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.

Cross Border Trade and Development II

I have been thinking about trading and development across borders again and realized that the system that I have put in place is complicated and doesn’t really use the rules that I already have in place effectively.  The current system uses the cash values of BP, then ‘sort of’ tied that in with the difference in values between BPs in different size settlements, and the portability of some resources, such as boats and soldiers, and it just gets complicated.

I already have two variables that I can use:  Purchaser Status (Preferred; Standard & Outsider) and tax rate –  It would be simple, and more sophisticated, to use those two  variables alone.  I will also standardize the mechanic of Taxable Vessels, which I have already introduced for the Community Pier and Serai, so that it applies across the board.

Why now?  Because a number of people are starting to ask questions about it –  quite legitimately, and I want a relatively standard system that I can apply consistently.  So far it has all been worked out on a case-by-case basis.

Those changes allow me to restrict the build of Religious Developments so that the income is used for religious purposes, rather than running a business or a holding.  A couple of people have already gone down that route (which has helped me identify the issue) – their existing holdings won’t be affected, but it won’t be available in future. 

Developing across borders

We have been fiddling about with PCs only being able to ‘cash in’ specific things to facilitate developments abroad – which is a pain for all concerned.  It means the PC has to optimize their holdings for cash generation, rather than business interests, and it means I have to check every example carefully –  not something that is good for me, the PC or the game.  These rule changes will mean that the PC can ‘cash in’ all their income to develop abroad, if they like.  However, it won’t be a straight equal value exchange.  PCs will pay a premium to move BP from one location to another. 

It was always my intention that it would be more easy to develop in areas where you are well known and influential –  but tougher in other areas.  I was hoping to use Influence to modify those costs, BUT that has proved much too difficult to implement, and very time-consuming to maintain the influence records.

This system lets me vary rates according to the stance of the New settlements rulers, and supports Role Playing.  Adoven, for example, has already negotiated deals that allow him to trade in Jovvox and Mivon –  although growth in both of those places will be slower and less profitable than in Tusk/Midmarch.  However, the associated benefits, such as trade routes, base income and stability, should make up for that.

Investment costs

The PC can ‘cash in’ their income to use when developing and use the ‘Development Costs List’ below.  These cost represent fees, licences, compensation and other similar costs associated with the development of new businesses.  Most settlements choose to favour their own business owners, at the expense of incomers.

These tables will be used by NPC states and will normally be followed quite strictly.  In some cases a ‘dispensation’ for a lower rate might be agreed, IF the development suits the needs of the settlement.   It will probably be tied to a specific development.

PC controlled states can charge what they like, when they like.  Some settlements in Southern Region, those particularly keen on expansion, choose not to charge any fees at all – in effect granting a blanket dispensation.  Other states work more closely to this list.

Examples of Dispensations

V&A have a ‘dispensation’ in Jovvox –  they can expand at Preferred Rates inside their Hamlet, although they must ‘balance’ the Hamlet in terms of Econ, Loy & Stab.  However,  they may not develop anything outside that hamlet. 

DELEM had a dispensation in Restov – permission to build a Town Base at Standard Rates, rather than Outsider rates.  It is limited to the town base, and DELEM may not expand to a City Base.  Other developments are permitted at Outsider Rates.

NOTE:  Dispensations are agreed on a case-by-case basis – and will differ between settlements.

Investment Costs Table

  • Preferred investors – are people who have a special relationship with the settlement’s rulers, they pay 0.5bp social development contribution per point of Economy.
  • Standard investors – The normal residents of the settlement, pay 1bp social development contribution per point of Economy.
  • Outside investors – Anyone coming from outside the settlement, pays 1.5bp social development contribution per point of Economy.  Using BP generated at the settlement, by a development owned by an outsider.
  • Externally Funded – Any development that is even part funded by BPs generated  from outside the ‘state’, costs 2bp social development contribution per point of Economy.  (this is represents Outsider Rate, plus a small premium to represent moving the resources about)

Vessels, Mules etc are still portable and can be purchased at the normal rate, then moved to a new site.  For example, Shallops can be purchased from the Boatyard in Tusk, at their normal price, and then sailed down to Jovvox or Mivon.  Mules could be purchased (at the normal rate) from Zora’s ranch and moved to Restov.  They do not attract ‘outsider’ costs.  Example:  V&A can but Fishing Boats in Tusk and sail them down to Mivon, for use there, without paying an extra fee.

Taxes

The ‘standard’ tax rate for Midmarch was set so that one point of economy  earns 0.5bp per year – however, that is a very generous rate, and other settlements do not  match it.  Some might not even have the same tax rate for different categories of Investor.  (NOTE:  I am not going to deal with different tax rates for different classes of investor in Midmarch or PC managed settlements – it really screws up my spreadsheets!)

Tax rates are higher in Mivon, Jovvox and Restov – which means lower profitability for businesses –  which leads to slower growth.  My first thought are 0.4bp income per point of Econ in Restov and Jovvox, 0.3bp per point of Econ in Mivon.

Why that huge difference?  Midmarch was a ‘boom’ economy,  a whole state that was being built from scratch –   it needed investors, and it needed them quickly.  Tusk took that tax rate on, they have always had the option to change it, if they  wanted to.

Jovvox and Restov are both well established settlements, they are more interested in protecting their own interests and their own investors, that encouraging new comers –  and they are both Chaotic settlements, although they have a settled hierarchy.  Mivon is even more different, it is Chaotic, and it is run by a self-interested group of nobles – Mivon’s Great Aldori Houses.  Those guys are only interested in themselves, anyone else is there on sufferance and is expected to pay through the nose for the privilege. 

In other places the tax rate will be higher, and the income per point of Econ even lower – rumour has it that the tax rates in New Stetven is so high that businesses rarely make more that 0.25bp  per year, per point of Econ!

Tax RateProfitability 
   
Very High0.25New Stetven
High0.3Mivon
Medium High0.35Brundeston
Medium0.4Restov, Jovvox, Sway
Low0.45 
Vey Low0.5Midmarch, Tusk

Untaxed Items

Currently, Vessels and trade caravans are considered as Untaxed and don’t count towards the Balance that settlements need to maintain.  That is not going to change, it is one of the perks of  Merchant Houses –  however, it is going to be reflavoured.

Rather than Untaxed, they will become Permit Free.  In other words, Merchants do not need to seek permission (or pay extra costs) to vessels or Trade Caravans operating from their Jetty, Serai etc.

They will however, be taxed.  This means that Vessels and Trade Caravans have the same profitability as the rest of the business  (ie 0.5 in Low Tax areas, 0.3 in high tax areas etc).  It is also a win for the people who manage the settlements –  as I will modify their income to reflect this extra tax generated by vessels operating from the town.

Religious Developments

That gives me an opportunity to ‘fix’ religious development.  It was always my intention that Religious Developments should be used to promote the philosophies of the deity involved, rather than be a ‘settlement’ or ‘business’ development tool.  Settlements have their own lists (Defence, Social) development lists.  Merchant Houses, which represent the ‘pinnacle’ of business development, have all sorts of development advantages that can be leveraged to improve their profitability. I would like to see religious developments have a similar ‘specialist’ flavour to them, it helps to enhance the RP flavour of the world.

I intend to restrict religious developments, so that non-priests are limited to building shrines and great shrines only.  That allows PCs to Role-play a religious devotion to their deity but means they can’t use the income generated by Deity’s favour to fund their own developments – without some sort of commitment to the deities ideals.

Once the PC reaches Level 6 (or above) they can take an Entourage Cousin/Ally, who will be able to build larger religious establishments.  However, the Cousin/Ally will expect the income generated from Church premises to be spent on their Deity’s agenda, rather than their PC patron’s.

NOTE: Some PCs have already built Holy Houses without meeting the Priestly requirement, and I won’t take those away from the PC.  However, in future, I will expect the income to be used to advance the Deity’s interests.

A deity’s agenda is defined by their: Areas of Concern; Worshippers; Domains and Subdomains – or something that can be clearly associated with the deity.  You can find the listed in the entries at the Pathfinder Wiki.   https://pathfinderwiki.com/wiki/Portal:Religion

That still gives you a lot of scope to develop.  Pharasmin orders might concentrate on Graveyards, Fighting Undead or The Circle of Life.  As well as Dwarves, metalworkers and the other things listed, I find the line ‘Many of his followers are architects, artisans of all stripes, or military planners. He is also popular among guards and city watchmen, who pray to him for protection’  in his description.  There is lots of ways you can interpret that.

The same is true of  the other deities –  BUT I do expect you to be able to make a case for the philosophy and to be reasonably consistent in your interpretation of it.   

Some obvious examples include: taverns and breweries for Cayden; schools, libraries or courthouses etc for Andoletta; defensive structures or sword-schools for Acavna; markets, banks and shops for Abadar; anything to support rural life for Erastil; natural things for The Green Faith.  However, there are many other things that work just as well.

Placement can benefit the PC –  for example Mother Beatrix supports Henry’s objectives and often builds in places that benefit them.  Lutz Stigmar, has agreed to support House Aeris in their development and Brother Gandred is committed to Ringbridge and House Lebeda-Ondari’s estates and  Maril will support developments in wilderness areas that are part of Old Keep.

Addendum

I knew I had forgotten something! I need to add an extra cost for building in Prime Areas. For example, Tusk might charge 1bp per point of Building size for buildings inside the Inner Walls, and 0.5bp for buildings between the two walls.

The Church of Pharasma

Pharasma has become one of the chief deities in The Stolen Lands. Her faith is widespread and there are three different religious organisations dedicated to her and, as such, is probably overdue for consideration.  According to the Pathfinder Wiki

“The Lady of Graves”, Pharasma is the goddess who shepherds Golarion’s recently-departed souls to their final reward. Upon death, souls migrate via the River of Souls to Pharasma’s Boneyard in the Outer Sphere, which sits atop an impossibly tall spire that pierces the Astral Plane.Pharasma makes no decision on whether a death is just or not; she views all with a cold and uncaring attitude, and decides on which of the Outer Planes a soul will spend eternity. Pharasma is also the goddess of birth and prophecy: from the moment a creature is born, she sees what its ultimate fate will be, but reserves final judgement until that soul finally stands before her. As the goddess of death and rebirth, she abhors the undead and considers them a perversion.

However, there are many ways that her faith is interpreted by her priests in the mortal world and there is no overall Church of Pharasma that provides rules and guidance  that must be followed.  Each order or chapters of Pharasmin priests finds its own way to celebrate Pharasma’s philosophy, and finds the path that best suits them and their parishioners.  However, there are a number of different ways that The Gray Lady might be honoured.

High Pharasmin

The great Pharasmin Cathedrals and Abbeys are often involved in the pomp and circumstance of faith, they spread the word and provide services based around birth and death, and form the touchstone of the Formal Faith.  However, many support smaller community houses and Chantries, located in suburbs, towns and villages, that provide support to their local communities.  After all, people are born, live and die the whole world over –  not just in cities.  However, the main abbey or Cathedral  keeps a central record of Births and Deaths that have happened in their area of influence.

Community Pharasmin

Many towns and villages have little more than a graveyard or shrine, or (in some cases) just a lone priest dedicated to the Lady of Graves, who may be the only clerical representative (of any faith) in a community.  They still perform the core functions as a new soul is born into the world, and when they ‘travel on’ at the end of their days – however their register of Births and Deaths often includes entries on marriages and other important community events.

Chantry Houses

Sometimes, for the sake of the living, it is important to memorialize the dead – especially if the die far away from home or without a proper burial.  Many people believe that while a departed soul is  remembered, its path to the afterlife and its continued existence are made easier and more comfortable – and the priests of Pharasma encourage this belief.    It might help the soul, but it certainly helps keep Pharasma in the minds of those left behind, and it often helps spread the faith.  Most Chantry houses keep lists of their ‘patrons, and recite the names of the departed at least once a day, thereby ‘remembering’ the individual.   Wealthier individuals pay to have a small plaque placed on a wall, or the departed one’s name inscribed in stone.  The wealthiest might have a whole chantry dedicated to their noble family …

Militant Orders

Priests of Pharasma abhor undead.  In their eyes undeath breaks the Circle of Life and should be stamped out as quickly as possible.  While most provide the basic Pharasmin services, but rather than being politically or Community focussed, the Militant Orders concentrate on the destruction of undead.  Many junior priests serve as Crypt Guards, patrolling Crypts and Graveyards, searching out signs of undead infestations and trying to identify the potential source.  Higher ranking priests deal with the infestation and actively search out undead, knowing that, once they have been destroyed, the Circle of Life will be re-established.

The Voices of the Spire are a good example of a Militant Order which is, like many others, led by an Inquisitor.   Militant Orders often have their own Favoured Weapon, such as Maces or Flails, that are acceptable alternatives to the deity’s preferred weapon of a dagger.  After all, a dagger is not a particularly effective weapon for the destruction of the undead.

Philosophical Orders

Some orders believe that following a specific lifestyle, or philosophy, aids the soul in their afterlife.   However, the philosophies vary widely from Order to Order but the Priests all seem to be in Pharasma’s grace (and receive their Spells/Powers) so it appears that Pharasma  has no particular favourites amongst them.

Pharasmin Penitence is one example of such an order.

In the Stolen Lands

Pharasma is an important Deity in The Stolen Lands game.  She was introduced right from the start as the Patron Deity of  Lord Henry (my main NPC) because I wanted a non-intrusive ‘church’ that I could use to support PCs as they grew.  However, she also suited Henry’s family background and fits with my tendency to create True Neutral NPCs.

Order of the Soul Spiral

The Soul Spiral represents High Pharasmin and Community Pharasmin rolled into one.  It is overseen by Abbess Beatrix leMaistre (NPC) who is the  cousin Lord Henry leMaistre – The Ruler of Midmarch.  Mother Beatrix runs the Order from her abbey in Tusk (The  Regional Capital), there is a priory at Newgate and graveyards (or similar) in six other towns or villages.  Initially funded by Lord Henry, The Soul Spiral is now self-sufficient, and its expansion is driven by income generated from its religious sites. While Mother Beatrix supports her cousin, her finances are separate from his.

The Order of the Soul Spiral offers all the ‘mainstream’ services that you would expect from a Pharasmin Order.  Graveyards are always attended by a priest who records births and deaths as well as help with funeral services.  Great Shrines, and larger buildings, all have graveyards or small crypts, and normally offer midwifery services as well.  Rumours are that Mother Beatrix wants to add a chantry at Kunlun soon.

Body and Soul

Body and Soul is a philosophical order overseen by the Priest Ethankos. Unlike Pharasmin Penitence, Ethankos believes that all souls are judged equally by The Gray Lady, regardless of the suffering that they have undergone here on earth – and that the afterlife is influenced  by the previous behaviour, rather than it’s suffering.  As a man who enjoys life’s comforts, Ethankos is determined to share that delight in life with others.  He understands that death is part of the Circle, but so is life – and life should be lived to the fullest, while you still have it.

Based from a Holy House in Fey Falls, Body and Soul already has an Eating House and Shrine in Kunlun, and expects to expand to other settlements soon.

A Militant Order?

Next comes the question of what a Militant Order dedicated to Pharasma  should look like, from what I can see the various wiki descriptions are suitable vague and don’t have enough detail to base anything on.  About the only thing of value is that the leader of The Voices of the Spire is an Inquisitor.   However, there is already a militant order, of Iomedae, based in Tusk.  Led by two ex-PCs it boasts a Holy House, a Sword School and a Library – the Holy House provides a religious base, the Sword School delivers the military training and the Library provides specialist knowledge on their roles in society (etc) and that seems like a reasonable model to follow.   

Graduates from Iomedae’s Mission are mainly warriors with the Equerry Archetype with the very best going onto become Paladins.

However, that doesn’t provide a home for the two principal investors, and (since it became an NPC establishment)  I have been managing it as a low income, slow growth type of organization.  Its one foray outside of Tusk has been to build a watchtower with a shrine dedicated to Iomedae in Kunlun (the religious centre) for The Southern Region.  Future plans only extend to building decent homes for the NPC principals – then it will be time to think again – however, expansion will always be basic and low income.

A Militant Order for Pharasma, with an Inquisitor at the head –  could well follow the same structural lines –  although as it will be home to a PC, it should probably be a Priory, Sword School and Library.  Graduates might be warriors or, perhaps more suitably, Adepts with the Military Chaplain archetype –  basically Adepts with better armour than most others –  The best going on to become Inquisitors.  Maces could be their ‘Favoured Weapon’ – it is usable by Adepts and Inquisitors –  and fits well with the traditional (D&D style) undead killer.  Even now the archetypical D&D weapon for hunting undead is a Mace of Disruption –  and the Disruption Magic Weapon Ability, can only be placed on a bludgeoning weapon.

Expansion Paths for the order, should probably be Holy Houses with a watchtower attached – that generates an Income, has a Def Point to represent the Specialist Fighting Priests, but still gives Stab ad Loy bonuses to help the settlement owner keep everything in balance.

Bragge (the card game)

Introduction

I have become interested in games again!  Last post was Scrymball – now it is a card came.  It will probably be dice next!  Yes, I am thinking of opening up a sports arena and gambling den in the city of Tusk!  For me, one of the most important things is to keep the mechanics of the game simple, so that players get a quick turnaround – but to leave enough scope for players to RP around the side. 

I am going to base the card game on Brag, a game that I played quite a lot in my youth.  There are a number of variants, one allows continual betting, and (on occasion) I lost quite  a lot (for me) of money like that.  However, I am going to use a Fixed Stakes variant, as that keeps the rules and systems very simple.  Players can RP side bets if they want to, but that is a different thing.

Basic Rules (Bragge)

Each player builds one (or more) hands of three cards.  The one with the best hand wins, with hands ranked in the following way.

RankDescription
Straight flushThree cards same suit in sequence
Three of a kindThree cards of same rank
StraightThree cards in sequence
FlushThree cards same suit
PairTwo cards of same rank
Thirty-oneAll cards in the hand add up to 31
High cardNone of the above

If two players have the same hand then the highest set wins.  Ace high, suits are ranked as (high) Spades, Hearts, Diamonds, Clubs (low).  Player work with the cards that they are dealt, they may not draw or buy extra cards.  Jokers are wild, but natural hands always beat matching hands with wild cards.  Drawn hands result in a re-deal.

  • (Ac, Ad, 6s ) beats (9s, 9h, Ks) – aces beat nines.
  • (7c, 7d, 9s)  beats (7d, 7c, 4s)  – 9 beats 4
  • (Jd, 4s, 3s) beats (9s, 8c, 6d)  – Highest card wins, jack beats nine
  • (10c, Joker, 4d) beats (9h, 9s, 6d) – tens beat nines
  • (10c, 10d, 4d) beats (10s, Joker, 4c) – Natural hand wins
  • (10c, 8c, 3c) beats (9s, 4s, 3s) – ten beats nine
  • For a flush – count the highest card first, suit second.
  • (9h, 5c, 3d) beats (9c, 5s, 3h)

The game is played with multiple decks that include jokers, and is dealt by a house dealer (which basically means we can cope with two players getting exactly the same card)

Five Card Bragge

Five Card Bragge is the basic game, it is quick, easy to play and can be used causally or for high stakes.  It is probably the least skilful of the games described here.

Players make a secret roll on the RPoL Dice roller – to take five cards from the 54Card (with Jokers) pack.  Players use their cards to make up the best hand they can. 

Game Play

Casual Stake:  1sp

Best hand wins.

Players may, of course, play for higher stakes among themselves.  However, while the ‘casual stake’ is covered by Living Expenses, other stakes aren’t – make sure you have enough coin on your character sheet before you start the game.

Eight Card Bragge

This is a slower, longer running game, and can involve skill and strategy.  It is well suited to a card game based RP session.  Be really careful though, the overall pot can get quite high, if you are not playing for casual stakes.

Players make a secret roll on the RPoL Dice roller – to take eight cards from the 54Card (with Jokers) pack.  Players use their cards to make up TWO hands of  three cards each.

Game Play

Casual Stake:  3x 1sp – Best hand, Second hand and Pot.

  • Players compare their ‘Best’ hands –   The winner (best hand) wins the first stake. 
  • Players then compare their ‘Second’ hand  –   The winner (best hand) wins  the second stake
  •  If the same player wins both hands, then they claim the overall pot.  If the hands are shared, the pot rolls over to the next deal.
  • If there is a draw at any stage of the game, that particular stake, rolls over to the next deal.  The rest of the round continues as normal.

NOTE:  Players may make up their hands in any way they choose.  However, one the choice has been made, they MUST play the best hand first.

Players may, of course, play for higher stakes among themselves.  However, while the ‘casual stake’ is covered by Living Expenses, other stakes aren’t. – make sure you have enough coin on your character sheet before you start the game.


Pigs (dice game)

Object of the game:  Score 100 points.

Equipment: Two D6 and a score card,

Start: Each player rolls two dice, highest score goes first.  If it is a tie, they re-roll.

Each turn, a player repeatedly rolls two dice (D6) until either a 1 is rolled or the player decides to “hold”:

  • If the player rolls a 1 (on one of the dice) they score nothing, and it becomes the next player’s turn.
  • If two 1s are rolled, the player scores 20 points – but their turn ends and it becomes the next player’s turn.
  • If the player rolls any other number, it is added to their turn total and the player’s turn continues.
  • If a player chooses to “hold” (or double one is rolled), their turn total is added to their score, and it becomes the next player’s turn.

The first player to score 100 or more points wins.

Social Stakes: Loser pays the winner 1 sp
Serious Stakes: Loser pays one silver piece for every point that they lose by.

Scrymball

Description

Scrymball is an unsophisticated game, often played in military schools as a way of toughen up new recruits, but has become a favourite for inter unit competitions. It is a game of threes. The pitch is divided into three segments (known as thirds), the end-line is divided into three segments and the game is played in three sessions, also known as thirds.

Scrymball Pitch
Scrymball Pitch

At the start of play, each team starts behind their own ‘third’ line, with the ball placed on the centre spot.  When the referee blows his whistle to start the teams rush forwards to try and get the ball, before their opponents do.  The object of the game is straightforward.  The attacking team (The team with the ball) score point by getting the ball across the end-line at the opposite end of the pitch.  The defending team try to stop them, and to ‘steal’ the ball from them – this is known as a ‘turnover’.

The attacking team may throw, kick or run with the ball as they try to move it past the opponents’ end-line. The defending team tackle, wrestle or trip as they attempt to stop the attackers and steal the ball.  Play continues with the other team attacking.  At the end of the first ‘Third ‘of play, the referee blows their whistle, there is a short break and then play starts again – although the teams change ends (from the previous third). 

If the ball passes the opponents end-line in the middle section, the attacking team score two points.  In the outer section they score one point.  Once a team has scored, the game is restated with both teams behind their own third-line with the ball on the centre spot – in the same way as the game and the other ‘Thirds’ are started.

The ball is round, made from stitched leather and filled with some sort of wadding.  While kicking and throwing the ball are an integral part of the game, the ball doesn’t fly well and long passes are an exception, rather than a regular occurrence.

The team with the most points at the end of the game is declared the winner.

OOC:

Teams are drawn from the  city, town, individual or company’s military units.  (i.e. Tusk, Newgate, Aeris Estates, Lodvoka-Sud, WSM).  The game is played with three modified d20 rolls – one for each session.  PCs are Team Owners, they may not nominate themselves as part of a team.

Making a team

The quantity and quality of your military forces gives the basic team stats and modifications.

  • Basic team
  • Less than 5 Def Points   = +0
  • 5+ def points = +1
  • 10+ def points = +2
  • 20+ def points = +3
  • Experienced team
  • 1+ Medium/Heavy troops = +1
  • 10+ Medium/Heavy troops = +2
  • 20+ Medium/Heavy troops = +2

Star Players

Any team may have up to three star players, drawn from the team owner’s NPCs (Such as Entourages, Cohorts or Squires) that have a martial class.  They must be a named NPC with an established character sheet.  These bonuses are cumulative.

  • +1 for each Star Player who is level 5 or above.
  • +1 for each Star Player with a PC or Prestige class.

Resolution and Scoring

Each team rolls a modified D20 for each ‘third’ of play.  (Three rolls per game) Each roll indicates how well the team played in that session of play.

  • 20+ and you score one point.
  • 25+ and you score two points.
  • 30+ and you score three points.
  • Natural 20 scores one (bonus) point.

Internal Politics

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

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

So currently we have :-

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

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

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

Chaotic Holdings.

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

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

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

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

Lawful Holdings

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

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

Ownership

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

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

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

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

Common Hold

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

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

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

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

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

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

Taxes

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

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

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

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

The Armed Forces

The Armed Forces

I have been thinking about how the military works in my campaign rules.  They have grown from a simple ‘catch all’ to become something more important.  Recently one of the players suggested that defence should always be ‘smaller’ than any of the other settlement attributes (Economy, Loyalty and Stability) – and that made sense, after all, a society has to be able to support its military.  Now I have a couple of PCs with a legitimate interest in developing their armies – and the rules just aren’t up to that.  So time to beef them up a bit.

I implemented Troop Types when I redesigned the mass combat rules, and we have Auxiliary, Light, Medium, Heavy and Special troop types – although these are clearly very simplistic :}  So I am going to rename the Troop Types as Irregular, Regular, Veteran, Elite and Special troop types because it sounds better!

Troop Types

Irregular Troops are generally non-combat NPC classes (Commoners, Adepts and Experts)  and they represent militia, support staff at military bases, retirees and just about anyone else who might be prepared to fight when called upon. Irregulars have about 20gp of combat gear, on average.  In The Stolen Lands game padded and leather armour with simple weapons is a suitable combination.

Regular Troops are the backbone of any military force, and are all Warrior-3, built  and equipped for different roles.  They have light and inexpensive equipment, because that is cheap and suitable for their roles.  Town Guards, Area Scouts, Light Cavalry Messengers, Mercenary Guards, House Guards, Caravan Guards, Coast Guards, Ship’s Guards, Crypt guards are all Regular troops.  Regular troops have about 50gp of combat gear suitable for their role. In The Stolen Lands game a hide shirt or studded leather armour and a light shield, with light or one-handed weapons is a suitable combination.

Veteran Troops are some of your most experienced soldiers, Warrior-4 with medium gear and rarely appear outside a standing army and have the single function of fighting.  They might be called on to resolve conflicts that the regular troops can’t cope with, but their main role is fighting wars – either to defend their homeland or on foreign soil.   They generally have about 150gp of combat gear. In The Stolen Lands game Scale armour and a shield with martial weapons is a suitable combination. Veterans are an upgrade that cost 1bp

Elite Troops are the best of your fighting force, still Warrior-4 they have the best combat gear you can afford, up to something like 300gp.  Scale and banded armours make a suitable base to work with.  Elite Troops are an upgrade that cost 2bp (1bp if upgrading from Veterans)

NOTES:

  • The Stolen Lands is a westernized game (with Russian overtones) and the armour recommendations reflect that. 
  • Aldori and Non-human troops are limited, and might have different recommendations.
  • Equipment levels are based on the ‘average’ cost of the Build Points.

Structure

Training Units

Training Units are composed of staff and senior students from military training establishments.  They are all Warrior-3 – although the students don’t yet have all the feats and skills associated with a particular career role.  They can be assigned to military duties in an emergency and can be mustered at about the same speed as a Local Guard unit.

The Local Guard

The Local Guard are a militarized police force, although they aren’t, necessarily, just one force.  In the Stolen lands each holding has their own Guard unit, although they all perform the same roles.  Protecting the citizens from crimes, disturbances, fracas, theft and incursions.

Town Guards patrol the settlements (whether they are villages, towns or cities), Scouts patrol the wilder areas, Light Cavalry patrol roads and carry messages, and Marine Guards patrol waterways and lakes.

Think of it as a cross between a Local Lord’s war band, a gendarmerie and a National Guard.  Every holding need at least one defence point from Local Guard units for every Rural Hex, every Urban Hex and every Town/City District.   Wilderness districts have different rules, and two Local Guard defence points can patrol up to seven hexes.

The Local Guard can also be assigned to the Army in times of war, although they take longer to muster than the troops of the Standing Army.

The Local Guard are often housed in Watchtowers, Forts and Garrisons – although they may well be found in other military buildings.

The Army

The Standing Army consists of troops reserved for combat.  They might be sent out, as a special force, to resolve conflicts that the Local Guard can’t cope with – such as an incursion by an Orc horde or adventurers fighting in a tavern – but they don’t carry out patrols or investigations.  Instead, they train and stand ready to leap into action – and they are the quickest of all troops to muster and deploy, often being ready to leave within a few hours of the call.

Initially, all the units of a Standing Army are Regular Troops, and have the same sort of gear as the Local Guard, however they can be upgraded.  For 1bp a Regular Unit can be ungraded to veterans, and for anther 1bp a veteran unit can be upgraded to an elite unit – upgraded units have better training (L4) and better combat gear – making them progressively tougher in the field.

Private Troops

Private Troops are not under the control of either the Local Guard or the Army, but fall under the direct command of an individual.  This group includes mercenaries, caravan guards, personal guards, crypt guards and house guards.  Again the majority are Regular Troops charged with a specific task – either to protect private property or to fight (for money) on some else’s behalf.  Unlike the Local Guard, these guys can be upgraded to veteran or elite troops, although there is no financial benefit for a Mercenary Company to do so.

In The Stolen Lands,  the ‘owners’ of these troops will have signed some sort of document committing them to the defence of the region, and they may well be assigned to the Army in times of war.  However, they are the slowest to muster of all troops and may even take weeks to become available.

Specialist Troops

This is a real ‘catch all’ category intended for duellists, sappers, siege engineers and any other troops who do not fit into another category.  Often they are designed as and when they are needed.

Buildings by Type

Just to make it a bit more of a challenge, I have assigned different types of troop to different parts of the defence structure.

NameClassificationDefence
   
Duelling Salon {★★★}Specialist1
   
Barracks (★★★) .Military2
Keep (★★★★)Military4
Castle (Small) (★★★★)Military6
Castle (Large) (★★★★)Military9
   
JettyLocal Guard0
WatchtowerLocal Guard1
FortLocal Guard2
Garrison (★★★)Local Guard3
City WallsLocal GuardVaries
   
Mercenary BasePrivate1
Fortified Villa (★★★)Private1
Fortified Manor (★★★★)Private2
   
Military School {★★★}Training1
Academic Academy {★★★★}Training1
Military College {★★★}Training2
University {★★★★}Training2
Military Academy {★★★★}Training3

Dwarves

For a couple of reasons I have been thinking about Dwarves today.  Not only are they becoming relevant in my Stolen Land game, but I adopted a ‘Dwarf’ in a different game, as well.  I like to add some personal elements to posts I make on behalf of characters, both PCs and NPCs, so I thought I had better jot down some notes about their culture.

I have written all sorts of things on Dwarves previously, they seem to cropped up quite regularly, so little (if any) of this will be new – just a bringing together of the best ideas that I have had over the years.

Overview

Dwarves, traditionally, are a fairly self-interested race, and often don’t mingle easily with the other races.  That said, there is a long tradition of Dwarves moving to human lands, often to provide services that are related to metal or stone.  However, they often ‘stick together’, almost as if they are members of an ex-pat society, rather than an integral part of the local community. At the most extreme, Dwarves can be xenophobic, and actively discourage mixing with other races.

However, as a race, Dwarves normally have an LG alignment.  They follow the rule of their elders and have a tendency to help other people out.  That feeling is strongest for other Dwarves, and many Dwarves feel a strong moral obligation to look out for other Dwarves when they can.  The ‘obligation’ is still there when it comes to other races, but isn’t as strong – unless the others are personal friends or there is a contract or alliance in place.

Food & Drink

Mainstream Dwarf societies are often associated with mining and metal work, and ‘Cultural’ food is firmly rooted underground.  Often there isn’t a good supply of fresh food and grain, and much of their food is imported in trade for ore, metal or worked metal goods – which leads to some ‘delicacies’ that might not be found in human cultures.

Keep All

Keep All is a mineral preservative.  While salty deposits can be found in mines, Keep All is a mineral common in most mines.  When ground to a fine powder and added to food, it helps preserve it, so that it will last for longer, and provide secure supplies for the Dwarf-Hold.   However, it gives the food a slightly tinny, tangy flavour.  Enough to be noticeable, but not enough to make the food unpalatable.  It is the Taste of Home, for many Dwarves.

Dwarf Sausage

A cold sausage, often made with mutton that has been preserved with Keep All.  Packed full of ground meat, the sausage could be a bit flavourless – except for the tinny tanginess of the keep all.  Dwarf folk-lore says it will last almost as long as the fabled Dwarf Bread, although that has never really been tested.

Dwarf Bread

Dwarf bread is not really bread at all, but more like a dense, unsweetened biscuit.  It can be eaten as it is, but it is dry and hard work – however, it can also be broken up and added to stews, where it dissolves works as a thickener.  Dissolved in water, it would probably make an excellent wallpaper paste –  but don’t tell the dwarves that.  It would normally last well anyway, but the small amounts of Keep All that is added to the recipe extends the shelf life of Dwarf Bread to a ridiculous extent, there are rumours that two hundred-year-old Dwarf Bread is still edible.  And still has that slightly tinny taste.

Dwarf Ale

Everyone knows Dwarf Ale, it’s heavy and as black as the deepest night, with a thick creamy head.  The ‘real stuff’ is rumoured to have some type of fungus in the recipe and, like all Dwarf food has a slightly tinny, tangy taste to it.

Pickled Mushrooms

Perhaps not mushrooms that many humans would recognize, but many underground dwarf-holds have caverns that are used as fungus farms.  They are dried and bottled in fresh water that has been laced with Keep All.  They rehydrate in the bottle to make flavoursome, tangy mushroom sections.

Nubbe Paste

A thick spread that looks and tastes a bit like peanut butter – although with that slight tang that dwarves love.  It is best when spread on Dwarf-Bread and is a staple in any Dwarf’s field rations.

Music & Dance

Dwarves are not particularly sophisticated in human terms, and tend to enjoy a good social gathering, that is suitable for all the family. 

Music

Many musicians play metal instruments.  While there are a few flutes,  many play instruments that would be considered part of the Brass family – such as trumpets, cornets, trombones and tubas.  Percussion is often in the form of large metal drums.  Music is inclusive and easy to listen to, often in the style of Oompah bands or military style marches.

Dancing

Dance is inclusive as well, there a few Polkas that everyone knows, as well as some Military two-step like dances –  to suit young and old alike.

Country Living 4 – People

I love it when people do something that makes me start thinking about social structures in my world. I, sort of, know all of this stuff in advance – but writing it down makes me consider it more fully. In the process of writing this blog, I amended the rules for manufacturing developments slightly, revisited Divine Adepts – and added ‘dog’ as a custom familiar for Divine Adepts dedicated to a nature god. All-in-all, and excellent return.

Commoners

Most of the people in the countryside are commoners. These are people who haven’t had very much going for them, and who haven’t managed to ‘escape’ into one of the other classes – most of the people in the game world are commoners.  They live in a world of barter and copper pieces, where a couple of silver pieces is a good day’s wage – but they are both resourceful and hardy.

In my game commoners get full HP at first level then progress at average HP, and my NPCs have a basic 5 point build.  They don’t get traits, and I have removed Craft and Profession from the class skills list – nor can they take the Skill Specialization feat.  They are the ‘Salt of the Earth’ who provide the labour needed to do … just about anything.

It isn’t all bad :}  Most commoners have a roof over their heads,  clothes to wear, food to eat and aren’t too cold in winter.  They just don’t have any luxuries, or even any particularly nice things.  Like other classes they progress, but few go beyond Level 3.

L1 Commoners are Young Adults –  Probably 14-17 with few skills, no traits and no skill points in Crafts or Professions. They are kids setting out in life – unskilled, as yet, but ready to learn.  These are the guys you can employ for 1sp per day or hold your horse for a couple of coppers.  You will also find them doing the washing up, mucking out the stables or doing similar unskilled jobs.

L2 Commoners are Adults who have learned the basic of their job, and probably work somewhere as a labourer. They get average HP, and have learned one or two craft or Professional skills.  They might also take a trait, from my Commoners Traits list.  These traits represent ‘extra’ training and include some basic military skills, hunting skills, housekeeping skills.   They make up the majority of commoners.

L3 Commoners are well established.  They are the people who run the stronghold, act as foreman on work-gangs or oversee tasks.  They probably make up 30% of commoners in an area and are the backbone of the rural community.

L4 Commoners (and above) are rare – and all have their own character sheets.

This is a fairly standard template for my NPC Commoners :-

Str-11, Con-11, Dex-11, Int-11, Wis-11, Cha-11
Feats= Toughness, Endurance and Great Fortitude
HP 10 (L2, 13) (L3, 16)   (includes 1hp/Level for Favoured Class)
Skills (Includes 1 Skill Point/level for Human)
L1 – Climb, Swim & one at random.
L2 – 2x Profession or Craft & one at random.  (eg Prof:Farmer, Craft:Leather)
L3 – Often just extra points in the same skill areas as before (BUT – sometimes I get inventive)

That probably doesn’t look very useful – however, they can Take Ten on skills where they have spent points.  That puts DC10 tasks comfortably within their skill set – which means farmers can grow the common crops, woodworkers can make basic furniture, smiths can make everyday items, etc.

Those commoners with traits that give weapon proficiency will generally be proficient in one more of Sling, Club, Staff or another free weapon as well – as will any commoners who travel regularly or might find themselves in a tough spot.  Those with ‘Military’ traits will probably own a home-made Reinforced Tunic as Armour.

Clothing is basic – drawstring trouser or skirt, with plain jacket or vest, probably fastened with ties, laces or a simple belt.  Most are made of cheap wool, although some are of leather.  A shirt and breech-clout of a softer material probably finer wool (rarely linen) are prized items and are the only items washed regularly.  Wooden soled clogs and boots (more expensive) are the favoured footwear.  Beanie hats, socks and gloves are probably knitted wool, while cloaks, hoods and other coats might well be made of hessian.  Colours are often muted greys, greens, browns and yellows – all of which can be dyed fairly easily.

Food is basic as well.  Vegetable stew is the staple, perhaps with meat or fish a couple of times a week, while eggs can be hard-boiled and accompany apples or even raw onions.  Herb teas are a common drink –  Nettle Tea is a favourite, because nettles are readily available and can be dried for use through the year.  Hooch, is a weak fruit wine, fermented enough to make sure the water used in the process is safe and disease free.  Small ale serves the same purpose, but grain is harder to come by.  Bread costs money (or at least the grain does), so many commoners eat pease pudding instead.  It is a sort of porridge made from peas,  which solidifies when cold to make a bread substitute.

Inside the house will be some simple furniture – table and benches, a dresser for the pots and crockery, simple bed frames with straw filled mattresses.  Blankets and drapes will be rough wool (perhaps crocheted) or hessian.  There will be a single fireplace for heat and cooking.  Light comes from cheap tallow candles.

This equates to a ★ or ★★ living standard, depending on the status of the individual.  It is a basic existence – but one that provides enough food, shelter and warmth.  For most of the people, most of the time.

Warriors

Every village has some warriors, who are employed by the local lord, to patrol the village and its hinterland.   Villages with a watch tower just have a unit of guards, but larger villages might have scouts and cavalry as well.

Most are level 3 warriors, although their officer may be level 4, and if so probably has a level of Aristocrat, to represent his experience of management, leadership and command.  The officer is usually the magistrate for the area and the Lord’s bailiff, with responsibilities for collecting rents and assessing taxes as well.

The stats for the light troops I use in this role can be found here

Some Troopers live in barracks, while some live in cottages in the village and have the same standard of accommodation as most of the villagers.  However, they are paid in cash and have a slightly better standard of living.  Shoes and clothing is a slightly better quality, blankets are thicker, they have bread instead of pease pudding, meat is served more frequently, and they generally have some coin left over for a night in the tavern.  Not a huge change, but enough to be significant in a rural environment they are comfortably into the ★★ rankings, with some junior officers pushing towards ★★★.

Many troopers come from a similar background as the people they patrol –  and while they don’t get posted to their home village until they have proved themselves elsewhere, they have sympathy with, and understand, the people of the village.  Officers get paid more, have better accommodation and an even better standard of living.  In many cases the Local Officer is the wealthiest and highest ranking person in the village. …. While most officers come from a ‘better’ social class, it is still possible for someone from commoner stock to get promoted to that level.  An officer is the likely to be the only person in the village with a noticeably better standard of living  (★★★) as they are looked after by servants (Military Auxiliaries) almost as if they were a knight or a noble.

This is one of the easiest, and cheapest, ways for a commoner to move up the social ladder.  Lords are always looking out for likely lads (and lasses) to join their forces – the recruit is trained, equipped and paid, regularly, in real money – and it is likely that their offspring will be able to follow them into a similar role in the future.  Many commoners see it as a first step on the social ladder, and if they can make it as an officer … the world is their oyster …

Adepts

Almost all the smaller religious establishments, like those found in villages and hamlets, are overseen by adepts.  Great Shrines, Graveyards and Holy Houses are prevalent in Villages while simple shrines are sometimes found in Hamlets, however, there are exceptions.  Some religious orders develop hamlets that are primarily religious sites so, occasionally, you might run across a hamlet built around a Priory.  While there is normally one main deity in a hex, you can find shrines dedicated to other deities close by. 

The type, and level, of community support will vary according to the deity represented.  Pharasma, for example, concentrates on funerals, but will also help celebrate weddings and namings.  Erastil is more involved with the community, encouraging active participation in all sorts of events from the whole community.  Sarenrae’s priests, concentrate on community health, with advice and their healing skills. It is rare to find other deities’ houses in a rural setting – however, larger defensive buildings, such as a Fort or a Garrison, may well have their own Military Chaplain to support the troops and, perhaps, to help run militia training sessions.

Nearly all rural priests live at about the same standard as their parishioners, although they are normally comfortably into the ★★ rankings, in the same way as warriors are. These rural priests are almost built as Collegiate Adepts and come from a similar background to their flock.  While Rural priests get some of their stipend in cash, they also receive ‘collection plate’ donations in kind (perhaps a rabbit, or a bag of apples) from the local community.

This is another way that Commoners can move up the social ladder, although chances of promotion it is limited.  This is because most religious buildings (from Chapel Upwards) have a Cleric (rather than Adept) in charge.  At best, an adept might hope to become second-in-command at one of these larger establishments.

Of course, some rural religious buildings are home to PC clerics – and then all bets are off. You are unlikely to find many arcane or spontaneous adepts in a rural setting, as most gravitate towards towns and cities.

Experts

Experts are a different kettle of fish.  They are all different and unless you have family connections, it is difficult to become an expert.  Most Experts learn their skills in the family business, although some have parents with enough clout (or cash) to arrange a suitable apprenticeship.

Any business with an Econ value is run by an Expert, so every village and most Hamlets will have a few experts in residence. The farms are managed by expert farmers, the tavern by expert Inn keepers, the mill by an expert miller and even the market has its own expert merchant. In wilderness areas there will be expert hunters, trappers and guides.  While Commoners provide the labour that keep the economy working, Experts are the managers, supervisors and specialists.

Developments with Econ +1 (Tavern, Mill, Craft workshop) are normally run by an Expert-3 with +7 in the main skill that relates to the business. Developments with Econ +2 (Road House, Brewery)are run by an Expert-3 who has Skill Focus and (if appropriate) masterwork tools – which gives +10/12 in their main skill.

Along with the main expert there will be a spouse (probably Commoner-3) and a couple of other experts (possibly an Expert-2 and an Expert-1) who are either children of the ‘master’ or outsiders taken on as assistants.  The development makes work for a number of the local commoners, with a few taken on as permanent labourers, and many others finding part-time work here.

There is probably an apprentice or two as well.  L1 commoners who are learning the basics of the trade- in return for acting as gofers, servants and menial labour.  These apprentices can find themselves doing anything including sweeping the floor, pumping bellows or carrying fence posts.  Some develop as commoner-labourers, a few lucky ones might learn enough to become an expert themselves.

Most experts have the same sort of living standards as Warriors and Divine Adepts, although their exact place in the Village Hierarchy depends on ‘status’ of their developments

Example Hierarchy

Outpost and its hamlets

  1. Cdr Ress
  2. Lt Pickering, Brody (manager of the hopyard)
  3. Garrison Sergeants, Sub-Prior of Pharasma’s Holy House, Market Manager, Innkeeper (Tavern), Farm Manager (Westfarm), Manager of Roths Local Ales (Rothyard).
  4. Warriors, Adepts & Experts
  5. Smallholders and labourers.

Country Living 3 – Villages

Villages

Villages are the centre of rural life.  They act as a hub for smallholdings and hamlets that surround them, providing security and other basic facilities.  A ‘classic’ village has the church, the pub and the local market –  the main source of Security, Faith, Socialising and Trade  for everyone who lives in that hex.  It is the heart of the community.

Outpost, described below, fits that model – the garrison patrols a larger area that most and a lot of troops.  Under my Campaign Rules,  that takes up space so some other facilities are ‘smaller’ than they could be.   However, the better the defence/security the more hamlets it can support – so Outpost can support three hamlets rather than the (more normal) one or two.  As each hamlet is able to support at least one more business, with (perhaps) a local brewery, mill and blacksmith are probably first on the list for Outpost.  With a bit of thought, you can develop a thriving rural community – distributed among the hamlets but centred on the main village.

Then there are the smallholdings.  The various maps of the hex show the small holdings closest to the Village and hamlets, but there are others scattered around the countryside as well.

Example:  Outpost

This isn’t the Outlook of the present, but represents the plans for the Village of Outlook.  There is no Tavern at the moment, and the Holy House is still only a graveyard – however, this is what it could be. It currently has two dependent hamlets, West Farm and Rothyard, and has the potential to add a third.  However, it could be expanded – building a palisade around the village proper would increase its ‘Defence’ to four, which would permit the development of a fourth hamlet.

The Village of Outpost

The Garrison (1) The garrison buildings house three separate units of troopers – Guards to patrol the local area, Scouts who travel further afield, and Light Cavalry who patrol the roads.  Lt Commander Ress is also magistrate for the town and Lord Henry’s bailiff for the area, his assistant Lt Pickering oversees the patrols and day to day running of the garrison.

The Outpost Tavern (2) A simple eating and drinking house provides the village’s only real social space, and is busiest on market days, when more smallholders come in from further afield.  Its main stock-in-trade are local ales and wine, along with simple meals.  You are most likely to see tables of locals playing cards or dice, rather than hear a musician or entertainer.  However, there are occasional entertainers, and the Tavern often allows travellers to sleep on the common room floor for a night or two.

The Market (3) The market is busiest of Market Day (held twice a week) when people fetch in their wares from outlying smallholdings.  On those days you can buy a large range of local produce –  mainly foodstuff,  although there are other locally produced items as well.  There are always a couple of local smallholders with stalls, so you can buy fresh veg most days of the week.  And there are a few enterprising who buy up the left-over stock, and hold it to sell on over the rest of the week.  One trader has taken it a bit further, and buys up minor items to sell on his stall, and you can generally get an eclectic mix of wooden spoons, clay bowls, lengths of home-spun material, simple cloaks, hats, gloves – all sorts of basic accoutrements, available every day of the week.

Pharasma’s Holy House (4) A small religious community run by Broth Amos – who oversee the spiritual needs of the community.  They can offer simple weddings, namings and funerals – and have a small cemetery plot attached to their mission.  Pharasma isn’t big on ceremonies (except for funerals) so weddings tend to be a formalized hand-fasting and ‘namings’ tend to be little more than a recognition of the new villager.  They do, however, keep the villages records of births, marriages and deaths.

Workers’ Cottages (5) Terraced rows of cottages that are little more than a one up, one down – they often house a family of five or six people.  Each of the two rooms is about 20×10 – the ground floor often contains separate spaces for living and working, while the upper room can be partitioned with curtains or screen to give some element of privacy.    Each terrace (about 5 houses) has a couple of privies to service the block.  While not ‘comfortable’ by modern standards, it is often better than they would find in a town or city.