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    Default Re: Random Worldbuilding Questions (Biology, Geography, Society, etc.)

    Question:

    How hard is it to support a military caste of society? How significant of a drain does it put on your resources?
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheWombatOfDoom View Post
    Welp, even with fudging, its unlikely I'll find a binary system and a life zone to coincide. :( Back to one sun for me, it seems.
    I wouldn't rule it out entirely- there's already at least one binary system discovered, with a planet orbiting the binary fairly close to the "life zone":

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kepler-16b
    Last edited by hamishspence; 2012-08-03 at 04:53 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by jseah View Post
    So, why is it that when it involves astronomy, worldbuilding in a consistent fashion is perfectly fine:

    But the moment you involve math, people just go "eh, handwave it"??
    =(

    I say! This is discrimination against the abstract subjects!
    Well, in my defense, I did ultimately say that the best option was to just fudge things.

    I have a world-building question of my own, now: about how long does it take for ice sheets/glaciers to grow and melt? I've started to take a look at the horseshoe orbit world for my own purposes, and I'm just wondering if the shift from inner to outer orbit would last long enough to create significant glaciation.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tirunedeth View Post
    Well, in my defense, I did ultimately say that the best option was to just fudge things.

    I have a world-building question of my own, now: about how long does it take for ice sheets/glaciers to grow and melt? I've started to take a look at the horseshoe orbit world for my own purposes, and I'm just wondering if the shift from inner to outer orbit would last long enough to create significant glaciation.
    In that case, the speed of the world's orbit would dictate the speed of the thaw/freeze. And how much apparent water is in the area when it freezes.
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    a military caste wouldn't necessarily be any harder to support then a professional military. Aristocrats are a bigger drain on society.

    edit keep in mind any specialized society has a large number of people that don't produce anything of material value.
    Last edited by awa; 2012-08-03 at 05:17 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TheWombatOfDoom View Post
    That severely depends on how they regulate it, and what they call abstract thought...sounds like written out math is out, and sciences. <...> The complete text of the first 5 chapters of the bible were passed down through story telling. Why can't it be the same with math?
    Of course, I don't expect the church to be perfect at supressing all of it. And certainly, the line is fuzzy, which makes for many opportunities to play the nasty "you are always guilty" inquisitor against the more lenient pastor.

    So, I only wanted to ask if this sort of stance could very effectively wipe out knowledge and prevent its reinvention.
    In the history, they used to have some serious magitech, but for various reasons, it all blew up and the church wants to suppress any and all development of it.

    And so there will be folktales and legends of a past Great War, where magical miracles were wrought and a Great Evil defeated. So it's not like the concept of magic technology doesn't exist, just that it was at least partially responsible for getting alot of people killed.
    EDIT: I suppose the question is really:
    "Given that people were exposed to the concepts of abstract knowledge and automation a few generations ago, how hard would it be to clamp down and try to erase it?"
    Last edited by jseah; 2012-08-03 at 09:16 PM.

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    Well, if it's magitech then as hard as you want it to be. If a talented nine year old can cast the relevant spells to make a transportation device then clamping down will be near impossible, you'll need a fanatical and all-pervasive religion. If it takes several skilled people then enough secret police can clamp down and suppress it. If it takes the equivalent of an 11th level D&D wizard then anyone getting close to good enough will probably be well known.

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    Default Re: Random Worldbuilding Questions (Biology, Geography, Society, etc.)

    Quote Originally Posted by Wyntonian View Post
    Question:

    How hard is it to support a military caste of society? How significant of a drain does it put on your resources?
    Quote Originally Posted by awa View Post
    a military caste wouldn't necessarily be any harder to support then a professional military. Aristocrats are a bigger drain on society.

    edit keep in mind any specialized society has a large number of people that don't produce anything of material value.
    I remember being told that for every one soldier, they needed five (or was it ten?) farmers to support them. (anyone remember which one it was likely to be?)

    So, that's a pretty good example. For every one member of the non-working warrior caste, you probably need 4/8 working people (I'm assuming a little less when you're not at war).
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheWombatOfDoom View Post
    The complete text of the first 5 chapters of the bible were passed down through story telling. Why can't it be the same with math?
    Because when a work of literature like the Pentateuch has plot holes and inconsistencies, it's easy to gloss over them. You can just focus on individual stories while ignoring how the stories don't fit together in a cohesive whole. When a technical manual has inconsistencies, the whole thing just falls apart. If one section says 10.5 inches and another section says 10.5 centimeters, then your mechanical device explodes catastrophically when you turn it on.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jseah View Post
    So, for an actual world building question.
    I have a theocracy as the leading power in one of my settings and would like to ask,
    Given that the religion hates abstract thought and automation of magic (at the level of skinning you alive, publicly), how far can you get in technological innovation if no one thinks in abstract terms simply because it isn't taught anymore.
    Practical thought: "If I have ten apples more than Bob, and we have 21 apples in total, how many do I have?"
    Abstract thought: "X + 10 = 21; solve for X"

    Obviously, the church can't mind control people and they're not actually big on thought police, so there will be independent inventions of it, but no written texts and the knowledge cannot be passed on (except maybe parent to child).
    How exactly do you define abstract thought? Is it just maths? What about all the words we use to describe human emotion? Dreams? Metaphors? Faith itself? What exactly is allowed and what is not?

    But I do not think it will hurt mathematics that much. Imaginary numbers is one thing, but arimethics and geometry are -very- practically founded. It's easy to point at either and discern relations between one thing an another. Pi for instance, is the relation between a circle's diameter and it's circumference. Fractions are also easily developed and worked into arimethics.

    Many formulas were also developed to explain empirically collected data, such as Kepler's orbits or the astronomic lore of the caliphates.

    Not to mention that until "fairly recently" (a few hundred years) calculus was primarily expressed through complex riddles. While the symbols we use for these things today are very old, a lot of things were expressed in different terms and fashions. We're not talking fairly simple things either, we're talking massive algebraic integrals with multiple roots. So if the "practical example" you suggested above works I think it's not entirely impossible to reach well into the 18th century math. Possibly even into the 19th.
    It's more cumbersome ways to express it, but it's entirely possible.

    There's some examples of this, such as this one from ancient egypt for finding the volume of a frustum:
    (Translation provided by wikipedia, the history of mathematics article)
    If you are told: a truncated pyramid of 6 for the vertical height by 4 on the base by 2 on the top: You are to square the 4; result 16. You are to double 4; result 8. You are to square this 2; result 4. You are to add the 16 and the 8 and the 4; result 28. You are to take 1/3 of 6; result 2. You are to take 28 twice; result 56. See, it is of 56. You will find [it] right
    or the seven bridges of Königsberg, which was developed by Euler in the 18th century.

    Many more existed, even the symbols for plus and minus weren't invented until the middle of the italian renaissance (there were alternatives though). Often related to solving a problem, real (such as using emprical values gathered in the surroundings) or imagined (but with a practical root). The modern notations merely makes it easier to write down the problem, simplifying the language needed to explain it but not the maths themselves.

    This opposition is probably going to hurt art and literature more than mathematics and technology.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Xuc Xac View Post
    Because when a work of literature like the Pentateuch has plot holes and inconsistencies, it's easy to gloss over them. You can just focus on individual stories while ignoring how the stories don't fit together in a cohesive whole. When a technical manual has inconsistencies, the whole thing just falls apart. If one section says 10.5 inches and another section says 10.5 centimeters, then your mechanical device explodes catastrophically when you turn it on.
    Before we had books, TV, sports, and everything else under the sun, we had story telling. Oral tradition is surprisingly accurate, under those conditions.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Conners View Post
    I remember being told that for every one soldier, they needed five (or was it ten?) farmers to support them. (anyone remember which one it was likely to be?)

    So, that's a pretty good example. For every one member of the non-working warrior caste, you probably need 4/8 working people (I'm assuming a little less when you're not at war).
    see that sounds like a specific example and that means we would need to know what kind of conditions their being kept in how they live and how effective their farmers.

    if your military caste is also aristocracy then they will need vastly more resources to support then if they are just living in a barracks.
    second what kinds of weapons and tools do they use. Horses and heavy armor are very resource dependent, pike men, and archers vastly less so.

    finally how effective the workers are farming in a barren waste land will require more man hours to produce the same amount of resources then say a rich trade based nation.

    Fantasy factors can also drastically alter the equation if your warrior caste are unarmed sword sages with a vow of poverty the price drops to next to nothing.
    Last edited by awa; 2012-08-04 at 05:59 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Conners View Post
    Before we had books, TV, sports, and everything else under the sun, we had story telling. Oral tradition is surprisingly accurate, under those conditions.
    Are you familiar with the phrase "I once caught a fish this big"? Compare that with a photograph of a guy holding a fish with the length, weight, and date written on the back.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Aux-Ash View Post
    How exactly do you define abstract thought? Is it just maths? What about all the words we use to describe human emotion? Dreams? Metaphors? Faith itself? What exactly is allowed and what is not?
    Well, firstly, the religion is very big on their proscriptions and prohibitions. Not so much on the philosophy part. The local priest is likely to also be the person who arbitrates disputes, managing the village and being the person who teaches.

    By abstraction, they mean any knowledge or way of thinking that involves representation of an idea. "A cube, of side 10" refers to a hypothetical cube with specific dimensions. That is fine. The idea of treating cubes in general, is not. And anything too complicated will probably get burned anyway.
    So Zeno and his tortoises will be fine (at least until the idea of infinity gets pulled out, and then its skinning time), while Plato will face trial almost immediately.

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    Quote Originally Posted by awa View Post
    see that sounds like a specific example and that means we would need to know what kind of conditions their being kept in how they live and how effective their farmers.

    if your military caste is also aristocracy then they will need vastly more resources to support then if they are just living in a barracks.
    second what kinds of weapons and tools do they use. Horses and heavy armor are very resource dependent, pike men, and archers vastly less so.

    finally how effective the workers are farming in a barren waste land will require more man hours to produce the same amount of resources then say a rich trade based nation.

    Fantasy factors can also drastically alter the equation if your warrior caste are unarmed sword sages with a vow of poverty the price drops to next to nothing.
    Good point. I can't remember if it was the Romans or the Chinese who had the 10/5 men for every one soldier... so that makes it a tricky baseline.

    Quote Originally Posted by Xuc Xac View Post
    Are you familiar with the phrase "I once caught a fish this big"? Compare that with a photograph of a guy holding a fish with the length, weight, and date written on the back.
    Depends on their reasons for keeping the tradition. If it's for fun, then they often incorporate methods to exaggerate and change the story with each telling. Of course, memory in general appears to be better when you don't have TV, books, etc.. Tribes which keep up old ways are pretty cool, from stuff like that.


    On the subject of Warrior Castes. How do you keep large subservient populations under control, and to what levels can it be possible in medieval society? Like, could the ratio of Overseers to Commoners be 1 to 100? I'm guessing culture and technology change this a ton.
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    In regards to warriors controlling the population
    the big one is culture for example divine right of kings or nationality. a second fact is if only one group has weapons, soldiers and generals they can enforce order by force.

    edit it also depends on how you treat them but in general overseers should be unnecessary. the peasants have worked the land for generations so unless you are unusually cruel they wont want to leave and even if they did for the most part they would have no where to go. and as long as they work the land you know where they are and can then collect your taxes. in addition even if they do abandon their farm a new family would be more then happy to take over.
    Last edited by awa; 2012-08-04 at 09:28 AM.

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    Default Re: Random Worldbuilding Questions (Biology, Geography, Society, etc.)

    In my campaign world human civilization is descended from the survivors of Atlantis, a highly advanced kingdom which was destroyed by man's attempts to combine magic and science.

    There exists a large secret society whose goal is to keep the world at a stable "primitive" level, and to keep the world from ever entering an industrial revolution or the magical equivalent. This organization has the tacit acceptance of both the government and the church.

    My question is how do you see such an organization operating? How long do you think they could keep it up for? How successful would they be? If they were ingrained enough would it be possible to keep society in "stasis" forever?

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    Final Fantasy X: The organization is the church.

    Technology brings forth evils that plague the world and building tech is pretty much serving the devil.

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    Default Re: Random Worldbuilding Questions (Biology, Geography, Society, etc.)

    See also: Catholic church in Europe, circa Middle Ages. It really wasn't until the bible was translated into the language of the common person (aka German by Martin Luther) and movable type printing press (Gutenberg) that people weren't force-fed what to believe.

    A similar thing can be seen in the Middle East nowadays. Literacy is at less than 50% in many Middle-Eastern countries, as low at 25% in some. This is why, in part, such practices as women oppression is still so prevalent, with the religious leaders telling them that it must be so, even though the Quran says nothing about such things.

    Basically, tell people what to believe, and the status quo won't change.
    Last edited by Ksheep; 2012-08-04 at 01:37 PM.
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    Default Re: Random Worldbuilding Questions (Biology, Geography, Society, etc.)

    Mass, high technology media of different kind also create more opportunities for successful indoctrination, so it's hard to say that

    then = told what to believe

    now = not so
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    Diversity of information is always bad for indoctrination. You can try to keep up with it when you can't stop it, but less information in general makes it all easier.

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    What was early medieval feudalism like? As an example, Britain used to have five Kings... kingdoms were pretty small.

    I've heard that knights had a lot more status in the early times, being more like an agent of the King (King Arthur style), rather than just part of a warrior caste. I'm not sure if that's true... but it seems that instead of heaving the Lords who serve the counts who serve the dukes who serve the barons, it was the King and a few Knights/Barons who served him.

    Anyone know much about this subject?
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    Default Re: Random Worldbuilding Questions (Biology, Geography, Society, etc.)

    Quote Originally Posted by Conners View Post
    What was early medieval feudalism like? As an example, Britain used to have five Kings... kingdoms were pretty small.

    I've heard that knights had a lot more status in the early times, being more like an agent of the King (King Arthur style), rather than just part of a warrior caste. I'm not sure if that's true... but it seems that instead of heaving the Lords who serve the counts who serve the dukes who serve the barons, it was the King and a few Knights/Barons who served him.

    Anyone know much about this subject?
    It varied GREATLY depending on exactly when and where. For example, pre-Viking invasion England was VERY different from, say, post-Charlemagne France. In pre-Norman England, I wouldn't even say there were Knights as we think of them. There were rich land-owners, who had personal oaths to the king, and they were well-armed and armoured, and often well-trained in the arts of war. However knighthood/ritterdom/chevalier was a Continental idea that was imported.
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    So I just drew up a world, my premises needs a "new world" to be "discovered" by the civilization of the north-west of the "old world" (familiar, huh).

    This is the map of continents where I tried to figure out the climate based on latitude, prevailing winds, rain-shadows and sea currents.

    Spoiler
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    Latitudes, prevailing winds and climates are marked in pretty roughly. It assumes similar conditions to Earth just to keep it simple. The black lines mark 15° intervals of latitude so each cell of climatic circulation fits between two of them.

    Mountain ranges high enough to cause rain shadow are brown. Dark green represents temperate and sub-Arctic humid areas (like Europe, New England, Northern China), light green tropical and sub-tropical humid areas (Amazon, Ganges plain, South China), gold drier savannahs and plains, yellow actual deserts and grey tundra or ice.

    My question is, does this look right? My biggest problems are with the western part of the new world 8Would the underside of the new world and the big island of the coast by so dry even on the coast?) and the north eastern part of the old world. It seems like a lot of Asia (the analogue to the latter area) doesn't fit with the standard placement of dry areas by latitude, probably because of the Monsoon. I tried to approximate it's effects for my world. It also appears that the eastern coasts of continents generally don't have as many deserts, except for Somalia that is practically at the Equator but still has deserts.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ksheep View Post
    See also: Catholic church in Europe, circa Middle Ages. It really wasn't until the bible was translated into the language of the common person (aka German by Martin Luther) and movable type printing press (Gutenberg) that people weren't force-fed what to believe.
    This is overstated, and confuses the actual situation. Historically the church was not nearly as monolithic as we tend to imagine it today. There was an incredible diversity of opinion *within* the church during the Middle Ages. Evidence for this is plentiful. Copernicus was encouraged to publish his work by a bishop (or archbishop). The fact that the pope was usually an old man when elected meant that even the opinions of the head of the church could change frequently. Notice that teachers at the University of Paris were banned on multiple occasions from teaching Aristotle. This is generally taken to mean that some popes tolerated the teaching of Aristotle. Also, the dictum against teaching Aristotle only applied to the University of Paris -- which seems to imply that there was something about the way the masters at Paris taught Aristotle that was the issue, and not Aristotle in general. I think that the counter-reformation led to a "tightening up" of the Catholic Church's positions and a more unified message.

    Now, most of the debates within the catholic church were at a pretty high level, that required a fair amount of education which few lay persons would be expected to have. So perhaps the education level of the populace has something to do with it. Education was on the rise during the early 1400s -- books were being produced in increasingly large numbers, even before the introduction of the printing press.

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    Default Re: Random Worldbuilding Questions (Biology, Geography, Society, etc.)

    There was already something brewing with Wycllive and Hus before Gutenberg was even born. And the Hussites had held very strong for quite some time before the "main" reformation took off.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Yora View Post
    There was already something brewing with Wycllive and Hus before Gutenberg was even born. And the Hussites had held very strong for quite some time before the "main" reformation took off.
    Huh… was not aware of that. I did know there were some breakaway groups pre-reformation, but was not aware of the other attempts to translate the bible pre-Gutenburg…
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    Default Re: Random Worldbuilding Questions (Biology, Geography, Society, etc.)

    Luther had a powerful friend who watched his back and he was willing to fight it out as a public debate, which probably was the reason his attempt became the tipping point.

    Printing certainly was a factor, but it wasn't so much complete bibles but more importantly political leaflets. And basically, people just got fed a second and third position by other people. But once you had a number of competing positions making their way through the population, people started to debate them and weigh the arguments for either.
    And actually, it was priests who started the whole thing and supported it. So once things picked up speed, you had local village priests who could read the latin bible and who became much more inclined to tell people what was written in it.

    Sharing the content of the bible and improved printing where both major factors. But printed bibles probably played a rather minor role.

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    Any good sources for finding out details of what medieval citylife/townlife was like, in various countries?
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    SwashbucklerGuy

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    Aug 2010
    Location
    127.0.0.1
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    Male

    Default Re: Random Worldbuilding Questions (Biology, Geography, Society, etc.)

    Quote Originally Posted by Conners View Post
    Any good sources for finding out details of what medieval citylife/townlife was like, in various countries?
    Depends, can you get your hands on a time machine?

    Other than that, I'm sure there are some good books out there. The problem is you'd have to sort out the good from the bad, and more often than not, they focus on a single region at a specific time… Hard to get a comprehensive look across Europe through the various stages of the middle ages, as well as the different customs from different areas…
    Proud owner of: 0.36 0.43 Internet(s) and 2 Win(s)

    Quote Originally Posted by Welknair View Post
    *Proceeds to google "Bride of the Portable Hole", jokingly wondering if it might exist*

    *It does.*

    What.

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