Sunday, May 26, 2013

The Corn Fields of War

No, seriously, that’s the title of this blog entry. OK, I spend a lot of time, both in my personal game world development and in my published books describing things like corn, corn prices, corn meal, as well as wheat, wheat prices, flour, mills, etc. Why? I’ve probably lost the gold farmers already. They’re like, “This is stupid, there’s nothing I need to know about plants that don’t attack people.” Of course, they’re wrong. Who remembers the Battle of Cannae? I don’t mean personally, it was like 2,000 years ago. Why was it cool? Hannibal kicked the @$$ of the Romans even though he was outnumbered. Why was he there? Because he was cutting off their supply lines. He was stopping the city of Rome from getting its grain. I’ll try to make this point briefly: If you don’t know how your capital cities get fed, then you cannot figure out how an enemy would attack them. And if you’re not using major wars in your campaign world, then you are missing the most dramatic element you can find in any role-playing game, no matter what the genre. Those of us who have spent a little time thinking through things like which farming regions support which massive cities can easily determine what an invading force would do upon entering the region. Obviously, it’s a lot more complicated than what we’re making it out to be here. Invaders would have to determine whether to go after food production, water resources, possibly iron or other military metals, possibly precious metals or gems - whatever the natural resources of the region are. There could be major military engagements where one army walked up to a neighbor, “conquered” their gold mining and smelting area, took everything, and went home. Now the embarrassed city has to decide if they want to mount up and go after their stolen gold. But you can’t think of cool scenarios like that if you haven’t figured out how everyday life in your cities work. I’ve been a little harsh in this post, but I do believe it. The more you know about your fantasy world, the easier it is to come up with things that can happen in it. If you can easily come up with things that will happen in your fantasy world, then you’re never stuck for adventure ideas. Plus, this type of adventure mission puts the characters directly into the history books. They are participating in something that truly affects their homeland, something that can be built on for future missions and encounters, because now they know more about your fantasy world too. Stuck for ideas about how to develop your cities better? Check out Urban Development from Board Enterprises. If reading through that book doesn’t give you dozens of ideas about your world and missions you can run, I’ll eat my hat - and I have a lot of hats!

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