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Clan Economics (or, "Bread and Peas in Times of Hero Wars")


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@lordabdul commented recently on the lack of background economics, especially around trade, for Dragon Pass and for Glorantha more generally. This... is not that. What this is is an examination of Sartarite clans to see what we can determine about their land use, productivity, and so on, and from there potentially construct a kind of grain-and-meat-and-flax economy that can be extended further. 

Let us begin with an archetypal Sartarite clan, of 1200 people. 600 are children, 500 are adults participating in agricultural production, and 100 are adults outside of production (elderly, disabled, ritually proscribed). This clan has 200 hides of land. This clan, for the demands of thought experiments, grows nothing but barley on that land. We will assume that the hides are placed and sized so that, ranging in size from 80-120 acres of cropland, they manage to produce a consistent crop for a given hide size. We will also assume that the median productivity of the barley, beyond pure reproduction, is seven bushels per acre. So a hide will produce 700 bushels of barley in a year, all else being equal. 

Let us now incorporate the Harvest roll from Runequest Glorantha. In a famine year, production is 40% of normal, while a bad harvest is 70%, a good harvest is 130%, and a superlative harvest is 175% of normal. So production per hide ranges from 280 bushels to 1225 bushels per year. I will ignore the Income roll for the moment, but if we interpreted it as representing the direct efforts of the PC to produce more grain , then we could have a production ranging from 0 to 2450 bushels of barley per hide! Which is why I am ignoring it, this will already be swingy enough. 

A bushel is 27 kilograms. So this amounts to between 7560 kg and 30,375 kg of barley per hide per year. The clan as a whole, with 200 hides, will produce between 1,512,000 and 6,075,000 kg of barley annually, or between 1.5 and 6.1 kilotonnes of barley per year. 

How many calories do people need per day? The typical daily recommended value is 2000-2500 kilocalories (or Calories), if you're in the United States. But that is for people who are overwhelmingly not engaged in heavier physical activity, which can demand up to 4000+ calories per day. Let us set the median as 3500 kilocalories per day, which applies to all 1200 inhabitants. Thus, the clan requires 4,200,000 kilocalories per day for everyone to be nourished. 

Barley has a caloric value of 1230 kilocalories per kilogram. So we have between 1.9 billion kilocalories (1.9 teracalories) and 7.5 billion kilocalories (7.5 teracalories) produced annually in barley. Let us divide this by the 294-day year. There are thus between 6,500,000 and 25,510,000 kilocalories available per day to the clan. There are 1200 people in the clan. Every day, they have between 5400 and 21250 kilocalories available per person to eat. Thus, there is a caloric surplus per person between 1900 kilocalories and 17750 kilocalories, every day. 

Or, to convert things back into bushels, between 20,286 and 188,454 bushels of barley are available for storage or export each year. Thus, in a famine year, this clan eats 64% of its total production, leaving 36% for export or storage, and in a good year, this clan eats 23% of its total production, leaving 77% for export or storage. 

Or, to put it more simply, in a famine year, this clan supports itself, and provides food for 650 other people. In a bumper crop year, this clan supports itself and provides food for 6100 other people. 

On average, such a clan will produce 3.8 kilotonnes of barley every year, equivalent to 4.7 teracalories, which works out to 15.8 gigacalories per day, which works out to 13,100 kilocalories per person per day, which works out to 9600 kilocalories of surplus per person per day, 7.9 kg of barley per person per day, 2,313 kg per person per year, 2.8 kilotonnes of barley in surplus per year. 102,800 bushels of barley in surplus, per year. 73% of the crop is surplus. 

What, then, is the value of barley in this scenario? We know that the annual income from a hide is, on average, 80 lunars. As such, with 700 bushels of barley, each lunar buys 8.75 bushels of barley. Each clack buys 0.875 bushels, or 23.5 kg, and each bolg buys 2.4 kg of barley. You could support 8 people on a clack a day. 

Obviously, this clan does not exist, because it boggles the mind to imagine. But after exploring this alley, we have discovered the possibility of a new route- now that we know how much the clan eats, we can reason backwards. Which will be the subject of the next post, as this one is already long enough. 

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@lordabdul commented recently on the lack of background economics, especially around trade, for Dragon Pass and for Glorantha more generally. This... is not that. What this is is an examination of Sar

Agreed, ayran is delicious.  I have long term notes from my various Prax games that include a look into the terrestrial animal equivalents of Prax and their milks, and their likely cheeses.  Some time

Hur, hur hur! Unicorns are all male, so what do they use to make Unicorn Kumis? 😲

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Let's reason backwards now. 

Let's assume that the clan needs a 15% surplus- a 10% tithe or tribute or tax, and a 5% reserve. Effectively, everyone would need 4025 kilocalories per day. This works out to a total harvest of 1,154,500 kg (1.2 kilotonnes), or 42,750 bushels. Thus, the clan would need 61 hides to be occupied with growing barley to achieve this goal. 139 hides could be used for other purposes. 

Let us then assume that the clan plans to have a 10% surplus in a bad year, and anything extra is just gravy. 3850 kcal per day per person, 1.1 kilotonnes of harvest, 40,900 bushels. 490 bushels are grown per hide in this situation, so 83 hides would be needed to cultivate barley, and the remaining 117 could be used for other purposes. 

In this situation, in an ordinary year, the clan would grow about 160% of its needs from its cultivated hides, leaving to a 45% or so "market surplus" which could be traded away. 

The price situation, going back to the first scenario, is that one lunar is worth (assuming that the total GCP of 16,000 lunars represents a total harvest) 2.7 bushels of grain, or 72 kg, so one clack supports 2.5 people per day. 

Against this, we have a fairly clear statement in Sartar: Kingdom of Heroes that one lunar buys one bushel of grain. What causes this disparity? 

It's important to distinguish between the internal price of grain, which is not traded on a cash basis within the clan as such, and the market price of grain, buying it from an Issaries trader. The trader is working with a smaller supply of grain. We might well take a crude mathematical approach and suggest that they are working with approximately 40% of the overall grain supply for an identical cash pool, but the cash pool is for multiple clans, of course, and there are almost certainly traditional proscriptions on prices. It is simply worth noting that the market price of a good is not identical to the raw value of that good to a clan. 

So we have a clan that has 117 hides lying fallow, or being used to grown flax or other purely economically useful goods. (Or, potentially, 166 of the hides are being grown in a two-field/long-lay agricultural system, where half of their acreage is fallow at a given time, and 34 are being used for production of non-food goods, etc.) But this clan is still eating a diet of only barley, which is certainly not realistic. What does a more credible Sartarite diet look like, or need to look like? 

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Before we get into that, let's digress about linen and flax. Modern flax varieties yield 2000-3000 kg of fiber per acre planted. Let's very conservatively assume that Gloranthan varieties grown in Dragon Pass yield 500 kg per acre planted. 

Middleweight linen weighs about 3.5 square meters to the kg. For our purposes, we'll say that 3.5 square meters is enough cloth to produce a single set of clothes. (A maxi dress takes about 2.66667 square meters of stretchy-knit cloth). As such, one kg is equal to one set of clothes, and one hide produces 50,000 kg of fiber, or 50,000 clothing set equivalents. (Or 0.175 square kilometers of linen cloth.) Of course, there are many more things that need to be made of cloth besides clothes, some of them of heavyweight linens that take only produce about 1.75 square meters to the kg. 

But for our purposes, one hide of flax produces enough linen cloth for 100,000 lunars worth of clothing all by itself. As such, we can say that most clans don't plant anything near to a full hide's worth of land with flax for linen, and presumably each stead maintains a small plot for its own purposes, with a larger plot for whatever thanes work with spinning cloth for sale or ritual use. 

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Let's digress for another moment and talk about metal prices. The jewelry price list in RQG helpfully indicates values for various metal objects that are mostly metal. 

We can derive, from this list, the following prices per kilogram for gold:
1200L
1500L
3000L
5000L
6000L
7500L (for a necklace with a gemstone pendant.)

For bronze:
100L
1000L

For silver:
200L
1000L

Obviously, labor and machining costs are the primary driver of jewelry prices. But we can take the lower end of these prices as representative: bullion gold is worth six times silver, and twelve times that of bronze or copper. These probably do not represent material abundances so much, but a combination of abundance and ease of extraction- if bronze and copper are primarily found as godbone and gold is primarily found as small shards, then that will make it more expensive even if it's equal in abundance. 

But at some point in this journey we will have the ability to convert calories into cash directly, and indicate just how much metal could be extracted by a given clan. And then some of @lordabdul's questions will have answers. 

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3 minutes ago, soltakss said:

I am not sure that a Hide in Glorantha is 100 acres. That seems to really inflate your figures. Also, not all the land in a hide is going to be productive. 

"Farmland is measured in very practical terms by people
in Dragon Pass—areas are measured in terms of how
long it takes to work with a plow and a team of oxen.
Most agricultural lands also include small fruit orchards
and vineyards.

An acre is the amount of land tillable by one
ox-team in one day.

A hide is an amount of land that one ox-team
can cultivate in a year and is considered sufficient to
support a free household. It is between 80 and 120
acres and there are approximately two hides to the
square kilometer. The Lunars value a hide at 25 W for
census purposes.

Five hides is the amount of land considered sufficient
to support a noble household. This much land
typically requires four or five tenant families to work;
the tenants are semi-free clients of the noble. Five hides
are approximately two square kilometers of land. The
Lunars value five hides at 125 W for census purposes."

Runequest: Roleplaying in Glorantha, page 404 of the English edition, sidebar. 

(The numbers will get more reasonable once we start incorporating herding, fishing, and hunting into those 200 hides of land, along with incorporating key vegetables.) 

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17 hours ago, Eff said:

Against this, we have a fairly clear statement in Sartar: Kingdom of Heroes that one lunar buys one bushel of grain. What causes this disparity? 

Love it. Just a tiny sidetrack on land use because we've started laying out a personal "hide" (don't ask but I've got Findhorn on my mind) . . . 

Every AAA hex is 21.8 square miles (14,000 acres, 115-120 hides) so there's a hard population limit IF Dragon Pass is really self-sufficient even in the best of times. That makes sense. It's bumpy country more like Tibet than Iowa and the yields will reflect that.

But I'm starting to think the price points are an arbitrary artifact of the Esrolian trade that really feeds those land-poor but strategic mountain clans. There simply aren't enough hides in Sartar to feed all the people using traditional magically enhanced agriculture. 

Instead, while someone in a sweet spot could support a household on a lot less than a hide and even generate an economic surplus, for most families the hides are largely symbolic. You farm your footprint and dole out fertile patches as status markers. But most of the food comes from the "store," one way or another.

Other parts of the lozenge are very different. This might actually be how the Winter wasn't actually apocalyptic. They relied on imports before, they relied on imports during and they rely on imports now.

Edited by scott-martin
clarification, then again for numbers
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8 hours ago, Eff said:

On average, such a clan will produce 3.8 kilotonnes of barley every year, equivalent to 4.7 teracalories, which works out to 15.8 gigacalories per day, which works out to 13,100 kilocalories per person per day, which works out to 9600 kilocalories of surplus per person per day, 7.9 kg of barley per person per day, 2,313 kg per person per year, 2.8 kilotonnes of barley in surplus per year. 102,800 bushels of barley in surplus, per year. 73% of the crop is surplus. 

Presumably some of that theoretical 73% surplus is lost to rodents, insects, spoilage, etc. Exact numbers seem hard to come by, but one article mentioned 10-20% loss post harvest (in modern Africa). That could reduce that 73% surplus to a little over 50%.

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8 hours ago, Eff said:

We will also assume that the median productivity of the barley, beyond pure reproduction, is seven bushels per acre.

A very quick google search yielded 2 to 2.5 bushels of seed per acre required, drilled into the ground, which would have to be added to the 7 bushels you want to take away as yield beyond reproduction. That would mean a fourfold crop return for each bushel of seed, and effective pest control to avoid crows feeding on the seed before the plant can start growing and all grazing beasts kept away from the young plants.

While that looks sub-par for modern cultivates, it is actually a very optimistic estimate for say mediaeval farming. You need an acre of excellent soil and very favorable climatic conditions.

I have numbers of yield per amount sowed for one of the climatically most marginal farming areas imaginable - Norway beyond the Arctic Circle. (Soil conditions can be fairly good up there.)

I'll need access to the physical book and check the sources they quote, but from memory, a 300% yield was considered top notch in mediaeval times, whereas the fisherfolk that far up north had yields of 75% to 150% of the amount sowed - planting grain was at worst a storage method to prevent vermin reducing the stocks, and at best a small surplus which didn't need to be traded for dried cod in that year. (With the cod harvest falling into the middle of winter, the labor for agriculture was readily available for planting and harvesting.)

If you take a look at the ancestral grasses from which our grain cultivates come, you cannot help but admire the first neolithic farmers systematically selecting for more fruit-bearing strains. Grain goddesses indeed.

But then, Glorantha is not a young world - it is a post-apocalyptic world about 10,000 to 60,000 years after the first cultivation of grain as the mainstay for sedentary human society. Maybe it does make sense to use modern yield numbers for the more primitive strains of wheat (einkorn, emmer, dinkel) rather than reducing those yields back to Bronze Age or Neolithic cultivates.

Still, you have to account for spoilage. That leads me back to the abysmally low return of 75% of the seeded amount in bad years on the Vesterålen islands. Apparently, mice and weevils would take similar amounts away from your stored grain, despite doing your best to avoid other spoilage like e.g. mould.

Concerning the latter: in humid conditions, you need to aerate stored (or transported) grain to prevent the growth of mould. At least that was the case for Hanseatic League ships transporting grain in bulk - on a deck of wooden planks, with a roof above to avoid direct contact with sea water. These ships would have more crew members than necessary for simple ship handling, and would take shifts to shovel the grain around to ventilate the cargo. (No doubt supervised by a supercargo whose job it was to avoid bottom side from inequally stored cargo...)

If you are planting summer grain, you need to get your seed grain through half a year of adverse conditions, alongside any grain you plan on consuming before and after the sowing season. If you plant winter grain which will survive the winter as a form of meadow, your seed spoilage is negligible.

 

But then, all of this only pertains to grain cultivation as a means to feed your clan. Realistically, I would assign about 60% of the caloric intake of a rural clan to grain, maybe 25 % to domesticated animals, dairy and eggs, maybe 7.5% to gardening (including wine, orchards) and 7.5% to hunting, fishing, and gathering, especially the latter with potential to chime in up to 30% of rather unpleasant but rich caloric stuff in hard times (though not during the Windstop. Afterwards, however, I think that is what happened in 1623 and 1624 while the stores of seed grain were replenished).

 

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8 hours ago, Eff said:

Before we get into that, let's digress about linen and flax.

And don't forget the other reason to grow flax - linseed, probably the best source for plant fat available to Dragon Pass farmers alongside nuts. Unfortunately, you cannot harvest both the seed and the fiber from any given plant, as you need to harvest green flax for fiber production. But you need to leave some flax standing for next year's seed anyway.

 

Skipping some excellent calculations:

8 hours ago, Eff said:

But for our purposes, one hide of flax produces enough linen cloth for 100,000 lunars worth of clothing all by itself. As such, we can say that most clans don't plant anything near to a full hide's worth of land with flax for linen, and presumably each stead maintains a small plot for its own purposes, with a larger plot for whatever thanes work with spinning cloth for sale or ritual use. 

Flax is not the only cash crop planted, though. I think that up to six hides of linen make sense if you harvest the seed for oil or as addition to your daily gruel or bread. There may be clans operating an oil mill, which would increase the amount of linseed harvested significantly, with the crushed seed being used as winter fodder.

Orchards aren't usually planted on easily arable land (unless that is all that you have in your tula), and neither are vinyards. Orchards can double as part-time pasture for sheep, or for the making of (admittedly sub-par) hay. (I'm currently in Tübingen, studying computational methods of geography, also in regard to land use, and I am surrounded with so called "Streuobstwiesen" forming bands on the middle slopes of the surrounding rocky hills. Streuobstwiesen are basically somewhat wider spaced orchards with meadow that is used for hay-making to provide the beasts with material to stand or lie on while stabled.)

Other cash or utility crops include woad and similar plants cultivated for dyes, spices (mustard, peppers, hops) or herbs for herbal teas or cosmetic applications. If you are a carl class Orlanthi or higher, you put great effort into your appearance, and some of that effort will be agricultural.

Major non-cereal or non-pseudo-cereal side crops for food may include beans/lentils/peas, cabbage/cale/turnips, or pumpkin/squash/cucumbers/tomatoes - remember that for all its cattle-and-plow agriculture, the plant life of Genertela resembles that of North America (today, post-Columbian transfer) more than it does the Old World in the Bronze Age. With the possible exception of potatoes and yams.

Iron Age western/central/northern European diet apparently included as much non-cultivated grass seed as it did cultivated grain seed, at least judging from the gruel that was given to the Tollund Man before his sacrifice. But then, the fact that a human sacrifice was required may point to a situation of acute shortage, like the post-Windstop years of 1623 or 1624 would have seen.

@Jeff appears to insist that there are regional main cereal crops that make up significantly more than half of the cereal harvest, due to the most favorable return from the regional grain goddess. Still, the wise farmer would not bet everything on a single crop, which could fall prey to some rather minor mishap, or at least stretch this crop out to both winter and summer planting.

 

How much land is left fallow in Orlanthi agriculture? Crop rotation is a rather recent invention in our world, at least where farming with the plough is concerned - American plains farming had "crop rotation" on the same fields, with rows of beans alternating with rows of corn or pumpkin/squash.

The most recent maps for Sartar do indicate areas predominantly under the plow. Arable land won't be limited to those areas, but those areas certainly will be intensively used.

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 it is an interesting approach but my bigger issue is that your clan is able to export food when it is touched by famine.

 

So I tried to use the rules to define what could be the economic clan (and no other irl knowledge)

Let's say that all "producers" are farmers, the rest are warriors nobles and priests.

Let's say, for calculation, that one hide = one free farmer family

the variables we have are :

income (p44), tithes (p423), outcome (standard of living p422)

In a good year : 80 L - 16 L - 60 L = +4L benefit.

the clan has 200 hides (p406) : 80 directly for the ernaldan temple, 40 as temple activity, 40 as farm activity so 200-40 = 160 hides of farm (that sounds good, the tithes for ernalda is 1280 = 160 * 80 * 10%).
 

So we can say that, in a kind of egalitarian clan, one clan gets in a normal year 4L *  160 = 640 Lunars of benefits.

In a famine year (p421),  let's do the same :

32L  - 6.4L - 60L = -34.4L (if people decide to consume without restriction although earth is not able to provide enough, ...)

or 32L - 6.4L - 15L = 10.6L (if people decide to live as poor people, that give enough to survive the bad year I think)

So in an egalitarian clan, people can survive but there is no benefit for the clan, that seems logical

 

By the way, the other information we get here is a [rqg-rule] egalitarian clan (one family = one hide = free) people can survive a famine

But if you start to use tenant and semi free people system, the revenue for the semi free people is :

16L - 3.2L - 15L = -2.2L so a good chance to starve for a part of them.

 

Now there are other people than farmers in a clan

other food producers  should be considered as farmer (so no change about food production benefit)

priests, leaders and warriors are supported by the tithe

local crafters and merchants should be supported by the standard living of people (the standard living cost is not only food, it is food and craft, and any other kind of products) : there is not big industry in sartar and farmer can pay with food the craft they buy.

 

Then we have other workers(all type of resource, wood, stone, salt, but also teachers, )...)

to be balanced (aka no famine in a good year) the 640L "food benefits" should feed these people

and here there is no information in the rules : what is the part of food in standard living ?

So I propose these resources producers are poorest than a free farmer (15L / year) and have no money to buy non essential things. Then maybe  10L a year of food.. That means a clan can support 64 workers.

What these 64 workers provide are for exportation (of course it is an average  : a part of what I put in local crafter or merchant is in fact selled outside when a part of what these 64 produce are in fact bought inside the clan)

And here we can understand why two clans can be different: one has rare resources and its 64 "miners" provides big wealth, when the other has nothing really interesting and its 64 "miners" provides few guilders

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6 hours ago, Joerg said:

A very quick google search yielded 2 to 2.5 bushels of seed per acre required, drilled into the ground, which would have to be added to the 7 bushels you want to take away as yield beyond reproduction. That would mean a fourfold crop return for each bushel of seed, and effective pest control to avoid crows feeding on the seed before the plant can start growing and all grazing beasts kept away from the young plants.

While that looks sub-par for modern cultivates, it is actually a very optimistic estimate for say mediaeval farming. You need an acre of excellent soil and very favorable climatic conditions.

I have numbers of yield per amount sowed for one of the climatically most marginal farming areas imaginable - Norway beyond the Arctic Circle. (Soil conditions can be fairly good up there.)

I'll need access to the physical book and check the sources they quote, but from memory, a 300% yield was considered top notch in mediaeval times, whereas the fisherfolk that far up north had yields of 75% to 150% of the amount sowed - planting grain was at worst a storage method to prevent vermin reducing the stocks, and at best a small surplus which didn't need to be traded for dried cod in that year. (With the cod harvest falling into the middle of winter, the labor for agriculture was readily available for planting and harvesting.)

If you take a look at the ancestral grasses from which our grain cultivates come, you cannot help but admire the first neolithic farmers systematically selecting for more fruit-bearing strains. Grain goddesses indeed.

But then, Glorantha is not a young world - it is a post-apocalyptic world about 10,000 to 60,000 years after the first cultivation of grain as the mainstay for sedentary human society. Maybe it does make sense to use modern yield numbers for the more primitive strains of wheat (einkorn, emmer, dinkel) rather than reducing those yields back to Bronze Age or Neolithic cultivates.

Still, you have to account for spoilage. That leads me back to the abysmally low return of 75% of the seeded amount in bad years on the Vesterålen islands. Apparently, mice and weevils would take similar amounts away from your stored grain, despite doing your best to avoid other spoilage like e.g. mould.

Concerning the latter: in humid conditions, you need to aerate stored (or transported) grain to prevent the growth of mould. At least that was the case for Hanseatic League ships transporting grain in bulk - on a deck of wooden planks, with a roof above to avoid direct contact with sea water. These ships would have more crew members than necessary for simple ship handling, and would take shifts to shovel the grain around to ventilate the cargo. (No doubt supervised by a supercargo whose job it was to avoid bottom side from inequally stored cargo...)

If you are planting summer grain, you need to get your seed grain through half a year of adverse conditions, alongside any grain you plan on consuming before and after the sowing season. If you plant winter grain which will survive the winter as a form of meadow, your seed spoilage is negligible.

 

But then, all of this only pertains to grain cultivation as a means to feed your clan. Realistically, I would assign about 60% of the caloric intake of a rural clan to grain, maybe 25 % to domesticated animals, dairy and eggs, maybe 7.5% to gardening (including wine, orchards) and 7.5% to hunting, fishing, and gathering, especially the latter with potential to chime in up to 30% of rather unpleasant but rich caloric stuff in hard times (though not during the Windstop. Afterwards, however, I think that is what happened in 1623 and 1624 while the stores of seed grain were replenished).

 

I've been using High Middle Ages English numbers for barley, towards the low end of such numbers. On the one hand, these cultivars would be more productive than Bronze Age ones, but on the other hand, Dragon Pass is adjacent to the Mediterranean/subtropical climates of Kethaela and so the barley would probably grow better than medieval English barley. Contemporary rates for barley are 45-100 (!) bushels per acre, but that's with intensive agriculture, mechanical harvesting, etc. 

I think that spoilage is a good reason to cull numbers down to assuming low surpluses every year, because high numbers mean the grain rots somewhere- in the field or in the amphora.

5 hours ago, Joerg said:

And don't forget the other reason to grow flax - linseed, probably the best source for plant fat available to Dragon Pass farmers alongside nuts. Unfortunately, you cannot harvest both the seed and the fiber from any given plant, as you need to harvest green flax for fiber production. But you need to leave some flax standing for next year's seed anyway.

 

Skipping some excellent calculations:

Flax is not the only cash crop planted, though. I think that up to six hides of linen make sense if you harvest the seed for oil or as addition to your daily gruel or bread. There may be clans operating an oil mill, which would increase the amount of linseed harvested significantly, with the crushed seed being used as winter fodder.

Orchards aren't usually planted on easily arable land (unless that is all that you have in your tula), and neither are vinyards. Orchards can double as part-time pasture for sheep, or for the making of (admittedly sub-par) hay. (I'm currently in Tübingen, studying computational methods of geography, also in regard to land use, and I am surrounded with so called "Streuobstwiesen" forming bands on the middle slopes of the surrounding rocky hills. Streuobstwiesen are basically somewhat wider spaced orchards with meadow that is used for hay-making to provide the beasts with material to stand or lie on while stabled.)

Other cash or utility crops include woad and similar plants cultivated for dyes, spices (mustard, peppers, hops) or herbs for herbal teas or cosmetic applications. If you are a carl class Orlanthi or higher, you put great effort into your appearance, and some of that effort will be agricultural.

Major non-cereal or non-pseudo-cereal side crops for food may include beans/lentils/peas, cabbage/cale/turnips, or pumpkin/squash/cucumbers/tomatoes - remember that for all its cattle-and-plow agriculture, the plant life of Genertela resembles that of North America (today, post-Columbian transfer) more than it does the Old World in the Bronze Age. With the possible exception of potatoes and yams.

Iron Age western/central/northern European diet apparently included as much non-cultivated grass seed as it did cultivated grain seed, at least judging from the gruel that was given to the Tollund Man before his sacrifice. But then, the fact that a human sacrifice was required may point to a situation of acute shortage, like the post-Windstop years of 1623 or 1624 would have seen.

@Jeff appears to insist that there are regional main cereal crops that make up significantly more than half of the cereal harvest, due to the most favorable return from the regional grain goddess. Still, the wise farmer would not bet everything on a single crop, which could fall prey to some rather minor mishap, or at least stretch this crop out to both winter and summer planting.

 

How much land is left fallow in Orlanthi agriculture? Crop rotation is a rather recent invention in our world, at least where farming with the plough is concerned - American plains farming had "crop rotation" on the same fields, with rows of beans alternating with rows of corn or pumpkin/squash.

The most recent maps for Sartar do indicate areas predominantly under the plow. Arable land won't be limited to those areas, but those areas certainly will be intensively used.

Yeah. For my purposes I'm treating all of these quantities as operating in discrete "hides", but agricultural land will be used more evenly- a single hide will have multiple fields devoted to different crops, along with a garden. 

I think that most arboriculture in Dragon Pass is built on selection/recovery of pre-Dragonkill orchards, so you'd have people producing their orchards via culling versus planting, primarily. Perhaps by now there's more deliberate cultivation going on. And of course it may be interspersed with whatever silviculture Sartarites practice. 

Pulses are historically as essential to people's survival as cereal grains, but they have been somewhat neglected, perhaps because of the lack of iconography. But we can probably assume that peas, lentils, or various bean cultivars make up a substantial chunk of cultivation, along with necessary fruits and vegetables. I think my next post will talk about essential nutrients in the real world and assuming that they're analogized in Gloranthan dietary needs. 

I think that there has to be some kind of fallowing going on, because Sartar is not so urbanized and populous we can assume that clan farmers can all get their crops heavily manured enough to practice intensive agriculture, or that they practice "permaculture with a plowed field". I'm hypothetically assuming long-lay/two-field, because that seems to date back to antiquity as opposed to the three-field/four-field system of the late medieval/early modern period. 

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16 hours ago, soltakss said:

I am not sure that a Hide in Glorantha is 100 acres. That seems to really inflate your figures. Also, not all the land in a hide is going to be productive. 

You're right. RQG, page 404,

Quote

A hide is an abstract amount of land sufficient to support one free household.

...

In a good year, a hide of land normally produces an annual surplus worth 80 L

There's a good equivalency of 1 hide = 20 cows = 100 sheep gives 64L surplus after tithe. Ignoring acres is a good idea. I'd like to see other equivalencies for this (geese, goats, fish, etc). Ignoring acres means you don't need to deal with yield per hide, all yields are the same. 

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49 minutes ago, David Scott said:

You're right. RQG, page 404,

There's a good equivalency of 1 hide = 20 cows = 100 sheep gives 64L surplus after tithe. Ignoring acres is a good idea. I'd like to see other equivalencies for this (geese, goats, fish, etc). Ignoring acres means you don't need to deal with yield per hide, all yields are the same. 

This method does fall apart if we take straightforward interpretations like 1L = 1 bushel of grain, since we end up with an average caloric allotment from barley of 1500 kilocalories per person per day, which is insufficient for modern humans living mostly sedentary lives. Unless we assume most of the people in a clan are starving, or that Gloranthan barley is wildly more nutritive than real-world barley... 

But let's diverge from diet and talk about pastoral life. 

Sartar: Kingdom of Heroes (sidebar on page 32) indicates that by law a 20L cow is a milch cow that has successfully given birth to two calves (thus has undergone two lactation cycles). We can assume that Sartarites follow the practices of most dairy farmers in having herds of many cows and few bulls, so we might well take this definition as given for Runequest Glorantha too- the 20 cows of a herder's hide are 20 milch cows in their prime (in modern times, most milch cows are culled after their third lactation cycle) and the overall herd may include younger and older cows alongside, possibly, the plow team's oxen, if we take that as a specific reference to steer or bullock cattle, a bull (or a fraction of a bull, as a particular prize bull is rotated between herds for impregnation, or this is done perhaps via simple artificial insemination) and calves.

We can thus analogize and say that a herd of 100 sheep is 100 adult ewes, a ram, and additional lambs. Typically, the assumed ratio in modern sheep farming is 15 lambs for every 10 ewes, so this herd has 251 animals in it. 

The most important element here is that these animals are not primarily meat animals, they're providing dairy and wool. So we don't have any convenient ratios for pigs, chickens, ducks, geese, etc. But those animals can also be fed on browsing in areas that are being used for other purposes. 

Sartar is nice and clustered around the Quivin mountains, with the fringes of the kingdom adjoining more mountainous country, so we can assume that most pastoralism in Sartar is via transhumance- there are multiple pastures at different heights, and the animals are rotated between them as the seasons change. The simplest would be summer and winter pastures- an elevated pasture in the mountains for late Sea to early Earth season, a valley pasture down low for Earth and Storm, and presumably they're fed on hay and kept in barns during Dark season. 

We can probably assume that, with the exception of large horses like the Goldeneye, most grazing animals in Sartar are grass-fed and don't get grain or concentrated high-protein feed. (It's entirely possible that grain feeding of cattle is practiced elsewhere, though!) 

How much milk does a cow produce? Modern milch cows can range from 450-600 kg and produce between 6800 and 17000 kg of milk per year. To contrast, High Medieval cattle appear to have weighed between 200 and 250 kg, and if we assume the following: 
1. Milk production is a linear function of body weight, on average across cattle
2. High Medieval cattle are similar to Sartarite cattle- the ones of antiquity were bigger, comparable to the size of cattle in the 17th and 18th centuries, but those were Roman cattle from coordinated practices of selective breeding on large ranches. Sartar is perhaps most comparable to the High Middle Ages- getting sources of cattle from the more improved Esrolian and Pelorian cattle, but needing to compromise on breeding and with poorer feed. 
3. Variations in milk production between breeds can be averaged out to produce an ideal cow. 

Thus, with a normalized set of values (Sartarite cattle, on average, are 3/7th the weight of modern cattle and produce 3/7th the amount of milk), our Sartarite cows produce about 5100 kg of milk per year per milch cow in her prime. This is roughly 5000 liters of milk annually. (There is additional milk from cows not in their prime, but I will fold that into the averages/cattle herds that are valued at 400L like a 20-cow herd but have more, less productive animals). 

20 such cattle "produce 80L in value", and thus we could presume that 1L is worth 1250 liters of milk internally. The majority of this milk is going to be converted into other dairy products, primarily cheeses, which keep better. On average, 1 liter of milk produces 180 grams of cheese, so we have about 900kg of cheese per cow per year, or in other words, 1L is worth 225 kg of cheese. Except that this still isn't the case, because the herd is going to produce meat as calves and young bulls are culled and used for veal or beef as part of sacrifices, cattle that have stopped being productive in milk are culled for meat too (though this meat will be extremely tough), and then of course there's the value of the bull, or more precisely its semen, and then you have to take into account labor for cattle trained as oxen, and the small additional value of horn from slaughtered or dead cattle, etc. etc. etc.

So perhaps we cannot drill down too deeply into the value of dairy. It is also worth noting that Praxian riding animals will produce milk too, as will the sheep and pigs. But thankfully, the hide system allows us to assume that bison and sables and impala and high llamas are grouped together in units that will produce that "hide value" every year, or some useful fraction of it. And we can treat the sheep milk's value as incorporated into the "hide value" of a herd of 100 sheep, and assume the pig milk, if it's exploited, is incorporated in the overall value. (Perhaps criticals on your Manage Household roll involve producing pig-milk cheese for the market?) 

Next up: either wool or digging into the Sartarite meat industry via the price of roast pig. 

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A quick addendum: we can probably assume based on the sidebar on page 404 of RQG noting that "much, even most" of the Ernalda temple's 80 hides of production "may" be in livestock that there's at least 30 hides of milk/wool livestock in a typical clan. If we assume that these are evenly split between sheep and cows, and that cattle hides have about 1 calf for each cow (as multiple births are rarer in bovines than in sheep), we have about 600 head of cattle and 3750 head of sheep. To this we would need to add "personal" animal hides and of course the incidental work oxen. 

Edited by Eff
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8 minutes ago, David Scott said:

Have you considered making this a blog post? and then cross referencing here for comment.

That would probably be better! These are of course very rough thoughts. 

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1 hour ago, Eff said:

(Perhaps criticals on your Manage Household roll involve producing pig-milk cheese for the market?) 

It is a delicacy but mostly for export markets. When you're rolling at that level hypoallergenic alynx wool for luxury spin is probably a better use of your labor. 

With all seriousness this is great. I like the constant references back to the silver standard and the evolving sense of the traditional hide as a productivity metric that salt of the earth types often conflate with land footprint. Multiple interlocking economies . . . I suspect the right square foot of Gringle's storage unit is valued the equivalent of several "hides" among the cognoscenti while the great spell traders are worth more than the entire kingdom (and covertly support a hell of a lot of otherwise marginal agrarian posture).

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On 10/31/2020 at 10:50 PM, scott-martin said:

Love it. Just a tiny sidetrack on land use because we've started laying out a personal "hide" (don't ask but I've got Findhorn on my mind) . . . 

Every AAA hex is 21.8 square miles (14,000 acres, 115-120 hides) so there's a hard population limit IF Dragon Pass is really self-sufficient even in the best of times. That makes sense. It's bumpy country more like Tibet than Iowa and the yields will reflect that.

I have a tribal map of Sartar based on the WBRM boardgame map which calculates down to 500 people per hex, and the number of clans in a tribe was the number of hexes.

500 people would need about half the area of a hex to feed themselves, whether from growing grain or from pasture.

Neither fields under the plow nor pasture come free of work. Most clans practice transhumance, grazing more distant pastures in the summer while making hay from those close enough to their villages and steads to transport the stuff.

And it doesn't have to be restricted to hay. You can harvest young branches from brush and hedges and feed those to your stabled livestock, and as a bonus you keep your hedges between the fields or areas of pasture near your homes in order.

The population numbers given in the rules don't quite compute when there are clans with 450 members like the Varmandi. 1200 people in a clan are on the big side of the spectrum.

 

On 10/31/2020 at 10:50 PM, scott-martin said:

But I'm starting to think the price points are an arbitrary artifact of the Esrolian trade that really feeds those land-poor but strategic mountain clans. There simply aren't enough hides in Sartar to feed all the people using traditional magically enhanced agriculture. 

500 people per hide means about 50% arable or quality pasture land in Sartar. That's just about feasible for self-sufficience if you exclude the city of Boldhome.

On 10/31/2020 at 10:50 PM, scott-martin said:

Instead, while someone in a sweet spot could support a household on a lot less than a hide and even generate an economic surplus, for most families the hides are largely symbolic. You farm your footprint and dole out fertile patches as status markers. But most of the food comes from the "store," one way or another.

Not quite.

The calculations are off - 80 acres means 80 days of plowing. A season has 56 days. You don't plow during Fire Season or most of Earth Season, and in Dark Season and much of Storm Season the ground is frozen. Then there is the need to send out the herds as soon as possible to the remote pastures, another fairly labor-intensive undertaking.

So maybe your teams plow most of sea season and 4 weeks after the harvest and before the onset of winter. That still leaves 40 to 60 acres unplowed if you wanted to get all your calories from farming - no can do with the available manpower, at least not with the Sartarite model of freeman or semi-free farmers.

So how does Esrolia do it?

Esrolia manages to feed at least 1000 people per hex. Okay, 15% of the population is fisherfolk following the Pelaskite diet, providing food from the adjacent bodies of water rather than from the land.

There can be hardly any wildland in the Esrolian Mesopotamia. There may be tree lines or hedges providing acorns or similar treats to the swine and some of the lumber for all the other purposes, and there are wetlands for water fowl and fishing, possibly in the shape of the irrigation works.

The milder climate may shorten the time the livestock spends in the stables, but even Mycenean Greece (during a warm period) had significant stable times, as the myth about the stables of Augias tells us.

On 10/31/2020 at 10:50 PM, scott-martin said:

Other parts of the lozenge are very different. This might actually be how the Winter wasn't actually apocalyptic. They relied on imports before, they relied on imports during and they rely on imports now.

The Windstop was apocalyptic in hindering trade. Without grazing, the mule caravans become untenably expensive, as they feed on human consumable grain. (Horses are a similar problem - one which many Sartarites apparently solve by riding Praxian herd beasts which are much less demanding in upkeep).

Thus, food imports would have been sort of a self-defeating enterprise. It is easier to move starving people towards the food than it is to move food to starving people.

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An interesting paper from the Textile Society of America "The Aegean Wool Economies of the Bronze Age" by Marie-Louise Nosch of the University of Copenhagen states

"At Knossos on Crete, the palace economy focused on wool as a means of achieving standardized textile products; other secondary products from sheep and goats, such as milk, skins, horn, sinew, lanolin, and meat, only occur sporadically in the palace records. The Knossos palace monitored 100,000 sheep, primarily wethers for optimal wool production since castration provides more homogeneous fleeces. Other flocks of sheep grouped female animals and their lambs. Some 700 shepherds tended these flocks throughout central and western Crete. In the villages, and around the palace of Knossos, ca. 1000 women and children were occupied with a wide range of tasks related to textile production, primarily wool. Each year the Mycenaean flocks provided ca. 50-75 tons of raw wool; after cleaning this amounted to 25-40 tons for textile production. Mycenaeans use logograms to designate a piece of textile, and each of these pieces are woven from 1-10 kilograms of clean wool. Thus the annual yield of raw wool would provide fiber resources for between 2500 and 25,000 textiles."

The economic product from herds must not be eclipsed by that from crops.

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100k sheep sounds like way beyond a tribal confederation's herds, and you are talking only about wethers, which means there must be at least again that number of ewes and a few rams.

Keeping the wethers for wool production would increase the herd size a lot compared to normal practices where you kill off the excess males.

Looking at the cattle situation, there is quite a demand for strong draft oxen. Teams of eight means that you can switch your engine thrice a day to have fresh muscle power - I wonder whether that is actually required, though. I cannot think of any middle European farmers keeping four teams of two oxen for a single farmer.

And that's with probably heavier soils than the Sartarites have to deal with.

Cattle breeders do keep quite a few of the bullocks to grow up, some for breeding, a lot more for sacrifice. For some reason, the deities appear to prefer virile offerings, even though the meat of oxen may be more tender.

Even so, I expect there to be a serious culling of bullocks, after selecting nicely colored (and well-built) specimen for the sacrifices and strong but probably less good-looking ones for castration and the motor pool, and of course the most excellent ones for breeding. (Not that the future sacrifices couldn't be used for breeding on those colors.)

Getting your "motor pool" of oxen through the winter takes the same investment in fodder, stabling and pasture as taking a like number of reproductive, milk-giving cows through the winter.

Assuming some culling, a motor pool of eight oxen will probably come with one or two bulls and at least two dozen adult cows, plus a number of yearling heifers and bullocks to enter the future herd as adults. A free-man (or in non-Blandistan terms, carl) household (the minimal size for a stead) thus needs to stable at least forty heads of cattle. Those cattle will require hay or equivalent fodder or nearby pasture for 8 weeks at least, more likely 12, in the worst case 20 weeks or more if thaw doesn't start before spring solstice. Those last weeks probably will see the stabled beasts fed on freshly cut twigs or similar to bridge those unexpected extra stable time. The same numbers would go for groups of 2 to 4 tenant (cottar) households if their rent is to be paid in grain, too. Orchard, vineyard or similar perennial cash crop cultivation would reduce the number of draft beasts required somewhat.

Of this minimum size herd, the oxen and at least a similar number of cows are likely to be kept on pastures within an hour walking distance from the stead while the rest of the herd is sent to distant (often high) pastures. The nearby pasture land also serves for hay-making, though, requiring the absence of any herds at least before the mowing and drying.

This is where the numbers given in the rules book and in the Adventure Book don't quite add up, unless a freeman's household has 120% as many humans as it has heads of cattle.

 

If 250 heads of cattle in a 1200 people clan are kept near the village, then we can calculate the number of full oxen teams as 15 or maybe 20. Allowing for a third of those oxen being shared by tenant households, we arrive at just 10 carl households. Taking Jeff's population numbers that better than 50% of the Sartarites have freeman or carl status, that means that a carl household would consist of 60 people.

The alternative is to drop the "eight bulls make up a plow team" number. If your average carl only needs to provide one pair of oxen, household size can shrink to 15 people, if it is four oxen, then we are at 30 people per carl household.

Or we double the number of cattle, and quadruple (at least) the number of sheep owned by an agricultural clan...

Which way to go?

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27 minutes ago, Ali the Helering said:

Absolutely, Joerg.  However, the highest estimate for Minoan population is 100k, 25k less than Sartar.  The statistics are therefore not entirely inappropriate for sheep herding across Sartar as a whole.

True, but Knossos was only one of at least three palace sites on Crete. From what I know, those palaces were unlikely to give away their bureaucracy and resource-management to a rival palace.

 

On my way home, another consideration about the ratio of cattle to humans came into my mind - the manpower needed to take care of the cattle. Looking at the Adventure Book again, 760 head of cattle away from the village would require 38 cattle herders, and 2000 sheep would require 40 shepherds. Toss in a few people dealing with the dairy from the upland herds (collecting it, transporting it to the village or other steads, and processsing it) and a few people rotating as herders, about 120 folk or 10% of the total people in a 1200 clan would be engaged in herding the transhumant herds, more or less full-time, and maybe 20-30 more dealing with the livestock closer to home. Add 30 more dealing with roaming pig herds and fowl, and 10 people dealing with horses and similar mounts (in addition to their riders), another 5% of the population. Double the percentage to arrive at portions of the adult population, unless you add pre-initiation near-adults to the herding personnel. Half of each would be from cottar or carl households by status, that makes 30% of the workforce engaged in animal care and handling.

That leaves about 60% of the adult clan population and probably as many underaged and ancient clan members engaged in agricultural and gardening pursuits close to the village, including domestic jobs like cooking, baking, or child-care. Quite a few of these will have other roles to pursue in the months without work in the fields, such as crafting or resource refining (spinning, weaving, wood-carving, getting lumber, ...)

There will be some foraging, including making hay on medium distance pastures, harvesting mushrooms, wild herbs, wild berries and nuts, and some hunting or trapping. Usually some fishing, too.

Prior to the conquest, part of the non-Colymar clan activities (other than the Arnoring clan) used to include work on or for the royal roads and city building projects. Much of this will be done by the city folk or the people living directly on the royal highways, as they also reap the rewards from giving hospitality to traders and caravans, but others might be obliged to provide lumber or quicklime, or charcoal (for brick-making), or provender for those working on these royal or urban projects.

 

As a last livestock-related topic, let me cast the spotlight to a species which has been thoroughly under-reported in sources on Sartar: donkeys.

According to Jeff's recent breakdown of cultist numbers, the Issaries cult is one of the most numerous cults outside of Orlanth and Ernalda. The cult is famous for its mule caravans, and even though quite a few Issaries cultists are urban merchants, I would estimate that there ought to be about 3 beasts of burden per initiate of Issaries, with 80% or more of those being mules.

According to Jeff, Issaries cultists make up 12% of the 30k urban population of Sartar, which calculates to 3600 individuals. That gives me a population of about 10k mules bearing the burden of transporting stuff across the royal highways, with probably half of that population elsewhere at any given time.

This requires quite a few horse mares, and a stable population of donkeys to provide healthy and strong studs. If you want to add jennies, you'll remove some of the donkey mares from the breeding pool, too. Let's say 3k brood mares just to maintain this number of mules. Assuming a generous virility for the donkey studs, this still leaves my estimation with 300 donkey studs and at least as many donkey mares (if they aren't used for breeding jennies).

Mule breeders probably don't use the best of their horse mares for mule breeding, after all, they need to maintain a steady supply of horse mares to breed mules. If every second of these pregnancies is with a donkey as a parent, then only every fourth foal born to these mares will be a horse mare maintainng the herd. But then, I think it is more likely for mule-breeding mares to be taken out of the horse reproduction pool just as effectively as geldings taken as cavalry mounts. It is quite possible that the Elmal/Yelmalio cult is an accomplice in the mule breeding, providing horse mares to the mule breeders. The Pol Joni are already engaged in a similar deal with the Zebra folk of Prax, whose cavalry zebras are similar cross-breeds with similar horse breeding requirements.

With the Issaries cult centered on the cities and larger towns, it is possible that mule breeding is at least in part an urban occupation. The question is, what do they do with the pregnant horse mares? While not as agile as an unburdened horse, those mares can be used for some trade or traffic too, or at least be ridden by caravan guards.

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2 hours ago, Joerg said:

True, but Knossos was only one of at least three palace sites on Crete. From what I know, those palaces were unlikely to give away their bureaucracy and resource-management to a rival palace.

 

O

Yup, so one could easily imagine 300k sheep for a population of 100k humans, scaled up to 375k sheep for 125k humans.  Feel free to decrease it for a lack of central organisation, but one can't discount it. 

There is also evidence for a significant cattle-raising capability on Crete. Image result for Cretan Bull Dancer

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