Thursday, June 23, 2011

Life in Arden, 1459 - Pt 1

My character in Renaissance Kingdoms continues to live his happy life at the port town of Ardencaple, County Glasgow. He has not traveled outside of town since he went for a picnic in Stirling with some cousins around new year (after the rebellion and siege) and it is over a year since he moved there with all his family and possessions. He had first visited the place several times since the town's formation in 1456.

When we moved Arden's natural resource was 'fish'. The young of the town could go fishing if there was no work available for them elsewhere. Life was easy. Since that time, a number of things have happened that will potentially change the sleepy seaside village for ever.

Firstly, the game underwent a major 'rationalisation' in terms of the number of towns and counties. Population had declined to the extent that some places were dying ghost towns, trade and commerce was grinding to a halt, the intensity of the 'community experience' provided by the game was diminishing. So, after a consultative process, entire towns and counties were 'mothballed' and their populations redistributed amongst the surviving locations. The intention was to recreate a critical mass.

Ardencaple remained on the map, as did Glasgow County. The county lost the town of Lanark, whose population was relocated to the capital, Glasgow Town. Lanark had been a 'fruit' town, Glasgow Town a 'wood' town. When the Lanark population was relocated to Glasgow Town, Glasgow Town was converted from a 'wood' town to a 'fruit' town. Unfortuantely, sadly, Ardencaple was turned to a 'wood' town and we lost our fishing grounds.

To make things worse, the county council (which, we later discovered, had actually asked for our town to be converted from fish, without actually asking (or even informing) us first) closed down the local gold mine, removing the one source of income left to our youth. And to cap it all off, the rules about axes and forests had changed before all of the above happened, so as to make running a 'wood' town a painfully expensive operation if organised the same way as it had been for years. With no warning that we were going to be faced with a forest one morning, we were rather unprepared.

Previously, mayors could buy some axes and then 'loan' out up to 20 of them each day for citizens to take into the forest where they would cut wood. For each loaned axe, there was about a 5% chance of its going 'blunt' per day, in which case the mayor would have to pay a smith to sharpen it before being able to loan it out again. And about every hundred days an axe would 'break' and need replacing. In return for loaning each axe, the mayor would receive one bushel of wood per axe per day (the forester would keep the rest), which they would then redistribute to the smiths and bakers and construction workers as required. It was all very neat.

Then, the rules for axes were changed. Now, axes break frequently unless the user keeps their character's 'mood' up (which is done by going to the pub a lot, or going to church - haha). This requires a workforce of socially responsible drinkers. A consequence of low levels of public education (or public spirit) has meant that this requirement has generally not been fulfilled. A consequence of that has been that the repair and replacement cost for mayors has rocketed up. Axes have become a serious drain on a town's resources. The young are discouraged from using (breaking) the declining number of axes in use and taxes need to be imposed.

Life has grown tougher all round.

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