Saturday, March 11, 2017

Lairs and Encounters: Monster Creation: Lesser Naga

A second session of the 'Teacher Campaign' has occurred.

It has worked so far because they're my wife's friends and not mine; aside from one 'ringer' who was one of the persistent DMs back in the day.

Philosophically, perhaps, I'm a lot more relaxed about this. I don't feel I need to overprepare; I've not done a lot of work on establishing damn near anything regarding world or expectations. Didn't have a sandbox map created, aside from various prototypes generated from my Hexomancy project, which is  going pretty well.

I'd laid out a few rumors for them in my take on Turos Tem in the Sinister Stone of Sakkara. They didn't bite on the Stone or Nuromen, but did hit on one that "triggered the quest", as they say, for N1: Against The Cult of the Reptile God.

And I largely winged it the first game. I'd kinda skimmed over all 3 adventures, didn't have time to really internalize things, and was kinda plopping back and forth between things in N1 piecing things together along with the players as they ran around town threatening people's lives, as PCs do. Bad cop/Bad cop, as it tends to go.

I guess I should do it this way more often; two of the players are noobs; another one (due to age) was likely part of the 3E generation, and all them have expressed positive reviews of the experience; in the case of the young veteran positive espc. in comparison to however things were run for him before.

I do need to finish out a map of sorts so I can at least define where resources are. They're talking like they're going to occupy the minor domain that is the N1 adventure location; they'll need to restock the garrison and such.

Anyway, they got into the end-game for N1 last session. I needed a naga sort of thing. Obviously, I could just take the one there, but that's no fun. The Child of Nasga from L&E is a bit too tough for 2nd level characters. To complicate matters, I've already defined the naga as a limbless muse.

By way of a working review, then, let's follow along with my thought processes for using Lairs & Encounters to make a new monster. It worked out well - the balance between choice and randomness is well balanced, and the results gave me both new ideas and helped me reflect on what I was wanting to accomplish, world-building wise, in presenting the monster.

FWIW, the monster worked out pretty well. The 'ringer' player, the tank of the group, was under the weather and joined from home via Skype, and due to overmedication and fatigue "tactically fucked" the group by charging in through a group of troglodytes to attack the lesser naga directly - failed the save vs hypnotism. That part worked well (for me), but the combat turned into a bit of a slog, and the lesser naga got away. They'll have to track her down the hard way.

  1. Concept: So this will be a Lesser Naga, some odd mimic of a true naga/marilith/muse, kinda like how some insects or snakes mimic a more dangerous species. It will be able to charm via contact, let's say, and daze or otherwise immobilize via eye contact. Unlike a muse, it's charm deteriorates the craftsmanship of an artist (hence explaining things like N1's carpenter). It's collection of charmed followers is pointless, but just as cruel, ending often in death or worse.
  2. Type: This is a summoned creature. There's no need for this thing to occur naturally.
  3. Hit Dice: I'm going to shoot for 4 HD here; about half of the Muse.
  4. Saving Throws: Saving throws for a Summoned Creature are Fighter, (HD/2*2d2) 2 plus..3. Saves as a Fighter 5. I'm still doing Hazard Throws, so that's...HZ 9+/St11+. 
  5. Body Form: Serpentine! Serpentine! Serpentine!
  6. Monster Weight: By formula: a body mass value exponented to  HD * 10. Serpentine has a range of 0.90 to 1.31 - the lower the value, the more ferocious the monster. I want this thing hungry, so I'mma pick 1.05.. 61 pounds.
  7. Monster Size: By weight - this thing is Man-Sized, which works for me. Serpentine is a body form that wants some length, so I'll call it 10 foot long, based on some light googling 
  8. Carrying Capacity: If it would matter, and, who knows - at 61 points, it can carry around 4 stone, somehow.
  9. AC: Derived from the first 9 HD, a 4HD creature defaults to AC 3.
  10. Natural Attacks: For serpentine; a bite. I don't see this one constricting.
  11. Damage: For 4 HD, I'd be looking at an average of 8 pts per round. A Small Bite from a 4 HD creature could be about 1d8 damage, that's only half that. I'll put a pin on that one for now, and give it an attack of "bite, 1d8"
  12. Movement: I'll top it off at 120'.
  13. Special Abilities: Here's the potatoes to the meat. Summoned Creatures get 1d10-5 special abilities if rolling randomly. I've got an idea of what I'd like it to be able to do; but I'm open to more suggestion. So let's roll some stuff up. 1d10-5 is...9: 4 special abilities.

    I get for Special Abilities: 59: poison, 83: swallow, 60: poison, 94: toughHrm. That was using the quantum random generator at ANU, by the way. Poison gives me an idea; but this creature is certainly not Tough, nor is it large enough to effectively Swallow (but your mom is! Oooooooooooh!) Let's reroll three of them:50: paralysis, 7:bonus attack, 79: stealth
    Ah, now we're talking. Stealth works well - I'd thought of this as a mimic of the Muse, so while the lesser naga may rely on it's resemblance to the more dangerous foe in a pinch, it'd certainly be a lurker. Bonus Attack neatly ties up my earlier lack of damage and gives the monster a quick 'double-hit' befitting a snake like creature. Stealth turns out to be a -2 penalty to folks encountering it in it's native habitat; which will be underground.

    Paralysis and Poison - I need the monster to be able to Charm Person; since I've got all these townsfolk converted. I'd like it to be a bite, just because I like the thought of it. It's not a poison, though, it's a spell-like ability.

    If rolled randomly, getting the spell-like ability effect nets you 1d4 abilities. ANU gives me...1d4=4, which is nice, I guess, but I may not use all these for this particular creature. First is Charm Person. Paralysis triggers a thought on Hypnotism.

    I'll do Charm via a bite attack; perhaps it's a poison?; and probably apply it as a custom spell so that more than humanoids can be charmed. Hypnotism will be a ranged sight attack; sort of like a Disney's Jungle Book Kaa - single target, concentration, 60' range. Still level 2.

    I have no ideas for the next two, so let's roll. Grabbing some seeds from ANU...84; Divine, 92: level 5, 87: Priestess List: Scry. Huh. That's pretty interesting.

    What I'd like to do, longer term, is turn Summoning into more of a process, and part of that is having interesting things to summon. This sort of a result - a low-end creature that happens to be able to do something powerful - is a pretty compelling target for a summons. It's a bit of a risk - the stealthy human-faced snake that can charm you with a bite - but if you got the gumption, you can compel it to scry for you.

    And all the while it'll be scheming against you. Fun!

    Next: 70: Arcane, 22: level 1, 98: Wall of Smoke or Ventriloquism. Ventriloquism will win this particular round-off - it can hide in the dark, taunting you with disembodied voices, distracting you with noise; utilizing it's Stealth to get into position to bite and charm. Very well sorted.

    Adding these up, then:

    Kiss Charm, 1/turn, Level 1: 2*0.8*1=1.6
    Hypnotism, At Will, Level 1: 2*2*1=4
    Ventroliquism, At Will, Level 1: 2*1*1=2
    Scry, Once per Day, Level 5: 2*5*0.4=4

    In total, then, we have 12 "#" from spell-like abilities, 2 "#" from Stealth, and 2 "##" from Bonus Attack, because we're not doing a huge amount of damage.

    16 "#" in all, divided by 8 gets us to 2 "*".

    The Lesser Naga is a 4** HD creature.
  14. ...which means it's worth 80 + 55(2) = 190 XP.
  15. Monster Organization: This is an interesting one. The lesser naga should be surrounding itself with charmed victims, increasing it's security and doing whatever it is it does - occasionally eating victims, who knows. That implies a Humanoid organization - you'll encounter either it or gangs of it's minions in 5 HD clumps, and a dungeon lair containing 35 HD of itself and minions. Rarely, perhaps, the very successful lesser naga has an entire village of victims, 200 HD worth of folks doing it's bidding.

    To run that down, 5 HD of villagers, assuming 1/2 HD per, is an average of 10 people for a gang; or about 2d10. 35 HD in a lair is 70 people. That could be 2d10*7. A village at 200HD is 400 people; 2d10*40. That's also 80 families; so on average a lesser naga could just about claim a small Class VI market.

    That's pretty awesome. That seems like a concept that ought to be applied to things like vampires and whatnot - dunno if you've watched Penny Dreadful, for example (and you should have, because Eva Green), but recall Dracula had a whole cohort of thralls running around London.

    I think I might have to calculate the maximum number of creatures the lesser naga could conceivably keep in thrall.

    For the time being, though, I'll stick with Serpentine, which means the lesser naga is a solitary creature. Philosophically correct - it either charms its way into allies or is compelled by the more powerful to Scry for them. I'll use my own value for % In Lair, however.
  16. Treasure: 190 XP by 4 is 760 GP. They will be hoarders; and that value just barely sneaks into the D Treasure Type.
  17. Intelligence: Sapient, obvs.
  18. Alignment: Chaotic...more obvs.

Lesser Naga
% In Lair: 70%
Dungeon Enc: Solitary (1)
Alignment: Chaotic
Movement: 120’ (40’)
Armor Class: 3
Hit Dice: 4**
Attacks: 2 (bite/bite)
Damage: 1d8/1d8
Save: M5
Morale: +1
Treasure Type: D
XP: 190

The lesser naga is a serpentine creature, averaging 10 ft long, with a humanoid head. The face of the lesser naga is almost always androgynously attractive, and the naga itself is cunning enough to present itself in the most advantageous way possible.

Lesser naga are summoned here from Ruhn; where they survive via guile and stealth against the more powerful factions of that globe. Creatures encountering a lesser naga suffer a -2 penalty to their suprise rolls; as it is a master of concealment.

The lesser naga strikes with lightning speed - able to bite twice in a round for 1d8 points of damage with its needlepoint teeth. With a successful bite attack, the lesser naga can inject a supernatural venom that charms its target (as Charm Monster). The naga may attempt this once per turn, as it needs some time to regenerate its venom sacs.

When out of attack range, the naga has several options available to it. At will, it may cast illusory sound  centered anywhere within 60' to distract opponents. A creature may save vs Spells to realize the sound is false; but only if they actively attempt to disbelieve.

A naga that captures the eye of a single opponent may attempt to Hypnotize it, as the spell - the naga must concentrate to maintain the lock, but may move. The naga often uses this ability to close on a target for a charming bite.

Finally, and most importantly, the lesser naga may Scry once per day. Sorcerers who believe they can contain the naga will often summon them and keep them entrapped for this task, compelling them to scry for them.

The lesser naga must have a pool of water it can fully coil itself around in order to perform this task. It must enter a trance for a full turn, during time it is unaware of its surroundings. The sorceror requesting a scry must repeat the location of the scrying during this time, and the naga inherits the sorcerer's knowledge of the person, place, or thing. At the end of the trance, the scrying will begin, visualized within the pool. The sorcerer himself may cast clairaudience or ESP to ehance the scrying.

Lesser naga that escape or are otherwise free will most often be found laired within an underground location near small settlements, having charmed many locals to provide it protection and food (which is often the same charmed people).

Lesser naga strongly mimic limbless Muses. A failed proficiency throw to recognize them may misidentify them as such. The mimicry is so complete that craftsman and artisans charmed by the lesser naga's bite will find their skills deteriorating over time, most often except for a single small detail that exhibits itself as an odd, disorientating visual or auditory pattern.

Here's my leftover numbers from ANU:
Set 2:  27,43, 96, 93, 52
Set 3: 99, 40, 84, 24, 7, 32
Set 4: 63, 20, 23, 100, 8, 30

and the statblock for my own running
Lesser Naga    HD4**   HP 18   AC 3    HZ 9+/Mg11+   DF  10+  
ML 0   ATK bite 1d8/1d8 <charm>
Surprise: -2 underground
Hypnotize: concentration, single target, mobile

Thursday, February 2, 2017

The Lightly Fantastic

Surprisingly, I'm prepping for a game.

As things go, then, I've been thinking about "stuff", and stuff tends to go in all directions.

This one is somewhat philosophical, and mostly stems from my wife being a biologist, who has occassionally taken umbrage with D&D's more ... practical classification metrics.

There is the concept of what's 'natural' and what's not - the difference between a hummingbird and a dragon, let's say. One of those is clearly mythical, and due to various characteristics, unless we demote dragons to  dinosaurs, eliminating the supernatural, they are not "beasts" in the usual term.

ACKS, as well as the maternal d20, classified various creatures into clean buckets in order to delineate what works on what, more or less. Some of these are more defined than others - undead is pretty clear, whereas vermin seems to be a catch-all for various non-magical invertebrates.

I'm mostly cogitating on the definition of "animal" versus Fantastic Creature.

There are several technical subcategories that immediately jump out. Anything sentient is rightly marked.

But what about griffons, let's say?

It's clearly a mix of odd pieces. There are, generally, several arguments against it being able to operate successfully in the real world.

But is it really fantastic?

At what point is there no difference between "evolved that way" and "a wizard did it"? Especially in an assumed world where wizards can indeed "do it"? As a sharper point than I  usually make on this blog, I expect I could walk down the street and find someone who, if I'd point out a robin, would tell me that it sprang from nothingness at the time of Creation, or some variation thereof.

Robins are marginally fantastic, yet a double-digit percentage of the population will argue that their origin is even more fantastic as that assumed for the griffon.

Added to that, then, is my SRTM map experimentation is for many purposes "solved", and I'm assembling a toolchain that will allow me to output hex maps of any* given section of the globe in proper** hex sizes with elevation and terrain data.

With that implies the real world, and real-world sorts of occurrences. There's no way humans would not have made every attempt at, and successfully accomplished, the domestication of things like hippogriffs and griffons. The news last year from the Ringling Bros. before their closure would have been just as likely to have been the decision to no longer use hippogriffs on their road show.

Add into that Lairs & Encounters (and Domains At War) allowing us to achieve a creature economy with regards to ownership, care, and training, thus enabling one to systemically manage the occurrence of the same in the campaign world.

But for the sheer cost, there's no reason a hippogriff or a griffon or some such wouldn't be found in the stables of the ranked members of society - especially those who display these creatures on their heraldry and such.

* some areas are 'unmappable' due to the construction of the spheroid, but those locations are centered in open ocean, and the ability to map near them is dependent on the defined hex size
** within a few square miles of area of the 768, 192, 96, 24, 6, and 1.5m hex sizes for my purposes, though there's many more options available

Anyway. With an eye towards finding what might work as a "real animal" without violating the basest of biological or physical assumptions, we can come into a new view of what's probably a creature that's only lightly fantastic.

Cutting out the sentient members, what do we get in the Fantastic Creature section?
  • Amphisbaena (L&E): Clearly out, as it has two heads.
  • Kraken (L&E): Would fall into the Giant/Prehistoric category, more naturally.
  • Yali (L&E): It's aligned Lawful - that, above all else, disqualifies it.
  • Basilisk: Turns people to literal stone. Out.
  • Cockatrice: The same.
  • Gorgon: Again, petrification.
  • Griffon: Mixed body shape, no supernatural abilities.
  • Hippogriff: As Griffon.
  • Hydra: Multiple heads and possible breath, so it's out.
  • Owl Bear: As Griffon.
  • Remorhaz: Supernatural heat - if it was intelligent, it may fit as an weird dragon type. Out. 
  • Rust Monster: This is a good one. Vermin which may be a better idea if one would assume the rusting ability is of more mundane origin.
  • Sea Serpent: Giant/Prehistoric.
  • Skittering Maw: I would argue that this body form would fall under Vermin.
  • Stirge: Completely normal, relatively speaking.
  • Wyvern: Technically a dragon in d20, but here? Giant/prehistoric at worst.
So, under this, we're left with:
  1. Fantastic Creatures
    1. Amphisbaena (L&E)
    2. Yali (L&E)
    3. Basilisk
    4. Cockatrice
    5. Gorgon
    6. Hydra
    7. Remorhaz
  2. Vermin
    1. Rust Monster (if rusting is "mundane")
    2. Skittering Maw
  3. "Animal/Giant Animal"
    1. Kraken (G)
    2. Griffon
    3. Hippogriff
    4. Owl Bear
    5. Sea Serpent (G)
    6. Stirge
    7. Wyvern (G?)
My own judgement aside, I think the main reason Hippogriffs and Griffons (...Wyverns?) are treated differently is because they are the "premium mounts" of the D&D world - owlbears are just good fun, and stirges are "trap  monsters". There's nothing truly fantastic about any of the five.

Given all of that, I'd rather categorize things as:
  1. Animals: what one would expect.
  2. Preternatural Animals: Giant, Prehistoric, Mixed type animals; up to Huge in defined size
The Huge limitation, which sets our upper bounds at about elephant size, is an attempt to cut out things like the sauropod dinosaurs, krakens, and such. Animals of such expanse that it seems improbable that a mundane human can interact with them in such a way that training can easily occur.

And, in order to see how this will work out in live play against a known antagonist with regards to these sorts of things (i.e.; my loving and loved wife, reprising her favored role as a druid, or how she styles things, Beastmaster of the Apocalypse)

Beast Friendship: ...taken a second time, the character gains a +2 to reaction rolls with, and may recruit as henchmen, creatures of the Preternatural Animal type of up to Huge in size.

Friday, January 13, 2017

ACKS Bundle of Holding : Ends January 30th

Adventurer Conqueror King - the "feature complete" version of D&D offering compelling play options at all levels, from disposable torchbearer to calculating emperor.

This Bundle offers the entire gamut of product in PDF, and supports a charity close to the author's family.

Get it while it's good!

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Resolutions & New Ventures

Greetings of the season, and further well wishes and such.

I'm upgrading my home server today with discarded components from work; ~4 year old motherboard+CPU in place of ~9 year old motherboard+CPU; quite a leap, all things considered. Across the hall, children immerse themselves in loot, and my wife is doing some genealogy work. All in all, a Christmas well spent, so far.

Other priorities than you, dear reader, keep my iridescent cloud of fluttering ideas from alighting on my keyboard to entertain you, I apologize for the long absence.

One would assume this time of year I'd be declaring with some recklessness a promise of a change in the year to come, especially as evidenced from the title of the post. Instead, I'll coyly turn that title around into two threads of holiday filler - this leopard's spots are far too finely distributed to change alignment now.

New Venture(r)s

The 1-1-2 build, Fighting 1, HD 1, Thievery 2, exudes a bit of every-man adventurer, a mid-weight combatant who rounds out their capabilities with extra skills.

This relates, practically, to two existing classes, and one homebrew class.

The first is the Bard - done well in ACKS; it encapsulates more than other versions the spirit of the "gaming version" of the bard without going too woo-woo on the "magic of music" corner of the cliche.

The second, then, is the Venturer. It may be the most ACKSy of classes, tapping into the mercantile rules as it's niche, but has an additive spellcasting ability later on. My take on it is an experienced merchant who picks up a hobby in arcane casting after curiously poking through various books as they pass through his possession - a neat thing, but possibly overspecific (or, if I had my druthers, there'd be a way for any character to apprentice herself to a mage (or hire as a tutor) later in life)

The third, the homebrew class, the Diplomat. That type fills another niche in ACKS - the well-formed system around which henchmen and hirelings are practically and effectively employed.

I kinda like classes with branches - the Witch in the Player's Companion being one example. I bet I can turn these three ideas into a single class. So I did, and this is what I'll utilize as a Venturer class:

WeaponsBroad, (i),(v)Narrow (ii),(iv)Broad, (i),(v)
Fighting Styles2WF, 2HW2WF, 2HW2HW, WS
1Perform1Mercantile Network1Leadership
2Inspire Courage2Expert Bargainer2Diplomacy
3Loremastery3Hear Noise3Hiring Network
4Arcane Dabbling4Read Languages4Inspire Courage
5aRead Languages6(A)Avoid Getting Lost
5bR/C Arcane Scrolls

So - three classes here, all using the same build and XP progression, which means they are one class with 3 suboptions - which I'll call my new Venturer, all three reliant on CHA as a prime req. (The bard didn't technically need the DEX requirement, a far as I can tell.) Level titles will remain a challenge.

The Merchant subclass takes the ACKSPC's Venturer's spot, and has the benefit of matching up to the description of Man, Merchant in the monster listings - wearing chain and carrying crossbows and daggers, by virtue of taking the Cleric's Fighting 1a and dropping plate. plus reworking the Narrow weapon selection however you'd like.

The Patrician subclass is my contribution to the "social class"; and a fine callback to the Romanesque origins of the Auran Empire in name. A capable fighter, and a leader of men; the Hiring Network, for those who didn't read the Diplomat link, gives the Venturer "one class higher" power for hiring people.

I'm marginally confident that's probably only a half-a-power, in which case the patrician would deserve something like...something bland, a +1 to surprise or initiative I guess. Not a lot of choice there, and figuring up something useful is outside the scope of this post.

One more thing: in Domains At War, what's the difference between a Veteran unit of Fighters, Explorers, Bards, Merchants, or Patricians?

Nothing. They have the same stats - same attack throws, same HD (and therefore UHP), and can largely be equipped the same, ignoring for the moment armor restrictions. (I suppose there's argument for the UHP if one takes 1d8 to be a full HD and 1d6 to be .75 HD, but, I can excuse myself from splitting that particular hair as it is the holiday season - I know I've seen reference to veteran units containing Explorers somewhere...)

Given this, then, there are 5 classes that any given 0-level can level into without much issue - the lugs become Fighters, the sportos become Explorers, the unit's smartass is the Bard, the quartermaster becomes a Merchant, and the sergeant becomes the Patrician.

Well sorted.


There is no better hallmark of a house rule than a pointless statistic renaming, so I feel I should have one.

Consider Wisdom, very much the most vague statistic in terms of definition. A prime requisite for Clerics...and?

Well, in ACKS at least, there's:

  • the Righteous Turning proficiency, which adds your WIS mod to the Turn Undead throw
  • Saving throws versus spells or magic items.
  • Throw to see through a disguise.
  • Modifier to Tampering With Mortality rolls
  • Lamias drain WIS - at WIS 3, the character is completely obedient to the Lamia.
  • Contributes to Strategic Ability alongside INT
...and something else I may be missing as well. Plus, recently, it was opined on the Autarch board that perhaps Wisdom should modify all saving throws.

The disguise bit is the only reference to Wisdom that does not express in some way the concept of willpower - easily fixed or ignored.

Thus, for the feel of the thing, I'm renaming Wisdom to Resolve

Clerics require high Resolve. A high resolve gives you a bonus to all saving throws. A lamia drains your resolve in order to dominate you. Your resolve - sheer will to succeed and survive - modifies both Tampering With Mortality rolls and Strategic Ability.

Much more flavor there, and I think that entry on a sheet tells more of a story about the character's general composition than does Wisdom.

Besides, the best clerics are the foolhardy ones - so resolute in the favor and power of their gods that they'll overreach in hilarious fashion. Let's not dilute the fun that could be had with the introspection or circumspection granted by actual wisdom.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Starting Age of Characters & Proficiencies

Ya'll almost went a whole 30 days without me. I can tell you're relieved. It's the start-of-school month, and it's been...something.

I've been looking at the raw beginnings of PCs - the normal men seeking the mage's tower, the scrub infantryman in the field, the kid in the bar carousing the first time, and whatever the hell it is novice clerics are doing.

I'd like to settle out what's going on before the character is first level. How'd they get there? What were they doing?

Longer term, I'd like to "build a class" by defining the first 20-some-odd years of a character's life - born to urban commoners, this character spent a term in the garrison, fell to brigandry, then found religion and joined a monastery. What's his class look like?

Consider the character who is a master in a craft - that meant something in medieval times - perhaps a chance at escaping the worst of poverty, at the very least, a social status at the very best - much more than an occasionally referenced note on a character sheet.

I've looked at the plight of normal man, as well, at least those that are good for something.

Recall, then, ACKS states that the normal man gains a proficiency after 5, 15, and 35 years of work.

Several of the starting ages for characters (ACKS, pg 248, ACKSPC pg 150) fall within those slots.

ClassBase AgeLowAvgHighDieTypeChance For Extra Proficiency
Mage172028353d695% / 9.3%
Mystic172028353d695% / 9.3%
Warlock172028353d695% / 9.3%

If you consider the time spent from Age 18 until you are magically a Level 1 PC, it's a virtual guarantee that Mages/Mystics/Warlocks will have an extra proficiency, somewhat probable Venturers will, and everyone else has a fighting chance.

The arcane casters and Mystic, in fact, get almost a 10% chance at a second one; though they're likely to hit the wall that is Middle Age during their adventuring careers.

Only barbarians and bards have no chance - no real surprise for either. Live fast, die young, berserking or rocking.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

ACKS'd and Answered

Mapping via computation is a hole I'm still digging deeper, interspersed with still cogitating on those pesky Thief skills of hide in shadows and move silently.

I was reminded earlier about a game in which I'd awarded the players a stretch of land to see what would happen.

Autarch's Patreon, the gift that keeps on giving, soon answered part of my question above, and I'd like to think I inspired the addition, and know we know how much land sells for based on it's classification and land value.

What I gave out was a borderlandsy sort of area, the PCs were ~10th level, and I was looking for something novel. Figured I'd hand them some real estate and see what came of it. Along with the real estate came a title of minor nobility, just cause.

I found one of my emails from the time, and it had the map in it, as well as a description. Turns out I only handed them about 9 square miles of land. I have no idea why that's the size I picked.

That's 5,760 acres; abouts. As average borderlands it'd be worth 86,400 GP; quite a haul. Average wilderness, which this probably would have been classified as honestly, would be either worth nothing, or 1 GP or less per acre.

The Patreon's revised Strongholds & Domain rules (which I think are available to anyone) further defines the level at which a character can easily control claimed territory.

There's ~20,371 acres in a 6 mile hex; so as a whole they got a bit over 4 1.5 mile hexes, or about 1 1/3 1.5 mile hex apiece.

As it turns out, due to various things, we folded that game and restarted, with Knibbs being a character crossing campaigns - the land grant fell fully to him (in game, the dwarf returned to the mountain, the druid retired to the forest, whatever)

In either case, something that can be managed by a 1st or 2nd level character.

Viewed in that light, it's a pretty paltry gift, if we assume the PCs would have been the equivalent of 7th level in ACKS.

Especially considering there was no stronghold of note defined at the time; and the village (of undetermined population, probably a tiny hamlet) had been more-or-less depopulated by the events of the module.

So, not only would ACKS have informed me on how to handle this land grant, it would have also told me that it wasn't that much of a reward...

Anyway - he was excited about the prospect, and we set to task defining things:

Ok, I have a plan brewing in the back of my head, but the details are not fully evident to me yet because I am missing important pieces to the puzzle. There are a few things that I need to know that we have never really covered and if we did I just forgot because until recently I was operating as if it would never really be an issue. Having just reached 10th level and with things developing as they are, I want to know certain things that you may or may not have put a lot of thought into. If we are to continue as we are and if Knibbs’ position of minor “Nobility” is going to be in play, then I want to work on developing it and his power structure. To do so I would like to know some of the following things.

Here's the part in 2007 where I'm like, huh - I really didn't think this cunning plan all the way through.


1) I assume that the general lie of the political system is Feudal/Monarchy.

a. Is the region we are residing in a single country with a King or Holy Emperor?

b. Or is it just a section of a larger country and there is a Lord who answers to above King?

2) If there is a King does he answer to the Church or is his position considered a divine right and therefore he has influence with the Church.

a. We talking Europe during the Crusades – Church says we need to reclaim the Holy Lands and Kings spend hella money trying to do so

b. Or are we talking France during the Renaissance

How would ACKS have answered this?

I'd have a general idea of where "the buck stopped" for the particular lord who granted the PCs the title & lands, via the initial campaign setup. I'd know the Baron's realm & domain was yet a subrealm of say, a Duke above him, and a King above that Duke.

I'd know that the prominent religion of the realm collects tithes, and I could be reasonably sure that there's a very high-level cleric at the center of that religion that sits alongside or behind that King.

Ok scratch that (sort of).

1) How much land do I actually have after the consolidation?

2) Does owning this land grant me title, or was that also a condition of the award

a. Does land ownership grant me the title of nobility, or

b. Was the land a gift when I was given the title?

3) Do I actually have a title and if so what is it?

4) If this is a Feudal System, who would be the Lord I am supposed to answer to?

a. Or are we dealing with a Monarchy and I ultimately answer to a King?

b. For instance; am I on the same level as Baron Genestes or am I supposed to “answer” to him

i. I realize he would have more power and influence being an established Noble with more land, money, tradition, etc. but I guess what I am getting at goes back to #2.

c. Can I “knight” folks giving them said title, or does that sort of shit happen at a higher level.

So, presumptively I would have had them accept some form of vassalage, either to the Baron directly or some intermediary.

He'd build his own power base by bringing in vassals below him.

Alternatively, the whole thing could have been ignored, and they could have been mere landowners, rather than governing the area fully.


1) What is my official position with the Church?

a. I know I have answered to Father Tom in some capacity, but what I am after is am I a Friar, Monk, Priest?

i. Do I answer to Father Tom? Or

ii. Do I answer to a Bishop/Arch Bishop?

This player's character was the one I've spoken of previously - the Fighter/Rogue/Mage/Cleric, on his way to the Mystic Theurge prestige class. The 'hard road to Bard', as it were. I'd previously honored this build with the closest I could get to in ACKS without going demihuman, the Fortune Hunter.

Once Knibbs had settlers in the domain, he could also act as the ranked cleric in the domain, and as such would collect tithes on the church's behalf to be used for church functions (technically, I realize ACKS default doesn't define where the tithes go, but I know he would have had some shenanigans going on here). He probably would have answered in this function to whatever cleric served that same function in Genestes' domain/realm.

St. Egilius:

1) Current population capacity – would it have been a Thorpe (pop: 20-80), Hamlet (81-400), or Village (401-900); prior to the “Evil” that killed off the towns folk and converted squirrels and bunnies into “people”.

2) Do you have a “map”

a. General layout

b. Defensible structures – such as what buildings are stone, was there a frontier “fort” sort of structure, etc.

c. Tavern, Church, Forge, Wizard’s Tower, etc.

d. How many people can the actual “city limits” accommodate?

3) How far are the catacombs from St. E proper?

4) What is the water supply consist of?

a. This goes to my previous e-mail about streams, rivers, lakes, wells, etc.

This was a modified version of ... The Standing Stone, one of WoTC's adventures from that first run back in the 3X days. It was a bit of a goofy plot, and I don't think I made it better. :) A tiefling, a fallen druid, and some other hangers-on were uplifting animals into people to create...I don't know. I guess they were going to eventually have a super-loyal army. I believe this was in the "venture-funded startup" phase of the evil plot.

St. Egilius would have been the local urban settlement in the domain (technically they all shared the town, I think). At any rate, with ACKS, answering the question about the size of the settlement gets me a whole train of related answers in regards to attached realm/domain size, either in square mileage or population. From that I get general domain/realm income, which answers several other unasked questions, at that.

I'd know from the settlement size what the investment in the settlement should have been, and I can guess at where fortified structures exist. Had this been done in ACKS, there'd be a stronghold somewhere they'd been gifted as well, I guess (I think perhaps whoever ran this domain was murdered and replaced at some point).

Alternatively, I could have kept the settlement as something outside of their land grant, which would have indicated an NPC they'd end up having to deal with, in a "Free City" sort of situation. That may have been fun.

Water supply is an interesting question. I'd be curious how often that comes up. This guy is tied with the German for my most favorite of players.

The Sinister Stone of Sakkara gives an answer to that in the details of the fort of Turos Tem about how water might be stored, and how much you'd need for a fort of some garrison population.

So, recall this was 3X: a lot of the next section is referring to concepts from that edition's "Leadership" feat.

Next Session:

2) A lot of the questions about Paladins, Clerics, and Fighters were meant to try and feel you out for potential “hirelings”.

a. I had planned on talking to Father Tom about getting a couple of newb missionaries out to St. Egilius to lend support to my followers and to potentialnew settlers/crafts folk during the rebuilding process and to make sure that the Church had a presence there other than mine (since I am not actually there). People get sick and injured and I wanted to make sure there was some sort of relief in that department.

b. As for the others; I am looking to get some reinforcements out to my Lands.

i. The paladin-type would be to keep some semblance of order and provide addition protection to hopefully prevent another group of whackos from trying to repopulate my holdings with badger peoples.

ii. The fighter-type would be more of a “man-at-arms”. An individual competent enough to organize a militia if need be and more loyal to Knibbs’ money than divine righteousness, so that he/she might be willing to do those occasional things that need to be done that a paladins code would prevent him from doing. Such as directing that new rogue in town to go talk to a guy in “X –town we just came from” about a job, because Knibbs ain’t having this sort of knavery in his town…

c. For those reasons, I am looking for folks with a little more seasoning than fresh from the seminary or thugs that couldn’t cut it as sailors and I am willing to pay for them.

i. This ties into #1 above. It stands to reason that some of the “knightly” types that are in attendance might not have an allegiance to a “Lord” yet and Knibbs is willing to give them the opportunity to prove themselves in his service. Plus he is paying and they would have a decent amount of influence having gotten in at ground level.

This is obviously a job for Domains At War.

What Knibbs would do here is go out and hire at the realm-wide level for mercenaries, find what's available, and hire whatever he finds acceptable - same goes for clerics, really. It's likely that if he was 9th level in ACKS I would have thrown some clerical followers at him.

ii. 4c under Nobility – If I can Knight people…then I am making my own roundtable and I need a couple of competent individuals to lead this group in my absence. Perhaps my 3rd level Follower could handle this role, but I would still like to hire that person some “muscle” who is loyal to me.

This is just more henchmen and more hexes claimed - the bread and butter of ACKS domain management.

It's also very likely Knibbs would have started his own hideout and syndicate - his henchman from the Leadership feat was a pure rogue, and as a thief, she would have been perfectly suited to run it.

I'm...actually getting a little misty about the sheer insanity that could have been. He'd have been rolling in domain income from regular population, church tithing, and a step removed from his thief's hijink income.

We didn't get very far with it. This was a somewhat chaotic time for this group of friends; children coming aboard, etc.; so while we got a start at it, we never really got a chance to develop it.

Turns out what I really needed at the time was a time machine to go kidnap Alexander Macris from the future and glean from him the concepts of ACKS.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Great Random Encounters; Hexomancy (III)

Bit of a slow summer post. I'm a little low on interesting things to say; I've been doing a lot of backend stuff.

Vacation bore fruit in many excellent experience-granting encounters for the girls:

That's a sea turtle nest hatching. My wife noticed it while getting some sunrise pictures; we waited until the volunteer who keeps tracks of such things came by.

She determined it was stalled, decided to excavate, and the girls got to help escort baby turtles down to the shore.

Those dudes are about the size of your palm; maybe...80 or so in the nest? It's surprisingly deep.

We found a solitary baby the next afternoon; he'd got washed up by the surf; took him to the local rescue.

The earlier night 4 different moms came up to lay; we evidently just missed a 5th green sea turtle - these you are seeing are the "usual" loggerhead.


I'm having a lot of fun, as I can, with that TextMapper program, and my intervening shim:

I've taken a turn from Alexis over at The Tao of DND, and I've indicated the average elevation of a hex. As it's a small experimental map, I've smooshed everything together to get something representative. That purple over in 0907 is 6,248 meters - ~20,500 feet - which comfortably holds the tallest 150 or so mountains on the planet. It's likely, depending on where this would be on a planet, anything redder/purpler than 0307/0606/0805/1005 is above the timberline.

Those rivers are drawn SVG paths; as are the borders. You can see I've got realm borders, then up there in Vassalville I've bordered a subdomain out of the main domain.

I've got some reordering to do in presentation - SVG is "last writer wins", so you can see my borders are over my town names, etc. I've already split out certain types of terrain (the elevation, rivers, lakes) from "objects" - towns, whatever.

There's some wiggly bits still. Rivers change sizes oddly, I guess I need to plop a little reducer object down. I need to work on shoreline presentation - that seems like it'll have to be another full layer.

After a bit of a break on this I'll probably start looking at showing vegetation and landmarks - I expect I may be able to find an inoffensive way to show peaks of hills or mountains. I think I'll also lay down subhexes under the rivers to "depress" them from the surrounding land - might be a nice effect, getting the rivers to carve through my hills and mountains.