beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
[personal profile] beccaelizabeth
It is Cleaner Day
so I have to be awake until there is a cleaner and they work and go away
but I do not have to like it.

I mean I like the part where things get clean
but
ugh, awake.




So post apocalyptic societies have a problem with clean, but it is seldom consistently applied or very logical seeming. Like, where is the water even coming from, why does it appear to be a rich people thing? And the cleaning supplies. Do they just not have a soap industry? Is stuff to scrub the house with just not a priority in a post apocalyptic economy? Because that seems weird. Like, historically, humans get ingenious with the cleanering, and manage to bathe in a wide variety of manners.

Also I just don't seem to get as dirty as post apocalypse humans. Their dirt goes on with a trowel. That's actually quite difficult to achieve outside of festival mud baths. I mean mining and oil seem to be big in the After economy, because power is power, but once they have that power, somehow very few of them use it for cleanliness. But those are going to be dirty jobs, is true. And farming too.


There was a post on tumblr about how you seldom see an After economy that has enough farmers to support the non farmers. Like, we know from centuries of record keeping how many farmers it takes to support one non farmer of any kind, let alone one warrior attempting to stay in peak fitness, and an actual armed and armoured knight? Wow that's an expensive dude. He has a whole little pyramid of support staff, a horse that isn't even for farm tasks, a lot of metal of dedicated function, and one bossy dude who does not plough. Knights are costly. They need a lot of farmers to support them. Yet once it is post apocalypse and they're supporting biker dudes with somehow surviving shotguns? Never see the support pyramid.

And I reblogged it and added that modern farm yields are waaaay up and if some of that survives you get a different ratio, but those yields depend on some pretty high tech and a continuing supply of chemistry. Not just fuel, though plenty of that. Improved genetics would help but a lot of crops are vulnerable without continuing to apply the right whatsits. A lot of earth isn't exactly the rich stuff any more. After the collapse of civilisation you'll have significant collapse in farming infrastructure and yields are likely to plummet, even assuming you retain enough knowledgeable workers, from an area where the working population is ageing already. Like as in average age, I'm not saying farmers as a whole are about to retire, but average age of principle farmers is a graph of over fifty and heading for sixty.

... I just went down a rabbit hole broadly titled Farming Crisis. Too much google, many many numbers. Stuff like half of farmers planning to retire in the next decade, or stuff about farms not being paid what it costs to make a foods.

If transport alone collapses we're going to have sudden and extreme problems with the whole enough food concept, because food is from everywhere and we swaps it around. Your apocalypse could look like a fuel crisis like that analog editorial about cuba and you'd end up with a world that weren't real recogniseable.

Reminds me of Ursula Vernon saying you need a post apocalypse gardener, and it is not going to be simples. I mean right now when gardeners end up with more courgettes than any sensible person can figure out what to do with then it's just funny, but if you've suddenly got to make do, a whole lot of people have to rediscover how to preserve it all, or they're going to get a lot hungry. And all the complains about this and that not growing will get a lot more urgent. People just aren't used to how much they really need or how difficult it is to make it. And it don't turn up in stories. I mean I think I've seen more artsy looking flowers than actual food production on Defiance, and it seems like they'd need real advanced farming to have leftovers for fancy flowers, and the kind of economy that can support a whole lot of miners needs to have a steady food supply coming in somehow, but I have no idea where. And why are the miners the only big economic force? either farmers or truckers or both gots to be important too.



So now I'm tired and thinking about farming. Lovely.



One thing I figured when designing magic using medieval societies - if you've got food yields like magic can provide, it won't stay medieval. Higher yields means more not farmers to farmers, means more specialists researching things, means more learning new ways of doing stuff. Means advances, and not just in the monastic communities, unless those are literally the only ones with the magic advantage. Means increased cities, because they don't need such a high percents of people all spread out everywhere. The best I can figure it if magic is giving you eighteenth century crop yields you're going to get the eighteenth century. Like, not every tech area at once, but the way people live, it's going to be shaped by the food supply. If magic is reliably applicable to food supply, most magic is going to be being applied to food. And you're going to see advances in society all around it.

A magical society is an accelerated one, that can treat the food tech level as higher, given the availability of magic fertiliser and so forth.

Somewhere like the GURPS Banestorm setting that has regular infusions of other universe personnel on top of a magical society? I just don't see how it can stay so far behind. Not on a broadly similar earth.

It would have to be a whole lot less hospitable.

Like if it was oversupplied in the dragons department, or the dead didn't stay gone.

Then you'd keep the demographics down in the uh oh marginal area medieval societies were built on, and the focus would be on supporting adventurers to keep the bad things away.

And even then... they'd have to lose a lot, to keep that society back. If they were getting the knowledge in, and had good food yields because magic, they'd need serious disadvantages elsewhere, like dying a lot.

Or magic might have limitations not yet familiar. I mean if it's aspected you would get fields suitable to farming magic and fields mostly suitable to zombies.

But if you have zombies then undead army is not the most useful and efficient thing to do. It'll all be undead power, agriculture and mining. Undead on a treadmill for your basic unit of generation, like a windmill or water mill, you'd get a zombie mill.

There was a good fic about that, and how 'where does the energy come from' is a major physics breaker in many settings. In a basic GURPS magic setting zombies are one of the less efficient but most versatile ways of converting mana into physical results. Mana isn't portrayed as a sort of energy that runs out, in most settings, because individual PCs aren't likely to want to do that kind of book keeping. Humans run out of fatigue, but an area doesn't just run out of mana.

But if it could you'd get the equivalent of poor soils developing.

And if there were ways to enrich the mana supply you'd get people doing them for better crops.

... human sacrifice leaps immediately to mind, because I have that kind of mind, but magic can have any illogical requirements you like.

Also sex in the fields is a traditional one. And if it were a requirement there'd be professionals to make sure every field got its ration...

But too much magic is another fail mode the rule books have available. Magic gets too easy means magic gets too weird. Or, basically, demons.

So that's a fun potential side effect of trying to grow more corn.



Economies have a lot of story in them. I know I go straight from post apocalypse economics to zombies and magic but it's plenty complex enough for plot without. Actually that's part of the appeal of magic, there's a rulebook and we can say what the effects are without multiple degrees, because it's all handwavium.

Except it wouldn't be once you had established parameters. Magic would be just another factor in a thriving economy.

It's easier to control the magic use by thinking of ways it just wouldn't do the thing, but it's more fun to try and see what it would do, if the thing got easy.



I still have to be awake some more but I don't think I'm having great insights.

I'll go do something else.

Date: 2017-05-02 12:22 pm (UTC)
peasant: sweet pea (Default)
From: [personal profile] peasant
Good thoughts.

Property rights are important. If you can't afford to pay for a knight to defend your property rights, by the time harvest comes someone else will come and steal all your food. So then it's not worth growing things, better to go back to hunter gathering where you eat what you find immediately and no long term investments like crops. Agricultural societies need a warrior elite and can produce the surplus to support a warrior elite - it's a feedback loop.

Date: 2017-05-02 12:27 pm (UTC)
the_rck: (Default)
From: [personal profile] the_rck
Now you're reminding me with a problem I keep coming up against in Roger Zelazny's Amber series. It's a multiverse setting with different worlds having different physical laws. In the titular city of Amber and its environs, internal combustion engines and gunpowder don't work.

Every time I look at that, I start wondering how on earth humans work under those conditions. If gasoline won't combust, why does wood? How does that affect things like the sugar cycle in human metabolism?

I know the Doylist reasons for the decision, but how does that actually work?

Date: 2017-05-03 06:40 am (UTC)
londonkds: (Default)
From: [personal profile] londonkds
Zombie power has some potential drawbacks.

Are zombies limited to the strength that they originally had as humans? If so you're going to need people who died young and healthy to use them as power sources... which could go in bad ways very quickly.

How long do zombies last? If they rot at the same rate as a standard human they won't be useful for very long, especially under the stress of doing hard physical work. If they don't rot, can they still heal from injuries? (Especially since in the real-world improving your muscles by exercise basically means damaging them slightly so they react by growing as they heal.)

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beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
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