Monday, July 18, 2016


This post describes working parties for commercial ventures who work mines, ships, roads and more. For rules describing the effectiveness of crews in combat, see Crew Quality.

Crews are work gangs or classes of people who work together in a common activity, generally a structured or hierarchical organization. A location in which a crew works on land is called a crew yard or a work yard; upon the sea, a crew works aboard ship. The members of a crew are predominantly untrained laborers led by skilled laborers and overseers. Large camps will include one or two managers or administrators (scribes, with a staff), who will act under the orders of a governor, director or owner (who will virtually never be found on site).

Aboard ship, these upper positions will be held by mates, led by a boatswain (bo'sun), sailing master and captain. Specialty positions aboard a ship will be held by a pilot, ship's marksman, ship's carpenter or surgeon. As with land crews, the owner of the ship is rarely present, as the captain has been hired to act on the owner's behalf in the ship's commercial venture.

Crews differ in behavior regarding the quality of leadership, the form of occupation, the season (winter in a cold country or summer in a hot country tend to increase stress and potential violence) and degree of isolation. Land crews may be found hundreds of miles from the nearest civilization; seagoing crews, thousands of miles. Crews may control an entire island or valley, they may be working in the midst of a city or they could be responsible for miles of underground tunnels. Sea crews may be military- or trader-based. Land crews may parties committed to clearing land for agriculture, ditch diggers for irrigation or road builders, dredgers, sappers, miners, sawyers and tree cutters for fuel or for construction (including shipbuilding), quarry stonecutters or trappers/hunters.

There are three probable land crew encounters (among a host of unlikely possibilities):
  • Speculators. 2-5 workers are encountered prospecting, exploring, tallying trees for cutting, marking the location of roads or other projects intended to be initiated in the future. The party will be tough adventurers, high minded and educated, most likely working for themselves or hired by others to traverse areas to learn if there is something there to be exploited. These groups are likely to be friendly but distrustful, presuming any party they meet is potential competition interested in making an enterprise of the same valuable land they've examined. As such, they will likely swap for equipment but will not give information on what they've seen or found. A ranger will almost certainly be the leader of these speculators; fighters, thieves, assassins, thieves, mages, illusionists and even a rare cleric may make up their number.
  • Incomers. 5-30 workers who have been contracted to set up a working camp, prior to the existence of the camp itself. This may involve building ditches, chutes, minimal fortifications, setting up tents, laying trap lines, clearing trees, dredging river courses, cutting roads/trails and so on. Not all eventual camps will involve permanent dwellings, so that a group of incomers can easily be mistaken for camping bandits and vice versa. These groups will be experienced workers, who have fought enough creatures and threats that they will all have some combat training. They will be led by an overseer who will be 3rd or 4th level and at least 4-9 others that are 1st to 3rd level who will be ex-military of one kind or another. Incomers will work on building a camp from a few weeks to several months.
  • Full Camp. Workers who are actively full-time on a commercial venture. Small camps of 10-60 workers are most common, but camp size can be as large as 300. Camps larger than 40 will typically have a few permanent dwellings; camps larger than 100 will manifest as villages. Camps larger than 300 will have transformed into permanent settlements, with other ongoing activities beyond the commercial venture that initiated the settlement's existence. The workers of full camps will be three quarters untrained, inexperienced workers; the remainder will experienced workers with some combat training. For every 10 members of the camp will be one of 1st level; the camp will be led by at least four overseers of 2nd to 3rd level and by an administrator of 6th level. Among the workers there may be a surprise, a higher level character who has taken work amidst poor circumstances, whose real experience is unknown to the others.

Crew encounters at sea will most likely consist of fishermen, who will take to the water in individual boats. Treat fishermen and their operations as a moving full camp, operating out of a nearby settlement. Some fishing crews on long-range fishing trips will encamp on the shore at night when able; larger fishing fleets will consist of dozens of vessels that may be bound for fishing grounds thousands of miles from their settlement origins.

Details regarding other ship activities, such as traders, pirates, patrols or explorer vessels will be dealt with on other pages in the wiki.

See Encounters


Maxwell Joslyn said...

I landed on the Crews page when reading the Bandits entry and wondered if you'd go here next.

One thing I like about these posts that I think you haven't come out and said yet, is that not only are you building up detailed descriptions of encounter types and fleshing out the way the world works, you're also presenting good examples for things the player characters might themselves do (or hire folks to do.)

Alexis Smolensk said...

Wasn't actually my intention, Maxwell . . . but you know, build up enough content about a setting and you reach a critical mass, where the world is three-dimensional enough to suggest to sort of things you've mentioned.