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Messages - S'mon

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Harn looks better every time I look at it.

Has anyone done domain level play?  Is Play by Post the best format for that do you think?
Running something in parallel with character level detail?

I do a lot of domain level play, but it's all from the character POV, I'm not doing spreadsheet analysis & data entry as a separate game. :)

I like Mentzer's domain system (expanded on in ACKS) because it's designed to support character play, not be a separate game like Birthright or Fields of Blood.

Starting to think about emerging from hibernation & restart tabletop gaming once 6 people allowed indoors from mid May, hopefully.  Hard to decide whether to restart games stopped by Covid or start new game. Have asked players what they think but no response yet, they probably need me to make their mind up as usual. :)

Pen and Paper Roleplaying Games (RPGs) Discussion / Re: Detect Evil
« on: April 09, 2021, 02:42:14 AM »
D&D Alignments were supposed to be "the faction you're *aligned* with" - just as in Anderson & Moorcock Law v Chaos. Everyone knew which faction they supported. This is clear in the earliest stuff, but gets progressively muddied as Gygax also wanted to use it as a way to punish badly played Paladins - "You're doing LG wrong!"

In the CSIO, the Clanute (Senate) has factions that are explicitly LG, LE, CN etc - they act like political parties, Whigs v Tories. Everyone thinks their own Alignment is best.

IRL of course in a system like this either no one will call themselves Evil, or Evil will mean something completely different than IRL. For the Evil-Aligned, Evil is a good thing.

I see things like Guildhall requires Large Town pop. but nothing about wood or stone.
Do you factor these in to determine what most building are constructed from.
Wattle and daub verses solid wood for example.
Would give unique visuals as well as a feeling for their durability.

No - and the prices are not really building construction prices, they are the price of setting up a mercantile, religious or arcane organisation. Probably the merchants/church/wizards pay for most of the actual building work.

Do you track families? Noble or common? What about personal names?
Has it ever mattered during a game which family a NPC was a member of?

Are there resource constraints in your setting? If so, how does the population deal with them?
Trade? Raiding?

I assume there are hostiles about. Do they impact day to day life directly or just as a game event?

Yes there are families, noble and common, and they have names, and often NPC's family matters. :)
There are various hostiles of course, humanoid tribes, demon cults, etc etc.
The low population density means that resource constraints aren't a major factor in the local campaign area. They are in the densely populated heartlands of the kingdom around Lake Mogador, where Salvatore's FR9 notes that eg Polten & Ostel often clash.

Hm, you can see some of how it works in play by reading my game logs at

Yeah, if you look at my notes above you'll see a simple build tree I derived from Fields of Blood: The Book of War. Various settlement sizes unlock more advanced mercantile & magical resources. You can put a trading post anywhere, but you need a town for a merchant's guild.
Going to have to add that to my reading list promptly. Thanks for the tip on it.

It's 3e-era and a little bit too rules heavy & magic-heavy for my tastes, but I find it very inspirational and often go back to it. Cool art, too!

What would be nice to find is a "build tree" like you see for tech advances in video games.
Give a nice organic growth to an area and establish "realistic" trade dependencies.

Yeah, if you look at my notes above you'll see a simple build tree I derived from Fields of Blood: The Book of War. Various settlement sizes unlock more advanced mercantile & magical resources. You can put a trading post anywhere, but you need a town for a merchant's guild.

I only work out domain stats for PC-ruled areas. On this map
Did you build out the populated areas off of a base resource map or throw things down as gaming need required?

I was mostly using my geographical knowledge and basing it off an area I'm familiar with, western Aberdeenshire bordering the Cairngorm mountains.

I have some standard metrics such as self-sustaining settlements should not be over 10 miles apart even in sparsely settled borderlands. The area is a subsection of the map of Damara in FR9 Bloodstone Lands

Resources are only defined mechanically once an area is PC-controlled. I know that say the Moonfog Hills produce silver & mithril, but I'm not crunching any numbers unless & until PCs take over the area.

Do you remain focused on what directly interacts with the players or maintain an area around them?

I only work out domain stats for PC-ruled areas. On this map

there are three PC-ruled domains, at D'Ashe Manor, Ramvira Tower, and Fort Skulnar (Ironwolf Manor). Currently D'Ashe and Ramvira domains are at the Manor scale (a few square miles), while Ironwolf Manor was granted a 6 mile radius by the local Duchess, so I crunched the numbers at Barony scale although it's basically wilderness at present.

The system being BECMI based is centred around the Barony scale of a few hundred square miles; if a PC became ruler of a larger territory I'd probably do the normal calculation for their personal fiefdom only, since I use the OD&D-1e assumption that you can only directly rule & tax the area where you can directly project force, usually within 5-50 square miles of your fortress depending on the terrain. NPC sub-domains would remain abstracted but the 20% Salt Tax from BECMI is a guide to how much the PC ruler can extract from them.

NPC domains are treated more like encounters; I only need to know the major NPCs, any standing forces, for treasury I'm probably rolling on the 5e treasure hoard tables. Eg when the PCs took over D'Ashe Manor I used the Tier I/Level 1-4 Hoard table. A Barony level dominion would typically get Tier II treasury, a County or Duchy Tier III, a modest king's treasury several (2 or 3) Tier III, centralised kingdom or empire (Cormyr, Thay) Tier IV. Something like the Mystara Thyatian Empire would get at least 3 rolls on Tier IV for the Imperial treasury.

I think RPG books are quite famous for being cheap!

I think 'serious' wargames take the attitude that you're paying for the rules not the presentation, so shorter is better. Not sure how viable this model is in the Internet age, though.

Still, taking a company or battalion in to storm a dungeon doesn't feel like the way I want to play regularly.

I'm in favour of flexibility - players & GMs should have the opportunity to approach the game in a wide variety of styles. I always felt 4e D&D was constraining in that you HAVE to play it in Big Damn Heroes mode, and it's incapable of handling resource management without serious modding. Whereas in 5e I can run 1e-style battles between small armies ok - and am currently doing so, a tribe of orcs (around 70 or so) & their pet barlgura demon is attacking a small dwarf hold defended by 8 PCs and around 24 allied NPCs.


Yep, I like this too, my friend! ;D

I have always used and encouraged players to gain henchmen, hirelings, and such, being long-inspired by how playing D&D began in the beginning.

Beyond that motivation, though, it's just great fun! I'm also reminded that having such a flexible approach generally accomplishes a few other meaningful dynamics;

(1) Having some Henchmen and Hirelings along with the group adds realism to game-play, in the kinds of battles and scope of their accomplishments actually become *more* believable, more grounded in real heroism, and less of a super hero dynamic of "We are four superheroes and can do anything"

(2) The inclusion of additional henchmen and hirelings obviously increases roleplaying, for everyone involved, whether it involves training, engaging in fighting, developing friendships, or even pursuing romantic relationships. Having more scope for roleplaying is usually fun for everyone, and also mitigates against the sometimes perceived dynamic of "Always Fighting and Killing Everything".

(3) IMMERSION: I have found that players get quite involved with the NPC's, and through the rivalries, romances, friendship, and other dramas going on with everyone, the Players become more immersed in the campaign world.

(4) EPIC HEROISM: Related to Increased Realism in Point (1) earlier, having henchmen and hirelings, and gradually retainers, bodyguards, specialists and troops, also interestingly increases the scope for epic heroism. The Players are more and more able to engage the fantastic world in increasingly heroic ways--like the Argonauts of ancient Greece, or a heroic band of Viking raiders on a Dragonship, and such like. They can participate in epic battles, attack enemy fortresses, engage meaningfully against a Dragon or an island fortress of evil giants, and so on. I suppose I find the scope and style is gradually and realistically heroic, and inspiring, as well as fun, while avoiding seemingly being ridiculous or entirely unbelievable, if that makes sense.

Semper Fidelis,


Hi SHARK! Yes, this matches my feelings and experience exactly. I designed my current 5e campaign (set in 1e era Forgetten Realms) very much to accommodate this play style, with classed N/PCs kept simple by not using the Feat & Multiclassing options, XP based advancement, and explicit rules for hirelings & retainers - eg I use a henchman limit of 4 + CHA bonus; currently the PCs are mostly around 4th level and all three active groups have their own manors/domains with a bunch of NPC followers, several henchmen per group, and a lot of interest in acquiring more. Two of the manors have squads of guards, while the ruler of the third thinks he 'can't afford it' despite having the most money of any of them. :) I have 16 active players across the three groups, with around 18-20 PCs depending on how it's counted. Pretty close to Gygax's recommended 20 players. :D

Re RP & romance, a few PCS have relationships with NPCs (I never almost never see PC-PC romance even though there are some married couples among my players - but I do have some very attractive NPCs) :D - and some of the NPCs form relationships with each other of course - I think this is definitely beneficial to making the world feel real.

Elia the Shadow Sorceress, an NPC henchperson IMC. None of the PCs seem too interested in flirting with her though - might be the whole 'I have a personal relationship with Death/Myrkul' thing she's got going.  ;D The pic is apparently Mina Harker as a vampire, I guess the sparkly no-fangs type.

Still, taking a company or battalion in to storm a dungeon doesn't feel like the way I want to play regularly.

I'm in favour of flexibility - players & GMs should have the opportunity to approach the game in a wide variety of styles. I always felt 4e D&D was constraining in that you HAVE to play it in Big Damn Heroes mode, and it's incapable of handling resource management without serious modding. Whereas in 5e I can run 1e-style battles between small armies ok - and am currently doing so, a tribe of orcs (around 70 or so) & their pet barlgura demon is attacking a small dwarf hold defended by 8 PCs and around 24 allied NPCs.

For random events I use a 50% chance per Tenday, and roll on the d% table from Dragon Magazine article 'Holding Down the Fort' by Matt Iden (May 1989) tweaking as appropriate. Eg IMC one party has a miners' festhall in a frontier mining region, a roll of 'major patrol accident' I translated as a serious brawl that killed d4 miners - rolled 3 - and injured several of the hall guards.

I'm definitely into this stuff. I tend to use the BECMI companion set rules as a base. Here's the player facing rules on my current 5e D&D campaign blog :

Territory Development
When characters clear and rule territory around a stronghold (at least 10 miles radius), they may receive a tax income of typically 5 silver pieces per inhabitant per month, plus any Resource income. High level Fighters, and some other classes, may also have a body of Followers come to serve them. A typical initial domain has 2-8 (2d4) hamlets, each with 101-400 (1d3x100 + 1d100) people. Politically this is, or is equivalent to, a minor Barony.

Typical Followers for PC Level 9+ ("Lord")

Warlord's Followers (roll d4 or choose)
(1). 20 light cavalry (9gp/m), ringmail & shield AC 16, longsword, hand axe, 3 javelins.
      100 heavy infantry (6gp/m), scale AC 15, halberd, club.
(2) 20 heavy infantry (6p/m), splint & shield AC 19, morningstar, hand axe.
      60 pike infantry (6gp/m), padded AC 12, long pike, short sword.
(3) 40 heavy crossbowmen (6gp/m), chain AC 16, heavy crossbow, shortsword
      20 light crossbowmen (6gp/m), chain AC 16, light crossbow, shortsword 
(4) 10 heavy cavalry (15gp/m), splint & shield AC 19, lance longsword & mace
      20 medium cavalry (12gp/m), scale & shield AC 17, lance longsword & mace
      30 light cavalry (9gp/m), studded & shield AC 15, lance & flail
Troops typically are veterans and use Mercenary stats (hp 16, ST+2 DE+1 CO+1), with adjustments for equipment as above.

Troop Commander (d4):
(1) Fighter-4, plate armour & shield AC 20, +2 longsword or +2 battle-axe
(2) Fighter-4, plate armour & +1 shield AC 21, +1 longsword & +1 lance
(3) Fighter-4, +1 plate armour & shield AC 21, +1 longbow & +1 longsword
(4) Fighter-4, +1 plate & +1 shield AC 22, +2 longsword or +2 battle-axe, barded heavy warhorse with horseshoes of speed.
Commander Upkeep: 60gp/month

Troop Lieutenant (d4)
(1)-(2) Fighter-2, splint & shield AC 19
(3) Fighter-3, plate & shield AC 20
(4) Fighter-3, plate & shield AC 20, +1 longsword
The Lieutenant can advance to Fighter-4 in play.
Lieutenant Upkeep: 30gp/month

Troop Commander & Lieutenant may be created by the Player or DM, using Standard Array attributes.

Alternate Followers
Rogue's Guild: 1d3 MM Spy, 2d3 MM Thug, 1d3 Rogue-1 (hp 10 DEX+3)
Wizard's Tower: 1d3 Wizard-1, 2d6 Mercenary (hp 16 ST+2)
Priest's Temple: 1 MM Priest, 2d3 MM Acolyte, 2d6 Mercenary (hp 16 ST+2), 1d3 Cleric-1 (hp 9 WIS+2)
Druid's Grove: 1d2 MM Druid sc4, 1d3 Druid-1 (hp 9 WIS+2)
Bard's Company: 1d2 VGTM Bard sc4, 1d3 MM Spy, 1d3 Bard-1 (hp 9  CHA+2)
Barbarian's Holdfast: 1d3 MM Berserker, 20d6 MM Tribal Warrior, 1d3 Barbarian-1 (hp 14 ST+3)
Other classes typically acquire 1d3 1st level followers of the character's own class, eg a Fighter Lord may acquire 1d3 Fighter-1 (hp 12 ST+3).

PC-class Followers may be created by the Player or DM, using Standard Array attributes.

Most strongholds will also attract an appropriate number of Commoners to serve the PC. A Wizard's Tower might have only 1d6, where a Warlord's fortress has 10d6 or more.
Losses of non-classed followers may typically be replaced at a rate of 5% of initial total per month, eg a force of 120 can replace 6/month.

Classed Followers
Classed followers may use a generic template as above, or may be created by the player using the standard PC rules (and may be played as a PC in lower level adventures). Classed followers are not replaced if lost, but every month there is a 10% chance to acquire one additional such follower.
Charisma Limit: No character may ever have more classed followers (aka Henchmen) at once than their Charisma bonus +4 ; eg CHA 8 (-1) enables 3 such followers, while CHA 20 (+5) enables 9 such followers.

Realm Improvements

Magic Resources
Shrine (1 Acolyte sc1): 1,500gp & 5 weeks. Requires: Thorpe pop. 20
Church (1 Priest sc3, 1 Acolyte sc1): 4,500gp & 7 weeks. Requires: Hamlet pop.100
Temple (1 Priest sc5, 2 Priest sc3, 4 Acolyte sc1): 15,000gp & 11 weeks. Requires: Village pop. 500
Abbey (1 Abbott/Abbess sc5, 2 Senior Brother/Sister sc 3, 4 Monk/Nun sc 2, 8 Monk/Nun sc1): 50,000gp & 57 weeks. Requires: -
Cathedral (1 Bishop sc7, 2 Priest sc4, 4 Priest sc2, 8 Acolyte sc1):  42,000gp & 20 weeks. Requires: Small City pop. 6,000
Arcane Tower (1 Wizard sc3, 1 Apprentice Wizard sc1): 4,500gp & 8 weeks. Requires: -
Arcane Guild Hall (1 Wizard sc5, 2 Wizard sc3, 4 Apprentice Wizard sc1): 15,000gp & 14 weeks. Requires: Small Town pop. 1,500
Arcane University (1 Mage sc9, 2 Wizard sc5, 4 Wizard sc3, 8 Apprentice Wizard sc1): 54,000gp & 31 weeks. Requires: Small City pop. 6,000

Mercantile & Administrative
Trading post (improves all Resource income by +10% in a 2 hex/20 mile radius): 5,000gp & 8 weeks. Requires: -
Guildhall (improves 1 Resource income by +20% in a 2 hex/20 mile radius): 5,000gp & 12 weeks. Requires Large Town pop. 3,000.
Noble Estate with Manor, luxurious (improves Tax income by +10% in a 2 hex/20 mile radius): 25,000gp & 21 weeks. Requires: -
Imperial Palace (improves Tax income by +10% across entire dominion): 500,000gp & 3 years. Requires: -

Tower/Broch: 10,000gp & 12 weeks. Can hold 30 infantry.
Motte & Bailey: 20,000gp & 18 weeks. Can hold 60 infantry.
Small Castle: 40,000gp & 30 weeks. Can hold 125 infantry.
Large Castle: 80,000gp & 45 weeks. Can hold 250 infantry.
Fortress: 160,000gp & 60 weeks. Can hold 500 infantry.
Citadel: 320,000gp & 90 weeks. Can hold 1,000 infantry.
One light cavalry = 3 infantry. One medium or heavy cavalry = 4 infantry.

Manor Resource Improvements
At Manor Scale, 1 hex = 2 miles. For Baronial Scale (1 hex = 10 miles) multiply costs & incomes by x10.
25gp/month = 300gp/year. 50gp/month =600gp/year.
Mine (requires valuable minerals): cost 2d4x100gp, income +1d6x100gp/month. Population +2d4
Smelter (requires Mine): cost 1,000gp, income +2d4x10gp/month. Population +2d4
Logging Camp (requires Forest**): cost 1,000gp, income +1d4x10gp/month. Population +4d4
Sawmill (requires Logging Camp): cost 2,000gp, income +2d4x10gp/month. Population +2d4
Improved Farmland (requires Plains***): cost 2,000gp, income +2d4x10gp/m. Population +4d4
Fishing Ship (requires Sea): cost 2,000gp, income +2d4x10gp/m. Population +2d4

*Typically a 1 in 6 chance there is a mining resource per two mile hex. With one surveyor a survey takes 1 month (& a typical 30gp hireling cost) per 2 mile hex, requires a character with Miner's Tools Proficiency or equivalent and a successful proficiency (INT) check at a DC of 5+1d10 (1e: 4 in 6 chance of success).
If a resource is discovered, the GM rolls 1d6, or selects:
1: clay or stone quarry 100gp/m
2: lead or coal mine 200gp/m
3: copper or oil/tar mine 300gp/m
4: silver or tin mine 400gp/m
5: gold mine or marble quarry 500gp/m
6: platinum or gemstone mine 600gp/m

**One two mile hex, approx 3.5 sq m of forest.
***One square mile of arable land.

Baronial Domains

Resources per hex (Baronial Scale, 1 hex = 10 miles across, approx 85 sq m)
1: 1 resource
2-7: 2 resources
8-9: 3 resources
10: 4 resources

Resource Type
1-3 Animal (eg dairy, fish, fowl, furs, bees, horses, ivory, beef, pork)
4-8 Vegetable (eg farm produce, foodstuffs, oil, fodder, wood & timber, paper, wine)
9-10 Mineral (as above)

Baronial Income (per 10 mile hex, a domain has 1+ hexes).
Animal Resource: 10 sp/person/month, max 1d4x1,000 (2,500) gp/month per hex.
Vegetable Resource: 5 sp/person/month, max 1d6x1,000 (3,500) gp/month per hex.
Mineral Resource: 15 sp/person/month, max 1d8x1,000gp (4,500) gp/month per hex.

The maximum resource income for a 10-mile domain hex thus varies from 1,000gp/month, to 32,000gp/month!

Towns & Cities: These generate 5 sp per person per month in taxes and tolls.
Theocratic Domains generate an additional 2 sp per person per month in tithes.

10-mile Hex Population & Rate of Increase
Population will naturally increase through immigration and birth up to the limit of available resources. Eg an intensively farmed domain with 4 vegetable resources generating up to 14,000gp/m total could have a population of 28,000.
1-100: +25%/month
101-200: +20%/month
201-300: +15%/month
301-400: +10%/month
401-500: +5%/month
501-1000: +2%/month
1001-2000: +1%/month
2001-4000: +1%/2 months
40001-8000: +1%/4 months
8001-16000: +1%/6 months
16001+: +1%/year

Population centres begin to emerge when a hex population reaches 10,000. At this point 10% of the population may be considered urban, generating an additional 5sp/month per urban inhabitant.

Sources for the above include:
OD&D Book 3 - eg for starting population
1e AD&D DMG - for the followers (Fighter Lord followers table)
Mentzer BECMI D&D Companion Set - for Barony domain resources
Fields of Blood: The Book of War for 3e - ideas for realm improvements
The prospecting for resources system I came up with myself, I looked at the 1e DSG mining rules but I don't think I used them.

ACKS (Adventurer Conqueror King System) has a more detailed take on the Mentzer rules that is worth looking at.

To give an idea how badly Lombardia got hit, the region has the highest per-capita number of doctors and medical professionals of anywhere in the world.  Something like 40% of Italy's GDP is centred around Lombardia; the majority of Italy's GDP comes out of the Po Valley and surrounding area.  Lombardia is wealthy, industrialised and highly developed; it has some of the best medical infrastructure on the planet - but was completely overloaded by the rate of COVID cases in the first wave.

I get the impression that early on medical intervention tended to spike the death rates - bringing victims to hospitals, and putting victims on ventilators, both associated with higher mortality rates. More medicine often meant more death.

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