Members | Sign In
Modiphius > Mutant Chronicles RPG
avatar

Size of the Setting

posted Dec 31, 2015 03:49:01 by Marcin.Skupnik
One thing that bothers me is the fact that the setting never really tries to establish a size for itself. The size of the MC universe is never really presented to the reader. In the last few weeks I asked myself questions time and time again, questions like how many people live in the solar system or how big are the territories of the corporations?
In a way all of those things can be answered through circuitous means, but that leaves me unfulfilled. What's your take on the size/population of the setting? Does it factor in your adventures?

Here are some numbers to get you thinking:

Population
Pre-fall Earth: 12 billion (MC page 14).
Influenza infections per year: 1 Billion (Current Earth WHO numbers between 5-15% yearly - 490M-1.05BN)
From the influenza number one can roughly estimate that the population of the setting is a bit larger than our current population (7.3BN), possibly even reaching 10BN. And that's without considering Whitestar and the Lost Eden tribes.
Consider the fact that Imperial has only 62 clans and Bauhaus has 2694 noble houses and you will start coming to strange conclusions, like one house of lords representative for ~20 million people (real life number 1 representative for ~80000).

Size (NASA has some interesting fact sheets but I decided to use the radius of each planet for comparison):
Earth size - 100% - our baseline to compare to.
Mercury size - 38%
Venus size - 95%
Moon size - 27%
Mars size - 53%

Ignoring the size of the asteroids we get a total of 213% of Earth to play with, now add to it Ganymede with its 41% and you'll have a setting more than 2,5 times the size of Earth.
MC3 homebrewer. Check the thread!
CA-138 Deathlockdrum - when you want to put a grenade launcher on a grenade launcher, so you can launch grenades when launching grenades.
page   1
9 replies
avatar
Nathan.Dowdell said Dec 31, 2015 13:42:51
Surface area is probably the better measurement rather than radius, for all but Mercury (where the surface isn't inhabited). Rough calculations (Mercury, Venus, Mars, Luna, and the four largest asteroids surface area, multiplied by 13.7 - the current population density of Earth) brings us to 9.9 billion.

It's worth considering variations in population density as well - Luna isn't big, but it's only significant settlement is a colossal city, built around the edges of what was once the Sea of Tranquility. Just working off the map in the rulebook, and the size of the Sea of Tranquility in real life, the map is about a thousand miles (1600 km) wide, and about 2/3rds of that tall. Rough measurements just by eyeball, and giving it the approximate population density of London (only the 19th most densely populated greater urban area in the world), suggests a population of billions (somewhere between three and five billion people).

The other worlds don't seem to be as densely populated as Luna's single city - while the northern hemisphere of Mars seems fairly well-developed, the southern hemisphere is open plains, deserts, and the like. Large sections of Venus are inhospitable. Mercury is only habitable in the networks of caverns and tunnels hewn from the rock. Individual asteroids don't allow much room, even large ones (the Imperial sourcebook does mention which real asteroids are the ones inhabited by Imperial clans).

It seems easy to imagine that between a third and half the population of the solar system lives in Luna city, considering that it was the first extraterrestrial settlement and over a millennium and a half old (settled early-to-mid 22nd century; the Brotherhood is founded about three centuries later, and the Dark Legion Era is nearly thirteen hundred years after that). Plus, all the refugees that fled there during the First Dark Legion War from the other worlds, many of whom probably stayed and made new lives for themselves there.

Interestingly, the 2nd edition rulebook has a breakdown of system-wide assets and employees by corporation. We can come up with some useful information here as well.

Based on that assumed system-wide population of 9.9 billion, and those values (p160 of the 2nd edition rulebook), we find that Capitol has a little over two billion employees. The Brotherhood has around a billion initiated members. Mishima and Bauhaus both have around nine hundred million employees. Imperial, a little over half a billion (which means about nine million per Clan), the Cartel, around 400 million, and Cybertronic, about 89 million. There are nearly three billion people in freelance employment, and around 990 million unemployed.
Game Development - 2D20 System
System Design - Star Trek Adventures

Rules questions and playtest feedback to nathan@modiphius.com
avatar
Marcin.Skupnik said Jan 01, 2016 09:13:08
Looked at the 2ed values for population, they are really useful together with the assets percentage (which explains why Imperial can't steamroll Cybertronic while the band plays "the bold grenadier"). So thanks for pointing me there.
I must dispute your estimate of Luna's population, because:
-It contradicts the estimate given on page 337 under "Everyone is here", which talks about millions of people.
-Having between 30%-50% of humanity's population on Luna would turn it into an uninhabitable sprawl and depopulate the rest of the solar system to the point where borders between corporations would resemble 18th century America (territories would be claimed in name only, with no actual presence).

The idea of ten billion in total population is ok, but I wouldn't base it on current earth population. Here's why I think so, to me MC is a diesel punk game in space, with the assumption that the setting represents closely the situation on earth between 1920-1950. With a population of around 2 billion the population density was much smaller back then than now, leaving enough room on the map for unknown places. Assuming pop density closer to our 7+ billions means that the setting changes diametrically, and also ceases to be diesel punk and edges more towards social cyber punk.

PS: Accepting the percentages from 2ed makes the smallest Imperial clan 4,5 times larger than Walmart, which is the largest private employer in the world with 2.1 million workers.
[Last edited Jan 01, 2016 09:22:01]
MC3 homebrewer. Check the thread!
CA-138 Deathlockdrum - when you want to put a grenade launcher on a grenade launcher, so you can launch grenades when launching grenades.
avatar
Nathan.Dowdell said Jan 01, 2016 12:46:05
-It contradicts the estimate given on page 337 under "Everyone is here", which talks about millions of people.

I tend to run to the idea that "sci-fi writers have no sense of scale", and I include myself in this. Big things are really difficult to conceptualise, as has plagued 40k for decades. I'm aware of it as an issue, and in my own stuff, if I choose to include hard numbers, I'll try and make them reasonable, but it doesn't always work. Plus, I didn't write the Luna chapter, so I can't speak to the choices made there. I'm extrapolating from other sources for my own amusement, acknowledging that hard numbers in fictional settings are off by orders of magnitude in some cases.

-Having between 30%-50% of humanity's population on Luna would turn it into an uninhabitable sprawl and depopulate the rest of the solar system to the point where borders between corporations would resemble 18th century America (territories would be claimed in name only, with no actual presence).

Thing is, Luna City isn't a city in the 1920s. It's taller (the tallest buildings are colossal by modern standards, and the First Cathedral alone is a small city in its own right), it's deeper ('street level' is far above the ground, with vast subterranean levels beneath each new layer of streets, and old levels of skyscrapers now serving as sub-basements, or filled with concrete), and it's broader (the surface area of the city is massive compared to even massive modern cities, based on the map alone).

It's a colossal megalopolis, more akin to the massively built-up urban area that dominates the north-east of the US (incidentally, the same place taken up by Megacity One in Judge Dredd), or the London commuter belt (which is about fifty miles in all directions around London), or the TaiheiyĊ Belt in Japan (a 1,200 km stretch of urban areas along the pacific side of Japan), or any of the other greater urban areas that concentrate most of the population of Earth today.

Thing is, what you say about the rest of the solar system being depopulated... that is true to the setting as I understand it. There's a lot of territory on the Inner Worlds that isn't explored (and even more on the Outer Worlds), even more than fifteen hundred years after colonisation, and territories on Mars and Venus are vast and open (less so on Mercury, but subterranean dwelling changes circumstances a lot). Sending small groups of explorers out into the jungles of Venus to stake claims for their employers is something that Bauhaus still does (the Homebuilder iconic career in the Bauhaus book is exactly this kind of character).

Mutant Chronicles is an over-the-top setting in a lot of ways, and the opportunity to take the human condition and turn it up to 11 in a variety of different ways is an easy one to run with. The scale of Luna City is the rain-slicked corruption of Noir movies, writ large - a city of hardboiled freelancers, dark alleys, people in peril, and the rich and powerful in their gleaming towers of steel and glass. Mars is 19th century America expanded across a planet - the north hemisphere is the populated, industrial east, the southern hemisphere is the plains and deserts of the west. Fukido is the laissez-faire capitalist city of free trade that Hong Kong was under British rule... taken to the most anarchic extremes. Mishima and Bauhaus as corporations are grand illustrations of how easy it is to equate "corporate employee" and "feudal serfdom". Capitol takes numerous stereotypes of America and ramps them up. Taking familiar things and amping them up, making them bigger and grander is, for me, part of the appeal of the setting.
Game Development - 2D20 System
System Design - Star Trek Adventures

Rules questions and playtest feedback to nathan@modiphius.com
avatar
Marcin.Skupnik said Jan 03, 2016 09:32:22
"sci-fi writers have no sense of scale"

Make that "writers often have no sense of scale" and I'm with you. I don't agree fully with the hard numbers, sometimes the author has a vision and bases his numbers on them. And 40K is a problem in itself, the setting is so large that it's impossible to wrap one's head around it and many authors limit the scope of their work, to make it manageable.

Thing is, Luna City isn't a city in the 1920s. It's taller (the tallest buildings are colossal by modern standards, and the First Cathedral alone is a small city in its own right), it's deeper ('street level' is far above the ground, with vast subterranean levels beneath each new layer of streets, and old levels of skyscrapers now serving as sub-basements, or filled with concrete), and it's broader (the surface area of the city is massive compared to even massive modern cities, based on the map alone).

It's a question of how one interprets and plays the game. To me Luna is how Welthauptstadt Germania would have looked after 1000 years. It is NYC, Berlin, London, Tokyo and the Vatican all rolled into one. But the way I present it in my games, is as the perfect art deco noir metropolis.

Thing is, what you say about the rest of the solar system being depopulated... that is true to the setting as I understand it. (...) Mutant Chronicles is an over-the-top setting in a lot of ways, and the opportunity to take the human condition and turn it up to 11 in a variety of different ways is an easy one to run with.

That's I think the crux of the difference between us. I don't see MC as an over-the-top setting, that's what Exalted is for. To me MC is closer to a WEB Griffin novel, but with more gunplay and action. And that's what's great about the setting, we can both enjoy it in different ways.

There's a lot of territory on the Inner Worlds that isn't explored

Yeah, but there's a difference between 18th century "we claim the whole river basin, but have no idea how much land we claimed" and early 20th century "senhor, no one knows where the amazon starts". To me the MC maps still have empty spaces, but the majority of land has been at least sighted from orbit. It's a place where explorers, conquistadors and homebuilders can claim a spot for themselves, but most of the good spots are already claimed.
MC3 homebrewer. Check the thread!
CA-138 Deathlockdrum - when you want to put a grenade launcher on a grenade launcher, so you can launch grenades when launching grenades.
avatar
Ryan Smith said Feb 25, 2016 17:06:49
Remember too that most of the inner worlds were colonized, developed, terraformed and etc. before the great collapse. So you have developed, possibly even urban regions on Mars, Venus, and Mercury (and certainly the asteroid belt) that were settled, then unsettled, then forgotten for a thousand years, and waiting to be re-discovered and re-developed.
avatar
Marcin.Skupnik said Feb 26, 2016 18:18:41
Land abandoned for a thousand years ceases to be developed pretty quickly, irrigation systems get clogged etc. And there will be little left standing in an urban center after a few hundred years, a thousand years is enough time to destroy even cyclopean constructions like cathedrals and fortresses.
MC3 homebrewer. Check the thread!
CA-138 Deathlockdrum - when you want to put a grenade launcher on a grenade launcher, so you can launch grenades when launching grenades.
avatar
Ryan Smith said Feb 26, 2016 22:20:09
On Earth, anyway. I bet a fortress on a forgotten asteroid or Mercurial underworld would last practically forever.
avatar
Alakhai said Feb 27, 2016 03:45:22
I did something thinking about this subjet (at the end of the post you have it in english)

http://www.mutantchronicles.es/planetas-mutant-chronicles/
============================
Vini, vidi, vici et fuit facilis. Alakhai
http://www.mutantchronicles.es/
avatar
Marcin.Skupnik said Feb 27, 2016 07:55:57
Decay on Mars and Venus would be identical to Earth. We know very little about Mercury's tectonics, but I think cave ins and collapses would be a problem. And nothing lasts forever, not even in vacuum.

@Alakhai
Thanks for the link. Very illustrative.
MC3 homebrewer. Check the thread!
CA-138 Deathlockdrum - when you want to put a grenade launcher on a grenade launcher, so you can launch grenades when launching grenades.
Login below to reply: