Entourages again!

I can almost hear the players groaning already.  Why is he doing this to us again? 

I have been thinking about the core concepts behind the Campaign Rules.  Don’t worry, it isn’t the Economic Rules again, or a swathe of changes in building stats – but the Role Playing and Character Building aspects of the Campaign Rules.  Not character building, as in optimisation, but ways in which players can grow their characters and add new life experiences to their back-story.  While I have had conversations with many players that impinge on this, four come to mind at the moment – so you need to blame  … thank Andalon, Alisa, Dom & Zelona for this  :}

The various subsystems give (homes, entourages, businesses, merchant houses, strongholds etc) are the building blocks for Character development.  Because of these I can say, for example that:

  • Andalon is the Bishop of Tusk, an astute businessman, a significant member of Tusk Council and respected across the region.  His main assistant is called brother Florin.
  • Adoven is a merchant with international and regional connections.  He is a minor noble with a broad range of business, religious and political interests.  Robert, one of his trusted men, runs a large sword school in Tusk.
  • Marik is a minor noble, landowner and a mining magnate, with land spread across Midmarch.  Gabriel, his main supporter, has a military training school in New dawn.

I could use other examples, and I could say something similar about every character who has been in the game for a while.  Not something that I have been able to do in many games – so (for me) that is a big win already.  As players create their life stories, they create the ‘world’ around them, and I can take little credit for the settled areas in The Stolen Lands game.  Land distribution, management, politics, rulership and cultural development has mainly been controlled by the players – either directly or indirectly.

The biggest change (so far) came because a couple of players wanted to run independent holdings and one wanted to be able to have adventuring parties work for them, rather than for Lord Henry.  That brought about sweeping political changes, and the formation of Greater Tusk and Old Keep as independent holdings.  Exploring the area around Old Keep could have been commissioned by Zelona, although that didn’t come off.   Tusk has decided to ‘sponsor’ an expedition to Candlemere Island, with a view to settling and incorporating it into Greater Tusk as a secondary town/settlement under the control of Lord Adoven.  I foresee similar expeditions in the south and east, at a later point in the game.

So far so good.  However, those changes have put pressure on the Entourage system – and that needs to be refined to meet the needs of this new reality.

Entourage Basics

Entourage-Assistants:   Entourages started off as a way for players to have a bit more role-playing in the Fuzzy threads and to help round out the character / game a bit.  They quickly became a ‘must have’ for people building towns, cities or strongholds – especially when they want to work alone, rather than with other people.  We tend to get two different types of Entourage-Assistant – quiet ones  who act as a part of a settlement’s council, and chatty ones  who are an extra RP outlet for their player.  There are, of course,  a few chatty entourages who fill a role as well.  And that is all cool.

These guys are meant to be a PC’s friends, colleagues and assistants.  They have NPC classes, aren’t proactive, and only do what they are told to do – they support the PC, but they also rely on the PC to provide a living for them.  They never go adventuring, and rarely even leave the safety of the home settlement and top out at  L5 – in the longer term, they become part of the gentry. 

It always surprises me when players build them in the same was as they would build an adventuring character.  These guys don’t need combat feats, but they should be the best administrator / managers around (if they have a council job)  or have an interesting personality / hobby /quirk / etc –  if they are chatty. Combat skills, not really required.

Advanced Entourages

Entourage-Cousins – were added to allow a bit of differentiation and reward, and to help sell the concept of Noble families.

Entourage Allies – do the same sort of thing but allows the PC to build small alliances, in support of their goals.  We have two alliances to date – both with local Dwarf clans.

These advanced Entourage members are the PC’s active supporters.  They expect to be given responsibility, to have a position in society, to have businesses, organisations or villages of their own to run – and they expect to become a part of the aristocracy.  Not very senior ones  (Lairds, College Principal, Commander of the guard, High priests etc) but aristocrats, nonetheless.  Unlike entourage assistants, these advanced entourages can advance beyond L5, although their advance is very slow.

It got complicated, when I allowed entourages (Assistants and Advanced)  to take a PC or prestige class when they reach level 5.  In hindsight, I shouldn’t have done that, although (In all honesty) it doesn’t make a blind bit of difference really. They still can’t go adventuring :} However, a level of Aristocrat at L5 would make for a better transition.  That said, there are a couple of PRCs that are suitable –  for example, Swordlord & Student of War are good alternatives for warriors when they eventually reach  L6.

Minor Cohorts

While I have seen the Recruits feat previously, I didn’t pay much attention to it – probably because I have never (personally) had a use for it, nor seen a player use it.  All of which meant that Minor Cohorts had passed me by.  However, a recent conversation made me look at it in more detail – and I realised how useful Minor Cohorts could be – both in its own right and as an extension of the Entourage system.

Wording, for the feat, is a bit vague – but it implies that all the (non-cohort) benefits of leadership apply, when the PC gets to L7  (Recruits can be taken at L5).

As  stand-alone feat, the PC gets up to half their level of Minor Cohorts who are four levels below them.  The minor cohorts have PC classes and  (one at a time) can go adventuring.  These don’t count against your Entourage numbers  so, in Game / RP terms, this means that you can have a much larger entourage, with a wider range of skills, some of whom can adventure …  However, you cannot take the Leadership feat as well.

However, I like the concept – so I think that I will draft a home-brew trait, that allows a PC to advance an Entourage (or two) to a Minor Cohort.  These minor cohorts will count against the PCs number of entourages –  so it is just another way of advancing (probably) an entourage assistant.  Effectively, the Trait is payment for retraining the entourage member – so they have PC classes, instead of NPC classes. I would expect the classes to be similar/close/compatible – so that it is an improvement rather that a rewrite.

Like advanced Entourages, Minor Cohorts will expect to be rewarded with lands, property and titles.  If, for example, the PC takes a Fighter as a Minor Cohort –  when the PC gets to L10, the Minor Cohort will be L6 and eligible to become a knight or a swordlord.  As soon as they go adventuring, they get inducted into the Southern Order, so they can own land and build defensive buildings – they might (eventually)  be able to qualify for Lord -Dominus status.  These are powerful and important entourage members.  While Cousins and Allies are the junior members of your ‘court’, cohorts are almost your peers.  If you want people with allegiance to you – build a large entourage  :}

The same set of thinking could apply for a Thief’s Guild (NO!), a Spy Network, a Religious Network – or any other organisation that is run by a single PC.

Cohort

That favoured follower who comes with the Leadership feat – Minor-Cohort on steroids :]  All the same thoughts apply –  you only get one of them, they are PC Level-2 – and, therefore, more use when adventuring and quicker to gain levels, titles etc …

Note:  Some PCs will have a Squire or a Torch Bearer.  These both turn into a Cohort at PC Level 7.

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.

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.

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

The Magic Economy

Recently, I looked at restrictions for religious development, and it sparked a bit of discussion.  The concept that ‘Income generated by a religious house should be used to further the aims of the deity’ hasn’t attracted much comment, and the little I have received has been positive.  However, it has led to a bit of a discussion on who should be building Temples and Churches, and who should be controlling the income they generate.

The Aims

So what do I want to achieve, first and foremost, I want to stop religious developments becoming a go-to tool for general income generation.  I also want to add more substance and flavour to my world, in a way that help PCs to build and Role Play as a part of the world – rather than as an outsider passing through.

For these purposes, a priest is a member of any Character Class who can cast divine spells.  Cleric, Druid, Oracle, Inquisitor, Adept, Paladin, Ranger etc.

Religious Developments for Income Generation

Religious developments are attractive in a lot of ways, they help balance Economy and then (as they develop) start to generate an income, through magic, that doesn’t need balancing, which has advantages over other developments.  That was done purposefully, to keep religious developments comparable with businesses and strongholds.  However, that ‘special’ income is generated by a priest’s commitment and promise to a deity, and the priests’ powers are dependent on the deity’s goodwill.  A priest who doesn’t follow their deity’s philosophies falls out of favour, and is liable to lose their spells and other divine abilities.  Sure, most DMs are fairly generous in their interpretation of PC actions –  but we are a lot less generous in our interpretation of NPC actions  :}

The implication of this, is that NPC priests NEED to stay on the right side of their deity, and NEED to make sure they are promoting the deity’s philosophy – or else they will lose their divine powers, and they won’t be priests any more.  And, let’s face it, Adepts with no spells are about as useful as a Commoner.  NPC priests will insist that money they generate is used to promote their deity’s philosophies.

Role Playing 1

Just about every fantasy world is polytheistic, there are lots of different deities and, generally, only divine casters are required to choose one deity (or philosophy) as a patron.  Most characters get along in life by making offering, donations and prayers to which every deity is convenient at the time – and that is a very reasonable approach to a polytheistic setting.  If you are going on a journey?  Make an offering to the patron of travellers.  Setting up a business?  Make an offering to the patron of trade and commerce.  Your father just passed away?  Call in a priest of a Psychopomp but, if you can afford it, you will have to donate something.  Even priests with a Patron Deity follow the same philosophy – when it falls outside the Patron Deities area of interests.

I don’t want to stop PCs from developing a religious side of their character, nor do I want to stop PCs from supporting or making significant offerings to a deity – or even two or three deities. That is good role-playing.  I can see that a wealthy PC might want the blessings of a deity, or two, on a regular basis – and the easy way to achieve that is to build a shrine, of some sort, to the deity.   However, except at the most basic level, that isn’t a commitment to further the deity’s philosophies.

So religious buildings that do not produce Magical Items (Hermitages, Shrines, Great Shrines & Graveyards) should be available for anyone to develop.  It is a nod in the deity’s direction, recognizes the deity as important to the character.  It also gets the character regular blessings, leaves the character in good standing  and brings that deity a little more influence in the world. However, it doesn’t tie the PC to the deity in any significant way, nor does it really advance the deity’s agenda.

Some characters, without divine abilities, might want to take a deity as their patron, or promote a deity’s philosophies, however that implies commitment, and the PC needs to role-play that commitment.   The entourage rules provide a good way of doing t good way of doing this, by allowing the PC to take a priest as an entourage member.  It is worth noting that a character’s entourage includes squires, cohorts and other followers generated by feats as well as those defined within the entourage rules.

PCs can have quite a large entourage, so this isn’t a particularly onerous requirement.  However, the priest must select a deity or philosophy to follow – and this will affect the way they expect their employer to behave.   Which brings us back to the PC role-playing their commitment to the deity.

Role Playing 2

Two things underlie this section – World Demographics and Economic crunch.

When I build a world, I use a slightly unusual demographic mix.  It doesn’t quite match with the data published in the book, but it seems to match quite closely with the level spread that I have seen in publish modules.  Most Characters who only have NPC classes max out at level 5 and secondary characters with PC classes tend to max out at around level 10.  There are exceptions, of course.  PCs will face higher level enemies, and they will meet ex-adventurers that are higher level.  Most won’t quite match a PC in terms of power and ability, but they will be much closer.  A very few, generally antagonists, will be a match for the PCs, some will be more powerful.  There will be more powerful monsters – but normal, civilized, humanoid NPCs aren’t a match for the PCs.  That is what makes the PCs special and the focus of the game :]

However, it means that Entourages and even Cohorts are not as ‘special’ as PCs, and they will all be lower level than the PC.

By Economic Crunch, I am thinking of the rules around crafting magical items.  Even the smallest shrines encourage donations by casting spells, performing ceremonies and helping the local people out.  That just goes towards the running costs of the shrine.  Many of those ‘donations’ will be food, clothes, good will, bundles of firewood etc  – although there will be some coin involved. However, that isn’t enough to make a profit or serious income for that the priests need to make and sell magic items – and that means characters with feats, and the appropriate levels to gain them.  So a quick look at the rules …

  • At level 3 most priests have the option to take Brew Potion or Craft Wondrous –  both of which are capable of producing items in the Minor Items list.
  • At level 5 Craft Arms and Armour and Craft Wand are available, and it is possible to craft in the Medium Items list.
  • At level 7 Forge Ring is available, and it is possible to craft items in the Major Item lists as well.  Only a very few of the lowest value Items  – BUT they are in the Major Items list.

Note:  I decided that Scrolls aren’t sufficient to generate an income for a religious house.  Priestly scrolls are useful, but only to other priests.

So, looking at that in terms of the religious developments available :-

  • No Magic Income: Shrine, Great Shrine, Graveyard  and their variants.  These can be built by any character without restrictions.
  • Minor Magic Developments: Holy House, Chapel, Holy Grove and variants. The PC is CL3 in a divine casting class, or they have an entourage member at CL3.  This class of building becomes available to PCs between L3 (PC) and L8 (Cohort ranger/paladin).  The development MUST follow the philosophy of the PC/Entourage’s deity.  
  • Medium Magic Developments: Priory, Temple, Abbey, Minster and variants. The PC is CL5 in a divine casting class, or they have an entourage member at CL5.  This class of building becomes available to PCs between L5 (PC) and L10 (Cohort ranger/paladin, Entourage-Assistant Adept).  The development MUST follow the philosophy of the  PC/Entourage’s deity.  
  • Major Magic Developments: Cathedral or variants.  This is much more restricted than other religious developments, as cathedrals are such iconic and important places, on top of that Bishops are very influential people and Deities only want the best people to serve their most prestigious houses.  The PC, or their cohort, must be CL 7 in a full divine casting class – Cleric, Druid, Oracle or Inquisitor.  The development MUST follow the philosophy and style of the  PC/Cohort’s deity.  

FAQ

OK, no one has asked any real questions yet, but it is as good a name as any.

What about the current game world?

We have what we have.   I am not going to take anything away from anyone. 

Going Forward?

I want to see religious developments funding the deity’s philosophies and interests.  Use the religions section at the Pathfinder Wiki  to look at Areas of Concern, Worshippers, Domains and Sub-Domains to work out the sort of things the Church funds are good for.  There is an awful lot of scope there. However, I intend to apply those changes to any new religious developments.

Can I roll my developments back?

Yes. If you want to, we can roll any religious developments back to Great Shrine, and I will refund the extra purchase cost.

What do you mean by Entourage?

Unless specified otherwise, Entourage Member means: Entourage Assistant; Entourage Cousin; Entourage Ally; Cohort or any other follower attained by spending a feat.


Other developments that produce magic

There has also been a suggestion that I should impose the same sort of limits on developments that add to the Magic Economy, although the case for that is not so clear-cut.

The Master Crafter feat allows characters of non-caster classes to create magic items at level  5, although that requires retraining an existing feat to an item creation feat.  Demographically there are also a number of CL3 casters around  (mainly adepts of L3 of L3 and above) who are capable of creating magic items, and many of them are not tied to a religious philosophy.  This means that Exotic Craft workshops can create Minor Magic Items and shops can buy them from ‘anonymous’ NPCs (unnamed NPCs without character sheets) so no restriction at Minor Magic level.

Luxury stores and large markets import goods from many places, where there are higher level casters creating items that they need to sell.  There are also items that PC parties collect while they are adventuring and then sell for cash.   So there isn’t a reason to impose restrictions on them. 

However, Casters Tower, Great Tower, Magic Academy and University – all imply research or creation of medium and major magical items.  I am tempted to restrict those to having a CL5 character as a patron/owner for Medium Magic, and CL7 for Major Magic, creation.

Business and Trading Reports.

Business and Trading Reports for the Stolen Land. As the rules on Cross-Border trade and development are progressing, I needed to think about how they would be applied across the game. There areas that could be ripe for trade, at some point – the Lebeda holding at Silver Hall, Stonewall and even Nikvata’s Crossing – BUT those aren’t on the agenda at the moment.

River Kingdoms

Mivon (Large City)

Political: Mivon is controlled by eight major houses and their allies, who run the city for their own benefit.  In their view, everyone else is lucky to receive their protection, and can pay for that privilege.  There is a large premium (1bp) for developments in the Central District.

Risks:  Mivon is not well patrolled, various Aldori Houses vie for the right to patrol the city, and they patrol the upper city regularly –  although you can never be quite sure of who will be on patrol and their outlook on life.  The lower part of the city, ins not patrolled by the Aldori, and in the control of various gangs.  So long as they don’t encroach on Aldori territory, the patrols leave them alone.

Tax Rate: High

Jovvox  (Small Town)

Political: A small town dominated by Gnomes.  They are aware that expansion will bring in more members of the larger races, and they want to keep things small, compact and primarily Gnomish.  Getting permission to build here is difficult, and will always be restricted.

Risk: Inconsistent government, via and ‘open’ council where every member of the community can take part in decision-making.

Tax: Medium

Brevoy

New Stetven (Metropolis)

Political:  Since the Surtova took over, trading here has become less profitable – Favoured Status goes to those who support The Surtova.  They charge a premium (0.5bp) for developments in the city, which even long-term residents pay.  It is believed that the Surtova are protecting their Port Ice trade routes.

Risks: The river route along the East Sellen through the Hooktongue Slough and beyond has become more difficult in recent years.  Pirate numbers have declined, but attacks by monsters and monstrous humanoids has increased.  Many merchant houses  use armed vessels to improve their chances of getting through.

Tax rate:  Very High.

Brundeston (Large Town)

Political:  Run by members of the Al Golka clan of dwarves, to serve as the new Dwarf Home, to replace the mines and holdings in the Golushkin Mountains (Gray Haven) that ‘disappeared’.  Leaders of Dwarf Clans are favoured Developers.  Humans may be given ‘Standard’ investment rates to provide services the Dwarves need, but other developments are restricted.  Somewhat isolationist.

Risk:  Very Little.  Stable government and a secure area. 

Tax: Medium High

Eastern Region

The Eastern Region is a political alliance between East Rostland, Restov and House Khavortorov.  They share a Chapter of the Brevic Order, in the same way as the Southern States do, but it is unclear whether this arrangement will last, nor quite how the three power groups will work together in the longer term.  Both Restov and House Khavortorov seem concerned that East Rostland will simply swamp them.

Restov (Large City)

Political:  There has been little change in the City Council’s makeup, since Lady Jamandi was made Countess of East Rostland, but the balance of power has shifted towards a more conservative philosophy favoured established businesses.  There is some concern that they will become less influential as Lady Jamandi takes full control of East Rostland. The Mayor and Advocate are both from merchant families, and any Merchant House wishing to get established will be in direct competition with them.  There is a 0.5bp premium for developments inside the city walls.  Part of the Eastern Region.

Risk: The city is patrolled by independent Guard units associated with the most powerful faction in a district.  However, the Guard Unit is consistent and follows the same philosophy every day.  There is a risk of hot-headed young duellists fighting in the street.

Tax Rate: Medium.

Sway (Small Town)

Politics:  Owned by House Khavortorov, Sway is a satellite town to their main holdings at the Khavortorov Citadel, it sits on the New Steven road and provides access to many of the small estates in central Rostland. There is some concern that they will become less influential as Lady Jamandi takes full control of East Rostland. House Khavortorov get favoured development rates while everyone else is treated as an outsider, and only given limited development permission.  Part of the Eastern Region.

Risk:  Low.  Stable government and a secure area, although with political concerns about their neighbours. 

Tax: Medium

Sirian  (New Town)

Politics:  Set on the Restov/Brundeston road this destined to be the capital of East Rostland – the county created for Lady Jamandi Aldori after the recent ‘disagreements’.  The town is still very new, and it is not yet clear how it will develop. Part of the Eastern Region.

Risk:  Lady Jamandi’s rule is not yet fully established.  There is still contention with The Surtova, nor has everyone within her new County acted her rule.  It could be in for turbulent times.

Tax Rate: Low

The Colonies

The Southern Region

The Southern Region is a political alliance between Midmarch, Tusk and Old Keep.  They share a Chapter of the Brevic Order, in the same way as the Eastern States do.  The political position in Midmarch, is well known. 

MidMarch:

Tusk:

Old Keep: Old Keep has broken ranks with the rest of The Southern Region and has a Medium Tax rate, which leads to commercial profitability of 0.4bp.  Lady Zelona  has stated that Old Keep will stay a rural and wilderness estate, and as such she wants to encourage investors who will help promote those aims by accepting a lower return rate.

Others

The two other colonies remain independent and are not part of a regional organisation.

Fort Drelev

Politics:  The original settlement was sponsored by The Surtova, Lebeda and Khavortorov, although Surtova are the most influential patrons by far. However, Baron Drelev’s reputation has diminished as trade south via the East Sellen has fallen. 

Risk:  Is in danger of becoming a dead-end trade route.

Tax: Very High.

Varnhold

Varnhold is not currently trading.  This is under investigation.

Trading Across Borders

Overview

Recently I have been thinking about the way my campaign rules deal with trade and merchants.  Up until recently, they have worked well –  BUT all the developments have been internal, with traders and merchant houses developing internal and local trade routes.  As soon as they started moving outside of the Midmarch/Tusk area and into cities ruled by NPCs  (With their own agendas)  the cracks started to show.

I was expecting to use an ‘Influence’ metric to manage external relationships, BUT that got to be very complicated to maintain.  I was spending as long calculating influence, as I was on the rest of the system put together.  I have played briefly with simpler systems, but have never quite managed to work out how I was going to use it in trade relationships, or even in general relationships.  After all, the NPCs who run the external towns and cities have their own philosophies and agendas.

The two main settlements, available for external trade, are Restov and Mivon – both of which are CN, according to the city stats, but there are huge differences between them.

Mivon

Mivon is controlled by nine major Aldori Houses, who vie for influence and control – they believe that they are the most important people in the city and that everything should revolve around them.  The poorer parts of the city is run by three gangs, each worse than the last, and the Aldori don’t really care what goes on down there, so long as it doesn’t affect them.  There are a couple of well established independent traders / trade houses –  but not all that many.  To deal with Mivon you have to find a way that benefits one of the major Aldori Houses and doesn’t upset the gangs or independents, or you bribe your way in.

V&A have managed that twice –  once by cutting a deal with House Yitis – exchanging a Shallop for a Jetty in Tusk.  House Yitis are not a Major house, nor are they associated with one.  That only worked because no one needed authority from anybody to buy or sell a shallop.  V&A negotiated the permissions in Tusk on behalf of House Yitis.   (But Tusk is a very different kettle of fish, and is pretty much run by a LN cleric of Abdar).

The second time, V&A hired an ‘agent’ in Mivon, who managed the bribes, backhanders and authorities for them –  which allowed them to buy a jetty on the Mivon waterfront, but it cost them a lot of money.

However, V&A still don’t have an agreement or any formal status with the city authorities or rulers.

Restov

Restov is heavily influenced by the Aldori, although they don’t control it.  Restov has an active council –   that represent (at least) three major faction and various minor factions – for example: the Duellist Faction has Aldori, Taldan and Modern Duellist representatives. But there are also Merchants and  Priests (Abadar and Erastil) on the council, and the Lord Mayor is a merchant.  The political outlook and philosophies are very different to Mivon.

There has been one development in Restov and that was for Lord Henry’s DELEM trading – but that is limited.  While Restov is a city, DELEM only have permission to build a Town Base – even then they have been paying a higher rate to develop there than in Tusk/Midmarch.

It is worth noting that there are two senior council members who are associated with Merchant Houses of their own, so there is some resistance to other Merchant Houses building trade bases in the city.

Others

There are a couple of other examples, BUT in each case there has been an advantage for the Town as well as for the Merchant House.

V&A have started to develop a base in Jovvox – but they got that by swapping a development in Tusk for a Jetty.  Even then, they have been restricted to developing in a Hamlet outside the town walls (Jovvox is a small town with no plans to expand) and must ‘balance’ their investments.  At best, V&A will be able to develop a Local Base.

DELEM have also expanded into Sway and Brundeston, both of which are developing settlements, and both want to be a stopping places on the main trade route between New Stetven and Restov.  In both cases DELEM still paid a higher price for their developments and in both cases DELEM are restricted to how much they can build. 

So Far

  • Each time a Merchant House has moved into a new settlement, there has been a negotiation of some sort.
  • Many settlements have protected their own interests with development (Restov, Jovvox, Sway and Brundeston).
  • Settlements who see some advantage for themselves have been charging about double and/or protecting their own interests.  (Restov, Sway and Brundeston).
  • Settlements that don’t see an advantage for their rulers, make it even more difficult to develop there.

The rules

The only rules I have to define cost for building in external settlements are Taxes and the BP Exchange Rate.

Taxes & Profitability

Taxes are built into the system, and represent the overall ‘take’ generated by a business. Tax isn’t just collected from the business, but from all the associated businesses that are associated with the main development.  For example a Leather Workshop supports Hunters & Farmers (skins), Foragers (collect tanning materials), Woodworkers (make frames/tubs) and all the other knock-on people supported by the main business. In the rules that is set at 0.2bp per campaign round tax income for the city administration.  However, there is provision to vary the tax rate, which has a knock on effect for a business’s profitability.

I have already decided that Mivon has a higher tax rate, and profitability is reduced to 0.45bp per campaign round (instead of the 0.5bp in Tusk/Midmarch).  A small difference, but one that has an effect on the rate a business can grow.

So the tax rate could be increased for other areas, and thus reduce profitability for a business.  TBH, there is no reason why that rate has to be the same for every business in a city either.  Although that needs some careful thought.

BP Exchange Rate.

The BP Exchange Rate defines the GP value of a development according to the size of settlement – property in a city is worth more than property in a small village.  It also defines three types of business/investor – Outsider, Standard and Preferred, however those aren’t well-defined. See this table

Preferred Investors are the people who have influence in the settlement, or are favoured for some other reason – and they get a discount on all the fees and charges that are associated with gaining permission to develop.  In Tusk/Midmarch that was defined as everyone who is a member of the Southern Chapter (originally The Midmarch Chapter), and the same concepts can be applied elsewhere.  In Mivon, for example, that would be members of the major Aldori families and, perhaps, the lesser houses associated with them.  In Restov, that might be councillors and their associates.

Standard investors are the guys who are well established in the settlement – such as the established trade houses, minor Aldori families and the Magic Merchant in Mivon.  In Tusk, it might well be House Yitis or The Roths.  In Restov it will be the lesser nobles or long-term traders who are already resident/committed to the settlement.  OR – it might be outside investors where the settlement sees some benefit   eg: DELEM in Brundeston and Sway.

Outsider, is literally anyone or any money that comes from outside the settlement, and doesn’t have an agreement with the Ruler/Council.

And this is where the new stuff starts  …

So far I have reviewed what has happened and how I have interpreted the rules,

Not all developments are equal.

DELEM have had an agreement to build a Town Base in Sway – so they could make those investments at Standard Rate – BUT they have completed that build and their agreement has expired.  Anything else they build there will be charged at outsider rate, if they were even allowed to go ahead with it.  TBH, permission will probably be refused – except, perhaps, for some housing.

The same is true of Brundeston.  DELEM had an agreement to build a Town Base, that has been completed.  Separately they negotiated permission to build a Mercenary Barracks and a Mansion for the DELEM managers (Henry’s sister and her husband).  Anything more than that will be in  direct competition from the other permitted ‘Outsider’ development (inns for humans)– and the Dwarves themselves.

Brundeston likes to encourage humans through their town, particularly for trade, BUT  they don’t want lots of them settling there.  They want the town to stay Dwarf dominated.

But how to turn that into BP? Let’s say …

  • Preferred investors pay 0.5bp social development contribution per point of Economy.
  • Standard investors pay 1bp social development contribution per point of Economy.
  • Outside investors pay 1.5bp social development contribution per point of Economy.

Regardless of any other benefits the development brings. 

Outside Investors are unlikely to get permission to build anything with defence points.  Standard investors will have to make a case.

So, if I make a rule that profits can be moved between settlements at the published exchange rate.

Example:

  • V&A make a 1bp profit in Jovvox and moves it to Mivon.
  • Selling 1bp in Jovvox is worth  2250gp,
  • Buying in 1bp Mivon (at outsider rates) is 6875bp.
  • V&A can move approximately 1/3 of a BP from Jovvox to Mivon.

That means that V&A probably won’t want to invest too much into Jovvox –  but will probably settle for a Local Base with a couple of fishing boats.

However, 1bp generated in Mivon is still worth 1bp – in Mivon.  However, the business is less profitable (0.45 instead of 0.5) and boats are taxed (unlike Tusk/Midmarch).  V&A’s growth in Mivon is going to be slow and steady, rather than meteoric.

NOTE:  I am not trying to pick in V&A –  just that it is the best example that I have to work through.  The same rules will apply to everybody –  including DELEM when they are developing abroad and foreigners investing in Midmarch.  Tusk, of course, can set its own rules.

Portable resources.

Some resources are portable, and can be moved between settlements (with permission) at no cost.  Portable resources include Mercenary Soldiers, Mule Trains, Ox Trains, Caravan and all Vessels. However, there must be a ranch to train the animals or a Boatyard to build vessels.

Example: A shallop, brought in Tusk, costs 2bp –  and can be sailed to Mivon –  although there will still be a licence fee to pay when it arrives.  However, that is a cheaper way to move resources between locations.  (Note a shallop can be built in Tusk because Tusk has a boatyard.  Jovvox does not build boats).

Soldiers are a special case.  If you build a Mercenary Barracks in Newgate, you could move the troops anywhere else and be let with an empty building.  You can either use the empty building as a tenement OR you can sell it as a tenement.

If you move troops to an existing building that can host troops (an empty watch tower in good condition) then that is free.  If you move them to a completely new building, you get a 1bp discount for each Defence Point of troops you move.

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.