I think this might have been answered by Alex already, but I couldn’t find the post. What kind of adjustments would need to be made for ACKS style economics to work in later ages, like the Renaissance or Early Modern? (And if it’s just not a good fit, what are the reasons). One of the great things about ACKS is the implicit trust the economic numbers make sense, but I don’t have a good head for it myself. Thanks for any insight!
In terms of trade/commerce, you don't need to change much. The mercantile system in ACKS is more akin to the Ancient Roman and/or Renaissance trade levels, anyway. Medieval trade was substantially less prevalent than ACKS would suggest.
In terms of land, you should increase the land value of peasants by 1-3gp per peasant to reflect improved agricultural techniques. That in turn will make your lords richer, which will allow for larger armies (30 Years War style), or more investment in cities, infrastructure, science, and so on.
There may be some experts on the Early Modern period with more specific details. My sense is that as long as you stay before the Industrial Revolution you'll be fine.
Out of curiosity, if we were to assume “Dark Ages” levels of trade (say, anything between the Third Century Crisis Roman Empire and before the Fall of Constantinople), what changes to the system as written would be required the better to refelct this period?
According to the most recent works I've read, the levels of trade stayed fairly high until the Muslim Conquests. Up until those, the Mediterranean remained a navigable trading route and so the Roman-level shipping continued. Once the Islamic Caliphate seized the southern-half of the Mediterranean, it became bloody waters of Christian v. Muslims. That destroyed the trade routes that had sustained Antiquarian civilization. The collapse of trade made it impossible to sustain urban settlements, and caused a reversion to self-sufficient agricultural communities.
So for the period 700 to 1400, I'd consider the following changes:
- Reduce population densities (per Adjusting Population Density in ACKS). This will vary depending on region - England and Wales having a much lower population density than, say, Medieval France.
- Adjust the Urban Demograhics to reflect dispersed settelement patterns and agrarian/pastoral realms (as per Adjusting Urban Demographics in ACKS). This will vary depending on region, too. Byzantium remained a large city, but most areas of Western Europe lost their large cities.
- Roll demand modifiers at 1d4-1d4 instead of 1d3-1d3, to represent sharper local variations in trade
-Halve the range of all trade routes to reflect more dangerous travel conditions
-Add an additional encounter check along trade routes for bandits/pirates
That would give an environment with smaller, poorer towns, poorly connected in most cases, with sharply differentiated prices for goods at different locations. Profit margins for successful traders would be higher, but gross profit would be limited by the small scale of the markets.
I just finished reading A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century by Barbara Tuchman. A must read for any GM. Even if you aren’t going to use a historical setting for your game, there is a lot of good campaign fodder that would be fantastic for any ACKs game, particularly at the “Conquerer” and “King” levels.
If I set my game in the last half of 14th century, I would reduce population by half (at least) in most places. The Black Plague wiped out at least half the population in Europe. In France, add one or two bandit/pirate encounters on top of what Alex suggests. Costs for specialists and laborers would be at least double since the Black Plague was harder on the lower classes than on the upper classes. Clerical healing spells would be far more expensive, maybe double or triple (the Avignon papacy were some greedy dudes). In France, especially in Burgundy, I would add more bandit encounters. I’d make mercenaries more available, but they would require, as part of of their service agreements, rights to loot whatever they could find and carry away.
Interestingly enough, I’ve also been reading A Distant Mirror, and am writing up a campaign setting that occurs in the wasteland between Not_England and Not_France (I’m a creative original…really). The other idea I have is a mercenary campaign set in Not_Italy, where the Not_Duke of Anjou sets out to claim the Not_Kingdom of Sicily. Complete with dueling clerical Not_Anti_Popes.
Every chapter in that book is briming with gaming ideas.
Sounds like some great campaigning ahead. It really is a great book for campaign and adventure ideas.