View Full Version : Ideas to increase medieval flavor of mods

Russ Mitchell
07-29-2005, 18:06
Okay, folks, as some of you know, I'm an actual practicing medievalist. and it's just ubercool to take what I know and try to set it up on the game map. (Pity the strategic map doesn't allow for real chevauchees, but that's entirely a side issue). While we have a desperate need for some automated means of handling map production, there are some other things that may, or may not, easily be tacked in to make a big difference.

1. Are there other structures besides the standard castles that can be made to produce troops or withstand sieges? Is it possible to code in more than one fortified area per region?

Example A: The Hungarian banates, particularly the Iron Gate of Severin, are regions blocking passes through the mountains into what has sometimes been called the “fortres kingdom” of Hungary. The banates are economically, culturally, and even, for the most part, fiscally irrelevant. But you can’t get through the pass without going through the Iron Gate. Similar for the Mongols having to batter their way through major fortifications before entering Hungary further up north.

Example B: In contrast, the city-states of the Duchy of Brabant are walled, fortified, and difficult to take due to their size. They are also serious economic engines in their own right, producing much more wealth than the countryside surrounding it. Burn one of these cities to the ground, and you have inflicted a terrible economic toll upon the region, which may never recover.

Example C: The Cumans/Polovtsi are the unquestioned masters of the “left bank” of the Danube for most of this game’s period, and their military intervention is sufficient to prompt major mobilizations among the Hungarians and Byzantines, and often sufficient to simply dictate the status of the Balkans. They have great numbers and matching potency. Yet, they build no castles, in spite of having superb weapons and armor.

In example A, the banates should produce little in the way of manpower, and nothing worth mentioning in the way of cash except for some minor toll revenues. But they are militarily critical to the region, and because of that, seriously affect politics. In example B, the fortified city should produce VASTLY more wealth than the province itself, should resist siege well, and is a major source of manpower.

In example C, it’s hard to get much economic benefit to going out on the steppes to loot – the nomads just take it with them on horseback or in their wagons, and can set back up ridiculously quickly. But since they don’t build proper cities, if they can be beaten on their home ground, they have no choice but to capitulate or migrate.

Differentiating these roles would add significantly to the medieval feel of gameplay.

2. Ideas, not “technology.”

While it’s true that some of those cities in Brabant had sworn bowyers producing their archers’ weapons, it’s equally ridiculous to think that taking over a province means you shouldn’t be able to crank out guys with spears for the six years required to build a fort and spearmaker. Equally so, spears just don’t get vastly more advanced technologically in the middle ages. Other things, though, can have a deep and profounce influence.

A faction’s basic troops should always be buildable by that faction. The Szekely are around whether you’ve built an improved horse breeder for your castle or not. We’re not building up from the stone ages here. Social factors make a huge difference (and though I have quibbles with how he did it, here BKB’s mod is onto the right idea.), though.

Example A: Why are the English men at arms so hard to rout in a fight? The order of the Garter, and the way it closely binds the nobles and their retinues in a disciplined manner, might have something to do with it. You can’t build that if you’re french – but you also can’t build that if you don’t have 2.a.1: tourney grounds, 2.a.2: tourney circuits, and of course, the cult of chivalry. Bonuses to discipline, gents.
Example B: Why are the French so ridiculously brave in battle, even when, like Crecy, it’s obvious that things have gone sideways from the start? And why are the French cavalry so ridiculously good at taking on other mounted cavalry? Well, the Order of the Star, which forbade its members to ever flee battle, might have something to do with it. But you can’t build that, unless you’ve got 2.b.1: tourney grounds, 2.b.2: tourney circuits, the cult of chivalry, and 2.b.3: jongleurs everywhere. (big morale bonuses, gents)

Example C: The fortified cities all have militias. What determines their utility is how they’re lead, commanded, and equipped. The “primitive” militia isn’t worth much. When lead by the guilds, they get better, and when actual militia guilds come into being, they are only one step away from being professional troops.

Differentiating these culturally significant ideas would add significantly to the medieval feel of gameplay.

3. Develop the land.

It’s not just the farmland that needs to be improved. Fairgrounds bring in market money. Fortified bridges add security. Mills add to a territory’s wealth. Guild laws and court functions create titles which can be given to commanders and generals. Glorious Achievement buildings add not only to morale, like a cathedral, but often add directly to valor, as well. Those Italian city-states are proud and independent for a reason, and as often as they’re at each others’ throats, morale is only half the picture. Want better-quality archers? Well, a better bow is one thing.. but an archer’s or crossbowman’s guild is something else entirely. More period, and a much more realistic way to justify pumping up those troops’ valor.

Want something special that you can’t get? Why not spend the bucks, and take the economic hit required to establish priveleges? The hungarians don’t have a lot of mining technology on their own. But the Swabians do… so build the Swabians a town and grant them specific priveleges, and guess what? Money, economic development (remember those mills?), and a source of additional troops.

One shouldn’t have to spend years building basic infrastructure. Twenty years spent improving spear design. What is this, the Mark 1-A1 Cruise Javelin? One should build wealth and culture specific to the region, and let those build valor, morale, discipline, and, yes, Virginia, determine how splendidly the troops are armed. Sometimes, like the growth of guilds, that will cause problems (like rebellion problems), but be worth it in the long run for the economic bennies.

4. Technology, not “technology.”

A. What allows for the rapid rise of plate armor in the late 14th century? Is it advances in metallurgy? Nope. You can’t build plate armor en mass without 4.a.1: water mills, 4.a.2: power hammers. (, windmills, if you’re lucky enough to be in the right places). If you’re not in an iron-rich area, well, sorry, you can’t produce really good metal armor… but you can always build a market for 4.a.3. Arms merchants, just as both the English and French did during the HYW, in order to get their troops into that fancy plate harness, with the finest of Italian export armor.

B. Late medieval Bohemia was a hotbed of arms and armor production – really good stuff, particularly in the arms. Why? Because they had 4.b.1: Arms merchants, and 4.b.2.: Old Town arms market. But, what allows this to really, really play the role it did? Well, that would be 4.b.3, the Mint. It’s one thing to mine gold and silver… another thing to own the mining towns in which the mints are run.

C. And let’s talk about that improved farmland. You don’t run around building the “horse collar” building for each of your provinces… that’s silly. Sure, it’s important technology. But what about 4.c.1. Fish Ponds? How about the city of Novgorod, and the fur trade? Really help if they have good relations with their finno-ugric vassals/trading partners, eh?

Differentiating the value of the land versus the actual costs of raising and equipping a massive army, would add tremendously to the medieval feel of the game, and help turn "vanilla" factions into distinctly different groups, without simply putting five gazillion different units on the board in a Cold-War-style tech race. Want specialists? Build the infrastructure and legal framework to support them. Want troops? Build the economy that will pay for them. Want Bashkorts? Then you'd better have established the commercial/vassal relations to hire them in the first place... they don't come calling just because your Lord happened to build the DevastatorSpear9000. Are you English? Do you want to run a war? Well,then you’d better get on the stick with those wool merchants, or else you’re not going to get your bows and arrows paid for… standing armies are a feature of the modern world, not the medieval: many more troops should be hired like mercenaries, rather than treated as standing armies. You’re not real likely to find two hundred korean guardsmen wandering through Wroclaw looking for work… but your local lord can, as agreed, shell out the money to pay for the upkeep of his local urban militias and their corresponding specialists….

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how the lords of Hainault do their dirty work on a Sunday afternoon before battle. The castle bit is a problem that may not have a solution. The rest can be added right into the standard building chart. If anybody's interested, next week I'll start fleshing out how a "culture tree" like that could be set up.

The Blind King of Bohemia
07-29-2005, 23:32
A faction’s basic troops should always be buildable by that faction. The Szekely are around whether you’ve built an improved horse breeder for your castle or not. We’re not building up from the stone ages here. Social factors make a huge difference (and though I have quibbles with how he did it, here BKB’s mod is onto the right idea.), though.

Russ what do you mean here dude? Sorry i'm a bit confused as it looks like i'm getting a compliment but i don't know what for. ~D

Russ Mitchell
07-30-2005, 02:22

Your mod has numerous strategic buildings here and there that improve the troops, and secondary economic ties (sort of like, it's nice to have a quarry if you want to build a castle, eh?)... I would have changed a couple things here and there, but I thought you were definitely onto the right idea.

07-31-2005, 21:05
Good ideas. I definitely approve them.

Although to some, it's very hard to do.......