Society, Balance and Settlements.

The recent introduction of community and cooperatively owned developments has made me think about the relationship between Loyalty and Stability.  When I set the rules up, I worked with simple definitions – which work on a mechanical basis, but don’t add a lot to the RP side of the rules.  However, now I might be able to find a more sophisticated definition which, along with a few minor tweaks, could facilitate  a bit more RP within the rules.  Not so much as to force the RP side, the rules still have to be mechanically usable for everyone, just an additional aspect.

That ties in with the relationship between Defence, Loyalty and Stability, Stability in particular.  Defence, according to my definitions, defends from external and internal threats – which implies every day policing as well as dealing with riots, revolutions, and similar major events.  However, every day policing could be seen as a Stab function, rather than a Def function.  It is too late to separate those completely, and I am not sure if I want to, but I can examine the way they work together.

Economy

Economy is a strange beast.  In the modern world we think in terms of monetary value and everything comes down to £, $, €, ¥ or some other currency.  In the earliest days, however, it was pure barter – I’ll give you this basket of apples for a leg of that pig – or something similar.  However, for most of the time (since the invention of money) it has been a mixture of the two.  And so it must be in  a fantasy world.  Adventurers live in  a world dominated by Gold Pieces and the value of their equipment, but many commoners live in a barter based economy, where they might exchange a few hours labour at the mill for a sack of flour.  They have cash as well, but probably copper and silver pieces – which don’t really impinge on the financial world of adventurers, nobles, professionals or aristocrats.   Which means that the ‘overall’ economy metric must be a measure of both.

In truth, even adventurers and nobles have elements of Barter in their economy.  You need to get licences to build?  Sure there is a fee …  It is probably negotiable and varied according to how well the parties like each other, who wants what from whom, which club you are a member of – all forms of barter.  The only difference is that amount of currency is involved, is decided the bartering / negotiating / dealing.

Economy always comes down to a mixture of Gold Pieces, having the right resources, having good will, knowing the right person, belonging to the right club – and knowing when to offer your own (or your businesses) services in exchange.  It is imprecise, and is difficult to convert into Gold Pieces, but Econ defines the economic wellbeing of a society.

Econ is one of the factors that decide relative importance, and influence, in a town, settlement or nation.  It is, primarily, a metric of interest to the wealthy.  Commoners  (and many other NPCs) don’t really care, so long as they don’t starve to death, freeze to death or die any other sort of death that is due to PCs messing with the economy.

Loyalty

Loyalty, on the other hand, is all about the resident, and what makes this a good place for them to live.  Does my town have things that make my life better?  Public baths to get clean, parks to walk in, is the excrement cleared from the streets?  Basically, does my town (village, city etc) care for me?

Stability

Is about governance, and is mainly the concern of the town’s rulers, and has to do with keeping order in the town.  A mint provides a stable currency, a local market is a structured place for people to sell their goods, courts and jails keep criminals off the street, a granary reduces the chances of unrest in a bad year for crops, a public works keeps the street and buildings in good order.

Defence

That definition of Stability allows me to define the way that defence points work.  Def is all about immediate action.  In the countryside the guards might chase away a small band of goblins, or deal with a wolf that is worrying sheep.  But they won’t follow them home to clear out the den – that is a job for the local lord and his soldiers – which might be ordinary soldiers sent en masse, or it might be a band of PCs.  The same is true in a town, the city guard might break up a fight, stop a riot, break up a fight or cuff the ear of an urchin stealing bread.  They might stop a robbery, if they catch the thief in the act, but they aren’t going to investigate crimes.  That isn’t there job, they provide a temporary, on street, fix for whatever disturbance there is – at the time it is happening.  Longer term solutions are a matter for the city rulers, be they a lord or a council, and that is a function of Stability.

Balance

There are many developments that are balanced, as far as Loy and Stab go, and that is fine, as many developments that make a society more stable, make it a better place to live.  It is also good for the rules, as a PC can run a settlement (and get satisfaction from the process) without having to think too much about philosophies or alignments.   Some development groups, such as academic Developments and core Hamlets are well-balanced almost all the way through.

Serial Discrepancies

There are two development chains that have discrepancies built into their structure.  Religious buildings are biased towards Loy, BUT they can, generally, be brought back into a balanced position by further developments – i.e. upgrading a Shrine (+1 Loy) to a Great Shrine (+1Loy, +1Stab).  It also feels ‘reasonable’ in Role Play terms –  the loyalty is to the cleric and the church, the stability comes from the regular preaching of the same general message, every week.

The Defence Development chain is biased towards Stab, and a number of Military developments have a bit more Stab than Loy.  This, perhaps, represents a military of noble’s court working from those buildings and helping to resolve some crimes and take criminals off the street.  That stability makes the whole are better to live in – at least the citizens know the rules and that some lawbreakers will be caught and punishes.

Specific Discrepancies

There are a couple of specific discrepancies in the lists.   In the Civic List the Public Arena gives +6 Loy and +2 Stab, which is a real anomaly.  Nothing else gives anything like that sort of differential.  I will remove that and replace it with the Public Amphitheatre, which is much better balanced.

The Court House is another anomaly.  It currently returns (+2 Loy, +2 Stab), but according to the definitions above should provide more stability to the settlement.  Consequently, I will change its values to (+1 Loy, +2 Stab) and reduce its costs accordingly.  There is only one out in the Southern Region, and that can be amended and compensated without upsetting the balance of the town.

Bad Things Table

I have had a poorly defined Bad Things Table, that I have used to threaten settlement rulers with since the start – but I have never really thought about how to implement it.  The rules are based on a Model Society where Econ, Loy and Stab are (more or less) all the same – with a threat of something bad happening if things get out of balance.  Now, with those more sophisticated definitions, I can see how that might operate.  The outcomes are all remarkably similar, but the flavour is different.

  • A settlement with a higher-than-expected Stab, is liable to be lawful and (perhaps) highly regulated – which some residents will find oppressive.  There may well be demonstrations, riots and even (in the extreme) revolution.
  • A settlement with a lower-than-expected Stab, is liable to be chaotic.  Again, there might demonstrations and riots, possibly protesting about the high levels of ongoing crime or anti-social behaviour.
  • A settlement with too much Def, is probably going to be repressive, with large numbers of guards on the street.  Without the back-up of Stability, guards deal with more issues at street level, because there are ineffective social restraints, on no effective judicial to fall back on.  That could well lead to armed riots …
  • A settlement with too little Economy, leads to food and employment protests, demonstrations and riots.
  • A settlement with too much Economy, leads to a dissatisfied population – as all those rich people make even more money at workers’ expense.
  • A settlement with too little Loyalty, leads to a dissatisfied public – with protests, demonstrations and, eventually, riots.
  • A settlement with too much loyalty, doesn’t mean that everyone is happy –  but probably means that one or two sectors of the community are being ignored.   It might only be a small group to start with, but dissatisfaction is infectious …

Social unrest can have many drivers, but the outcomes are often similar.  How the City’s Rulers deal with those disturbances says a lot about the alignment of the people running the place.

A New Philosophy

Overview

We are currently playing through the Campaign Round in the Stolen Lands game on RPoL, and that always forces me to look at the developments I have available and think about the ways that I can use them.  For a while now, I have had the politics of running estates in the back of my mind.  A short while ago I added a section detailing community building, in an attempt to meet the RP needs of a couple of players who wanted to build an agrarian holding. I have been used a couple of those developments as I have been fleshing out a couple of long-standing NPCs, which made me think that there might be another, perhaps better, way of managing a player’s holdings.

The Economic System that I use in my campaign rules is based on a semi-feudal, capitalist system – with socialist overtones.  The rules assume that players want to:  a) gain titles, b) get rich, c) exert religious influence, d) some mixture of those or e) not be bothered.  Using the rules skilfully can lead to great success, but there have always been ways to play with different levels of involvement, right down to the academic rules that need minimal investment in time and effort but, in turn, lead to slower advancement. 

Since we have started, I have added a proto-democratic system, where players can elect their own leaders and develop an independent council to run a joint holding.  After that came march-holdings which allows a player to build a more centralised holding, and finally the community buildings that allowed a player to use their wealth to invest in the local community – although, so far, they have all been tied to a semi-feudal political structure.  However, I am starting to realise that has to do with the original inspiration for the rules, and its effect on my mind-set, and rather than any real need.

My original inspirations were the strongholds rules from AD&D I, that allowed any high-level character to set up their own stronghold.  I managed to get one or two characters to those levels and build a stronghold, and it felt good.  The Merchant Rogue class, from the Al Quadim setting (AD&D II) gave me an insight into characters running their own businesses, and I hassled a couple of DMs into letting my characters set up businesses, of one sort or another.  They were based on Merchant Companies (as was the Merchant Rogue), but they had homes and other business ventures as well – and they were fun, but we had to keep negotiating the rules every time I wanted to expand.  Then came Paizo’s  (Pathfinder) Kingdom and Downtime rules.  For my players, the Kingdom rules quickly became a pain and when I played the downtime rules (as a player) I soon realised they were quite time-consuming, and I didn’t really find them very satisfying.  Which is how I came to write my own campaign rules, and that’s why there are different levels of involvement.  Players can go to town on the rules – BUT they can also participate in less time-consuming ways.

The Current Setting

In game, we have three distinct areas.  Midmarch (the original setting) is pseudo-feudal, with lords and landholders having some responsibility towards Viscount Henry, my main NPC.  Henry, is turn, is both neutral and liberal – so he lets everyone go pretty much their own way –  so long they stick to his core concepts.  Tusk is a proto-democracy – run by the PCs for the PCs – with rules for elections for the main administrative posts and an advisory council that includes PCs and NPCs.  TBH, it would be hard to change the Main Council –  because the city’s economy is based around their abilities –  and there would be a couple of years of instability if council members were ousted and replaced.  BUT the options are there.

The Narlemarch wilderness reserve is another.  Parts of it fall into Lord Henry’s domain, part of it is an independent march-hold and (technically) part of it falls within Tusk’s sphere of control.  However, almost everyone with a leadership responsibility (in the Narlemarch) is a priest of a nature religion (The Green Way, Gozerah and Erastil) or a ranger.  There are settlements, including a small town, but they all have very ‘country’ and ‘wilderness’ philosophies at their heart – and the area is much more wilderness that anything else. And this, in particular, has made me realise that some aspects of the game can be left to role-playing, so long as there is enough ‘infrastructure’ to support that. 

Range

At the moment, our settlements are fairly homogeneous.  They are well-balanced, in the mid-range comfort zone and (generally) made up of people with the same (general) philosophy on life.  Everyone is happy, there aren’t any peasant revolts – the PCs (and significant NPCs) get a chance to make themselves rich and gain titles and the peasants are happy with their lot  (which is actually quite comfortable, even generous, compared to many places in Golorian).

However, if a PC deliberately takes their settlement out of balance, you can force other environments.

  • A LE Town might have a dictator ruling by Intimidation, a military that exceeds the limits, and have all the economic developments owned by the dictator’s friends.  I can foresee civil unrest, underground militia, vigilantes and revolt.  Which may (or may not) be put down by the Dictator.
  • A CN town could have a weak central administration, few  state forces, and lots of factions (perhaps six PC leaders) each going their own way.    The people will be playing one faction off against the other, there will  be skirmished (but  possibly not outright war) between the factions, a thief’s guild might arise …
  • An NG/CG town might have a relaxed planning regime –  but asks every investor fully balances their Econ, Loy and Stab – every time they build something.  The council on community or public builds and has minimum defence points. 

They can all work within the current rules

Possibilities

However, The Narlmarch shows that an area can have its own identity and a consistent ‘philosophy’ – but it is role-playing that philosophy that makes it work.  There is no reason why other philosophies can’t work just as well across the game’s setting as well.

To some extent, it already does.  The temple of Abadar spends its money things that encourage business, as well as building religious builds.  Pharasma, on the other hand, spends money on religious buildings and graveyards.  Both have spread across the whole of the game area, regardless of political boundaries.

Recently, however, I have met a couple of Characters with a more community-oriented philosophy, and I had little that I could offer them.  I cobbled something together, BUT it wasn’t a brilliant solution.  I met some of their needs, but not all of them.

The solution could include a number of developments that can be said to have  ‘community’ elements. 

  • The first are ‘balanced’ developments such as farms, schools or lodging houses – each of those examples bring  +1 Econ, +1 Loy and +1 Stab to their local community.  They cost more than most economic developments and are more expensive (in terms of economy) than just about every other economic development.  The Player still makes a good profit from it, BUT they have added a bit more to the community than they needed to.  These have always been a part of the ‘low involvement’ part of the game – however, they could also be played, pro-actively, as part of a co-operative / community oriented role-playing philosophy.
  • There are Civic/Public Developments, which always bring more Loy and Stab (community elements) than Econ (personal elements).  These are mainly used by settlement owners who need to maintain a balance – but there is no reason why they should not be built as part of a co-0operative philosophy as well.   However, players should probably use them sparingly – PCs who do not have an ‘income’ will not be able to spread their philosophy any further.
  • Community developments are particularly.  The developer deliberately chooses to take a reduced profit, so that the wider community can benefit.  The community returns are too small to be accounted for in the spreadsheets, because they are spread widely among the whole community in the form of discounts, bonuses, and other small amounts.  Everyone in the community has a slightly better life.
  • Religious developments are a possibility as well.  A deity with a community or co-operation domains might work in this context.  A Lawful deity might help impose a (real world) communist philosophy, (because one of their priests believe it is for the good of all the people!).  A priest of a more chaotic deity (Hembad or Lorris, for example) would have a much freer, individualistic interpretation.

Another part of the solution is liable to be a Community Leader, a low level NPC who speaks for the community and manages assets on their behalf.  We already have one in the game, a halfling called Verna.  After years of holding the villagers together, she came to the fore when an oppressive regime was overthrown by a group of PCs.

How it works in practice, of course, is down to the PCs involved –  BUT I think that all the tools are in place to let it happen.

Enhancing NPCs

Recently I have been thinking about integrating NPCs into the aristocracy of my game world.   It was always the intention that the PCs would become the major nobles and that the junior aristocracy would be composed of ex-PCs, Entourages and other NPCs.  Some of the longer standing PCs are making good progress in the ‘Aristocrat Stakes’ – while others have chosen not to participate in  that part of the campaign rules  (not every character has a goal of becoming Noble and influential – and that’s cool and as it should be :} ) 

However, now I need to find a way of bolstering  the lower ranks of the Aristocracy.  The aristocratic system I use has three parts.  A Chivalric Order (lifetime), Aristocratic Titles (hereditary) and Noble Titles all of which are geared towards PC advancement.

The System

The Southern Chapter (The Chivalric Order) act as a gateway to the ‘higher’ titles that allow a character to establish a dynasty that has an ongoing place in the Aristocracy of the game world.  It has two classes (Officer and Knight) that are accessible to any character and another (Knight Commander) that is restricted and semi-symbolic.  A Knight Commander (technically) leads the troops in wartime and provides leadership in times of peace –  but as those are primarily NPC or OOC activities, there aren’t any extra privileges for the character.

Membership is not onerous, with few responsibilities, but it gains some important rights for the character- and so far has been limited to characters who are (or have been) active PC adventurers.  All members are required to support the order, support their ‘province’ and enforce the law –  pretty basic and what PCs are generally expected to do in a kingdom building game.  They are also required to recognize Brevoy as ‘The Kingdom’ and follow the King’s Laws and Dictates –  although there is huge tension in Brevoy and the King is not secure enough to enforce his will – He tried, and failed, with the Southern Order taking an ambivalent stance in the threatened Civil War.

The rights are much more important, as they give all members to right to own land, create estates of their own, and to recruit private armies.  No character (including the Senior NPCs) has done that without being a member of The Chapter.

The Aristocratic Titles (Laird, Lord-Dominus and Lord) are normally landed titles and generally rely on the character owning land, while progression is measured by the size of the character’s private army (Laird <5, Lord-Dominus <10, Lord <15).  Neither of which are possible without being a member of the Southern Chapter.  The only ‘Noble’ title open to PCs at the moment is Baron, which is fully land based, and is an extension of the aristocratic titles – which kicks in at Def 15+.  The King can ‘gift’ titles to his cronies, of course, but seeing as we aren’t on the best of terms with the king …

The Problem

During the game, a number of NPCs have become significant.  For example, Mother Beatrix run the most widespread religious institution, a church or Pharasma that I have used to assist PCs building strongholds.  Beatrix offers graveyards and religious building to (just about) every settlement as they are getting established – which makes it a bit easier for the PC to get their stronghold established.  Others, such as the Roths and House Yitis, have appeared at times the economy has needed a boost or the game has needed a plot line.   Brother Lutz, chief cleric of Torag, was originally built as a PC, but the player left before he went adventuring.  Maril, Yolen and Helga have all travelled with the PCs (although not necessarily on adventures) and have become well known to some of the PCs.

Then there are the player run NPCs – Cohorts, Squires and Entourages.  Some of these adventure with the PCs, but others stay at home and run  their estates, which means they can be quite significant in the Fuzzy (non-adventuring) threads.   These are the guys who run and administer our lands while the PCs are all away slaying monsters and doing ‘interesting’ stuff.  Currently, I am aware of two who are negotiating quite serious investment programmes between them, on behalf of their PCs, of course.  Another, recently, negotiated an investment deal  (on behalf of his PC) with a different province.  They play a significant role as it is.  We are also getting to a point where some players want to increase their holdings and build up their own ‘court’ of land owning chivalric/aristocratic followers. Something that has been promised for a while.

Partial Solution

We already have a partial solution, with Cohorts, Entourage Allies and Entourage Cousins able to join, or contract to, a PC run family.  This allows a PC to start building a ‘court’ of significant NPCs as part of their entourage, but it doesn’t help with land use, defence points or titles.  There are ways to get around some of those issues, such as Brother Lutz or Robert being ‘nominally’ in charge of defence points –  BUT it can be a complex process.  And, perhaps more importantly, it doesn’t help with estate management.

The rules work well for small estates and holdings, but it is difficult to build a large estate.  That is probably easiest to illustrate using Lord Henry’s holdings – his estates are split into two parts that are managed and accounted for separately, and he has people working for him that are specifically configured for the task.  However, The Gates (his personal estate) consists of a small town and two villages – he can add one district to his town (or promote a Village to a town) before  he runs out of ‘Consumption Bonus’.  That doesn’t stop him developing, but it starts to slow him down – now that isn’t a big issue for a wealth NPC, BUT it will be difficult for a PC.  Midmarch (Henry holds it via an administrative title) had the same problem, until a change in the way that infrastructure benefits were calculated.  Before those changes, it would have been very difficult to run the two ‘estates’ as one. 

Now, I need to develop a new, semi-independent, town – with its own economy -and it is becoming more difficult again.  If I have those problems and GM, any PC trying to build a large estate will have them as well – but I have the advantage of being able to bend the rules – after the event  :]

Enhancing the solution

The key to much of this, is the Southern Order – the gatekeeper to the rest of the structure.  In effect membership of the order, in any of the current classes, is almost like Full Citizenship – it gives land and defence rights, but also allows a voice in the most important meetings that decide game-changing decisions –  such as how to react to a potential civil war.  And I see that, primarily, a ‘right’ given to  characters who have taken an active part in securing the province – be they PCs or (the few) NPCs who have been adventuring.

However, I could add a Junior Class to the chapter that gives restricted rights to those characters how take a less active role.  I favour Member of the Order (although Companion  would also work) that confers limited ‘citizenship’ rights.  Maybe the right to ‘own’ a single village, or perhaps a Hamlet, and be award the lowest aristocratic title of Laird and to recruit a limit number of troops (perhaps 2 or 3 defence points worth) – although not enough to advance to Lord-Dominus status (at least not at the moment).

That means that I can give Landowning PCs (with the title of Lord or Lord-Dominus) the right to appoint their own Lairds and start building a court.  Later, when the PC gets to Baron status, they might be able to ‘promote’ their NPCs so that they can recruit enough troops (5 def points) to attain the title of Lord-Dominus.

At the same time, it means that the Lairds estates can be run separately (with their own stewardship council) and make it easier to grow an estate.  Income from those estates still falls under the purview of the PC, although they MUST take the NPCs’ needs into consideration  as they plan their spending.

Significant NPCs

Some NPCs, House Yitis, The Roths, Mother Beatrix and some entourages, don’t fit that profile, however they have significant roles in game –  either financial or religious – and there may be other areas come up later.  This is more difficult as it is much more subjective.  However, for straight NPCs I find that, at some point, I need to move them to from my overview spreadsheet to the main Business spreadsheet so that I can keep a proper track of them.  This is normally when they have four, or so, different buildings spread around the Southern region, so that seems like a suitable cut off point.

Level

The next consideration is at what point do NPCs become significant?  Most established NPCs (including commoners) are level 3, a few are level 4 –  but there are very few who are level 5 or above.  So, perhaps, Level 5 should be the minimum criterion for Membership of the Chapter.   It works for my NPCs, and it works for entourages – and it works for the game.

Perhaps, L7 for NPCs to be able to advance beyond the title of Laird?

A small town

Strange time for a post – I am sitting in a caravan in a camping field on the edge of a National Park, with, perhaps, the most erratic internet connection I have had for years..  Sometimes there is a connection, a slow connection – other times here is no connection at all.  And we have been to areas where there is no phone signal at all – something I haven’t encountered in the UK for years!  But, it has introduced me to a Small Town, something else I haven’t seen in the UK for a while either as I live in one of the more heavily populated parts of the country.

Bellingham is described as a town and has a town hall, but it is smaller than some of the villages and  hamlets from my part of the world, and while it is geared towards tourism, it sort of fits with the definition of a small town in my campaign rules – which pleases me no end :]

It is  described as the ‘capital’ of the region, and has a Town Hall, public library and a municipal depot, it has two, or perhaps three churches (different Christian denominations) something that looked like it was once a fourth church and a  separate graveyard – so plenty of Loy and Stab.

There are three pubs – one equates to an Inn, another is probably a road house and the third is more of a tavern.  There are plenty of small shops that equate to the commoner cottage industries and two  shops that could represent larger shops with an Economic Value – one is a small supermarket the other an outdoor/hardware shop.  And then there is the campsite / holiday lodges where I am staying.

Oh, and there are farming hamlets scattered around.

There are probably a couple of things I have missed, but on the surface, it fits  the small town profile of my campaign rules quite nicely!

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.

Overview

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.

Vessels

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

Economic Structure

In recent Blog Posts, I have looked at a couple of aspects of the Game System economy – and as I have been changing my spreadsheets to reflect those, I realised that I could improve and simplify the whole system with a couple of basic changes.

Note:  These changes are open to discussion and comment.  They and aren’t set in stone and are open to some modification.  However, I do intend to this new approach (with any modifications) for the next Stolen Lands campaign round.

The rules started out with two economic factors, Economy and Consumption, inherited from the original system and, to some extent. They worked well together for that system.  However, the original rules were  Kingdom Building Rules, and assumes that every player is involved in the building and management of a single kingdom.  These Campaign Rules have a different emphasis, rather than a kingdom the Campaign Rules focus on smaller strongholds, and the businesses and organisations that underpin those.  You can still get a Kingdom out of them, but the focus is on the smaller elements that make up the Kingdom, rather than an Overview of the whole Kingdom. 

While Economy and Consumption have worked reasonably well, both of them have been ‘tweaked’ a few times to try and make them fit with our needs as settlements and businesses have grown.  As I worked through the rules, I realised that most of those tweaks, while all having slightly different mechanics, have had the same effect – producing Economy that strongholds don’t need to balance.   

The most obvious examples of these ‘special cases’ are …

  • The Magic Economy (which has been accounted for separately)
  • Trade Caravans (vessels, mule trains etc, that have  been classed as untaxed)
  • Merchant bases and trade routes (A taxed benefit, that is automatically balanced by Loy and Stab)

So why not add a new economic factor that fits that profile and pulls all three ‘tweaks’ together and might also give us an extra dimension to play with? So, Special Economy is born …  And the first benefit could be Toll Booths for Turnpikes and Canals that give people a way of realising a profit for serious infrastructure development.

Economy

Economy represents the day-to-day business of a normal settlement.  Shops, businesses, schools, parks taxes, good will, all the everyday resources.  But it relies on people working together and wanting to stay in the settlement – growth in the economy means  bigger settlements, immigration, and more people  trying to work together.  That is why it needs to be balanced with Loyalty and Stability.

Consumption

Represents the cost of maintaining and managing the settlement.  That is why, if you have a good stewardship Committee, who have the right skills sets, you can offset Consumption Costs with Consumption benefits.  But there are other things that make some settlements easier to run  and manage, a particularly fertile piece of land when a specific crop or plant grows abundantly or an accessible mineral deposit (for example),  can help support the common population of a settlement, as well as provide an economic opportunity for an entrepreneur.  Roads, Highways and Canals can do the same sort of thing, making it easier for everyone, including the common population, to trade back and forth.   They are all intangible benefits that make it easier to support more people and grow your settlement.

Special

However, some things are not really population dependent.  Creating Magic Items (the basis of the magic economy) doesn’t need more people, it just needs one or two special people.  Adding a fishing boat to a jetty doesn’t bring in more fishermen, however, it makes them more efficient.  A mule train working between two settlements, doesn’t add more people, but it helps move goods between towns and boosts the economy that way.  It is the same with Merchant Bases and Trade Routes – Merchant bases represent better ways to leverage the local economy, and while being on a trade route might help the settlement to grow, it also brings increased economic opportunity with it.

Taxes

Under the new system the Special Economy will be taxed.  That doesn’t affect the business /organisation at all – their income will stay the same, however, it will mean a larger tax take for settlements.  As an example, Tusk would gain an extra 4.6pb as tax income.  It won’t be quite that much under the new rules, but it won’t be much less.

Size

Special Economy will not count towards the size of a settlement, which will mean that settlements will grow more slowly and have a smaller population.  However, any status gained, in the Stolen Lands Game, so far – will be protected until the settlement catches up.

The Stolen Lands

I have already posted about the restructuring of Magic producing developments, and I think the only people immediately affected by those economic changes are Andalon and Mother Beatrix.  The changes don’t have an economic effect on the Merchant rules, although the way I record some of their economy will change – but that shouldn’t affect income.

The biggest change comes from Roads and Canals moving back into the Consumption Modifier category – and that affects Henry, Safiya and Tusk.  It is a small change for Tusk  (Which is covered by the general tax changes), Safiya’s holdings (and we have spoken about that before this post) and Henry’s Midmarch holdings (which will change the way he can develop things, but doesn’t have a huge impact as he is about to go into paying consumption costs with BP anyway).

Thoughts on the Economy Rules

It has been an interesting week or so. As I have been working through the recent economic changes, I have come to realise that I could use the Tax and Profitability rates, to help achieve a couple of ideas that have been floating around in my head for a while.  But first:-

DON’T PANIC – I am not going to implement these changes in The Stolen Lands game, but I do want to get them straight (and written down) for the next time I use these rules.

When we started the game, I wanted ‘civilisation’ to get started quickly and for players to become involved in the campaign side of the game early on in  the game.  Generally, especially at RPoL, if there isn’t a quick(ish) return people lose interest, so the return on investment (0.5) was set to encourage that – and it worked.  However, there has not been any real incentive to settle new areas (I have often had to push that) and growth has been very fast –  faster that I would have liked.  In the space of 6-7 years we have built a city that is already one of the largest settlements in Brevoy and the River Kingdoms.  In a couple of years time, it could be directly comparable  to Restov and Port Ice – the second and third largest cities in Brevoy.  Alongside that, we have developed Midmarch – a province that could soon be comparable with the estates of the great Noble Houses of Brevoy.  Nothing wrong with those things, it is just too fast  :]  Another 5 or 6 years / levels would be much better for the game.  Now I must ‘manipulate’ the Noble houses, a lot more than I would like to, to keep things in balance.  Anyway, before I get to Tax and profitability …

One of the first things I will do (next time I use these rules) is to add a building materials upgrade route.  There is nothing about construction materials in the rules so far – and materials tend to change as a settlement matures, or better materials become available.  In ‘Boom Towns’, which tend to be temporary, buildings are often thrown up with what ever materials are to hand, often wood.  Those   cities that survive, generally make a transition to more carefully constructed buildings, often built from stone.  Ideally, I want to replicate that change, which would help slow development rate down slightly.  Perhaps 0.5bp per size of the building would work?  All I have to do is set fire to part of a city, to encourage the Local Council to enact an ordinance …  I could even factor that cost into the original costs for significant buildings – such as city walls, cathedrals, castles, and universities.

Anyway, back to Tax and Profitability …

Some time ago I added a list of costs and sale prices for developments according to the size of the settlement (shown below) and (IN FUTURE GAMES) I am tempted to use it to manage profitability as well

Ratio125%100%75%50% 
Purchase Price GP 
Hex TypeOutsiderStandardPreferredSale PriceProfitability
Managed Wilderness (*)37503000225015000.5
Semi-Wilderness43753500262517500.5
Rural50004000300020000.5
Small town (+)56254500337522500.45
Large Town62505000375025000.40
Small City68755500412527500.35
Large City75006000450030000.30
Metropolis87507000525035000.25

That works, as profitability  is based on the BP value of the development – and GP value of BP changes according to size of settlement, and as settlements grow both the cost of land for further development and the cost of living go up …

Just as importantly, it should do two things. Slow down the rate of settlement growth, and encourage people to invest in smaller settlements.

But Tax is at the discretion of the council.  Standard tax generates 0.2bp per pint of econ in the economy.

I can see, in some circumstances, city rulers putting tax up – lets say to 0.25bp per point of economy.  That would result in a 0.05 reduction in business profitability – and a possible slowing of the economy and settlement growth. 

A council might also drop tax– lets say to 0.15bp per point of economy.  That would result in a 0.05 increase in business profitability – which might result in  the economy and settlement growth, speeding up. 

The Magic Economy 2

Recently I have been thinking about the basic management rules for the Campaign system, and I have realized that the core concept is more complicated than it needs to be. This comes about, mainly, from the tax changes I have been looking at (allowing settlements to collect tax on vessels and trade caravans) which made me consider the way that Magic creating buildings are handled.

If you look at the Settlement spreadsheets (you can find them on the game wiki) you will see that they are quite complicated, with separate columns for different levels of magic production and another for ‘untaxed’ items – and that starts to make the formulae quite convoluted as well :}

However, I have finally realized (D’Oh!) that Magic, Vessels and Trade Caravans have something very important in common – they don’t need balancing against Loy or Stab, nor do they need permission from the settlement holder to add into the game. And, with the recent change both add to the tax take for the settlement. Both were added to the rule set for similar reasons as well.

Vessels and trade caravans are one of the ‘advantages’ that Merchant Houses benefit from, and can be leveraged (along with bases and trade routes) to help generate income faster than any other rules set. Merchant House rules are complex and need careful management to squeeze the advantage – get it wrong, and they are no more profitable than the ordinary business rules.

Magic for religious building was to compensate for the heavy price they pay in Loyalty and Stability costs. They are the only buildings that consistently provide a Loy and Stab boost to settlement owners. It means that religious houses are always in demand, and characters can RP spreading their faith around the game world. That part of the magic economy was intended to help those characters – the ‘price’ is the RP The advantages for other casters was, almost, a side effect.

That means I can manage them all in one column and simplify my spreadsheets – and when you see the size of Tusk’s SS, you will understand why I want to keep things simple!

That is all well and good, but it sent me back to looking at Religious Developments. Some time ago, I rebalanced all magic producing buildings to bring the magic economy in line with the general economy, and the cost of magic production doubled.

I didn’t realize it at the time, perhaps because we didn’t have any characters starting out in Clerical classes, but that it makes it very difficult to get started, if you want to build a religious order of the type that Bishop Andalon or Mother Beatrix have.  Starting PCs get 1bp at the end of each of their first two outings – so each new PC gets a 2bp starting stake. The first religious development to generate an income costs 3bp. Low level priests starting out, literally can’t build a sustainable religious organization without extra help. This is the only class / category in this position – you can start generating an income with 1bp, in every other area of the economy.

In my head, Religious Developments were meant to progress more slowly than standard commercial developments, but they weren’t meant to be the easiest option, hence the RP requirements. I know those have only been written in recently, but they were in my mind when I wrote the rules – I just didn’t implement them well. Academic Developments were always intended to be the easiest to play options. Every settlement owner likes Academic developments – they are all fully balanced and increase the tax take. What isn’t to like about Academic Developments?

The Magic Economy is also an anomaly in another way. One point of ‘Magic’ costs 2bp in the build phase, while everything else costs 0.5bp (Loy, Stab) or 1bp (Econ, Def) – and that is responsible for the big price hike when moving from a Great Shrine to a Holy House, which a religious organization needs to become sustainable. However, a Point of ‘magic’ has also generated twice the income (1bp / campaign round) that a point of Economy does (0.5bp) which also makes for some minor difficulties as I tweak the Tax / Profitability ratios in the game. V&A’s expansion has really helped me understand that section of the rules – something that never really happens until the rules are used. While I recognize that it annoys Adoven (sorry Adoven), it often prompts rule developments – which I really appreciate.

Therefore, I intend to reduce the initial cost of a Magic Point from 2bp to 1bp, but correspondingly, reduce the base profitability to 0.5bp – which fetches it into line with a point of economy – but doesn’t change the cost/profit ratio.

To do this, I will revisit every development that is involved in the magic economy – from exotic workshops, through temples, caster’s towers up to universities and cathedrals. I expect I will have to add a couple of new buildings to help manage development flow – BUT seeing as I haven’t started the process yet, I have no real idea of what the outcome will be.

Two things – thoughts and comments are always welcome, and watch this space …


And this is what I am thinking of, at the moment. Most buildings get a slight reduction in Income generated, but I will refund some of the development costs. In a few cases, I might offer another, equivalent, solution. You will note that I have added a new building called a Friary, to make progression a bit easier.

ClassificationNamenew costIncome changeEconomyLoyaltyStabilitymagicStars
ReligiousHoly House2-0.50111
 ReligiousHoly Grove 300112 
 ReligiousFriary3.510212 
 ReligiousChapel3.500212 
ReligiousPriory {★★★}5.5-0.502230.5
ReligiousTemple {★★★}6-0.503230.5
 ReligiousAbbey {★★★★}8003341
 ReligiousMinster {★★★★}8.5004341
ReligiousCathedral {★★★★★}11-0.504452
00
MagicalMagic Shop (★★★)3.5-0.520010.5
MagicalCasters Tower (★★★★)6-0.520031
MagicalGreat Tower (★★★★★)8-0.520051
CommercialLuxury Store {★★★}3.5-0.520010.5
CommercialShopping Court {★★★}6.5031120.5
ManufacturingExotic Artisan {M} (★★★)3.5-0.520010.5
– Example– Alchemist {M} (★★★)3.5-0.520010.5
– Example– Herbalist {M} (★★★)3.5-0.520010.5
AcademicObservatory {★★★}3.5-0.511110.5
AcademicBardic College {★★★}4.5-0.512210.5
AcademicMagic College {★★★}5.5012220.5
AcademicAcademic Academy {★★★★}8-0.523311
AcademicMagic Academy {★★★★}9-0.523331
AcademicUniversity {★★★★}14-134441