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.

Internal Politics

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

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

So currently we have :-

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

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

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

Chaotic Holdings.

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

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

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

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

Lawful Holdings

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

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

Ownership

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

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

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

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

Common Hold

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

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

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

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

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

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

Taxes

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

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

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

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

Royal & Noble Titles

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dukes

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

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

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

Fursten

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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