05 January 2012

Create food

So, I’m thinking of ripping off Skyward Sword for a classic D&D setting. The lands are overrun by chaos. The remnants of law have retreated to a floating island in the sky. So, that gets me thinking about how big a community needs to be to be self-sufficient. What will be their source of water? How much land will they need to raise enough food?

Then I remembered how some people say how spells like Create Food would completely change a medieval economy. So, based on the 1981 Expert book, here’s the number of people (and their mounts) that a cleric can produce food for. (They can also supply water for at least this many.)

Level # people casts/day total
7 12 1 12
8 12 1 12
9 24 2 48
10 36 2 72
11 48 3 144
12 60 3 180
13 72 4 288
14 84 4 336

The spell will keep scaling up by 12 people per level, but the book’s spells/day listings only go up to 14th level.

That’s pretty impressive. The Wikipedia article on space colonization suggests that 50 people for the short term and 500 people for the long term are minimal populations to keep inbreeding under control. A couple of 14th level clerics could easily feed 500.

Which, so far, seems to essentially be the answer for Skyward Sword as well. It seems the goddess who created Skyloft provided a magic spring of water and supernatural agriculture.

This is also handy for isolated communities encountered in dungeons or the wilderness.

Looking over the rest of the cleric spells, it’s clear that—if a community’s clerics are generous—Continual Light, Cure Disease, Raise Dead, and the Cure Wounds spells are going to drastically improve the quality of life. Nothing too crazy, though. Interestingly, this version of the game doesn’t have any truth divining cleric spells.


Brendan said...

One wonders, might such clerics resent such boring drudge work? They would basically be praying for food 24/7.

Maybe an "Atlas Shrugged" event where the food-generators went on strike would be a good adventure hook, necessitating a journey to the chaotic earth (and perhaps even the establishment of a farming community to prevent starvation). That would make an interesting "rolling back the chaos" campaign.

Or perhaps the clerics are slaves, minds wiped other than the bits necessary to endlessly recite the scriptures/sutras for food creation, wired into the god-box. PCs find out and need to decide whether the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.

Robert Fisher said...

It wouldn’t be 24/7. It takes, what, 90 minutes for a 14th level cleric to burn through their daily allowance of 4th and 5th level spells? And considering people who’ll work a lot harder in soup kitchens, it doesn’t seem unlikely to me.

Distribution might be a bit of an issue, though.

That said, I think those are some great adventure hook ideas!

Don the Bassman said...

Interesting ideas for the adventure hooks, so I want to put in my 2 cents worth. **warning, some Zelda: Skyward Sword spoilers, albeit minor ones, possible**

The goddess did create Skyloft to be self sufficient, having super agriculture and a magic spring. Also, the plants provide healing on a regular basis. So how about this, There are no clerics.

Taking the creation myths of Skyloft, one could say that the goddess kept her clerics with her as they fought the darkness/chaos below.

If you think of it this way, then Zelda is the first Cleric that has risen from the populace of Skyloft.

Of course, you could set it up in any of the editions for D&D, with the knights of Skyloft being Rangers with the loftwings as their animal companions.

But that's for another campaign.

looFsydoboN said...

Don the Bassman and I have had a similar conversation before. I think magic would drastically change a medieval world; he maintains that mages wouldn't spend all that much time or effort helping anyone but themselves, so all the horrible living conditions, diseases, filth, etc would still be around despite the availability of magic to fix them (while clerics might not be as selfish as mages, they can't be everywhere - and high level clerics [or mages for that matter] would be few and far between).
I'd say, if the clerics were operating under the direction of their deity, they would certainly spend however much time is needed to feed the masses.

Did you know the spell check doesn't like the word mages? Mages mages mages!

Robert Fisher said...

Ug! So much for copy & pasting data from Numbers. It looked OK in Blogger’s preview, but bad in the actual post. sigh I did some manual editing, and it should now looks OK.

Yeah. I generally agree with Don that just because magic exists doesn’t mean that it gets used. People rarely make the best uses of the resources available to them. Even deities can have reasons why these kinds of spells should be saved for exceptional circumstances.

But having a setting where some casters are making a difference in everyday life can be interesting.

One of the nice things about Expert D&D is that there are few enough spells in the book that it’s easy to think about the possible implications. Then you can consider any new/imported spells as you add them.

BTW, I’ve got another post coming up that will look at Create Food in other editions.

Anonymous said...

Depends how many clerics there are and how many survive to high level.

Cleric spells are based on biblical miracles so we can use the real world as an example. TV preachers are basically handing out CLW like candies, but it takes a Jesus or a Moses to do bigger stuff like the loaves and fishes.

Clerics are like biblical prophets: not members of the community. They're headaches to the local authorities. They run around like nomads, hassling moneychangers and so on. Basically acting like adventurers. No one levels if they don't stir the pot.

It's level 7 when clerics get create food and water. That's fortress time for an oD&D cleric. The community doesn't eat for free. The cleric's followers do.

Robert Fisher said...

Good points, Anonymous. Indeed, I think “cleric” is the most misnamed class ever. They’re more crusader crossed with Van Helsing. The analogy to prophets is apt as well.

(Though I’m a big fan of “cloistered cleric” NPCs that can cast spells without having to adventure to earn the right.)

Of course, the kind of thing I’ve envisioning is a small community—like a cleric, his stronghold, and his followers—surviving in a hostile or isolated environment. It explains how the evil cult living in the dungeon doesn’t starve. Or how a community as small as Skyloft in Skyward Sword could survive.

As I’m developing my Skylands campaign idea, I’m headed more towards a community that’s actually big enough to be fairly self-sufficient without magical help.