Thursday, September 3, 2009

Tech Levels for Fantasy Sandbox Settings

While the Judges Guild Tech Level Table is was a good first attempt many of it's advances are oddly placed. After plumbing wikipedia and other source I revised for my Majestic Wilderlands. Mind you it represents capability rather than just knowledge.

0 Stone Age (10,000 BC)
Stone, Leather Armor
1 Copper Age (8,000 to 4,000 BC)
Agriculture, Wheel, Felt, Silk, Shield
2 Early Bronze Age (4,000 to 2,000 BC)
Papyrus, Bronze, Sundial, Candles
Studded Leather/Ring Mail
3 Late Bronze Age (2,000 to 1,000 BC)
Linen, Rubber, Chariot, Cart, Scale Mail
Bronze Plate Mail
4 Early Iron Age (1,000 BC to 500 BC)
Iron, Waterwheel, Lantern, Saddle
5 Classic Iron Age (500 BC to 0 AD)
Water Screw, Crossbow, Chainmail, Hourglass, Wagon, Steel
6 Late Iron Age (0 AD to 500 AD)
Stirrup, Windmill, Knitting, Compass
7 Early Middle Age (500 AD to 1000 AD)
Improved Wagon, Banded Mail, Splint Mail, Horse Collar
8 High Middle Age (1000 AD to 1200 AD)
Plate Mail, Rockets, Carriage
9 Late Middle Age (1200 AD to 1400 AD)
Glass Lenses, High Carbon Steel,
Bullseye Lantern, Spinning Wheel,Full Plate Armor
A Renaissance (1400 AD Max+ )
Telescope, Sextant

For Swords & Wizardry Weapons and Armor go like this

TL 0
TL 3
TL 5
TL 8

TL 0
Spear, Staff, Club, Hand Axe, Short Bow, Dart,
TL 1
Dagger, Light Mace, Sling, Shield
TL 2
Short Sword, Heavy Mace, Lance, Long Bow, Javelin
TL 4
Long Sword, Battle Axe
TL 5
Light Crossbow
TL 6
Bastard Sword, Heavy Crossbow
TL 7
Two Handed Sword, Warhammer


Anonymous said...

I'd put the longsword closer to the bastard and two-handed sword, and the warhammer earlier. Much of the problems associated with getting a sword that was longer were metallurgical.

That said, it looks like you've taken into account the arms race of armor vs weapons, so perhaps you decided that warhammers came about as a response to plate armors.

But I would regardless of that put Heavy Mace and Javelin at TL 1. Unless you've decided that a Javelin is really a Pilum, which came about as a response to the Shield.

I noticed Shields are missing. You'll see Shields in some Stone Age cultures, but they come about not due to technological advances but because people are fighting people. People who don't fight people need no shields. So maybe a culture could be Bronze Age and have no shields yet. But the cutoff is probably at the beginning of the Copper Age.

Rob Conley said...

Good point about shields. Fixed that.

The Longsword has between a 28" to 36" long blade. There were swords about 32" long in the bronze age.

In the roman era the Gladius was a max length shortsword while the spatha was a longsword.

Looking over the articles from Wikipedia and the Internet, I am call the longsword early Iron Age as the 8th century celts definitely had longer iron swords.

Yes I am calling the Javelin basically a Pilium. A spear purposely built for throwing and foiling shields.

For heavy maces they could just stuck a heavier chunk of metal on but I am assuming there are refinements to make that into a usable weapon.

Yes I am assuming Warhammers are a response to heavy armor. While the shape could have been produced in earlier age there was no reason to think of it as the mace did a fine job of smashing until plate came along.

Anonymous said...

Is a lance any good without stirrups?

Rob Conley said...

Here the relevant entry from Wikipedia

Cataphract lances (known in Greek as a Kontos ("oar") or in Latin as a Contus) appeared much like the Greek army's Sarissae used by the famed Greek phalanxes as an anti-cavalry weapon. They were roughly four meters in length, with a capped point made of iron, bronze or even animal bone and usually wielded with both hands. One reason for this was the lack of stirrups (especially amongst Western armies); although the traditional Roman saddle had four horns with which to secure the rider[23], nevertheless these were largely inadequate for keeping a soldier seated upon the full impact of a charge action. During the Sassanid era, the Persian military developed an innovative solution to overcome the lack of stirrups and effectively "fasten" the rider to the horse's body. Persian horseman had a cantle at the back of the saddle and two guard clamps which curved across the top of the rider's thighs and fastened to the saddle, thereby enabling the rider to stay properly seated, especially during violent contact in battle[24

I would say that without stirrups you have to use a lance two handed during a charge.

I need to read this and other articles and see what kinda of actions and minuses would be involved.

Rob Conley said...

Added the Saddle and Horse Collar in both critical developments that should be noted.

Without a Saddle the horse can't carry as big of a riding load as the weight is not distributed as well.

The Horse Collar allow the horse use it's full strength in pulling. Before the horse collar yokes tend to choke the horse. Horses became viable for use in agriculture because of this.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to point out that the compass and stirrup, among other things, didn't require previous techs to develop. They came along when people who had happened to invent them came along (usually raiding or trading). The compass, for example, shows up in Europe along with the rudder and lateen sail about the time Chinese traders sail by.

Have you looked at some of the charts for tech advances for Civilization games? Civ 2 was particularly good with the early advances. It includes the available tech for any advance, such as Cavalry being available when you develop Horsemanship. You might want to make the distinction that Horsemanship is different from the Stirrup.

But it looks like you're not talking about what people know about, but what they're capable of making. So it would make sense that a small village could be TL 3 even though the rest of the country is TL 4. And a TL 4 country could send out an expedition that forms a colony, with the colony able to produce goods of no higher complexity than TL 2.

I could see modern people going out into the wilderness and setting up the equivalent of a TL 0 camp. Sure they have iPods but they sure can't make or service them ... or even recharge the batteries!

Rob Conley said...

But it looks like you're not talking about what people know about, but what they're capable of making.

Right, I think I need to rethink what I am aiming for. Maybe have separate notations for knowledge and capability.

For example the amount of population needed to support a guy doing detailed beadwork in the Bronze Age and a guy doing Stained glass in the Middle Age is about the same (on the high side). But like you said if you know what a stirrup is any village blacksmith and leatherworker can whip one up.

Anonymous said...

But if you note individual advances, such as the Compass, or you give tech levels, such as Agriculture-3 or Metallurgy-7, the notation becomes unbearable to write and decode for use at the table.

Maybe give a "Knowledge TL" and an "Industry TL". The KTL is what they know how to make, the ITL is what they actually can make.

Or TL, with individually-noted exceptions. Like:
Dagger Falls. TL3, metal TL2.

You could also give a TL for each shop. That way the blacksmith can be of a different caliber than the leatherworker in the same town. But give a TL for the town which is identical to the TL for the country, and this is what they know how to make but which is not possible due to lack of the proper tools or materials.

Then again, how do you describe a small-town blacksmith who can make TL2 with his tools, but knows how to make TL3, and knows of craftsmen in the capitol who can make TL5?

I think maybe you don't need to note the TL5 capitol. Just refer to the capitol itself.

I like the TL system. Simplicity at the table trumps accounting for slight variation.

If used in game, maybe you'd want places on major trade routes to have a 1 in 6 chance of an item from the next TL up in stock? They can't make or repair it, but they will sell it to you.

Anonymous said...

Also to consider for inclusion:

Fortifications (stacked stone walls, palisade, fitted stone, motte and bailey, curtain wall)

Buildings (peat / turf, timber, fitted stone, lathe and plaster, brick, concrete, underwater concrete)

Roads (trail, gravel road, cobblestone / pavers, composite layer road)

Water (well, irrigation, acqueduct, fountains, indoor plumbing, sewers)

Anonymous said...

Also also:

Composite pole arms came about in Europe partially in response to cavalry and certain shapes were a response to plate armor.

But in China they didn't have plate armor and still developed basically a halberd. So maybe a footsolder response to cavalry was the more important consideration?

Again, like shields, they wouldn't really need polearms if nobody were using horses. Spears are lovely against anyone and most (all?) primitive cultures developed them. But polearms can't be thrown and are most useful in large blocks of footmen all using the same weapon.

So I don't know where you'd put it, but a good choice would either be TL 4 in response to the saddle, or TL 6 in response to the stirrup.

Although I'm sure The Wiki has a more concrete answer for specific polearms.

Ragnorakk said...

That is a pretty lovely list!