Thoughts on Children and Population Growth

Continuing the thoughts related to the pictures I have posted in the “Voxel Pirate´s Qubicle Creations”-Thread…

What if there would be 3 stages of your workers life?

Stage 1 - Baby:

While you could exchange a specific resource for a new settler (like food as mentioned in the last Live-Stream), the new fellow might not appear as an adult. Why not having a Stork fyling in and delivering a baby? Sure, is sounds like a stereotype… but might look funny and for sure is in no other game (which I know at least).

Similar to the beds, which are required for people to sleep, the delivery of a baby might require a “baby crib”, otherwise no baby.

Growing the baby could work in different ways. One could be that there is a Nanny-profession which requires resources as others to “produce” a good… in this case develop the baby into a teenager. Resources could be milk, maybe wood to heat up, some fabric for the diapers, etc.

I think it was mentioned that the devs do not like to implement mini-games. However, growing up babies might also work like a “Tamagotchi” kind of game. Depending on how much you care, the better / faster they grow up. Maybe the traits-system which was mentioned could link in here as a reward / punishment?

Stage 2 - Teenager:

Once the baby turns into a teenager, they could populate the city, play around and interact with your pets, just as @SteveAdamo suggested. To bring more value, they might cause a “happiness”-buff related to having kids running around. Or even a de-buff if you have a settler who has a “Grumpy” as a trait.

Teenagers also could be used as aide for professions and provide buffs like increased speed. They could even be a central part for some professions, like taking care of small chickens, rabbits, etc. (which children love to do). @Smokestacks has some ideas in this direction.

Stage 3 - Adult:

Once everything goes well and some more time has passed… you have finally the workers available.

This are just some of the thoughts I have had up to now. In general something like this could support a lot of other ideas. We have wolves. Why shouldn’t a wolf (or other NPCs) attack you and steal your babies. They might even raise them and once you attack them again (or they attack you), you will be facing your own fellower as a grown-up.

For sure there might also be some obstacles to overcome. E.g. if you want your worker right now and you have to grow him up over the next 2 years or so… you just might become upset. However, for sure it would add some additional planning to the game.

Any other ideas or opinions?


i really think you’re onto something here, and have thought this through very nicely… its still very early in the concept, but i cant think of any particular problems or concerns with either of the two new stages you’re suggesting…

there’s the possibility of new professions (care giver), new crafting items (crib)… possible bonuses and detriments… all good stuff (player choices)…

what about additional craftable items for either stage? stage 1 could see small wooden toys, while stage 2 might see smaller versions of something from the major professions?

back on stage 1, there could be the potential for the baby taking on some of the characteristics of the care giver?

lots of potential here… really, really nice idea @voxel_pirate! :+1:


Just brainstorming…

  • Babies could be found e.g. in an encampment of hostile NPCs (who might have stolen it from somewhere else). This kind of “loot” would be valuable as the player would not need to transfer a resource into a new settler.

  • Schools might introduce the teacher as a new profession. Schools could require additional items like chairs, a chalkboard, books and pencils. Education might extend the childhood, i.e. it takes longer for you to get your worker… but in exchange educated workers might get an experience-buff and level faster later on (trade-off). Player could get the option to educate all or only selected children.

  • To shorten the childhood (get your worker faster) it might be possible to manually promote a teenager (after a certain period of time) into a worker. The young worker would already look like an adult, but get a de-buff for a certain period of time and work only half as long or half as effective. The de-buff could be couble as long as the remaining childhood would have been. This leads to another trade-off… do I need them now, with a de-buff or do I want them to be proper raised (incl. education) and profit on the long-term.

  • Alternative of fast delivery. Early in the game the system might work different (to make the start easier). E.g. a caravan could bring a new worker every time you order one… with some kind of background story of course. This would require some strong value add for the player to change later on. Education-system and buffs could be one motivation. A hard switch in a certain point in time (without the option to chose) might be another approach.


Firstly, I really like the baby. :smile:
Secondly, you think alike how I was imagining children in stonehearth in previous discussion. So I completely support this :blush:.
Although I would like to offer alternatives.

Parents get the first task to care for the toddlers. They get tasks like feeding and comforting when crying. This gets high on the prioity list. Higher than work, higher then sleeping. So parents gets less working time.
Later in the game the nanny can be created for optimal efficiency.

The teenagers might need some extra distincion from adults I think. Maybe bare-footed.


awesome ideas @voxel_pirate! haha totally love the stork idea for the birth of a new one and stolen baby’s sound fun as well… still not quite sure if this game needs baby’s. …and to be honest it’s enough stress to have one at home in real life so i don’t want to take care of a whole kindergarden in my free time while playing SH…haha :slight_smile:
but i guess it would make the game even a bit more cute and maybe one or another female casual gamer will be hooked up with the game when it has this element. :slight_smile: :thumbsup:


The only problem I see with this is a one of the reasons why so many games don’t include children which involve any kind of violence, even if in this case it is of course very mild and in a far from realistic style, is that how would you deal with this you cant have babies and children fighting. So would children just be invincible what would happen if Cthulhu shows up and wipes out very adult in the town, if there is no one to care for the babies do they just disappear.
I’m in no way against violence in games but but I imagine this is one of the reasons the devs haven’t included it because its hard to get around this problem of balancing ethics and realism.


As always a well formulated idea @voxel_pirate.

For me if I was playing and the game had this sort of “life” progression … the way you play, the things you have in your settlement, and the direction you guide the children in, should directly result in their skills, traits, and personality; something that has been mentioned above.

The worry is that something like this could be a hell of a time sink for rather sparse short term benefits. And when you’re first starting out it could be a tricky thing to manage.

Having said that it would be an extremely interesting thing to have, and like you said, similar to the farming etc, would be a great aspect of the game that if you wished to focus your attentions on, could reap some fantastic benefits.

If you were to shorten the growth period of child → worker then the results of that could be, reduced capability, start at lower skill level, take longer to level up for a certain amount of time, work slower? All these sorts of things.

I would probably say the major reason is ‘what does it add to gameplay?’ Sure there’s violence and how would you work that against children, and perhaps Stonehearth isn’t the game to tread ground on that issue, but purely from a gameplay perspective how do you work it in?

You’re essentially having a portion of your population rendered useless for a specific amount of time. Yes they can buff certain things but that isn’t in anyway a replacement of a working unit.


Wow, I totally forgot about that one, sorry @Miturion (and I was really searching for other threads first). You have already formulated some of the basic ideas months ago :thumbsup:. I was also thinking about the option to implement some kind of genome and inherit abilities from parents… but that sounded for me a bit too much. Still might be a good idea.

“Unfortunately” a very good point. Making them invulnerable as you are suggesting might really be a simple answer. If danger is close and you are not able to protect the settlement, your children might start screeming and run away. Maybe the look for a cupboard first and hid in it. If they do not find one, they might run out of the village. Maybe your babies could climb out of the crib and crawl also away. The result could be that in the worst case they are gone forever with all the “investments” you have done so far.

Absolutely and so far I cannot think of benefits more than buffs for experience, professions and happiness. However, the time sink aspect might be more true regarding the time it takes you to have a fully capable worker after you have ordered one. From a player perspective, I would probably not go for a “Tamagotchi”-approach and give all the responsibility to grow your children to the “Nanny” and the “Teacher”.

At the end the game is about building a city, right? So spending time to create a “Nursery” and a “School” could fit perfectly into that kind of games.

Another idea to overcome the fact that waiting for another woker might upset people and that you might really need one urgently in certain situations… why not extending the idea of an “alternative way of fast delivery”? This could be always possible at a premium cost. So you have the choice to either grow your children or hire “immigrants” :stuck_out_tongue:. One saving resources, the other saving time. Maybe “own” children might have a higher loyalty?


oversimplified response here… but, as long as there are (fun) gameplay reasons to introduce the baby and teenager units, its definitely worth considering…

regarding children and combat, its a difficult topic to approach/manage… which is likely why the team hasnt introduced the idea already…

  • children can be invulnerable
  • children, in the absence of an adult, can still grow to the next stage, but perhaps do it more slowly, and have negative traits/side effects

but the bottom line is, each of these stages has to be fun (which i absolutely think they can be), and not just present for the sake of the stage…

one quick side note: what about a connection between a unit who falls in battle, and is “reincarnated” in a new baby unit… :smile:


Yea, children and violence. They can be not-targetable. And babies might be kidnapped only. So you have to go on a quest to free them and merciless slaughter all kidnappers (that is allowed ethically for some reason). I think that will be fun to go on such a quest.
Or kidnap babies and ask for ransom. So you put the ethically dilemma on the player. Are the babies worth the ransom. :grin:

Personally I am not in favor of reincarnation. Sounds to much of invulnerability to me. Which takes all fear of loosing someone out of the game.


ahh, good point… it would certainly not be a one-to-one match though… so, only a certain, random number of “traits” from the deceased unit would pass on to the new unit?

meh, just spit-balling… :smile:

Such a great idea for a mod, I read this last night but had to go to work before I could reply (so many thoughts incoming!).

I’ve had thoughts about this sort of mod too, but I was wondering about the whole life cycle. In addition to this, what would you think of adding Infant → Teenager → Adult → Elderly → Ancient(?). There is no end to things that can spin off of this, perhaps wizards get more powerful as they age. Maybe your highest artisan craftsmen are best when ‘elderly’ such as the old seasoned blacksmith. You could have an old war vet sitting around town telling stories of the titan he helped slay decades ago (like a week in real time :stuck_out_tongue: ). What I’m saying is age is a great mechanic for story and depth, I think it is worth considering both ends of the spectrum. Tell the whole story.

To the question “what does it add to gameplay?” I’d reply - perhaps it just has value in itself, adding depth to the game? Birth & death, parentage and lineage are all essential elements in every story from the Bible to Star Wars. This is one of the major ways we define characters (“Mary, mother of God,” to “Luke… I am your father…”). I’ve been reading fantasy books for years, and each and every one somehow has the protagonist as an orphan or some other gimmick - but their parents / bloodline is always important. It just feels like this should be added.

True, I agree with this and the other replies… tricky one. I like @voxel_pirate’s idea - I’d suggest having them run at first, then simply ‘disappear’ if your population count got really low (implying imminent defeat of your town). If somehow you win and survive, they’d just fade back into view. If you lost - well the town would be empty and in ruins and your game is over (as I’m assuming SH always functions normally). If a child takes damage then just ‘disappear’ them immediately, they can come back later. They’re just really good at hiding! It seems too weird to have your town wiped out completely then have the kids pop back in, its unrealistic and it feels like cheating (you can never actually lose your town, you got magic kids).

I like this too - if I have a carpenter I trust him to know how to make the chair correctly. Same with a Nanny/Teacher, I’d trust them to raise kids correctly. Just makes sense, a lot less micro management. You could also have like an Orphanage or Boarding School sort of building to house excess/lost kids.

I think I’d prefer set aging… but I was thinking teenagers could become a sort of basic worker unit, reflecting their entry into work life? In fantasy settings teens always had to work, its not that unusual?

Yeah! I was going to call it immigration too, heh. The basic mechanism of SH is that ‘immigrants’ hear you have excess food and then stumble in out of the wilderness for some lunch. They then stay for the constant onslaught of goblins (makes sense…). So this sort of mod has to decide 1) Do babies replace immigrants, or 2) is there a mix of immigration and babies? I think 2 makes more sense, but you’d have to play with the rates in testing to see what feels right.

Ya lets do it!

I could write pages more on this but its already long and I’m sure I’ll reply again soon… but what do you guys think about a mod with the whole life cycle in it, including old age? Like a mod that encapsulates all of the basic mechanics involved in what we’re talking about here about aging (infancy, combat stuff, worker population rate) and then use that as a basis for adding these other ideas onto? It seems like a fair number of we would-be modders are all interested in this. (crosses fingers)

Edit: so I’ve read some of the earlier links to old discussions - I think the “age rate” should be variable depending on the modders’/player’s preference. IMO I like long games, so I’d set my people to grow slowly and therefore not have a frantic pace of birth/death.


I’ve been thinking about possible ways this could be implemented but all of them have there little issues, though they do have the potential to deepen the level of strategy to the game and add new features such as inheriting traits like @voxel_pirate has already suggested. I believe it was mentioned in the live stream that the way to think of it currently in SH is like star craft, you could get a new worker now which means a stronger economy but you may need those resources for other things so you have to make a choice.
The idea of adding children and babies just makes it a bit deeper, to become, do I want a new child who will take up resources and other workers time to look after them whilst they could be doing something else, as you may need more soldiers or workers in the future or should you wait to see if those resources could be better used and allow your workers to not have to worry about looking after a child, but then soon you may not have enough people to become soldiers and defend your village and not enough time to replenish losses.
Overall it would mean having to think a bit more and make predictions about your circumstances in the future, its just a case of not crossing the line from it being more in depth strategy to just being a plain nuisance to have to think about all the time and then not getting it right.

BTW does anyone know of any strategy game which has involved children in this way? Myself I can only think of Spore’s tribal stage though that was very basic.


Great comments @Roughshod.

Just on one item I am not yet with you… that this could be a mod :wink:. Honestly, I would prefer if the vanilla game would have a basic implementation which we can “improve” via mods. E.g. if the childhood-stuff explained here woudl be in, I could imagine that the genome-topic could be covered as a mod, or the “getting older”-part.

But for sure… if there will be nothing like this in the game, would be a funny project for a mod.

@The_M You have a valid point there. Additional depth is great, if it brings fun and comes with a reason. At the moment I think it could be possible to show some value in this approach:

  • Deeper connection to your workers, as “you raise them”.
  • More city-life, as you have children running around.
  • More complex game experience, as you have to provide the infrastructure to raise your workers (school, nursery, etc.), items along the way (crib, school-equipment, etc.) and you have additional professions which could be meaningful (e.g. teacher, nurse).
  • Possibility to compensate the additional effort with bonuses (e.g. experience-buff, increase in happiness, higher loyality, lower overall costs).

I see also the trade-offs. The more I thint about it, the more I would like to see a “workaround” for this urgent situations where you need e.g. more people to defend your town. An alternative way to get “immigrants” sounds like an interesting approach. You could charge players higher costs for that and offer an alternative route.


I can’t think of any. I know in Gnomoria you end up with gnomes that are crippled from battle (they’ve lost 1-2 feet, 1-2 arms, and generally just roll around the place). These are sort of viewed as “older” gnomes by some players, as they’ve been around a while. You have to make the choice of if you care for them or leave them to die. I played it a year ago when you just had to let them die, but thanks to player’s asking the dev, he put in a ‘caretaker’ job so you can keep your old gnomes alive.

People get attached to their little followers, young and old ones too. Even in the middle of a strategy building game, you still have to have your heart, yes? Otherwise what civilization are you building?

Edit: Removed one reference that wasn’t accurate.

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Just drawing on some of the earlier comments regarding parentage, lineage and bloodlines, and combat. This type of thing would add so much depth and personalisation to each settlement that would be fantastic.

Bear with me as I work through an example that got me all excited:

You have teenage units, these are capable of combat but obviously are not as good as your adult soldiers.

Your settlement has come under attack and some goblins have managed to fight their way into the town.

Amidst the bloodshed some of your settlers have been killed, amongst them is the parent of one of your teenage units. This teenage unit suddenly goes into a fit of heroic rage, grabs the nearest weapon, has massive buffs to his strength and destroys the goblin units that have found their way into the settlement.

This act translates into a massive boost in his combat abilities into adulthood and he becomes somewhat of a hero around your settlement with a statue and everything.

This units future children will then also be better at being soldiers, starting a long line of military families! Think of the stories you could tell, think of the chronicle mod @voxel_pirate, but most importantly, think of the children.


Nice scenario, I like it. Such moments would be for sure really cool to see. As @The_M mentioned it could be a bit tricky to send your children into war. Why not implementing the same approach but with adults. So if the parents are killed by e.g. a Goblin, the children will get a buff against Goblins and screem something like “Revenge!”, once the encounter one. Maybe you could also not send them to a settlement of Goblins, as they just would run amok… maybe “Revenge against Goblins” might be handled as a trait?

I would tend to keep the children and babies away from anything which is related to fights. Just let them hide and crawl away. This way you would also increase your interest in protecting your city.


One game I felt had an interesting approach to the issue of children and adults in your community was Little King’s Story for the Wii. Think of it as a cross between Pikmin and Stonehearth (without the sandbox, designing apsects of it, the game is much more pre-structured). When a couple married, they had a child–this child is weaker than your adult units and can’t fight, but they could collect certain items in the world by climbing trees or go into holes, offering a more strategic role than combat. In order to raise them into adults, however, you would take them and send them to a school building you create later on to advance them to the next stage of life. While this eliminated real-time growth of your units, it let the player have a seemingly more diverse community that didn’t have to keep being repopulated/killed off to have children in it. Also, it gave it a bit of more family-mindful interpretation of the issue. Which is always nice for a game.

I’d definitely agree to some of the buffs and inherited traits ideas you guys mention, it’d make the whole lineage process in the game more interesting and rewarding; there wasn’t anything like that in Little King’s Story, making children little more than a means to get additional units later in the game. Trade schools to give children career buffs as they mature would be pretty neat to see once your city begins to start taking shape and such institutions could be supported.

Not really sure about old age though. Maybe having elders gives you a boost to research, intelligence, etc., due to passing on culture and history. Perhaps some sort of ancestral lodge would work to promote adults in the case of this suggested system. Children could give a boost to morale or combat stats to soldiers protecting in the nearby area (fight to protect the younglings!).

I’m sure there’d have to be some sort of balance/restriction to this idea, otherwise I can see players just running around with an entourage of kids behind their army in order to get those perks in warfare.


On the topic of other games there virtual villagers. The basic model is this
For a certain amount of time after birth the mother can’t do anything as they have to look after the baby. Babies get a slight bonus to starting skills depending on the parents skills. About ages 0-2
They can’t perform actual work and spend most of their time just running around. However they will attend school if its run where they get a tiny boost depending on the teachers skill, there is also randomly spawning collectibles like shells or bugs that can only be collected by a child. About ages 2-13.
Can work, have kids, teach, etc. They cannot learn at the school or collect the collectibles. About ages 13-60
Like an adult but walks slower. Generally useful because they have high skill due to being old, that makes them the best teachers, researchers, and parents (particularly fathers and jack of all trades). About ages 60-death

It would need tweaking for Stonehearth but a similar system particularly in relation to needing children for something could be good.


It is also possible to give the parent a trait. ‘Parents’ are more eager to avoid fighting. But if they have no choice other than to fight, they fight more violently (to protect children).

And/Or children give an aura to buff fighting a bit.

Or you can place babies as alarm. You place them outside the wall and when an enemy comes they begin to cry. :black_joker: