never have been more than a days journey from their home, they generally know that area very well, and are quick to note any irregularities.  A lord (as long as they don't actively mistreat their peasants), can usually rely on pretty good intelligence from the locals (after all anything bad is likely to affect them as bad or worse, and it is the responsibility of the lords to protect them, not for them to deal with the problem).

Rod - yep and I plotted the regularly visited boundaries around the villages, although I haven't gotten to the stage of assigning villages to rulers yet.  It's actually one of the issues I haven't resolved on how to treat in my Wilderlands - the D&D rules call for 4-6 villages within the "barony" when the character develops the territory, yet Wilderlands shows villages of as few as 20 (Whan, hex 1005, Map 6 Viridistan).  I don't see a rational to add additional villages since the canon goes down to this level.

There is plenty of wilderness between actual settlements in this area.  [This isn't wilderness as D&D players define it, but rather natural undeveloped areas.  These are often quite vital for inhabitants, especially the supply of firewood (generally only dropped wood) and for foraging and licencing to bodgers  [Rod -"skilled itinerant wood-turners, who worked in the beech woods on the chalk hills of the Chilterns", yeah I had to look this one up myself too] or even lumberers.  As the and becomes more civilised the wilderness diminishes, often causing problems (but fortunately saved by the blessings of technology and civilisation).]

Southampton Town Walls
Rod - yes, this is reflected in my maps as the difference between Market Area and Patrolled.  The Market Area contributes resources to the village or town, but isn't necessarily traversed often enough by the population to be considered patrolled, monsters, barbarians and invaders may be able to pass through without raising an alarm or being pursued.  They'll probably be noticed, but word doesn't get back quickly enough for the village to take effective action as long as you don't tarry.

Depending on the technology level (remember "medieval" covers five centuries or so), will affect the location of the individual settlements (manors), which will be concentrated around rich arable bottom land. As irrigation (especially drainage in England), crop rotation, and plough development improves more land becomes arable.  Settlement on an estate will be scattered in hamlets, as well as the central village (which mainly exists to supply resources for the estate/manor), which are no more than a half-day walk from the central village/manor.  These will be concentrated around the resource to be exploited (food or rarely something else).  The fields will surround the hamlet/village.  Dedicated pasturage may be more distant, but animals are often pastured in fields after the harvest.  Long term projects (such as orchards) will always be around the manor/village since the lord is the only one that can generally afford such an endeavour.

Whitefield Moor, Brockenhurst, Hampshire

Rod - really parallels my thoughts, reading and experiences growing up in rural Minnesota, the vegetable garden was near the house, then the cow pasture and then the woods.  BUT, see my comment above on how Wilderlands already has located every small village, and they don't correspond with the citadel and castle locations.  One option I'm considering is relocating the citadels and castles on the maps for my own version.

I haven't visited many real castles, in fact the only ones I have visited were built to control cities, rather than arable land - Edinburgh, Wolvesey and the Tower of London.  While I don't argue that barons were primarily landowners, my impression has always been that the defensibility of the castle site was more important than proximity to the best farm land on the manor.  This is something for me to look into, it could be a reading bias as storming well sited fortifications is more memorable than taking a keep in a valley.  Well, the fall trip to Scotland has been postponed until 2021, I'll do some more field research then.

The baron (and the surrounding small town) will always be in a pretty centralised location.  It will have a weekly market  (given most of the surrounding villages are up to a half day away).  Traditionally this is on the holy day so that the villages may also attend the baron's magnificent stone church. A baron may even be able to afford an actual small castle (or hill fort) that serves as a mustering point for the barons troops when they are called up.  It may even actually be on a road (second or third class) in more civilised lands.

Rod - I'm inclined to phrase it that the fortification is the centralizing influence (po-tay-to / po-tah-to), especially in the context of a D&D campaign where there really are parts of the map that should be marked "Here be Monsters".   For the same reason, I would state that a fortification must exist in a barony.  

For my world I define roads, trails and paths.  While a road may or may not be paved, ala a Roman road, or even a post-apocalyptic freeway, the distinguishing characteristic of a road is that it will cross rivers via bridges or ferries, while a trail will detour to a natural ford.  Both can handled wheeled traffic, whereas a path is usually only passable on foot or mounted.  I was very happy when Rob Conley posted his map on MeWe showing the secondary roads (trails) in the Wilderlands, as the road network from the originals never made much sense to me.

A baron has  the resources (excess food) to create specialised villages that may exploit  larger resources, such as a dedicated lumber camp or mine.   [On the other hand a lord might dedicate a hamlet to a small version, such as a quarry or clay pit if they have this resource, but they will also need to hire a mason or potter to exploit them.

Rod - hence the rules for Specialists since 0e.  I hadn't really given this any thought, it's a good point only the nobles have the capital (land) to exploit new resources.

That's pretty much my take on it at this lower level.  The higher level stuff depends on the overriding sovereignty and general level of civilisation (which is generally lacking in the wilderlands).

Thank you for your input, Ian, feedback always makes a work better and more enjoyable.

Saturday, May 9, 2020

Wilderlands - So how big IS a Barony?

     In my last post, I had graphically demonstrated that there was no room for nomads in Altanis, based on the patrol area of "Baronies" as listed in the canon.

     In this it follows closely with the OD&D booklet Volume 3 The Underworld and Wilderness Adventures which, in lieu of a number of hexes, gives a patrol radius.

     By time we get to AD&D, the term "Baronies" has been changed in the DMG to "Territory Development by Player Characters".  
DMG page 93

     Honestly, I find the rules opaque, the DM gives the player a map of 6 hexes, the scale isn't stated but I assume it's 30 mile campaign hexes.  Then (start) map(ping) the hexes at a 200 yard scale, so they fit nine into a one mile hex.  Once the player has mapped the central hex and six surrounding it - this is the confusing bit - which scale is he talking about, 200 yard, 1 mile or 30 miles?  It will take a LONG time to randomly roll enough 200 yard hexes to map seven 30 mile hexes.  In any case, to get back to how far the character will patrol, I interpret the final paragraph to mean once the character has cleared a thirty mile campaign hex, wandering monster checks are reduced.

     I'm going to add in one more system at this point, Adventurer, Conqueror, King includes domain level play in it's core rules and defines the territories, not only of Baron, but of a number of greater nobles also.

Time for some math!

    The Wilderlands definition of patrolling out four hexes from the center hex creates and area of no less than 61 five mile hexes.  Each file mile hex is an area of 21.65 square miles, so the area of a "Barony" in the Wilderlands is 1320 square miles or 845,216 acres or 342,047 hectares.
     OD&D defines a Barony as patrolling a twenty mile radius,   1256 square miles, or 803,840 acres or 325,303 hectares.
   AD&D is opaque, but I'm going to assume he meant a barony equaled a 30 mile campaign hex or 779 square miles or 498,831 acres, or 201,870 hectares.
    ACKS comes in a a puny six mile hex.  That give it an area of 31 square miles,  or 19,953 acres or 8,075 hectares.

Lets put it in a table and do some real world size comparisons.
Region Description Square Miles Acres Hectares
San Marino Fifth smallest country 2015.36 6216
ACKS1 x Six mile hex 3119,953 8,075
Liechtenstein Sixth smallest country 6239,680 1658
Rutland 40th largest Ceremonial County 15297,500 39,457
Sao Tome and Principe 25th smallest country 386247,040 99,974
Westmoreland 29th largest Ceremonial County 759485,990 196,637
AD&D 1 x Thirty mile Campaign hex 779498,831 201,870
Mauritius 26th smallest country 788504,320 204,091
Rhode Island Smallest US state 1033661,120 267,546
Samoa 29th smallest country 1097702,080 284,122
Gloucestershire 17th largest Ceremonial County 1235790,470 319,892
OD&D Twenty mile radius circle 1256803,840 325,303
Wilderlands 61 x Five mile hexes 1321845,216 342,047
Cornwall 16th largest Ceremonial County 1336854,770 345,913
Cabo Verde 30th smallest country 1557996,480 403,262
Delaware Second smallest US state 19381,240,320 501,940

     In Real World terms,  the areas given for Wilderlands, OD&D and AD&D are simply too big, they are the size of an English County.  Now, I know that Ceremonial Counties do not represent a contiguous landholding, but while their size and boundaries have wavered over time, they do go back to the Norman Conquest where they are used as census units for the Domesday Book.  And that book shows that several barons will have holdings within the County.
    One illustration of the practical issues with the sizes given is the time it would take to patrol areas this large.  For a Wilderlands barony, it would take a single patrol over two months, at twenty miles a day, to pass through every single square mile.   Keeping monsters out of such a large area would be a frustrating game of Whack-a-Mindflayer, even with multiple patrols.

More Math Ahead!

    As long as we've reached this point, what is a reasonable size for a Barony, or any other feudal demesne?  Does ACKS have it right at a about 30 square miles?
    To answer that question, I'm going to pull out my go to system for world-building for the last 40 years - Chivalry and Sorcery.  The old red book provides a system for Designing the Feudal Nation, allowing you to generate the demesnes of the great lords, down to the landed knight.  Who isn't terribly humble even if his small manor house isn't much more impressive than the local inn.
   In this system Barons are the lowest nobles (knights being of "gentle" birth rather than "noble") however, unlike the Dukes, Earls and Counts above them, they are NEVER 'tenants-in-chief' holding their lands directly from the King.  Instead, they report up to one of the great nobles - and their fief is generated as part of generating the demesne and feudal holdings of their overlord.  In short, if when generating the fief holders of the great noble, you randomly generate a small castle or shell keep, you create a barony to hold it.  The barony itself will have fief holders dependent on it, but these will be mere landed knights.

    In the C&S Sourcebook, under Feudal Economics, are rules for calculating the amount of land to grow food for a given population.  There is a page of text, but it comes down to add up the population figures from the table, multiply by 10 to include families, beggars and bandits in the area.  This gives the total population, which is multiplied by 8 to determine the number of acres of cultivated and pasture land required to support the population.

   There is one more source I'm going to pull in, Leonard Cantor's The English Medieval Landscape.  This tome, published four years after the Sourcebook, reviews land use at the time of the Domesday Survey.  It shows that "35% of England was covered in arable land, 25% put to pasture, with 15% covered by woodlands and the remaining 25% predominantly being moorland, fens and heaths."  
     Note that the percentage of crop land to pasturage is reversed from the Sourcebook, but it's the ratios of those together to the total amount of land that I'm interested in obtaining - and that ratio is 6 acres of farm and pasture to 4 acres of wood and wasteland.  I can now calculate the average size of a "Barony".

     In doing so, I am assuming that each Barony will have the same breakdown of land use as the kingdom as a whole.  That is of course, another spherical cow of uniform density - a working approximation that meets my current level of detail.
     So, throwing the C&S tables into a spreadsheet and letting it do the math for me, based on the possible outcomes of the determining the Baron's tenants, I find that a Barony will hold between 56 and 118 square miles of territory, on our five mile hex map that is between 3 and 6 hexes (rounding up to the nearest whole hex).  Because of the distribution of possible out comes, the average size is 81 square miles or 4 hexes.  Now I can re-do the last map.

Altanis Baronies & Villages
Click to enlarge
Now, I have room for Barbarians!