Sunday, 16 March 2014

Building to Scale

The following is a work document that I’ve started to put metrics into my world building exercises.  I’ve found that the existing projects that I already have some work on have started to come apart due to a lack of clear metrics, so I don’t know if this will be a patch, or the groundwork for all projects going forward.
All of my projects usually start with 3.5 base rules (the D20 system, which is open source).

Humans, and therefore most races, move comfortably at 30ft/round (6 seconds) in tactical combat, 300 ft /minute (local), 3 miles an hour (overland) and 24 miles a day (overland).  The source is PH pg. 162.  There is some variation with real life, not least of which 3.5 uses standardized Imperial feet and miles as opposed to default-standard measures like meters, but it works well enough for all medium sized creatures, it has well laid out tables for creatures of bigger and smaller size, and it avoids the vexing question “What is a meter on a planet other than Earth?”

The above list of measures is all mathematically consistent, and assumes that the adventurers are putting in an 8 hour day.  By the way, there are 5280 feet in a mile, just so we are all square.

Miles (ft/5280)
6 seconds
60 seconds (x10)
60 minutes (x60)
3 (give or take 0.4)
Day (x8)

There is no “forced march,” but there are numbers for hustle (x2 on all metrics above) and run (which cannot be applied evenly to the overland times).

Now for some token worldbuilding distances:

Distance, as per Google Maps
Time, as per Google Maps
Divided into 8 hour days
Time, as per 3.5
London, UK to York, UK
198 miles
65 hours
Dover, UK to Plymouth, UK
283 miles
92 hours
Paris, France to Brussels, Belgium
279 miles
57 hours (??? Google Maps)

Plunking names into Googlemaps, it occurs to me that some of their numbers may not be entirely consistent.  I am revising by adding my own calculations based on the distance.
Result: Not sure what happened with the estimate for Paris to Brussels, but 3.5 widely agrees with Google Maps estimates, except in this one trip.

So, we have a more general idea of the distances involved.  Armies forcemarching from the French capital to the Belgian would need to be in motion for about 6 days (12 days walking, 6 hustling) before automation in the infantry, and going any faster the men won’t be in shape to do much fighting.  But how often did early medieval armies march such distances?  What is the sense of power that can be projected over distances?
Historical fiction author Carla Nayland has already compiled some of the most frequent battle distances that have come down to us preserved, including some excellent work with the problems of the source materials (this is the Dark Age after all).  Noting carefully that the sample is most unlikely to be representative, she can name 12 battles conducted by Dark Age English kingdoms, and amid them, 5 of those battles took place in distances 130 to 200 miles from the core.

As a theory to be tested, can we say Kingdoms can usually express power effectively up to 5 days (125 miles) out, and that up to 8 days out at need.  12 days Paris to Brussels, by this theory, would be a little unusual.  We might have a problem with this suggestion, as other sources seem to suggest 12 day journeys are common, though more and more in the High Middle Ages, long journeys were seeing more fast marching to speed them up. 

A Dark Age themed setting needs only extend political power for a few days journey, and this is reinforced by the need to have the King’s Court mobile.  No one is going to make obeisance to an empty chair, at least at this stage.  High Middle Ages and later settings tend to favour cities more readily, and Kings and their courts are more sedentary, projecting power through intermediaries.  It is not until Louis XIV that the King of France, France being an archtype of medieval living, felt secure enough to administer the far flung regions of his Kingdom directly.  This makes the 17th century state, a manageable state, to be (as estimated by Google Maps) as follows.

Start at Versailles Palace
Distance to the Border Towns
Time to Border Towns
217 km = 134.8 miles
45 h or 5.6 days
331 km = 205.7
66 h or 8.25
461 km = 286.5 miles
95 h or 11.9 days
539 km = 334.9 miles
112 h or 14 days

Before that time, Frence noble families ruled in the name of their King, such as this map below shows, in the time of Louis XI in 1461.

The following maps are from "The Cambridge Modern History Atlas" edited by Sir Adolphus William Ward, G.W. Prothero, Sir Stanley Mordaunt Leathes, and E.A. Benians. Cambridge University Press; London. 1912. Users can access the index to locate place names within the atlas. 

I rather favor this build: France sets its capital 6 days from its border, Begium does the same, and so it takes 12 days to travel from Brussels to Paris and vice and versa.  6 days to prepare for an invasion is taken as the nominal amount of time needed.  England plays by a subtly different set of rules,  living as it does behind geographic barriers, and aggressively exerting power on everyone on its own side of the channel.

From Wikipedia:
Land Area
246,201 sq mi
50,346 sq mi
116,347 sq mi
195,364 sq mi
30,414 sq mi
32,595 sq mi
148,718 sq m
173,745 sq mi
42,915.7 km = 16,569.84 sq mi (excludes Greenland)
Germany (modern, united)
137,847 sq mi
120,696.41 sq mi

Nation and world builders could do worse than to use these metrics to determine the size of their respective nations.

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