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.

Posted in House Rules, Role Playing Aids, World Building.

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