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Old 04-12-2021, 12:06 AM   #1
kirbwarrior
 
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Default Create Food and it's effect on infrastructure

Been working on a fantasy-medieval* setting and learning things about it from various campaigns. Two things that came up (initially unrelated) was trying to figure out population size (since it seems lower than I thought would normally make sense but is something I like) and the fact that there isn't farming because it would be too hard for various purposes. The second already had a solution; Creating food was a spell people would learn early on in history to make up for many places either being too barren for food OR too dangerous because scarier things eat the same food.

I started looking up worldbuilding advise online and apparently how available and how easy to get food is has a gigantic effect on things. But a lot of that advise was based around the assumption that farming more or less worked the same regardless of other parts of the setting.

And I'm not sure what I could base it on or how much of an effect it would have. For simplicity, lets say that making food is roughly as time consuming and hard as making a meal would be, but you never have to worry about actually getting food because you're creating meals into existence. Any thoughts on how to approach this? Thank you ahead of time.

*Maybe more accurately renaissance, or TL4 in GURPS (I posted here since the game mechanics seemed irrelevant)
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Old 04-12-2021, 01:28 AM   #2
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Default Re: Create Food and it's effect on infrastructure

If no farms, then no farmers. Also, no irrigation, so maybe urban planning is a bit backward - at least in the early days of the world. Maybe these people have no idea what large-scale land clearance is about. You just take the forest path from one village to the next. Fantasy games love spooky forests.

If no pastures, then not much use for animal husbandry. They might still figure out how to breed animals for desirable qualities - they just don't have millennia of experience. If no need to raise food animals, maybe they haven't tamed the wolf into a house pet or guard animal. Come to think of it, if no granaries then they probably don't have vermin like real-world civilizations, and no need to domesticate a cat to chase the vermin away.

Maybe they develop the watermill a little late, since there's no grain to grind.

There might not be any spice trade to speak of, at least not like in history.

But if I read the main point right, if the total effort that goes into planting, harvesting, preserving and preparing food is about the same as the effort that goes into conjuring it up as needed, then I don't see why you can't justify populations in your game world roughly equal to IRL examples.

You might have a whole class of conjurors who do nothing all day but support a much larger group of people by taking care of food needs. A restaurantocracy. Let's see Jack Vance top that.
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Old 04-12-2021, 01:40 AM   #3
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Default Re: Create Food and it's effect on infrastructure

In that time period, 90% of people are farmers. The remaining ten percent account for all professionals, merchants, clergy, soldiers and rulers. If no one has to grow food, research and productivity explode.
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Old 04-12-2021, 02:25 AM   #4
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Default Re: Create Food and it's effect on infrastructure

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But if I read the main point right, if the total effort that goes into planting, harvesting, preserving and preparing food is about the same as the effort that goes into conjuring it up as needed, then I don't see why you can't justify populations in your game world roughly equal to IRL examples.
Oh, sorry, I was trying to say the opposite. The idea is that the time a, say, chef spend on making a meal (15 to 30 minutes) stays the same, but everything else is thrown out the window because the planting, harvesting, preserving, preparing, cooking, etc is all thrown into that time period of 'creating a meal'.

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In that time period, 90% of people are farmers. The remaining ten percent account for all professionals, merchants, clergy, soldiers and rulers. If no one has to grow food, research and productivity explode.
Yeah, that was the big thing I was noticing brought up a lot as a part of our own history. That would happen right out the gates.
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Old 04-12-2021, 06:24 AM   #5
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Default Re: Create Food and it's effect on infrastructure

With that premise, already by 6000 B.C. at the latest, the world would be a magical post-scarcity utopia, and by 1400 A.D. it would resemble nothing we know.
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Old 04-12-2021, 06:54 AM   #6
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Default Re: Create Food and it's effect on infrastructure

My question would be whether "civilization" develops at all without the cultural changes brought on by the need to organize agriculture. I'm picturing hunter-gatherer style societies, only the time that was spent hunting and gathering is now devoted to art or music or whatever.
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Old 04-12-2021, 07:23 AM   #7
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My question would be whether "civilization" develops at all without the cultural changes brought on by the need to organize agriculture. I'm picturing hunter-gatherer style societies, only the time that was spent hunting and gathering is now devoted to art or music or whatever.
Yes, I'd vote for that too. Naturally, it might also become a dystopia instead of a utopia. In our history, the 10% not dedicated to food production included kings bent on conquest, priests bent on proselytism, and soldiers seeking glory - and the same might happen here, only, based on magic aplenty (because, if magic is shown to work great for producing food out of mana, then in all likelihood magic will be the thing to be researched to achieve anything else, and it will be used to deliver conquest, converts and glory).
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Old 04-12-2021, 07:36 AM   #8
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In our history, the 10% not dedicated to food production included kings bent on conquest, priests bent on proselytism, and soldiers seeking glory - and the same might happen here, only, based on magic aplenty (because, if magic is shown to work great for producing food out of mana, then in all likelihood magic will be the thing to be researched to achieve anything else, and it will be used to deliver conquest, converts and glory).
But what priests and what kings, in the absence of the changes brought on by the development of agriculture?

[Another question is that of population. Historically (until very recently), human population has tended to increase to the limits set by food production. If these limits do not exist- if more people mean more mages mean more food-, what happens? Does the population increase until easily-spread diseases become the limiting factor, or until humans are standing packed side by side across the earth like in that episode of Star Trek? Of course, with magic might also come effective contraception, which changes the situation.]
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Last edited by ravenfish; 04-12-2021 at 07:41 AM.
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Old 04-12-2021, 08:16 AM   #9
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Default Re: Create Food and it's effect on infrastructure

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But what priests and what kings, in the absence of the changes brought on by the development of agriculture?

[Another question is that of population. Historically (until very recently), human population has tended to increase to the limits set by food production. If these limits do not exist- if more people mean more mages mean more food-, what happens? Does the population increase until easily-spread diseases become the limiting factor, or until humans are standing packed side by side across the earth like in that episode of Star Trek? Of course, with magic might also come effective contraception, which changes the situation.]
That was a silly episode. Everyone on that planet knew there was a such thing as starships and therefore a possibility of leaving.
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Old 04-12-2021, 12:06 PM   #10
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That was a silly episode. Everyone on that planet knew there was a such thing as starships and therefore a possibility of leaving.
A great deal of Star Trek was very silly, and very little in the third season wasn't at least somewhat silly.
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