Bragge (the card game)

Introduction

I have become interested in games again!  Last post was Scrymball – now it is a card came.  It will probably be dice next!  Yes, I am thinking of opening up a sports arena and gambling den in the city of Tusk!  For me, one of the most important things is to keep the mechanics of the game simple, so that players get a quick turnaround – but to leave enough scope for players to RP around the side. 

I am going to base the card game on Brag, a game that I played quite a lot in my youth.  There are a number of variants, one allows continual betting, and (on occasion) I lost quite  a lot (for me) of money like that.  However, I am going to use a Fixed Stakes variant, as that keeps the rules and systems very simple.  Players can RP side bets if they want to, but that is a different thing.

Basic Rules (Bragge)

Each player builds one (or more) hands of three cards.  The one with the best hand wins, with hands ranked in the following way.

RankDescription
Straight flushThree cards same suit in sequence
Three of a kindThree cards of same rank
StraightThree cards in sequence
FlushThree cards same suit
PairTwo cards of same rank
Thirty-oneAll cards in the hand add up to 31
High cardNone of the above

If two players have the same hand then the highest set wins.  Ace high, suits are ranked as (high) Spades, Hearts, Diamonds, Clubs (low).  Player work with the cards that they are dealt, they may not draw or buy extra cards.  Jokers are wild, but natural hands always beat matching hands with wild cards.  Drawn hands result in a re-deal.

  • (Ac, Ad, 6s ) beats (9s, 9h, Ks) – aces beat nines.
  • (7c, 7d, 9s)  beats (7d, 7c, 4s)  – 9 beats 4
  • (Jd, 4s, 3s) beats (9s, 8c, 6d)  – Highest card wins, jack beats nine
  • (10c, Joker, 4d) beats (9h, 9s, 6d) – tens beat nines
  • (10c, 10d, 4d) beats (10s, Joker, 4c) – Natural hand wins
  • (10c, 8c, 3c) beats (9s, 4s, 3s) – ten beats nine
  • For a flush – count the highest card first, suit second.
  • (9h, 5c, 3d) beats (9c, 5s, 3h)

The game is played with multiple decks that include jokers, and is dealt by a house dealer (which basically means we can cope with two players getting exactly the same card)

Five Card Bragge

Five Card Bragge is the basic game, it is quick, easy to play and can be used causally or for high stakes.  It is probably the least skilful of the games described here.

Players make a secret roll on the RPoL Dice roller – to take five cards from the 54Card (with Jokers) pack.  Players use their cards to make up the best hand they can. 

Game Play

Casual Stake:  1sp

Best hand wins.

Players may, of course, play for higher stakes among themselves.  However, while the ‘casual stake’ is covered by Living Expenses, other stakes aren’t – make sure you have enough coin on your character sheet before you start the game.

Eight Card Bragge

This is a slower, longer running game, and can involve skill and strategy.  It is well suited to a card game based RP session.  Be really careful though, the overall pot can get quite high, if you are not playing for casual stakes.

Players make a secret roll on the RPoL Dice roller – to take eight cards from the 54Card (with Jokers) pack.  Players use their cards to make up TWO hands of  three cards each.

Game Play

Casual Stake:  3x 1sp – Best hand, Second hand and Pot.

  • Players compare their ‘Best’ hands –   The winner (best hand) wins the first stake. 
  • Players then compare their ‘Second’ hand  –   The winner (best hand) wins  the second stake
  •  If the same player wins both hands, then they claim the overall pot.  If the hands are shared, the pot rolls over to the next deal.
  • If there is a draw at any stage of the game, that particular stake, rolls over to the next deal.  The rest of the round continues as normal.

NOTE:  Players may make up their hands in any way they choose.  However, one the choice has been made, they MUST play the best hand first.

Players may, of course, play for higher stakes among themselves.  However, while the ‘casual stake’ is covered by Living Expenses, other stakes aren’t. – make sure you have enough coin on your character sheet before you start the game.


Pigs (dice game)

Object of the game:  Score 100 points.

Equipment: Two D6 and a score card,

Start: Each player rolls two dice, highest score goes first.  If it is a tie, they re-roll.

Each turn, a player repeatedly rolls two dice (D6) until either a 1 is rolled or the player decides to “hold”:

  • If the player rolls a 1 (on one of the dice) they score nothing, and it becomes the next player’s turn.
  • If two 1s are rolled, the player scores 20 points – but their turn ends and it becomes the next player’s turn.
  • If the player rolls any other number, it is added to their turn total and the player’s turn continues.
  • If a player chooses to “hold” (or double one is rolled), their turn total is added to their score, and it becomes the next player’s turn.

The first player to score 100 or more points wins.

Social Stakes: Loser pays the winner 1 sp
Serious Stakes: Loser pays one silver piece for every point that they lose by.

Scrymball

Description

Scrymball is an unsophisticated game, often played in military schools as a way of toughen up new recruits, but has become a favourite for inter unit competitions. It is a game of threes. The pitch is divided into three segments (known as thirds), the end-line is divided into three segments and the game is played in three sessions, also known as thirds.

Scrymball Pitch
Scrymball Pitch

At the start of play, each team starts behind their own ‘third’ line, with the ball placed on the centre spot.  When the referee blows his whistle to start the teams rush forwards to try and get the ball, before their opponents do.  The object of the game is straightforward.  The attacking team (The team with the ball) score point by getting the ball across the end-line at the opposite end of the pitch.  The defending team try to stop them, and to ‘steal’ the ball from them – this is known as a ‘turnover’.

The attacking team may throw, kick or run with the ball as they try to move it past the opponents’ end-line. The defending team tackle, wrestle or trip as they attempt to stop the attackers and steal the ball.  Play continues with the other team attacking.  At the end of the first ‘Third ‘of play, the referee blows their whistle, there is a short break and then play starts again – although the teams change ends (from the previous third). 

If the ball passes the opponents end-line in the middle section, the attacking team score two points.  In the outer section they score one point.  Once a team has scored, the game is restated with both teams behind their own third-line with the ball on the centre spot – in the same way as the game and the other ‘Thirds’ are started.

The ball is round, made from stitched leather and filled with some sort of wadding.  While kicking and throwing the ball are an integral part of the game, the ball doesn’t fly well and long passes are an exception, rather than a regular occurrence.

The team with the most points at the end of the game is declared the winner.

OOC:

Teams are drawn from the  city, town, individual or company’s military units.  (i.e. Tusk, Newgate, Aeris Estates, Lodvoka-Sud, WSM).  The game is played with three modified d20 rolls – one for each session.  PCs are Team Owners, they may not nominate themselves as part of a team.

Making a team

The quantity and quality of your military forces gives the basic team stats and modifications.

  • Basic team
  • Less than 5 Def Points   = +0
  • 5+ def points = +1
  • 10+ def points = +2
  • 20+ def points = +3
  • Experienced team
  • 1+ Medium/Heavy troops = +1
  • 10+ Medium/Heavy troops = +2
  • 20+ Medium/Heavy troops = +2

Star Players

Any team may have up to three star players, drawn from the team owner’s NPCs (Such as Entourages, Cohorts or Squires) that have a martial class.  They must be a named NPC with an established character sheet.  These bonuses are cumulative.

  • +1 for each Star Player who is level 5 or above.
  • +1 for each Star Player with a PC or Prestige class.

Resolution and Scoring

Each team rolls a modified D20 for each ‘third’ of play.  (Three rolls per game) Each roll indicates how well the team played in that session of play.

  • 20+ and you score one point.
  • 25+ and you score two points.
  • 30+ and you score three points.
  • Natural 20 scores one (bonus) point.

Internal Politics

Questions from a couple of players have made me think about politics within my Campaign Rules.  Not the grand political machinations of Kings and Courts, but rather the Local politics of how towns, cities and strongholds are run.

The rules, as they stand, are set up to build well-balanced holdings that function well – landowners and Councils are pushed towards maintaining a balance of Economic and Social developments, to provide adequate policing and reasonable management.  It started out based on a semi-feudal system of personal holdings, with noble titles and fairly ’traditional’ obligations to state and over lord.  It developed into a system that can support Free Cities overseen by a Council of Burghers –  who have the same status as minor nobles – and it has a ‘Joint-Hold’ option where two (or more) people can operate as a team.

So currently we have :-

  • Midmarch – Semi-Feudal – run by an NPC noble.
  • Tusk – Free City, run by a council of PCs.
  • Old Keep – Half way house with very limits obligations to an over lord.
  • Southern Region – an almost federal organisation that covers all of the above.
  • Ringbridge – a ‘Joint Hold’  (well it started out like that but one of the players left)
  • V&A – a merchant house financed by three PCs.
  • WSM – another merchant house jointly owned by two PCs.

So not a bad range of options, however, they all fall into that nice ‘well-balanced’ bracket that was described earlier.  Sure, there is some opportunistic developments and building – and some PCs are more interested in making money than others – but overall, everything stays in balance.

However, there are other types of settlement – not every city or stronghold is nice, well-balanced and well-organised.  In Paizo’s Kingmaker AP (The setting for the game) both Restov and Mivon are ‘chaotic’ cities while other cities are heavily regulated or under the thumb of a military dictator.  And I want to start by looking at those.

Chaotic Holdings.

One of the things that strikes me about both Mivon and Restov is that very little of the policing in under central control.  Mivon is, effectively’ run by a group of squabbling warlords, each with their own private army and each out to benefit themselves.  They compete for the tight to police parts of the city, and they are led by the best Aldori Duellist – who proves their fitness by (literally) fighting their way to the top.  Restov has a more formal council, with merchants and religious leaders – but also leaders of a number of different factions.  In my version of Restov there are the merchants, the Church, three different duelling traditions and the dwarves.  While there is a city and local ‘police’ force, most of the policing is devolved to the various factions.  Dwarf Town is patrolled by Dwarves, the Duelling Factions patrol their own districts, private guards look after the merchant’s houses.

In Mivon, the more Chaotic city, there is little central control, and minimal expenditure on Community Developments that support the population generally (although I suspect the wealthy are well catered for).  Gangs roam the streets and Aldori Houses have a crackdown when they feel like it.   If you want to achieve anything in Mivon, you need to grease palms or convince an Aldori House that your plans are good for them, possibly by greasing palms …

Restov is less Chaotic and the council has some control over spending and development – but it is  always a tough negotiation between the factions on the council, who want the best for their own district and their own people.  Some factions have other goals as well – the Dwarves want good stuff for Dwarves generally, the merchants want better trade routes, some religious houses want respect for the common folk – among others.

That is quite easy to handle within the Campaign Rules.  Rather than have a central ‘police’ force, have privately owned militia with little overall control.  Allow the settlement to run ‘Out of Balance’ and take the random ‘Bad Things Roll’ to represent the chaotic nature of the place.  The less central control, the more chaotic it becomes.

Lawful Holdings

There are a couple of examples of Lawful Holdings in the Kingmaker AP, although I am not going to detail them in the same way, because my players haven’t really discovered them yet – however, they have something in common as well.  In each case the ‘police’ are heavily armoured and powerful, more like an army than a police force, and are capable of enforcing the laws of the city.  If the Laws of the settlement are designed to benefit one individual, or group, at the expense of the general population (Bogside was an example) it is Lawful Evil, of the laws are for the benefit of everyone – it is lawful evil.  *shrug*  again that is a role-play thing, possibly even allowing the settlement to run out of balance, and crushing any disturbances with the force of the law.

Tusk, the PC managed Free City in my campaign, is probably edging into the Lawful Neutral category.  Laws to be followed with the ability to enforce them, but well-balanced and not too exploitative.  It recognises the rich and wealthy, encourages them to invest and make money for themselves – but makes sure that basic societal needs are met for everyone.  It is a well role-played and balanced city.

Ownership

The Campaign System is based around personal ownership.  Each PC gets a few Build Points to start with, and the system encourages them to go away and invest those BP, to make themselves richer and more powerful.  That fits well with the Semi-Feudal and Burgher philosophies that are written into the system.  It supports personal ownership and joint ownership, and it is possible to set up a non-profit organisation (Such as Three Ladies School) where income from the venture is reinvested to build more schools.  Some religious organisations, such as the Church of Pharasma with the graveyards, provide social support for the population – but that is a side effect of following the teachings of their chosen deity.  Other faiths will provide fewer societal benefits, as the follow their deity’s teachings.

Overall, it is a very ‘capitalist’ system with limited possibilities to create charitable organisations. 

That said, the rules (as they stand) to model the more extreme versions of Communism which (in many ways) is similar to the more extreme forms of capitalism.  Both are based on the concept that one group of people know best and that they deserve the beast of everything.  In the case of an extreme communist society you have the wealth invested in posts – and the post holder gets to enjoy all the benefits and power that go with controlling that particular post or office.

However, the Campaign Rules don’t support a middle ground between those two systems.

Common Hold

While the rules allow the modelling of charitable organisations they still need managing and are, potentially, open to abuse.  The Three Ladies School, has a set of accounts, and grows slowly by developing new schools – when it has the money.  It was set up with small contributions by three wealthy Ladies making small donations (and an interest free loan) – but they could, potentially, choose to take the income from it, rather than reinvesting it in more schools.  They won’t, because the DM won’t let them – BUT it is possible.  I want something that is easier to manage and less open to the possibility of abuse – Common Hold might be the solution.

Common hold is based on three RL business types.  Mutual Societies were set up in the UK (and possibly many other countries) as a way of providing insurance and personal loans for those without access to the financial system.  They were owned by their ‘investors’ and the profits were redistributed back to them, and there are still a few Mutual Building Societies left in the UK, that provide banking and financial services to their members.   Co-operatives were primarily set up to provide cheaper food and basic supplies for the common people.  In many places the shops were owned by the local landowner and charged high prices to their resident-workers so the co-operatives set up shops and stores to buy in supplies and sell them on at lower profit margins.  Again, there are still Co-operatives operating in the UK.  Now-a-days they are generally non-profit organisation who give a dividend to members – and anyone can join.  In Italy, I came across community winemaking businesses.  The local small farmers bring their grapes to the community winery, to be pressed, fermented and  bottled – when the wine is sold, each farmer gets their share of the profit, while some is used to benefit the local community as a whole. 

All three examples are community enterprises, run by the community for the benefit of the community.  No profit is shared with wealthy owners, but the wealth generated is redistributed directly to the local community, by the local community.  All ways that have been used to boost the living standards of the local community as a whole.

There are a couple of developments that start to model this in the Campaign Rules already.  The Community Hall is generally run for the community, by the community with no benefits, apart from helping to maintain a balance, for anyone else.  The Public Jetty with the same stats as a military of commercial jetty – however part of the jetty is reserved for community vessels.  Individual ‘slots‘ can be used for fishing boats or military boats –  however, unlike a commercial jetty, boats here pay  tax to the local community.  Both of those developments give some element of control to the local community.  The Public Jetty also has the benefit of offering opportunity for small investors, perhaps even community owned fishing boats. 

A community owned Serai could provide a similar service for mule trains, and an Alms House that takes up space in a settlement but provides no benefits at all  (cost 1bp – Econ+0, Loy+0,Stab+0 – Size 1) might make a suitable charitable donation to a settlement.

To take things further, any suitable economic development can be declared as Common-Hold, and given over to Community management.  Perhaps a Mill, a Winery or a Fish processing plant (all, basically, Craft Workshops)  they would be run by the local community, for the local community and profits redistributed automatically to the community.  These probably have to cost 2bp and be balanced (Cost 2 – Econ+1, Loy+1, Stab+1 – size 1).  These are all fire and forget developments – while the economy is shown against the settlements balance, no one takes any profit from them – not even the local council or the local lord.

Taxes

Within the game rules, Taxes are set at 0.2bp per point of Econ.  While part of that tax is collected from the business, a large proportion of it is collected from the ancillary business and workers the business supports.  The business itself makes 0.5bp (per campaign round) for each point of Economy.  However, that tax rate can be adjusted, to take more (or less) from the business directly. 

For example, tax rate could be set at 0.3bp per round taxes, and take the extra 0.1 directly from the business, which would mean that the business would take 0.4 in profits each campaign round.  If that tax was taken by a community oriented council it makes for a way of financing local community buildings.

A wealthy council might go the other way, reduce tax to 0.1 and increase business profits to 0.6 per campaign round.  There is nothing in the Campaign Rules to stop a settlement varying its taxes whenever it feels like it.  Note, however, that the balance must still be maintained (or face the ‘Bad Things’ roll :} ).  Note that suddenly raising taxes is going to irritate your investors – and you should probably give them advance warning.

Investing in a High Tax area, where the extra tax is used for community benefit could well be seen as a ‘Good Act’ by anyone needing to maintain and alignment stance.

The Armed Forces

The Armed Forces

I have been thinking about how the military works in my campaign rules.  They have grown from a simple ‘catch all’ to become something more important.  Recently one of the players suggested that defence should always be ‘smaller’ than any of the other settlement attributes (Economy, Loyalty and Stability) – and that made sense, after all, a society has to be able to support its military.  Now I have a couple of PCs with a legitimate interest in developing their armies – and the rules just aren’t up to that.  So time to beef them up a bit.

I implemented Troop Types when I redesigned the mass combat rules, and we have Auxiliary, Light, Medium, Heavy and Special troop types – although these are clearly very simplistic :}  So I am going to rename the Troop Types as Irregular, Regular, Veteran, Elite and Special troop types because it sounds better!

Troop Types

Irregular Troops are generally non-combat NPC classes (Commoners, Adepts and Experts)  and they represent militia, support staff at military bases, retirees and just about anyone else who might be prepared to fight when called upon. Irregulars have about 20gp of combat gear, on average.  In The Stolen Lands game padded and leather armour with simple weapons is a suitable combination.

Regular Troops are the backbone of any military force, and are all Warrior-3, built  and equipped for different roles.  They have light and inexpensive equipment, because that is cheap and suitable for their roles.  Town Guards, Area Scouts, Light Cavalry Messengers, Mercenary Guards, House Guards, Caravan Guards, Coast Guards, Ship’s Guards, Crypt guards are all Regular troops.  Regular troops have about 50gp of combat gear suitable for their role. In The Stolen Lands game a hide shirt or studded leather armour and a light shield, with light or one-handed weapons is a suitable combination.

Veteran Troops are some of your most experienced soldiers, Warrior-4 with medium gear and rarely appear outside a standing army and have the single function of fighting.  They might be called on to resolve conflicts that the regular troops can’t cope with, but their main role is fighting wars – either to defend their homeland or on foreign soil.   They generally have about 150gp of combat gear. In The Stolen Lands game Scale armour and a shield with martial weapons is a suitable combination. Veterans are an upgrade that cost 1bp

Elite Troops are the best of your fighting force, still Warrior-4 they have the best combat gear you can afford, up to something like 300gp.  Scale and banded armours make a suitable base to work with.  Elite Troops are an upgrade that cost 2bp (1bp if upgrading from Veterans)

NOTES:

  • The Stolen Lands is a westernized game (with Russian overtones) and the armour recommendations reflect that. 
  • Aldori and Non-human troops are limited, and might have different recommendations.
  • Equipment levels are based on the ‘average’ cost of the Build Points.

Structure

Training Units

Training Units are composed of staff and senior students from military training establishments.  They are all Warrior-3 – although the students don’t yet have all the feats and skills associated with a particular career role.  They can be assigned to military duties in an emergency and can be mustered at about the same speed as a Local Guard unit.

The Local Guard

The Local Guard are a militarized police force, although they aren’t, necessarily, just one force.  In the Stolen lands each holding has their own Guard unit, although they all perform the same roles.  Protecting the citizens from crimes, disturbances, fracas, theft and incursions.

Town Guards patrol the settlements (whether they are villages, towns or cities), Scouts patrol the wilder areas, Light Cavalry patrol roads and carry messages, and Marine Guards patrol waterways and lakes.

Think of it as a cross between a Local Lord’s war band, a gendarmerie and a National Guard.  Every holding need at least one defence point from Local Guard units for every Rural Hex, every Urban Hex and every Town/City District.   Wilderness districts have different rules, and two Local Guard defence points can patrol up to seven hexes.

The Local Guard can also be assigned to the Army in times of war, although they take longer to muster than the troops of the Standing Army.

The Local Guard are often housed in Watchtowers, Forts and Garrisons – although they may well be found in other military buildings.

The Army

The Standing Army consists of troops reserved for combat.  They might be sent out, as a special force, to resolve conflicts that the Local Guard can’t cope with – such as an incursion by an Orc horde or adventurers fighting in a tavern – but they don’t carry out patrols or investigations.  Instead, they train and stand ready to leap into action – and they are the quickest of all troops to muster and deploy, often being ready to leave within a few hours of the call.

Initially, all the units of a Standing Army are Regular Troops, and have the same sort of gear as the Local Guard, however they can be upgraded.  For 1bp a Regular Unit can be ungraded to veterans, and for anther 1bp a veteran unit can be upgraded to an elite unit – upgraded units have better training (L4) and better combat gear – making them progressively tougher in the field.

Private Troops

Private Troops are not under the control of either the Local Guard or the Army, but fall under the direct command of an individual.  This group includes mercenaries, caravan guards, personal guards, crypt guards and house guards.  Again the majority are Regular Troops charged with a specific task – either to protect private property or to fight (for money) on some else’s behalf.  Unlike the Local Guard, these guys can be upgraded to veteran or elite troops, although there is no financial benefit for a Mercenary Company to do so.

In The Stolen Lands,  the ‘owners’ of these troops will have signed some sort of document committing them to the defence of the region, and they may well be assigned to the Army in times of war.  However, they are the slowest to muster of all troops and may even take weeks to become available.

Specialist Troops

This is a real ‘catch all’ category intended for duellists, sappers, siege engineers and any other troops who do not fit into another category.  Often they are designed as and when they are needed.

Buildings by Type

Just to make it a bit more of a challenge, I have assigned different types of troop to different parts of the defence structure.

NameClassificationDefence
   
Duelling Salon {★★★}Specialist1
   
Barracks (★★★) .Military2
Keep (★★★★)Military4
Castle (Small) (★★★★)Military6
Castle (Large) (★★★★)Military9
   
JettyLocal Guard0
WatchtowerLocal Guard1
FortLocal Guard2
Garrison (★★★)Local Guard3
City WallsLocal GuardVaries
   
Mercenary BasePrivate1
Fortified Villa (★★★)Private1
Fortified Manor (★★★★)Private2
   
Military School {★★★}Training1
Academic Academy {★★★★}Training1
Military College {★★★}Training2
University {★★★★}Training2
Military Academy {★★★★}Training3

Dwarves of Brevoy

As dwarves continue to be a minor focus of my Stolen Lands game, I thought it was about time, I documented my thoughts on them. I have ‘known’ this in brad detail since the game started, but now it is time for a bit more detail and to update Dwarf progress during the years my players have been adventuring and building their new land.

Clan Golka

Like many Dwarf Clans, The Golka are made up of many smaller clans and families.  However, like all Dwarves, the majority of those smaller families have the overall welfare of the Dwarf ‘nation’ as a priority, and cooperate together under the leadership of Clan Golka.  When the great mines and holdings in western Brevoy were lost, the dwarves started reorganizing.  It was slow, but what is fifteen or twenty years out of a dwarf’s lifetime? 

While the dwarves don’t yet appear to have a grand plan, the basic plan seems to be based around a number of different communities.  Perhaps learning a lesson and going with the  ‘don’t put all your eggs in one basket‘ philosophy or, perhaps, there just wasn’t a strong enough leader.  So far four main initiatives have had some success.

Brunderton is a majority Dwarf town, and has grown significantly over the last few years.  Little more than a mining village when House Rogarvia disappeared and the Great Mine was lost, Brunderton has become the new Dwarf-Home in Brevoy.  Under the leadership of their mayor, Ralin al Golka, Brunderton has grown from a small mining settlement into a sizeable town.  Compared to some places, development has been slow – BUT it is financially stable  (based on the output of no less that thee mines!) , well managed and capable of growth.  While the town and the mines are all controlled by Dwarves, and dwarves are a large proportion of the population – Ralin al Golka hasn’t shied away from building links with human run businesses and settlements, and has arranged a series of loans (financed from across the Dwarf Diaspora)  to help smaller clans and groups to get established.

Restov is home to a large community of dwarves, led by Darain al Golka., it now holds the second largest population of dwarves, after Brunderton, in the whole of Brevoy.  Most are found in Dwarf Town, as it is commonly known, a whole district of Dwarves dedicated to making weapons and armour.  There aren’t just weapons-smiths and armourers, of course, there is all the supporting infrastructure of an ex-pat community as well.  There are blacksmiths, whitesmiths, leather workers, cooks, tailors, woodworkers and even dwarven entertainers.  The whole gamut of dwarfdom can be found there, somewhere.  Like Brunderton, Dwarf society in Restov is financially stable, and is represented on the City Council (by Darain al Golka).  It is a recognized, and important, part of the City of Restov, especially now the Aldori influence has been reduced.  Ironically, much of the growth in Brunderton was financed by the Dwarves of Restov – while the Dwarven Brotherhood and Clan Golka is important –  the Restov Dwarf community would collapse without a good supply of iron and steel.  Anyway, Mutual Aid is a tenet of Dwarf culture.

Greyhaven, Toval Golka ( son of the old Chieftain of the Golka)  has organized the dwarves of Greyhaven into a coherent body.  They aren’t anywhere near as influential as they were –  but they are still a significant part in the  mining and forging businesses of Greyhaven.  The biggest problem, for both House Garess and Clan Golka, is that the source of ores from the Great Mines has been lost.  In the old days, the Golka were House Garess’ most important Allies.  Now, while still bound to an Alliance contract, their influence is greatly reduced.

Tusk has something similar, although The Golka never had much influence in Tusk anyway, and there were no senior members of the Golka in residence.  It fell to an elderly Cleric by the name of Strude Stigmar to bring the Dwarves of Tusk together in a mutual support group, and build up a resilience in his community.  Strude doesn’t have a big congregation, but then there aren’t all that many dwarves in Tusk.  Most of them work in smithies or masons – and many of those are employees of other (human) houses.  However, they have a mutual support society, based around Strude’s Great Shrine.  They are all aware that the main temple of Torag, situated by the Great Mine, has been lost, and they support the establishment of new religious buildings across the region.  Stude has encouraged his flock to help finance a loan to fund the religious expansion in Ironkeep.

Clan Golka

The Great Clan of the Brevic Dwarves takes its name from one of their earliest leaders,  Golka the Miner.  He was an early leader of the Great Mine, who negotiated the alliance arrangements with the Garess.  Both the Great Clan and his direct decedents took his name for their own.  Even now, decedents bearing his name are trained for leadership and command.  Sooner, or later, one of them will rise to assume the title of Chieftain, in behalf of their family.

Toval Golka ( son of the lost Chieftain of the Golka) has organized the dwarves of Greyhaven into a coherent body.    In Dwarf terms, he is quite young, and hasn’t truly been tested – and while his initiatives in Greyhaven are laudable.  They haven’t been a great success ….

Ralin al Golka, Mayor of Brunderton, is nephew of the lost Chieftain, and has led the growth of his town.  It has grown from a small mining settlement into a significant town with trading links to both Restov and New Steven.  It is successful, financially strong, and  is fast becoming the new Dwarf-Home of Brevoy.

Darain al Golka, leader of the Restov Dwarves, nephew of the lost Chieftain, and City Councillor in Restov.

Gandred al Gorka, a young, and very distant, relative of the Lost-Chieftain.  He spent some of his youth in Brunderton, completed his apprenticeship in Restov and oversees a Forge-Shrine in Ringbridge.

The sub-clans

These family groups are all a part of Clan Golka.   They recognize that dwarves who bear the Golka name are the leaders of the Great Clan, and follow the principles that the overall wellbeing of the Dwarf people and the Great Clan is incredibly important.  However, so is the welfare of a dwarf’s immediate family members, and the extended family’s status within the Great Clan.  While, to outsiders, dwarves appear to have a solid and monolithic political structure based on mutual aid and support, there is a lot of (very polite) manoeuvring that goes on inside the Great Clan.

Clan Stigmar

A small clan, shattered by the loss of the Great Mine, the majority of Clan Golka, and many of their members – the Stigmars have struggled to carve out a place for themselves.  Traditionally, the more suitable members of the family have gone into the church, while others have worked for the military or in general roles. Now, they have found a way to start bringing their disparate family together again, raise their status and provide a family base.  (Note:  This is a DM based clan)

Strude Stigmar – Elder of the Church of Torag in Tusk.  Has arranged a loan from the dwarves of Tusk to fund the expansion of the Church in Ironkeep.

Lutz Stigmar – Elder of the Church of Torag in Midmarch/Tusk.  He trained at the temple to Torag in Brunderton, and nephew of Strude, The Elder Priest of Tusk.  Using a loan from the Church of Torag (underwritten by Brunderton) to establish Torag as the primary deity in House Aeris holdings.  Lutz is the leader of Clan Stigmar in Midmarch and has an Alliance contract House Aeris.

Findal Stigmar – Leader of a group of Dwarf Prospectors – and one of the beneficiaries of the loan arrangement between Clan Stigma and the Dwarf Diaspora.  Findal, and his team, have been working for Brunderton Mining –  but have taken this opportunity to set up on their own.

Clan Silverhammer

Named after an exceptionally talented whitesmith, the clan leaders have pursued the family tradition of working with fine metals and have a reputation for top quality jewellery and fine art pieces.  Many others follow the more traditional affinity with stone, and are noted for their larger civic and military constructions.   (This is a PC affiliated clan, which has to meet the PC’s expectations)

Hargrym Silverhammer – Leader of the Silverhammers in Midmarch and associate of House Medveyed-Solanus.  He is a skilled stonemason, merchant and negotiator.

The Bouldershoulders

Not really a clan in the Traditional sense, the Bouldershoulders are a ‘new family’ of dwarves who lost many of their family members when the great mine was lost.  They were all part of extensive (and unsuccessful) search parties in the aftermath of the disaster.  They took their name from the number of times that they cleared large rocks during their search. (This is a PC affiliated group, which has to meet the PC’s expectations)

Valgard Bouldershoulder – he is a skilled miner and armourer.  He oversees the mining complex at Ironkeep in Midmarch.

Dwarves

For a couple of reasons I have been thinking about Dwarves today.  Not only are they becoming relevant in my Stolen Land game, but I adopted a ‘Dwarf’ in a different game, as well.  I like to add some personal elements to posts I make on behalf of characters, both PCs and NPCs, so I thought I had better jot down some notes about their culture.

I have written all sorts of things on Dwarves previously, they seem to cropped up quite regularly, so little (if any) of this will be new – just a bringing together of the best ideas that I have had over the years.

Overview

Dwarves, traditionally, are a fairly self-interested race, and often don’t mingle easily with the other races.  That said, there is a long tradition of Dwarves moving to human lands, often to provide services that are related to metal or stone.  However, they often ‘stick together’, almost as if they are members of an ex-pat society, rather than an integral part of the local community. At the most extreme, Dwarves can be xenophobic, and actively discourage mixing with other races.

However, as a race, Dwarves normally have an LG alignment.  They follow the rule of their elders and have a tendency to help other people out.  That feeling is strongest for other Dwarves, and many Dwarves feel a strong moral obligation to look out for other Dwarves when they can.  The ‘obligation’ is still there when it comes to other races, but isn’t as strong – unless the others are personal friends or there is a contract or alliance in place.

Food & Drink

Mainstream Dwarf societies are often associated with mining and metal work, and ‘Cultural’ food is firmly rooted underground.  Often there isn’t a good supply of fresh food and grain, and much of their food is imported in trade for ore, metal or worked metal goods – which leads to some ‘delicacies’ that might not be found in human cultures.

Keep All

Keep All is a mineral preservative.  While salty deposits can be found in mines, Keep All is a mineral common in most mines.  When ground to a fine powder and added to food, it helps preserve it, so that it will last for longer, and provide secure supplies for the Dwarf-Hold.   However, it gives the food a slightly tinny, tangy flavour.  Enough to be noticeable, but not enough to make the food unpalatable.  It is the Taste of Home, for many Dwarves.

Dwarf Sausage

A cold sausage, often made with mutton that has been preserved with Keep All.  Packed full of ground meat, the sausage could be a bit flavourless – except for the tinny tanginess of the keep all.  Dwarf folk-lore says it will last almost as long as the fabled Dwarf Bread, although that has never really been tested.

Dwarf Bread

Dwarf bread is not really bread at all, but more like a dense, unsweetened biscuit.  It can be eaten as it is, but it is dry and hard work – however, it can also be broken up and added to stews, where it dissolves works as a thickener.  Dissolved in water, it would probably make an excellent wallpaper paste –  but don’t tell the dwarves that.  It would normally last well anyway, but the small amounts of Keep All that is added to the recipe extends the shelf life of Dwarf Bread to a ridiculous extent, there are rumours that two hundred-year-old Dwarf Bread is still edible.  And still has that slightly tinny taste.

Dwarf Ale

Everyone knows Dwarf Ale, it’s heavy and as black as the deepest night, with a thick creamy head.  The ‘real stuff’ is rumoured to have some type of fungus in the recipe and, like all Dwarf food has a slightly tinny, tangy taste to it.

Pickled Mushrooms

Perhaps not mushrooms that many humans would recognize, but many underground dwarf-holds have caverns that are used as fungus farms.  They are dried and bottled in fresh water that has been laced with Keep All.  They rehydrate in the bottle to make flavoursome, tangy mushroom sections.

Nubbe Paste

A thick spread that looks and tastes a bit like peanut butter – although with that slight tang that dwarves love.  It is best when spread on Dwarf-Bread and is a staple in any Dwarf’s field rations.

Music & Dance

Dwarves are not particularly sophisticated in human terms, and tend to enjoy a good social gathering, that is suitable for all the family. 

Music

Many musicians play metal instruments.  While there are a few flutes,  many play instruments that would be considered part of the Brass family – such as trumpets, cornets, trombones and tubas.  Percussion is often in the form of large metal drums.  Music is inclusive and easy to listen to, often in the style of Oompah bands or military style marches.

Dancing

Dance is inclusive as well, there a few Polkas that everyone knows, as well as some Military two-step like dances –  to suit young and old alike.

Royal & Noble Titles

Today, I have been thinking about Royal and Noble Titles.  This is something that I have done previously, but have never really been convinced by what I came up with.  Now, thanks to all the extra time that Covid, combined with semi-retirement, has given me – I thought I would have another go.  Previously, I have looked generally at the titles and ranks, but this time I chose to use the Holy Roman Empire as my guide.

In the longer term, I think that I might need a hybrid monarchic system, that will add some flavour to my Stolen Lands game, but I also need a system that works with my campaign rules.  My Influence Rules have become incredibly complicated and there isn’t really a structure to use them in, my lower level, Aristocratic Titles work well enough, and I can get a basic definition of Baron – the title that links the top of the Aristocrats and bottom of the Noble tiers of titles.  But beyond that, it gets all woolly, and I am making stuff up for NPCs, and I would like to make get something a bit more consistent for when my PCs get to those levels – however, that won’t be for some time yet.

So far I have Laird, Lord-Dominus and Lord that work well as Aristocratic titles, while Baron works as the link between the Aristocracy and the Nobility.  These are supplemented by Governor and Viscount (both administrative titles in my game) that can be used to grant authority within a province.  While Baron is technically a Noble title, a baron is never an independent ruler with the right to impose their own laws and culture and (technically) they have to obey their overlord. I have been using Duke and Count in much the same way, but then I run into issues with palatine counties and duchies that have some elements of rulership – which starts to get complicated.  So, for this exercise, I am going to say that Counts are more powerful versions of barons (Great Barons, if you will) and have an overlord, while Dukes always rule palatine, or independent states.

This gives me Counts and Barons as hereditary nobles, and Governors as temporary or lifetime nobles.  Viscount becomes a temporary or lifetime promotion for a Baron, making them more influential.  That fixes my middle tier of titles, and leaves a way for PCs to progress through the system.

Now comes the difficult bit of Emperors, Kings, Dukes, Princes, Electors, Landgraves, Margraves, Emirs, Maliks, Chieftains and many other titles for absolute or limited rulers.  Throw in the concept of Prince-Bishops, Patriarchs, Merchant-Princes and Free-Cities and it becomes really complicated!  Because it is a game system, and is supposed to reward PCs for becoming more powerful and influential, I want to include a number of different routes in to the upper echelons of power and influence, even if they don’t traditionally fit there.

For the time being, I am going to exclude Kings and Emperors as (for me) their roles are relatively clear. An Emperor (or Empress) rules an empire of states that were once independent and have (normally) been conquered.  Kings (or Queens) rule independent realms, unless they are conquered by an Emperor.  The others all have a limited forms of authority or independence, but for the sake of simplicity, I am going to use two ranks – Dukes and Fursten.

Dukes

Duke, in real life is a complicated title.  There are Palatine Dukes and Royal Dukes, Arch-Dukes, Grand Dukes, Honorary Dukes and a whole bunch of other titles that are translated as into English as Duke. So I am going to mash them all together for a nice straightforward definition.

A Duke is a hereditary noble who controls a fairly large area of land, and has a lot of autonomy in the way they rule.  In my game this represents the leaders of the Great Houses of Brevoy.  This, almost certainly, is not a realistic goal for any of my PCs.  I guess that the only ‘promotion’ to this level will be Jamandi Aldori, who currently holds the title of Countess.  I might well be wrong, but Duke is one of those pinnacle goals that will only be met, very occasionally.

Just as importantly, I am going to tie the title to the land.  Lose the title and you lose your rank of Duke.  You probably retain the title of Lord – But that is a big step down the Hierarchy.

Fursten

Fursten is much more interesting, it just means First, but as a title it is generally translated as Prince, in the sense of a Ruler of some sort.  While not all of these turtles would normally fit into this category, it means I can make it include:  Princes, Prince Bishops, Merchant Princes, Lord Mayors and Chieftains.

Prince-Fursten – generally referred to as Prince …  While, technically, all Fursten have the same standing, Princes always have precedence in formal gatherings.  A Prince is ruler of a territory that includes at least one city or at least ten developed (not Wilderness) hexes.  You don’t get an automatic promotion if you exceed those minimums – however, you might gain seniority among the other Prince-Fursten.

Prince-Spiritual – Prince-Spirituals always walk immediately behind the Prince-Fursten, while  the rest of the Fursten walks as an amalgamated group behind them.  This is a generic title, and the actual title might be Archbishop, Great Druid, Primate or something similar.   In the days of the Holy Roman Empire, Prince-Bishops ruled large estates, much like Abbots in the UK – for the game rules, this needs to be modified to having a strong presence across the region, rather than concentrated in one city. 

To account for the different types of faith in the game world this is defined in terms of BP (Build Point) costs of Religious Buildings.  An Arch-Bishop will have a cathedral, however a Great Druid might control a series of Holy Groves and  other small religious organisations, while  a Primate might control an abbey and a number of other monastic buildings.  Just as importantly, their control should spread over more than one noble estate.  (Duchy, Principality, County, Province or Free City) to represent the breadth of their influence.

Let’s say (provisionally) an investment of 60 BP (Religious Buildings), with developments in at least three noble holdings.   That should be achievable in less than 10 years, from the current position, for the Churches of Abadar and Pharasma that are currently operating out of Tusk.

Merchant-Prince – originally just a description, I intend to incorporate this into the hierarchical structure.  The ‘threshold’ needs to be the comparable with that of Prince-Bishop. Let’s say (provisionally) an investment of 60 BP (on Merchant Developments), spread over three noble holdings, which incorporates at least one Greater Trade Route.  Note:  A greater Trade Route requires two city bases.

Again, that should be easily achievable inside 10 years from the current position of both V&A shipping and DELEM trading.  Other Merchant Houses might take longer, but they aren’t a primary focus for PCs.

Lord Mayor – The Leader of a Free City, currently this would be the Lord Mayors of Tusk and Restov.  This is fairly well defined already – the rules for settlement size defines a city –  the Free bit is a political decision –  which may have to be negotiated.

Chieftain – The leader of a ‘People’ who are dispersed over a wide area.  This could be quite difficult to define in game, and is unlikely to be a PC goal.  Having said that, I once ran a character who was head of his family clan *shrug*.  The most likely example I can think of, in my Stolen Lands game, is a charismatic and powerful Dwarf pulling the Dwarven Diaspora together, under one political leader.

Again, let’s say 60bp of investment, in any area, whose owners/controllers pledge allegiance to the racial/family cause.


While that isn’t perfect, and the values might change, I think that gives me a system that allows PCs from any class to work out a way into the Senior Nobility. Prince-Fursten and Merchant Prince can be achieved by any class, and realistically any divine caster can achieve Prince-Spiritual status. It will take careful investment, and dedication – BUT it is within the grasp of any call.

Country Living 4 – People

I love it when people do something that makes me start thinking about social structures in my world. I, sort of, know all of this stuff in advance – but writing it down makes me consider it more fully. In the process of writing this blog, I amended the rules for manufacturing developments slightly, revisited Divine Adepts – and added ‘dog’ as a custom familiar for Divine Adepts dedicated to a nature god. All-in-all, and excellent return.

Commoners

Most of the people in the countryside are commoners. These are people who haven’t had very much going for them, and who haven’t managed to ‘escape’ into one of the other classes – most of the people in the game world are commoners.  They live in a world of barter and copper pieces, where a couple of silver pieces is a good day’s wage – but they are both resourceful and hardy.

In my game commoners get full HP at first level then progress at average HP, and my NPCs have a basic 5 point build.  They don’t get traits, and I have removed Craft and Profession from the class skills list – nor can they take the Skill Specialization feat.  They are the ‘Salt of the Earth’ who provide the labour needed to do … just about anything.

It isn’t all bad :}  Most commoners have a roof over their heads,  clothes to wear, food to eat and aren’t too cold in winter.  They just don’t have any luxuries, or even any particularly nice things.  Like other classes they progress, but few go beyond Level 3.

L1 Commoners are Young Adults –  Probably 14-17 with few skills, no traits and no skill points in Crafts or Professions. They are kids setting out in life – unskilled, as yet, but ready to learn.  These are the guys you can employ for 1sp per day or hold your horse for a couple of coppers.  You will also find them doing the washing up, mucking out the stables or doing similar unskilled jobs.

L2 Commoners are Adults who have learned the basic of their job, and probably work somewhere as a labourer. They get average HP, and have learned one or two craft or Professional skills.  They might also take a trait, from my Commoners Traits list.  These traits represent ‘extra’ training and include some basic military skills, hunting skills, housekeeping skills.   They make up the majority of commoners.

L3 Commoners are well established.  They are the people who run the stronghold, act as foreman on work-gangs or oversee tasks.  They probably make up 30% of commoners in an area and are the backbone of the rural community.

L4 Commoners (and above) are rare – and all have their own character sheets.

This is a fairly standard template for my NPC Commoners :-

Str-11, Con-11, Dex-11, Int-11, Wis-11, Cha-11
Feats= Toughness, Endurance and Great Fortitude
HP 10 (L2, 13) (L3, 16)   (includes 1hp/Level for Favoured Class)
Skills (Includes 1 Skill Point/level for Human)
L1 – Climb, Swim & one at random.
L2 – 2x Profession or Craft & one at random.  (eg Prof:Farmer, Craft:Leather)
L3 – Often just extra points in the same skill areas as before (BUT – sometimes I get inventive)

That probably doesn’t look very useful – however, they can Take Ten on skills where they have spent points.  That puts DC10 tasks comfortably within their skill set – which means farmers can grow the common crops, woodworkers can make basic furniture, smiths can make everyday items, etc.

Those commoners with traits that give weapon proficiency will generally be proficient in one more of Sling, Club, Staff or another free weapon as well – as will any commoners who travel regularly or might find themselves in a tough spot.  Those with ‘Military’ traits will probably own a home-made Reinforced Tunic as Armour.

Clothing is basic – drawstring trouser or skirt, with plain jacket or vest, probably fastened with ties, laces or a simple belt.  Most are made of cheap wool, although some are of leather.  A shirt and breech-clout of a softer material probably finer wool (rarely linen) are prized items and are the only items washed regularly.  Wooden soled clogs and boots (more expensive) are the favoured footwear.  Beanie hats, socks and gloves are probably knitted wool, while cloaks, hoods and other coats might well be made of hessian.  Colours are often muted greys, greens, browns and yellows – all of which can be dyed fairly easily.

Food is basic as well.  Vegetable stew is the staple, perhaps with meat or fish a couple of times a week, while eggs can be hard-boiled and accompany apples or even raw onions.  Herb teas are a common drink –  Nettle Tea is a favourite, because nettles are readily available and can be dried for use through the year.  Hooch, is a weak fruit wine, fermented enough to make sure the water used in the process is safe and disease free.  Small ale serves the same purpose, but grain is harder to come by.  Bread costs money (or at least the grain does), so many commoners eat pease pudding instead.  It is a sort of porridge made from peas,  which solidifies when cold to make a bread substitute.

Inside the house will be some simple furniture – table and benches, a dresser for the pots and crockery, simple bed frames with straw filled mattresses.  Blankets and drapes will be rough wool (perhaps crocheted) or hessian.  There will be a single fireplace for heat and cooking.  Light comes from cheap tallow candles.

This equates to a ★ or ★★ living standard, depending on the status of the individual.  It is a basic existence – but one that provides enough food, shelter and warmth.  For most of the people, most of the time.

Warriors

Every village has some warriors, who are employed by the local lord, to patrol the village and its hinterland.   Villages with a watch tower just have a unit of guards, but larger villages might have scouts and cavalry as well.

Most are level 3 warriors, although their officer may be level 4, and if so probably has a level of Aristocrat, to represent his experience of management, leadership and command.  The officer is usually the magistrate for the area and the Lord’s bailiff, with responsibilities for collecting rents and assessing taxes as well.

The stats for the light troops I use in this role can be found here

Some Troopers live in barracks, while some live in cottages in the village and have the same standard of accommodation as most of the villagers.  However, they are paid in cash and have a slightly better standard of living.  Shoes and clothing is a slightly better quality, blankets are thicker, they have bread instead of pease pudding, meat is served more frequently, and they generally have some coin left over for a night in the tavern.  Not a huge change, but enough to be significant in a rural environment they are comfortably into the ★★ rankings, with some junior officers pushing towards ★★★.

Many troopers come from a similar background as the people they patrol –  and while they don’t get posted to their home village until they have proved themselves elsewhere, they have sympathy with, and understand, the people of the village.  Officers get paid more, have better accommodation and an even better standard of living.  In many cases the Local Officer is the wealthiest and highest ranking person in the village. …. While most officers come from a ‘better’ social class, it is still possible for someone from commoner stock to get promoted to that level.  An officer is the likely to be the only person in the village with a noticeably better standard of living  (★★★) as they are looked after by servants (Military Auxiliaries) almost as if they were a knight or a noble.

This is one of the easiest, and cheapest, ways for a commoner to move up the social ladder.  Lords are always looking out for likely lads (and lasses) to join their forces – the recruit is trained, equipped and paid, regularly, in real money – and it is likely that their offspring will be able to follow them into a similar role in the future.  Many commoners see it as a first step on the social ladder, and if they can make it as an officer … the world is their oyster …

Adepts

Almost all the smaller religious establishments, like those found in villages and hamlets, are overseen by adepts.  Great Shrines, Graveyards and Holy Houses are prevalent in Villages while simple shrines are sometimes found in Hamlets, however, there are exceptions.  Some religious orders develop hamlets that are primarily religious sites so, occasionally, you might run across a hamlet built around a Priory.  While there is normally one main deity in a hex, you can find shrines dedicated to other deities close by. 

The type, and level, of community support will vary according to the deity represented.  Pharasma, for example, concentrates on funerals, but will also help celebrate weddings and namings.  Erastil is more involved with the community, encouraging active participation in all sorts of events from the whole community.  Sarenrae’s priests, concentrate on community health, with advice and their healing skills. It is rare to find other deities’ houses in a rural setting – however, larger defensive buildings, such as a Fort or a Garrison, may well have their own Military Chaplain to support the troops and, perhaps, to help run militia training sessions.

Nearly all rural priests live at about the same standard as their parishioners, although they are normally comfortably into the ★★ rankings, in the same way as warriors are. These rural priests are almost built as Collegiate Adepts and come from a similar background to their flock.  While Rural priests get some of their stipend in cash, they also receive ‘collection plate’ donations in kind (perhaps a rabbit, or a bag of apples) from the local community.

This is another way that Commoners can move up the social ladder, although chances of promotion it is limited.  This is because most religious buildings (from Chapel Upwards) have a Cleric (rather than Adept) in charge.  At best, an adept might hope to become second-in-command at one of these larger establishments.

Of course, some rural religious buildings are home to PC clerics – and then all bets are off. You are unlikely to find many arcane or spontaneous adepts in a rural setting, as most gravitate towards towns and cities.

Experts

Experts are a different kettle of fish.  They are all different and unless you have family connections, it is difficult to become an expert.  Most Experts learn their skills in the family business, although some have parents with enough clout (or cash) to arrange a suitable apprenticeship.

Any business with an Econ value is run by an Expert, so every village and most Hamlets will have a few experts in residence. The farms are managed by expert farmers, the tavern by expert Inn keepers, the mill by an expert miller and even the market has its own expert merchant. In wilderness areas there will be expert hunters, trappers and guides.  While Commoners provide the labour that keep the economy working, Experts are the managers, supervisors and specialists.

Developments with Econ +1 (Tavern, Mill, Craft workshop) are normally run by an Expert-3 with +7 in the main skill that relates to the business. Developments with Econ +2 (Road House, Brewery)are run by an Expert-3 who has Skill Focus and (if appropriate) masterwork tools – which gives +10/12 in their main skill.

Along with the main expert there will be a spouse (probably Commoner-3) and a couple of other experts (possibly an Expert-2 and an Expert-1) who are either children of the ‘master’ or outsiders taken on as assistants.  The development makes work for a number of the local commoners, with a few taken on as permanent labourers, and many others finding part-time work here.

There is probably an apprentice or two as well.  L1 commoners who are learning the basics of the trade- in return for acting as gofers, servants and menial labour.  These apprentices can find themselves doing anything including sweeping the floor, pumping bellows or carrying fence posts.  Some develop as commoner-labourers, a few lucky ones might learn enough to become an expert themselves.

Most experts have the same sort of living standards as Warriors and Divine Adepts, although their exact place in the Village Hierarchy depends on ‘status’ of their developments

Example Hierarchy

Outpost and its hamlets

  1. Cdr Ress
  2. Lt Pickering, Brody (manager of the hopyard)
  3. Garrison Sergeants, Sub-Prior of Pharasma’s Holy House, Market Manager, Innkeeper (Tavern), Farm Manager (Westfarm), Manager of Roths Local Ales (Rothyard).
  4. Warriors, Adepts & Experts
  5. Smallholders and labourers.

Country Living 3 – Villages

Villages

Villages are the centre of rural life.  They act as a hub for smallholdings and hamlets that surround them, providing security and other basic facilities.  A ‘classic’ village has the church, the pub and the local market –  the main source of Security, Faith, Socialising and Trade  for everyone who lives in that hex.  It is the heart of the community.

Outpost, described below, fits that model – the garrison patrols a larger area that most and a lot of troops.  Under my Campaign Rules,  that takes up space so some other facilities are ‘smaller’ than they could be.   However, the better the defence/security the more hamlets it can support – so Outpost can support three hamlets rather than the (more normal) one or two.  As each hamlet is able to support at least one more business, with (perhaps) a local brewery, mill and blacksmith are probably first on the list for Outpost.  With a bit of thought, you can develop a thriving rural community – distributed among the hamlets but centred on the main village.

Then there are the smallholdings.  The various maps of the hex show the small holdings closest to the Village and hamlets, but there are others scattered around the countryside as well.

Example:  Outpost

This isn’t the Outlook of the present, but represents the plans for the Village of Outlook.  There is no Tavern at the moment, and the Holy House is still only a graveyard – however, this is what it could be. It currently has two dependent hamlets, West Farm and Rothyard, and has the potential to add a third.  However, it could be expanded – building a palisade around the village proper would increase its ‘Defence’ to four, which would permit the development of a fourth hamlet.

The Village of Outpost

The Garrison (1) The garrison buildings house three separate units of troopers – Guards to patrol the local area, Scouts who travel further afield, and Light Cavalry who patrol the roads.  Lt Commander Ress is also magistrate for the town and Lord Henry’s bailiff for the area, his assistant Lt Pickering oversees the patrols and day to day running of the garrison.

The Outpost Tavern (2) A simple eating and drinking house provides the village’s only real social space, and is busiest on market days, when more smallholders come in from further afield.  Its main stock-in-trade are local ales and wine, along with simple meals.  You are most likely to see tables of locals playing cards or dice, rather than hear a musician or entertainer.  However, there are occasional entertainers, and the Tavern often allows travellers to sleep on the common room floor for a night or two.

The Market (3) The market is busiest of Market Day (held twice a week) when people fetch in their wares from outlying smallholdings.  On those days you can buy a large range of local produce –  mainly foodstuff,  although there are other locally produced items as well.  There are always a couple of local smallholders with stalls, so you can buy fresh veg most days of the week.  And there are a few enterprising who buy up the left-over stock, and hold it to sell on over the rest of the week.  One trader has taken it a bit further, and buys up minor items to sell on his stall, and you can generally get an eclectic mix of wooden spoons, clay bowls, lengths of home-spun material, simple cloaks, hats, gloves – all sorts of basic accoutrements, available every day of the week.

Pharasma’s Holy House (4) A small religious community run by Broth Amos – who oversee the spiritual needs of the community.  They can offer simple weddings, namings and funerals – and have a small cemetery plot attached to their mission.  Pharasma isn’t big on ceremonies (except for funerals) so weddings tend to be a formalized hand-fasting and ‘namings’ tend to be little more than a recognition of the new villager.  They do, however, keep the villages records of births, marriages and deaths.

Workers’ Cottages (5) Terraced rows of cottages that are little more than a one up, one down – they often house a family of five or six people.  Each of the two rooms is about 20×10 – the ground floor often contains separate spaces for living and working, while the upper room can be partitioned with curtains or screen to give some element of privacy.    Each terrace (about 5 houses) has a couple of privies to service the block.  While not ‘comfortable’ by modern standards, it is often better than they would find in a town or city.

Country Living 2 – Hamlets

Hamlets

A Hamlet is little more than collection of smallholdings that are close to each other – but with something that gives them common goals and sense of community. 

Smallholdings are often built close to larger settlements (Village, Town City) which offer better protection, more work opportunities and a central market to see their goods.  This mean that the smallholdings near the settlement are closer together than those located further away – and that means that the people of the smallholdings have more chance to mix with each other and develop a sense of community. 

Very occasionally this will lead to the smallholders getting together on a communal project that benefits them all mutually – such as a community hall or a shrine (if they all share the same faith).   More often, someone else sees that smallholdings are close together, and sees that there is a ready supply of labour for a ‘country’ business, so starts a local business.  Once a hamlet is established, it can attract more smallholders, and develop into a living thriving community.

Country Businesses make use of whatever resources there are in a region – mostly they are farms of some type, although quarries, fisheries and lumber camps all have a place, if the terrain is right.  If there are suitable mineral resources, it might even be a mining hamlet, although in that case it is often the mine that comes first and the smallholders follow.  There are a few ‘special cases’ where a Lord or a Cleric  builds a hamlet for their own purposes –  much like a mine, the smallholders follow, knowing that there will be work available for them.

Example 1 – West Farm

This is an example of a basic hamlet, just starting out on its development.

There is a farmyard, with a row of cottages for the regular farmworkers.  It is a mixed-economy farm – in other words it grows vegetables, a cash crop (normally cereals) and keeps a few head of livestock for milk, eggs, wool and leather.

There are a couple of smallholdings nearby, and they provide casual and part-time labour to help keep the farm running.  Although they still maintain their normal smallholding practices at the same time, the steady supply of casual work gives them a bit more financial stability.

A win for everyone.

Example 2 – Rothyard

Rothyard started out in much the same way as the farm described earlier, but has grown. 

First it added fields of hops as an extra cash crop, along with the extra buildings needed to process the hops. Then, as more smallholders moved to the area, they added a small brewery making a beer for local consumption and a community hall to help bind the community together.

Now it is a nice, compact, hamlet.  There are a number of permanently employed staff living in cottages, and enough local smallholdings to provide part-time and casual labour when they need it.  However, it has grown as much as it can, and can’t really develop any further without losing its character and status as a hamlet.