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Old 06-21-2019, 06:22 PM   #1
Ficholas
 
Join Date: Jun 2019
Default Low-tech Nomadic Pastoralists

I'm planning a game based centrally around a Nomadic Pastorial Society, specifically Ancient Iranic Nomads, and I'm having trouble figuring out how to do it as the information in Gurps Low-Tech is almost only for Sedentary Societies. Does anyone have useful ideas or resources on how to represent a society like this?
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Old 06-21-2019, 07:12 PM   #2
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Default Re: Low-tech Nomadic Pastoralists

Could you expand more on what you are after?
Some of the content in low tech 3 will be helpfull, i.e. the number of animals per herder.

I can probably help with other more specific details.
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Old 06-21-2019, 07:33 PM   #3
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Default Re: Low-tech Nomadic Pastoralists

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Could you expand more on what you are after?
Some of the content in low tech 3 will be helpfull, i.e. the number of animals per herder.

I can probably help with other more specific details.
Thanks, I'm looking for information on how to represent different statuses, such as how large of herd for different statuses or the worth of goods certain statuses should possess, which statuses would be applicable to the society, and how the government should be represented. I didn't see anything in Low Tech 3 that described an individuals herd should be, but I may have just missed it. If you need more information on what I'm trying to represent for the society, I'm attempting to do a Scythian-like Tribal confederation, with clans under tribes, and tribes underneath a single king, with nobles in each tribe and clan, and chiefs for each clan and tribe.
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Old 06-21-2019, 10:03 PM   #4
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Default Re: Low-tech Nomadic Pastoralists

Ok,
Going off some numbers from 1900 ish Iranian nomads they had 10 times as many animals as people during the seasonal migration. This means an average of 40-50 animals per family. Presumably breeding stock.

A high percentage of their "income"/diet will be foraged and hunted so using absolute values will be inaccurate. But if we look at the ratios between the incomes for the statuses something could be generated.
Maybe a range of status from -1 to 5?

Looking at page 517 of basic set to get the ratios, a status 4 clan leader might have 100 times the average number of animals, so 4-5 thousand.
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Old 06-22-2019, 07:51 AM   #5
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Default Re: Low-tech Nomadic Pastoralists

Size of the herd would depend on one's success as a warrior. A powerful chief would often be expected to potlatch with it. That is not unrelated: if you are slaughtering tons of livestock for guests the inference is that you rustled it.

A lot of wealth is in portable baggage. A chief will have a well-done tent rather than a palace. The effect is the same but it can be moved.
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Old 06-22-2019, 11:45 AM   #6
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Default Re: Low-tech Nomadic Pastoralists

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Looking at page 517 of basic set to get the ratios, a status 4 clan leader might have 100 times the average number of animals, so 4-5 thousand.
It doesn't scale directly like that. A wealthy clan leader might have 1500-2000 cattle, plus lots of cloth, worked metal, and other labour-intensive products. These are used as reservoirs of gifts to clients and allies to maintaining face/status.
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Old 06-22-2019, 04:22 PM   #7
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Default Re: Low-tech Nomadic Pastoralists

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It doesn't scale directly like that. A wealthy clan leader might have 1500-2000 cattle, plus lots of cloth, worked metal, and other labour-intensive products. These are used as reservoirs of gifts to clients and allies to maintaining face/status.
True, I should have declared, "Assuming income is all from animal production"

I would say that it might not be products that the nobility has but rather the means of production. Less chests full of wealth and more slaves and craftsmen supported by larger flocks.
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Old 06-22-2019, 04:28 PM   #8
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Default Re: Low-tech Nomadic Pastoralists

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It doesn't scale directly like that. A wealthy clan leader might have 1500-2000 cattle, plus lots of cloth, worked metal, and other labour-intensive products. These are used as reservoirs of gifts to clients and allies to maintaining face/status.
The cloth would figure high. The finest sort is quite valuable and carries well.

Don't forget a hunting animal. If a nomad is rich enough to live in style he might have a few.
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Old 06-22-2019, 04:41 PM   #9
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Default Re: Low-tech Nomadic Pastoralists

While we're at that, transhumant pastoralists are a kind of betwixt and between. They may live in closer contact with what we normally think of as civilization, but they are in a sense nomadic. In any case they are worth mentioning with regard to this.

Transhumants will be able to trade more frequently with people below and might have a different selection of goods.
---------------
Some nomads ecological borders to have access to metalwork and other examples of high-level craftsmanship on a large scale and were able to turn it to their own use. This created the first chariot empires.
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Old 06-22-2019, 05:37 PM   #10
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Default Re: Low-tech Nomadic Pastoralists

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I would say that it might not be products that the nobility has but rather the means of production. Less chests full of wealth and more slaves and craftsmen supported by larger flocks.
Nobody in a pastoralist society has 5,000 cattle. Nobody has 2,000 cattle, and if they do, they're a legend on the earth. After a certain point, even in places where cattle are the unit of account, actual wealth is in the form of worked goods or, as you note, bonded labour. Usually pastoralists have a limited reliance on the latter for practical reasons, though. Large-scale slavery requires a lot of devoted infrastructure.
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