Bunt Ball

I have  Scrymball – a football like game that takes elements from a variety of modern football games – now I want a bat and ball sport that does the same sort of thing, that I can use in  a semiformal setting.  It is for a Pathfinder Game, so it needs to have madcap elements that encourage a semi-free-for-all on the pitch.  After all, if there wasn’t some sort of jeopardy, no one would have tried to define the rules for the game :]   My first thoughts are elements of Cricket, Baseball and French Cricket – because I think and that should lead for some interesting concepts.  I’m going to take the bat and wicket from Cricket, the bases and diamond from baseball and the bowling rules for French Cricket!  The bowling rules for French cricket are ‘there are no bowling rules’ –  OK there is generally an agreed minimum distance –  but the ball could be delivered by any of the fielders from any direction.

The Pitch

One wicket and three bases laid out in a flattened diamond shape – each base is 20 yards from the wicket and there are 20 yards between each base.  There is a Foul Line that runs to the edge of the playing area, from the wicket that passes through the first and last base.  The game is played in a fixed area, with an outer boundary.  When played casually, the boundary is agreed by the teams, when played in an amphitheatre or stadium, the boundary is the wall in front of the first row of seats.

The Equipment

The bat is made of a solid piece of wood, no more than 40 inches long and no more than 3.5 inches at the widest point, with a semi-circular profile.    (Think of a fat baseball bat with one side shaved flat).

The ball is three inches in diameter, made of a wooden core wrapped in hide.

Wicket keepers may wear padded hide gloves, other players are permitted to wear plain leather gloves.  (not baseball style gloves)

The wicket is a set of five stumps, arranged in a semi-circle (to make a target from all legal angles)  The stumps are 36 inches high with a gap of three inches between each stump.  Bails are balanced across the top of the stumps.  (In the same way as a traditional cricket wicket).

Game Play

It is a very simple game.  The ball is thrown at the wicket, from anywhere outside the lines of bases.  If the wicket is broken (ie one of the bails come off)   the batter is out.  The batter must be ready at all times.

The batter may strike the ball and, if the ball does not land in the foul area,  run to the first base. If the ball lands foul, the batter may not run.   If it is a particularly good strike, they may continue running to try for second, third or home.  If they get home (the base around the wicket) they have scored a run.  They may stop at any on the interim bases (they are then known as a runner) and hope that they can gain more ground when the next batter strikes the ball.

A runner may try to run to the next base at any time during play, however, note that they can only ever be one runner on a base, and that a runner can be tagged out at any time.

Batters are ‘out’ if the wicket is broken by a throw from one of the out-fielders, or if one of their hits is caught by a member of the fielding team (including the wicket keeper) before it bounces.

Runners are ‘out’ whenever the wicket is broken by a member of the fielding team, and they are out of their base area.  If there are two runners in a base, both are out.  NOTE: If a ‘batter’ is out of their base, they are considered to a runner.

Any runner not in a base, is ‘out’ if they are hit by a ball thrown by any member of the fielding team, or they are otherwise touched by a ball under the control of a fielder (holding the ball, ball kicked etc)

If the ball goes out of bounds from a hit (in a formal game that means into the audience) the batter is out, but they are credited with four runs.  Runners may all jog home (in the same way as baseball)

Fielders may throw the ball, from any position in the scoring area of the  playing area, so long as it is outside the line of the bases.   They may use any throwing technique – pitch, bowl, underarm, over arm, etc.  – and the ball may strike the wicket direct or bounce before it hits.

Armed Vessels

Over the last couple of days, the subject of armed vessels has come up two or three times, and while they are represented in the Campaign Rules, they aren’t well-developed.  The larger merchant vessels can have defence points (at extra cost) and we have Military Launches –  but none of that has been defined particularly well.


So a quick review of the position.  The Stolen Lands game is set on a large river system, dotted with lakes, swamps and marshes.  It is a long, but narrow, water system, where the water can be very shallow.  Compared to the sea, it  is a very restricted system – and suitable for different types of vessel and, perhaps, different types of fighting.  The vessels that work the Sellen are much smaller than seagoing vessels, carry less sail and generally have a very shallow draft.   While most of them would cope with estuaries and sheltered coastal waters, very few would survive at sea.

Pirates, Monsters and Barbaric Tribes (human or humanoid) are the main risks, the same as at sea,  but because the waterway is so narrow the risks are different.  In the deep ocean, the tribes and monsters are aquatic, and pirates tend to sail the open seas in large vessels searching for prey.  On the River, you are more likely to be attacked from the riverbanks, rather than the seabed.  Sure, there are fully aquatic monsters in the river system, but there are many more semi-aquatic threats such as hydra, lizardfolk or crocodiles.   River pirates are more likely to launch attacks from the riverbanks in small boats and try to swarm the vessel, rather than to hammer it into submission with siege weapons.

That all leads me to conclude that armed, or defended, vessels are likely to have crews with military training, or a unit of specialist soldiers to defend them, rather than any fancy weaponry such as ballistae or bow-rams.


Let’s get the very small vessels, that can’t be bought with BP, out of the way first.  Punts, Skiffs, Dinghies, Row boats, Coracles etc,  have a very small range and are normally used very close to home.  They are normally crewed by one or two commoners and perform mundane functions within a mile or two of their home base.  These vessels  can’t be armed or defended, however, the fishermen will defend themselves with their work knives (Treat as Daggers and proficient)

At the Jetty

The first vessels of significance are those found at a Jetty.  In the rules you will find Fishing Boats, Shallops and Military Launches  that can be purchased and kept at a Jetty, although you might also find the  Great Punt at swamp or marsh jetties.

Fishing Boats, or Great Punts in wetland areas, work further away from home and normally have an expert as Skipper, supported by a crew of commoners.  They generally act as fishing or local work vessels, but also have a secondary role as small scale local trade vessels.  While they can travel up to five hexes, they generally work within a couple of hexes from home.  The Skipper is likely to defend themselves with a belaying pin (club) or fishing spear (shortspear), while the crew use their daggers.

Shallops are larger vessels, commonly used for fishing, although many also operate as local trading vessels. While they can travel up to ten hexes, they generally work within four or five of hexes from home. A shallop may well have two experts (skipper and mate)  aboard, supported by a couple of commoner fishermen/sailors.

A Military Launch is a similar size to a fishing boat, but normally rowed by a crew of a dozen marines and is dedicated to very local patrol duties.  With such a large crew, and powered by oar, the vessel stays close to its home jetty, although it can be sailed (slowly) over longer distances.  Marines (in this game) are L3 warriors (soldier/sailors) equipped with light weapons and armour who specialize in water-based combat.  Military Launches are not found at commercial jetties, but can be found at Military or Public jetties.

A Patrol Vessel is almost identical to the standard shallop,  except that it fitted out for twenty-five marines. The central hold has been converted to a cabin area that can sleep half the complement of marines at any one time, with minimal catering facilities.  It can stay away from base overnight, but it is cramped accommodation, and these vessels aren’t generally sent on long missions.  Mainly used for local patrols within a couple of hexes of base.  Patrol Vessels are not found at commercial jetties, but they can be found at Military jetties.

At a Wharf

There are no specifically military vessels found at a wharf,  because the river system  doesn’t really allow for naval style warfare, however, any large vessel can be tasked (on  a temporary basis) with delivering  troop units to specific location.  The downside is that you need to get the troops from somewhere – mercenary units work well, or you could transport part of your army.

Most vessels follow the same pattern as the smaller vessels – a Skipper with a mate or two (experts armed with simple weapons)  supported by a crew of ordinary sailors Commoners armed with daggers, to provide basic defence.  However, these larger vessels are intended for trade and can travel much longer distances.  Keelboats are the smallest, but they can navigate the Vallani Canals  that connect Feyfalls to Whiterun and enable trade between Tusk and Restov.  Wherries and sailing barges are larger and carry more cargo but can’t work between Restov and Tusk.

Armed vessels  (Keeler, Wherry, Barge) have larger, enhanced crews of about a dozen.  The normal crew are  trained in arms and combat techniques, the  numbers are rounded out  by marines, and the Skipper has a level of Aristocrat.  Overall, they count as an Auxiliary Unit, if they ever get involved in the mass combat system.

A secure barge follows the same pattern  for their crew, but also has a unit of marines aboard.  If they become involved in the Mass Combat rules, they count as one Auxiliary and one Light Foot unit.

What’s in a name?

Having spent a while thinking about economics, I have the structure sussed now – and it is just the boring part of updating the wiki and spreadsheets.  But then something one on my players said got me looking at classical Roman and Greek names.  I have always had a vague idea of Roman naming structures, but I  read up on it, I realised how well those ancient name structures would work in the Stolen Lands, and Pathfinder in general.

Pathfinder APs often talk about Noble Families and then, splits them up into greater and lesser Noble families.  However, it then goes on to give them traditional European titles of nobility, but it is often a bit lax in the way that it uses those titles – then, in some APs it says that other rulers (such as lords in the River Kingdoms) just take titles that suit them.  That is all very good and fairly accurate, except that it means that each DM needs to have their own concept of structure to work with – well, people like me need a structure to work with 🙂

OK, a DM doesn’t NEED that structure, but I like to run campaign games that encourage players to get involved with Game World.  That might mean building businesses, towns and strongholds – and dealing with the world’s political situation. Along with Role-play with other characters, it gets a few experience points.  Not a huge amount –  perhaps a couple of levels (over the course of a campaign) if the PC leverages all the RP opportunities, but enough to be of some benefit – as well as adding an extra dimension to the game.  However, that means I need to have a good understanding of the way the game world works, and I need to give the players ways of working out how other families, groups and factions work.

For the stolen land, I have used a system of pseudo-western titles and conventions linked to a concept of double-barrelled names to try and describe social position and allegiance in Brevoy generally, but I didn’t really have that in place before the game started. Then ran into trouble when PCs wanted third or fourth allegiances represented.  That means names can get complicated, very quickly!  That said, so does the Roman tria nomina system.  However, it has a more of a structure, than the current system.

NOTE:  This is only really relevant for characters in an Aristocratic or Noble family, others probably have a single surname –  and  (for NPCs)  probably a trade based name, such as Besh the Hunter – also known as Besh Hunter, he is related to Arven Fisher and Ramo Tanner.  PCs can, of course, do as they wish –  but it might have political ramifications.

The Roman System used Praenomen, Nomen and Cognomen  or in modern terms – Forename, Clan, House.  That is a simplified overview of one stage of the tria nomina, but it serves, well enough, for my purposes.

Modern forename, is personal (although it wasn’t always that way for the Romans) and I intend to keep that modern styling.  Each Character can have whatever forename suits them.  It might be that Characters name themselves, or their children, after other family members – but that is a matter of choice.

The nomen was an indication of a super family.  Sometimes the family name was taken from the name of the Family patriarch or founder although other factors, that indicated a common origin, were used as well.  And that matches up very well with the concept of great houses and distributed houses, as found in many PF modules.  In many ways it indicates a broad allegiance, rather than focussed allegiance.  A modern RL example could be Clan Donald.  In game, I hadn’t given that much thought – but I’ll extend that to include philosophies, political movements and racial groupings etc.  So for example Golka, will be the super-clan name for the Dwarves, although required formally, it might well be dropped for common use – For example,  Lutz Golka-Stigmar, is commonly known as   Lutz Stigmar.  Other nomen would be Lebeda, Lodkova, Surtova, Medveyd, Garress, Aldori, leMaistre, Varn and even Rogarvia.  There is still a Baroness Rogarvia-Green, who holds a Viscountcy around Skywatch.

The cognomen, was used to specify which part of that super family they belonged to.   Extending our RL example there were the Macdonalds of Clanranald , MacDonnells of Glengarry, MacDonnells of Antrim, MacDonalds of Largie , MacDonalds of Ardnamurchan, MacDonalds of Keppoch, MacDonalds of Dunnyveg – all part of the larger Clan Donald.  And that works well enough with my double-barrel name system.   I already have leMaistre-Bowe to represent Henry leMaistre’s sister and her family.  His cousin Beatrix, a cleric of Pharasma, might use one of Pharasma’s epithets as her cognomen, and call herself leMaistre-Graves (after The Lady of Graves) or leMaistre-Soul (from Mother of Souls) – ironically both recognised, modern, surnames in their own right. 

Interestingly, under the roman system an individual could change both their Nomen and/or Cognomen.  For example, many emperors were ‘adopted’ by their predecessor and changed their names to recognise that fact.  The same is true for adopted plebeians (commoners), freed slaves and some servants.  I will keep that concept, if you want to change from being a Lebeda-Smith to being Aldori-Smith   that is fine  (assuming you have the approval of the Aldori first)

At various stages of the Roman Empire different parts of the tria nomina were most important – and at one stage individuals were known by an agnomen, or nickname, rather than any section of their formal name!  And that works too.  If you want to be known for a specific feature, event or achievement –   just add it as an extra word to you full formal name,  and tell people it is your name.  For those of you who wonder, Bigjob’s name is a nickname –  and no, he isn’t going to tell you his full formal name.  Just in case you laugh, and he has to hurt you!

The Romans had Plebeian and Patrician families, with some evidence of major and minor patrician families –  the rule system I use has Royal, Noble and Aristocrat  as patrician equivalents.  I think that works well enough, that I am not going to change it – the split makes sense when people see it, and three stages is  good for progression purposes.   It makes an extra challenge for some players –  can they form a  aristocratic ‘house’ and  advance it all the way to Royal Status?

If you are interested – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_naming_conventions