Idea Byre

The pre-modern state aims to defend its borders against enemies. The size of its territory, though, has profound implications for how it can do this; which may in turn influence how that state develops--whether, in particular, it seeks aggressive expansion.

Continue reading...

While working on one of my space wargames, I became interested in historical ships, especially their classification and relative characteristics. (Were most classes small while only a few were large? Or was there some other distribution?) Trauling the Web I assembled some data.

Continue reading...

The systems of coinage used in the middle ages were more complex and more interesting than what's presented in most fantasy role-playing systems: if gold, silver and copper "pieces" with nice metric conversions seemed too neat to you, you were right; read on.

Metals

Silver English penny, 1...

Continue reading...

So you've laced your boots, strapped on your scabbard, and set your jaw. You're ready for some adventure. Where though will you go to find it? Where are the lonely places, where monsters, treasure and glory can be claimed? In this quest, you face some problems.

Continue reading...

What business do a man, an elf, and a dwarf have traipsing the countryside looking for quests? Where do they come from, and how do they fit into their society? Can they exist at all? I'll give a few answers to these questions below.

Continue reading...

The stock fantasy world of role-playing is, we usually think, basically like medieval Europe. There are castles, swords, peasants; various set pieces. But what do these worlds of abundant cash, swords for hire, open-minded villagers, and "mage guilds" really have to do with the middle ages?

Continue reading...

Here I present a surprisingly easy way to fill valleys in a rasterized elevation map, for the purpose of creating realistic rivers quickly.

Continue reading...

The theoretical reasoning of philosophy and religion created dualism, which split the world into mind and matter. This is not just a cosmological distinction: in everyday human life, dualism is the unseen foundation of thought, and it has caused the major problems we face today.

Continue reading...

This post is about a world-building tool I've been working on. The goal is to generate semi-realistic landscapes including rivers and other effects of erosion. The tool is a bit of code, written in R. At heart, it models a map in the form of a grid, where each cell has an altitude, forming a height map.

Continue reading...