Domains: Village and Town

Villages vs. Towns. In the previous post I talked about a Stronghold and its Village nearby. That Village could be a Town instead, but Villages and Towns do things differently. As a Stronghold and Village grows, it may splay its fingers out and have other villages farther away, and the village around the Stronghold could grow to become a Town instead. Here’s the difference: Villages gather or create resources, which are shipped to Towns for consumption. Towns ship back finished goods of a higher quality and lower cost than could be produced in the Village.

Here’s one possible explanation. In a village you could employ a Blacksmith, or not, but regardless you will need some Blacksmithing work done. If you don’t have one, you have to go to a nearby village to get the work done and to buy new tools. It’s more expensive and inconvenient. The small village just doesn’t have enough people, enough demand, to warrant a whole Blacksmith. However, the village does produce a whole lot more food than it needs, which means the village can trade it to the outside world in exchange for other stuff. A town has the reverse problem: it can produce stuff, but it doesn’t produce food.

That’s not to say you can’t have a town with farmland around it. But the population of the town is probably so much higher than the surrounding farmland can support that it needs to buy food from elsewhere.

The second issue is that some resources are terrain-based. You need to be near a forest to produce wood and game animal meat. You need to be near mineral deposits to produce ore. The town probably grows up from a village at a place central to trade routes, but not necessarily near these resource centers. The mining village produces more ore than it could use, but maybe not enough food, and it’s the only village in the region that produces ore.

Check out this map.

The yellow things are farmland. The double blue lines are rapids or falls. The Mickey thing is a primary Stronghold, the other houses are villages.

What I hope this illustrates is that there is a reason why the entire population isn’t centered around the main Stronghold. If you put the Stronghold up by the mining village, it’s effectively on the outskirts of the land you want to possess. Of course this doesn’t preclude putting fortified places in these other villages, and in fact there should be. But it matters where your main Stronghold is, because that’s where you probably have most of your retainers and your special library and laboratory and all the cool furniture you collect on your adventures. You can’t have three capitols.

Hopefully you can also see why it’s more difficult to determine income from townsfolk, though we can abstract that out too and say that townsfolk give all their taxes in money and not in food and services. This means a town family gives 25 SP per month in tax – pretty cool! So why don’t you just tell all your villagers to buck up and stop farming and just do town things? Because then everyone starves to death and they don’t have the cash money to pay your taxes anyway.

For this reason I’d say you need X village families doing agriculture in order to support Y families not doing agriculture (mining, townsfolk, lumberjacking), and to support the society you’d need A mining families and B lumberjacking families per C total population. Still need to figure out what those should be. Effectively, you’d try to get as many townsfolk as possible because they represent money coming in. But to get those townsfolk you need to support them with enough goods-producing families. You really just care because of the form the tax payment comes in.

I think this level of abstraction is okay, because I’ll just do the nuts and bolts math behind it and give the approximate per-family tax output and support requirements. The player doesn’t need to worry about anything else. If he wants to move families around it’s okay, I don’t care if he drives the barony into famine or mismanages it once he has the underlying numbers. Or will I give him those? If he’s the absentee lord maybe I’ll just give him the populations of each village and town.

Anyway there’s a third possibility for a settlement: the outpost. I won’t make any new rules for outposts, they’re just villages that don’t really produce anything noteworthy. You might want an outpost along a long trade route for example. If I think the outpost families can all work enough I would probably just say the outpost families produce money taxes like town families. We’re talking about an inn or caravanserai with some outlying farms.

Another possibility is that you have a hybrid town-village, where there is a core in the town with high enough population to require agriculture families in the outskirts to support it, but that population isn’t quite high enough to need outside food. Kind of a mini-town. I suspect this would be a midpoint where the existing settlement is in the process of growing into a town. With nothing to check its growth, and people still flocking to it with promises of wealth and comfort and society, the town would eventually grow beyond the hybrid stage. But a strong ruler could demand a maximum town population and tell everyone else to just go try to develop some other village into a town. In this case I would count the townies and the farmers separately and give the taxes for each part (in money from the first, food and such from the second). Of course the hybrid agritown wouldn’t solve the problem of far-flung resource extraction (mining, forestry, etc.).


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One Response to “Domains: Village and Town”

  1. D. Says:

    Nice post and some great analysis!


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