So what is Roleplaying?

Recently, I have been in a conversation with a GM, whose game I play in, who wants to incorporate more RP into his game – and that made me start thinking about what I have learned about the subject, over the years.  Which brought me to the point of ‘What is Roleplay’, along with thoughts of ‘As a DM, what do I do that encourages Roleplay’.  And, of course, which of those things actually work.  If you don’t know already, I have spent my working like swapping around between academic and analytical roles.  This is what happen to you.

Face to Face games

Back in the day, back when face-2-face AD&D 1 was king, we had very few Roleplaying tools – basically Class and Alignment.  Class gave you a very limited set of skills to work with, and Alignment gave you a behavioural perspective.  There was the chaotic hanging off the back of the party sulking because they hadn’t got their own way or going off on their own in the middle of a perfectly good team plan.  The fighter beating is sword against his shield to attract attention, the cleric preaching to the peasants, and sometimes the other characters as well. 

Add in the limited class abilities, everyone was a specialist, you had to learn how to perform your role in the group and play that out.  Fighters needed to understand combat tactics, Wizards needed to know their spells – did you know that the 1st ed rules suggests that aren’t allowed to check a spell’s description mid-game?    Unpopular with modern character classes and endless spell lists – but certainly an element of Role Playing that was available to (forced on) us back in the day.

That was complemented by bits of in-character banter, generally quite short, and taking place in the context of the adventure.  There was never any deep Role Play, interactions with shopkeepers and other NPCs were rarely played out in any depth – and for good reason.  If there are six people sitting around a table waiting to play, and one gets involved in a 15-minute negotiation with a shopkeeper, the others get bored.  That might be a tenth of their game time for the evening gone up in smoke.

Role play is simple, quick and often behavioural.  Even today, face to face sessions at my gaming table are like that.  Interspersed with a lot of banter, in jokes, bad smells, bad food and great fun.   My tabletop game is played by good friends who I have known for years – and who (now) have known each other for years.  They trust each other, don’t need to be the leader, don’t need to be the best … it is a communal game played by a bunch of RL friends for communal entertainment.  TBH, I could run any old crap (and I have) as it is the players who make the game.

I think of that as Behavioural Roleplay because it is exhibited in the character’s day-to-day behaviour. 

RPoL 

There is another type of behavioural roleplay on RPoL as well – descriptive writing.  Just recently, for example, I have seen a cleric trying to work out how badly he was affected by an ability drain.  He made a good entertaining IC post, as he tried to check out his mental faculties.  Then backed it up with an OOC comment.  Other examples include: priests explaining their deity’s ‘take’ on something (The religious forum comes in to its own, occasionally); a strong argument to defend the waterway south of Tusk; an habitual drunk being drunk; characters negotiating business deals and bards singing songs.

And that, for some people, is enough.  And that is absolutely fine.  It adds greatly to the game.  It is so important, in my view, that I give XP awards for good roleplay in adventure posts. It isn’t much, and it isn’t every time, but characters who have a lot of roleplay elements in their posts, advance a bit more quickly than those who don’t.

There is still in-character banter between characters,  as anyone who has seen the Roths playing, can confirm.  But that doesn’t always come easy –  I have gamed with the other players behind the Roths for 20 years or so (on and off) and even then it took a while to build a joint background we were all happy with.  But we finished up with characters who trust each other and players who trust each other …  almost the same as those friends sitting around the table, having fun. 

Why did I bring the Roths into it?  Because I wanted to tell you that we had to work on it.  For inter character banter to work properly, characters have to know each other and have some trust in the other player.  How does that happen on RPoL?  Well, more role play, of course.  And that is where the DM comes in – we have to make time and space for that roleplaying.

When do characters get the chance to just chat, in a way that doesn’t hold the rest of the party up?  Even on RPOL an IC chat,  between two characters in an adventure thread, holds the game up for the other players.  There certainly isn’t time, in adventure threads, for meaningful relationships, ‘get to know you’ chats, or even an extended conversation.  Somehow, the DM needs to make time for these conversations, if we want to encourage more extensive roleplay.

Fuzzy Time:  While there are other techniques, I use a concept called Fuzzy Time.  Some threads, and most PMs, are conducted in Fuzzy Time.  That means no one is quite sure when that conversation took place –  it happened sometime during the characters’ downtime –  although the precise time (and sometimes place) isn’t known.  The prime rule for Fuzzy Threads are that characters can talk about anything that happened before they left town last. Current adventures are off limits.  But this means that parties can be thrown, a duelling league can be played out, committees can meet, lovers can love – etc etc.  It lets us have conversations between parties, for friendships across groups, maintain relationships while characters are in different group.  It is, I think, the main enabler of intercharacter RP in the Stolen Lands game.

Fuzzy Threads: If Fuzzy Time enables RP, then you have to have public threads that allow characters to meet and sets the scene for that Roleplay.  Characters are like people in RL, some make friends easily, other less so.  Some  people are happy walking up to complete strangers and saying ‘Hi, I want to talk to you’ – other people (and their characters) will never say anything like that, and are happy going through life with a series of casual acquaintances.  It is also a gender thing (don’t shout at me yet)  many more women have ‘best friends’ and hold deep meaningful conversations with them, than men do.  *shrug* That is as it is.  But many players and their characters are men – and in my experience, they don’t socialize as easily.  I rarely see private threads without at least one female character who (appears to be) played by a female.  I see quite a few threads where female characters form a personal bond and do stuff together.

However, I digress, almost all of those RP interactions have come from seed threads that I have started.  I start regular fuzzy threads all over the stolen lands game.  There have been parties, weddings, religious councils, development planning meetings, shopping trips, boat trips, duelling competitins, road trips huge meetings, small meetings – all sorts of Fuzzy Threads.  They serve two purposes – the first is to encourage a bit of non-adventure RP – while the second is to throw people together.

Religious Meetings, for example, encourage players of ‘divine’ characters to think about their deity’s position on a subject and put t forward.  Shopping trips, encourage players develop a ‘style’ for their character. I give players the chance to politic, cut deals, meet helpful NPCs etc.  Small scale, perhaps, but all different aspects of Roleplaying a character.  (What do you mean?  You didn’t know I was that devious?  I am a DM!  Of course I am that devious!)

In multi-group games,  the Fuzzy Threads have a second purpose as well.  Just as in RL, Characters have to meet and have a reason to spend time together –  ie RP in  any depth.  Those fuzzy threads are the bars, gyms and clubs of the real world.  Fuzzy Threads are where Characters first meet with characters from other adventuring parties.  If they don’t meet, there is no chance of any RP between them –  but if they do meet – sometimes there is a chemistry …  (But I’ll get to that later).

The fuzzy threads have a third use as well, I seed them with RP hooks for characters to follow.  Some fall by the wayside, but some bear fruit.  The last trip to East Rostland saw a couple dating, two women go out shopping (and deal with social inequality via a tipping quandary), a character make a declaration of political support, while another character negotiated a business deal.  That was a good thread for RP :]

One of the best I have seen was in Valarez, when the DM put on a whole ‘country fair’, with music, dancing, competitions and all sorts for a multi-party game.  That was fun to play.

Started by the DM, initial direction given by the DM – but then let the characters take over and respond to their actions.  Just normal DMing really, but in a context that highlights RP possibilities, rather than an ‘adventure’.

Spontaneous RP:  There are times when inter-character RP happens without much intervention from the DM, although it still needs enabling.  In the Stolen Lands, we have had people meeting it the inns, in the temple, and a couple of other laces, off their own back.  That led to short RP episodes – one of which caused a bit of a ‘falling out’ between characters.  But even then, the DM has to facilitate those meetings by creating places for them to happen.  There are any number of location threads scattered around the Stolen Lands.  It doesn’t take much to find one and resurrect it.  So long as characters use them according to the Fuzzy Time rules, that isn’t a problem.

In Valerez, the DM went about things a different way, by encouraging player to run NPC merchants using the Paizo Downtime rules.  We used the simpler system of cash values for rooms, buildings and developments – and it worked reasonably well.  However, it only ever led to sporadic  RP sessions.   That was fun, although there can be a lot of admin involved, keeping track of the gold you earn, seeing which extra rooms, or staff, you can buy.

I ran a low level magic shop.  It started off doing paper-based stuff, started off with scrolls, drawings, translations, scribing services etc.  Then added Potions and Alchemy, and finally Wands.  Scrolls are a pain in the butt.  As an Adept, Jahi could only make divine scrolls, and there aren’t all that many scrolls that are on both of the Adept and Cleric spell lists – They didn’t really take off until I got a wizard as an assistant.  Potions came from a L1 Witch assistant.

RP interaction came from three sources

  1. first was when PCs came in during downtime between adventures.  It tended to be short, and fairly concise –  but there was some RP involved.  Then it stopped until the next down time.
  2. Then there were the general RP sessions that the DM ran, and the down time sessions at the Inn, which formed the centrepiece of the player downtime experience.  So the Craft got to chat to the PCs for a while.
  3. Then there was some interaction between the crafter, townsfolk.  Mainly discussions on how we were going to arrange things between us, trading services and carving up new business opportunities.   

It became obvious that we all needed something unique to distinguish us from the other NPC crafters.  In some ways it was almost archetypes/ caricature / melodrama level –  but it helped distinguish us and make us memorable from / during quick visits between long adventures.

Relationships

The longest running, and most intense RP threads have all be romantic.  Carried out in Private Messages (within the RPoL guidelines)  Romances can go on for a long long time.   I have seen them delve into house furnishings, where go for dinner, what to wear, whether to be seen together in public …  all the everyday dating /living together stuff :}  But fade to black before there is any Jiggy-Jiggy, because  the stolen lands is not an adult game.

Interestingly, they can continue working after marriage.  There are conversations about business, setting up a house, how to manage the holdings, how many babies to have …

Relationships are the RP source that just keep on giving.

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

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.

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.

Society, Balance and Settlements.

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

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

Economy

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

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

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

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

Loyalty

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

Stability

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

Defence

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

Balance

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

Serial Discrepancies

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

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

Specific Discrepancies

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

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

Bad Things Table

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

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

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

A New Philosophy

Overview

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

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

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

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

The Current Setting

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

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

Range

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

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

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

They can all work within the current rules

Possibilities

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Enhancing NPCs

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

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

The System

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

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

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

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

The Problem

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

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

Partial Solution

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

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

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

Enhancing the solution

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

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

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

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

Significant NPCs

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

Level

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

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

Bunt Ball

I have  Scrymball – a football like game that takes elements from a variety of modern football games – now I want a bat and ball sport that does the same sort of thing, that I can use in  a semiformal setting.  It is for a Pathfinder Game, so it needs to have madcap elements that encourage a semi-free-for-all on the pitch.  After all, if there wasn’t some sort of jeopardy, no one would have tried to define the rules for the game :]   My first thoughts are elements of Cricket, Baseball and French Cricket – because I think and that should lead for some interesting concepts.  I’m going to take the bat and wicket from Cricket, the bases and diamond from baseball and the bowling rules for French Cricket!  The bowling rules for French cricket are ‘there are no bowling rules’ –  OK there is generally an agreed minimum distance –  but the ball could be delivered by any of the fielders from any direction.

The Pitch

One wicket and three bases laid out in a flattened diamond shape – each base is 20 yards from the wicket and there are 20 yards between each base.  There is a Foul Line that runs to the edge of the playing area, from the wicket that passes through the first and last base.  The game is played in a fixed area, with an outer boundary.  When played casually, the boundary is agreed by the teams, when played in an amphitheatre or stadium, the boundary is the wall in front of the first row of seats.

The Equipment

The bat is made of a solid piece of wood, no more than 40 inches long and no more than 3.5 inches at the widest point, with a semi-circular profile.    (Think of a fat baseball bat with one side shaved flat).

The ball is three inches in diameter, made of a wooden core wrapped in hide.

Wicket keepers may wear padded hide gloves, other players are permitted to wear plain leather gloves.  (not baseball style gloves)

The wicket is a set of five stumps, arranged in a semi-circle (to make a target from all legal angles)  The stumps are 36 inches high with a gap of three inches between each stump.  Bails are balanced across the top of the stumps.  (In the same way as a traditional cricket wicket).

Game Play

It is a very simple game.  The ball is thrown at the wicket, from anywhere outside the lines of bases.  If the wicket is broken (ie one of the bails come off)   the batter is out.  The batter must be ready at all times.

The batter may strike the ball and, if the ball does not land in the foul area,  run to the first base. If the ball lands foul, the batter may not run.   If it is a particularly good strike, they may continue running to try for second, third or home.  If they get home (the base around the wicket) they have scored a run.  They may stop at any on the interim bases (they are then known as a runner) and hope that they can gain more ground when the next batter strikes the ball.

A runner may try to run to the next base at any time during play, however, note that they can only ever be one runner on a base, and that a runner can be tagged out at any time.

Batters are ‘out’ if the wicket is broken by a throw from one of the out-fielders, or if one of their hits is caught by a member of the fielding team (including the wicket keeper) before it bounces.

Runners are ‘out’ whenever the wicket is broken by a member of the fielding team, and they are out of their base area.  If there are two runners in a base, both are out.  NOTE: If a ‘batter’ is out of their base, they are considered to a runner.

Any runner not in a base, is ‘out’ if they are hit by a ball thrown by any member of the fielding team, or they are otherwise touched by a ball under the control of a fielder (holding the ball, ball kicked etc)

If the ball goes out of bounds from a hit (in a formal game that means into the audience) the batter is out, but they are credited with four runs.  Runners may all jog home (in the same way as baseball)

Fielders may throw the ball, from any position in the scoring area of the  playing area, so long as it is outside the line of the bases.   They may use any throwing technique – pitch, bowl, underarm, over arm, etc.  – and the ball may strike the wicket direct or bounce before it hits.

Armed Vessels

Over the last couple of days, the subject of armed vessels has come up two or three times, and while they are represented in the Campaign Rules, they aren’t well-developed.  The larger merchant vessels can have defence points (at extra cost) and we have Military Launches –  but none of that has been defined particularly well.

Overview

So a quick review of the position.  The Stolen Lands game is set on a large river system, dotted with lakes, swamps and marshes.  It is a long, but narrow, water system, where the water can be very shallow.  Compared to the sea, it  is a very restricted system – and suitable for different types of vessel and, perhaps, different types of fighting.  The vessels that work the Sellen are much smaller than seagoing vessels, carry less sail and generally have a very shallow draft.   While most of them would cope with estuaries and sheltered coastal waters, very few would survive at sea.

Pirates, Monsters and Barbaric Tribes (human or humanoid) are the main risks, the same as at sea,  but because the waterway is so narrow the risks are different.  In the deep ocean, the tribes and monsters are aquatic, and pirates tend to sail the open seas in large vessels searching for prey.  On the River, you are more likely to be attacked from the riverbanks, rather than the seabed.  Sure, there are fully aquatic monsters in the river system, but there are many more semi-aquatic threats such as hydra, lizardfolk or crocodiles.   River pirates are more likely to launch attacks from the riverbanks in small boats and try to swarm the vessel, rather than to hammer it into submission with siege weapons.

That all leads me to conclude that armed, or defended, vessels are likely to have crews with military training, or a unit of specialist soldiers to defend them, rather than any fancy weaponry such as ballistae or bow-rams.

Vessels

Let’s get the very small vessels, that can’t be bought with BP, out of the way first.  Punts, Skiffs, Dinghies, Row boats, Coracles etc,  have a very small range and are normally used very close to home.  They are normally crewed by one or two commoners and perform mundane functions within a mile or two of their home base.  These vessels  can’t be armed or defended, however, the fishermen will defend themselves with their work knives (Treat as Daggers and proficient)

At the Jetty

The first vessels of significance are those found at a Jetty.  In the rules you will find Fishing Boats, Shallops and Military Launches  that can be purchased and kept at a Jetty, although you might also find the  Great Punt at swamp or marsh jetties.

Fishing Boats, or Great Punts in wetland areas, work further away from home and normally have an expert as Skipper, supported by a crew of commoners.  They generally act as fishing or local work vessels, but also have a secondary role as small scale local trade vessels.  While they can travel up to five hexes, they generally work within a couple of hexes from home.  The Skipper is likely to defend themselves with a belaying pin (club) or fishing spear (shortspear), while the crew use their daggers.

Shallops are larger vessels, commonly used for fishing, although many also operate as local trading vessels. While they can travel up to ten hexes, they generally work within four or five of hexes from home. A shallop may well have two experts (skipper and mate)  aboard, supported by a couple of commoner fishermen/sailors.

A Military Launch is a similar size to a fishing boat, but normally rowed by a crew of a dozen marines and is dedicated to very local patrol duties.  With such a large crew, and powered by oar, the vessel stays close to its home jetty, although it can be sailed (slowly) over longer distances.  Marines (in this game) are L3 warriors (soldier/sailors) equipped with light weapons and armour who specialize in water-based combat.  Military Launches are not found at commercial jetties, but can be found at Military or Public jetties.

A Patrol Vessel is almost identical to the standard shallop,  except that it fitted out for twenty-five marines. The central hold has been converted to a cabin area that can sleep half the complement of marines at any one time, with minimal catering facilities.  It can stay away from base overnight, but it is cramped accommodation, and these vessels aren’t generally sent on long missions.  Mainly used for local patrols within a couple of hexes of base.  Patrol Vessels are not found at commercial jetties, but they can be found at Military jetties.

At a Wharf

There are no specifically military vessels found at a wharf,  because the river system  doesn’t really allow for naval style warfare, however, any large vessel can be tasked (on  a temporary basis) with delivering  troop units to specific location.  The downside is that you need to get the troops from somewhere – mercenary units work well, or you could transport part of your army.

Most vessels follow the same pattern as the smaller vessels – a Skipper with a mate or two (experts armed with simple weapons)  supported by a crew of ordinary sailors Commoners armed with daggers, to provide basic defence.  However, these larger vessels are intended for trade and can travel much longer distances.  Keelboats are the smallest, but they can navigate the Vallani Canals  that connect Feyfalls to Whiterun and enable trade between Tusk and Restov.  Wherries and sailing barges are larger and carry more cargo but can’t work between Restov and Tusk.

Armed vessels  (Keeler, Wherry, Barge) have larger, enhanced crews of about a dozen.  The normal crew are  trained in arms and combat techniques, the  numbers are rounded out  by marines, and the Skipper has a level of Aristocrat.  Overall, they count as an Auxiliary Unit, if they ever get involved in the mass combat system.

A secure barge follows the same pattern  for their crew, but also has a unit of marines aboard.  If they become involved in the Mass Combat rules, they count as one Auxiliary and one Light Foot unit.

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.