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  • #46
    I care less about ridiculously abundant food production and storage, and more about the story-creating ideas you can get out interrupting all that food:

    1. Plagues of pests such as rats, weevils, locusts, etc can wipe out your food stores or decimate your crops and force you to rely on those stores.
    2. During the Time of Tumult, armies marching on their stomachs are going to march through your land and devour your stores and possible burn or salt your fields, and warfare will interrupt agricultural production: famine may not have happened in centuries, but it's going to start happening now.
    3. Supernatural entities can muck with your production: your multiple-harvests-per-year can be royally screwed up if your local field or harvest god is corrupt and decides to give you a year or two of hardship in the hopes of blackmailing your king to build him a bigger temple, or if a pack of Dogs of the Unbroken Earth get exiled from their forest through divine politics and take up residence in your fields, or if the local Elemental Court gets summoned one by one by an Exalted Sorcerer and their dispute with her interrupts their management of your local ley lines, or if a demon gets loose and Omen Weather rains blood on your crops.
    4. Cash Crops are great for the guy who owns the land...and if you're living on a fuedal lord's lands and farming at his command, you don't necessarily get to decide between food and funding for his navy/new castle/epic romance/occult research. He wants you to start farming opium and selling it to the Guild or House Cynis, and that's what you farm, starvation in the neighboring kingdom with less fertile farmland you've traditionally sold it to be damned. Hell, starvation in the neighboring kingdom might be exactly what your ruler wants, to weaken his neighbors.
    5. Frequent blood sacrifices to the field gods might inadvertently create a Shadowland! Suddenly farming gets dangerous, and the fecundity of your fields plummets!
    6. The cities of the South have plenty of food, but they're low on water, without which they'll still die. Stop the drought!
    7. Doesn't matter how good your food production is if an unnaturally long winter sweeps down from the North to blanket the East for two whole years: there will be famines and riots and doomsayers prophesying the end of the world. Even if you've got decent stockpiles, expect people with swords to show up to take them from you in case this unceasing winter doesn't let up.
    8. Ever heard of the Panama Disease? It's a fungal plague that almost wiped out the Gros Michel Banana in the fifties (and is still prevalent, preventing growers from getting sizeable orchards going) and led to everyone switching over to our currently popular Cavendish banana. It's only a matter of time until the fungus mutates to affect these too, and banana merchants are already diversifying their crops just in case. It's an easy story to get inspired by: in Creation, a plant-only plague could easily wipe out a major food crop (rice, corn, yams, bamboo) or a vital herd animal (mad cow disease in Harborhead) and wreak ungodly havoc on the local economy and spiritual landscape. It's a decent idea for an Abyssal or Genesis Lord plot...which I sorta want to run in Chaya now, just for the hell of it.


    So I'm making God-Kicking Boot, an Exalted webcomic, now. Updates on Sundays. Full-color, mediocre but slowly improving art. It's a thing.

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    • #47
      Originally posted by Isator Levi View Post

      That means sequentially, yes?

      Like, once one crop is harvested and the stubble cleared away, they can replant immediately?

      Does it only count as growing and harvesting a second or third crop if it's planted on the same land in short order?

      Is there any concept of planting groups in different patches of land at different periods, so that their harvest time is scattered, and you only have as much as you're able to harvest at a time? By which I mean, if you have 6 acres of land, but only have the labour to harvest 3 acres in short enough order to keep it from spoiling, that you plant 3 acres, wait a few months, and then plant the other 3 acres, and harvest them as they come up?

      When I try reading stuff about this, I come across references to "winter wheat"; would harvesting that count as a second crop in the year? Would that be planted on the same land as the summer wheat, or is the point of it to have a crop growing ready for the winter or spring or whatever?

      You know, a thing I've always been confused about farming... let's say you can nominally only plant one crop in the year, and it's going by that whole "plant in spring, harvest in autumn" deal... so what you harvest has to be a quantity sufficient to last the whole year, yes? So it's actually possible to store cereals that will keep until the next harvest?

      How well are people eating under circumstances like this? Like, do they have to kind of ration it? Is that why famine was such a common pre-modern concern, or did that have more to do with bad harvests?

      I think as I said earlier, I always assumed that three to five crops harvested a year ensured that there was an abundant and heavy food supply the whole year round, but every time I try to look for information that will give me a straight answer about how long food lasts, in terms of both spoilage and consumption, I come up short.

      As a farm-boy raised, I can safely say that while some fast growing, hardier plants can be planted twice and sometimes even three times in a year, rice certainly wasn't one of those. It *can* be done *now* with hardier strains that survive the frosts better, and utilizing greenhouses to improve on the "sprout it to give it a head start" that has always been traditionally used on rice anyways, but in the time period and with the technology of the era most suitable for comparison, one harvest of rice, followed by using the now dry-ish fields for another grain like barley or yes, winter wheat (As written on the package, a member of the wheat family that can handle frost better than most, typically planted in late July/early August after the old fields are mown, and usually harvested in late October, early November, depending on where you are. Not the best nutritionally, or best flavor for traditional winter wheat, it'll keep you fed), then letting the field lay fallow until around mid-February equivilent, plowing and dredging the field for flooding, then actually doing the flooding in the first week or so of March, getting the family (village's) oxen to... fertilize... the fields until about mid-March, then planting the sprouts you started inside about the time you plowed the fields for prep. Rinse, no pun intended, repeat year after year. While the rice is actually growing, harvest bamboo, tend animals, raise a personal garden, etc.

      As for storage, most grains keep remarkably well, until the instant you allow one of three things to happen. Get them moist, and they sprout or rot. Crack the hull, and the germ rots or sours. Cook them, in any way shape or form, even dry cooking, and you'd best eat them quick or they go bad. Otherwise, kept in a cool, dry place, most grains can easily last for years or even decades. The ancient Egyptians buried most of their dead, not just rich ones either, with grain as part of their grave goods. These grains can still be unburied, pulled out of their jars, and safely be eaten today.

      The diet of a subsistance farmer, as these peasants would be classified, would be one primarily made up of hard grains, boiled or steamed, though milled or ground was popular in the West, with protein primarily coming from beans and legumes, suplimented with fish and in the West, hunted meats. Spices would help, and varied recipes break the monotony, but the basic ingredients don't change much, no matter where or when you're talking about. Most of the time, a farmer takes about 2 or 3% of the harvest and set it aside for seed for the next year, and how much of their crop is theirs is based on the tax rate in their region. It quite often got up to 40 to 60%, and occasionally 80% of the crop, but given the productivity of most grains, this meant the farmer could easily feed themselves and their family for the year without too much worry, and have something (small) to sell for profit.

      Famine is often defined as a 30% reduction in production rates over a national level for at least three consecutive years, and the average farmer is really only affected because of the lack of a change of tax rates, which are usually based on land, not production. Townsmen are affected far more because the farmers need to keep a larger percentage of the successful crop for themselves, raising prices until the townsmen can no longer afford to buy food, and start starving. The farmers typically *don't* starve, unless the government is oppressive.


      And to be honest Wise Old Guru, you're right. It doesn't matter how ridiculous it is how much food is produced. That's not the interesting part. It's all about how the normal supply lines are disrupted, and the stories that come from that.

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      • #48
        With the fertility described in the 2d corebook, the Blessed Isle would be much more densely populated, and no longer an agrarian society. Or it should be exporting so much that all of Creation would get a population increase and a drop in agrarian lifestyles.

        The rest of Creation presumably doesn't have nearly as good fertility, but if they have even 3 times as much crop fertility as is possible with nonmagical pre-industrial technology, or import even a fraction of what the Realm grows, I have a hard time understanding why Creation is still so under-populated.

        I think it's best to ignore the hard numbers about the Blessed Isle, and just say that they have very plentiful food and drugs, and get to export them too.


        She/Her. I am literal-minded and write literally. If I don't say something explicitly, please never assume I implied it. The only exception is if I try to make a joke.
        My point of view may be different from yours but is equally valid.
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        • #49
          I think that while there is no difficulty in food production, there is a sizeable difficulty in moving that supply to the demand. Transportation was also needed to facilitate the economic boom.
          That plus the horrible political relations and different coinages, means that any farmer would find it difficult to sell their goods in the next city. Because you have to trek 2,000 miles on the oregon trail, where not dying of dysentry means you get to argue with the local constable that they only pay in seashells and only if the moon is the right shade of blue.

          So, any area will mostly be relying on local produce, which puts a cap on the profitable size of your harvest. If the city eats 5000 bags of rice, your extra 2000 may as well be dirt on the road.

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          • #50
            I presume we are all aware Creation has 2 to 5 more people, at least, than Earth ever had at its equivalent ages.


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            • #51
              How much of the Blessed Isle land is rice friendly? 30% ? My ques is it's lower than that .. I don't live in country growing rice but as I know it need a lot of water during it's growth .. and I think It likes warmth so climate may be factor there - northern parts of Isle may sport less rice growing seasons (other corps may be more optimal for farming) .. but for cultural(or logistical) reasons rice may be planted anyway.
              Then you have storage of grain in peasants household at least for time to time with may subject to flooding (we are speaking about rice so by definition there is lot of water nearby) in bad year or series of years/seasons. Next is some form of storage that keeps grain taken from farmers but this requites grain to be moved by water or wagons pulled by animals and at this stage it's subject to spoilage because of negligence (those who oversee it don't care for it as much as peasants for their own food since for those guys there is always more rice in peasant's house ) or corruption (overseers may steal and sell part of it). Still manager will want to have at least some of the grain in storage alt leas on the paper since ti's emergence reserve and it's subject to spoilage , waste and corruption all the time. When those storages are empty and if you have bad times .. you get famine, plague or uprising sometimes all in once regardless how blessed this region is on the average.
              Then you have move port of that grain to those how consume but not grow it: all people in the cities, craftsmen in villages,local imperial bureaucracy, spoiled dynasts and their scion's in all of their manors with all of their entourage.
              Then you have to feed soldiers (house legions and imperial ones) and local militias and animals they employ .. for example you can feed horse with grass but you need feed it with grain in order to get decent work output form it armies with exception of being garrisoned during peacetime don't have let them spend most of the day grazing on fresh grass so grain is must.
              You also must feed all people and animals involved in transporting .. not only grain but also all other goods .. the longer this transport chain is more grain is spend on it, only defacto easing this is transporting by ship over water in bulk .. but you still need to maintain ships, sailors , build ships (and feed people and animals involved in that) so it's not free but still most cost effective.
              All of this is example of complexity that that is build upon that grain produced by peasant's. Lot's grain produced in 3 or for 5 growing seasons will be used or wasted on bigger cities bigger and better army able to operate deep inland (without being totally depended on local food), bigger imperial administration, building/repairing infrastructure , immaculates (they need to eat and nice temples are must too) and various vanity projects like in RL was for example pyramid building (and almost literally in this sky is the limit there).
              It's don't matter how much food you produce population will grow till there is abundance of food or there is war(or uprising) with due to destroyed crops causes famine, witch usually invites disease.
              And in all of this peasants are last in queue for their mouthfull of rice. Peasants are easier to dealing with than rebellious battle hardened soldiers, or hostile administration (without them you govern nothing) or onyone else becaouse of their percieved value or ability to cause trouble. So you will have famines among peasants, uprisings regardless how productive land is only question is how big is share of peasants is nation's populatio and how big army is how long and glorious are imperial campaigns and how many mountain slopes are carved with image of Scarlet Empress (or Paisap) since those projects are pure waste of food form peasants point of view (it just add to their burden without giving back anything)
              Last edited by Ludek; 04-09-2015, 07:23 AM.

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              • #52
                @Synapse, see the other big thread going on in here, Population in Creation. Earth Prime (the real world) has 7.3 to 7.5 billion people running around. Creation, by canonical (stupidly low imo) numbers never cleared 4 billion. Ever. Even at the height of the First Age, much less any point after, and by the AoSorrows, canonical numbers are less than a billion humans in all Creation, total. The 2 to 5 ratio greater numbers is correct, just the other way round, Earth having bigger than Creation in most cases.

                Which I now use to say to the comment made earlier by someone else entire that the devs did research and applied real world number to setting aspects, to which I say HA! Erinys is 100% right, the population numbers are COMPLETELY wrong, even for a fully agrarian society, which there are too many solid examples of it being post-agrarian for that to apply. I enjoy the setting, but I also realize that under no circumstances does it even remotely resemble a working model of anything physical, even before one applies the fact that gods walk among people, magic is not just a thing, but a common-ish occurance, and physics mic dropped and left the building a *long* time ago. The devs took some numbers, decided they sounded good, and said here ya go, canon. Those numbers are useless when looked at, even lightly. Nearly 800 years since the Great Contagion and there are still only 20k to 30k DBs in all Creation? 50k if people are generous? Only half a billion mortals, when food is so (see above for why) blatantly available? Places that *don't* get at least two harvests in annually are specifically called out in the fluff! Baseline assumption is for *three* harvests, any one of which would feed a given region for a year.

                I frankly ignore ALL the fluff numbers, including the number of harvests. Everybody harvests once or maybe twice a year, and the BI and East just get more per harvest than the North. The West isn't feeding itself from the field, but instead from the sea, and the South does whatever it can to survive. On the coast, that means two and sometimes three harvests because of the much longer growing season, but inland is scavenger life and raiding the coasties for food and water.

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                • #53
                  Originally posted by Ludek View Post
                  How much of the Blessed Isle land is rice friendly? 30% ? My ques is it's lower than that .. I don't live in country growing rice but as I know it need a lot of water during it's growth .. and I think It likes warmth so climate may be factor there - northern parts of Isle may sport less rice growing seasons (other corps may be more optimal for farming) .. but for cultural(or logistical) reasons rice may be planted anyway.
                  Actually, when I searched the web due to this thread, I found out rice don't have to grow in water. But it keeps pests away, so it is preferable to grow it in water.

                  But my guess is that the total farmable area on the Blessed Isle, of any kind of farming, is less than 30%.

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                  • #54
                    Originally posted by Onigato View Post
                    @Synapse, see the other big thread going on in here, Population in Creation. Earth Prime (the real world) has 7.3 to 7.5 billion people running around. Creation, by canonical (stupidly low imo) numbers never cleared 4 billion. Ever. Even at the height of the First Age
                    Dreams of the First Age presents the population of the world as over 10 billion.

                    People in Creation also have some really good contraceptives.


                    I have approximate knowledge of many things.
                    Write up as I play Xenoblade Chronicles.

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                    • #55
                      @Synapse There is a lot of room to fudge numbers.
                      Not all land is suitable for farming, not all of all land suitable have good soil, and soil can be depleted due to misuse( and it can be because of administrative pressures say imperial administration need lots of grain this year and orders/forces peasants to plant grain all year) it would deplete soil fast and this effect would be much longer lasting than just sticking to crop rotation. How much people one peasant family may feed assuming they works with good soil from one season of crop, how much from bad one? How effective is taxation on peasants to extract their crop ... just flat quota won't do since if it's adjusted for good soil , peasant working worse one sill will starve, if it's just % it would produce similar effect.

                      From taxman POV it's matter extracting all peasant's crop while allowing to keep him(and his family) not starving (with clear rules aplling to all peasants) but in reality peasant will do all they can to uderreport amount of grain harvested, taxman don't have perfect knowledge and there is need to be wiggle room to allow peasant to live through lean times so in prospering society whole system should err on side of peasants allowing those working best soil or just most productive one to get richer. Of course grain not consumed by peasants will enter market one way or another and will feed those who are not farmers. Still taxation policy will have _great_ impact how much of suitable land will be used.

                      Then is accessibility, and transportation (water transport is great help there) just because you have a lot of grain one place dosen't men you would end up with same amount in another one .. each day animal pull wagon full of grain it need to be feed grain(and each day on way back) and this applies each good moved over land. So if have 1000kg of grain on Blessed Isle you may end up with 100kg (after feeding transport animals and people) in Legion's storage in the Threshold. In my opinion coastal cities in the Blessed Isle are much bigger than they could thanks to imports of grain from Satrapies over sea than just relaying on imports from inland areas.

                      Then there is fact that living on the rice or any other grain isn't option you need vegetables (it takes time and effort to grow them) and there is meat with requites to be feed with grain at least from time to time (for example during winter) with increases grain footprint of classes higher than peasant's (just anyone else basically) so regardless of peasant productivity most of food will be used to transport exotic goods form far far away, armies and warfare in the threshold and how much on campaigns against River province or against Bull, how many Empress statues will be build. Breeding and feeding lot's of animals for moving stone from one place to another , or just fro moving more goods from one place to another it uses up lot's of grain doesn't translate in bigger population it just created more complex and richer society, peasant's may be still oppressed and starving from time to time.

                      With one degree of land utilization it may be possible to have much higher population of Blessed Isle but it's big Empire with big infficeinces and because of inflexible taxation (with helps to ensure stable revenue) peasants are taxed into starvation if they try to work on not so good soil(they settle, plant crops and in one or more lean year they abadon place and become dispossessed), lot's of wars , building lots of useless structures to memorialize empire greatness.
                      We will never get any hard numbers about Blessed isle beside it's rough population I presume so if you think you need to change perspective try to see it as reason source of Empire decadence, their ability and wilingness to wage wars rest is just matter where lies bleliviable level of opression
                      Last edited by Ludek; 04-09-2015, 11:37 AM.

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                      • #56
                        I think the intersection between farming and taxation on the Blessed Isle is a bit historically atypical.

                        The Realm not only taxes the peasantry in cash, it taxes them in virtually worthless cash which is almost a fully ritualistic process.

                        Combine that with the fact that the high nobility of the Realm can't actually rely on revenues drawn from estates for their money (instead having to run businesses, tax farm or live on government stipends), it seems as though taxation and land allocation policies in the Realm are predicated at preserving the relative independence and self-sustainability of the peasantry.

                        Not for altruistic reasons, but to undercut the Dragon Blooded.

                        That and references to how collection of taxes has generally been inefficient and low priority, and how the majority of the Realm's revenue comes from tribute collections anyway.


                        I have approximate knowledge of many things.
                        Write up as I play Xenoblade Chronicles.

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                        • #57
                          Ludek please please use paragraph breaks. Your post is one solid block and I can't read it. Also you have a lot of typos that make you hard to read as well.

                          Originally posted by sodina View Post
                          I think that while there is no difficulty in food production, there is a sizeable difficulty in moving that supply to the demand. Transportation was also needed to facilitate the economic boom.
                          That plus the horrible political relations and different coinages, means that any farmer would find it difficult to sell their goods in the next city. Because you have to trek 2,000 miles on the oregon trail, where not dying of dysentry means you get to argue with the local constable that they only pay in seashells and only if the moon is the right shade of blue.

                          So, any area will mostly be relying on local produce, which puts a cap on the profitable size of your harvest. If the city eats 5000 bags of rice, your extra 2000 may as well be dirt on the road.
                          Then that food would mostly rot, and many farmers would stop farming and do something else. The Realm would not be the agrarian society that it's presented as. The urbanization would resemble an industrial society more. And out in the Threshold, wherever humand do happen to live, there are usually 2 or 3 harvests per year.

                          Prices of food and drugs should not be listed with the resource costs they're given in the corebook, they should logically be far cheaper. The population of Creation should be much, much higher -- because the Blessed Isle alone should be far more densely crowded. Creation should have far more urbanization, cities and towns. Most societies should not be agrarian under such abundant conditions unless their populations are exploding.

                          There is no way to reconcile such an abundance of food with all the other things we're told about Creation and Realm society.


                          She/Her. I am literal-minded and write literally. If I don't say something explicitly, please never assume I implied it. The only exception is if I try to make a joke.
                          My point of view may be different from yours but is equally valid.
                          Exalted-cWoD-ArM url mega-library. Exalted name-generators, Exalted and WTA stuff from me and others.

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                          • #58
                            I thought I had maintained faith in the figures given in the Second Edition core because they were consistent with the Manacle and Coin chapter written by Grabowski, but these shortcomings weren't adding up, so I decided to go back and check.

                            Here's what the original point on the Realm's agricultural productivity stated:
                            The source of this prosperity was the Empress.
                            Her magic increased the fertility of the Blessed Isle
                            and worked ancient First Age weather machines, and
                            her power kept the isle’s gods in line. Peasants now
                            reap three harvests a year from the land, producing
                            corn, wheat, barley, rice, beans, sugar cane, millet,
                            squash and peas. Villages also grow flax for linen,
                            hemp for rope and cotton for canvas and clothes and
                            tend orchards for fruit and nuts or plantations of
                            mulberry trees for their silkworms. The average village
                            is able to plant three fields for food and a fourth
                            and fifth for fiber crops and still keep two fields fallow
                            for animal pasture.
                            The Realm’s villages are densely settled, with
                            the flatlands supporting one village every three miles
                            and the intervening countryside thoroughly developed.
                            Almost every acre not part of the vast swaths
                            left as land preserves is under heavy cultivation.
                            These villages are inevitably crowded. Since the land
                            produces so much food and the wilderness is so
                            dangerous, lonely farms are a rarity.
                            This massive agricultural apparatus supports regional
                            market towns in each prefecture. By law, certain
                            businesses must operate only from the market towns:
                            brewing, milling, pottery production, papermaking,
                            silk weaving and more must be located in these market
                            towns.
                            I think that putting three crops up as the high end of the unusually well-endowed Blessed Isle might be more consistent.


                            I have approximate knowledge of many things.
                            Write up as I play Xenoblade Chronicles.

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                            • #59
                              Hmm I think I know where my confusion might be taking place. Saying everywhere that isn't a restricted game preserve is cultivated land makes me feel like the Blessed Isle has 15,000,000 square kilometres of farmland.

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                              • #60
                                @Isator Levi

                                It also implies another thing that keeps land unoccupied :
                                "the wilderness is so dangerous, lonely farms are a rarity"
                                And then
                                "Almost every acre not part of the vast swaths
                                left as land preserves is under heavy cultivation
                                "
                                So is it dangerous or just something that needs to protected? Also it implies to me that most of the land is cultivated

                                Village every 3 miles(5 km) one village per 25 km^2 and assuming Blessed isle is 2000kmx2000km (4M km^2) it is 160000 villages assuming 100% land usage with 100 people per village is 16 000 000 people , with 500 per village it's 80 000 000 still low and without including city populations and less than perfect land usage
                                Unless I made mistake somewhere ....

                                I just thought about it longer asumimng ratio of 1 peasant per 4 city dwellers we can keep Blessed isle at 250M with less than perfect land usage and average population of village somewhere around 500. It gives population density of farmland somewhere around 10 people per km^2.
                                So it's somewhat believable but it makes Blessed Isle dominated by City dwelers .. quite modern thing but maybe it's one of the things that makes Blessed Isle centre of civilisation.
                                Last edited by Ludek; 04-09-2015, 12:53 PM.

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