I'm also having trouble with nightsoil collectors

How many nightsoil collectors are needed per 100 population? I have TEN compost sites for 449 population. I have five barns. One of the nightsoil collectors is stationed in the area of the barns to collect from them. The rest are set as near as I can to my residential area without hosing the desirability factor, yet they will not or cannot collect from the furtherst housing. The result of that, of course, is that the houses get full of rats. Shouldn’t ten be more than enough for all the housing of a population of 449? NONE of these compost sites reaches full capacity. In fact, I have NEVER had compost sites reach full capacity in any of my games, no matter how many or how few I had. We need two people in each compost site. Please!


Do you have all the compost yards in the same area or scattered around the town? Because they won’t reach farther away housing otherwise.

You’ve got to many. Nightsoil is not a problem. It’s a small accumulation overtime, all the time. Too much nightsoil is a problem.

Oversaturation is your problem. Every house produces it every (period - not sure) tick. Your 10 workers are running around and clearing house daily. But each worker will only carry one load at a time. Disable half (the ones furthest from your houses and barns) and watch (F3) how much each carry. It will double I think.

Not 100% sure what the ratio is as it totally depends on travel time. But 1 per 100 peeps sounds like enough, however you lay it out. You must ensure they have the range though. You can click through the farthest shelters and see their “stock” then check the closer ones to check reach.

And they will fill up and compost over time. Personally I build one until I get my first warning then immediately build another. I usually notice before that though when I have filled my first slot

As the previous posters have noted, the ‘working ratio’ seems to be about 1 Collector per 100 population, or about 20 - 25 houses, but you have to put Collectors on several sides of the town to reach all the houses. The most I’ve ever needed was 5 collectors for 400 people, and that was because my town straggled out along a river/lake bank so it took an ‘extra’ Collector to reach the last of the houses. At that ratio, you should have at least 1 Collector signal a Full Load every year, so you can keep your fields pretty continuously ‘fertilized’.
On the other hand, you can (at least below Vanquisher, which I haven’t tried yet) put Collectors outside the walls (with a nearby Gate), and raiders will avoid them just as much as your townsfolk do - Compost does not seem to be on the Raiders’ list of ‘Potential Loot’!


All good advice here, placing them all around or even having multiple villages in different areas too could help. The problem I see with these guys though is they will pick up the contents of one shelter, and run back to drop it off. They won’t go door to door until their inventory is full. You can turn them off for a while and wait until houses start to complain with the icon above them and see, when you turn them back on, that they can carry much more than they often pick up out of one house.

They need to set an inventory limit on these guys, and allow them to collect door to door until that limit is reached. Just like the foragers go from plant to plant until their sack is full and farmers go from square to square in the fields until they can’t carry anymore. Night soil workers would be so much more efficient this way.

If I recall, during the plague, residents didn’t want to move the dead for fear of catching the plague, so there was a worker with a cart who went around door to door doing just that. They piled up the bodies in the cart until it was full. We could use the night soil worker to do something like that if the devs were up to it, but the thought came to me that people won’t want the soil from other houses coming near their own and the night soil worker can have a cart he leaves outside the house to run to so he doesn’t have to bring waste from one house into the other.

Not sure which you’re getting at: that I should have my composters in multiple locations, or that I should have them all in one place? Right now, my agricultural areas are divided, but not terribly far from each other, because of the checkerboard nature of my most fertile areas for growing. And I have one down near my barns to collect from them. I’ve had other games where I had composters in more than one location, and never had a problem with that.

Well, what prompted me is that I had a few collectors, then kept getting the icon showing an accumulation of nightsoil, with a message suggesting I build another composter. Built another. More of the icons popping up, with the same message, build another. Built another. It has continued in that vein, and I’m still getting the icons popping up, that villagers are complaining about unsanitary conditions, that I should build more. It’s like some vicious loop.

I try to avoid putting them anywhere near the houses because they will hose desirability so terribly. How do I deal with that? I play Pacifist, so I’m not worrying about raiders.

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I’m old enough to remember real nightsoil collectors and before they transitioned to trucks they did go on “runs” moving house to house and emptying the thunderboxes into a dray cart, maybe the developers can change the wheelbarrow to a cart and collect automatically as they go down the streets, which would require every house to be on a street. Also I have noticed fertility drops rapidly and repeatedly in “fertilised” fields, human waste is no good for real life agriculture.

That would be nice. Two villagers per composter would help, too. Really, I think the devs are striving toward a good deal more cleanliness than was apparent in medieval times for real! LOL! People in villages and small towns used to work where they lived – their shops, works, and such were in their homes. And you had smelly folk like fullers (really gross by our standards), butchers, etc. living cheek-by-jowl with less unsanitary and less smelly workers and workplaces. That’s the flaw behind the whole desirability thing. Desirability is putting 21st century standards on a medieval setting, and that just doesn’t work.

Actually, human waste was used for centuries for agriculture – including in medieval times. We don’t use such today, but in the past, it was routine. Maybe our ancestors had much more robust immune systems, because they came into far more pathogens than we do on a day-to-day basis (present pandemics excepted, of course).

I should probably sit down and measure the exact distance in tiles that the Undesirability extends, but I find that approximately the same distance as the radius of a basic Marketplace is generally far enough to avoid negatives to housing, and as long as there is a reasonably direct road from Compost to houses the Collector will clean out about one Market’s worth of houses (20 - 25 houses, roughly). On the few occasions I had to place a Compost a little closer, I just put a line of Small Shrubs or Small Gardens between it and the houses and as close to the houses as I could (adjacent or across the road) and that eliminated any lingering negatives.

Just move the compost yard gently closer or farther away when determining where to place it. One square too close will show you negative desirability on any housing nearby; if you get that then just move it back one or two squares and it’ll be fine.

And I meant do you have all your compost yards north of the town for example in which case they would struggle to reach the houses farthest south. I would have one on each side of the town - north, south, east and west if needed.

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Yes, that’s what I have done – new game. I’m using the quadrant system I saw suggested here (I think).

Work range for all resources, like hunting and gathering, would be helpful in eliminating what seems to be unnecessary trial and error on things like this.

Has anybody seen if work circles are going to be added to everything or not?

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The only thing that concerns me with putting composters closer to a residential district is the inevitable expansion of the residential district. The composters could be moved, of course, but then, that only puts them farther away from some of the houses, which has been the original problem, anyway. Is a puzzlement!

This is why I almost always wind up with irregular-shaped residential areas - ragged rectangles, decagons, octagons, all to keep homes away from Compost Heaps or grouped within range of Markets, Healer’s Houses, and other Positive buildings.
It’s almost funny to read about people not liking the grid of streets/roads, because my ‘grids’ are anything but regular!

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The awful thing is I’m so terrible at design. Sigh. Mine have always “just growed.”

I actually have at least one house near my composter: for the worker… saves a large amount of time them not having to trudge all the way into town to go home and then back again. Sure, the shelter will almost certainly stay level 1 for the whole game but so what? And then, when I add the next composter right by the first there’s a house ready and waiting. Never have any problems, apart from bloody soldiers deserting… but that’s entirely something else.

Don’t think of it as Bad Design, think of it as “Historically Accurate Organic Urban Development”