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.

Country Living 2 – Hamlets

Hamlets

A Hamlet is little more than collection of smallholdings that are close to each other – but with something that gives them common goals and sense of community. 

Smallholdings are often built close to larger settlements (Village, Town City) which offer better protection, more work opportunities and a central market to see their goods.  This mean that the smallholdings near the settlement are closer together than those located further away – and that means that the people of the smallholdings have more chance to mix with each other and develop a sense of community. 

Very occasionally this will lead to the smallholders getting together on a communal project that benefits them all mutually – such as a community hall or a shrine (if they all share the same faith).   More often, someone else sees that smallholdings are close together, and sees that there is a ready supply of labour for a ‘country’ business, so starts a local business.  Once a hamlet is established, it can attract more smallholders, and develop into a living thriving community.

Country Businesses make use of whatever resources there are in a region – mostly they are farms of some type, although quarries, fisheries and lumber camps all have a place, if the terrain is right.  If there are suitable mineral resources, it might even be a mining hamlet, although in that case it is often the mine that comes first and the smallholders follow.  There are a few ‘special cases’ where a Lord or a Cleric  builds a hamlet for their own purposes –  much like a mine, the smallholders follow, knowing that there will be work available for them.

Example 1 – West Farm

This is an example of a basic hamlet, just starting out on its development.

There is a farmyard, with a row of cottages for the regular farmworkers.  It is a mixed-economy farm – in other words it grows vegetables, a cash crop (normally cereals) and keeps a few head of livestock for milk, eggs, wool and leather.

There are a couple of smallholdings nearby, and they provide casual and part-time labour to help keep the farm running.  Although they still maintain their normal smallholding practices at the same time, the steady supply of casual work gives them a bit more financial stability.

A win for everyone.

Example 2 – Rothyard

Rothyard started out in much the same way as the farm described earlier, but has grown. 

First it added fields of hops as an extra cash crop, along with the extra buildings needed to process the hops. Then, as more smallholders moved to the area, they added a small brewery making a beer for local consumption and a community hall to help bind the community together.

Now it is a nice, compact, hamlet.  There are a number of permanently employed staff living in cottages, and enough local smallholdings to provide part-time and casual labour when they need it.  However, it has grown as much as it can, and can’t really develop any further without losing its character and status as a hamlet.

Country Living 1 – Smallholdings

A couple of characters in The Stolen land have been building an agricultural rural stronghold – which started me thinking. While very little of this is new, I have spent some time pulling things together, and tweaking them slightly. Expect posts on Hamlets, Villages and the Urban Hinterland at some point 🙂


Smallholding

A single small holding, some distance from the nearest settlement is known as a thorp.  However, they are also the main type of housing found in hamlets and villages, and the most common housing in the hinterlands of towns and cities, as well.  Most of the population are small scale, subsistence, farmers and labourers.

A smallholding is the smallest unit of Country Living, which produces enough for basic living, and  is often a home for one extended family of, perhaps, 10-12 people. A smallholding is often a single room dwellings, perhaps with curtains or screens for privacy that serves as a living room, work room and kitchen – with cooking over a fire (perhaps in a fireplace).  Building materials depend on the environment – wattle and daub, sod/earth, logs – or a combination. There will be a few simple outbuildings, mainly sheds of some type, for tools, storage and animals.

Smallholders use hand tools to cultivate small plots of land, where they  grow common food plants,  and generally have a couple of goats and a few chickens to provide milk, eggs and (occasionally) meat.  There is often a small herb and fruit garden, growing crab apples, green plums and blackberries as well.  A well-established smallholder will have a few more goats, grow different varieties of fruit and may even have a donkey as a pack animal.

Foraging and small game hunting supplement this diet.  Game birds and rabbits might be taken with a sling, fish can be taken with a net and wild foods can be collected locally.  Occasionally a smallholder might have (and be proficient with) a light cross bow, and use that to hunt larger game

Many smallholders also have craft skills, although only at skill +4 or +5, which supplement their income.  They can often make a few coins by making baskets or simple furniture – or even shoeing horses.  These items are either bartered locally, or sold in a local market to make a few coins.

There is always work available in hamlets, villages and urban settings.  Much of it is casual or seasonal work, and there is never enough to go around – but it pays in coins, and they can be used to pay taxes of buy the few items that they can’t make for themselves.  If nothing else, there is often work available maintaining roads, bridges and other infrastructure – the local lord might pay in coins, but will probably take labour in lieu of taxes.

Smallholders work hard and might not be rich –  but they are self-sufficient.  Generally, they can feed themselves, clothe themselves and have a roof over their heads.  There might not be much in the way of luxury, and what they have is often basic, but they stay dry, warm and fed – for most of the year.


Example

Gurford is a smallholding situated at one of the few crossing places on the Gur River.  It consists of three dwelling huts, a work hut and a storage hut.  At night the compound is guarded by two large dogs.

There are a few ‘gardened’ areas around the village – a well tended and maintained radish and cabbage beds as well as wolfberry  and cloudberry  patches.

They make a few coins selling leather and reed baskets.

1 Arvon Fisher  is a fisherman!  He travels in a coracle – uses a net to take shoals of the small fish known as silver grunters, traps for eels and uses rod and line to fish for trout, pike and other larger fish.  The eels are normally smoked to serve as winter rations, while grunters are pickled in their own juices.  Old Arvon is a bit of a loner, he loves being on the water and will happily spend all day alone in his boat.  Since his wife died, a couple of years ago, his daughter (Mila) runs the holding.

2 The Tanners are a young couple and who have a son called Tigan (14).  Ramo Tanner smokes the eels, pickles the grunters and plucks the game, as well as curing hides and skins.  Mila Tanner (Arven’s younger daughter) cooks meals for the family, brews hooch and small beer, preserves the fruit, and patches clothes when needed.  She also oversees the gardening and basketwork.  Tig looks after the goats and helps out with the gardening.

3 Work Hut.  Is really just an open hut that is used as a work space by the family, mainly Ramo.   It is generally filled with food and hide that is being preserved one way or another – smoked eels, pickled grunters, or skins that being cured.

4 Storage, is another empty hut that is used to as a place to store provisions against the winter, however, it can serve as a second working area as well.  Depending on the season, there may be a barrel of pickles radishes, salted cabbage, a basket of dried cloudberries, an urn of wolfberry hooch and root vegetables ready for winter.

5 Besh Hunter is a Male half-orc trapper who married Arven’s older daughter – she died in child birth many years ago.  Besh works the local river banks, mainly for eels and small game, but also brings back reeds for basket making, sale and building maintenance.  His two daughters, Snaga(14) and Ush(15), tend the fruit and vegetable patches – although they sometimes go out on trips with Besh.  The Hunters have two large dogs, one of which stays with each of the girls during the day and guard the compound overnight.

Duelling

Questions from a couple of my players has encouraged me to think about duelling in a bit more depth. My ‘Stolen Lands’ game is heavily based on Paizo’s Kingmaker AP, which introduced the Aldori and their duelling style –  so duelling classes are important to the game.  We haven’t actually had any duels yet, but we are getting close to the point where I think we might – so I need to be prepared.

Styles

There are three duelling styles available to players in my world –

Aldori

Considered by many to be the most effective duelling style it was introduced by Sirian Aldori, the Sword Baron of Rostand. It is a delicate and acrobatic style based on a specialist ‘duelling’ sword and it taught in Brevoy (mainly in Restov and amongst the Khavortorov) and  Mivon by descendants of the original Aldori Swordlords.

There in no formal mention of a Real life equivalent – in my game the Duelling Sword is based  Katana and the fighting styles based in oriental martial arts.  The description of the duelling sword is katana-like and it fits the story given for Sirian Aldori.  He left Rostland in disgrace after he lost a duel, but then came back years later with a new and better style to reclaim his lands – and we know (from the Jade Regent AP)  that there is a path to oriental lands across the crown of the world.

The Duelling Sword is a ‘hand and a half’ weapon, that can be used in either one, or two hands. It is the ability to change grips, that gives the weapon it speeds and flexibility.  When duelling, the Aldori just use a single weapon and no shield.  Sometimes, when they are in combat, they might choose to use a second weapon in their ‘free’ hand, but their Duelling Sword becomes a lot less effective. Many of the  Aldori specialist archetypes, prestige classes, feats and traits become less effective when the Duellist is using a weapon or shield (including buckler) in their free hand.

An Aldori Duellist is just someone who fights in duels with an Aldori Duelling Sword –  however, the very best will have spent years following specialist training regimes.  A basic Aldori Duellist might just study for proficiency with a Duelling Sword, but to be recognized as a master, and a swordlord, is more difficult.  There are three main routes to becoming a Swordlord.

Swordlord (Fighter Archetype) – the mainstream approach used by the majority of Aldori  families and their troops.   When they achieve level five they are known as a Swordlord Elect (Think Brown Belt).  Level six gains them full Swordlord status  (Think Black belt)

Swordlord (Prestige Class) – The best route for anyone who didn’t follow the Swordlord  archetype – and even some that have.  Qualifying for and achieving a single level of the Swordlord Prestige Class earns you Swordlord Status.

Duellist (Prestige Class) –  An unusual way to qualify, but still possible.  Someone trained in a different class, but proficient with an Aldori Duelling Sword, may well be given Swordlord status when they qualify as a duellist.  However, they will have to prove their ability in a duel.

There are many  Feats and Traits are specifically helpful to Aldori Duellists. 

Traditional

A fast and furious fighting and duelling style from Taldan that is based on the Falcata and Buckler – it is also known as Rondolero. The style is common among fighting men across many areas where Taldan settled originally and is seen as a link to the ‘Old Days’.  However, duels are more gladiatorial than in the other styles.  It is taught in Silverhall, Restov and New Stetven.

Its real life equivalent has to be the Rodeleros of 16th century Spain, but with a nod towards the legionary soldiers of the Roman Empire.

A falcata is a fairly heavy slashing sword, an (in the games rules at least) a buckler is a small shield strapped to the arm.  Although you can grasp something in the Buckler hand –  you lose the defensive benefits of the buckler if you do that – and you also lose all the class benefits  that are based on the buckler.

A Traditional  Duellist is just someone who fights in duels with a buckler and falcata –  however, the very best will have spent years following specialist training regimes.  A basic Traditional Duellist might just study for proficiency with a falcate and buckler, but to be recognized as a master is more difficult.  There are not many ways to become a master duellist in the traditional style.

Buckler Duellist (Fighter Archetype) – the approach chosen by most characters who choose to make a career as a Traditional Duellist.  When they gain Level Six they are known as master Dualists.   

Duellist (Combat Feat) – This feat give a character with basic falcata and buckler skills a boost.  Someone with this feat and, at least, BAB 6 might be awarded Master Duellist status.

Modern

Also known as ‘The Light Blade Style’ in some areas. The rapier is the primary weapon of the Modern Duellist, but the style is flexible enough that it can be used with any light blade.  It doesn’t have the long history of the other two styles, but has been adopted by the aristocracy as a ‘Noble Sport’ and many young nobles get their first taste of swordplay in a duelling area.  Because of this it has become widespread and is available in many places, and is often learned by the middle classes as a way of showing their status.  General seen as the least effective style of Duelling, it tends to be looked down on by hard-core duellists.

Its ‘real life’ equivalent (in this game) is European duelling culture, and the fencing/duelling schools of the 17th and 18th century.

Based on the rapier and light weapons generally, the Modern Style lends itself well to two weapons fighting techniques.  Where a Traditional Duellist uses a Buckler in the off-hand, the  Modern Duellist can use a second weapon, although the Parrying Dagger is the favoured weapon, certainly among nobles and those who ape them.  Note that all the normal rules for two weapon fighting still apply.

A Modern Duellist is just someone who fights in duels with a light blade, most often a rapier. However, the very best will have spent years following specialist training regimes.  A basic modern Duellist might just be proficient with a rapier, or other light blade, but to be recognized as a master is more difficult.  There are not many ways to become a master duellist in the modern style.

Learned Duellist (Fighter Archetype) – This is a career path taken mainly by fighters with an aristocratic background, of one sort or another.  It is a good way to improve your status in aristocratic society.

Duellist (Prestige Class) –  this is the most common career path for a Modern Master Duellist, as it offers a straightforward route into high level duelling for characters from many classes.  Rogues and Bards are the obvious beneficiaries by any ‘combat’ character will have proficiency with rapiers and light blades, and most other classes can learn proficiency with at least one light blade. It is a common route for NPCs with the Aristocrat NPC class, as it can help them gain and maintain status in Aristocratic Circles.

There are many general feats and traits that will help a Modern Duellist improve their duelling ability.

Types of Duel

All duels follow the Paizo duelling rules – or they are not recognized as proper duels.  However, there are many ways they can be interpreted.

Sparring Duels

Duels intended for practice.  These are part of the everyday world of the duellist, and they help the duellist improve and learn better duelling techniques. They generally take place in a duelling salon somewhere in a duelling or sword school. They are fought to the first blood – and there is always a cleric or medic standing by.  Participants used matched weapons and rarely use armour – duelling salons normally provide a selection of weapons for participants to use.  More skilled duellist may use masterwork weapons –  however, both participants will use weapons of the same quality.

Formal Duel

Again, these may take place in a Duelling Salon although they may also happen under the watchful eye of a number of ‘seconds’.  While each participant supplies a second to support them – many duels are watched by a number of independent seconds, who can act as legal witnesses if the outcome of the duel is called into question.  Equipment is agreed between the participants, but should be equal or equivalent.  Formal duels can be fought to First Blood, Unconscious, or Death. 

In my games – first blood requires a medic present, unconscious requires the presence of a priest capable of raise dead or the equivalent, although ‘To the Death’ does not require any medical support available.  No formal duel can be started without the specific OOC consent of both players.

Combat Duel

If a Duel is called, and accepted, in a combat situation – weapons, armour and external assistance are only controlled by the ‘honour’ of the participants.  If an opponent cheats – so be it.