What works? What doesn’t? And what can we adapt for ML20 Domain Management?
So Pendragon. Great game, really interesting, don’t know if I could ever run it. Love reading it, love reading about (seriously, I’ve been reading The RPG Corner’s Solo GPC campaign reports for ages—great resource for someone trying to craft single-player materials myself), but I just don’t know if the setting is one that I could feel comfortable GMing.
That said, it’s an invaluable resource to look to for our ML20 Domain Management add-on!
The Winter Phase
Basically, every adventurer’s life follows a yearly arc—you make court in the spring, adventure in the summer, harvest in the fall, and in the winter, you return home to manage the homestead.
- Things I like about this: bringing in the passage of time encourages more interesting details, like aging, heirs, and the like, as well as the sort of dynamic passage of time that Fuck Yeah D&D mentions here. Encouraging adventuring AND domain play simultaneously allows for more concessions to gameplay, since it won’t be your SOLE concern, and therefore you don’t need to track every single detail.
- Things I don’t like: the assumption (while it’s perfect for Pendragon’s focus) that you’ll automatically have a fully stocked manor. I’ve seen other games with similar assumptions, and it seems too railroaded for the game I have in mind.
Players begin the Winter Phase by embarking on Solo Adventures. These cover a huge range of things (Romance, exploring on your own, etc.), but we’re primarily interested in the solo adventure “Your Own Land” as outlined in the 5th Edition core rulebook and the Great Pendragon Campaign.
This adventure begins by determining how the weather has impacted the Manor. This is determined via random dice roll or GM Fiat.
- I like this: doing stuff rather than relying entirely on GM fiat or bookkeeping (while still allowing the GM’s story to take precedence if need be).
The results of that roll provide the player with a general description of noteworthy events in the last year (blizzard, prosperous harvest, raiders sacked the land), and indicate the DC the player must beat in a skill check to determine how well they manage their manor.
- Again, I like this: involving the player directly, while not requiring them to keep track of each individual detail of their domain. You don’t need to know how many d3s of peasants died in the blight; you just need to know whether you can salvage it.
- If anything, this might be TOO abstracted—I would probably allow for a particularly judicious, colorful, or well-thought out solution to provide the player with a bonus, and would probably push for more rolls of this nature (maybe one a SEASON or MONTH instead of one a YEAR).
The results of that skill check determine how much money is brought in by your manor’s Harvest. And once you have this info, you can combine that money with what you’ve brought in to determine your Wealth level (one of a list of descriptors of, in general, how well off you are, and how that impacts your skills and equipment.
- I like abstracting wealth and your domain’s income. I have every intention of abstracting income as much as possible, to prevent astronomical, hard to calculate GP totals. (my first, blunt object instinct is to introduce Wealth Points, which would be equal to (in 3.x terms) 10 level 1 commoners with full ranks of profession (their job) and one feat of Skill Focus (their job), taking 10 at their job for 5 weeks (roughly a month), or approximately 425 gold, which would then round up to 500 for the nice even number—most of which would be in trade goods rather than actual coinage—which you could then manually increase via your adventuring gold, or withdraw from via taxes, which would subsequently lower your town’s morale).
Finally, from there, you can adjudicate conflicts between feuding parties, issues taxes, and, as outlined in the Book of the Manor, expand your property, throw jousts and feasts to boost morale, and build new properties to better suite your needs. All of these activities directly impact your skills, income.
- Again, I like the simplicity. I like that everything reflects in your character’s skills, keeping you as player involved. I like that you do stuff. And I like how player-driven this section is.
So really, a lot to like, and a strong base for our management game. Not a lot there about establishing the property to begin with, which we will need as well. But we’ve got something, which is good.