Brad Wardell's views about technology, politics, religion, world affairs, and all sorts of politically incorrect topics.

I was reading on the forums today people complaining that even in a post-civilization world (one where people are basically getting together from the ruins) that they would “know” how to do all kinds of things like make bows, swords, etc.

I have a lot of friends who are active in the Renaissance and Medieval communities out there who always laugh at this kind of thing. The conversation goes something like this:

“Really, you think you can make a spear? Ok. Let’s see you do it. Let’s see you actually make a weapons-grade spear. In fact, tell me how you would do it. Do you really think you can just get a stick and sharpen it?”

Some is true about agriculture. It’s amazing that people who can’t manage to keep their house plants alive think that farming is technologically trivial. Gardening isn’t that hard but unless you’ve actually farmed some real acreage, involving a plow and doing a real harvest, it’s not something one just inherently knows how to do.

Or how about making bows and arrows. Not the kind for shooting a bird or something but a weapons-grade bow, one that could kill a soldier.  It requires a level of knowledge that the average lay person, even a medieval peasant, would have no idea how to do. 

As someone into this stuff, I can tell you the mechanics of how to make a bow (lots of ash trees around here). But could I make one that would be actually useful in a battle – i.e. where I’d use it over a good club?  I don’t know.

And that’s before we even talk about metallurgy…


Comments (Page 1)
on Mar 14, 2012

Go frog!

on Mar 14, 2012

Weapons and other speciality stuff like magic rings and whatnot I can understand. But agriculture? I'm not saying agriculture is easy to master - it's not. I'm not saying agriculture today isn't vastly different than what it was 2000 years ago - it is. But the knowledge simply isn't lost just because the world ends. If your society is of any pre-industrialism type, you are likely to have around 90% of the population permanently occupied with agriculture (or in a support capacity in the household). Where did all that know-how go? And these are people that never could afford books to write stuff down, and don't know how to read even if they did. They pass that knowledge from generation to generation.

I guess I'm saying:

- yes, we underestimate the effort that has gone into learning some things we think of as tiny, but were MAJOR achievements, such as the plow.

- no, people don't forget everything around them just because the world ends. These aren't computer programmers or marketing gurus. They are as blue-collar as any man alive in the western world today.

on Mar 14, 2012

I thought that the real issue was that they don't find it fun in their game. But yeah, you are totally right. And even if one person knows, then he needs the time to teach that knowledge and have his students to be able to produce something useful, etc.

 

Shouldn't we get stones as weapons? No tech required to hit people with them (ranged combat or not!).

on Mar 14, 2012

What, you think a lay person can just pick up a stone and THROW IT?

on Mar 14, 2012

your first paragraph gives it away. if the people come out from the ruins in a post apocalypse world i would assume that they are either the same or at most only a few generations apart from the people that made up the pre apocalypse society. i doubt that the knowledge and craftsmanship would be lost in such a short time frame.

 

your example about modern people not knowing how to make warbows, spears and swords does not make much sense to me, because this knowledge is not widely used in modern society. you also have to keep in mind that a medieval society works very different in regards of preserving and spreading knowledge then our modern society, for example development in weapons and armor were made through mostly trial and error in the smiths rather than theoretical work in schools and universities.

on Mar 14, 2012

Heavenfall
What, you think a lay person can just pick up a stone and THROW IT?

LOL!

on Mar 14, 2012


I was reading on the forums today people complaining that even in a post-civilization world (one where people are basically getting together from the ruins) that they would “know” how to do all kinds of things like make bows, swords, etc.
I have a lot of friends who are active in the Renaissance and Medieval communities out there who always laugh at this kind of thing. The conversation goes something like this:
“Really, you think you can make a spear? Ok. Let’s see you do it. Let’s see you actually make a weapons-grade spear. In fact, tell me how you would do it. Do you really think you can just get a stick and sharpen it?”
Some is true about agriculture. It’s amazing that people who can’t manage to keep their house plants alive think that farming is technologically trivial. Gardening isn’t that hard but unless you’ve actually farmed some real acreage, involving a plow and doing a real harvest, it’s not something one just inherently knows how to do.
Or how about making bows and arrows. Not the kind for shooting a bird or something but a weapons-grade bow, one that could kill a soldier.  It requires a level of knowledge that the average lay person, even a medieval peasant, would have no idea how to do. 
As someone into this stuff, I can tell you the mechanics of how to make a bow (lots of ash trees around here). But could I make one that would be actually useful in a battle – i.e. where I’d use it over a good club?  I don’t know.
And that’s before we even talk about metallurgy…

You da Frog!

on Mar 14, 2012

How many generations since the 'collapse of civilization' is this supposed to be? And how are people surviving in the wastes if they forgot everything about agriculture and how to make spears and bows? I'm not saying that I would be able to go out there and start making effective weapons but these people have are either first generation survivors who had professions before or they're survivors from the wastes who would be relying on the ability to make primitive but effective weapons and considering the kind of monsters that elemental has those would be military grade weapons or the people would be unlikely to survive.

That said nobody REALLY cares how hard it is to make a spear or learn to farm. The real thing that people care about is the fun factor. The truth is that it's boring to have to research the same low cost techs over and over. There's little to no choice involved because all the first level techs are nearly essential for even the most basic strategy and the cost/value ratio for those first low level techs is so much higher than the next level that there's no real point in specializing until you've gotten them all. Remember what Derek told you about smoke and fire.

on Mar 14, 2012

There was a show on Discovery called "The Colony". While it was an example of how even highly intelligent people can succumb to stupid issues like intersocial drama, the one thing going for it was to show how people could survive in a post apocalyptic world.

I mean, they made a wood gassifier, practically from scratch. As long as all the smart people didn't die out, and not all of the texts and other forms of knowledge were completely lost, then some knowledge should come back fairly quickly.

 

And in fact, that's how I kind of look at it in the game. The speed at which things are researched, developed, and put into a practical execution is way too quick to be something done from scratch, purely as an innovative leap of intellectual thought.

I put research into the same category as population. It's always been there, all you are doing is gathering up and funding the practical applications of it. Be it researching new technologies, or creating infrastructure to take in more refugees lost in the wilderness. Heck, population could even be: how well you can keep track and tax your populace, and how much money and production they can afford to give back to the kingdom.

The rate of population growth, and the rate of technological advancement would not make sense any other way.

on Mar 14, 2012

Tesb is right, knowledge on making weapons would be much harder for us because of our current technological level but I would assume it would be much easier for a medieval society where these are common skills to adapt quickly after a cataclysm. It feels like WoM is trying to do a Civilisation-style tech tree where we start as cave-men and work up from there. That isn't the case. FE is not about progressing through different ages over hundreds of years. It's about re-establishing a society in a handful of years.

I would much prefer to see the tech for races start with all the basic equipment - swords, spears, bows (or slings), leather armour, etc. It just feels weird needing to start at square one for a game like this.

on Mar 14, 2012

The first step is just gathering the people together to survive.

The next step would be to find people who know how to do things (like large scale agriculture, smelting, etc.). 

The next step after that would be to disseminate that knowledge across your fledgling kingdom.

If someone wants to make the case that it would be fun for the society to start out just "knowing" out to do that, that's fine. But seeing people casually argue that people would just "know" how to make swords makes me wonder how much thought they've put into it.

There's a great book called "The Year 1000" which talks about everyday life in that year.  I think it is very safe to say that any medieval historian would find it amusing to be told that the average peasant had the knowledge to make, for example, a weapons-grade bow.

In the game, Fallen Enchantress, the world is about 150 years out from a castastrophe that wiped out 99% of the population and laid waste to the landscape.  There are plenty of swords, bows, and other equipment out there.  The challenge is regaining the knowledge to make these things in a short amount of time.

A typical game of FE lasts about 40 "years" during which time an extraordinary individual has founded a settlement from nothing and attracted a few thousand people from the wastes. During that relatively brief time, they'll regain virtually all the knowledge they lost including the knowledge on manufacturing high grade steel weapons, armor, siege weapons, construction, etc.

The people aren't primitive. They already know what they need to learn. They have examples of what they want to make. That's why they're able to uncover it so quickly. But yea, they do have to uncover it still.

Moreover, anyone who argues that people would "know" how to do this stuff should really think about that for a minute.   They wouldn't know. But they can find out. And they do in the relative blink of an eye.

There's a great book called "The Stand" which I imagine quite a few people here have read. They go through the same thing. There are two groups and they get into a race in trying to figure out how to use stuff that we take for granted in our modern lives. 

on Mar 14, 2012

Gotta agree with Draginol here. I live in a small rural town and 90% of the population has no idea how to farm, even though their parents all do. A few generations in a cave would wipe out a huge portion of society's knowledge, literacy would probably be the only thing that survives. And even then, only in maybe 10% of the population. 

 

It would be cool though to see that some groups or factions have held certain aspect of the former civilization sacred. It could work to give each faction 2-3 techs or even bonuses toward certain trees. But if pacing is the real issue, that just means that there should be more available to do on turn 1. Low level monsters with a high spawn rate would seem a good choice. 

on Mar 14, 2012

triple

on Mar 14, 2012

triple

on Mar 14, 2012

Heavenfall

 people don't forget everything around them just because the world ends..

people out in the countryside would (even before cataclysm) need to be largely self sustaining. I know of one person out in the country that knows how to forge 'basic' steel and make 'basic' penicillin.

I think that some of the more rudimentary knowledge ... things that were 'major breakthroughs' at the dawn of civilization, would still be around post-cataclysm.

As surviving country folk (with this knowledge) begin to gather in the newly formed cities, those few that are self educated in such matters (at this point it would have become a hereditary thing) would be able to spread it amongst the rest of the population.

 

seanw3
I live in a small rural town and 90% of the population has no idea how to farm, even though their parents all do.

But today we live in a society of refrigerated supermarkets, and the majority of farming is now done mechanically.

 

Pre-Cataclysm, likely 90% of the rural population had more than basic agricultural knowledge.

 

 

Draginol
that wiped out 99% of the population

ah ... >.>

I was thinking only the urban centers were obliterated, leaving the countryside relatively unscathed with only 50% losses.

at 99% losses, it is much less probable that even common knowledge would be immediately available. Which would lead to a situation as Draginol describes.

 

Still, what is better from a game play perspective?

(and it does not change the fact that civ traits which give a free tier 1 tech are a relatively poor Trait choice)

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