Episode #125 of the Stack Overflow podcast is here. We talk Tilde Club and mechanical keyboards. Listen now
92

You don't need to 'do' anything - economics takes care of it Much like it does in the real world. There are two different economic issues: Value of work (money in), and cost of goods (money out). On the latter, sure, it might cost significantly more materials to feed/clothe a larger person, but making smaller goods (and providing smaller services) is ...


61

Fantasy solution: The bridge to Heavens is above the pit to Hell. Anyone pushed over just vanish into its bottomless abyss. Just rule out accumulation. Biological solution: Scavengers. Some scavenger nest near the duel area and clean the corpses once sun has set. They learned to be afraid of the guardians after centuries of getting their butts whooped, ...


53

You are kind of answering your own question. Human labor is the only possibility you did not exclude by your world setting. Historically we have been using either machines, animals or manual labor to accomplish tasks like these. Since it's medieval times machinery is off the table. Animals are off the table too, because of your world design. So there is ...


49

Actually, fewer than you think. Suppose the 1500 "nobles" in your court, in addition to 3kg of food and 1 kg of water just for consumption, also use on average 11kg more water to wash (I mean who needs to wash daily when you're an evil lord? You can just keep a water reserve in the palace and wash on sundays. And if anyone mentions your smell, you'll have a ...


48

Some Important Groundwork Middle-Age warfare and the cost of armies varied greatly. Some areas expected you to heed the commands of your local noble, paying your own way, meaning that it doesn't cost them anything to put together. Other times, the noble in question decided to hire mercenaries, outfit their conscripts, provide arms and armor, and so forth. ...


43

Why would you want wages to be fair? And what is "fair" anyway? You don't need a fair system. You need a system that is temporarily stable and which many people believe is the right way of doing things. In today's world, there are people who are millionaires by the time they are 8 years old, and others who never ever earn a million dollars while working ...


38

You have solar power, I presume you have reasonably intelligent robots, the solution is to take a clue from biology: Constantly, whether it is needed or not, replace every molecule of the space station with newly fabricated parts, smelt down the old parts, bring in new steel or whatever from asteroids. Make so no part of your station is ever more than 20 ...


38

how could they dispose of the many corpses? Don't. A giant pile of rotting corpses floating on their own goo may be a nice deterrent against stupid adventurers trying their luck. If the sight doesn't scare them away, the smell will. They will get sick. Any adventurer who escapes will die from infection far away from the site and scare others even more. ...


36

There are plenty of historical societies that didn't have beasts of burden: anybody in the Americas south of dog-travois or outside of llama territory, or Africa south of horses, and Australia and New Guinea. My understanding is that anybody who built big things or moved things over long distances had to use human labor. There wasn't any other way to solve ...


36

First of all, let's start with a rough classification of the people living in the palace: The gentlepersons for the use of whom the palace is run. The question gives their number as one hundred. The personal servants of the gentlepersons, of appropriate sex -- grooms for the gentlemen, maids for the gentlewomen. They number at least as many, but some of the ...


32

I'm going to go with "can't be done." 2,000 people a day (I'm assuming adults based on your offered statistics) or 730,000 people a year would be beyond noticable, even if you're harvesting planet-wide. Approximately 55 million people die each year (source). You're talking about one out of every 75 people. The collaborating government would need to come ...


31

Turn prisoners into managers Many societies across time have used this tactic (Romans for one, Nazis and Stalinists for more modern/malicious examples). Find the prisoners who are willing to enforce rules on other prisoners in exchange for more rights/luxuries/privileges. This creates a type of managerial oversight among the prisoners themselves. It's ...


29

Without diving too far into philosophy and such, I think it's pretty easy to picture an evil society. Most humans are at least somewhat inclined to act in their own self interest. All you have to do is push that to extremes and things get awfully dark. Having known a few "Satanists" this self interest seems to be the core of their ideology and oddly enough ...


29

Let's do the math. Average human volume is 0.066m^3. Let's assume they're big people, at 0.1 cubic metres. Let's also assume no reduction in volume over time through mummification or decomposition: the pit's frozen, perhaps. Bingham mine is a pit about 940m deep and 4km across, and the highest cliff in the world is 1340m high. So we know that a 1km cliff is ...


25

Your question contains a false assumption about medieval transport, namely that it primarily featured beasts of burden and carts. This is very much incorrect. The first thing you have to remember is that there were no roads between cities. Not as we understand them, not as the Romans would have understood them, and barely even as good as a farm track or a ...


25

The path to heaven is at the top of a mountain, at the end of a long treacherous trail that leads over several smaller mountains. The region is isolated (though not terribly far from settlements), mostly above the treeline, and filled with endless ravines. Coiling Dragon Cliff Walkway on Hunan’s Tianmen Mountain, China Places like this exist in the real ...


23

The enemy gets a vote, too When the enemy discovers you scavenging to re-use ammunition, they will promptly start booby-trapping it. Then some clever enemy will begin seeding your scavenging areas with slightly mis-sized ammunition, so you damage your own weapons upon use. The process of scavenging and recycling, say, railgun projectiles will require ...


21

Let's see... On level ground, the US Army assumes one soldier averages 20 miles (32,000m) per day carrying 50 lbs on their back. A 45-deg angle for the steps (100% slope) is much too steep, so let's back that down to 9 degrees (16%). At 9 degrees, your steps are 1875m (horizontal, one way) and your average slave's reliable per-day average is around 24,000m ...


21

Mars has a space elevator. Earth doesn't. Space elevators are fantastic pieces of technology that make the trip from surface to orbit incredibly cheap and easy. They are unfortunately also incredibly dangerous as Earth learned when a terrorist group managed to sever the Curacao elevator in 2591. The resulting cataclysm killed hundreds of millions outright ...


19

Roll it home A large stone cube can't easily be rolled home because of the huge energy requirements to lift the center of mass high enough to roll over to the next face. So don't lift it. Tie logs in a flattened pyramid pattern to the each of the sides of the cube perpendicular to the plane that Moses wants to roll the cube. This is aided by the fact that ...


19

The books offer very valuable information, however implementing their lessons will be next to impossible - at least not for a long time. The reasons are many, and varied: Education These systems depend on an educated workforce capable of carrying out your instructions. Sure, the low-level worker doesn't need to be too bright, but the supervisors, managers, ...


19

These aliens would not foment chaos and war. What they want is large numbers of humans having large numbers of babies, eating well, living through reproductive age and long enough to help with the rearing of grandchildren, with the main reason for non accidental mortality being the harvest of the aged for meat. The aliens would therefore use their tech and ...


19

The corpses stay. After a short time on the ground the corpse of the defeated gets back up and walks a short distance to a dusty field. It then sits crosslegged and watches. It will watch until the end of time. If a given corpse is damaged such that after defeat it cannot make this walk, others from the field will rise and help it to its place. Many ...


15

Inmates are the guards. This is the Trusty system. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trusty_system_(prison) The trusty system had designated inmates used by staff to control and administer physical punishment to other inmates according to a strict, prison-determined, inmate hierarchy of power... The bulk of guarding and disciplining of the inmates ...


14

No, they can't A siege is nothing more than a test of endurance. In order for a town to be able to do all of the things you list in a siege they would have to have access to: Fields Orchards Vineyards Mine(s) Workshops (of so many different kinds it's not even funny) Huge, huge, huge stockpiles of materials, foods, medicine, etc. Traditionally, city ...


14

The big problem is similar the "bring on the industrial revolution" trope in SF: everything is based on an accumulation of knowledge and experience from the past. Even then, it isn't entirely clear just what the "x" factor is for industrialization, Hero of Alexandria described simple steam and atmospheric engines in the first century AD, and places as ...


14

Keep prices equal for size-dependent goods and services Whichever way you try to balance wages, there is still the problem that some goods and services will be size-dependent (food/clothes/transport) and others won't (financial services, mental health, some entertainment). If larger people get higher wages, they'll enjoy a much better relative price for the ...


14

A new company LifeStore Inc. has taken up the challenge of harvesting flesh at an early age and storing it for use in later life medical care as needed. The game is up if you don't actually offer the promised improved health care, but such a thing should not be a problem for the ETs (BTW, be sure to pronounce ETs as eaties). Surprisingly, (and most ...


14

Steam engines. The first steam engine was developed well before medieval times. However with the prevalence of slave labor and beasts of burden there was no great practical application at the time. Lacking that however, there might be a greater impetuous to put it to work. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aeolipile


14

There is no issue really. The religious authority arranging the event equips the people and escorts them to the site. With criminals armed guards are used. With volunteers priests and musicians. The guards are then challenged by the victim. The victim is killed and his escort gathers up the corpse and the expensive equipment and carries it back. I mean ...


Only top voted, non community-wiki answers of a minimum length are eligible