Pre-industrial Fantasy STGOD OOC/Rules Thread:

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Pre-industrial Fantasy STGOD OOC/Rules Thread:

Postby The Romulan Republic » 2015-12-09 03:20am

A follow-up to this thread:

https://bbs.stardestroyer.net/viewtopic ... 5&t=164225

Proposed Rules:

No Godmode, obviously.

Comply with all forum rules, obviously.

Don't be a dick.

In the event of a dispute or question, the game moderator/host's decision is final (unless its a matter of forum policy of course, in which case take it to an actual moderator).

To join, post an Order of Battle outlining your faction's economic and military capabilities. Additional information is optional, but encouraged.

No technology invented post-1800.

Each faction gets a maximum of 100,000 points to start with (you may play a smaller faction if you prefer, of course). The more points you spend on a given structure/vehicle/military unit, the greater its strength in combat. As a guide line, one ordinary human civilian is worth one point. Scale up or down as appropriate. Powerful magical effects or cutting edge technology (by the standards of the setting) should be especially pricy.

You can also trade points to another faction, represented as trading valuable goods. This is a way to eventually exceed the point limit via trade and negotiation.

As per discussion in the previous thread, trade with NPC factions off the map is permitted, but should be limited in scope. You cannot use this to exceed the 100,000 point limit.

The outcome of engagements will be determined by agreement between the combatants, or by the point value of the forces deployed. In the event of a tie or dispute, the decision will fall to the game moderator/host.


I now open the floor for discussion, suggestions, and criticism.

One more note, regarding maps. Due to concerns about having too large a setting at this tech. level, I am considering limiting the map to one continent, tentatively North America. Any objections?

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Re: Pre-industrial Fantasy STGOD OOC/Rules Thread:

Postby madd0ct0r » 2015-12-09 03:52am

100,000 is enough for one large town without any defences or stonework buildings. We can be much closer in area then a large continent.

I'm honestly torn between hyenaorcs, librarian spiders or blind shapeshifters
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Re: Pre-industrial Fantasy STGOD OOC/Rules Thread:

Postby The Romulan Republic » 2015-12-09 04:35am

Fair point regarding numbers. I'd be happy to increase the maximum, or increase the number of men a single point buys.

What do people think would be a reasonable number?

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Re: Pre-industrial Fantasy STGOD OOC/Rules Thread:

Postby Jub » 2015-12-09 05:23am

The Romulan Republic wrote:Fair point regarding numbers. I'd be happy to increase the maximum, or increase the number of men a single point buys.

What do people think would be a reasonable number?


If we want nations like Gondor we'll probably want to allow people to have populations in the 1-2 million range. Seeing as having millions of points to spend is a bit unwieldy we could just say that, as a general rule, 1 point buys 10 population and that 10 population is enough to support 1 point of fighting strength.

-----

Seeting wise I like the idea of using North America as our world map. At least partially because I live here and have a cool idea loosely based around local traditions and legends. That said, it's an idea that can be adapted to work anywhere, so if we wanted to use another area, maps drawn in paint, or whatever I could still make it work.

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Re: Pre-industrial Fantasy STGOD OOC/Rules Thread:

Postby The Romulan Republic » 2015-12-09 05:40am

I just am familiar with, and fond of, certain aspects of North American geography. Plus I'm thinking of doing a faction who's homeland is modelled on the Canadian west coast.

Well, it also has the advantage of being one of the more isolated continent, unlike Asia/Europe, which are basically joined.

I like the points/population ideas, but I also want to hear what others have to say on the subject.

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Re: Pre-industrial Fantasy STGOD OOC/Rules Thread:

Postby Jub » 2015-12-09 05:57am

It looks like we could end up as neighbors then. I have an idea for a native style totemist group set up in the Okanagan.

Here's a tentative map of the lands I would use for the Siylx nation.

Image

It's roughly 80,000 square kilometers in area. More than enough to supply a million people with space to spare for sacred mountains, lakes, and plenty of untouched wilderness.

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Re: Pre-industrial Fantasy STGOD OOC/Rules Thread:

Postby The Romulan Republic » 2015-12-09 06:05am

Interesting.

However, I want to be clear that you don't have to follow the real world geography perfectly. Feel free to change things a bit and use your imaginations, because this is ultimately not our world, but an alternate reality.

I mean, a boiling desert at the north pole would probably be a bit much, but you can alter the geography and climate within reason.

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Re: Pre-industrial Fantasy STGOD OOC/Rules Thread:

Postby Jub » 2015-12-09 06:10am

The Romulan Republic wrote:Interesting.

However, I want to be clear that you don't have to follow the real world geography perfectly. Feel free to change things a bit and use your imaginations, because this is ultimately not our world, but an alternate reality.

I mean, a boiling desert at the north pole would probably be a bit much, but you can alter the geography and climate within reason.


I could change things, but I live smack in the middle of the outlined area, and I like the glacial valleys, lakes, and mountains. Not to mention that it would feel bad to keep the Ogopogo without keeping Lake Okanagan.

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Re: Pre-industrial Fantasy STGOD OOC/Rules Thread:

Postby The Romulan Republic » 2015-12-09 06:12am

Fair enough. I simply don't want people to feel too bound by actual geography- if you want to add a river or a hill here or their, knock yourselves out.

A tentative idea I have for a faction is a group of elves who's home was destroyed, and who have wandered/migrated to the western coast looking for a remote forested area to settle. A fairly small population, but quite a bit of magic. But I'm still not sure that's what I'll ultimately go with.

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Re: Pre-industrial Fantasy STGOD OOC/Rules Thread:

Postby madd0ct0r » 2015-12-09 07:34am

Jub wrote:
The Romulan Republic wrote:Fair point regarding numbers. I'd be happy to increase the maximum, or increase the number of men a single point buys.

What do people think would be a reasonable number?


If we want nations like Gondor we'll probably want to allow people to have populations in the 1-2 million range. Seeing as having millions of points to spend is a bit unwieldy we could just say that, as a general rule, 1 point buys 10 population and that 10 population is enough to support 1 point of fighting strength.

-----

Seeting wise I like the idea of using North America as our world map. At least partially because I live here and have a cool idea loosely based around local traditions and legends. That said, it's an idea that can be adapted to work anywhere, so if we wanted to use another area, maps drawn in paint, or whatever I could still make it work.


Area of North America: 9,540,000 sq Miles

Suggested lower bound for semi-habitable land: 30 people per square mile
(lower then medieval UK)
http://www222.pair.com/sjohn/blueroom/demog.htm

Some Historical Comparisons: Medieval France tops the list, with a 14th-century density upwards of 100 people/sq. mile. The French were blessed with an abundance of arable countryside, waiting to be farmed. Modern France has more than twice this many people. Germany, with a slightly less perfect climate and a lower percentage of arable land, averaged more like 90 people/sq. mile. Italy was similar (lots of hills and rocky areas). The British Isles were the least populous, with a little more than 40 people per square mile, most of them clustered in the southern half of the isles.


that gives 28,620,000 people in total.
For an average kingdom of 1 million people that gives us 28 kingdoms.

http://armchairthinker.com/blog/2013/03 ... th-gondor/
estimates the peasant population of Gondor at more like 3-4 million
with a 1 point per 100 peasants based off 1066 era UK

Peasants are boring though, so we could take it as read that everywhere has the max number of subsistence farmers / scavengers/ herdsmen / ether drinkers possible, and the 1 point per 10 population is regarding the rich peasants who are actually making a surplus and therefore worth taking note of. That'd be a density of 3-10 rich persons per sq mile with one POINT per 10 of them.
That would mean everyone gets between 33,500 sq miles of arctic mountain and 10,000 of decent farmland
That's an arctic South Carolina vs Hawaii or Massachusetts.

Seems about right. most of it is just backdrop comapred to the key towns and trade routes.
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Re: Pre-industrial Fantasy STGOD OOC/Rules Thread:

Postby Eternal_Freedom » 2015-12-09 10:44am

Hmm...I'm tempted to go ahead and replicate an earlier version of Orion from the last STGOD. Is it possible to add a UK-sized island off the eastern seaboard? I prefer playing island nations.
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Re: Pre-industrial Fantasy STGOD OOC/Rules Thread:

Postby Simon_Jester » 2015-12-09 10:56am

The Romulan Republic wrote:To join, post an Order of Battle outlining your faction's economic and military capabilities. Additional information is optional, but encouraged.
We need some way of scaling economies. Not all nation concepts will be or should be of equal size.

No technology invented post-1800.
I think this should be subject to some discussion. Some technologies invented post-1800 would not present a problem. Mass use of threshing machines (in the 1790s) might be more disruptive than self-igniting matches invented in 1830. The germ theory of disease would be transformational in some ways but I for one would be just as happy to allow it in the setting for a number of reasons.

I think the real rule is or should be "No electricity, no precision machinery, no technology permitting industrialized processing of goods or raw materials." Saying "No industrial technology" is a good guideline to start off with.

Each faction gets a maximum of 100,000 points to start with (you may play a smaller faction if you prefer, of course). The more points you spend on a given structure/vehicle/military unit, the greater its strength in combat. As a guide line, one ordinary human civilian is worth one point. Scale up or down as appropriate. Powerful magical effects or cutting edge technology (by the standards of the setting) should be especially pricy.
Hm. This makes assumptions about the scale of our countries- essentially, that they have populations of less than a hundred thousand people. Spread out over a continent that historically contained tens of millions even in the Stone Age, they're going to rattle around like peas in a tin can.

I think I would prefer to have a rule about militaries (which are in direct competition and need a point system), and leave matters at that. Then all we have to do is think of a reason why all the major military players have roughly co-equal fighting strength despite being different in population or economic structure.

Gradual economic growth, stockpiling of weapons, training of militia, and so on might reasonably be used to gradually expand military forces over time.

SDNW4 had economy rules distinct from its military "points are points" rules; I think that might be worth preserving.

You can also trade points to another faction, represented as trading valuable goods. This is a way to eventually exceed the point limit via trade and negotiation.
How would this work exactly?

One more note, regarding maps. Due to concerns about having too large a setting at this tech. level, I am considering limiting the map to one continent, tentatively North America. Any objections?
Even North America is pretty big if our nations are supposed to be as small as you suggested. North America would easily support a dozen or so nations the size of, oh, historical major European countries, and that's not even including the areas which are relatively unfit for human occupation.

The Romulan Republic wrote:Fair point regarding numbers. I'd be happy to increase the maximum, or increase the number of men a single point buys.

What do people think would be a reasonable number?
I think that population sizes should be flexible. Military sizes might reasonably be equivalent to, oh, a few hundred thousand human soldiers under arms... but that would be the fighting force of a nation of several million people.

I mean, I'm picturing a nation which is geographically "most of the Ohio Valley plus portions of the south shores of Lakes Erie and Michigan." That suggests an arable land area about, oh... half the size of France. At 17th century European population densities I might well have something like eight to ten million people in my country.

Now, this nation could plausibly maintain a standing army of a few hundred thousand soldiers, many of them garrisoned territorially to ease the problem of supplying them with food and weapons. The army would have relatively little in the way of exotica like golems, monsters, or sorcerors. They have means to counter those, but those means do not entail building their own superweapons.

So I feel like it would be appropriate to give my nation about 200-300 thousand "points," most of which reflect an individual soldier armed with a pike or musket and a clattering necklace of amulets they can clutch and pray when someone tries to bewitch their regiment on the field.

Other major powers on the North American continent might be comparably scaled.

Note: the deviation between my image and maddoctor's comes from a few sources:

1) I'm using 17th century population densities. France was somewhat less populous in much of the Middle Ages.
2) I may be overestimating the arability of the land in question, though I doubt it because the Midwest IS a well-watered agricultural region so far as I can recall.
3) I'm picturing individually bigger countries. We'll be doing very well, in my opinion, to get twenty sincere players- fifteen is more likely and some of those may want to play smaller micropolities. We might as well stake out fairly large claims.

I can downscale my country if we're lucky enough to get so many players that land is at a premium, of course.

Jub wrote:
The Romulan Republic wrote:Fair point regarding numbers. I'd be happy to increase the maximum, or increase the number of men a single point buys.

What do people think would be a reasonable number?


If we want nations like Gondor we'll probably want to allow people to have populations in the 1-2 million range. Seeing as having millions of points to spend is a bit unwieldy we could just say that, as a general rule, 1 point buys 10 population and that 10 population is enough to support 1 point of fighting strength.
As I just discussed, I'm thinking a little bigger. Unless large areas of North America are uninhabitable by humans (or the other beings making up our respective nations), the continent should be able to support something like a hundred million people using Age of Enlightenment-era technology. The historical Native American populations were within an order of magnitude of this even though they lacked a lot of the agricultural technology we'd be taking for granted in a fantasy setting.

So unless we end up with fifty players (unlikely) it makes more sense to divide the continent up among a smaller number of individually more populous blocs. Or blocs that are powerful despite not being especially populous, say because they represent a large area of the Rockies dominated by a few thousand dragons, whose habit of eating local peasants means the human populations are artificially depressed.

The Romulan Republic wrote:Interesting.

However, I want to be clear that you don't have to follow the real world geography perfectly. Feel free to change things a bit and use your imaginations, because this is ultimately not our world, but an alternate reality.

I mean, a boiling desert at the north pole would probably be a bit much, but you can alter the geography and climate within reason.
I'd like to at least keep enough of the geography that the Great Lakes, Appalachians, and Mississippi River all still exist in recognizable form, since they represent the strategic frontiers of my own proposed nation.

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Re: Pre-industrial Fantasy STGOD OOC/Rules Thread:

Postby Jub » 2015-12-09 11:39am

+1 to Simon's post.

The idea of a France-sized nation with appropriate forces will likely work well with our space constraints, and given magic and other cool fantasy ideas even poor land could be made bountiful enough to support an arbitrary number of people. My own lands will consist on rather recently settled farmers who also go on hunts, cast rituals of great bounty over lakes and streams, and have, for the well to do, totems that can summon a medium dog sized game animal once per week. This should allow my nation to have loads of unspoiled wilderness while having an area that I feel fits with my nation.

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Re: Pre-industrial Fantasy STGOD OOC/Rules Thread:

Postby Jub » 2015-12-09 12:33pm

If we're going for larger nations, I've expanded mine out to fit. It also gives a visual idea of what a nation 2/3rds the size of France looks like when superimposed over British Columbia, Washington, and bits of Oregon.

Image

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Re: Pre-industrial Fantasy STGOD OOC/Rules Thread:

Postby Eternal_Freedom » 2015-12-09 12:44pm

If I can't add a Britain-sized island off the coast, I'll nab New England (if that's roughly the same size).
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Re: Pre-industrial Fantasy STGOD OOC/Rules Thread:

Postby Simon_Jester » 2015-12-09 12:44pm

While the core population of the Louisian Empire* certainly prays to the living stars to bless their crops, those prayers are only occasionally answered- not that they mind having to clear forests with oxen to make room for the plow. Honest work is good for the soul, you know, and the ancestors smile on someone who improves the family plot.

*This may not be the actual name of the polity, but they do have a habit of naming their emperors** Louis, and the second of that line named the renamed the capital Louisville the week after being crowned Emperor of the Good River, so... it's a descriptive name, in the literal sense of "the empire belonging to Louis."
**I say 'empire' because they are an ethnically nonuniform state and many of the peripheral territories are ruled without the tacit consent of the governed. The impulse to have a tercio or three sit on them has, often, been given in to.

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Re: Pre-industrial Fantasy STGOD OOC/Rules Thread:

Postby The Romulan Republic » 2015-12-09 04:17pm

madd0ct0r wrote:
Jub wrote:
The Romulan Republic wrote:Fair point regarding numbers. I'd be happy to increase the maximum, or increase the number of men a single point buys.

What do people think would be a reasonable number?


If we want nations like Gondor we'll probably want to allow people to have populations in the 1-2 million range. Seeing as having millions of points to spend is a bit unwieldy we could just say that, as a general rule, 1 point buys 10 population and that 10 population is enough to support 1 point of fighting strength.

-----

Seeting wise I like the idea of using North America as our world map. At least partially because I live here and have a cool idea loosely based around local traditions and legends. That said, it's an idea that can be adapted to work anywhere, so if we wanted to use another area, maps drawn in paint, or whatever I could still make it work.


Area of North America: 9,540,000 sq Miles

Suggested lower bound for semi-habitable land: 30 people per square mile
(lower then medieval UK)
http://www222.pair.com/sjohn/blueroom/demog.htm

Some Historical Comparisons: Medieval France tops the list, with a 14th-century density upwards of 100 people/sq. mile. The French were blessed with an abundance of arable countryside, waiting to be farmed. Modern France has more than twice this many people. Germany, with a slightly less perfect climate and a lower percentage of arable land, averaged more like 90 people/sq. mile. Italy was similar (lots of hills and rocky areas). The British Isles were the least populous, with a little more than 40 people per square mile, most of them clustered in the southern half of the isles.


that gives 28,620,000 people in total.
For an average kingdom of 1 million people that gives us 28 kingdoms.

http://armchairthinker.com/blog/2013/03 ... th-gondor/
estimates the peasant population of Gondor at more like 3-4 million
with a 1 point per 100 peasants based off 1066 era UK

Peasants are boring though, so we could take it as read that everywhere has the max number of subsistence farmers / scavengers/ herdsmen / ether drinkers possible, and the 1 point per 10 population is regarding the rich peasants who are actually making a surplus and therefore worth taking note of. That'd be a density of 3-10 rich persons per sq mile with one POINT per 10 of them.
That would mean everyone gets between 33,500 sq miles of arctic mountain and 10,000 of decent farmland
That's an arctic South Carolina vs Hawaii or Massachusetts.

Seems about right. most of it is just backdrop comapred to the key towns and trade routes.


This seems reasonable.

Eternal_Freedom wrote:If I can't add a Britain-sized island off the coast, I'll nab New England (if that's roughly the same size).


Is their a reason you can't just nab Newfoundland and/or some of the other Atlantic islands of Canada? Too small? Too far north (remember, I'm prepared to allow some flexibility with regard to climate)?

Simon_Jester, I'm not overlooking your posts, but I'm a little pressed for time at the moment, so I'll have to address them later.

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Re: Pre-industrial Fantasy STGOD OOC/Rules Thread:

Postby Eternal_Freedom » 2015-12-09 05:56pm

Looking at the map it's a bit small for what I envisage.

Can I claim Newfoundland as far inland as a line running New York City - Ottawa - Hudson Bay? As for climate, well, UK-standard would be preferable, enough for easy farming and plenty of forests without being dangerously cold. In other words, what that part of North America would be like if it had the Gulfstream warming it like the UK does.
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Corrax Entry 7:17: So you walk eternally through the shadow realms, standing against evil where all others falter. May your thirst for retribution never quench, may the blood on your sword never dry, and may we never need you again.

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Re: Pre-industrial Fantasy STGOD OOC/Rules Thread:

Postby Imperial528 » 2015-12-09 07:35pm

In the Massachusetts-Connecticut-Rhode Island area you should get what is on average that, assuming we don't have any little ice age events or anything. The winters will be colder and the summers hotter than in England but overall average temperature should be similar.

I'm thinking of setting up somewhere in the Appalachians myself, though I need to do a bit more map reading to figure where exactly.

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Re: Pre-industrial Fantasy STGOD OOC/Rules Thread:

Postby The Romulan Republic » 2015-12-09 07:41pm

That seems reasonable.

So as I understand it, just to keep track of who's claimed what, the territorial claims at present are:

Simon_Jester: Pretty much the whole midwest US, from the Appalachians to the Mississippi and the Great Lakes to the Gulf. Is that correct?*
Eternal_Freedom: northeastern New England and eastern Canada, the western border being a line from New York to Hudson's Bay, running through Ottawa.
The Romulan Republic: The West Coast of Canada (I suspect my border guards will be stationed in the passes of the Coast Mountains).
Jub: A big chunk of eastern and southern British Columbia and adjoining parts of the northern US, centred around the Okanagan.
Imperial528: Somewhere in the Appalachians.

Anyone I'm missing?

*Seems a tad big to me. I'll allow it, but if we get more people and start running short on room, I may ask you to cut back a little.

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Re: Pre-industrial Fantasy STGOD OOC/Rules Thread:

Postby Jub » 2015-12-09 07:46pm

Give me a few hours to watch a hockey game and I can mock up some rough borders for the nations as they've been described. It should give us an idea of what's been taken and what's left.

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Re: Pre-industrial Fantasy STGOD OOC/Rules Thread:

Postby The Romulan Republic » 2015-12-09 07:49pm

Jub wrote:Give me a few hours to watch a hockey game and I can mock up some rough borders for the nations as they've been described. It should give us an idea of what's been taken and what's left.


Thank you. That would be very helpful. As I said, my map making/illustrator skills are very very poor.

But I wanted to post that anyone just so their was some record before it got to be too much to keep track of.

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Re: Pre-industrial Fantasy STGOD OOC/Rules Thread:

Postby The Romulan Republic » 2015-12-09 08:10pm

Another point to address:

Jub, if I go with my "migrant people fleeing the destruction of their homeland" plot, the likeliest route for my people to have gone to reach their new home, geographically, would be through your territory. How would you feel about that, and would it interfere with any backstory you have planned? Their are other options if necessary.

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Re: Pre-industrial Fantasy STGOD OOC/Rules Thread:

Postby Simon_Jester » 2015-12-09 09:02pm

[sorry doublepost]
Last edited by Simon_Jester on 2015-12-09 09:09pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Pre-industrial Fantasy STGOD OOC/Rules Thread:

Postby Simon_Jester » 2015-12-09 09:08pm

Imperial528 wrote:In the Massachusetts-Connecticut-Rhode Island area you should get what is on average that, assuming we don't have any little ice age events or anything. The winters will be colder and the summers hotter than in England but overall average temperature should be similar.
Yeah. There's a reason the English colonies planted in and around Massachusetts Bay thrived so well; it was relatively similar to the kind of ecosystem the English already knew how to live in back home. By contrast, the Deep South is so hot and pestilential that traditional English architecture is overbuilt for the conditions and tropical diseases are a major problem; one of the big drivers of slave plantation agriculture was that West Africans are immune or highly resistant to strains of malaria that devastated populations of white indentured servants in the region.

The Romulan Republic wrote:That seems reasonable.

So as I understand it, just to keep track of who's claimed what, the territorial claims at present are:

Simon_Jester: Pretty much the whole midwest US, from the Appalachians to the Mississippi and the Great Lakes to the Gulf. Is that correct?* ...

Anyone I'm missing?

*Seems a tad big to me. I'll allow it, but if we get more people and start running short on room, I may ask you to cut back a little.
Ah, no. You've overestimated my claims by a factor of two, at least. I'm not claiming any part of OTL Mississippi, Alabama, or Georgia, most of OTL Illinois would roast you on a spit for daring to suggest that the Empire controls them. And despite the rich prospects of trading on the lakes, the Great Lakes swarm with pirates and probably lake-monsters, for whom booty pillaged from an Imperial-flagged ship is, like, 40% shinier than equivalent booty from other sources, just out of sheer bloodymindedness.

For reference, here is a picture of the Ohio River's drainage basin:

Image

The Louisian Empire (a working title) controls most, but not all, of this territory- not including the basin of the Alleghany River in OTL western Pennsylvania. The Empire also extends north to include the southwestern shore of Lake Erie and the southern tip of Lake Michigan, straddling but not properly controlling the Lower Peninsula of OTL Michigan (except the very base of the peninsula).

The heartland of the Empire is the Kentucky bluegrass country and the territory around Louisville (OTL Louisville, Kentucky, naturally), and most of OTL Kentucky and southern Indiana has been politically affiliated with the state that later became the Empire for a dozen generations or more, as humans reckon such things. More recent expansions have taken the Imperial frontiers north to the Great Lakes, east to roughly the border of OTL Ohio, south into OTL Tennessee, and west to a line drawn roughly from Chicago, Illinois to Cairo, then turning southeast until it hits the southern Tennesee border.

So basically, the territory in question would be:

1) All of OTL Indiana and Ohio,
2) All of Tennesee and Kentucky except the part right by the Mississippi,
3) The western half of West Virginia (riddled with separatists and at best loosely controlled; damn sorcerous hillbillies).
4) The easternmost fringe of Illinois, the southernmost fringe of Michigan, and part of the westernmost fringe of Pennsylvania.

Major border/frontier cities of the Empire include:
1) A sprawling trading center and garrison town on the sites of OTL Chicago, the linchpin of the Empire's contested presence in Lake Michigan.
2) An even more sprawling, more trading, and possibly slightly less garrisoned town on the site of OTL Cairo, Illinois, at the confluence of the Ohio and the Mississippi. This is in many ways to the Empire what New Orleans is to the United States.
3) A less sprawling, less trading, surprisingly garrisoned town on the site of OTL Cleveland, Ohio, base of the somewhat better established Imperial naval presence on Lake Erie.
4) Not at all sprawling, considerably garrisoned border towns on the sites of OTL Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (the northeastern corner of Imperial territory), and Chattanooga, Tennessee (the southeastern corner)

In the absence of any PC states directly bordering the Empire, the territories around it would be occupied by the following barriers to Imperial expansion:
1) A collection of city-states in the Lower Peninsula which have been surprisingly tough nuts to crack; I think magic is probably involved. The Empire probably intends to conquer the peninsula when they get the chance, and the greatest obvious obstacle to their doing so is...
2) The Great Lakes themselves, which are no doubt host to massive watergoing trade as in real life, assuming they're not occupied by freshwater kraken-lords or something. However, piracy and coastal raiding against the lake shores is rampant and the Empire is still struggling to get things under any semblance of control, even assuming there are no other major polities on the lakes- think of the trouble the Spanish, French, and other European powers had with the Barbary corsairs. And escalate. Plus for all I know the Minnesota Vikings aren't just a football team in this setting. :D
3) On the western frontier, the Imperial border runs at most a few dozen miles west of a direct line drawn from Chicago to Cairo. The rest of OTL Illinois is a massive prairie dominated by roving bands of nomadic cossack-sorts including a healthy admixture of renegades, rebels, and defectors from the Empire itself. Think Wild West meets Cossacks, although the Cossacks are pretty Wild West by default.
4) To the east and south, the terrain is probably the biggest single problem- there's just not a lot of there there, and much of it is very mountainous. Although again, sorcerous hillbillies are definitely a menace to be reckoned with.


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