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.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Hexomancy (II) and the Summer Post

So, some putzing around with the TextMapper software mentioned earlier got me here-ish:

which is kind of a start? I'd have exposed the image as the actual SVG, but evidently Blogger or whatever really mangled the text sizing, so it looked like junk.

I'm utilizing the concept from James Bennett (also mentioned last post) of splitting the hex into thirds - using the northwest for elevation, the southwest for temperature/vegetation, and I'll use the east third for information about other features - probably civilization features, like...well, whatever.

The hex-thirds are custom SVG paths, filled with a solid color. The mountains and trees were drawn in Inkscape, aligned correctly, and defined as path objects. and the raw "text" that makes up an SVG was cut and pasted into the TextMapper resource file. Same with the "Cave" for Dwimmermount, but I took that from Wikipedia.

The little "city circles" are...XML circles, and the text on top is a custom XML text.

 The source file looks like so:

<path id="nw-mountain" fill="sienna" d="M -100,0 L 0,0 L 50,-86.6 L -50,-86.6 Z"/>
<path id="nw-hill" fill="peru" d="M -100,0 L 0,0 L 50,-86.6 L -50,-86.6 Z"/>
<path id="nw-marsh" fill="yellowgreen" d="M -100,0 L 0,0 L 50,-86.6 L -50,-86.6 Z"/>
<path id="nw-plains" fill="lawngreen" d="M -100,0 L 0,0 L 50,-86.6 L -50,-86.6 Z"/>
2210 default nw-mountain east-plains sw-forest mountain brush
2310 default nw-mountain east-mountain sw-forest mountain heavypine
2410 default nw-mountain east-mountain sw-forest snowmountain heavypine cave "Dwimmermount"
2510 default nw-mountain east-mountain sw-forest mountain heavypine
2211 default nw-mountain east sw-forest mountain heavypine fort class-fort Patricians
2311 default nw-mountain east-mountain sw-forest mountain heavypine
2411 default nw-mountain east-mountain sw-forest mountain heavypine
2511 default nw-mountain sw-forest east mountain heavypine city class-five Muntburg
2212 default default nw-mountain east-mountain sw-forest mountain heavypine
2312 default nw-mountain east sw-forest mountain heavypine city class-six Tribune
2412 default nw-mountain east-mountain sw-forest mountain heavypine
2512 default nw-plains sw-plains east fort class-fort Patricians brush
2209-2310-2410-2511-2411-2312-2211-2112 road
2410-2511-2611 road

and you can see how I've defined my "hex thirds" above. Other objects:

<g id="snowmountain"><path id="path15084" d="m-2.6214-16.641h-61.474l30.737-53.238z" stroke="#6c5353" stroke-width="3.2461" fill="#6c5353"/><path id="path15086" d="m-1.4331-16.913h-36.523l5.7945-52.052z" stroke="#ac9393" stroke-width="2.5572" fill="#ac9393"/><path id="path15104" d="m-23.785-54.729h-18.935l9.4675-16.398z" stroke="#e3dbdb" stroke-width="2.25" fill="#e3dbdb"/><path id="path15098" d="m-23.343-54.724h-10.708l1.5877-16.17z" stroke="#f9f9f9" stroke-width="1.6802" fill="#f9f9f9"/></g>

The labels on top of the city circles are custom text objects, as are the settlement names. I generated them with another script that takes my hex entries out of a spreadsheet and on-the-fly generates custom objects.

The trees and such are too complex to post...they are seriously hundreds and hundreds of characters long. I drew the objects (not the hex thirds, that's just drawing point-to-point at the hex corners) in Inkscape, placed them centered at 0,0 (upper left), exported as Optimized SVG. I opened the SVG (they are just text files), cut out the objects I needed, and put them in an include file for Text Mapper.

When possible, I attempted to simplify things in Inkscape by combining paths - keep in mind a combined path has a single color, as it's a single object, so you have to do layers separate. The pine trees above are each made of 4 triangles, two green, two dark green. All the green triangles in all...12 or so trees are combined into a single path, on top of the dark green triangles that are a single path. You'll note I have some layering errors in a few of them because of that.

This stuff just stacks on top of each other as the file progresses - order is important - which is why you see the roads covering up my text.

I kinda like SVG now.

I'm sure next time I post on this I'll have rebooted into a completely different presentation style, but, hey.

For now, however, I don't have to "map", in the classical sense - puttering around in Hexographer, reworking hexes, relayering, invoking GIMP for certain tasks, blah de blah. Everything I need to know is in a spreadsheet I'd be using anyway, and I've got some middleware to translate that into something I can pass through Text Mapper - on-demand, just-in-time mapping.

Admit it: it's a little sexy.

So, it's time for my yearly more-useless-than-normal summer post. Hang on to your butts:

IKEA: Have you ever noticed how good Ikea product names are for anything vaguely Scandinavian? PCs, gods, boats, horses? That's where I got all my names for CharlesDM's PbP game on the Autarch board - my PC, my horse, my followers, my sword...

Hell of a weird place to go, but, they've got a great naming scheme.

STAR WARS: And what is the deal with Star Wars planets? Does it not seem that the whole thing makes more sense as several biomes on the same planet? Scale it all down - crazy floating fortresses for star destroyers - like maybe Avatar-style Firebending boats that fly, instead. Evil empires, princesses, magic swords, magic users...meh.

...hm. So, technically, we have some guidance for scale. Consider the phrase "That's No Moon". We can theorize, therefore, that the Death Star, whether a space station or floating fortress or whatever, by default will initially appear to the viewer as the size of a moon -- Earth's, in this case, for the relative ease of invoking the mind's eye.

We can use the angular diameter equation to figure this out. We'll combine this with figuring out the maximum size of a cylinder (to represent our stronghold tower) we can fit in a sphere to determine our capacity in units.

For several choices of "cruising altitude", then , we get several spheres - their diameter compared to the heights or lengths of well known objects:

Altitude (miles)Diameter (ft)Length OfSpherical VolumeTower Height (ft)
23885511005638(moon's diameter)6.97982E+206,354,108
8544393677Death Star I3.19461E+16227,289
301382432 Park Avenue1382945438798
20922USS Nimitz409761611.2532
10461Great Pyramid of Giza51220201.4266
5230Omaha Double Tree Hotel6402525.176133

If the Omaha Double Tree Hotel is floating 5 miles in the sky, it can blot out the Moon. As an aside, Wikipedia's really got some weird lists.

Tower height/volume/diameter/stories is the maximum "cylinder" that will fit in the sphere defined.

TowerTower Height (ft)Tower Diameter (ft)Tower StoriesSqft/StoryTtl Sq Ft
Death Star393677160718227282.03E+104.61E+14
Park Avenue7985647925011719759229

And, let's add some ACKS stats to it:

TowerPossible Cost (GP)Possible SHPCan "Secure"Size Comparison
Moon8.06E+193.57E+18Everything. This fortress is a harsh mistress.
Death Star3.69E+151.63E+14A galactic empire without lost Jedi water farmers.
Park Avenue158,073,8366,996,894333,500 to 166,700 sq mi (10,500 - 5,300 hexes)Madagascar (226K sq mi)
Nimitz47,133,1272,086,27599,500 to 50,000 sq mi (3150-2100 hexes)Ellesmere Island (75K sq mi)
Giza5,780,478255,86412,200 to 6,000 square miles (385-192 hexes)Sardinia (9K sq mi)
Omaha722,56031,9831,525 to 765 square miles (48 to 24 hexes)Long Island (1,400 sq mi)

TowerUnits/StoryTotal UnitsGarrison CostIndicated FamiliesIndicated Realm
Moon4,404,195,3802.79847E+154.50137E+182.2 QuintillionGalaxy
Death Star5,635,2841.28E+112.06E+14103 TrillionGalactic Quadrant
Park Avenue695,4898,644,6634,322,331Empire

The "Unit" I'm using there is a abstract notion - it's 2,640 men making up 24 units; mixed between LI/HI/XB/HA/CC - so I'm dividing population numbers and multiplying costs by that.

On the forums, Alex stated 30 sqft per soldier as a decent living space. We'll assume a floating fortress means they live within the whole time. We've got a lot of leeway on space used; our cylinder in our sphere is only using about half the volume we have to work with - plenty of room for storage, siege weapons, griffin pens, magical floaty-engine things, etc.

Indicated Families is the "civilized realm" value of how many families that amount of garrison spend would cover.

And finally (ignoring the numbers that'll just stay in scientific notation):

TowerTroopsMarket ClassSupport Pop.Supply CostStronghold UpkeepFamiles to Cover CostsMinimum Realm
Death Star1.41E+13---5.76E+131.84E+131.06E+14---
Park Avenue603,754Class II175002,469,948790,3694,532,300Empire
Nimitz180,022Class II9775736,468235,6661,351,403Kingdom
Giza22,078Class IV120090,32228,902165,738Principality
Omaha2,760Class VI15011,2903,61320,717Duchy

If an army's baggage train counts as a market of some size, then a floating fortress would have the same thing within it for support needs. If we take the population needed for support as the number of families - as single individuals - from a settlement of that market class, we can pretend there's some number of support staff along for the ride.

We can also, then, calculate supply costs for the army, and upkeep costs for the stronghold, in the number of families worth of domain income we'd need to cover.

There. Death Star as a floating stronghold for ACKS. It's...not all that unreasonable once you just stop worrying about how the thing flies. If you're big enough to have an extra principality or kingdom's worth of income you can throw around, it certainly would make for a hell of a way to run a war. You could probably just land this thing on a truculent enemy stronghold/settlement (rather than figure out what the Death Star's laser would do in ACKS terms).

That being said, if we're looking at an atmospheric vehicle of that size, you'd be better off flattening it quite a bit and using the available surface area as farms to offset your supply costs...left as an exercise for the reader.