Thursday, April 1, 2010

Answering Sources; Old School Inspired Tinkering

Answering Sources. Ancient Empires before Alexander is a great read. As for Anarchangels's question regarding taxation. Sorry I don't have a detailed account of my sources. I'm only an amateur and I don't exactly have a degree in History.

Most of my inductions is from looking at practical economics and applying it to the romans and Persians they understood it intuitively. Wagon designs, type of draft animal (mostly donkeys or onagers), before the metal reinforcement of the wheel, and limitation of wood quality, and very few specialists will severely limit the capacity per individual wagon.

The mention of Egypt and their importation of lumber was already a clue that many empires were not as wealthy to transport good quality hardwood for wheel making. Imagining the map, looking for locations rich in hardwood, typically colder temperate climates with river access (to send the logs down the river), were so few.

I brushed up o bit on the study of the Lumber process in 19C Philippine Ancestral Houses. Wood is a "modern" convenience by the standards of the time.

I got to looking at the discussion about Tin and Copper trade disruptions. It got me thinking maybe wood was also a valuable commodity that was ignored. If you look at the use of it in a macro-scale: shipping and land transportation, then the reach of empire becomes severely limited by the availability of it.

So if you factor wood as expensive, naturally cost of transportation and exchange of goods will have a different picture. Even with Roman roads, wood wears down quickly. A wagon might be good for a couple of years then replacement is needed. It even makes more sense when you consider that the less frequent they transport, saving up for a seasonal trip, the cheaper all the costs are going to be. Again, more advantageous since seasonal winds can determine the fastest time to go to where.

Economic Principles of Supply and Demand happen regardless of the awareness of the merchants and the consumers. It is only natural that one particular strategy or pattern becomes most cost effective and becomes the "default" method, dominant strategy, until technology changes that.


  • Allen, The Persian Empire.
  • Cook, The Persian Empire.
  • Olmstead, History of the Persian Empire.
  • Briant, From Cyrus to Alexander.
  • Cook, The Persian Empire.
  • Lancel, Carthage.
  • Bagnall, The Punic Wars.
  • Goldsworthy, The Fall of Carthage.
  • Picard and Picard, The Life and Death of Carthage.
  • Warmington, Carthage.
  • Goldsworthy, The Fall of Carthage.


Old School and Economics Inspiration. Tinkering with my Game System again like almost every life long World Building GM, we all have our own homebrew game system. I'm wondering if there is a homebrew system out there that triest to precise in its use of language and science more than a particular "style" .

These days I've been reading about economists, Alfred Marshal has become a hero for me. He reminds me of that the GM who tries to model reality and human behavior correctly by numbers. He is the guy who developed the Supply and Demand Curve which is no mean feat given that 200 years people struggled with the concept. His book principles of economics, is basically the first "game" system that tried to express reality in near Physics-like precision.

Right now, I'm making a Game System based on Old School DnD and my obsession of getting thing scientifically sound. OSRIC's simplicity is refreshing and fun to look at. Of course, even with the simplicity you can still introduce some modern concepts.

Reading OSRIC really struck me how different my world view is now. In fact it helped me define it well, because almost every chapter got me arguing in my head against it. That sounds bad, but I know its fantasy and all but C'mon! 25lbs Zweihanders!?! Wielding a 6ft blade in a confined space!? Thats a freaking 7ft radius, covering areas of 35-70 sq ft.

Sorry, nerd rage.

Game Theory led me to study a lot of other things that are now practically scientifically factual. Like the definition of intuition, rationality, empathy, awareness, concentration etc. Multiple-intelligence theory is makes a lot of sense in game theory because it basically points out that our differences in strengths reflect our differences in strategies in the way we live.

Multiple Intelligence theory fill the gaps very ell and ties up a lot of loose ends. There is a social intelligence and Humans have a particularly specialized set of processors for it. Reading up of psychopaths and autism, the absence and limitations of these different intelligences are more pronounced. You can even observed the trade offs, where some Psychopaths compensate by better rationality and some autistics are, pardon the term, idiot savants.

Diminishing returns, and overspecialization at great cost is observable in both the mind and the body.

As for Strength, Dexterity and Constitution.
Beginning with Strength, I've realized something fascinating in my study of Fight Science: Mass = Strength. Bone and Muscle mass is Strength, the "Magic" happens when Kinesthetics is factored in. The skilled ability to shift weight and center of mass allows a person to multiply the force they exert without building up muscle mass.

Baseball Fast ball pitchers are ~180lbs yet produce 150 kg of force to hurl a ball 45 m/s. Boxers of around 160lbs are able to produce 1000lbs of force. I'm aware "hay-makers" are impractical and baseball throws take almost a second to wind up. Its just that even in attacks that are 1/3 of a second including recoil, how much weight we can put behind in that fraction of a second can change so easily and quickly when the whole body is a lever itself. That height and the balls of our feet allows us to shift in center of gravity very quickly forward and back. Forward adding some mass behind an attack, and back as we step forward stopping the momentum to allow us to move in another direction.

The kinesthetic practice of physical skills basically make attacks more and more effective as they better and better time the blow. I begin to imagine that a the success and force of the attack is based on the opportunity presented and how skilled the warrior is in that opportunity. A successful attack by a great margin represents a warrior who has timed a blow so well as to use up enough of a second (where part of the second is the attack, another part is recovering from that attack), to throw enough weight as to deal enough lethal and stopping damage.

Imagining two ancient fighters of the with their shortswords and medium shields. The attacker shifts his weight down, crashing his shield arm against the other's. Catching him in an angle where his is off balance, forcing him to abandon his previous intent to prevent him from being knocked back which will make him lose precious instances.

From an unanticipated angle, in the instant between two thoughts of the defender, the training of the attacker comes into play. Almost involuntarily, in one smooth motion, he catches back the weight returned by defender. His back leg moves forward encircling around the defenders shield and whipping his arm towards the defender's exposed chest. He puts enough weight to penetrate deeply hardened leather, flesh and bone. Thoughtlessly puncturing vitals and flooding blood into to lungs, stomach and throat. The force exhausted he recovers his weapon, in time to parry a blow from the corner of his vision and put his shield between him and a second attacker.

Dexterity is interchangeable with Strength in combat. Although you need to choose the particular mode of attack to gain the benefit of a higher recovery which is reflected in a defense bonus. Again the economies of action can be observed, when you are shifting a lot of weight and power around and you need just as much time to recover. Dexterity is used in precision based attacks, which has around 1/3 to 1/10 less power. In return a more flexible, unpredictable and adaptive set of movements can be taken since very little of balance is sacrificed.

I'm not sure yet how much more accurate dexterity will be compared to strength based attacks. The relationship is more of a relative difference. I'm not sure yet if I should reflect strength with a penalty instead.

I'm also aware that certain weapon weights are really dependent on its wielders mass. Its all about balance again. Spears and Axes have a couple of problems with balance. The way the sword's pommel counter balances the weight of the blade means it can multiply the speed and therefore the damage exponentially (KE equation) vs weight which multiplies it proportionally.

Weapons which don't fit a certain balance Profile cannot be used with Dex, or with severe limitations. Spears are tricky, since holding it a certain way will limit its movements and reach but increase its speed, while another way gives that all important reach.

Axes are strength based, the ease a stronger person has in wielding it without great loss in recovery is a big advantage. In the curves of damage potential (supply) vs opportunity (demand), the Character will choose his optimal damage potential depending on the available opportunity, as opportunity increases (because of better recovery) there is more damage potential.

No surprise that a 330 lb 6'11" Goliath will have a much easier time wielding the 4lbs 3ft long axe compared to men less strong. Like swords, axes benefit from length. You don't need a huge blade size, like in the fantasy art. Looking at Viking war axes, a small head is all you really need. A stone counter weight wouldn't hurt. When there is no counterweight, the body has to get the mass somewhere, and it takes it from the center of balance which slows the body down. I'm afraid though, this giant will break the axe's wooden shaft unless its reinforced with metal. On a economized attack, he can make an easily generate 855lbs of force concentrated on the narrow line of the axe blade. Definitely would cleave into a 15lb Scutum unless you catch it on the metal boss.

I'm beginning to notice that low center of gravity helps in recovery and in shifting balance quickly, while a high center of gravity helps add more weight to the attack since one can move more weight easily along the greater area of balance, the large triangle area where the balls of the foot and toes create. More large area means more leverage to generate force. Dodging giants makes sense. So Dwarves are good defenders, because they have a fast recovery for their mass while having less weight to throw... weird. How could I reflect that? But dwarves then can afford to wield more unbalanced weapons which have more damage potential.

my mass to height formula. this assumes ultra lean character, increase or decrease appropriate. Typically a 10% body fat is normal.

[(weight in kg)^(1/3)]/ Race Factor = Height in Meters.
Race factors

Orcs = 2.5 (shorter and broader)
Humans = 2.35 (default)
Elves = 2.2 (tall for their light mass)
Dwarves = 2.85 (very short for their mass).

If you have read up to this far, you might guess that I went physics crazy with all the biometrics. Can't help it, with Fight Science in Nat Geo and Arma's science of anachronistic combat how CAN'T you not do the formula and get at your own conclusion of what it all could mean?


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