Dwarves of The Stolen Lands

Dwarves have been a focus recently, partly because I have been working with the Dwarf Finance spreadsheets for The Stolen Land game, partly because of my recent interest in mines and partly because dwarf culture have become relevant in long-term planning for my next game setting.

This post concentrates on the Dwarves of The Stolen Lands game,  their general philosophies and how that translates into long term plans.  These dwarves recently (in Dwarven terms) lost their minehold, their leader  and most of their population in a catastrophic earthquake – a sure sign that they had lost the blessings of Torag.  This led to a Dwarven diaspora as they spread across the land.

Introduction

So how does a Dwarven community cope with the traumatic loss of its greatest minehold, its leader and most of its population?  By falling back on the basic principles and philosophies of Dwarvish society.  Dwarves (or at least their society)  in my world are fairly traditional D&D Dwarves  As a group they are generally Lawful Good and build underground strongholds that are based on mining, working metals, collecting gemstones or quarrying stone – and they serve as the go-betweens for the surface and underground worlds.  If you want top quality marble –  you probably speak to a dwarf, if you want good quality weapons you should buy them from a dwarf hold, the same holds true for  gems, armour and just about anything else that consists of worked metal or stone, or comes from underground.  There are, of course, small Dwarf communities in all sorts of other settings, and it doesn’t affect PC choices –  but it is the  basic position that underpins NPC dwarf society.

Dwarf society, in D&D/Pathfinder is LG – So combining Lawful and Good from my last post, it should be based around these principles. 

  • Government – A cohesive central government where everyone works together with the same (or similar) sets of ideals.  It might be a Lord,  a council or some other structure.  The town operates in ways that support the whole community.  There are good public facilities  (wells, town dump, public baths) and support structures (hospital, alms houses, schools) for those who need them.
  • Business – Businesses are regulated, and there may be guilds controlling who can (and can’t) work or trade in the town.
  • Social Structure – People know their place and how to behave.  That doesn’t mean there is no social mobility – you just have to follow the rules and do well, then you will rise up the social pyramid. Not following the rules, means you slide down the pyramid instead.  Residents are expected to be supportive of their neighbours (although some element of competition is good) and those who rise up the social pyramid are generally successful financial and have a strong social conscience.
  • Laws and Punishments – are well established, the population understand the laws and punishments are consistent.  They are proportionate, and probably not lethal.  They may, however, include exile, social or business restrictions, jail time and (in the most extreme circumstances) judicial execution.

Applying it …

Leadership

In the case of the Dwarven Diaspora in The Stolen Lands game, there isn’t a defined government – so we have to consider leadership instead.    Leadership is provided by Clan Golka, the family of the old Clan Lord, and they have representation in each of the four main Dwarf Enclaves, the most significant being Ralin Golka in Brundeston, who spread the message that The Great Clan is still in existence, and that dwarven Culture should persist.

They take management roles when they can and act as enablers when they can’t. Ralin is Mayor of Brundeston, the town marketed as the new hope for Dwarf society.  Darain al Golka, Ralin’s Cousin, id the leader of Dwarf Town in Restov and serves of the City’s overall council. Toran Golka (son of the Old Lord) remains in Greyhaven and provides the communication channels that keep that widely spread community in touch with each other.  Poran al Golka (another cousin) acts as a focus for the dwarves of New Steven.

Society

Dwarf society is heavily rooted in their religion,  racial history and the ‘comforts’ that dwarves associate with ‘home’

The Church of Torag, under the leadership of Dunan al Golka, has done its part.  While there is, currently, no formal presence in Grey Haven, they have representation in Restov and New Stetven and an Abbey in Brundeston.  They have even facilitated the development of churches in the Colonies, with a strong presence in New Dawn and a lesser presence in Ringbridge.

Clan Lorson have also been instrumental in helping dwarves, wherever they are, recognise that they are still a part of Dwarf society.  Traditionally, they have been responsible for  education and dwarven lore.  They maintain Dwarf Schools in all four principal areas, and make sure that they cover Dwarf heritage and behaviour as they educate young dwarves, and they have libraries, specializing in Dwarf literature, in both Brundeston and Greyhaven.  Since the Diaspora started, Clan Lorson have started opening shops selling ‘Dwarf Comforts’, stocking such favourites as Keep-All, Nubbe paste and Dwarf Sausage –  which they believe will reminds  Dwarves of their racial heritage.  They also sell specialist Dwarf weapons and Armour (those with Dwarven in the name), so that adventuring dwarves look the part, and are constantly reminded of who they are.

Clan Devale are also important, their breweries ship dwarf Stout around the world, and their inns and taverns have a ‘Dwarf’ theme, with traditional Oompah and Brass Bands providing entertainment.

All of this is possible because of the core tenets of Dwarf culture and religion – and the interpretation of events by the priests who now lead the church of Torag in Brevoy. 

Hammer and Tongs: The Forging of Metal and Other Good Works is the principle holy text of Torag. Among other things …

  • It tells of the creation myths of the dwarves and the destinies they have forged, as well as the Quest for Sky and the simple need for community that binds dwarves together.[1]
  • The oldest copy includes a historical account of when the community was founded, as well as which families or clans were involved in the founding, in addition to other notable historical events.[2]

Under the leadership of Dunan al Golka, the Abbot of Brundeston, the church says that the earthquake that destroyed the original holding was a sign from Torag that the Great Clan had done something wrong, probably their reliance on the Humans of Greyhaven.  It wasn’t the fault of the humans, but of the dwarves themselves.  Now they must become independent and more self-reliant.  The diaspora and the building of a strong, distributed Dwarf society, is a holy task that should be the focus of all Dwarves associated with Clan Golka – and that everyone should work hard to make it happen.

The Dwarves form strong bonds with their local allies, and support them properly, their culture demands that.  House Aeris, House Solanus and  House Lebeda-Ondari can be sure of their allies, but they also have other responsibilities that are important to them.   They are supportive of Dwarves generally and support their great clan, The Golka, spirituality, politically and economically, and they have a mire direct responsibility for other members of their own name clan.

Note:  Clan Golka, is named after the Founder of the original (now lost) minehold, and is a two-fold entity.  At one level, it is a Great-Clan that consists of all the smaller Name-Clans that were based there and made their names there.  At a second level, it is a Name-Clan for the direct decedents of the original founder.

Business

The Golka don’t have a formal homeland, although they do claim Brundeston as their own, and control a significant district in Restov.  In both of those places there are restrictions on non-dwarf businesses.    All the businesses in Dwarf Town, Restov are owned and controlled by Dwarves, many of them by significant dwarf clans.  The Devales even own an inn, just outside Dwarf town, that caters to dwarves and humans alike.  In Brundeston, non-dwarf businesses are restricted in what they can build, and primarily provide merchant or human-focused service.  All the Human businesses are outside the town walls.

Within Dwarf society, businesses are normally Clan based – with family groups passing skills down from one generation to the next.  But many clans were decimated by the loss of the minehold, and many of the remaining dwarves call on their ancestral history to facilitate moves between clans – bringing new skills with them.  At the moment, there are opportunities for ambitious clans and their leaders, as the whole community restructures itself to deal with the issue.

A number of traditional Name-Clans that have  survived the great loss and continue to  develop in their traditional fields, while other (smaller) Name-Clans are growing in importance as they fill the gaps created by the diaspora.

The traditional Name-Clans who have been a driving force behind the Diaspora include

  • Clan Golka who specialize in leadership, mining and metalwork.
  • Clane Devale –  brewers and publicans
  • Clan Ironheart – security and military specialists
  • Clan Rokser – quarrymen and stone specialists
  • Clan Lorson – education and dwarf lore

The smaller clans that are growing to help fill the gaps

  • Clan Hafgrey – mining
  • Clan Pandoon – smithing
  • Clan Silverhammer – quarries, stone and jewellery
  • Clan Stigmar – specialize in spreading Torag’s word and facilitate the diaspora.

A few individuals, such as Gandred of Ringbridge are also profiting, and building a personal position –  although many of those will (at some point) become associated with a clan as well.  After all, that is the Dwarf way.

Law

There are few specific laws that are not based on traditional Dwarf law.  In Brundeston there are some simple zoning laws, Dwarves inside, others outside the walls, and restrictions on what outsiders can build.  In Restov, the dwarves have managed to negotiate an ‘exclusivity’ deal for Dwarf Town, but have retained the right for Dwarves to build outside the area – although city planning restrictions still apply.

In other areas, Dwarves are expected to be Law Abiding Citizens, and follow locals laws.

Laws in Brundeston are based on traditional values –  No theft, murder, assault etc. – with fair trials that try to get to the root of the case and proportionate punishments, although they are made public.  In many cases, judicial punishment is supplements by social and peer disapproval, which (for a dwarf) can be more difficult than the actual punishment.

Perhaps the most important part of traditional law, is that contracts are binding, and may last for generations.  A dwarf or a clan that breaks their contracts (without good reason) is often treated as a pariah, until they have made amends.  This may, in part, be the reason for name-clans adherence to the great-clan of the Golka – as long term generational contracts are adhered to.

The dwarven ideal of community wellbeing is important as well.  Dwarves will always negotiate for a good deal, but they won’t be cut-throat in their dealings – contracts should benefit both parties, if they are to survive.


Ironically, that isn’t the end of it. The next stage will be to develop a mire general model that can be used to describe Dwarf Mineholds in my new setting. But that doesn’t need to happen for a while. Right now, I can get on with planning for this week’s TT game session.

Societal Culture

Over the last little while, I have continued to think about Dwarves and their holdings, but that made me think about cultures, overall.  These are my thoughts.  The example below is for a LG community, because that is what is most relevant to me at the moment.  As always, comments are welcome.  You are also welcome to have a go at designing your own alignment based culture for a holding – and posting the outcome here.

Overview

Each town, city or stronghold will have its own ‘culture’ created by its management, governance and structure, based on the overall alignment of the town’s rulers and major characters.  The ‘average’ alignment of the citizens (mainly NPC classes) will be Neutral,  as they try to keep their heads down and go about their daily life.  That doesn’t mean that a LG city won’t have thieves, murderers, conmen (etc) just that the majority, or the leaders in the case of guilds, will have PC classes and count as major characters.  Townsfolk will follow the example of their leaders (in some cases, just to survive) – while those with different alignment tendencies will be trying to keep their heads down.

So what are the distinctive indicators of a town’s alignment …

Law – Chaos

Lawful – 

  • Government – A cohesive central government where everyone works together with the same (or similar) sets of ideals.  It might be a Lord,  a council or some other structure.
  • Business – Businesses are regulated, and there may be guilds controlling who can (and can’t) work or trade in the town.
  • Social Structure – People know their place and how to behave.  That doesn’t mean there is no social mobility – you just have to follow the rules and do well, then you will rise up the social pyramid. Not following the rules, means you slide down the pyramid instead.
  • Laws and Punishments – are well established, the population understand the laws and punishments are consistent.

Neutral –

  • Government – possibly a council (or something similar) where different philosophies are represented, or individual local rulers, who all have a similar philosophy.  Somehow, they find a compromise solution that they can all live with.
  • Business – There are business regulations and standards, although they  may be skimpy and might not apply to every business. Caveat Emptor.
  • Social Structure – Social standing is fairly clear –  but there are a number of different ways to progress –  not all of them approved of, and some might even be fairly unsavoury.
  • Laws and Punishments – are written down, but are fairly weak with loopholes and ‘get out’ clauses.  Punishments are defined, but how they are interpreted depends on the judge/ magistrate/ guardsman.

Chaotic –

  • Government – There isn’t a strong central structure, and different areas of the town might be claimed by local leaders with different philosophies.  There will probably  be hidden leaders and secret societies (that are influential), or the town might have a madman in charge.
  • Business – Anyone can set up a business and start trading.    Buy and shop very carefully, you probably won’t have any legal comeback.
  • Social Structure – There is one, but as there is an ebb and flow between the leaders,  it is difficult to know exactly where you stand.  Most commoners try to keep their heads down, stay polite and keep out of trouble.
  • Laws and Punishments – are not clear.  What is a crime one week, might be acceptable behaviour the next – and the punishment will change, depending on who administers it.  There might well be a lot of ‘Street Justice’.

Good – Evil

Good – 

  • Government – The town operates in ways that support the whole community.  There are good public facilities  (wells, town dump, public baths) and support structures (hospital, alms houses, schools) for those who need them.
  • Social Structure – Residents are expected to be supportive of their neighbours (although some element of competition is good) and those who rise up the social pyramid are generally successful financial and have a strong social conscience.
  • Laws and Punishments – are proportionate, and probably not lethal.  They may, however, include exile, social or business restrictions, jail time and (in the most extreme circumstances) judicial execution.

Neutral –

  • Government – The laws don’t really benefit any particular group – but nor are ant groups disadvantaged either.  There are some public facilities, but they aren’t extensive or comprehensive.
  • Social Structure – Social standing is fairly clear –  but there are a number of different ways to progress –  not all of them approved of, and some might even be fairly unsavoury.
  • Laws and Punishments – are written down, and fairly consistent –  but not comprehensive.  The loopholes and get-out clauses often favour those who can afford a good lawyer or have contacts – but overall it works and is reasonably fair.

Evil –

  • Government – is there to benefit the people in-power, with little or no regard for the general population.  Very few public facilities
  • Social Structure – Climb the social ladder by being strong and powerful.  But watch out, there is always someone else that wants your place.
  • Laws and Punishments – Laws and punishments suit the rulers,  and they will probably be extreme.  Order is often maintained through fear. Punishments always strengthen the rulers –  confiscation of property and money, slavery, death of a rival etc etc.

Example

Startens Edge (LG)

A small mining town on the edges of civilisation.

Small Town – Population 240  Note: Population is smaller than normal under my Campaign rules as, there are no smallholdings or settlements outside the town wall.

Council: Sir Rodri Trevin (Paladin(Iomedae)-5, LG) ;  Dolmir Hafgrey (Dwarf Mine Overseer, Expert-4, LG);  Whitlock Rider  (Cleric(Erastil)-4, LG)

The town is made up of three distinct groups.  Dwarf Miners, Human and Halfling Townsfolk and the Starten Mission House.

The Key Players

The Mission House – Some time ago, this region was attacked a group of Orcs, who had summoned a demon to their aid.  A Paladin of Iomedae, and her followers, dealt with that incursion, and a small church – which became known as The Mission House – was built here to commemorate that event.  The church still stands and knights from the church still patrol the area, and even ride guard on the trade caravans that carry goods back and forth to the local market town. It isn’t a high-status mission, and the staff that are sent here are among the greatest of Iomedae’s servants.  That said, there is at least one Paladin and a couple of fighters stationed here, the rest are NPC classes –  but they are still a force to be reckoned with.  (Watchtower + shrine – size 1)

The Starten Mine – The mine is owned and managed by a group of Dwarves led  by Dolmur Hafgrey, the mine overseer.  The mine produces copper and tin, which is smelted on-site to produce ingots.   The primary ore is malachite, and there are occasional chunks that are pure enough to be sent for use as gemstones – although most is low grade and smelted.  It is the town’s most important economic commodity. Some bronze (A copper/tin alloy) is produced, to be used locally.   (Campaign rules – Standard Mine, size 1)

Elk Hall –dedicated to Erastil, the chosen deity of the local population, Elk Hall acts as both a chapel and a community meeting hall.  In between meetings it is used to host communal working sessions, such as a copper school, sewing bees, bulk jam making sessions or group basketwork. (Campaign rules – Holy House, size 1)

The Rest of the Economy

There are a few other Businesses in the town.

  • The White Stag Tavern  (Campaign rules – Tavern, size 1)
  • The Smithy –  working iron, bronze and copper. (Campaign rules – Craft Workshop, size 1)
  • The Tannery – preparing hides and skins for market. (Campaign rules – Craft Workshop, size 1)
  • Starten Mulers – carrying goods from Startens Edge to the big town (Campaign rules – Serai, size 1).
  • Mulers Market –  where all sorts of local goods are traded. (Campaign rules – Local Market, size 1)

The rest of the population are hunters, trappers and general countryfolk.  Between them, they have most craft skills (at a low level).  You can get food, baskets, rugs, clothes, household utensils and even basic furniture at the market –  along with simple weapons and leather armours. Rather than grow crops in fields (which are subject to raiding) the residents tend the local plants to make them more productive, keep goats for milk and cheese, and collect a good supply of fruit, nuts and berries to supplement their diet.

The primary export is copper and tin ingots from the mine – but that is supplemented by leather, furs and a few malachite gemstones.  The main imports are grains, vegetables, and ale.

Defence

The town has a ditch and palisade wall, which makes it an unattractive proposition for raiding – especially when it is protected by the soldiers from the mission, supplemented by a lot of experienced hunters who can put up an impressive flight of arrows.   The town has a communal stock of bronze tipped arrows, crossbow bolts, darts and javelins ready to supply defenders in times of need. 

Alignment Effects

Good

For a small town, Starten’s Edge has good public services. There are …

  • Copper School (run by the priests of Erastil)
  • Public Baths
  • Communal Animal Pens (to keep the goats safe overnight)
  • Communal Smoke House to help preserve meat for winter.
  • Dump
  • Well

The priests of Erastil are the first line of Law Enforcement, using persuasion, peer pressure and religious philosophy to keep people in line, but Iomedae’s guards will step in when there are regular transgressions.  At worst, a really persistent (or serious) offender will be escorted to the nearest large town for formal court hearings.

Lawful

There are a number of local laws in place.

  • No one is allowed to live outside the walls.
  • Every citizen must attend ‘Raid Drill’ every six months – where a community strategy, in case of a serious raid, is practised.  This is normally followed by a ‘Town Social’ where everyone comes together to eat, drink and socialize (often with dancing and other entertainment)
  • Every adult must have attended   Weapon Skills training, which is provided free of charge by Iomedae’s Mission.  For most people, this just involves learning how to use a club proficiently.   However, those who want  to take extra training can do so, and some residents learn the weapon and armour feats that they need to progress to Warrior or Expert’ at the hands of the Mission’s instructors.
  • Citizens who are skilled in using weapons and armour (Warriors & Experts), must serve in the local Militia and attend weapons practice and military training.  This isn’t too onerous, and while sessions are held every week, experienced militia members are not expected to attend all of them.  This covers most of the hunter/trappers, most of the teamsters from the serai and a few of the Dwarves.  Once the character has gained Profession:Soldier+1 (Normally via the Militia feat) they are classed as ‘Experienced’ and only need to attend monthly.

Dwarves, Mines and the Underdark / Darklands.

This all started out with the thought that “Mining should be more interesting!”, but as I started to work through that I realized that I needed to understand Dwarves better, and then that I had to have a better idea of what lay below the surface of the game world.   However, don’t worry too much – no one from any of my games are going to the Underdark, this is more to do with refining the campaign rules for when I use them again.  It won’t affect the current rules.

“Surface Society”

I am going to start with an overview of my version of “Surface Society”, or at least the part of the world that adventures come from in my games.  Surface Society, and it cultures, is primarily Human, although halflings and half-humans (half-elves, half-orcs) are an integral part of it.  Dwarves, Elves and (to a lesser extent) Gnomes have cultures of their own, that while they are compatible with human society, are separate and different.  Elves have their own countries, cities and towns, most of which are reasonable Xenophobic –  they don’t kill intruders, but they aren’t welcomed, and are ushered away as quickly as possible.  Gnome society is chaotic – you never quite know where you are going to find them, or what they will be doing – apart from experimenting obsessively with Alchemy or some other craft.  Dwarves sit on the border between the surface world and everything that goes on below –  they aren’t, quite, part of either world.

Dwarf Strongholds.

Dwarves are the civilized world’s gatekeepers to the world below the surface.  Their strongholds are normally built around mines, but they also connect to a network of underground tunnels and caves that lead deeper underground.  These are often a source of trade with other underground races –  many of whom have metals and gems to sell.  While they avoid many of the underground races, they trade with many others, creating a series of trade routes that bring underground trade goods to the surface world.

These underground trade routes are dangerous, sparsely populated and not well travelled, they wind and twist along (mainly) natural caverns, that can be home to all sorts of hazards.  Other humanoid races send hunting parties out to monitor the routes, so merchants either have to be strong or stealthy to travel them –  so many of the ‘merchant caravans’ are small and only carry a few trade goods with them.  Whatever they trade, has to be valuable, or the risk is too high. A single bottle of whiskey can be worth many hundreds of gold pieces when you are two miles underground! 

Races such as Pech and, Svirfneblin live deep underground and trade the most valuable goods, such as diamonds and mithral.  Mongrelmen and Kobolds are closer to the surface, and are less sophisticated in their mining and smelting techniques, so they likely bring lower value gemstones, or perhaps nuggets of  pure gold (or silver)  with them.

Underground

I had got used to the concept of ‘The Underdark’ and documented a basic ecology (just enough to inform play) but never really developed an interest in it.  I have adventured there once, in 40 years of playing, and never run a game there.  Pathfinder’s ‘Darklands’ concept, of a three layer Darklands, has more appeal for me, as it  allows me to create a more precisely defined sections  of Nar-Voth that fit below my various dwarven strongholds – and they can be a size that suits me, rather than the ubiquitous, and (for me) relatively boring  expanse of the Underdark.

That said, I like some elements of the Underdark, so my version will incorporate various things that I have worked with previously – although they will be modified. I also use resources from AD&D1 and AD&D2 as I built things.

This Link covers some of the work that I have done on the ‘Below Surface ‘world previously. I suspect that I will keep a lot of it, as I don’t like to discard stuff that works 🙂 Oh, and I love Nubbe Paste – and watching dwarves wind up the surface colleagues with it.

Life goes on

It has been an interesting few weeks, that has thrown a couple of new challenges my way.

It started when government Covid restrictions relaxed enough permit large outdoor events, which meant that I could go re-enacting again.  The first thing I was able to attend was Military Odyssey in Detling, a multi-period military extravaganza, although WWII is very heavily represented.  I went down with the Wimborne Militia, to represent an opposition for the Pirates – so lots of cannons, musketry and sword fighting, all backed up by a Living History camp that lets us talk about the history of the time.  That was quickly followed by another event at Mount Edgcumbe, for a living history camp, with beautiful views across the River Tamar towards Plymouth and the sea. 

It is only in the last few years that I have moved away from re-enacting battles, towards the living history side (age catches up with all of us), but I have never really established a LH role for myself.  I have been re-enacting for a long time, I do a long of research –  but I am a bit of a butterfly, and I jump from subject to subject, which means I have a lot of interesting knowledge, but I am not a specialist or expert in any of them.  Certainly not knowledgeable enough to set out a stall and demonstrate.  However, I have worked out that I can play a ‘man in a pub’, with historic pub games, beer and conversation.  I have quite a lot of experience of the ‘Man in a Pub’ role, so I should be OK with that.  Sounds daft, but it will be a serious vehicle to get people to sit down and talk to me.

But then we (The Wimborne Militia) got invited to take part in a Games Convention, in February next year.  Apparently, they often invite Living History displays to set up inside the convention.  Possibly for LARPers, possible for the Cosplayers – possibly just to fill up space.  Who knows, but having been to a few conventions, I am used to seeing a wild and wacky range of stands, stalls and displays.

Long story, short –  it made me think about writing a board game.  So I did – well I have a prototype, anyway.  It might be rubbish, but I won’t know until people play it.  Militia Vs Pirates (Yeah, it needs a catchier name) that features …

Team and individual play. Twin boards (slightly different) one for Militia, one for Pirates. D6 to move (I guess about 20 rounds per game) collect coins as you go, with penalties and rewards on board squares. Cards to boost your game and disrupt the opponents. Game finishes as first player hits Home – but winner is the one with most coins.

…  Not one for serious board gamers, but while it has randomizers (Dice & Cards) there is plenty of room for strategies and tactics – and it could well be fun for half-an-hour.   Which left me printing off game boards and card fronts –  then sticking them to a second hand scrabble board, and a deck of card.  *grin*  I enjoyed the process, and we have something for the gamers to ‘play test for me’  when we are at the convention.  And, let’s face it, if it is any good, I will be in the right place to find a small games company to sell it to.


To make it worse, everything seems to have slowed right down.  Stolen Lands is slow, the games I play in are slow – one is so slow that I think it may well be dead in the water.  So I applied to join a new game.  It is a long story, but I finished up getting accepted into a game that I didn’t really apply for – which just happens to be set in a part of Varisa that I know well and enjoyed playing in.  Just as importantly, I had a ‘interesting’ character who was based in the region, and I thought it would be interesting to write up one of his children, and explore that background in a bit more detail.

Gagak helped settle a village, Skids Landing, on the very edges of the Sandpoint hinterland – but that grew when I used the village (later) as a base for some adventures that I DMed for that playing group.  So the first thing was to roll the village back to something that doesn’t impinge on the new DMs game.  So I finished up with a village based on Dwarf quarrymen, lumberjacks and hunter trappers – and a suitable rough and ready place it is too.  Just right for a semi-civilized barbarian and his three wives.

Then it was onto family life – how d one half-orc barbarian, three wives and seven children get on with each other?  And what do you get when the kids grow up?

Find out at Raven’s wiki page.

The Green Friars

Sometimes, ideas come to me at the most inconvenient times, but if I don’t write something down, I have a habit of ‘moving on’, and perhaps don’t think of it again for a while – perhaps even a year or two …

This morning is earmarked for packing up the van ready for a weekend away, dressing up in 17th century clothes and giving a public display – that might (or might not) include a small battle. However, I got the Green Friars instead, when thoughts about old-fashioned ‘slang’ names (such as White Friars, Drey Friars, Black Friars) for different group of community monks coincided with thoughts about the game, religious developments and the Narlemarch. And who knows when that strange mix is going to happen again?

Even so, I DO need to get ready for the weekend – so just a brief overview.


The Green Friars

The Green Friars are the most influential political force in the Southern Region although they, as a group, would deny that they had any political motivation at all.  However, their philosophies are adhered to, and enforced almost all the way from the Brevoy Border (Bar-Z) right the way though the Narlemarch to Old Keep, and possibly beyond.

Composed of Druids, Clerics, Rangers and Adepts, dedicated to several deities, they all value the benefits of the natural world above the civilizing influences of large towns and cities.  Small towns and villages are OK …  But wilderness is important and should outnumber the small developments at the core.  They aren’t all about wilderness and wild animals –  but they are all about people living in harmony with their natural surroundings.  Hunters, Fishers, Foragers, Woodsmen, Loggers1, Farmers2 and Beekeepers are all welcome, as are many other trades, so long as they respect the local environment.

They all have a tendency to wear dark green cloaks when they are out an about, generally with the symbol of their deity on the left breast.  Influential members of this supposedly informal group include …

  • Zelona, March-Lord of Old Keep (Druid of Gozerah)
  • Loy Rezbin, Governor of Tatzleford (Ranger)
  • Laticia, Mayor of Tatzleford (Cleric of Erastil)
  • Aris’ta Devo, Commander of Hunters Rest (Ranger)
  • Rook Sanderson of Elkwall (Ranger and Cleric of Erastil)
  • Zorah of Bar-Z (Druid of the Green)
  • Maril of Grenal (Adept of the Green)

Notes

  1. Forest Friendly Loggers  take selected timbers in ways that do not damage the forest or the local ecology.
  2. Forest Friendly Farmers cultivate crops that don’t need clearance for fields and farm forest friendly stock animals, such as pigs and chickens

Fjord Orcs

Found in the Great Fjord, the local orc tribes are more organized than many others.  That doesn’t stop them bickering among themselves and raiding each other – but they are held (partially) in check by the Great Shaman, who trains their tribal witches, builds ships and makes weapons for them.  Technically, the Great Shaman doesn’t do all those things personally, but her ‘people’ do.

Tribal Villages

Each ‘tribe’ consists of between 60 and 90 bodies –  Made up mostly of Orcs, a few half-orcs and a few captives of other species.  About 20 of the Orcs are Marauders, males who are in their prime and the main raiding force of the tribe.  Another dozen, or so, are those male orcs who are passed their prime, and are no longer allowed to go marauding – they lead the hunting parties, guard the village and train the youngsters.  There are about the same number of Young Bloods, not allowed to go marauding yet,  but hunting and training under the elders.  Most of the rest is made up of Females and youngsters – who are responsible for the captives, gather seasonal food, repair gear etc.   There are a few fields and animals, mostly looked after by captives and youngsters, although they only add a small amount to the village’s stocks.

Every village has a witch, who has been trained by the great shaman.  The witch is always female and is leader of the women – she knows the secrets of brewing good grog, making healing potions and is the tribes main contact with The Great Shaman.  Hurt a witch, too much, and the Great Shaman will be angry with you, and the tribe.  You don’t want that.  Orcs who seriously upset the tribe’s witch are often half flayed and sent to the Great Shaman, before she comes for him.  Most witches have an ‘assistant’ already trained by the Great Shaman, who is preparing to take over when the old witch dies (Natural causes, or maybe the new witch is ready to ‘step up’)

There are always leaders.  A tribal chief (L7 elder), a War captain (L6 Marauder in charge of the marauding party and chief in waiting)  two or three lieutenants (L4/L5 Marauders), Chief Hunter (Elder, L5) to round out the numbers.

  • Marauder = Male Orc, Warrior-3 – fully armoured and armed with battle weapons
  • Elder = Male Orc, Warrior 3 – (Middle aged or old) with light armour & hunting weapons
  • Young Bloods = Male Orc, Warrior 2 with light armour & hunting weapons
  • Females / Youngsters – Orc, Warrior 1 – unarmoured, two-handed clubs
  • Witch = Orc, Female, Witch 3 (assistant witch 1 or 2)
  • Grog = Fermented honey and berry mix.  The type of berry changes throughout the year and is often supplemented by other things that you wouldn’t expect to be in an alcoholic beverage.  It is not to the taste of most races, but Orcs seem to enjoy it.

Village life

Everyone lives in one great longhouse.  One end is walled off for livestock and the less desirable captives, everyone else lives in the main part of the longhouse, leaders, marauders, witches, (some) captives – everyone. Along with half a dozen (guard) dogs. Life is hectic.

Young Bloods get to practice their seamanship in the village’s Faering  (Rowing boat) while the females fish. Elders and Young Bloods, hunt game, females cook, repair clothes, carry out basic crafts and supervise the captives as they work in the fields and with the animals.  Marauders hang around disrupting everything, unless they off on a raid –  either skirmishing with another village, or a ship-borne raid of a foreign town or village.

Raids are short and sweet and often directed at small towns and villages. The Orcs land, set fire to things, loot, steal food, drink, weapons (basically anything of value) and kidnap a few of the locals.  Then back home for a party.  Occasionally, they will send out a larger expedition,  under a Warchief, where boats from various villages work together to hit a larger town.  The large groups have been known to take whole ships and hold them for ransom. Once they have landed, it is mayhem, each Marauder doing their own thing until they are sated and have enough loot.  Smaller towns and villages are often left devastated, when the drunken orcs have finished their pillaging and plundering.

There are land raids as well, the hills around the Fjord are home to Cavemen clans (Neanderthal), and there are often clashes between Orc  hunting parties and parties of Cavemen.  Sometimes the cavemen are followed home and their caves raided for food and captives.

The Ship

The tribe’s ship, known as a Karvi, is the pride of every village – long sleek and powered through the water by twenty oars, although it has a square sail for when the wind is in the right direction.  A cross between a Viking Knarr and a Greek Galley, this open vessel is seaworthy, deals well with open water, and is fitted with a ram. It can deliver a band of about 20 marauders to the shores of any settlement, and is fast enough to make a decent get away, if they are outnumbered.

Karvis are made by the Great Shaman’s people, and each tribe must pay their ship off, and then pay extra for maintenance.  Fortunately, the Great Shaman likes payment in loot and captives – particularly young captives.  She doesn’t mind what race they are, humans or elves are best –  but any race will do, even cavemen.  But if you can’t get enough captives, you will pay her in Orc children …  She doesn’t mind.

And that is on top of the ones chosen by the witches to be sent for training!  Some of those come back as new witches, some stay with the Great Shaman –  but even some of those disappear.

The Great Shaman

The Great Shaman lives in a burned out tower close to the head of the Fjord, although the stone structure has stayed intact, the areas around the windows and doors are burned and blackened, and there is always the smell of stale smoke in the air.  She keeps half-a-dozen witches with her, as servants and assistants, and a number of others, who were not suitable for her special training.  These few have been trained as shipwrights and weapon smiths – and they make both the Karvi and the battle weapons that then tribes depend on.  A few try to run, or to sell their services elsewhere, but they are always brought back and punished –  before they disappear completely.  Just like any other captive that doesn’t live up to her standards.

No-one is really quite sure what the Great Shaman looks like – sometimes she is an elderly Orc Female, other times a well-muscled half-orc, and sometimes even a human or elf – what ever she really is, you don’t want to mess with her.

It is said that when the great Shaman is finished with them, she gorges herself on their flesh – but there are very few who know for certain.  In the past various tribes have risen up against her, while they might have appears to win a victory, the Great Shaman has always returned and taken her revenge  on the tribe’s leaders.  Leaderless tribes don’t stay leaderless for long, there is normally a fight between powerful orcs from other tribes.  Eventually, one will take over – those who can’t adjust to the new regime are killed and staked out as a warning to others.

The shipwrights work and live in a shipyard locally, while the smell of smoke comes from the weapon smiths.  The ‘normal’ weapons, taken as booty, are melted down to be refashioned as Falchions and Great Axes suitable for marauders, or even as boar spears suitable for Hunters.   At the same time, they ‘fix’ armour that is brought to them.   Payment by captive, food, booty …

  • The Great Shaman = Ash Hag + sorcerer 5  (orc bloodline)

Refining Entourage

I started thinking about the entourage system a while ago, but got sidetracked. I think this streamlines the current system and makes it more flexible for players – while still keeping numbers reasonable (almost) 🙂

Entourage-Assistant

  • Free at L2 in campaign games.
  • Purpose= Junior assistants / followers
  • NPC class
  • Can’t go adventuring
  • Max number= CL/2 + Char Mod
  • Can take one per level.  All start at L1.
  • Cannot exceed 1/2 PC level – max out at L5.

Advanced-Entourage.

  • Available at L6.
  • Purpose = senior assistants, companions, allies.
  • NPC Class
  • Can’t go adventuring
  • Bring BP’s
  • Can promote a L3 Entourage-Assistant to an L4 Advanced-Entourage
  • Max number= CL/4
  • Cannot Exceed 2/3 PC level.
  • Advancement after L5 = very slow.
  • Entourage-Cousin Vs Entourage Ally

Minor Cohorts

  • Available at L5 – by spending a feat/trait.
  • New Trait  (Minor Cohorts:  Convert two of your entourage to Minor Cohorts.  Counts against Entourage limits)  Can have this  Trait alongside Leadership.
  • Feat  Recruits  (Lots of minor cohorts, who don’t count against your entourage limit)  Cannot have this feat alongside leadership.
  • Purpose = senior assistants, companions, allies.
  • PC Class
  • Does not bring BPs
  • Can go adventuring
  • Max number (feat) = Character Level/2
  • Max number (trait) = 2
  • Cannot Exceed  PC-level – 4
  • Advancement steady – gets to higher levels
  • Can take one per level. 
  • Does not count against entourage number limit.

Cohort

  • Available at L7 – by spending a feat
  • Purpose = senior assistants, companions, allies.
  • Does not bring BPs.
  • PC Class
  • Can use Squire or Torch Bearer  feat to get Cohort early
  • Can go adventuring
  • Max number= 1
  • Cannot Exceed  PC-level – 2
  • Advancement steady – gets to higher levels quickly
  • Does not count against entourage number limit.

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.

More player controlled NPCs?

I started off thinking about Horse Racing.  I need some more downtime activities to act as ‘background’ for some RP.  I have Scrymball now, and I expect my next Fuzzy RP thread will be based around a scrymball game.   That will give me some sort of background activity to report, and gives the Characters in the thread something to talk about.  Perhaps a bit of betting on the side, or even a formal book maker …  Probably not the book maker.  Well, certainly not until I have tried to Write/Commentate a game, and have some idea of how it is going to pan out.

Scrymball has a second RP side –  PCs can own a Scrymball team and some of their entourage members can play in it as well.  Could I do the same sort of thing with Horse Racing?  Horse racing is really flexible –  there could be a hippodrome for ordinary horse races, perhaps even chariot or sulky races  (perhaps both) and there are cross-country style events too – all with a single rider / driver.  That give more scope for both PC/entourage races and NPC spectacle but, it involves horses – and horses can be trained to learn ‘useful’ tricks, so there is another variable for PCs to play with.  However, horses can also be animal companions and horse animal companions are, basically, super horses – which starts to make things complicated.  Would that blow all sense of competition out of the window?  Maybe if I make formal races NPC only – but that still leaves the possibility of a Ranger cohort …

Anyway, my research led me to a page that dealt with companions of all sorts – and I got distracted. I don’t need horse racing yet, so it will have to wait for a bit.  While I have read that page before, and some sections were very familiar, other parts were less so – and some sections started me thinking  :}

There are lots of feats on the d20PFSRD that deal with companions, although I discount third-party feats automatically, and I am not particularly interested in the ‘Kingdom’ related feats –  as I have changed the kingdom rules significantly, and this type of feat would need reworking.  However, there are still Leadership, Squire, Torchbearer and Recruits that are interesting.  Dynasty Founder would have been interesting, had I thought about it before the game started :}

However, it is the Leadership feat that is key – the other three can all evolve into leadership when the PC advances to L7(or 8 in the case of Lantern Bearer).   

The Webpage on companions speaks about the Followers associated with the <i>Leadership</i> feat, and suggests that some of them could be named and used as a network of contacts.  However, that has pretty much been subsumed in the home-brew <i>Entourage</i> feat and the staff associated with the campaign round.  The Leadership feat is mainly useful for the leadership score (Bigger Entourage) and the Cohort.

<i>Squire</i> and <i>Lantern Bearer</i>, are just ways of getting some Cohort Benefits by committing to the leadership feat early.  And while Squire has and some minor modification to make it useful at L3, they can pretty much stand as they are.

However, <i>Recruits</i> is different, and much more interesting :}  Taken at L5 recruits may be converted to <i>Leadership</i>  –  but it doesn’t have to be, and the PC could continue with a number of lower-level minor cohorts, rather than one conventional cohort.  However, they can only take one of these minor cohorts with them, when they go adventuring.  Realistically, this isn’t much good at L5 –  who wants to take a L1 NPC adventuring with a L5 party?  I can’t see that Minor Cohort lasting all that long.

I have been asked, in the past, whether I would allow a character to take both Leadership and Recruits – I said no because Recruits specifically says it can’t happen.  However, I am reconsidering my thoughts on this.  We have all those Entourages, Entourage-Allies, Entourage-Cousins and Cohorts – does an extra layer of minor cohorts make a difference?  I would, certainly, implement a one travelling companion per Character  (Gods know I have enough characters to worry about in game) – although I suspect I am going to have to deal with a Ranger Cohort and their Animal Companion at some point  (I like horses as animal companions for rangers  :P)

I need to think about this.  Are extra NPCs good value for a feat?  How about the flexibility of swapping out your main Cohort for a Minor Cohort with different skills? 

Perhaps, if someone were to take Recruits alongside Leadership, I should restrict recruiting to one new recruit per level?  In that same way as entourages are restricted. It might make an interesting upgrade path for Entourage Cousins/Allies – and would mean they progress to higher levels faster… 

Hmm.  More thought required.

Enhancing NPCs

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

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

The System

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

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

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

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

The Problem

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

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

Partial Solution

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

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

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

Enhancing the solution

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

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

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

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

Significant NPCs

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

Level

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

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