Dwarves of The Stolen Lands

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

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

Introduction

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

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

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

Applying it …

Leadership

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

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

Society

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Business

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

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

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

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

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

The smaller clans that are growing to help fill the gaps

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

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

Law

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

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

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

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

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


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

Societal Culture

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

Overview

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

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

Law – Chaos

Lawful – 

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

Neutral –

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

Chaotic –

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

Good – Evil

Good – 

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

Neutral –

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

Evil –

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

Example

Startens Edge (LG)

A small mining town on the edges of civilisation.

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

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

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

The Key Players

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

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

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

The Rest of the Economy

There are a few other Businesses in the town.

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

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

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

Defence

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

Alignment Effects

Good

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

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

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

Lawful

There are a number of local laws in place.

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

Dwarves, Mines and the Underdark / Darklands.

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

“Surface Society”

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

Dwarf Strongholds.

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

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

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

Underground

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

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

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

Agriculture

Sometimes, completely out of the blue, I get the urge to look at an unusual aspect of world build.  So the time has come for me to add to my guidance piece on food production, cash crops and deal with the add-on aspects of the agricultural economy.  I can almost hear the cries of ‘Why?’  now –  but let’s just say I revisited an old article on forest gardening and then saw something about flax.

Forest Gardens

I wrote Forest Gardens years ago for a forested NPC state in a game I ran years ago, well before I started writing campaign rules.  PCs would never use them, and I don’t think any PCs ever saw one, as the game didn’t take them to that part of the world –  but I still had a thing about making worlds that worked and that I could describe easily.  I spent some time researching internet articles on woodland and forest agriculture, then a bit of forest/woodland plants that were edible.  I am not sure that I have a plan that would work in RL, but it is certainly feasible in a fantasy setting.

Forest gardens are clearing that have been cultivated  to  produce more of the forest plants that are edible by humans.  Most gardens have one or more  Sweet Chestnut, Hazel or Beech trees growing along their perimeter, while the borders of the garden are clearly defined by a thick hedge of Forest Gooseberries.  The clearing itself is generally scattered with wild apple trees, although the bulk of the garden is taken up by Apios Vines trained up trellises.  Clumps of sorrel grow close to the perimeter, while sweet smelling violets make up most of the ground cover and are used to mark the borders of paths through the garden.

Everything in there is edible, the violet leaves make salad greens and can be cooked in stews, and (for the Stolen Lands) I probably need to add a scattering of Plum trees.  However, it is the Apios Vine (Based on Apios Americana) that is the star of the piece, with both edible tubers (that work like potatoes) and edible beans.  I don’t think that would fully support a family – although it works well for smallholdings in forested areas.  But then, smallholders (in game) are written so that they need to hunt, gather, craft or work for someone else, to make ends meet.

Flax

I have known that Flax is an interesting plant for years.  It is the source of the fibre used to make  linen, and the seeds used to make Linseed Oil.   Linseed oil is an edible cooking oil, has been used in early oil paints  and as a wood treatment.  It is said to be the first vegetable oil produced on a commercial basis.  And once the oil has been extracted, the remains of the seed make good animal fodder.  Flax is one of nature’s  original wonder plants :}  Then I saw something that reminded me that flax grows well in damp ground – and I had farming in swampy hexes on my mind.  Not farming in full on swamps, but farming in areas that are partial swamp – as I was thinking about the settlements of Reedham and Litwins Cove, in the stolen lands game.

In The Stolen Lands

I don’t really get a lot out of this, except for a sense of satisfaction :}  However, I do get a description for smallholdings in forested areas and I get another choice for the cash crop for some Great Farms.  However, I think I will restrict Flax as a crop to hexes that are part swamp – part plains or hills.  For The Stolen lands – that probably just means Litwin cove – but it is nice to have a range of alternatives.

The FFTC as a Faction

It has been a difficult few weeks with lots of things going on and health issues to boot – but recently I have had more time to think about my games. In quiet or difficult periods, I always end up thinking about new games environments and rules tweaks that might help encourage role playing. Recently, I have been considering Game Factions, not as a really competitive tool, but as a way of encouraging players to choose a Role Playing theme for their characters.

First up is The Far Flung Trading Company, or FFTC as it is generally known. The FFTC has been around in (many of) my games for years, and first came into being in a tabletop game, back in the 1990s. Of the four ‘sub-factions’ described below, three have their roots in player run trading companies, while the fourth is a long-running NPC family – that goes back to games I ran in the 80s.

I suspect the traits might need reviewing, after I decide on the game to use it in 🙂


FFTC is a well-established, if somewhat erratic, Trading House.  It has never been a single ‘house’ in the traditional sense, but it is composed of a number of smaller interests working together. 

The FFTC concentrate on local trade routes.  They understand that they can’t compete with the major trade houses on major or long-distance routes, instead they provide the end services.  Be it coastal trading ships, barges on rivers or even mule trains – they are interested.

Members of this faction are expected to help develop trade links for the FFTC.  They don’t become merchants (yet), but they facilitate, smooth and secure trade for the FFTC.  They gain kudos (faction points) for every Shop, Trading Post, Market, Serai, Jetty, trade agreement, shipping contract or similar opportunity that they secure for the FFTC.  In the long term,  Faction Points turn into a pension for the character when they retire from adventuring (actually shares in their sub-factions shipping business).  If the adventurer is killed, the pension is used to provide a small income for their dependents.  At the end of their adventuring career, many adventurers defer their pension and take a ‘retirement’ job, running a trade station or serai, captaining a ship, as a warehouse manager or even as a merchant.  Of course, they have their own  money, made while adventuring, to build their own personal estates and income –  outside the ‘factions’ framework (if they so choose).

Of most value to the FFTC are vessels – ships, fishing boats, river boats that can be refurbished and put to use – and FFTC will always buy vessels from their members for a good price, and they are always worth bonus Faction Points.

FFTC will also buy goods (loot) from their members at slightly above market price, although this excludes trade goods, coins, gems, jewellery etc, that are always traded at full price.  Note that this is only offered to faction members share of the treasure. 

While there are many small groups involved, there are four influential families behind FFTC, all with different backgrounds and philosophies.  They work together to find new markets and new ways for the FFTC to grow.  These four families are :-

The Nightsky Family traces its origin to the union of a human Monk (Flower Nightsky)  with an elven adventurer called Belle.  Many of their scions are sent to train as monks, before returning to the work for the family.  They believe in bettering themselves by experience and personal learning.  Their members are generally Human or half elven.  Their family motto is ‘Know Thyself’.
Campaign Trait: Gain +1 trait Bonus in all profession skills (trained only).

House deKassen traces its origin back to a half-orc adventurer made good.  They own land and minor titles, but the shipping line is seen as a good proving ground for family members with wanderlust.  Family members are all half-orcs (Gagak’s blood runs deep) with an aptitude for music – many of whom train as bards. Their family motto is  ‘From Whence We Came’.
Campaign Trait: Gain +2 trait Bonus in one instrument type or singing.

Clan Marisi are an old family, who once controlled swathes of land on the Far Coast, but were driven off by barbarian humanoids.  Now the rump of the family are spread far and wide, with their shipping business as the glue that binds them together.  Members of the family are mainly human (or half-human) and are bound together by family loyalty and an adherence to The Old Ways.  Their family motto (loosely translated from an old Celtic language) is ‘In time we trust’.
Campaign Trait: Gain +2 trait Bonus on all D20 rolls associated with ancient cultures.

The Al-Tajir  are a trading brotherhood.  Descended from Moorish forebears that have an air of the old ways, although they are comfortable with the ways of the world.  They can be of any race or class, although all are skilled merchants.  Their motto is ‘We come in trade’.
Campaign Trait: Gain +2 trait Bonus in Profession Merchant.

So what is Roleplaying?

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

Face to Face games

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

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

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

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

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

RPoL 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RP interaction came from three sources

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

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

Relationships

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

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

Relationships are the RP source that just keep on giving.

The Green Friars

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

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

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


The Green Friars

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

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

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

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

Notes

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

Refining Entourage

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

Entourage-Assistant

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

Advanced-Entourage.

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

Minor Cohorts

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

Cohort

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

More player controlled NPCs?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hmm.  More thought required.

Society, Balance and Settlements.

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

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

Economy

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

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

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

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

Loyalty

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

Stability

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

Defence

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

Balance

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

Serial Discrepancies

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

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

Specific Discrepancies

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

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

Bad Things Table

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

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

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