Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Settling the Feral Shore

It's been quiet here blogside as of late, real world business, writing and gaming (ironically) have conspired to delay my triumphant return into regular blogging. (But really how much is there to say about a hobby?)

Besides the Reavers of the Weird miniatures campaign which launched this week with six players, the weekly Hill Cantons game has been going in some interesting directions in the new explore/clear/colonize the Feral Shore sideline. In other words doing domain-level play several levels before "name level" and firmly shaking out the notion that it is some kind of end-game retirement phase. 

A thriving (if squalid) little Jamestown-like fort settlement has sprung up and the players have already accomplished some rather heroic (for their general murderhobo scumbaggery) feats such as freeing an old pagan god chained to a lakefloor (who they think is the Cantons version of the Slavic god Veles), finding a book of a god, clearing a massive dam made wholly of human bones, exploring the Valley of Grot and its temple, etc.

As the foothold in the Weird expands, I find myself adapting many of the collection of subsystems designed for the two Domain Game experiments and the Borderlands (yeah, yeah eventually). Here is one of the ones I am currently using to set out what kind of broke-in-the-head people would be attracted to a muddy little clearing in the howling wilderness.

Settler Rules
Colonists can recruited to the settlement by the promise of free or cheap land. Colonists will only begin to arrive when the following conditions are met:
1. A two-mile hex and it's surrounding hexes have been rigorously explored and cleared of threats.
2. The players have set twice a week patrols of all six of those hexes.
3. The passage from the coast to the settlement is also explored, cleared, and patrolled.

Every three months a call can be issued back home in the Cantons. With each seasonal call, the player can grant and settle up a square miles of arable land in the settlement hex. Each hex is assumed to have four square miles of potentially grantable land.

Colonists work their own land and provide their own means, thus the players have no direct obligation to house, feed, and pay them as they do for their retainers, hirelings, and followers. They do however come under the obligation of paying taxes, tithes, fees, tariffs and obeying the rules set by the players within reason. An average rate of taxation—1 gold sun per family per month--will tend to not produce riotous conditions.

Roll on the following two tables for each seasonal settlement (or if a special campaign event calls for it).

Interesting Immigrants Table
Roll d20
1 Crazy old coot
2 Village idiot
3 Local gossip (also practices some kind of trade)
4 1d3 wanton harlots or strutting gigolos
5 Slave trader/Indentured Servant dealer or other scum bag, 1d3 slimy henchmen
6 Tavern/Wine den/Hallucinogen parlor keeper
7 Smelly kozak horse caravanserai and trade herd
8 Evening or Morning Star society heretic (also craftsmen)
9 Starry Void mystic (also craftsmen)
10 Silent God rebbe or Old Pahr pagan (also vinter, metalsmith, or sage)
11 Feral Dwarf hill scout
12 Half-Ogre goon
13 Black Hobbit professional maker of trouble
14 Fishing boatkeeper and family (or hunter if not on navigable water)
15 Recovering (perhaps) bandit/outlaw/poacher
16 Kezmaroki shabby gentily family (extravagant title but destitute)
17 1d3 defaulted Bonders (mercs) from Kezmarok (come with armor and weapons)
18 Guild of Condoterrie, Linkboys and Scalawags member (owes back dues)
19 Non-inimical monster from the Weird
20 Something truly fucked up (GM's discretion).

Boring Immigrants Table
Roll d10
1 none
2-3 16 families of tenant farmers
4-5 14 families of tenant farmers, 2 families of freeholders (80 suns for sale of land)
6 12 tenant farmers, 4 freeholders (160 suns sale)
7 12 tenant farmers, 4 military colonists
8 10 tenant farmers, 2 freeholder (80 suns sale), 1 boyar (160 suns)
9 10 tenant farmers, 2 military colonists (160suns sale), 1 boyar (160 suns)
10 8 tenant farmers, 4 freeholder (160suns sale), 1 boyar (160 suns)
*Any emigrating family can be substituted for a family of tenant farmer if desired.

Tenant Farmers
Free farming family that works a leased grant of 40 acres in exchange for farming work, militia service, and taxes. Typical family will be five with three working bodies that are available to work the landowner's seeding and harvest. The household will provide one unarmored combatant with club, dagger, or other makeshift weapon.

Free farming family of five that works a purchased grant of 40 acres. In an emergency situation, the household will provide one combatant with leather armor and a long bow or spear/shield.

Military colonists
Family headed by former mercenaries, landsknechts or Kezmaroki bonders that works a leased grant of 40 acres in exchange for militia service. The household will provide one combatant with half plate, short sword and a pike or crossbow.

Wealthy, but not titled landholder that purchases 120 acres. One family of five with 12 servants. In an emergency situation, the household will provide one mounted warrior with half plate, shield, sword and lance and three unarmored combatants with club, dagger, or other makeshift weapon.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Support RPG Micropublishing on the Cheap This Week

It's the Fourth of July, time to belabor some cliches and support the indy side of our hobby. While the Kickstarter boom/bubble/scourge (take your pick) grabs much of the spotlight there has also been a bit of an explosion from DIYers and micro-publishers

And what's more you can do it as a cheap ass this week with deep discounts at Lulu. The discount code of FIREWORKS will save you 25% (only today and tomorrow). And JULYBOOKS13 will get you 20% after that. 

But wait there's more. I will discount the print versions of By This Axe and the Hill Cantons Compendium by 10% for the rest of the week: 35% off (with the same amount going to charity). Find all that here.

While you are splurging, here's a list of some other fine rpg purveyors of the weird and wonderful:
Mike Davison, Ruins & Ronin
Patrick Wetmore, Anomalous Subsurface Environment 
Kyrinn Eis, Porphyry

Not on Lulu but damn worth supporting anywho:
Scott Moberly, AFS magazine 
Trey Causey, Weird Adventures

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Reavers of the Weird: a By This Axe Mini-Campaign

A recent idea by Deep Evan to run a wargame side counterpart to his Dark Country rpg one has fired me up for designing sections of the campaign supplement By this Axe (my medieval fantasy battle rules set).

Below is a free mini-campaign for 2-4 players to be used with BTA's battle and draft skirmish rules (drop me a line for a copy of that, it will only make sense if you have a copy of BTA). The campaign is hard-wired to have some interesting trade-offs against a small-scale warfare backdrop. Do I send out a small raiding party with less chance of getting caught—and less chance of creating havoc? Or do I send out the big guns? How should I spread my forces to guard my precious pigs and other assets?

Background and Set-Up
Countless centuries of gavelkind succession laws have cranked up the fractionalizing, autarkic, hair-splitting pettiness—so typical of life in places with a foot in the Weird--to a feverish pitch in the Translittoral Canton of Hoimatbuch. That chilly, windy easternmost bastion of the Overkingdom is further plagued by a strangely-virile nobility creating a maddening over-proliferation of hyphen-crazy micro-fiefdoms as each holding is divided equally among the male children of each line.

You are the holder of one of these tiny sub-divided micro-states, your neighbor is a similar such asshole. You both want to kill and take each other's stuff, but are limited to the rules of low-intensity warfare that the Overking imposes.

Each player as part of his squalid little holding receives 30 pigs in his sties, 20 horses in his corrals, a village filled with tax-paying chumps, three blood-apricot orchards, a swollen (yet strangely beautiful) prize pig, a fine Southlands horse, and a charming (almost), rustically-decorated, black-timbered manor house. Ridding your opponent of his assets being the object of the campaign.

Each player receives 250 points to buy their initial retinue. Each band receives one Wildgraf or Boyar (that's you) and one Lieutenant for free. All figures must be grouped into units of two or more figures (who represent five warriors each) on their roster.

Forces Available
Wildgraf or Boyar (Hero-General)
Fighting Capacity: 5, Armor Save 4(s), Heavy Armor, Shield, Lance, Sword, Horse (lose this if fine horse stolen in raid).

Reaver Lieutenant (Hero-Leader)
Fighting Capacity: 5, Armor Save 4(s), Heavy Armor, Shield, Lance, Sword, Horse

Reaver Lancer (light raiding cavalry, cost 25),
FC: 3, AS: 2 (s), Light Armor, Shield, Lance, Javelins, Sword, Horse

Reaver Foot (light raider-archers, cost 15)
FC: 3, AS: 1, Light Armor, Longbow, Sword

Dopplesoldiers (landsknecht foot, cost 12)
FC: 3, AS: 2, Medium Armor, Pike or Two-Handed Sword

Men-at-Arms (mercenary foot, cost 9)
FC: 2, AS: 2, Medium, Polearm

Crossbowman (merc foot, cost 9)
FC: 2, AS: 1, Light, Light Crossbow, Sword

The Campaign Turn
Each turn (roughly a fortnight) the player can elect to mount 0-2 offensive actions (see below) and as many defensive actions as he cares. All actions are considered to occur simultaneously. The campaign ends after six turns and victory points are computed.

Offensive Actions
Each turn can assign a leader or general and accompanying units to conduct a raid (each force must have a leader). He picks one of the options from below.
Pig Raid
Steal Horses
Humiliate Villagers
Burn Blood-Apricot Orchards
Raze Manor

Defensive Actions
Each turn the player also assigns his non-raiding units (again each must have two or more to various locales.
Assign Guards to Pig Sties
Assign Guards to Horse Corral
Assign Guards to Village
Assign Guards to Orchard
Assign Guard to Manor house
Assign Reserve (assign figures to serve as a reserve for pursuits and defense)
Buy Reinforcements (useable once per turn gain 30 points of figures, see Victory Point penalty)

Raid Resolution
Raider rolls d6 when on a raid to see what resistance she faces. Battles involving 4 or less figures per side will be resolved with the BTA draft skirmish rules. Battles involving more than that with the full mini battle rules. After a battle or skirmish, the victor regains all routing forces, the loser only a third.
-1 Raiding Force has 1-4 figures
-1 Raiding Force all mounted
+1 Raiding Force has 11 and over figures
0- Get Away Scot Free (Roll on Plunder)
1 Escape with No Plunder (No Effect)
2-3 Fight Locale Guard Only (Victorious Raider Rolls for Plunder)
4 Fight Locale Guard and 30% of Reserve (Victorious Raider Rolls for Plunder)
5 Fight Locale Guard and 60% of Reserve (Victorious Raider Rolls for Plunder)
6+ Fight Locale Guard and 100% of Reserve
Victorious raider roll a d6 on the follow charts.
-1 Raiding Force has 2-4 figures
+1 Raiding Force has 11 and over figures

Pig or Horse Raid
1- Nothing stolen
2-3 1d6 animals stolen
4 2d6 animals stolen
5 3d6 animals stolen
6+ 3d6 animals stolen plus Prize Pig or Fine Horse

Village Humiliation
1- Local folk laugh and ask “is that all you got?”
2 Village idiot forced to wear Eld helmet
3 Blacksmith tarred and feathered
4 Village headman (notable) cuckolded
5 Local temple Sun Lord priest (notable) beard shaved
6+ Relative of Boyar (notable) speckled with dung

Orchard Burning
1-3 Fire doesn't catch
4-5 Orchard burned
6+ Fire spreads to other orchard. Two orchards burned.

Manor Razing
1-3 Broke a window, take that. Minor to no damage.
4-6 Trashed the place. Manor partially destroyed. If previously partially damaged then manor is completely destroyed (bummer)

Victory Points
Add up after six turns. The highest score wins.
+1 VP for each pig in possession
+2 VP for each horse
+5 VP for each Prize Pig or Fine Horse
-2 VP for each village commoner of yours humiliated
-3 VP for each village notable of yours humiliated
-5 VP for each reinforcement taken
-5 VP for each orchard burned
-5 VP for partially destroyed manor house
-15 VP for razed manor house