Domain Rules

I need some domain rules. I’ve been steered toward the AD&D Birthright materials, since it seems like D&D has kind of flaked on domain rules since Rules Cyclopedia.

The rules need to be based on the same stuff I have now, though. I could make up rules where a Curtain Wall has 40 Structural Points and a Large Square Tower can hold 3 Room Spaces, but I’d rather not have a whole extra layer of rules that doesn’t come into play most of the time. That might be where I eventually go, but I’d rather just treat strongholds and villages and peasants and armies the same way I treat stone walls and thatch huts and NPCs. No new rules-layer, no new objects and modifiers and stuff, just larger numbers of the same old toys we’ve been playing with all this time.

The important thing is that we be able to abstract it out easily for when the player wants to have a domain but doesn’t want the nitty-gritty of running it, and let the player descend into those details as much as he wants to.

That said, I need some specific encounter tables. There needs to be tables for Nature, Diplomacy, Economy, and Monsters. I chose these because they seemed like they would overall cover the range of events I want to have happen to a domain. A village is the “character” here, who encounters things, except that the village is stationary and things that it encounters must come to it. Because it stays in the same place all the time, encounters that affect it can include things that a normal adventuring group wouldn’t really notice, such as droughts and such.

When creating these tables I need to make sure to not make the neighborhood go crazy every month (or season, or whatever). Mainly they’re there so that nothing can be taken for granted, things are a little more interesting, and if the PCs want to hole up making magic items for six months something might still happen.

Any or all of these tables could be ignored, for example, there isn’t opportunity for diplomacy if you’re off in the wilderness. Although the local intelligent forest creatures might practice some form of diplomacy …

In order for these to work, I need to have a list of nearby other actors. These might be other domains, or might be monster lairs, or dungeons, or whatever. These should be listed such that you can roll on the list to select one. If there are 7 actors nearby, just roll d8 and reroll 8s, that sort of thing.

We assume at the start that the domain includes an area that is set aside for the lord, and other areas that are for the villagers. We can call the lord’s area the Stronghold. The other areas are the Village.

The taxes raised by the lord come in the form of goods and services (food, animals, leather, repair work) which upkeep the Stronghold and the lord’s retainers. One family of villagers can support one retainer. The monthly upkeep cost for retainers is

6 SP food
12 SP beer or wine
1 SP equipment repair
1 SP firewood
20 SP total (2 GP the way I count it)

I would count a dog as a quarter man, a horse as four men. Remember this is just the extra cost if you want more retainers than your Village can support. If you have fewer retainers, you get the extra 2 GP in extra food and such (not money). You can also count it like this: with 10 Village families, you get 20 GP in goods and services. Decide what you’re going to do with that. A retainer costs 2 GP to support, a dog costs 5 SP, and a horse costs 8 GP.

Taxes also come in the form of money, but this is a smaller amount, only 5 SP per family per month. This money is almost always in copper coins.

Taxes also come in the form of labor, repairing the Stronghold and maintaining the Stronghold lands. The fact that Villagers maintain their own houses, sheds, fences, etc. is of value to the lord because he still owns all that land and everything on it.

There is trade among Village families and between Village families and the Stronghold. A Village family may buy a new plough blade that your Stronghold Blacksmith made in his spare time, the profit from which he spends getting a nice new pair of boots or extra booze or new bed linens. The lord doesn’t gain anything from this trade.

The lord can increase taxes, but this makes people unhappy because it’s harder to feed themselves and any little bit of extra money they might have is skimmed off. I’d just have to roleplay the villagers differently if taxes were lower or higher. Certainly a highly-taxed village will produce lower-morale militia.

Each retainer needs a 10’ square of personal space in your Stronghold. Courtyard area can be used for horses and dogs if you like. Retainers need additional shared spaces, including kitchen, mess hall, toilets, etc. Assume that 4 retainers can share one 10’ square of shared space. Define these any way you like. If you define all your shared space as toilets, your men will cook and eat and gamble there too (miserably, we can assume).

Village families each take up a 20’x20’ square standard house (80’ exterior walls, ground floor plus loft for children and storage). Twenty families can work one square mile of agricultural land, on which they can support themselves and pay their taxes.

A stronghold and the village immediately around it takes up one square mile in the 5-mile local hex. Not all villagers will live in the main village. Their houses and farms can be farther out. Anyway, that leaves 48 one-mile hexes in the 5-mile local hex. This means you can have up to 960 villager families in one local hex.

Of course, you can have non-agricultural families. But that gets us into towns, which is another level up and involves taxation of a complex economic system.

I have costs already for stone and wood construction, which is based on linear wall length and a standard wall thickness. You can double up wall thickness, etc. You also pay for floors and ceilings separately (usually wooden). I think I have separate extra costs for doors and windows. It’s all pretty atomic.

Magic like Plant Growth will affect the local productivity of your Village. This directly increases the tax output. You can take all the excess as tax, explaining to your villagers that it was only because of your magic that they had the excess to begin with, but they’ll still be pretty steamed about it as if you had raised taxes.

Likewise a drought or something will lower their productivity. If their productivity goes down below 75% they will be unhappy since they are hitting hard times, and might blame their lord even though he didn’t do anything to cause it.

Earthquake (Volcano chance for those nearby)
Game Animal Population Boom
Heavy Precipitation
Lightning Storm (forest fire?)

Nearby ally offers a magic item for trade (only if you have any allies)
Nearby enemy raids your outskirts / supply line
Envoy from neighbor (opportunity to gain/lose friendship)
Scout from neighbor
Foreign Merchant (goods for trade, might set up trade agreement)

Mining goes really well
Mining disaster
Good fishing
Villager or Retainer found some buried treasure
Criminal was caught locally (% chance based on retainer strength and numbers, and morale)

Human monsters move into area (bandits, pirates, thieves) (add neighbor)
Adventuring group comes into area (possibly add neighbor)
Local nature monsters cause some trouble (satyrs, dryads, ents)
Underworld monster lairs nearby (add neighbor)
Flying / seagoing monster passes through
Exacerbation of local monster problems (or add new local monster problems) (kobolds, giant rats, etc)
Monster refugees come in from elsewhere (wolves come because of no food in their hills) (add neighbor)

These are just some ideas of what might fit under these tables. I think the 1E D&D Oriental Adventures had some tables like this too. I’ll have to look around.

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