27 February 2014

Let's Build Castles!

Been writing about Holdings today. The basic idea is that my domain game is played out mostly on a hex map, and each hex has a single holding. There are only three types (so far), mostly because there are three kinds of resources that the land gives you. We've been over Manpower, and Gold is a pretty obvious thing to welcome, too. Defense rounds out the third- there's a reason that one builds castles, and that's represented here, too.

First are Cities, which gives you lots of gold but not that much manpower- which makes sense, since cities tend to be wealthy but largely full of free guildsmen, merchant, business owners, and foreigners who have no loyalty to the crown. That's just the nature of the thing. Since they don't have an obligation to you, only the people who aren't doing much else will serve you. Cities are of average defensibility, since they tend to grow haphazardly but they can be pretty flammable.

Next up are Temples, which have decent manpower and decent gold. They're the easiest to invade, though, since they're not built for defense as much as to look impressive. Not much to say about Temples, although I'm thinking of toying with some religiosity benefits, such that if you have a lot of temples, maybe religiously-motivated warriors will stick around, or maybe the gods themselves will give you benefits. That could be fun, and appropriate for the light-fantasy setting. Maybe something as mild as just having people happier...

Then you have Castles, which have good manpower but little gold. People like to live near castles and they support a thriving ecosystem of serfs and manors, but castles are expensive to maintain. They're also the most difficult to assault. These castles needn't be official "castles," they can easily be border forts. The Castle type just represents an important free-standing structure in the hex.

Last come Villages, which are just lightly occupied hexes that are still controlled by somebody important. They aren't very good at anything, giving low manpower, gold, and defense. 

Each Holding has a level associated with it, which represents the basic productivity of the Holding, which is modified by the Holding's type. Castles get +1 Manpower, for example, so that a Level 1 castle gives 2 Manpower/season, and a level 5 Castle would give 6 Manpower. These are all totally made up numbers, by the way, I'm still nailing down exactly what the base should be and what the units of "men" should represent. I want to lean towards a simple conversion like 1 Manpower = 500 men, but I'll have to check my population density estimates again. That'll be forthcoming.

I'm thinking of including resources for each hex, as well. Something very, very simple, since it's already getting to be a bit much of the behind-the-scenes math and dice rolling. Probably something as simple as "metal deposits give +1 Gold / season" or "black soil gives +1 Manpower/season" or whatever. Maybe a list in the Appendix? Certainly nothing that'd belong on the map. On one hand, you could also completely ignore the terrain itself and reason that if you really built up a giant city in what seems to be like totally inhospitable terrain you must have something to keep your population going; this deals with the problem from the other direction, see?

Well, I'll keep hacking away at it. I'm in the stage where I'm collecting all my ideas and putting them into an actual .odt file and then trying to make them work together. There should really only be a couple of interlocking systems at play here, and I think I'm getting closer to making it functional. Wish me luck!

26 February 2014

Random Class Generation is Fun

I dunno about  you but these are some awesome-ass classes. Might run a quick game of Risus or Donjon and require that people play these classes and these classes only- when your character dies, you roll up a new one and figure out how to re-enter the scene with whatever method you prefer.

When all the characters are dead (or they win the objective, whichever comes first, I guess), then the game is over and everybody wins! Yay for winning!

Questions for inspiration:
  1. What is the Chill Driver driving?
  2. There are three trout-based classes; a fish cult?
  3. Iguanas are an element
  4. The cornsmith makes me think of these guys from Adventure Time
  5. Basil Hooligan sounds like almost too much fun, holy crap
  6. What are these guys all after, anyways?

18 February 2014

Glorious Tibet

Instead of doing anything productive, I've been playing EU4 as Tibet. Let me tell you something about Tibet- it's probably in the single worst position possible. To my west is a semi-unified Indian subcontinent, full of high basetax provinces of a culture I don't accept and largely containing two religions I am intolerant of.

Further west, of course, are the Timurids, who are going to turn into the Mughals and start conquering as much of India as they can get their hands on. They're giving Russia and the Ottomans a run for their money for #1 military power. And of course, Kathiawar and Orissa aren't super friendly, either, and they want my territory. Doesn't matter that I haven't done anything to them for generations, or that I've been focusing on Pegu/Ayutthaya to them.

To my east is Ming, who has so many people that it's not even worth mentioning. They might be a little behind in tech but holy shit there are so many of them. The only reason I have the two provinces of theirs is because they declared war on Ayutthaya, who is allied with Pegu, and so I declared war on them, too. I'm allied with Oirat Horde and Korea, and between the five of us we barely managed to eke out anything positive. It was gruesome. My manpower went from full to totally depleted and their military was four or five levels behind!

When I figure out how, I'll copy over the images stored on the Steam cloud and write up an after-action report. I'm probably doomed; this image is from a long while ago, when Tibet still had a chance. Events have changed. Tibet does not have much of a chance anymore.

12 February 2014

Ottoman Turks

Below is a link with a large handful of images from a manuscript published in Turkey in 1620. They're all pictures of soldiers, administrators, generals, and soldiers. They're absolutely beautiful and I want everybody to see them.

The link:

 And an example:


10 February 2014

The LEGO Movie

Not roleplaying related at all, I really just wanted to point you lonely wanderers towards this eloquent review. I can't recommend the movie highly enough. It's one of those rare kid's movies that almost seem more aimed at the adults in the audience. It's really great and if you haven't seen it yet, you really should, because it's wonderful.

People Are A Resource

My original title was "Men Are A Resource," because men are the ones that are levied to fight in armies and they're the real valuable resource; but there's no real reason why women aren't a resource, too. And it's not that much harder to keep track of "people" so that's that.

When you're a ruler, all of the resources, assets and structures on the lands you own are your attributes. Cities take time to grow and take time to be destroyed, just like your Strength or Wisdom does. Castles endure, much like your Constitution does. If you damage the Castle, it's only a little while until you fix it, after all.

But your subjects are a currency, just like your gold is. When you spend your people unwisely, you will be as poor a ruler as one whose treasuries are empty. Dead men, after all, cannot be taxed, and they do not till fields. They do not fight in armies. They do not produce more children. They do not invent. In a sense, your people are your most valuable resource- and by treating them as a currency instead of an attribute, you get neat scenarios like Middle Ages Muscovites, where their neighbors are having social changes and inventing and building cathedrals and all they get to do is fight for a couple hundred years with the Tatar hordes that are on every damned side.

As an added bonus, having population as a currency means that you can have both gold income and population income tracked for each holding and county that you control: A province might provide 1 gold (measured in talents, probably) and 5 manpower per "turn," which means that you can use those five people in tasks that aren't directly related to whatever it is that the province does, like forming an army or building fortifications, or what-have-you. Everybody that's not available

Since we're handwaving away all of the necessary guys in a province, that simultaneously lets us add a layer of abstraction that's also directly calculable by remembering that in the Middle Ages, it took seven people to provide enough food for an 8th*; this means that a 5 manpower (MP here on out) province actually has eight times as many people as that residing in it; our 5 MP province contains a hamlet of some sort. In time, with enough sustained growth, a bit of luck, and maybe a bit of immigration, our hamlet might grow into a useful town.

There's still a whole lot of writing, thinking, and concept work to be done, though, so this is all subject to change. But it's how I've got everything written out for now, and I'm hoping that this will all come together well soon. If anything, it seems a bit overly complex- so it'll be a good bit of work for me to be able to present this in a way that's not absurdly difficult to deal with without a lot of electronic aides. Wish me luck!

09 February 2014

Thinkin Bout Rulin

It's hard to pick a time period to simulate rulership. On one hand, the Peloponnesian Wars are fascinating and also very, very foreign. Alien, really. And it's beautiful, and enormous, and was predicated on exactly the same kind of feudalism and strife that marked the Middle Ages as a whole...

But on the other hand, the idea of playing a game where you're running around with knights and nobles is pretty interesting too, even if it's the non-modern setting that gets the most traction in general. Everybody thinks they know all about the dark ages and chainmail and swordfights and cavalry charges and everything (despite literally all of that being wrong but who cares) which means that the theme is worn a little thin even when the really interesting parts of the setting have been travelled only lightly.

Either way, though, the mechanics will be practically unchanged. I might just have two campaign settings- one in an early Antiquity styled setting, and one in a later setting...

Given that I'm going to be taking a large-ish hex map and populating it with a crowd of Kings, Counts, Dukes, Petty Kings, and Tribes, though, it might be more than enough work just to do the one. I've given fairly serious thought to just having the player characters (whoever they are) being the arms of a psuedo-Roman Empire, given the task to grow the Empire by managing this new outpost with minimal requirements from the Empire at large, always busy with its own tasks. I'll have to think about it, probably about the same time when I figure out if marrying into bloodlines is going to be a big thing. It would be nice to attempt to forge alliances by intermarriage, but then again, it's also kind of a pain in the ass to figure out whether there are qualified heirs to marry into...

Of course, one could always have a Relations attribute that'd list if there were any sons or daughters and kind of have them in a quantum state of both existing and not existing until it is completely relevant, in a sort of "it doesn't concern anybody so we're not simulating it for the sake of sanity" kind of way.

Imagine: You decide that you want an alliance with the ambitious Duke of Karlford, so you send an envoy inquiring to that effect. The Campaign Master could roll and use the result to see if the Duke is willing to send you a daughter to marry, and just assume that he's got a daughter for the player characters if he decides to send one? The only other solution I can think of is to have a metric shit-ton of rolls for each individual major character in the game, and given that there have to be at least a dozen of them plus random events for the realm at large and also major events in the world that don't directly concern the players, it might get to be seriously unmanageable very, very quickly. I don't reasonably expect anybody to roll twenty dice, even if the game's really more of a play by email game.

On the plus side, I've gotten the formatting done for the book, so all that's left is figuring out the nitty gritty. Who knows how long that's going to take!

Looking Back

They say that if you don't look back at who who were from a year ago and cringe that you haven't grown enough. What if I look back f...