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surfarcher
11-30-2009, 05:23 PM
I've been working through RobA's "Using GIMP to Create an Artistic Regional RPG Map".

He indicates that roads in the pre-modern area weren't straight.

While that's true as a rule until about the 1950s there is a big exception to that. And that's where you had a major ancient empire that relied heavily on it's engineering core for support structures and occupied it's legions outside conflict for engineering construction (a way to prevent dissent - idle soldiers can foment all kinds of trouble). Obviously I'm talking about the Romans...

My campaign is in the D&D 4e "Point of Light" setting and I have based a number of my concepts of Nerath on the Roman Empire. As a result the road system left behind by them features dead staright roads, unless insurmountable geographical factors dictate otherwise (given the use of magic this generally means something like an ocean in the way).

Naturally these major byways don't link every town and villiage to every other - those are the kinds of wandering roads follow the path of least resistance that you would expect. But most large towns and all cities are on at least on of these imperial roads.

The concern I have here is that representing these imperial roads in exactly the same way as non-imperial roads may look confusing and just plain wrong.

So I'd love to hear any thoughts folks have on representing both styles of road on maps of this style.

TIA for any and all constructive posts!

Gamerprinter
11-30-2009, 05:40 PM
Yes, Roman roads tended to be straight, when they could be, except when close to extreme geography - mountains, rivers, canyons, etc. Such could be said of some meso-American road systems as well. By and large most societies did not build straight roads until late in the modern era.

However, do all fantasy world, have a "Roman Empire" that built straight roads in the past - of course the answer is, it depends. Many fantasy worlds do not have an historical advanced technology culture that has fallen into ruin, yet still have some straight roads as left-over architecture.

Comparing to Earth history, you have a point, and only limited, since not all fantasy based realms are based on Earth history, near Earth history... you can't depend upon that as a "trueism".

Interesting thoughts, though.

GP

surfarcher
11-30-2009, 05:54 PM
Cheers GP :D

I'm the DM, cartographer and campaign designer so I have a free hand... :P Except that I am a slave to internal consistency ;)

Drawing parallels between Nerath and the Romans is handy in a lot of ways and the empire only left the local campaign area about 100 years ago so their roads are still very servicable.

But I still have the problem of placing both types of road on my map, making them distinct from one another and still aesthetically pleasing :(

Right now I am thinking a light fawn/brown dotted line for the non-imperial roads and the yellow/black dashed style for the imperial roads... And am hoping it won't be too garish ;)

RobA
11-30-2009, 06:29 PM
Dash patterns work well for differentiating between trails, main roads, etc. you could even resort to the old double line like we use to depict highways now, rather than colour.

-Rob A>

Juggernaut1981
11-30-2009, 09:02 PM
I've been working through RobA's "Using GIMP to Create an Artistic Regional RPG Map".

He indicates that roads in the pre-modern area weren't straight.


Speaking as the kid of an engineer who now works in an engineering-type company... straight flat roads are hard to make.

The biggest issue is time. Sure, the Roman's built lots of straight roads across plains and rolling hills. They get to anything else and they have two options: cut a hole or fill a hole. To do either one you need to move a LOT of rock and dirt. Now, even with Bigby's Interposing Bulldozer you still get issues with filling in a valley/gorge/canyon/big hole until you have a flat surface.

So the majority of roads, run all over the place, except when you get to nice plains/rolling hills and have a very fussy organised civilisation that feels the need to move large numbers of people around regularly (i.e. Armies)

Juggernaut1981
11-30-2009, 09:08 PM
Right now I am thinking a light fawn/brown dotted line for the non-imperial roads and the yellow/black dashed style for the imperial roads... And am hoping it won't be too garish ;)

Black & Yellow are the one of the highest contrast colour combinations, hence their use in things such as crash test simulations, road signs and measuring tapes.

I'd suggest, solid and outlined. Local roads would get the "outline" and Imperial Roads would get solid.

surfarcher
11-30-2009, 10:22 PM
Cheers everyone!


Speaking as the kid of an engineer who now works in an engineering-type company... straight flat roads are hard to make.

The biggest issue is time. Sure, the Roman's built lots of straight roads across plains and rolling hills. They get to anything else and they have two options: cut a hole or fill a hole. To do either one you need to move a LOT of rock and dirt. Now, even with Bigby's Interposing Bulldozer you still get issues with filling in a valley/gorge/canyon/big hole until you have a flat surface.

Yeah my understanding was they are damned hard to make. Since we are talking Romans - they didn't go for perfectly level over distance, just smooth and straight over distance and level across width. Considering it was all powered by the human back it's pretty damned impressive.


So the majority of roads, run all over the place, except when you get to nice plains/rolling hills and have a very fussy organised civilisation that feels the need to move large numbers of people around regularly (i.e. Armies)

Exactly where I was coming from. Those roads were built for armies and just happened to get used by everyone else. As a result they weren't always that useful to other folk. For example a good number of them in mountainous regions were unusable by merchants relying on livestock because the slopes they went up were dangerous even for soldiers on foot! And there's more. But the Legions' engineers neverthless made exceptionally straight (topview) roads.

Even a very high level ritual caster would chew through a lot of time and components (=money) filling in even a medium gorge and I doubt it'd be perfectly flat afterwards (it'll settle over time). My thought was magic would simply be used for removal of rock and soil that wouldn't be viable by hand (think disintigrate) and to assist in support structure construction like bridges (yeah the Romans built those for their roads+armies too). So basically I've already elected to stay more or less with what the Romans did but to up the grand scale of some select structures to fit in with the scale of a fantasy world.


Black & Yellow are the one of the highest contrast colour combinations, hence their use in things such as crash test simulations, road signs and measuring tapes.

I'd suggest, solid and outlined. Local roads would get the "outline" and Imperial Roads would get solid.

The yellow/black dash pattern was in RobAs tute. But I think you just sold me on solid & outline.

I'm also liking the idea of basially treating the imperial roads as the FRPG world's freeways and the non-imperial one's as regular early medieval roads (connectors between lesser population centers). For me that fits well.

As long as it's going to look right in the end :)

Thanks again for sharing your ideas all!

nill
12-01-2009, 03:31 AM
Hi!
The reason of avoiding straight parts of the road are that driving on the straight road is actually more tiring for driver. The driver's concentration and focus are harder to achieve and with today's speeds, accidents are more often.
That's what when designing roads there's a limit in length of straight parts and it is actually preferred to directly connect two curves (with clothoid transition curve or similar).

Since in ancient times there weren't cars or other fast means of transport, there wasn't reason not create straight roads where possible.

waldronate
12-01-2009, 10:32 AM
My observation on roads is that it's a tradeoff between energy and time. Classical roads tend to follow the path of least work*time between two locations. That means that they don't go up steep slopes or across rivers unless they absolutely have to and will prefer straightish segments if possible. If your culture values time more than work then roads will invest lots of work in making roads that take less time to traverse (good pavement, straight segments, architecture that bypasses slow areas with bridges and road cuts, etc.) As the engineering capabilities of the civilization become more advenced, road networks get faster until some inflection point. When things get "fast enough" and folks start whining about "envionrmental issues" or there is a major technological shift such as instant transport devices then I would expect the road networks to stagnate. In a highly-advanced civilization there might be minimal road networks purely for the sake of entertainment.

One of the reasons that the interstates in the US are more straight than curved is (if I recall correctly) a requirement that one mile out of every three be straight so that they can serve as runways in time of war. The US interstates were designed by the military and for the military as infrastructure in case of war. Merchants then used them to reduce time to market and to destroy regional American culture. The same sort of thing happened in Roman times with the extension of the Roman road network.

Juggernaut1981
12-01-2009, 04:40 PM
Even a very high level ritual caster would chew through a lot of time and components (=money) filling in even a medium gorge and I doubt it'd be perfectly flat afterwards (it'll settle over time). My thought was magic would simply be used for removal of rock and soil that wouldn't be viable by hand (think disintigrate) and to assist in support structure construction like bridges (yeah the Romans built those for their roads+armies too). So basically I've already elected to stay more or less with what the Romans did but to up the grand scale of some select structures to fit in with the scale of a fantasy world.


As someone who has played more Wizards than any other class, I'd have been using a 6ft stack of Rock to Mud spells, not Disintegrate. Mountainside turns to mud, slides into valley, large rocks fall after, wait for spell to end AND REPEAT. It gets you a shorter mountain (which may be useful for garrisons/fortification/defensive position buildings) and gives you a taller valley (for your road).

But then, I also was renowned for trying to solve combats by not actually having the combat... as evidenced by the Rock to Mud trick above...

Redrobes
12-01-2009, 05:30 PM
Most of the roman roads I see are pretty straight but not at all flat.

RobA
12-01-2009, 09:22 PM
This has turned into an interesting discussion on evolution of transportation systems. A fellow engineer has often told me that if there were no pre-existing paved roads and the question of developing large scale local and distance goods and person transport, no same person would come up with the idea of paving over millions of square km's in flat smooth surfaces so that a generic 3 box wheeled device could travel on it. The three boxes being a box to hold motive power, a box to hold people, an a box to hold cargo, usually arranged in that linear order, with the size ratios depending on the actual function.

Bit of a side track here, but I would think for a future/alien/alternate history world, roads might just not have happened, or (as Waldonrate stated) survived.

-Rob A>

surfarcher
12-01-2009, 09:57 PM
This has turned into an interesting discussion!


Juggernaut1981,
Nice idea! Unfortunately Rock to Mud didn't make the cut to 4e but there's no reason it or something similar couldn't have been used by the engineering teams who built the roads.


Everyone else,
I'm enjoying the ideas and thoughts immensely!

Ascension
12-01-2009, 10:09 PM
Whatever you decide just make sure that you don't let the drunken orcs build the roads or else they will be all over the place :)

Juggernaut1981
12-02-2009, 07:27 PM
Juggernaut1981,
Nice idea! Unfortunately Rock to Mud didn't make the cut to 4e but there's no reason it or something similar couldn't have been used by the engineering teams who built the roads.


Surfarcher:
Just one more reason why I think 4E = Epic Fail. (Or at least the bare minimum... not D&D anymore, just like D&D is not tabletop wargaming).

surfarcher
12-02-2009, 08:58 PM
And 3.x was? Not to me - it wasn't what I cut my teath on when I started DMing in 1981.

I really think it all depends on your perspective and your gaming history and gaming needs.

For many of us BXCMI and AD&D were and are "real" D&D and everything since is increasingly diluted and aberrant. I personally love lite rules but for my current crop of players 4e is the best choice - they are mostly new to RPGs or have been away for a while (like I had been until 18 months ago or so). 4e is good for folks in that kind of position.

If you loved 3.x you should consider shifting to Pathfinder. 3.x is very much alive and growing under the Pathfinder banner (many refer to Pathfinder as D&D 3.75e).

On the other hand if you loved 1e (AD&D) it's alive and well as a free system called OSRIC.

Personally I live in hope that some of my current crop of players mature in roleplaying to the point they are willing to give BFRPG the opportunity it (and they) so richly deserve.


Getting back on topic...
It seems defense/the military has always played a prominent role in the development of roads major planned roads, to some extent even in the modern era. Those have historically been a significant factor in the development of towns and cities too - many of those have grown out of a fort of some sort set in a good defensive position with good supply lines (typically near a river or harbour) and grow to commence from there.

Is there a guide or anything on here about considerations to give and think through when designing a fictional map? I've gotten a lot out of this thread so far and would be happy to write up this discussion to add to that if folks think it would be useful.

I'm also looking forward to reading anything else folks have to share.


Cheers!

Juggernaut1981
12-05-2009, 05:20 PM
From the semi modern era (post industrial revolution, and post development of working steam engines) RAIL is the major military transport tool for all resources that can't move a decent speed under their own power. Most infantry movements were made during WWII by a combination of large trucks and heavy rail. The Germans transported the majority of semi-mobile artiller via rail, significant amounts of goods and more. Most of the time things were only transported by road after they'd been transported by rail to a major hub and then distributed.

RE: 3.xE D&D. I was a 2nd-Ed player. I loved the streamlined nature of the 3.xEditions, but the problem for me about 4E is the way that it seriously feels like there is no "risk of death/failure" in the system. Heroes need to have the chance for massive catastrophic failure, or they are nothing but "corrective devices within the system" (like Neo is intended to be in the Matrix, a self correcting fault that restores the world to order).

icosahedron
12-06-2009, 03:32 AM
This has turned into an interesting discussion on evolution of transportation systems. A fellow engineer has often told me that if there were no pre-existing paved roads and the question of developing large scale local and distance goods and person transport, no same person would come up with the idea of paving over millions of square km's in flat smooth surfaces so that a generic 3 box wheeled device could travel on it. The three boxes being a box to hold motive power, a box to hold people, an a box to hold cargo, usually arranged in that linear order, with the size ratios depending on the actual function.

Bit of a side track here, but I would think for a future/alien/alternate history world, roads might just not have happened, or (as Waldonrate stated) survived.

-Rob A>

I'm curious, what does your friend propose as an alternative?

Juggernaut1981
12-06-2009, 06:32 PM
What are the other two main forms of human transport: Rail & Shipping. Basically imagine a world where there was light, medium and heavy rail dominating the landscape. Buses would not exist, they'd have been replaced with light rail. Commuters would use medium rail systems and all cargo would be transported by a heavy rail network.

Goods would probably get transported around at the final point by either human power, animal power, or by some kind of over-glorified forklift.

Then of course, that reveals little else except my general belief in public transport being superior to private transport.

rdanhenry
12-07-2009, 12:32 AM
There's nothing wrong with private transportation. I'm sure there would be plenty of bicycles in use.

gilgamec
12-07-2009, 10:35 PM
What are the other two main forms of human transport: Rail & Shipping. Basically imagine a world where there was light, medium and heavy rail dominating the landscape. Buses would not exist, they'd have been replaced with light rail. Commuters would use medium rail systems and all cargo would be transported by a heavy rail network.
OK, that seems reasonable, up to this point:

Goods would probably get transported around at the final point by either human power, animal power, or by some kind of over-glorified forklift.
I don't buy this. I see that the amount of effort needed to transport goods at the endpoints of the system depends on how close they are to the final destination. But that's not going to be so close! Look at the extreme case: a rail spur in everyone's backyard. Can you imagine the logistical nightmare of a train stopping every couple of houses to pick up or drop off cargo? (Plus, you've essentially recreated the problem, with iron rails instead of asphalt.)

It seems more likely to me that the stops will be more widely distributed: at the inside, maybe every few blocks in an urban area? In that case, I pity the human power that has to deliver my new fridge a block or two from the nearest station! (Let alone deliver hundreds of pounds of fruit daily to the local greengrocer, or make any of a thousand different large commercial deliveries.) And a society at the technological level of our own isn't going to use wagons pulled by draught animals for that kind of thing; they're messy, expensive to keep up, and rightly obsolete. As for an "over-glorified forklift", I think you're nearly there: the phrase you're looking for, though, is probably closer to "light cargo truck".

We've been over-exposed to the bad things about automobiles for so long that we tend to forget that they're the best solution to a whole raft of problems; more flexible than rail, faster and more powerful than bicycles, much cleaner than animals (small quantities of diesel fumes vs. great wads of dung dropped sporadically down the street). And while I think that, if the rail system was flexible (and cheap!) enough, it's quite possible that automobiles wouldn't ever move out of light commercial roles, I find it hard to buy that they would never be used. (I bet they'd also find a role in transportation to and from isolated areas that are worth a gravel road but not a rail line.)

Juggernaut1981
12-08-2009, 12:08 AM
Gilgamec> I'd be guessing you've never visited a non-first world nation. I've been to a number of places where fridges and large goods are delivered short distances (less than 1 or 2km) by people-power. China is a really good case in point.

The only thing that really facilitates modern personal transport is oil. If we hadn't really developed oil to run vehicles, we'd probably not be driving cars at all.

This was all based on a thought experiment of "What happens if nobody really designed a car...?"

Conclusion: Rail becomes more "graduated", people transport goods around by a combination of rail, hand vehicles (carts, etc), bicycle-based devices and animal power.

To give you the delivery cycle of white goods, since they seem to be an issue of note.

"Westinghouse makes a Fridge in (Insert Town A) and loads it into a cargo carriage sitting on rails outside their factory. Their factory is like almost every other and has a rail-line immediately behind it.

The (Insert Rail Company Here) sends an engine to collect the various goods along the rail line behind the Westinghouse Factory that are to be delivered to (Metropolis B). Heavy rail transports the white goods, along with numerous other goods, to (Metropolis B).

At (Metropolis B), a number of haulage companies have warehouses immediately next to the rail line and unload into their warehouses from the cargo train. The train leaves.

Hand-based pallette jacks and hydraulic forklifts move and store the goods until they are distributed to the next step in the chain. In particular, the Westinghouse Goods are stored for shipment tomorrow.

The Westinghouse Goods are then moved from the warehouse out onto a hand-operated hydraulic cart, allowing the goods to be easily placed on with hand-operated vehicles. This if fine since the store selling this shipment is only a few blocks away.

Another shipment of Westinghouse Goods needs to be transported roughly 4km away. These get placed on the back of a bicycle-powered cart, like an over glorified goods rickshaw. Also loaded is a hydraulic-hand-palette-jack. The cart will be lowered down and the goods removed from the back along a gangway into the store. As the Westinghouse delivery is coming in, some of the store's delivery staff are leaving on another bicycle-powered cart to deliver what appears to be a washing machine, an armchair and a study desk."

Ghostman
12-08-2009, 11:24 AM
http://img527.imageshack.us/img527/3497/52997680.jpg

:o

One thing that seems to not have been brought up yet is that paved roads and wheeled vehicles do not necessarily go hand in hand. The Incas had the former but not the latter...

Juggernaut1981
12-08-2009, 05:38 PM
Ghostman> thanks for the nice SE-Asian example of "courier" and why Australian and probably US couriers are danger-avoiding bludgers :P

Also, RE: Incas... If I lived where they did, I think I'd be thinking its a zero-sum game to have carts. Too likely to roll off a cliff...

xequar
12-08-2009, 08:58 PM
Savage Worlds > D&D4th
D&D4th > ALL other D&D Editions
Unplayable rubbish > ALL other D&D Editions
ALL other D&D editions > Paranoia XP
Just sayin' ;)

Right, sorry to interrupt a good discussion on Roman roads, but...

Here are some ideas for depicting different roads you may use. In GIMP, one can get creative with the "Stroke Path" tool, which is what I did here. For the two versions of "Imperial Highway," I picked first the outside color, then did "Stroke Path" with a 15 pixel line. I then picked the inside color, did another "Stroke Path", this time with a smaller line (9 pixels on the first, 7 on the second). In the case of the second "Imperial Highway", I used black as the inner color, then I used "Fuzzy Select" on the black and deleted it (there was a line of dark grey created from the Stroke Path, which I left because I'm lazy).

I hope this helps!

Juggernaut1981
12-08-2009, 10:55 PM
Savage Worlds > D&D4th
D&D4th > ALL other D&D Editions
Unplayable rubbish > ALL other D&D Editions
ALL other D&D editions > Paranoia XP
Just sayin' ;)

xequar> I'd love to get into a long-winded debate about how 4E actually represents the true death of epic storytelling due to it's complete cotton-wool effect on the protagonist... but I feel that it is summarised best by "Epic Fail".

xequar
12-08-2009, 11:42 PM
xequar> I'd love to get into a long-winded debate about how 4E actually represents the true death of epic storytelling due to it's complete cotton-wool effect on the protagonist... but I feel that it is summarised best by "Epic Fail".And I feel that the more time one spends rule-lawyering and dealing with a broken system, the less time a campaign can focus on story.

Seriously, Savage Worlds is the greatest gaming system in the history of gaming, hands down. You can do anything with it, from superheroes to sci-fi to fantasy that still puts D&D4 (the only playable version of D&D IMO) to shame. And it's simple. The main rule book is only 140 pages, and it's very very hard to break the system (unlike the old D&D games).

But, as long as you're having fun, then good enough, eh? (and no, I wasn't being sarcastic. As I reread it, I realize that could sound kinda snarky. Sorry 'bout that!)


On topic, did we ever figure out what's going on in this world?

Juggernaut1981
12-09-2009, 12:33 AM
xequar> As I hinted at in my post, I don't really have an issue with the mechanics per se of 4E. It's the fact that the protagonists (i.e. players) are obviously protected and set up to "not fail". As said by plenty of other people (including McKee), good stories need protagonists who can, and do, fail. Conclusion is 4E = epic fail.


Half of this thread was a thought experiment into how society would work if we hadn't developed the car.

surfarcher
12-09-2009, 01:05 AM
Protected? Cotton wool?

Man you obviously haven't played in one of my games :D

If the PCs aren't honestly scared they are going to die from time to time there's no real game IMO.

TPK happens. Deal with it ;)


Enjoying the rest that's been said but haven't been able to find anything actually worth contributing!

waldronate
12-09-2009, 01:24 AM
xequar> As I hinted at in my post, I don't really have an issue with the mechanics per se of 4E. It's the fact that the protagonists (i.e. players) are obviously protected and set up to "not fail". As said by plenty of other people (including McKee), good stories need protagonists who can, and do, fail. Conclusion is 4E = epic fail.



I would say rather that good stories need to have heroes who succeed despite the odds. Reading a story that ends "and then they all died" tends not to be terribly interesting to the audience that buys the stories. There is a niche market for masochists but it's a smallish niche.

Good roleplaying, on the other hand, needs to keep the potential for failure in order to keep the thrill but succeed often enough to keep players coming back.

I have played in games that were great fun even though we spent probably a quarter of our time generating new characters. The party went on and on despite the heavy individual losses. I have also played in games where the DM was telling a story and all actions were forced into a linear plotline. We didn't lose any characters, but the game degenerated into a relatively uninteresting series of "how can we screw the plotline" exercises. Not much fun at all.

In my opinion games and stories are similar in that they both provide the thrill of meeting challenges, but in a story the hero always wins by design and in a game you can always screw yourself over by bad decisions or inattention. If you're playing a "game" that is really a "story" then the "storyteller" will move heaven and earth to make sure that you succeed. It can work well or work badly depending on who's in charge. If you're selling "interactive storytelling" to an audience that may not be particularly gifted storytellers then you'll have to make a fair bit of effort to ensure that the "story" doesn't fail.

gilgamec
12-09-2009, 01:29 AM
Gilgamec> I'd be guessing you've never visited a non-first world nation. I've been to a number of places where fridges and large goods are delivered short distances (less than 1 or 2km) by people-power. China is a really good case in point.
I hadn't been thinking about developing nations, actually; your point is well taken. However, I would still ask: if, for example, the bicycle courier in the picture Ghostman posted had the opportunity, would he replace his bicycle with a cargo van? I suspect that much of the human- and animal-power we see in the developing world is not because automobiles would not be useful, but because they would be too expensive to be efficient. (Of course, the relative (in)efficiency also has to do with infrastructure, so it's not entirely possible to disentangle these.)

I stand by my claim that the internal combustion engine is just too damn useful to not be used. It gives you a tremendous power/weight ratio, the energy density of the fuel is enormous (compared to coal or wood), and it's highly scalable, from the two-stroke engine in a lawnmower to the enormous diesels running cargo ships. The precursors of the internal combustion engine go back at least to the seventeenth century; the only thing they lacked then was a reasonable fuel source and the precision machining needed to make an efficient engine. Really, the only way I can see automobiles not being used is if the fuel were too expensive, which brings us to:

The only thing that really facilitates modern personal transport is oil. If we hadn't really developed oil to run vehicles, we'd probably not be driving cars at all.And, presumably, the trains would be running on coal and not diesel. Smoke city!

Even in this case, though, I'm not at all certain that you wouldn't have small-scale transport, maybe electric. Let's look at your proposed movement of a refrigerator:

"Westinghouse makes a Fridge in (Insert Town A) and loads it into a cargo carriage sitting on rails outside their factory. Their factory is like almost every other and has a rail-line immediately behind it.

The (Insert Rail Company Here) sends an engine to collect the various goods along the rail line behind the Westinghouse Factory that are to be delivered to (Metropolis B). Heavy rail transports the white goods, along with numerous other goods, to (Metropolis B).

At (Metropolis B), a number of haulage companies have warehouses immediately next to the rail line and unload into their warehouses from the cargo train. The train leaves.No problems so far. These are all high-volume, regular movements that rail is good at.

Hand-based pallette jacks and hydraulic forklifts move and store the goods until they are distributed to the next step in the chain. In particular, the Westinghouse Goods are stored for shipment tomorrow.Just a small nitpick here: while it's entirely possible to have steam-powered hydraulics, in our universe hydraulics only really took off (over direct-powered steam tools) because they could be powered by small (mobile) internal combustion engines, rather than large steam engines (compare steam shovel vs. backhoe). But we'll go with the hand-jacks at least, and maybe larger-scale steam cranes.

The Westinghouse Goods are then moved from the warehouse out onto a hand-operated hydraulic cart, allowing the goods to be easily placed on with hand-operated vehicles. This if fine since the store selling this shipment is only a few blocks away.

Another shipment of Westinghouse Goods needs to be transported roughly 4km away. These get placed on the back of a bicycle-powered cart, like an over glorified goods rickshaw. Also loaded is a hydraulic-hand-palette-jack. The cart will be lowered down and the goods removed from the back along a gangway into the store. As the Westinghouse delivery is coming in, some of the store's delivery staff are leaving on another bicycle-powered cart to deliver what appears to be a washing machine, an armchair and a study desk."Yes, this is certainly feasible. I wonder, though, if our bicycle washing-machine-armchair-desk driver would prefer a nice electric cart?

Actually, this does raise a question: how much can you pull with a bicycle? The courier in Ghostman's picture may have a lot of boxes, but they can't be that heavy (or he'd tip over) ... and it must take a lot of torque to pull a washing machine, armchair, and desk (say, one ton in total). The bike in the picture doesn't look especially heavy-duty, either -- what's the weight limit on one of those? If you use a cart?

RobA
12-09-2009, 01:56 AM
I stand by my claim that the internal combustion engine is just too damn useful to not be used. It gives you a tremendous power/weight ratio, the energy density of the fuel is enormous (compared to coal or wood)

The IC engine may be useful but incredibly inefficient, with (one the average) 15-20% energy efficiency and the remainder wasted, primarily as heat. You might as well call them "internal combustion space heaters" that have a waste by product of usable power. The fuel has to have a high density.

The things they have going for them are cheap to make, cheap to fuel, and easy to build.

It would make more sense to not carry around fuel on the vehicles.....

-Rob A>

gilgamec
12-09-2009, 03:04 PM
The IC engine may be useful but incredibly inefficient, with (one the average) 15-20% energy efficiency and the remainder wasted, primarily as heat. You might as well call them "internal combustion space heaters" that have a waste by product of usable power. The fuel has to have a high density.
Even steam engines (small ones, at least) don't have more than about 30% efficiency.

The things they have going for them are cheap to make, cheap to fuel, and easy to build.This is also true.

It would make more sense to not carry around fuel on the vehicles.....Short of Tesla-style broadcast power, I can't see how....

Jaxilon
12-09-2009, 08:05 PM
I'm thinking 'screw roads', what we need is liquid that allows things to slide along with relative ease...oh wait, that's rivers and oceans. There is a reason most places started out on the shipping lanes I guess.

In a fantasy world, why wouldn't you just have the wizards or whatever create a surface like the back of a greased pig so you could push things along..heh, think Venice. Some dude just moves stuff around like on a gondola.

I'm trying to take it from the point of what would make it easier for a human to move something using human or animal power? Instead of what power do we need to move something? If we operated from that point we might look for a 'better bicycle' or a hover board to put stuff on and push or pull along. Something to leverage the output a human is capable of.

Even in our world there have been a lot of ideas that never went anywhere because they were never going to be able to displace the automobile. As long as you have it in your back pocket of ideas it's hard to get beyond it.

"Roads? Where we're going, we don't need roads." - Dr. Emmett Brown :)

Juggernaut1981
12-09-2009, 09:12 PM
Jaxilon> Slippery surfaces.
Problem, big problem. Slippery surfaces by design are hard to control a moving object along. Humans spend lots of time practicing it, it's called ice skating, and most people have a terrible time when they start. Compound it with an additional 400kg of inertia-generating objects and your idea comes unstuck quickly without having magic rocket-packs added to the vehicles... which gets us to the idea of "Magic makes Petrol".

Gilgamec> You can actually get some very good efficiency from modified versions of the steam engine. If it wasn't so rediculously difficult to do in the first place, we could potentially create nuclear-powered rail, but again... difficulty = high, danger = high, waste = pain in the ass.

We don't need a "tesla" system, although it could be possible to broadcast ****eloads of energy using radiowaves... the electric car, compressed air car (developed in the 19th century or earlier if i remember) and a number of other concept vehicles were developed before we got to the combustion engine.

As RobA mentioned, the IC engine is closer to a heater that happens to move things.

Many devices used in retail areas and small warehouses are actually HAND operated hydraulic equipment. Like the good old mechanic's jack. Ironically the medieval period had some wonderfully effective cranes that required no engine, no hydraulics and minimal steel. Human-powered cranes were used throughout Europe for centuries and they did a fantastic job. Advancing that technology to utilise hydraulics, newer materials, etc, etc, etc should make it fairly easy to get cranes that will be able to move things vertically a number of storeys with significant weight.

It would force the decentralisation of manufacturing, which isn't neccessarily a bad thing.

su_liam
12-10-2009, 12:44 AM
Also, there's that glorified forklift that got mentioned early and then forgotten. A few little electric carts that get plugged in when not in use. You don't need a hundred-mile range to get a piano from the minitrain siding a few blocks to the house.

This set-up would have a different set of trade-offs than the private-cars-everywhere world we live in and would take getting used to, but it wouldn't be infeasible or arduous.

Commuting for an hour on a train is probably intrinsically safer and more productive. You can't read a book(or an office memo)while driving(I hope you don't try), and talking on the phone while riding a train isn't hazardous. I'm not sure that the efficiency benefits of train transport scale well to the more local lines, but it should still be economical.

For longer ranges, well... long-haul trucking only competes with shipping by train because most of its infrastructural overhead is paid for by the big bad socialist government. Eisenhower.

waldronate
12-10-2009, 01:26 AM
I think that a cluster of nanomachines that can assume a form suitable for transport over rough terrain (some sort of system of levers made from harvested minerals could work for propulsion) might be the ticket. A design that could collect available materials for fuel and that could self-replicate would be a good addition. Speed and maybe toxicity of waste products would probably be an issue for this kind of system, though.

su_liam
12-10-2009, 01:25 PM
A Segway® in every garage!

RobA
12-10-2009, 02:29 PM
There is also 30-year non starter of Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Personal_rapid_transit)

-Rob A>