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Birch bark

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  • #6052
    Thorik
    Participant

    I’ve read that turf is treated as an “imaginary resource”, as gathering it wouldn’t really deepen the gameplay. Birch bark could be however spawned by birches, gathered and used in construction, as it is as important in “turf roofs” as turf itself.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Birch_bark
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sod_roof – “The term ‘sod roof’ is somewhat misleading, as the active, water-tight element of the roof is birch bark. The main purpose of the sod is to hold the birch bark in place. The roof might just as well have been called a “birch bark roof”, but its grassy outward appearance is the reason for its name in Scandinavian languages: Norwegian and Swedish torvtak, Icelandic torfþak.”

    So, birchbark could be used in construction of all sod/turf roof buildings (being visible counterpart to the turf), Goahti, campfire (it’s very good tinder) and also in some primitive rope-making (very labour intensive).

    It would make bogs more valuable (with their birches) and create an opportunity cost for clearing them.

    #6053
    Tom Sawyer
    Keymaster

    Yes, I have read that too about sod roofs actually being birch bark roofs or at least that it’s a necessary material for it. I also had bark in mind when making the tannery but that would be rather from oaks.

    A reason why I did not add bark yet is the way to bring it into the game. I would consider people cutting it from a birch log used for building or as firewood but it’s not really possible in this game to make 2 out of 1 resource. An alternative might be gathering it from deadwood since I have now specific deadwood lying under birch trees, just for the right look but it could serve for this idea. Problem is here again that it would drop only either firewood or bark. Can be confusing for players.

    Not all log cabins have a sod roof and I wanted to add more variants, with solid wooden roof and one with shingles. But this can also be separate houses.

    I find it still not fully convincing and also suitable to just imagine birch bark used for construction but let’s continue the idea. Maybe it will turn out as a nice addition. Since it’s not much effort we can test it in a next developing version of the North mod.

    #6083
    Nilla
    Participant

    For some reason, I haven´t discovered this thread until now. Birchbark or “näver” as it´s called in Swedish would be a nice addition. It was used for many things, not only building material. The problem would be as you´ve already noticed, how to get it. As far as I know, it´s not taken from dead trees but is harvested from living trees to a certain time in a certain way, not to kill the tree. How this could be made in Banished, I don´t know. The easiest way would probably be like an orchard. You plant the birches and instead of a fruit, the bark is harvested. There are problems because I don´t think autumn is the right season to harvest “näver”. As far as I remember from my childhood, it was rather in late spring, early summer. And I don´t think it would look nice to have birches in rows. But maybe something like the fruit tree foresters that some mods have.

    #6085
    Tom Sawyer
    Keymaster

    What other realistic uses of birch bark do you know that could be interesting in game? A medicine maybe? Or was it actually used for tanning? Or maybe as a secondary recipe to bake bread in the old oven house with bark replacing a small amount of grain flour as we talked about in the picture puzzle. That would add an interesting option in the rather boring bread chain.

    if cut from living trees in the forest, the best or only mechanic to bring it into the game would be spawning an invisible resource around birches to let it “grow” in a certain temperature range (spring – early summer) and gathered by a certain profession while clearing a building site doesn’t drop the material. This is how wild honey and furs work in the North. Kralyerg’s fruit foresters use the same mechanic but also plant the trees which we don’t need here I think.

    Question is who should do this job. Gatherers from shelters or woodcutters from woodcutter cabins. I would not really like to distract gatherers from harvesting wild food by another resource than firewood but it could be also a new object specialized in birch bark and/or firewood. The woodcutter cabin could become more interesting with a second resource. It seems not much used by players, although it is actually a strong building already.

    As building material it would be required by everything with a sod roof as we said, probably including turf houses and goahti. The latter is tricky since it serves as first dwelling for survivors and not good to have to build a gatherer shelter or woodcutter cabin first. That must be solved. Maybe by a Sami style matching gathering object for very early game and also a new even more primitive shelter for survivors because the bark would not be available right at the start in harsh climate.

    I’m still not sure about bark as a managed resource but I would like to give it a try. It is not much effort and we can decide then in game if it’s nice or not. I can make a developing version of the North mod where we can play around with such ideas..

    #6088
    Nilla
    Participant

    I find it a good idea to use the woodcutter cabin to also cut the bark. I find them powerful too. And I usually use them unless it´s seafarer where the trees are too few. A little less logs and instead some bark (and maybe some deadwood) wouldn´t hurt.

    I have a bag made of “näver” and also some pots and plates. It´s a common craft material here. It was used that way historically, too; it was even used for shoes. But all these things are not so interesting for a Banished gameplay; maybe replace some leather for clothing (if you see the leather needed for shoes). But your idea about mixing it in the flour for bread sounds more fun. It was actually used in bad years to make the flour last longer, especially in northern Sweden, Norway, Finland. And would most certainly suit a “harsh” Banished climate where farming often brings little.

    #6090
    Artfactial
    Participant

    While I cannot speak for more northern uses of the sod roof, the structures were widely used in the north of the Netherlands(Frisia, Germanic but culturally more related to the Danes) in the extremely impoverished conditions of the large scale peat-diggers up into the ’30s. While they would use anything to keep their structures upright they were often made of nothing but peat or with only the side walls reinforced by planks or cobblestone. The roofs would be extremely leaky and the atmosphere clammy resulting in very short life expectancies.
    I’m sure it would generally be wise to add bark insulation, but not everyone would have the luxury of being able/allowed to use it.:) Many of these used the straw and dry hay from the top of the peat bogs as binding, so that might be another possible substitute for birch bark.
    Friesian Peat House
    1872 Painting of Sod houses during winter.

    That said; birch bark could also be a substitute inferior textile recourse for paper making.:)

    #6092
    Tom Sawyer
    Keymaster

    That’s really a poor dwelling. Not enough wood for a stable inner frame construction and probably no waterproof birch bark roof. Is there evidence for birch bark used as material for paper making?

    #6093
    Artfactial
    Participant

    They are horrible dwellings indeed, that required near-constant maintenance to fight the erosion. I have found no evidence in birch bark being used in them though the mixed consistency, besides the peat/sod was varied. It was more a point that the lower end of sod houses would probably be even less consistent and nasty but leave little trace by their relatively temporary nature.

    And huh, I though I had seen a direct reference to birch bark being used. But basswood bark and aspen chips are specifically mentioned; around 1750 many experiments with woods and barks were being done to produce paper fiber.:)

    Edit: Birch bark as a writing material of itself was widely used though.

    #6096
    Tom Sawyer
    Keymaster

    About birch bark for writing I’ve read as well. There was hardly anything they did not with or from this material. If not for building houses or all types of utensils, it was eaten as bark bread. =)

    I did some modding with bark and it basically works. The woodcutter cabin brings only a small but continues amount of bark because they are usually busy with cutting trees. To get more bark on demand I had to include a “Collect Birch Bark” tool which works similar to the hunting tool, rather indirectly and maybe not very satisfying for players. We can test it soon and then decide if it improves the game or if only annoying with this additional requirement. A wiki entry for birch bark is already here, also helps to get a better feeling for it seeing things written down..

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