Thursday, December 2, 2010

Economics Part 3

Hunter-Gatherers are an interesting problem for determining acre-to-cp production values. This is partially b/c nobody this day in age is truly 100% hunter-gatherer anymore. Nobody(that I've heard of reliably) survives by trapping anymore. As such, I've had to use the next best thing, I had to turn to biology and look for an animal that might work. I've decided to use the North American Black Bear for this, since they are technically omnivores and average weights for them are between 125 and 600 pounds. According to The American Bear Association's website males tend to have larger territories than females, with ranges over 100 square miles possible. A "more typical" range for males is 8 to 60 square miles, with 1 to 15 for females. This gives us an average of 21 square miles or 13,440 acres. For lack of better information, we can assume that a Black Bear eats 20,000 calories of food a day for 6 month, or 10,000 calories a day for each day of the year. This is a bit more than the standard human. I've found too many conflicting daily caloric rates for active humans, so I'm just going to go with a flat 2,000 calories per day. I'm also assuming that in the same space a person will be able to find food, he's going to find all the other things he needs to survive as well. This means, that if we use the average square mile territory for bears, and divide the result by 5, you'll get that a human requires 5.2 square miles or 3,328 acres of "forage space" to survive. This means that, on average, it takes 5 acres to yield 1 cp worth production, 1 acre = 0.2 cp(on average).
 However, as much as it might make me like them, humans are not bears.They're able to do one rather important thing that no bear in the real world that know of has managed to do; completely depopulate an area of game and other objects of value. This means that the 0.2 cp is merely the amount a human can take from an area of average production without harming the ability of the ecosystem to replenish it. As such, there has to be levels of hunting gathering.

The numbers below(in cp) are the base number used to determine how much value is taken from the land.
0.05= Barely Used: This level indicates that the acre is probably being used as supplemental, or is at the extreme fringe of any territory(beyond which is untouched wilderness).
0.10 = Very Light: This level indicates perhaps an area used only rarely, perhaps for sport hunting.
0.15 = Light: This level is where very depletion-conscious tribes prefer to keep, most elven cities, and all druids prefer to keep things.
0.20 = Average: This is the last level you can be at without beginning to seriously deplete an area of renewable resources.
0.25 = Moderate: At this point you're slowly stripping the land of what it can produce. I recommend 0.01 per year reduction in Bounty Index.
0.30 = Heavy: At this point you are having a notable effect on the ecosystem, this is probably the extreme range of tribes or creatures that don't care if they deplete a region. I recommend a 0.05 reduction in Bounty Index per year.
0.35 = Severe: This is the heaviest level any area can support for roughly a single year(unless the area is extremely bountiful). Any acre that suffers this level of depletion should have it's Bounty Index cut in half for 1d4 years thereafter.
0.40 = Extreme: This is an ecological disaster. In less than a single season, everything has been hunted, logged, or gathered, has been. The area can't be used for anything other than possibly farming for at least a year(but more likely 2d6 years).

An individual's ability to take from the land is dependent on his skill. Survival(of the appropriate terrain type), Foraging(Complete Barbarian's Handbook), Set Snares, and Hunting proficiencies may all be used. The Same Success/Failure chart is used here as was used in the previous post to modify the above score. This roll should be made at least 1/season, but may be made more or less depending on the DM's interpretation of the rules.
You also need to figure out the Bounty Index(roll on the land quality chart presented in an earlier post). This has virtually the same meaning as Land Quality, but is not related to farming.
Another big factor is the terrain and climate being used, use the following chart.

Modifier to Base
Modifier to Base
Super Arctic
Desert/High Mountains
Grassland/Light Forest/Wetlands/Mountain
Sub-Arctic/Super Tropical
Medium Forest/Hills/Coastal
Heavy Forest
Sylvan Lands
Sylvan lands are those areas that have been carefully maintained by creatures such as sylvan elves, treants, or druids for more than a decade with little to no outside interference.

For additional variation, the DM may desire to roll on the Luck chart as well.
All this results in the following formula

(Base Value + Climate and Terrain Modifiers) x Bounty Index x Proficiency Chart x Luck = production gathered.

This same method may be used to cover any sort of living off the land. The biggest rule of thumb is that one should use common sense. For instance, it's pretty much impossible to be a lumberjack in a vast expanse of Sandy Dunes, but it is possible for a trapper to set up his traps in a 5 square mile region and be able to support himself on the sale of the skins of the animals he traps.
I've made this post a little longer than I had wanted, so I'll discuss fishing and possibly mining tomorrow.

1 comment:

  1. Not to be a jerk here, but there are a number of issues here...

    RE: using a bear as an example: You are right, using a bear as an example is a terrible idea. There are no good numbers for hunter-gatherer societies due to the fact that they are all but gone today and they left behind no historical record for us to find. You are starting on an extremely shaky foundation...

    RE: 2000 calories a day: Anyone ranging over "5.2 square miles or 3,328 acres of 'forage space'" is going to burn a hell of a lot more calories than 2000. A number around 6,000 a day would be more appropriate by using American frontiersman in the 19th century as an example.

    RE: consuming a region's resources: I think you are over simplifying in this instance. No eco-system is broken down into discrete 5 mile sections. Using your own numbers, you've proven that animals range over wider areas than that. These eco-systems are also more hardy than to suffer permanent damage from just a year of foraging. How else does nature survive a few consecutive years of drought? I don't think you could ever exhaust a 5 mile area like this with a hunter-gatherer society; this level of human activity requires the leap to semi-permanent to permanent settlements and the eventual introduction of agriculture and animal husbandry.

    I'm sorry to be so negative, but you really need to examine the assumptions and the bases you are working from.