Thursday, November 27, 2014


I've been noodling around with this concept for days and still I haven't got it.  Perhaps writing out some of my issues in longhand will help.

The idea is that an individual with political skill would be able to get themselves placed into that position through influence.  This I wrote about days ago.  In truth, this is the 'easy' part - create a list of possible positions and assign a certain number of points necessary to fit yourself into that position.

Except . . . how long does this influence take?  What other factors may be involved?  Can you buy your way in?  And what if you can't do the job once you're there?  Clearly, some kind of competence roll needs to be included - particularly if you use the position to then peddle others into lesser positions under you.  Finally, what are the consequences of screwing up on the job?

Okay.  First we'll need an Influence table.

For the table, I'm defining 'influence' at equal to the character's political knowledge points squared, +1 point per 10 g.p. the character wishes to spend.  As a general rule, I feel that one month of activity is necessary per 100 points of influence necessary to achieve the position.

If that seems excessive - it works out to nearly seven years to work up to 'chancellor' of the realm, the equivalent of Vizier or the highest ranking non-royal in the land - consider that Adolf Hitler was released from prison in December of 1924 - he was nominated Chancellor of Germany in March, 1933 . . . a total of 99 months.  And that was a fast rise to power.

Probably, an adjustment would need to be made based upon the size of the realm - population or physical area would both matter in that calculation.

That brings us to the subject of competence.

I have a sort of loose theory on how this might be done - but I want to spin it out on the blog in case someone has a suggestion.

My first thought is that the lower the job level, the more actual work is required - this has been my experience, an experience that is backed up by literary sources (damned if I can remember one right now).  The higher one advances, the greater the responsibility but the less the actual labour necessary.  Once a job becomes a matter of making decisions, those decisions can be made anywhere - thus, less need to go into the office.

I suggest that the lowest level positions (under 400 influence) require 60 days every two months, minus the character's intelligence.  Smarter people work less.  It means a lot of time spent, but I hurry to point out to the reader that this is a system that is also meant for non-player characters.  How much does a schoolmaster work?  45-50 days every two months.  Obviously, dumber people would have to work more days.

As one progresses up the ladder (400 to 1444 influence), the character's wisdom is included, so that over a two month period the character would work 60 days minus their combined wisdom + intelligence . . . or typically 30 to 45 days.

Finally, the best jobs (1600 influence or more) take into account the character's charisma - cutting down the number of work days to as little as 15 to 30.  A remarkably smart, wise and charismatic character could literally work 3 days a month and still manage their affairs - brilliantly, I might add.  It assumes, of course, that the character is still 'working' most of the time, but actually having to check in at the 'office' isn't necessary - the underlings have been trained and the process perfectly tuned by a character of remarkable skills.

This provides a basis for competence - for every day that the character works, a roll is made to determine if the character fucks up.  That roll should be based upon their stats, yes, but also upon their political ability and possibly some other measure that, frankly, I haven't dreamed up yet.

Fucking up could be mild.  It could mean money lost, an accident or someone killed on the job, a serious consequence resulting in an army not getting supplies or the king being left without a means to the next town.  It could mean sacking someone with connections or failing to address any number of other issues.

These would need to be compiled and applied, from very minor issues to major disasters.  These, in turn, would mean that the character was sacked, fined, imprisoned, put in the public stocks, exiled or even executed - depending upon the level of the position held and the degree of fuck up.

Right now, it is that specific measure I need to determine competency . . . I'd rather not just use the character's stats or level or class or political clout.  It ought to be something else, but I don't know what.

The key here is the relationship between PAYING to get a really great job which maybe the character isn't actually good enough to handle.  This creates risk, which in turn creates drama.  Perhaps, some specific measure is needed that can be improved over time, so that the longer a character works at a position, the better they get at it (understanding, of course, that sometimes building up too much routine is the downfall of someone in charge).

Anyway, I throw this out for consideration.  Except for the actual Influence table included above, I'm not settled on any of these details.  Too, I am open to suggestions for public positions that I haven't included.


Lord Gwydion said...

This is interesting.

You might want to consider the concept of "promotion to your level of incompetence" and assign a maximum level of competence to characters (based on ability scores+level maybe?). Competence checks are easy up to that level, but above it they get much more difficult.

Some sort of social connections factor might also be part of the equation. Being in with the right circle could lead to promotions, while the wrong circle might lead to stagnation, demotion or even being purged.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Well, I have done some work already with building up social connections. That could work.

James said...

I don't think ability scores should factor in; if they did, then they provide double benefit (less rolls needed AND improved rolls), which seems too much of a benefit.

What if you determined key skills for each occupation, with higher positions requiring more skills? Then the competency roll could by a percentile modified by the skill rating? And if an occupation required, say, 3 skills, then you add the character's skill in those three disciplines and divide by 3.

That way higher occupations are more difficult, but it provides benefits to those who focus on the skills needed to succeed in certain positions.

You could also factor in level, though I feel level is already factored in because higher level characters have more skill points.

Tim said...

Maybe something with cards would work? I agree that you don't want everything to just be determined by the same old modifiers as before, but going back to that discussion of level and social status from a few weeks back, maybe you could have certain effects based on what card you draw, based on your rank. A 2 is the lowest cog in the machine, so you may be more likely to have the unusual thrown your way (although I think higher-ranking officials should also draw more). A King on the other hand would be dealing with serious issues when they do come up, and may well have more of that form of responsibility (since, as you say, more responsibility and less labour for the higher-ups). If you draw a card below your rank, you're safe, but if it's above your rank you may have an issue on hand. I suppose there would need to be a number of details to sort out however as to WHAT the effect is so that the DM doesn't just torture the player/NPC.

Matt said...

Maybe have a separate experience track for mundane positions? So a character might be a level 5 fighter, but also a level 1 commoner, or however else you want to title the class. These mundane classes would not grant hit dice, and would not advance to higher combat tables, but could still earn points toward sage abilities.

Experience in these mundane classes shouldn't be granted by combat, of course. Maybe you could figure out a number of points based on the amount of time spent in the position.

I would consider maybe only granting a significant amount of experience for excellence. So you might gain 1 experience point per day working at your job rather than going into caves and killing spiders to take their stuff. But you might gain 100 experience for establishing a more efficient method of trapping rats.

Of course, all this needs more concrete building, and it may not be the direction you are thinking. I like the level framework though because it already exists in the game. It is something that players could easily wrap their heads around.