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.

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.