Saturday, 6 July 2013

Populating a game world

(You might want to read this essay in conjunction with my older essay, Settling a game world, which covers similar ground but which this hopefully advances on)

For an economy to work people have to be able to move between occupations to fill economic niches. In steady state, non player character (NPC) males become adult as 'vagrants', and then move through the state transitions described in this document. The pattern for females is different.

Basic occupations

The following are 'unskilled' occupations which form the base of the occupation system. Generally a male character at maturity becomes a 'Vagrant' and wanders though the world until he encounters a condition which allows him to advance up the occupation graph. If an occupation wholly fails, the character can revert to being a 'Vagrant' and start again.

Occupation Dwelling condition New trade Notes
Vagrant None land available and animals available Herdsman
Vagrant None arable land available Farmer See crops
Vagrant None has weapons Outlaw
Herdsman None Insufficient food Vagrant
Farmer Farm Insufficient food Vagrant
Outlaw None loses weapons Vagrant
Vagrant None craftsman willing to take on apprentice Apprentice
Herdsman None arable land available Farmer
Outlaw None Battle hardened OutlawLeader
Apprentice (craftsman's) Qualified Journeyman
Journeyman None Unserviced customers available Craftsman See crafts
Craftsman See crafts Too few customers Journeyman
Journeyman None arable land available Farmer
Vagrant None Lord with vacancies available Soldier See military
OutlawLeader None Unprotected farms available Laird See nobility

Gender dimorphism

In the paragraph above I said 'a male character'. It may seem unfair to create a game world in which the sexual inequality of the real world is carried over, and for that reason it seems sensible that female children should have the same opportunities as male children. But games work on conflicts and injustices, and so it seems reasonable to me to have a completely different occupation graph for women. I haven't yet drawn that up.


Vagrants wander in a fairly random way. While vagrants are wandering they are assumed to live off the land and require no resources. Solitary outlaws similarly wander until they find a leader, although they will avoid the areas protected by nobles. Herdsmen also wander but only over unenclosed pasture. They visit markets, if available, periodically; otherwise, they live off their herds. Journeymen wander from market to market, but are assumed to trade skills with farmers along the way.


Crafts are occupations which require acquired skills. In the initial seeding of the game world there are probably 'pioneers', who are special vagrants who, on encountering the conditions for a particular craft to thrive, instantly become masters of that craft.

Craft Dwelling Supplies Perishable? Customer types Needs market? Customers Supplier Suppliers Recruits
Solo Per journeyman Per apprentice

Min Max Min Max Min Max
Smith Forge Metal Items no Farmer, Soldier No 6 10 4 6 1 3 Miner 1 Vagrant
Baker Bakery Bread yes All NPCs No 20 30 12 18 6 10 Miller 1 Vagrant
Miller Mill Flour, meal no Baker, Innkeeper No 2 3 1 2 1 1 Farmer 6 Vagrant
Weaver Weaver's house Cloth no All NPCs Yes 6 10 4 6 1 3 Herdsman 2 Vagrant
Innkeeper Inn Food, hospitality yes Merhant, Soldier, Farmer, Lord No 10 20 5 10 2 4 Farmer,Herdsman 2 Vagrant
Miner Mine Ores no Smith Yes 2 3 1 2 1 1 Farmer 1 Vagrant
Butcher Butchery Meat yes All NPCs No 10 20 4 8 2 4 Farmer, Herdsman 2 Vagrant
Merchant Townhouse Transport, logistics n/a Craftsmen, nobility Yes 10 20 4 8 2 4 n/a n/a Vagrant
Banker Bank Financial services yes Merchant Yes 10 20 4 8 2 4 n/a n/a Merchant
Scholar Academy Knowledge n/a Ariston, Tyrranos, General, Banker No 1 4 1 2 0.25 0.5 n/a n/a Vagrant
Priest Temple Religion n/a All NPCs No 50 100

Chancellor Chancellory Administration n/a Ariston, Tyrranos No 1 1 0 0 0 0

Lawyer Townhouse Legal services n/a Ariston, Merchant, Banker No 4 6 2 3 1 2

Magus Townhouse Magic n/a Tyrranos, General No 3 4 1 2 0.25 0.5


A craftsman starts as an apprentice to a master of the chosen crafts. Most crafts recruit from vagrants, A character must be a journeyman merchant before becoming an apprentice banker, while various intellectual crafts recruit from journeyman scholars.

It's assumed that a journeyman scholar, presented with the opportunity, would prefer to become an apprentice magus than a master scholar.

A journeyman settles and becomes a master when he finds a location with at least the solo/min number of appropriate customer type who are not serviced by another master craftsman of the same craft; he also (obviously) needs to find enough free land to set up his dwelling. The radius within which his serviced customers must live may be a fixed 10Km or it may be variable dependent on craft. If there are unserviced customers within his service radius, the master craftsman may take on apprentices and journeymen to service the additional customers up to a fixed limit – perhaps a maximum of four of each, perhaps variable by craft. If the number of customers falls, the master craftsman will first dismiss journeymen, and only in desperate circumstances dismiss apprentices. Every apprentice becomes a journeyman after three years service.

The list of crafts given here is illustrative, not necessarily exhaustive.


As in the real world, aristocracy is essentially a protection racket, and all nobles are originally outlaw leaders who found an area with rich pickings and settled down.

Rank Follower rank Client type Clients protected Trade in market Followers per client

Min Max Min Max Min Max
Bonnet Laird Private Farmer 6 20 0 100 0.25 0.5
Ariston Captain Bonnet Laird 10 30 25 1000 0.5 1
Tyrranos General Ariston 10 unlimited 250 unlimited 0.1 0.5

Every noble establishes a market and, if he employs a chancellor, taxes trade in it. Crafts which 'need a market' can only be established in the vicinity of a market, irrespective of whether there are sufficient customers elsewhere. All non-perishable goods are traded through the markets, and merchants will transfer surpluses between markets if they can make a profit from it.

My world has essentially three ranks of nobility. The title of the lowest rank will probably change to something vaguely italianate. An aristocrat advances to the next rank when either the requisite number of clients become available in the locality to support the next rank, or the trade in his market becomes sufficient to support the next rank.

Obviously when a province has eleven unprotected bonnet lairds, under the rules given above any of them may become the ariston, and essentially it will be the next one to move after the condition becomes true. If the number of available clients drops below the minimum and the market trade also drops below the minimum, the noble sinks to a lower level – in the case of the bonnet laird, to outlaw leader.


The aristocracy is supported by the military. An outlaw becomes a soldier when his leader becomes a noble. Otherwise, vagrants are recruited as soldiers by bonnet lairds or sergeants who have vacancies. Captains are recruited similarly by aristons or generals, and generals are recruited by tyrranos. If the conditions for employment no longer exist, a soldier is allowed a period of unemployment while he lives off savings and finds another employer, but if no employer is found he will eventually become an outlaw (or, if an officer, an outlaw leader). A private is employed by his sergeant or bonnet laird, a sergeant by his captain, a captain by his arison or general, a general by his tyrranos.

Rank Follower rank Followers
Condition New rank

Min Max

Private None 0 0 Battle hardened, unled privates Sergeant
Sergeant Private 5 15 More battle hardened, unled sergeantts Captain
Captain Sergeant 5 15 More battle hardened, unled captains General
General Captain 5 unlimited

Soldiers have no loyalty to their employer's employer.
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