Sunday, February 24, 2013

Fleshing the Wilderness

So, I'm trying to follow up on this post on the placement of features in the wilderness, and finding already that I'm going to need a host of new rules.

For example, features such as armories, army camps and castles should increase the number of patrols a party is likely to encounter, doubling and even tripling them.  Some hexes it would be impossible to go to a tavern or a market without there being soldiers in evidence, much more so that there might be otherwise.  But what is the baseline?  The appearance of a patrol has always been inserted into an encounter table - but we know that patrols don't really work on a random basis.  They are variously regular, they cover the overall land surface and they're deliberately designed to enforce the law.

What is the baseline?  A patrol once per week per set area, so that a party staying in one place for an entire week should be met at least once.  Or perhaps, for the die's sake, a low patrolled area would be 1 in 8 days (instead of a week); various levels above that would be 1 in 4 days, every day, every 8 hours.  And the number of patrol might increase from 4 guards to 9 guards to 22 guards.

This is all assuming there are any guards at all.

Moreover, what is it exactly that the guards ought to expect?  A relaxed, very rural area would be more casual than a heavily patrolled region with castle and army camp.  Searches?  Questioning?  What defines an area as off-limits, and what is the medieval punishment for failing to be informed?  Attack; imprisonment; or just pushing off?  This isn't random - established militaries behave according to their presence and local importance.

Regarding something else.  If I add a black market to my trading table, what items does it provide?  Certainly addictive substances like tobacco, opium and distilled beverages; perhaps caviar; probably whale oil.  Weapons yes; perfumes maybe.  A definitive list has to be established, along with how much less it can be bought for, not to mention the possible danger in having said items once purchased.  I also think that some kind of % roll should be worked out for assassins and thieves in order to find the black market, increased by level.  Unless I want to say they can automatically do so.  That seems less than desireable.

A similar problem occurs with the presence of an auction house.  Cheap and sometimes damaged goods should be available - but probably not the sort of things seen in a modern auction on the road show.  This would be more along the line of estate sales ... specifically the house, or items such as wagons, horses and other livestock, ships and boats, land, workshops, mines, quarries and anything else large or that could be purchased in lots (as opposed to quaint artworks and label-oriented items).  Prior to the 18th century, few people were concerned or cared about a specific maker, so the auction house would mostly be there to move things that couldn't be put on a shelf.  A definitive list would need to be made.

Rules would also have to be established as to how damaged some of the lots were, and how that affected the final price.  Cheaper, certainly, but how much cheaper?  And if it was something like a resource lot, how is the price affected by the expected gain from said resource in the future?  All those have to be considered.

Some things are easier.  An almshouse would mean cheap, available unskilled labor, and plenty of it.  Apothecaries, guilds, fish wharves, blacksmiths and the like that are located outside market towns - where I limit my markets - would provide limited equipment lists in those specific fields.  The list I have for specialty places (so far) can be downloaded from my equipment list found here.  An archery range would mean available bow-using mercenaries; a barracks would mean hired footmen; an arsenal would mean sappers and artillerists.  In other words, you couldn't just hire all the mercenaries you wanted in the same walmart-o-rama.

And there are degrees of everything.  A courthouse might mean obtaining writs, hiring lawyers, resolving property issues or appealing for recognition of your status as a land owner or developer ... but not all courthouses everywhere would be able to handle all matters.  Local courthouses would do for local matters; but if something came up for high level characters, potentially involving the kingdom and foreign affairs, it would have to be a prestige court.  How does one begin to establish what and where and how much?  One step at a time, yes ... but it calls for imagination.

Has anyone ever come up with good rules for determining how much meat per day a ranger (vs. someone else) can gather from a given region per day?  And what if the area is well stocked, or the hunter is poaching a game reserve?  What is the difference between a good fish pond and a poor one?  Where are the rules that make it worthwhile for players to bother stopping to fish for a day in order to stock up, as opposed to simply buying their way through your world?  Which is the more romantic way of managing their supplies?

Up to now I have 58 general features; I'm just sketching out their general importance, but there's lots to do here.  Rules to make, aspects to consider, players to educate and encourage towards a whole new set of wilderness-oriented tactics.

It ain't just the survivor's boardgame any more.