Its no secret that all the economics of architecture, land development, trade, etc in D&D come directly from Dave Arneson’s Blackmoor. Its also no secret that a lot of the human troop costs are based on the point costs created by Jeff Perren and Gary Gygax for CHAINMAIL and converted by Arneson to GP.

For what I’ve seen, ACKS somewhat charts it’s own course, but I wonder to what extent the old is compatible with the new. I get the sense that the architecture costs are similar but haven’t done a direct comparison yet.

One thing I was curious about (question for Alex): on one of the posts you mentioned

“Since the First Fantasy Campaign undervalued the value of a peasant, the First Fantasy Campaign had to set its population densities vastly in excess of historical standards, which was necessary to provide sufficient funds for the players to field appropriate sized armies.”

Can you elaborate on this? What I mean is how you arrive at the pop densities. We discussed it briefly here http://blackmoor.mystara.us/forums/viewtopic.php?f=45&t=1009

and there, part of what I wrote was:

“Since the costs and so forth of peasants and soldiers are early FFC material it makes sense to look at the FFC Blackmoor data too for what Dave had in mind. The FFC FACTS ABOUT BLACKMOOR: gives 4,346 sq miles and lists the population as 1000 peasants, 100 nobles and soldiers, 4 wizards, 100 elves and some monsters.

Being generous and rounding that up to 1300 people, that gives a pop density of 30 persons per square mile. That’s a reasonable figure. If you compare to medieval Ireland, which is estimated to have had a population of around 500,000 in the early medieval period and around 900,000 in the high medieval period, at 32599 sq mi., you have pop density there at between 25 to 28 people per sq mi.”

So I’m curious where the difference lies.

Regarding Blackmoor’s Population Density, 30 people per square mile x 4,346 square miles = 130,380 people. Blackmoor is nowhere near this. Blackmoor’s population is 1,300 people, which means its population density is 0.299 people per square mile, which is not even hunter-gatherer level. Blackmoor’s population is unrealistically small if we use the stated value, and certainly not in line with medieval Ireland. I disregarded this number entirely as nonsensical.

As regarding Monthly Revenue, AFAIK, Arneson didn’t provide a detailed breakdown for Blackmoor, but he did do so for some of the other domains. Looking at the City of Maus, it has a budget of 80,000gp, which comes from one city of 30,000 men (generating 30,000gp from 30,000 men), 20 villages (generating 2,000gp each from 3,000 men each), and various trading vessels, generating 10,000gp. That’s the entire 80,000gp income, accounted for – there’s no need to assume Imperial funding, etc.

We know from the listing for Duchy of Ten (p8) and Egg of Coot (p9) that the income stated is income every 4 months. Therefore we are talking about a revenue stream of 80,000gp per 4 months. To compare this to ACKS values, we need to divide them by 4, to make them monthly. Therefore, Maus earns 20,000gp per month, and each FFC village of 3,000 yields (2,000/4) 500gp per month.

It wasn’t initially clear to me whether “men” in FFC means “adult men” or “people”. However, the rules state that a a Fyrd of 450 men is available per 3,000 (p7, p8, p9). If “men” means “adult men” then the Fyrd is 15% of the adult men. If “men” means “people”, and we assume 1 able-bodied man per 5 people (the historical norm), then 3,000 people would yield 600 men and the Fyrd of 450 would represent 75% of the adult men. Neither Greece nor Rome ever managed to have more than 33% of their adult men under arms, even during the Punic Wars, so we have to conclude that a 75% military participation ratio is unlikely to be what FFC intends. Therefore I have to conclude that “men” means “adult men”. Therefore, 3,000 men in FFC is comparable to 3,000 families in ACKS, which have 1 adult man per family.

FFC therefore provides that 3,000 families yields 500gp per month, or 1/6gp per family In ACKS, 3,000 families yields (in comparison) 36,000gp per month, or 12gp/family. A family in ACKS therefore yields roughly 72 times as much as a family in FFC. Since I know that the wage-price ratios of things in ACKS are generally historically correct, I know that the revenue per peasant in FFC must be way too low. Ergo, I conclude that “First Fantasy Campaign undervalued the value of a peasant.”

Turning back to Blackmoor itself, we know from page 4 that Blackmoor earns 35,000gp per 4 months. We also know (from the listings for Maus, Duchy of Ten, Egg of Coot, etc.) that the income values are primarily based on the number of peasants. So how many peasants would Blackmoor need to yield 8,750gp per month? They would need 52,500 peasant families (1/6th gp per family). 52,500 families is peasants. 262,500 peasants. 262,500 peasants / 4,346 square miles = 60 peasants per square mile. That’s not an unreasonable population density. But only 20% of the land is cultivated. So that means we’re actually looking at 300 peasants per square mile of cultivated land. That is 2.1 acres per peasant, or 10.5 acres per adult male. An adult man should be farming 30 acres.

Of course we have to ask ourselves whether Blackmoor is actually that large? Each hex on the map is 10 miles. A 10-mile hex has an area of 88 square miles. If Blackmoor is 4,346 square miles, then it should occupy 50 squares on the map. That’s a huge area (especially if you believe the “population 1,300 notion). If Blackmoor’s that big, then the other, more powerful regions should presumably occupy larger areas. For instance, the Egg of Coot earns 160,000gp and so probably should occupy 220+ hexes. The overall region (excluding the Great Kingdom) needs 1,200 hexes. That’s more than exist on the map.

So FFC leaves us with densely-packed peasants (1 peasant family farming each 10 acres of field) who produce almost nothing (1/6th of a gp per month). Or if we assume that Blackmoor really is just 1,300 people, it leaves us with hyper-productive peasant families (33gp per month) spread out at a hunter-gatherer population density.

On top of all this confusion, we have to note all the other apparent inconsistencies. Often the prices of the same goods change. An arquebus costs 15gp on p.5 and then cost 35gp on page 11. Nor do relative prices make sense. An armorer costs 450-900gp per year, while a horseman costs 10gp per year – suggesting that armorers earned 45 times as much as cavalrymen. Laborers building a road are said to earn 1-10sp per day, suggesting an average income of 5.5sp/day, or (365 x 5.5 x 1gp/10sp) 200gp per year – 20 times what it costs to field an infantryman. Or consider trading revenues: On pages 7-10, trading ships earn between 250gp and 1,000gp per 4 months. On page 11, however, trading ships can carry 150 tons and “the usual return is in the neighborhood of 10gp per ton of cargo,” or 1,500gp, 1.5 to 6 times as much as all the prior listed values.

I know you have access to an enormous amount of Arneson’s work, and perhaps you’ve been able to make sense of all of this. I was certainly not. So when it came time to create ACKS, I started from a new framework.

Thanks Alex for the very detailed reply, there’s a lot in there to chew on, and I see you’ve certainly taken a very close look at the FFC info which is way cool of you.

You’re right about the .299 figure per square mile - somehow I misplaced the decimal and got 29.9. I’m thinking the land area was meant to include more than the fief of Blackmoor proper but still haven’t had time to check the maps.

Going to bed now but will try to give a closer look tomorrow.

Alex Wrote:As regarding Monthly Revenue, AFAIK, Arneson didn’t provide a detailed breakdown for Blackmoor, but he did do so for some of the other domains. Looking at the City of Maus, it has a budget of 80,000gp, which comes from one city of 30,000 men (generating 30,000gp from 30,000 men), 20 villages (generating 2,000gp each from 3,000 men each), and various trading vessels, generating 10,000gp. That’s the entire 80,000gp income, accounted for – there’s no need to assume Imperial funding, etc.

We know from the listing for Duchy of Ten (p8) and Egg of Coot (p9) that the income stated is income every 4 months. Therefore we are talking about a revenue stream of 80,000gp per 4 months. To compare this to ACKS values, we need to divide them by 4, to make them monthly. Therefore, Maus earns 20,000gp per month, and each FFC village of 3,000 yields (2,000/4) 500gp per month.

It wasn’t initially clear to me whether “men” in FFC means “adult men” or “people”. However, the rules state that a a Fyrd of 450 men is available per 3,000 (p7, p8, p9). If “men” means “adult men” then the Fyrd is 15% of the adult men. If “men” means “people”, and we assume 1 able-bodied man per 5 people (the historical norm), then 3,000 people would yield 600 men and the Fyrd of 450 would represent 75% of the adult men. Neither Greece nor Rome ever managed to have more than 33% of their adult men under arms, even during the Punic Wars, so we have to conclude that a 75% military participation ratio is unlikely to be what FFC intends. Therefore I have to conclude that “men” means “adult men”. Therefore, 3,000 men in FFC is comparable to 3,000 families in ACKS, which have 1 adult man per family.

FFC therefore provides that 3,000 families yields 500gp per month, or 1/6gp per family In ACKS, 3,000 families yields (in comparison) 36,000gp per month, or 12gp/family. A family in ACKS therefore yields roughly 72 times as much as a family in FFC. Since I know that the wage-price ratios of things in ACKS are generally historically correct, I know that the revenue per peasant in FFC must be way too low. Ergo, I conclude that “First Fantasy Campaign undervalued the value of a peasant.”

Turning back to Blackmoor itself, we know from page 4 that Blackmoor earns 35,000gp per 4 months. We also know (from the listings for Maus, Duchy of Ten, Egg of Coot, etc.) that the income values are primarily based on the number of peasants. So how many peasants would Blackmoor need to yield 8,750gp per month? They would need 52,500 peasant families (1/6th gp per family). 52,500 families is peasants. 262,500 peasants. 262,500 peasants / 4,346 square miles = 60 peasants per square mile.

Dan: Well agreed to all of this - nice bit of work Alex. I double checked the figures against the '77 print to make sure there were no typos (there are some in the '80 print) and the figures were all good.

Alex wrote: “That’s not an unreasonable population density. But only 20% of the land is cultivated. So that means we’re actually looking at 300 peasants per square mile of cultivated land. That is 2.1 acres per peasant, or 10.5 acres per adult male. An adult man should be farming 30 acres.”

Dan: Here, again is the place where we disagree completely. I cannot stress strongly enough all the thorns and brambles surrounding the supposition that “an adult man should be farming 30 acres”(or 10 acres or 50 acres - the figure itself is not the issue per se). The amount of land needed for agricultural subsistence, as I’ve been trying to point out, varies wildly between subsistence systems, cultural systems, distributive systems, subsistence base, and microclimate.

For example, the typical swiss farmer subsisted on milk, cheese, rye bread, some root vegetables (onions, carrots), eggs and meat. Overall, health in medieval and early modern Switzerland was generally good and shortages of food and goods were generally unknown. The average swiss farmer owned about 4 acres of land - some less, some more. (Robert Netting is the best source here) Following the introduction of the potato, land requirements to population density shrunk dramatically, as it did in Ireland and elswhere.

Similarly, smallholdings in the tropics typically run from 1-10 acres of land. A ten acre plot in the tropics can actually be quite profitable, depending on what you have planted, with fruit trees, and a mixed system including sheep/goats. (this I have direct personal experience with).

Turning to the North Atlantic where hay based agricultre dominates, you will need beetween 30 - 50 sheep/goats or mix of sheep and cattle per family, requiring about 6-10 acres of fodder (either hay or hay plush brus and bracken as from polled trees) assuming an average of 5 animals per acre. But that is not a safe assumption by any means as some areas might allow 7 sheep an acre (wetlands particularly), others only 2. In any case, cereal cultivation is generally limited and often non existent. Many a medieval Icelander lived their entire lives without knowing what bread looked like, let alone how it tasted.

So looking at Blackmoor - I would doubt Arneson ever gave serious thought to it, but he indicates the primary agricultural activities involved a kind of domesticated bison, sheep, and chickens. Given that, climate wise at least, Blackmoor is Minnesota, hay based agriculture makes the most sense as the dominant, if perhaps not exclusive form, bolstered, as in much of the North by mixed subsistence (hunting, fishing, gathering, trapping, fur trade). So, I think it is entirely reasonable to assume 10.5 acres per male and your Population estimate of 262,500 actually fits pretty well.

Regarding the value of those peasants, I think your figure of 12GP per family should probably hold about true. Its possible that the products of Blackmoor peasants were undervalued relative to the products of peasants in the Great Kingdom or wherever, but 72 times less seems far to much.

Now for gaming purposes, I think, you could probably just allow a range of acerage required depending on subsistence/climate specifics (maybe 10 - 50 acres per adult male or more in arid regions) in order to achieve an average of 12GP per family. I dunno how this might affect other mechanics but I’d bet it could be done fairly painlessly.

Alex wrote:

“Of course we have to ask ourselves whether Blackmoor is actually that large? Each hex on the map is 10 miles. A 10-mile hex has an area of 88 square miles. If Blackmoor is 4,346 square miles, then it should occupy 50 squares on the map. That’s a huge area (especially if you believe the “population 1,300 notion). If Blackmoor’s that big, then the other, more powerful regions should presumably occupy larger areas. For instance, the Egg of Coot earns 160,000gp and so probably should occupy 220+ hexes. The overall region (excluding the Great Kingdom) needs 1,200 hexes. That’s more than exist on the map.”

Using the maps that came in the FFC, Blackmoor does indeed occupy about 50 squares. The overall area of the map is about 1,716 10-mile hexes and about 111,458 square miles of territory, including everything from the dragon hills to Coot, Bramwald to Ten. Here’s the map: http://blackmoor.mystara.us/img/1977_Blackmoor%20full_size.png

Thanks for taking the time to review my math. I tried to do a thorough review of the other domain systems (Mentzer’s and Arneson’s) before developing ACKS, but I didn’t have access to much information beyond the 1980 FFC for Blackmoor, so I’m glad it double-checked out.

I don’t disagree that the amount of land needed for agricultural subsistence can vary widely… I am guilty of assuming that Blackmoor had agricultural conditions typical to those I studied for ACKS. In the latest version of ACKS (v20) I do offer rules some suggestions for simulating regions of varying population density, largely as a result of our prior conversations.

In any event, I’m sure that when Arneson ran FFC it worked as a cohesive whole, but I wasn’t able to reverse-engineer it in a way that I could make sense of, so I ended up building more from an adjusted Mentzer model.

Alex wrote: “On top of all this confusion, we have to note all the other apparent inconsistencies. Often the prices of the same goods change. An arquebus costs 15gp on p.5 and then cost 35gp on page 11. Nor do relative prices make sense. An armorer costs 450-900gp per year, while a horseman costs 10gp per year – suggesting that armorers earned 45 times as much as cavalrymen. Laborers building a road are said to earn 1-10sp per day, suggesting an average income of 5.5sp/day, or (365 x 5.5 x 1gp/10sp) 200gp per year – 20 times what it costs to field an infantryman. Or consider trading revenues: On pages 7-10, trading ships earn between 250gp and 1,000gp per 4 months. On page 11, however, trading ships can carry 150 tons and “the usual return is in the neighborhood of 10gp per ton of cargo,” or 1,500gp, 1.5 to 6 times as much as all the prior listed values.

I know you have access to an enormous amount of Arneson’s work, and perhaps you’ve been able to make sense of all of this. I was certainly not. So when it came time to create ACKS, I started from a new framework.”

Dan: Yeah, all part of the fun. The thing is, in addition to some new material prepared for the FFC (as the famous “special interests” seem to be), Dave gave us historic info from different years (1971-1975) often without making it very clear what was what. The low prices for troops etc. early on were just the CHAINMAIL point costs multiplied by 10. The later (circa '73), higher GP costs are more in keeping with the economics he was developing for D&D. The trading ship example is exactly that - the first ship return on 80:p 7-10 are the sheets Dave prepared for the “2nd Coot Invasion” which played out in 1973, so probably date to about december of '72. Whereas the “Investments” section refers to the use of polyhedral dice and as such seems to have been made either as some of the material that Arneson wrote and mailed to Gygax when they were writing the game (I think this) or it was written after D&D was published. In either case, it would have been written months or possibly years after the “2nd Coot” material and so supplants it. Truth is, Dave was always changing his mind and reinventing stuff.

Alex wrote: “Thanks for taking the time to review my math. I tried to do a thorough review of the other domain systems (Mentzer’s and Arneson’s) before developing ACKS, but I didn’t have access to much information beyond the 1980 FFC for Blackmoor, so I’m glad it double-checked out.

I don’t disagree that the amount of land needed for agricultural subsistence can vary widely… I am guilty of assuming that Blackmoor had agricultural conditions typical to those I studied for ACKS. In the latest version of ACKS (v20) I do offer rules some suggestions for simulating regions of varying population density, largely as a result of our prior conversations.”

Dan: Cool beans. I only downloaded v20 yesterday (went on a mini vaca to the Sterling Rennfest), so only had a quick look so far.

Re: the differing dates in the FFC rules, that actually explains a lot. It’s really two different rules sets, on a certain level.

Yep, just so. There’s a lot of that in the FFC “This is what I did way back when, this is what I did next, and (sometimes) this is what I think you should do” Protection points are anothier great example of that. Dave gives a method for generating them, but in his own dungeons its very clear he used two completely different methods when you savy out the math.