Starting a New Year

The Campaign Rounds, in my RPoL game, happen every RL six months but represent a year in game time – it amuses me to use the dates of the summer and winter solstices to start campaign rounds.  We started off running campaign rounds every time the group levelled up (I was using a group levelling system) – but that didn’t work well when we recruited new players, because they were never going to catch up.  However, that, and the XP system I have put in place, might be a good blog post later.

Anyway, we are coming up to the start of the next Campaign Round, it will be year 4715 and players will have to age all of their characters (any entourage and secondary PC characters, as well as their main PC) by one year.  Better news is that existing Entourage members can advance a level – assuming they haven’t reached their permissible level limit (1/2 the level of their PC), or their level cap (L5).  Secondary PCs, such squires or cohorts purchased with a feat, are not affected because they level according to their own rules.  But most importantly, it is the time they get income from their investments and get to develop the next part of their Character’s (non-adventuring) story.

As DM, I control quite a lot of resources, and while my NPCs each have their own agenda, I like to support the PCs when I can.  I always appreciate it when people interact with the structure of my world and, while all things should be a challenge, I try to use NPC resources sympathetically.  So I tend to have a quick look at each Business, town or estate, before time, just so I am aware of the problems that they might face – and the options that are open to them, should I be asked for advice.  These are my thoughts:-

First, I think, the political climate is important. The King-Regent of Brevoy and The Rostland Aldori are gearing up for a civil war – with a large part of Rostland as the prize.  Midmarch is on the border, and we have PCs with family, and allegiances, in different camps.  We know that the Gnomes of Jovvox (who sell weapons in bulk) are building a shop in Ringbridge (close to The Aldori) and we think that members of the Rostland Aldori have been speaking with their ‘cousins’ in Mivon.

Other things affect the development climate as well.  V&A Shipping will be opening up their first external trade link (quite an important occasion) with a jetty in Jovvox and regular services between Tusk and Jovvox.  They are also negotiating for permission of build a jetty in Mivon.   Zelona will take ownership of an ancient keep found in the Narlemarch.  Henry isn’t interested in colonising that area so, while Henry is prepared to be supportive, Zelona and her colonists are ‘on their own’.

Henry’s main plan is to push Midmarch westward to the East Sellen River, an expansion which will (eventually) cover two ‘interesting’ sites.  An old villa, once home to a mage of some sort, which should really be occupied to prevent its re-population by monsters, bandits or tribes.  And Bogside, a village on the marshy borders of Hooktongue Lake, which could be taken over – once the current despotic overlord has been dealt with.

But back to Midmarch:

Tusk

Tusk has been growing rapidly, and has progressed from a simple village into a small city in just a few short years – and that is starting to create size and pressure problems.  There are three core districts:  Central district (Civic buildings temples etc) is almost full.  Port Henry (The dock area) has ONE development slot left.  Merchant (home of traders etc) has more room,   but (for aesthetic reasons) should probably be saved for the other mercantile businesses which will surely arrive.  Outside the walls there are Lakeside (which is filling up fast) as a military / trade district.  College (which is what it sounds like) and Ivory Nob, the putative ‘Noble District’.

What would I do?  I think I would build a seventh district, to close the outer ring of the city, and start paying smelly and low status developments to move there.  Build your own ‘Workers district’, rather than let it develop haphazardly.  Things like the Orphanage, The Grain Silos, The Brewery (have you ever lived close to a brewery?) and the Leather Works.  It adds a point of consumption (which they would have to pay from taxes) but it establishes the structure of the city and helps with planning.  It makes it easier to build an outer wall, gives another water border and makes planning and zoning really easy for the next few Campaign Rounds.

Oston

Oston is almost full as well however, the senior residents (Oleg and Svetlana) have decided to limit the size of the town, and won’t allow development of new districts, because they want to ‘live in the country’ – rather than a big town or city.  A one district Small Town fits that model well.  It also fits in with Henry’s views of a rural economy to the north of Midmarch – which is where all the good agricultural land is.

What would I do?  Oston has barracks for its troops, and therefore has two defence points.  This means Oston can have two Hamlets (secondary settlements) in their town hex. Oleg and Svetlana are cool with that, so long as there is an agricultural / country feel about such developments.

The Others

I don’t see any real issues for any of the other estates.  I expect Marik Metals will develop their new mine and I guess the Vallani estate will start on building canals soon.  WSM needs to pay back debts this round, and V&A Shipping need to remember that they will want quite a bit of cash (to develop in Mivon) soon –  and work out how to raise that out of the campaign/BP rules system.

And my advice for Zelona, if you want a rural/wilderness holding, get your village built first – then look at extending into the surrounding wilderness areas.  You might be able to help fund that development by building suitable hamlets (say Fishing and a Green Lumber Camp) in the Old Keep Hex.  Last thought is that you will need to balance Econ, Loy and Stab carefully and use the space in your village and your fishing hamlet wisely – while you have more usable space, I struggled when building the Northern Narlmarch Reserve.   However, you could also build a small town (as Tatzleford will do) which would make your planning a bit easier, but might not suit your RP needs.

Nothing much to add

It has been a strange few weeks since I last posted, and I have had a lot of things on my mind. 

  • Lockdown has been running for (what seems like) ages, and I am getting really frustrated now.  I have been working from home, using MS Teams, to support apprentices through their course.  They have been coming and going at different times – and I have not been able to establish a sensible structure to the week.
  • I set fire to a camping cooker when we went for a picnic down by the beach.  I live close to the sea and it was permissible under our lockdown rules.  No damage done, but it was within a few feet of the   ‘bus’.  More importantly, it meant we had to go home to cook our dinner 🙁  And that just added to the frustration.
  • I discovered that I have developed hay fever.  In the past I only reacted to heavily scented flowers and rape fields.  Now it seems my nose itches and I start sneezing, every time the pollen count is high.  That is going to be annoying.
  • On top of that I celebrated my wedding anniversary (17th) and my birthday (65th).  We were supposed to be going to Venice –  but that has all gone by the wayside.
  • The Wiki software I use for my games site got upgraded.  Unfortunately many add-ons and extensions didn’t.  That messed up some formatting I had got and started throwing warnings all over the place.  That was frustrating, took time to understand and it still isn’t working properly – although it is much better than it was.

My RPoL game has been in a funny stage as well.  Players are still MIA, some (I am sure) due to the lockdown and I have had to reorganize the adventuring groups.  So we have dropped from three groups to two, reorganized the parties and left the missing characters in a holding group.  If they come back, I can ease them back into the game.  If they haven’t returned in a few weeks, I’ll start recruiting again.

That has coincided with a political phase of the game, the discontent that has permeated southern Brevoy for years is coming to a head, and it looks like a Civil War is brewing.  So I have been dropping clues to what has been happening.  Some subtle, some much less so – but I  most characters are aware, and some are staring to take sides already.  One day soon they will have to make a decision about which  side their rapidly growing colony should support – and I am looking forward to the RP that should come with it.

At the same time we are coming up to the start of a new Campaign Round.  I have been spending a lot of time reporting back to players about the health and status of the holdings.  Because Characters have joined at different times, they have different levels of holding.  We have a massively wealthy merchant, a PC Bishop who has built a Cathedral at the heart of the new settlement, a hotel magnate – and that runs right down to a couple of characters who are able to build their first small shop / shrine etc this round. 

Players have now started running their development plans passed me.  That is great, I can tell them when they have misread the rules and suggest options that they might not have thought of – and it helps me spot any inconsistencies in the rules.  Most recently, questions from a couple of players has encouraged me to re-think the Merchant House rules – and that has led to a slightly different approach where merchants control both supply of goods and try to control the sales in their own city.  Ironically, it doesn’t change the actual rules all that much –  but it does entail a complete rewrite as I split retail and transportation businesses into two different business groups.  Which, of course, has a knock on effect on all the other business pages.

And all of that right in the middle of an overall restructure of the Campaign Rules – which then got put on the back burner again

And that is my excuse for not writing anything new ….