Echo in Time

Also known as, “This isn’t Samples. What the heck?”

I’m playing another challenge. All the readers I know I have are now on Tumblr. I haven’t gotten a non-spam comment here in years. OTOH, I host this blog, and I’m pretty sure if I wrote fiction there I ever wanted to use for anything else, I’d ever be able to get it back out again. If I get the energy to set up another WordPress blog, I’ll probably move this stuff there. Until then, this is is my first take on a historical sims challenge.

With no commitment for how far I will go, I’m trying out a Sims 3 twist on Morbid’s Ultimate Decades Challenge. This starts in the 14th Century (anywhere, I assume, but I’m going with the white American default of medieval England) and progresses through time with a strict ratio of sim days to the year. Gameplay changes to fit historic events. The beginning is going to suck because life expectancy in the 1300s was ass, particularly infant mortality. And whoever survives will get to roll again to die in the Black Plague. This is a game where you need a hierarchy of heirs.

I hate telling stories where everything is bland and nobody faces any challenges. After 13 years, I have the mechanics of The Sims down, and I can mitigate almost anything the game throws at me. I have to make bad things happen on my own, and I’m terrible at that because I get too attached to my characters. So I shall hand over responsibility for tragedy to a very cruel 20-sided die and a whole bunch of probability calculations.

Modifications from Morbid’s Challenge

Lifespan and Survival

I was compelled to do my own research in to medieval life expectancy, and my probabilities came out different from Morbid’s. I also am going to trim the sim day to real year ratio to 3days/year instead of 4 days/year. That leaves me with:

1. Childbirth

Chance of mother’s death in childbirth: 5% (1 in 20)
Chance of newborn death: 20% (4 in 20)

2. Baby: 4 days to age 16 months, chance of death at age-up 25% (5 in 20)

3. Toddler: 14 days to age 6, chance of death at age-up 15% (3 in 20)

4. Child: 18 days to age 12, chance of death at age-up 10% (2 in 20)

5. Teen: 18 days to age 18, chance of death at age-up 10% (2 in 20)

6. YA: 36 days to age 30, chance of death at age-up 20% (4 in 20)

7. Adult: 45 days to age 45, death chance 20% (4 in 20)

8. Elder: 30 days to age 55, at which point death is handed off to the game’s randomizer.

The reasoning here is that my research indicates that infant mortality was 48%, or roughly half. Of the people who survived to childhood, half of them made it to age 55. In my games, it’s not uncommon for sims to live 10 days after their official end-of-lifespan, so I think that should get us a close enough simulation. I think we’re unlikely to get the long-tail of people who lived to be really comparatively old like 75.

What’s really disturbing is that those numbers are KINDER than Morbid’s rolls. EEK.


Look, I know that miscegenation was a big deal until close to modern days, but I just don’t want to deal, ok? I don’t want to screw with making all my sims white or creating castes of different skintones who are allowed to marry each other and are only allowed in certain careers. I can deal with 25% of my sims surviving to a really-young lifespan target. I’m using mechanics for sexism and heterosexism and economic castes. But encoding racism into my mechanics just makes me feel queasy. This is just going to be a multicolored version of medieval England. All simulations give something up.


I’m a huge agriculture simulation nerd. (You should see me play Minecraft.) I’ve already looked up what foods were available in medieval England. I’m using Cooking Overhaul and Ani’s Hunting Mod. Unfortunately, the only grain available in the game is corn, and I haven’t found a mod that adds any other plantable grains. So we’ll just pretend corn is oats or rye, and I can use Ani’s food processor as a millstone to grind corn into flour.

I’m not sure how much of subsistence will be much of a story in between births and deaths, but I’ll have plenty of fun playing it :).

Inheritance and Location

I was done with sticking to one lot in Sims challenges since back in the Pinstar days. I just don’t know why the community got so attached to, “Buy a 64×64 lot and stay there for 10 generations,” as the foundation for so many challenges. I’ve never been willing to stick to one lot or one world. I play my games too in-depth, and I suck at building.

More importantly, I’ve done enough of defining a family line by the last name. In Morbid’s challenge, male inheritance means that the heir must be male and the girls will be married off with dowries. If the heir dies, a male cousin can inherit and so on. This all makes perfect sense. I just don’t think I need to define the heir of my story as the literal heir of the household wealth. I intend to pick whatever surviving child I want. When that child is female, the story will move into a new active household when she marries. After over a decade of Samples and Wonderlands, I’m interested in telling stories about those who leave, not just those who stay behind.

The Foundress

Last but not least, meet Emmaline Weaver.

Emmaline Weaver

Since she’s a woman, her surname won’t last very long.

Her traits are random rolled to be: Coward, Hydrophobic, Proper, Gatherer, and Light Sleeper

Those traits naturally resolved into a backstory for me, and I’ve had a lot of fun with her so far.

I want you to know that this is the first game I’ve ever played where the Proper trait was so big a deal. That curtsy greeting is the CUTEST THING EVAR.

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