Gaming - Genre



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Condition: Stub
ID: 5799


June 16, 2009, 10:21 am

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The Insular Village


It is easy to forget in our fast paced globally connected world what the reality of village life would have been like.

Our modern world is very fast, well connected and compared to just a few decades ago, much smaller. Thanks to the internet I have friends I have never met, but know across electronic media. These friends have been as close as a few counties away and as far away as other continents and even the other side of the planet. The village, a hallmark of fantasy settings, exists in a strange mixture of neo-renaissance faire and convenience store modes of operation. Reading local literature into the history of the small town I live in opened my eyes to how much the world has changed in the span of a few generations.


The modern world is laced together by ribbons of concrete and asphault. Highways, interstates, toll roads all the way down to county roads and service roads, chances are there is a road that can take you where you want to go. On top of these roads there is a massive infrastructure of convenience stores, truck stops, gas stations, roadside attractions, hotels, motels, auto garages, restaraunts and the like. Automobiles and large semi-trucks/lorrys carry massive amounts of frieght to support networks of chain stores, retail outlets, and malls. Groceries are imported from across continents, finished goods follow the same routes. Beyond the roads there are freigh lanes in the ocean to facilitate the transit of massive cargo and container ships moving everything from automobiles to cloth, toys, food, raw crude oil and other chemicals.

Less than 100 years ago, the main mode of transit of goods were the networks of railroads that connected major cities. If you notice, in most industrial sections of cities, there are railroad tracks. Of course I am speaking only of America and can only guess about other nations and continents. Many people think the rail came later and the industrial parks were there first. In truth the industrial regions grew around the paths where the rails ran. Cities and towns sprouted along the rail lines. Many of these small towns are fading as the railroads loose ground to road frieght and the new towns and cities are growing around the interstates. If you were to look at my hometown from above, it would vaguely resemble a lopsided dumbbell. The larger lobe is centered around Depot Hill, the rail-head for the region. The smaller dumbell is growing around where 'Main street' intersects the Interstate, and is composed of hotels, restaurants and a new industrial park that is independant from the rails.

That's alot of background material. But to appreciate what the basic village doesn't have, you have to appreciate what you do have now. The village didnt have an interstate, it didn't have a railroad. It didn't have motels, fast food chains, grocery stores, or many of the other things we take for granted today. The village is the focal point of a spread out community of agriculture, for every one townsperson, there are going to be ten or twenty or even more people who only travel to town on a monthly basis.

Motel, What Motel?

There is not a motel, hotel, or inn in every village. Only villages and townships that are lucky enough to be on a regularly traveled trade route are going to have permanent rental lodgings.

Have Ale, Will Travel

Now almost every village will have some sort of ale house, tavern, or some other social point for hard working men to spend some coin and blow of some steam. These aren't television bars, but places where the menu is whatever the staff happens to feel like cooking, and the drink menu is going to be very short. In certain areas, this local tavern will likely serve multiple roles, as likely being the local whore house if there is one, as well as a commonfolk meeting hall. Once you travel far enough, the type and flavor of ale or lager sold will completely change it's character, like wine in France.

I'll Have a Combo #3

Restaurants are also a very modern concept that won't exist in the basic village. The tavern will likely have some basic food they serve but there isnt going to be a printed menu nor will there be many choices. The only cuisine is home cooking, and that will vary from region to region. One of the things about food is that without rapid transit, refridgeration, pasteurization or preservatives, food is limited in how far it can be shipped before spoiling. Buying a fruit salad now can contain fruit from multiple countries, while in the era of the village, almost any non-preserved food will be produced less than a week's travel on foot from the village.


Social Services


The Family Unit


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Comments ( 5 )
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November 1, 2010, 19:27

Over 600 hits and no comments yet?  Let's see if I can right that injustice now . . .

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe the purpose of this stub is to make us think about what life in a realistic medieval or pre-industrial village would have been like, by comparing and contrasting life in a modern town.  To this end, it starts off well, but dwells overmuch in the modern details.  To run a medieval campaign, I don't need to know that railroads and highways helped modern towns develop; instead, I want to know more about how pre-modern villages grew up around waterways or possibly caravan routes.

A certain amount of contrast is helpful, however.  The fact that motels/inns were relatively uncommon is useful, for example.  But adding relevant gaming details would make it much more so.  Inns were scarce?  Fine, but I want to know how travellers were normally accommodated in a town with no rental lodgings.  Did they have to camp?  Or were they usually put up for the night by someone?

Properly researched and expanded, this post could help lend a touch of realism to any pre-industrial campaign setting.  Remember though, that in fantasy games magic will almost always have some influence on this subject, be it to make travel easier or aid in long-distance communication.  Adding a section for that might therefore be prudent.

November 1, 2010, 23:42
This is an incomplete submission, I got so far into it and got tired of writing on it.
November 2, 2010, 3:02
Meh, I figured as much. I just saw that it has been out for almost a year with no comments. Didn't mean to unearth it if you'd have rather kept it buried . . .
November 2, 2010, 10:53
No biggie, once my in-work gets so full, I push some partially finished stuff out as stubs or attach it to the Temple of the Stillborn codex
November 30, 2016, 12:33
These are some useful and practical thoughts regarding the most common fantasy settings. If Scras is done with it, I might suggest wikifying this so others could expand on it.

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