Monday, December 15, 2014

Koku...thinking about Fiefs

I have recently been reading a book about the 47 Ronin and that account reminded me of the feudal Japanese unit of measure – koku – which was used as a unit of wealth and represented “the amount of rice required to feed one man for one year”.

I’ve encountered this term before. The old Shogun boardgame used koku as a game element, as a points system to buy game pieces. Wouldn't it be nice, I thought, to have something similar to measure the relative wealth of temples, clans or individuals in a Tékumel game?

Myself, I prefer to avoid bookkeeping and keeping track of Káitars (the standard Tsolyáni gold coin) seems like it would get a bit tedious. And how do you figure out how much a clan brings in each year?

Greg Stafford’s Pendragon role-playing game uses an abstract system of represent fiefs and towns. Population is described using a POP stat, and there are Hydes and Hyrds stats to track crops and livestock respectively.

Lee Gold’s Lands of Adventure role-playing game used a Wealth stat. I’ve seen other games do similar things more recently but that was the first occurrence I can remember. Pelgrane’s The Dying Earth RPG, uses a Wherewithal stat which I think serves the same purpose.

In Japan the koku was a somewhat abstract concept. Fiefs that could not grow rice were still accessed a koku value (per wiki) and samurai were paid a stipend in koku. A clan's status was linked to the koku value of the fief or to the stipend paid.

In essence the koku value assigned to a fief was in many ways an indicator of the relative power of the fief. This is a useful concept that I think can be adapted for Tékumel. (Something that I don't think has been done yet...)

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