Strategic Primer Anachronisms

While the setting and gameplay of Strategic Primer are largely, generally, based on our own history, there are several points on which it diverges into “creative anachronism”. Some of these are artifacts of its own history, but some are changes made for the sake of the gameplay.

First, writing and paper. The message delay, and the effects of sending orders through a chain of command rather than direct micromanagement, are intended to be major features of the game. But while games like the Civilization series make the player “discover” writing, and books like Lord Kalvan of Otherwhen make much of the invention of paper, Strategic Primer doesn’t make you invent either of these, and in fact doesn’t (and won’t) require the production of paper (or parchment, or papyrus, or …) to write orders on, or quills or ink to write it with. (The time that writing and reading orders takes may eventually be tracked … more about maintenance Soon.)

A second related topic is literacy. Even in the modern era, even in the West, literacy isn’t quite universal. Historically, and worldwide, literacy has always been a lot less than universal. But in the world of Strategic Primer, it is (and will be) the rare worker or soldier who needs to be taught to read. And gaining literacy, like any skill, in Strategic Primer takes a great deal less time and effort than any realistic model would permit.

A third item is the effect of scientific and technological discovery. In Strategic Primer, once a discovery has reached a fortress (through regular messages, usually), it “takes effect” more or less immediately. New technologies can (provided the necessary tools and materials are to hand) be built the next turn, workers can start training in new skills immediately, and so on. This (even if I reduce it significantly, as I hope to in the mid-to-long-term, and in future campaigns) is highly unrealistic, as even a cursory look at our own history reveals: it usually takes years, if not decades, for technologies to come into common use, and they’ve often been simply discarded instead. Some have even been actively resisted. But for gameplay purposes, not-quite-immediate “effect” is as close to ideal as we’re going to get. The divergence from realism becomes even sharper when we look at further research—once blueprints, instructions, etc., arrive, a fortress’s scientists can effectively immediately start researching further developments, while in the real world it takes years to work out the implications of groundbreaking work.

There are many other ways that Strategic Primer differs significantly from our world and its history; I’ve explored some here before, and will continue to do so in the coming months. But these are all the “anachronisms” that leap immediately to mind.

Any comments or questions?


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