Thursday, December 17, 2015

Reading For Later: Example

Recently Mike Bourke, @gamewriterMike  on Twitter, asked many gamers for some advice for an article he compiled. I threw in my usual bit of reading and taking notes for future use.

After all, it's kind of what Appendix N is about.

But it's easy to say that. Especially for someone whose still knee deep in non-gaming, heck, non-fiction material, for the most part. Just flippantly offer some advice right?

Here's an actual example from a book I'm currently reading.

Concise Guide to Databases: A Practical Introduction (Undergraduate Topics in Computer Science) is a book I'm reading right now. I use Access and some SQL and I'm interested in learning more about the concepts of big data and all things of that nature. 
 “Religious orders and governments were the first large organizations to gather and actively exploit data to raise revenue. Recorded data has been  known to exist since at least 2800 BC in ancient Egypt….Records were held on limestone flakes and papyrus. The Rosetta Stone, famous for holding the key to translating hieroglyphics (the same information was written in three languages on the stone, one of which could be understood and was used to translate the other two) was created to show a temples exemption from taxes. (pg 3)"

Okay, so if you're building a history of you're setting and wondering why things are the way they are, having real world examples is a great way to expand upon your own campaign. This is talking about thousands of years ago. Now if you add dragons or other creatures who've had their own civilizations, the numbers can become quite larger, but the roots of "civilization" can take place long ago and far away and have reasons for it. Cut to….

"There needed to be data kept in multiple locations. With European colonization of other parts of the world, trading companies had to start keeping data locally as well as at head office. Some of these companies were huge, for example the East India Company came into being in 1600 and by the eighteenth century effectively controlled large parts of India and had its own army and navy."

Okay, a merchant company with it's own army and navy? One that controls it's own nation? Man, that's well worth reading up on or flat out stealing. Player's could work for or against such an entity. They may wind up doing both at some time.

…."It (East India Company) had been blamed in part for triggering American War of Independence (the tea in the Boston tea Party was company stock) and laying the foundation for the First Opium War where Indian opium was used to trade for tea."

So an organization so big that it's partial, if not fully, to blame for multiple wars? Players can easily get caught up in such historical events, or perhaps even cause them. I've known a player or two that wasn't above abusing a game mechanic in trading if it was going to bring him some extra gold.

But there are some more bits... ….."Modern banking had its origins in the city states of Renaissance Italy such as Venice, Genoa, and Florence. In the United Kingdom lack of trust in the government (for example the approximation of €200,000 of private money in 1640 by Charles I) led merchants to deposit gold and silver with the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths. Originally the goldsmiths were an artisan company but over time incorporated silversmiths and jewelers. "

So if you don't see a scenario where the royalty stealing money from the people isn't an adventure, or where something like Goldsmiths become banks because they have access to all of this excess money isn't possibly worthy of adventure, then I got nothing for you.

Now it's not presented this way of course, but imagine if the player's are rebels against a royal family that has yanked all of that money. Plenty of things to do in such a situation.

Alternatively, imagine the players have enough access to coin of their own that they lend out money and in doing so, become their own power source in the setting.

Now I'm not going to sit here and tell you that the whole book is filled with examples of that nature. For one, that's the background chapter on how and why databases came about. For another, I'm still reading it. 

Anyone else ever read something and found yourself using the material not for it's intended purpose? If so, share below!