||Oh, I see
||This land is mine! The Gods gave this land to me! This brave and ancient land, to me!
||A new land!
||Aye, we've a prince. Why, we've 'ad a dozen just this year. They're popular in these parts.
||Frogs Legs. Love. Magic. Violence.
||More people than some Imperial Provinces!
||Oh, so that's why no-one's killed Alaric yet
||Why are there so many tables
||None of this would have happened if you had just stopped.
||Welcome to Bergschatten
||When Gildemeister Nazril Gudrunsson first entered the Border Princes 30 years ago
||Orcs, Vampires, and an Angry Ulrican
||This time will be different!
||A little death in a little swamp, using tables
||Family squabbles, a cursed land, and the single unluckiest priest of Ranald around
||Why did you want this?
Oh, I see
Original SA post
Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 2e: Renegade Crowns
Oh, I see
So, Renegade Crowns is consistently one of the lowest rated books for Warhammer Fantasy as a line when you look at reviews in the wider world, right next to Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay Companion. Unlike WHFRPC, I don't actually think it deserves this, but I see why it happened. You see, where there would normally be a half a book of intriguing and detailed fluff and history about the culture in question in a Warhams 2e book, that isn't here this time. Because Renegade Crowns isn't about a pre-existing subsetting, it's about making your own. You remember the interesting political setup with 3 well detailed Princes and the ancient menaces stirring in their lands in Lure of the Liche Lord? Renegade Crowns is about making that setup for yourself, for your own small campaign setting. The entire book is concerned with generating geography, settlements, historical hooks, and colorful Princes to oppose, work for, or replace. It also contains a Realm Management system, except the entire Realm Management system is based on spinning plates by having adventures to keep from being overthrown and to keep the lights on (which is actually a decent idea for a Realm Management system).
In the intro, David Chart (author of Knights of the Grail, so keep in mind I may be predisposed to be kind to his work since he wrote my absolute favorite book in the setting) talks about this being an opportunity to make a subsetting where yes, the PCs can overthrow rulers and massively change the status quo. Sure, it's an 80 mile by 80 mile stretch of unstable shitty borderland, but here is a place where you can freely determine the fate of nations (which contain one actual town and a few pig farms). Combined with how the Adventure Books are usually written and how their endings usually go, I wonder if this wasn't an attempt to get around an apparent dictate from on high that PCs never move the story forward at all in pre-published adventures. I actually think this book is quite worth exploring and that it's an interesting project for the setting. Also, the writing that does exist still has a lot of color to it, and does a good job of getting across the general tone of an unstable country where people continually try to touch the hot stove that is declaring oneself a Lord even though it usually ends in dagger parties and fire.
Also I really like Mount and Blade and this can be used for basically Warhammer Fantasy: Mount and Blade. It's a good set up for a free-roaming game about a free-company that slowly ends up ruling territory and entering the war of all against all.
For the review, we will obviously be creating our own majestic piece of shitty borderland. The Border Princes are the region that sits south of the Empire, southeast of Bretonnia, and east of Tilea, full of poor land and ancient ruins, and with only the Black Gulf standing between it and the full on Badlands, which is one of the places orcs come from in numbers. It is also just north of the Land of the Dead, Khemri, and thus was once one of the major frontiers of the Nehekaran Empire. The ancient ruins are because throughout the millennia, people have tried over and over to actually settle this place and it has never really worked out long term. Araby gave it a shot. Nehekara gave it a shot. Dwarfs gave it a shot. The combination of the constant hostility of the orcs, the sheer number of hidden ancient menaces (and treasures), and the scarcity of resources usually puts a stop to large scale organized settlement by 'real' nations.
However, it's the perfect place to go if you lost a major political struggle back home, or you're a wanted criminal, or you're a woman who wants to get the fuck out of Bretonnia and rule a fief openly (The eventual Example of region creation written by Chart naturally includes an adventurous Bretonnian woman). Or you're a vampire, that can always happen, as you might remember from the cool Strigoi Prince from Night's Dark Masters. Most of the people fighting over the fate of Yon Hill are doing it because they couldn't fit in anywhere else. And in every age, and every place, the deeds of men remain the same; if you were kicked out of the Empire for failing to unseat your older brother for the Elector's seat, why wouldn't you think you still deserve to rule Yon Hill? Even if everyone who tries to rule Yon Hill gets stabbed in the back. The Princes are people who, for one reason or another, just cannot resist trying to catch the falling knife of princedom.
The stakes are also very small, which is what makes the fighting so vicious. Politics are always personal, but when the two 'Princes' have like 50 men at arms between them politics become even more personal indeed. When the fights are more like gang wars and everyone can remember exactly who killed their mate and when and why things can get ugly. Not to mention most Princes don't have much room to 'give', so to speak. When you only rule a single small town and its outlying farms, giving up the swamp that gave edible snails and frogs in a peace treaty with your neighbor is an outrage and people will die for this insult. When some bastard steals your pig, it can start a 'war', by which I mean two groups of mercenaries/bandits having a couple nasty skirmishes before someone shoots the pig and nobody comes away with anything.
Another nice thing in this book: It's extremely open about being a series of writing prompts and creative aids. It talks about how the random tables for geography, etc should be used as much or as little as you actually need them. You should never be shy about rerolling results that don't seem cool, or just overriding them and placing down something you really want to put in your campaign. You know that feeling; sometimes you don't know exactly what you want so you roll on the table then realize you're disappointed with what you rolled and wished you'd rolled some other result? Just put in that other result! Randomization is presented as a way to get ideas flowing, not an end in and of itself. Similarly, some super rare results aren't on the tables but you're encouraged to just pick one or two, rather than feeling bound to hitting a 1% chance for an element like a Cathayan Prince or a hidden Demon ruling a Princedom through a possessed body to be in your subsetting. I like this because it's a good indicator the author understands the actual purpose of randomization in RPG writing.
Randomization is there so that you can write in the 'connective tissue', so to speak, and see if something jars your thoughts and gets you coming up with ideas when you're just brainstorming. Some of my favorite PCs have been concepts generated this way, and some people find these kinds of prompts really helpful. If you don't actually need any of the randomization elements, the book is totally cool with you not using them, and is happy to just provide flavor and suggestions that will help you get a solid writing prompt instead. If lots of the stuff you read jumps out at you and gives you a story without needing to roll a single die, that's just as good. On the other hand, I know people who absolutely adore making a bunch of points of data and then coming up with logical ways they fit together to build a story and setting, and this book looks pretty for someone who likes to do that. The example setting Chart rolled up (and described what he did with the dice and why while he did it; it's very detailed and honest) turned out pretty good, so I have high hopes that our own shitty borderland will be a fun place. In the same spirit, I'll be telling you everywhere I ignored or overrode or rerolled the dice while making it. Chaos Lord generation and Mutation could have used similar reassurances, I think; many of the randomization elements of the books can be quite good, but sometimes they could use these guard rails.
I'm also a fan of actually making it clear to players and GMs that they have 'permission' to fuck around with the rules, setting info, tone, etc. I know it's silly, but given the arguments I've seen on the internet about 'oh you're playing it wrong' or whatever, I much prefer a couple sentences of 'Hey, here's why this is written this way, and talk it over with your players and see if you like it. And if you don't, change it! It's cool.' Which is another really good mark in this book: It emphasizes an awful lot
that your game is a collaboration between the players and the GM and that your goal is for everyone to be comfortable and to have a good time. Tone, theme, etc should all be adjustable to something the whole group can enjoy. After AdEva, that kind of advice is really nice to see.
Also, the book is just funny. It plays up the dark humor aspects of the setting a lot, and a lot of the writing has pretty good jokes and is fun to read.
So yes, this is going to be a weird one, but I think it's going to be fun. For the general organization of the writeup, I'll do one post on what we're randomizing and how the systems work, and then the next post will be describing the results of generating our glorious realms of grim and perilous adventure. It's time to make (a tiny part of) the Fantasy Balkans!
Next Time: Geography
This land is mine! The Gods gave this land to me! This brave and ancient land, to me!
Original SA post
Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 2e: Renegade Crowns
This land is mine! The Gods gave this land to me! This brave and ancient land, to me!
So first, you start painting your 20 by 20 map with randomly generated terrain. Every time you don't roll any kind of 'special' terrain feature (which requires rolling over 100 on d100), you add 10 to your 'running total' to make it more likely your next roll goes over 100. Any roll that ends in 0 creates a river, and you decide how the river runs through your map and links to other rivers already rolled. As you roll terrain, you choose how you fill it in; so say I roll 46, and get d100 squares of Grassy Hills. Then I get 24 of those. I would then fill in 24 squares of my map as I wished with a region of grassy hills. Each square represents a 4 by 4 mile square of terrain, so the region comes out to 80 by 80. Epic adventure and war awaits you in a land half the size of Rhode Island!
You can roll all kinds of terrain, but one thing you'll notice quickly is that most of it is sort of shitty for farming. Scrublands, badlands, swamps, etc. Forested hills and plains are at least a bit more fertile, but Beastmen live in any kind of deep forest. Grassy plains, hills, and mountains can potentially be farmed. Still, the Borderlands are not the nicest land in the Old World. Hills and plains hold most of the population of the Border Princes, but people can live anywhere. The major concerns for people living in the region are fresh water, arable land (or pastoral land for herding), and defensible terrain. Unlike the relatively settled Empire, almost anyone in the Border Princes could face battle at all times. Like all random tables in this book, you should feel free to alter your rolls a little if they're not getting you land that looks like it'll be fun for adventuring; if you ended up getting nothing but shitty scrubland, for instance, in a huge flat field with no interesting terrain features? Reroll! My main issue with this step is that it's a little too easy to potentially roll something that fills in too much of the map at once, which leaves you little room for rolling Special Features or rivers; the high rolls on the table can get you stuff like 'd10x50 squares of grassy plains' instead of d100. I wish they'd stuck entirely to d100s, or maybe occasionally d10x10. It's not a large risk and the 'don't let the rolls rule entirely' advice keeps it from becoming too much of an issue, but no-one wants to adventure in a totally flat and featureless plain!
For special features, these go on top of normal terrain and most only occupy a single square. Remember, a square is a 4 by 4 mile area, it's not that small. You can get d100 square cave systems underneath the surface of your existing terrain, 1 square sudden cliffs, 1 square fertile valleys that provide great farming and livable terrain, geysers (which also produce a river), a sudden, isolated mountain, a volcano, a large pool or lake of stagnant or fresh water, a natural fortress called a tor, a beautiful waterfall (put a river on the map to provide a source if you don't have one), or a whirlpool that fucks with river or sea travel. Note there's no roll for Coast, so you have to decide for yourself if you're near the sea (parts of the Borderlands are). As you might imagine, Fertile Valleys and Tors will do a lot for settlement once we get to that down the line.
The really interesting part comes when you start establishing the ancient history of your region and what kinds of hidden, age old menaces lie in wait for your PCs. You roll d100 to determine how many ancient ruins lie among the 400 squares of your map. Ruins fit in a single square. The Border Princes have been inhabited by an awful lot of people, and have been the grave of more than one would be Empire. Yours isn't the first, and it won't be the last. Araby took over the whole region 1200 years ago before withdrawing. Recent human settlements might have collapsed only a few hundred years before you got here. This used to be part of the Nehekaran Empire and the kingdom of Khemri. Dwarfs lived in the are and not just the Holds up in the mountains long ago. Chaos Cults have long fled to the Border Princes to try to start their own civilizations (the book notes that ones dedicated to Khorne and Nurgle don't usually last long as civilizations, for obvious reasons). And even stranger things can show up. You'll determine from 1-10 how many of these there are (I also appreciate that Chart weights the charts, so there's a reason you're using a d100, not a d10. 4-6 Ruins is about average).
Once you've determined how many ruins you have and what kind each is, you roll for ANCIENT MENACES. These are things that will serve as major plot threads and adventure seeds for the PCs later. Demons can infest a ruin. Undead can show up. An ancient robot or golem could be in certain kinds of ruins. The ruins could be the source of a plague or swarm. It could be a weird community of twisted survivors (I don't really like the term they use, 'Degenerate Tribe'). There could even be an ancient weapon (or just the rumor of a weapon) that throws the region into strife as people scramble to recover it. There's also a small chance a ruin is just an interesting archeological remain and contains no horrifying menace, but really, what fun is that? (It's only a 5% chance generally. This is Hams).
You don't roll the ages for ruins, you pick an age. Also note, while the age of Khemri ruins can post-date Nagash, it's actually accurate that that's the case. He killed everything south of here in what's known as the 'Land of the Dead' when he turned the river Vitae (Nile) into poison (they call it Mortis now, thanks GW) but successor states and things did survive in border regions like this. You also roll to see what the ruin was; is it a Tomb, a Fortress, a Settlement, an Outpost or a Temple? Oddities (the really weird results) are too individual to roll on this table. You make up what they were, since they could be anything. Finally, you either roll for or pick what killed the place. Plague, abandonment, civil war, military conflict, etc. Then you sit down, look at what you've got, and write the ancient history of your new land.
All in all, it's actually a pretty good procedural region generator! I really like the focus on plot hooks and the idea of seeding it with cool ancient ruins to establish its early history and what sorts of dark menaces wait for the PCs in the shadows. Especially because that can be used for either a normal Warhammer Fantasy campaign (or shorter adventure series) set in the area or for the full on 'try to become a prince and rule this land' campaign. The amount of filling in and flavoring you do personally lets you give the land something of a sense of character, and it works well enough to produce someplace that feels like a shitty plot of borderland half the size of Rhode Island.
Next Time: Our Land!
A new land!
Original SA post
Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 2e: Renegade Crowns
A new land!
So, our plot sits at the foot of the Black Mountains, with forested mountain dominating the northwest of the map. South of those forested mountains lies a strange, small area of totally barren hills, with no real explanation for why the verdant mountains of the Black Mountain foothills suddenly become a 3x5 square area of totally barren hill. Well, none the locals know. We'll get to that. A river flows down from the forested mountains and cuts southeast through the entire map, and nestled near it are both a spectacular waterfall and a stable, fertile mountain valley that serves as one of the seats of power for the region. One of the princes definitely makes her home in that square, we'll get to that later when we get to the princes. The mountains mostly terminate into a series of forested plains, with small bands of scrubland giving way to gentle, grassy plains with occasional hills in the south and a vast and shitty scrubland in the east. There's also an area of surprisingly scrubby mountain sticking down past the border in the northeast, among the northeaster scrubland, before it eventually turns back to proper grassland. Two more rivers flow onto the scene, and where they overflow their borders in the southeast you see a vast swamp before it turns into gentle, pleasant grassy hills and another fertile valley; another prince lives up there, or will, once we get to the settlement step in a few chapters.
Another obvious spot for a natural settlement is the tor in one of the barren plains squares in the south of the map, on one of the river branches. It's surrounded by normal grasslands, so it's a great place for people to fall back to while farming the surrounding floodplain from the river. There are also pools of fresh water (lakes) in the area south of the swamp (another good reason for a prince to live there; there's water) and one in the western plains.
The main things I rerolled while making the map were that I ended up with almost nothing but forest originally, and I wanted more variety in terrain (and didn't want to fill in too quickly). I ended up kind of taking the number of squares I rolled as a sort of 'maximum allowance' instead while I painted and filled in my Excel sheet with all this stuff. I also changed a roll of a Cliff to a Waterfall at one point because I thought a waterfall just below the fertile valley in the mountains near the river source would look cool as hell and make a great domain setpiece. The interesting terrain for the region is the way it's relatively nice for the area except for these sudden, small bands of barren hills or scrubland, which feels like some kind of scar on the land. The giant swamp with nicer hills south of it and a nice fertile valley and lake also gives a defensible, natural place for one of the principalities to form.
Now, I am not a visual person, and maps are usually a bit tough for me. But you actually get a neat sense of what the land looks like as you roll and place terrain. I really like that you don't roll the shape of the terrain, just how many squares you have to work with; it feels like painting the map. Making it was actually a lot more fun than I expected. But the really fun step was definitely the Ruins.
I rolled for number of ruins and ended up with the dead average 5. On rolling those, I got 2 Khemri ruins, 1 Dwarf, and 2 Oddities. This was going to be a weird region. Generating the ruins themselves, I got the Khemri ruins were a fortress infested with a demon and destroyed by magic (one seems to follow the other). The other was a tomb abandoned due to famine and full of undead. I decided it would instead be a mass monument to losses during a famine; that made sense as a context. The Dwarf one was a Temple that was destroyed in a mysterious accident with no sign of what happened to the inhabitants and also infested with a manifest demon. Well! The Oddities don't have a direct form, but they contained a Golem and a Weapon. So these ruins look like very old magitek of some kind. Also, like there was really no settlement until humans come back and resettle this area recently; with no recent ruins there's probably been no inhabitants in this region for a long time.
Now, talking it over with a friend, he suggested an idea I liked a lot: The Oddities represent ruins of the old elf and dwarf alliance, back before the War of Vengeance. Thus, they're two outposts that were working on extending the old Waystone network into this area, abandoned when the war happened but containing some of the wonders of that age. The Dwarf Temple has a nice, sinister feel to it with the 'Enigma' destruction and demon infestation, so I had a good idea for that, too. It becomes the centerpiece of the Ancient Menace plotline for this area. This was once a great temple to Grungi and dedicated to producing mighty Runesmiths and runic items. Something that stuck around after the original elf-dwarf outposts collapsed in the war. During the earthquakes that collapsed the Underway (Thanks Mazdamundi, you stupid fuck!) the proud Runesmiths of the region sought to save their people and stop the quakes, and made the same mistake the people who would become the Chorfs did by calling out into the void for power to try to match the sorcery of a Slaan (not knowing it was a Slaan, of course). They found something even worse than Hashut, and now an ancient horror demon has manifested in their old temple, stabilizing itself by corrupting and feeding on the magic of the Runes and plotting to escape. It knows the two more powerful Outposts are there and wants to get out into them and the Waystone network, so it can spread itself and its minions and cause wide damage.
The Khemri settlement in the area was during the very old periods pre-Nagash. They built a border fortress against attack and several settlements, none of which survived. One day, explorers from the fortress came upon an old dwarf temple and opened it up, and...well, that went badly. The warriors and priests of Khemri managed to contain the demon they had unleashed by accident and to destroy the people it had influenced and infected, but they had to seal the pieces that escaped into their old temple and ward it with the words of their Gods. The devastation of the region in that conflict is what causes the weird bands of barrenness and scrubland; those are spots marked by the demon's passing and its minions, and its great battle with the Nehekarans. The famine this caused destroyed the hopes of rebuilding the region, and the people of Khemri raised a great tomb-monument to the dead in the conflict and abandoned the area. For ages, the area was too blighted to bother settling, but thousands of years have let the land recover. Now it's a relatively pleasant and habitable place, for the Border Princes, thanks to its long rest. Humans are moving back into the region as recently as a hundred years ago, starting to resettle and wondering why no-one took a place with plenty of fresh water and decent arable land before now.
They have no idea the old temple still stands, hidden deep in the forested mountains, and that within, the demon plots. It still wants the beautiful and powerful things that sit hidden in the swamps and the seemingly worthless scrub-mountain foothills, and it wants the magic of the Waystones for itself. The new settlers and princes and their conflicts, or a couple unwitting adventurers, might be all it needs to take another stab at its terrible plans.
So yeah, it wasn't that hard to produce a whole campaign seed out of the Ancient History phase. Now you've got this region that's been abandoned until pretty recently, with people wandering in and wondering why no-one actually lived here until 100 years ago. There's powerful ancient secrets and wonders hidden away (and heavily warded) in the seemingly uninhabitable parts, but also a terrible and dark adversary that's been plotting in the shadows and waiting so long for the land to recover enough for pawns to come back. I was able to tie the place into what I know of the ancient history pretty well, and there's nice and varied terrain full of plot hooks and natural borders. I expected to hate doing this part but I actually really enjoyed rolling up the geography of the campaign setting. The dwarf temple was a huge surprise, and makes a great sinister final dungeon for a campaign.
Now I just need a name for the region. And maybe for the three rivers. I will gladly take any suggestions.
Next Time: On Princes
Aye, we've a prince. Why, we've 'ad a dozen just this year. They're popular in these parts.
Original SA post
Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 2e: Renegade Crowns
Aye, we've a prince. Why, we've 'ad a dozen just this year. They're popular in these parts.
So, obviously, this is one of the most important parts of the book: Making Princes! These are the people you will work with, overthrow, thwart, replace, or ally with while you live in your 20x20 grid of madness together and fight over parking lot sized plots of land. Because almost anyone could flee to the Border Princes, they can be almost anyone, but they fall into some broad and general outlines. On average, a Prince is someone in the middle of or just completing their Third Career, though they can vary. Several things are required for a Prince: A reason they're a Prince, what kind of Prince they are, what they want out of touching the stove that is Princedom, how they generally Prince, and a whole bunch of foibles and dark secrets. You should decide how many Princes are in your region. If you don't want to, you can roll for number of Princes the same way you rolled for Ruins, using the same table; rather than generating Ancient Menaces, you are generating current ones! It's efficient. I'd recommend keeping the number down to 3-4, though. 10 Princes running around doesn't give you much space to characterize them, unless you intend for a bunch of them to die very early to reduce the excess Prince population.
Each type of Prince also provides a generalized, concrete example of a Prince's stats for their 'type', but the book is clear that you should customize them. These are the big NPCs of your region; taking a little time to roll them out and build them is just good sense. I recommend having the Career Compendium for this; I probably have a skewed notion of how long building a 3rd tier NPC takes because I've been working with this system intimately for years and I can do it in about 10-15 minutes, but that would take much longer if I had to flip through multiple books for Careers. The first thing you do is roll for the general sort of Prince you're making.
The two most likely Princes are Mercenaries (35% chance) and Bandits (30% chance), which most people in the Old World would say makes sense given what anyone knows of the Border Princes. A skilled bandit leader isn't that different from a Prince leading an 'army' when it comes to the Border Princes, and over time a bandit might start thinking of the protection money and tribute as taxes and start ruling the land they've been terrorizing. The thing is, running a group of bandits preying on travelers isn't as applicable to running a settled stronghold and governing as you'd think, so they also have a very fast turnover due to rebellion, mismanagement, or being stomped on when they can't just run and hide in the trees. Bandits tend to run their realm in two ways: Either as a total kleptocracy where they don't so much have a 'realm' as 'mine', or by getting really, really into it and making up all kinds of fancy titles and trying to be cool lords. Neither generally goes better than the other. Still, sometimes someone will make it stick and hold on as a bandit overlord, if they can get past thinking of the area as their piggy bank and learn to build stuff rather than just take it. The ones who get really into it and make up dumb titles actually tend to do better; honoring themselves tends to involve thinking about their realm as a 'realm', so to speak, and that's the first step to making the jump to government rather than roving force of violence and theft.
Mercenaries have access to force, just like bandits, and organization. Force and organization mean a successful mercenary company can often overthrow their employer or grab a free settlement and declare its captain a Lord. Sometimes, a mercenary doesn't even overthrow their leader; they might have been marshal of a small fief before (as the best soldier in the area) and named an heir on purpose. Sometimes, they aren't even responsible for the death of the Prince they succeed! Stranger things have happened. These are the most common sort of Prince in the area, because an organized military force is the backbone of regional government. The problem is that mercs tend to be military strongmen first and foremost. They're used to only having to worry about military and financial concerns, and logistics in this era include a lot of 'foraging'. Trying to deal with being a settled government can be as difficult for them as it is for the bandit, and a merc who took over to get rich quick on tax money can run their realm into the ground very quickly. They also have a habit of neglecting the concerns of 'civilians' to focus on their troops. Grandiose military titles like High Marshal or Generalissimo are common, and they like to promote underlings to impressive sounding ranks despite commanding an 'army' of fifty guys and one very angry pig as a mascot.
Knights are actually the next most common sort of Prince (20%). Knights are a little less common primarily because the average knight has enough wealth and better things to do than come to the Borderlands. However, a knight has military force, great equipment (they're the only people in the region who commonly own plate armor), knows how to use it, and already comes from a tradition based around holding small regions of land by force. They actually tend to be pretty successful Princes. They also usually think they're better than anyone else, hold to all sorts of Noble nonsense from their homeland, and are often brutal. Still, following an ethos based around holding land against threats and using it to support a military is actually really successful in the Borderlands. Many of the local knights are deposed or outlawed lords from Bretonnia, so rejoice, for a Knight of Bretonnia provides thy shield! And thy oppressive boot, but hey, it's better than the orcs. They tend to be very concerned with establishing succession, wanting to pass their lands on to their sons.
Merchant Princes happen but are very rare (5%). This is because while money can get you a long way anywhere in the world, in the Borderlands if all you've got is money someone is probably going to kill you with a knife and take the money. That's just how it works. Most of them will find a way to leverage money to get military force, then to leverage more money to get opposing military force to keep the first military force in check. Most merchants who come to the Borderlands to set up a mercantile empire do so because they can't do the business they want to do in more developed areas, because they tend to be slavers, dealers in dark magic, or crime lords. They try to organize their realms like a business, often calling it a 'free city'. In the book's own words, when these types use the word 'free' it usually means 'expensive and oppressive'. Merchant Princes often struggle to hold their lands because they have to keep the plates of who has access to the force to overthrow/defend them spinning at all times, and if the money stops coming in that ends pretty quick.
Politicians are more likely to be followers or courtiers than Princes (4%), but sometimes a courtier steps into the shoes of a (recently poisoned) Prince to take over. Most of the time, shortly after that happens, a Knight, Mercenary, or Bandit kills the politician and takes over. But in some cases there's still enough of a military to prevent that happening and the politician is good enough with people to keep the plates spinning. If that happens, they actually make really good rulers; someone adaptable enough to handle the original crisis of legitimacy and acquire access to military force is usually adaptable and able enough to manage a principality, and they already have experience with governing. As you might notice, the lack of experience at actual governance is one of the things that sinks mercs and bandits most of the time. The greater threat for politicians is that they were usually very skilled at manipulating the system that got them into power in the first place, so they don't really like to change things. Over time, this can lead to decline and get them killed.
Priests (3%) aren't rare because they're bad lords. Priests are highly educated men and women with a wide range of skills, they know how to defend themselves, and the Priest entry assumes this is a Blessed Priest with actual magic. The issue with Priests is the same as with Knights, but moreso: The average Blessed Priest has a great job waiting at home in the Empire or some other nicer country. Why the hell would they bother leaving their cushy or important posting to come out and rule a shithole in the middle of nowhere? The ones dumb enough to come here tend to be the kind that can't take a Princedom, but every now and then you get a driven soul who believes they can save the Border Princes or a very unusual type who wants to preach their new sect somewhere away from the politics of their cult. Myrmidians are the most common sort, trying to recreate her campaign and unite the region. Sigmarites are normal enough. Ulricans are common in the area but often stay wandering badasses instead of Princes. "There are no Principalities headed by Priestesses of Shallya. Strange, that." Once they're in power, they tend to be very successful; divine magic, charisma, and combat skills will get you a long way.
Wizards (2%) are the rarest Princes, for the same reason as Priests. An Imperial Magister usually has better things to do, Grail Damsels are too busy serving
the murderous aims of the Wood Elves of Athel Loren as they try to make Bretonnia their puppet slave state
the good of the Bretonnian state and the Lady, and an Ice Witch would think it's too hot. It's almost always out of favor Imperial Magisters or Renegades. They also have a hard time taking over because people don't especially like or trust magic out this way. But once you're in power, you have magic! People are scared to death of magic! That lets magic help you rule over your lands. Also, Magisters tend to be well educated, which is a nice side bonus. Wizards tend to hold small Principalities, just enough to support their research and keep them safe, and they find it's fairly easy to hold onto them even if it was difficult to take them. If you have Realms of Sorcery and want to generate an evil realm, use one of those idiot dipshit Warlocks. Their mixture of overconfidence and ridiculous self importance and black magic is sure to cause problems! Hilarious, murderous problems!
You also roll for the race of your Prince. Dwarfs are the most common non-humans, at 8%. They obviously can't be Wizards, but a Dwarf Wizard or Priest Prince is a Runesmith. Halflings are extremely uncommon (1%) and people think they want to turn an entire realm into a pie shop (this only actually happened once!). Elves are also extremely rare at 1%. Most Princes are humans. 30% come from the Border Princes themselves, either coming up from the same region or fleeing from another one. 15% are Bretonnians, either fleeing being outed as a woman or peasant or just leaving Bretonnia's ridiculous and wonderful lie-based society behind. 25% are Imperials, boldly declaring they're founding New Altdorf in yet another tiny swamp hamlet. 15% are Tileans, usually mercenary commanders who decided they wanted to try being The Prince. And 15% are humans from anywhere and everywhere else you can think of. Anyone could end up here.
You can also pick one Prince from the region to be Really Weird. There's no table for this; the idea is these are sort of 'hey this would be cool' kinds of things that you only want one of per region. This is for stuff like a Vampire Prince, or a Mummy Prince, or Wight Prince, or a demon wearing a possessed human and pretending to be normal as the Prince. It can even be used for a Cathayan or Indian Prince, someone from so far away that people don't know hardly anything about their homeland.
You also generate a general goal, personality, and principles for your Prince, along with dark secrets and odd habits. Very few people out this way are totally normal. Only 30% of Princes truly have no principles. I love the touch where the 0 principles Prince goes on about how only the strong survive before noting they don't actually live any longer than people who have a couple actual beliefs. The writing for the prince personality sections is genuinely funny. I'll be trying to get some of it across when I go into our Princes next update, because they turned out pretty great. Which is another mark in favor of all this: Making your Princes is actually really fun! Then you generate their principality (usually a d100 squares) by rolling as if it was a terrain feature. Princes do not have huge realms. You can also generate Princes from out of your region that your region's Princes hate, but the 4 Princes of Pferdekrieg ended up wild enough and the region is isolated enough that I've decided not to bother. Then you generate why they all hate one another (or get along, but that's rarer). We'll get into that in detail when we get into our Princes. You can also generate courtiers and staff if you wish, though aside from a few treacherous chamberlains I'm not certain how necessary detailing all the palace (shed) staff really is. Now you have Princes for your Border! Go forth!
Next Time: The Princes of Pferdekrieg
Frogs Legs. Love. Magic. Violence.
Original SA post
Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 2e: Renegade Crowns
Frogs Legs. Love. Magic. Violence.
This is going to take awhile. Our first prince is a Bandit, and I flipped a coin for male or female for each of them and she got female. According to the dice she's 2/3 of the way or so through her 4th career, so she's kind of terrifying. She's also a 'Human: Other'. Her driving goal is to be an individual, free to do as she wishes in the world. She's very business-like and down to earth, and she hates Chaos (any Prince who rolls ANY Principles also has the Hates Chaos one. The one thing people in the Princes agree on is 'fuck Chaos') as well as really enjoying monster hunting. Her dark secret is that she's committed crimes or been part of something that would be beyond the pale even in the Border Princes, and there's some unusual thing that sends her into bizarre rants and rages. She calls herself a Warlord.
Looking at all this and thinking for a minute, I decide she's going to be our Unusual Prince for the area. She's unusual in that she's a survivor from the army of Vardek Crom, the dumbass who tried to flank the Empire through Sylvania during the Storm of Chaos. Li Na tells people she's Cathayan. She's actually Hung, and a former Chaos Marauder who decided 'sod this' around the time she saw a vampire break two of her buddies in half and beat a guy with the halves during the 'easy' flanking maneuver. She uses my group's revised fluff for the Hung, where instead of filthy savage barbarian liars who lie and roll in shit they're a Cathayan-adjacent people who were converted by the sword by Chaos, hence the reputation as constant traitors. So her first career is Marauder; that's a kind of bandit. Next she goes Warleader. Then Champion. Then Captain. She's slowly followed a path where she first ruled and gained strength as a powerful mountain bandit and has slowly become more and more of a ruler as she's tried to make the jump. Her stats are terrifying, due to having finished Champion (and used the Kurgan/Hung character stats, which favor WS, S, and T but penalize Int and Fel), and she's an astonishingly dangerous fighter. Also recently learned to read. She rolled average on just about everything, except very well on Int and Fel, the two things her stat set are supposed to be bad at. So she's an unusually clever and charismatic raider who decided 'fuck Chaos and its horseshit, I'm living for me' and adapted to a new land. She's nicer than a Chaos Warrior but she's still a ruthless mountain bandit who dreams of being a greater warlord still. The thing that pisses her off is horned helmets: Any reminders of Archy and his boy Crom. She rules the forested mountains and lairs in the fertile valley near the waterfall most likely. Her dark Secret is obviously thus 'Right you were part of a fucking Chaos Army once'.
Our next Prince is a Mercenary, and originally rolled Elf but after the rest of the Princes I wanted a straightman so I rerolled him. He got Bretonnian Human, 3rd career, and thus was born Marcelle of Mousillon. He rules the shitty swampland on the southeast of the juncture of a the Hundhemd and Aplaka-schuhe rivers (and the nicer land just south of it). He was a Man at Arms, then a Yeoman, and now that he's trying to be a ruler his model for it is being a Faceless with his 'merry men'. He wants to rule a stable enough realm to have a family and pass it on to his children. He likes to treat everyone like they're friends, with little formality and a lot of charm. His dark secret is that he's actually a genuinely nice guy. Yes, that's an option for dark secret; other Princes will think you're weak! He grew up a Bret Peasant. He knows there's no blood from a stone. He knows sometimes the growing season really was that bad. He also knows when his wily peasants are bullshiting him. He IS a peasant. He knows their tricks. His weird habit is an uncontrollable appetite for actual genuine Bretonnian wine, which will win great favor with him if you bring him some. He calls himself a Captain.
Marcelle rolled absolute dogshit for his actual fighting skills, but a 20 for Fellowship, an 18 for Int, and Suave. He's not a great fighter and never has been, but he's always been able to talk his way out of most of the worst fighting. He has an easy charm to him and really does seem like a warm and friendly man. He also has the ridiculous accent of a Mousillese peasant, and part of his reason for coming this far is because people in the Princes can't identify his homeland or don't care. He was a minor soldier for a minor lord of darkness back home, until he survived long enough to be promoted to Yeoman by avoiding doing almost any actual fighting. With two whole gold coins stolen from his lord, he quickly deserted and intended to retire to a life at ease, only to find out two gold coins is not as much money as he thought. But it was enough to buy his first couple mercenaries and convince them 2 gold coins was a lot of money long enough to rob someone else, and the path of robbery and war (while keeping himself out of it as much as possible) eventually led him to a Principality in what most thought was shitty swampland. To Marcelle? It's beautiful. It's like home, but with a bit of southern Lyonesse to it, too. Now he rules the swamps and the fertile hills beyond with his merry men, who don't actually understand what that means (they think it means he likes jokes. He does!) and considers this living his best life. He wants to find a charming woman, marry, have kids, and pass on his majestic swamp castle (hill fort).
Our next Prince is a Priest, from the Empire. He is an imperious motherfucker, wanting total command of his new lands and getting 'We Permit You To Rise' for his style. He also calls himself an Emperor; you roll for title and he gave himself the most ridiculous one. I decide he'll be a Myrmidian, and his Principles are that he actually has a firm and normal set of Principles and generally tries to be a heroic and decent person, openly. This means he's going to have some troubles in this land. His Dark Secret is pretty tame: He has a very strange hobby. I decide he's a cat lover and has a bunch of cats that he gives silly names and dresses in clothes he makes himself. The cats hate this, but tolerate it because he also has Compulsion, which I rule is that he always has a cat around for proper petting like a Bond Villain. I name him Alaric Mueller.
Alaric rolled really well for WS and Agi, and kind of meh for everything else, and is in his 3rd Career. Going Initiate gets him a boatload of stat talents that fixes this, though, and he's a Warrior Priest of Myrmidia. He still turns out kind of a badass, if not really a match for Li Na. I decide he's a crusading priest from the Leorican Order of Nahmud's Peace, the people from the Shrine of the Dark Maiden over in Tome of Salvation. He's come to unite the Borderlands in the name of Myrmidia and believes he's a great and chosen hero, a paladin with divine magic who will save this benighted region. He's basically Myrmidian Haflok from Lure of the Liche Lord. Just with a side of loving cats. He fights evil wherever he sees it with righteous spear and shining magic, and is devoted to protecting his people and ruling his realm. His Divine Marks are also pushing him towards righteous fury and a stout heart. He really, really thinks he's the main character. He rules a bunch of the grassy plains in the southwest but grumbles over having no real notable terrain in his territory, eying the tor/Katzenhosen river combo his eastern neighbor owns. She's next
Finally, we get a Wizard Princess! I roll a d10 for fun to see what kind of magic she has (1-8 for Color Magic, 9 for Witch, 10 for Warlock) and get 8, Shadow Mage. She's also actually from the Border Princes. She's also only in her 2nd career, though she's finished it. Her motivation is the wonderfully named Give Me Liberty Or A Moment To Run Away: She wants to live! LIVVVVE! She just wants to get through all this alive and sod the Princedom if it gets in the way. Her only principle in life is fuck Chaos, and that's probably as much out of pragmatism as it is anything else. Her Dark Secret is being a wanted criminal; she is a super illegal wizard trained by a rogue Imperial Magister who also exploded into a vat of Shadow during something she only refers to as 'The Incident' a few years ago. Magisters Vigilant or Imperial Hunters might come looking for her if she isn't careful, keen to investigate The Incident. She takes a superior tone and tries to appear mysterious, pretending most people can't understand her machinations. She's also a devote Veranan, which is a bit odd for a lying shadow wizard.
Countess Renata Fontaine wasn't supposed to be here. She didn't mean to overthrow the previous prince; his heart stopped when she conjured an illusion to try to distract him and his men and flee. Now he was dead and his men were bowing before the 'mighty wizard lord' and oh Veranan how is she supposed to get out of this one? She's a big, strong, awkward woman who is terrible with all kinds of weapons but very smart. She has people convinced she's a mighty Wizard Lord when she's only a Journeyman, something she tries to use her Shadow Magic and the lack of other wizards in the area to reinforce. Right now being a Prince seems to be a lot safer than not being a Prince, though; the southern region she took over near the Katzenhosen River is well defended and pretty nice. She rules a very small territory because she's just trying to support and protect herself, and she's terrified of overreach. She does her wizardly studies because it's expected of a wizard lord, but also because she's frantically trying to become as powerful or skilled as people think she is before someone realizes she's a weak Journeyman.
Next, I went to generate their relationships, and this is where things became great.
So, Li Na and Renata roll an Alliance as their relationship. If you have an Alliance, you roll for why and I get a 6. This is "The Princes are lovers." This does not care about gender. So the Hung Marauder Bandit Queen and the terrified Shadow Wizard are in a relationship and it's pushed their realms together. I alter a few of their Advances to reflect they spend a lot of time together; Renata taught Li Na to read, and Li Na taught her lover 'Cathayan' (Hung) as an extra Language. The Bandit Queen first met her because she thought maybe getting an allied Sorcerer would be useful (it works great for Chaos Lords) but they found they really enjoyed each other's company, then discovered that went a bit deeper than expected. Li Na is probably the only person in the region who knows Renata isn't actually that powerful, and Li Na is the only person she feels safe with.
Li Na, however, hates
the other two princes in the area. Marcelle despises her because he has a prejudice towards A: A bandit and B: A weird foreigner, and thinks she's a lying weirdo. She takes enormous offense at being considered a liar, considering the reputation of Hung. Alaric has Bitterness towards her because of Spurned Advances and she hates him, so I decide that he originally approached her as a friend and told her a lot about Myrmidia. She was originally receptive, liking the idea of a warrior-queen goddess, and the two got to know one another. Until Alaric proposed to her out of the blue. She politely turned him down and explained she was attached, and he flew into a rage about it. Alaric also rolled Contempt towards Renata because of "Decadence", so it fits. So Li Na feels betrayed by a guy she thought was her friend after turning him down to say she was already with another Princess, and he thinks she's being seduced and controlled by an evil 'Slaaneshi' Shadow Mage and wants to defeat Renata and 'save her soul'.
Renata is upset and confused by why the crazy Myrmidian wants to destroy her, but he's also afraid to actually go hard at her because he knows the Bandit Queen will defend her. He's also Afraid of Marcelle, and according to the charts Marcelle wants Vengeance on him, both because of some atrocity. Alaric burned down a hamlet he thought was infested by Chaos. It belonged to Marcelle's realm. Marcelle isn't a very violent man but some day he'd like to run the Myrmidian blowhard out of the region, and Alaric is slowly realizing everyone hates him
because he keeps falling down the stairs and pissing everyone off. Renata envies Marcelle's social grace and charm, and Marcelle wants to have nothing to do with the wizard and prefers to leave her alone. Nothing good comes of bothering Damsels. Ironically, his Bretonnian background means Marcelle isn't bothered by her relationship; Damsels can do whatever the fuck they want.
So your PCs walk into this. A land where one guy just wants to be a happy Bretonnian swamp king, one guy is a shining crusader who has pissed off every single person in the realm with his antics, and a mighty bandit queen and a terrified young illusionist are trying to get along and make a relationship work while an evil demon is stirring in the mountains and plotting to get at ancient magitek. Oh, and there's a tomb full of undead frantically trying to warn everyone about this or scare them out of this territory before they unleash it.
Seriously, this stuff is wonderful to generate.
Next Time: The People of the Land
More people than some Imperial Provinces!
Original SA post
Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 2e: Renegade Crowns
More people than some Imperial Provinces!
So, now we've got our Princes and our land. But Princes don't matter much if they're just Princes with no-one to rule over. And Adventurers need settlements to do quests for (and so they can buy stuff like food and swords). To do this, you generate towns, villages, and hamlets/homesteads in each Prince's territory and then settlements in the unclaimed lands of your region. Towns are major sources of economic activity and big regional hubs, having 1000+(3d10x100) people; many Princes won't have a town in their territory and if they do, they only have one. To check if a Prince has a town, you roll d100+the number of squares they own. If you get a number over 100, they own a town. Place it on a Fertile Valley or Tor, or if they don't have either, near a Pool or River. If neither exist in their territory, put it wherever you think it'd be interesting and describe why there's a big settlement there.
Towns are only found in territory with a Prince. This is for several reasons: One, big communities actually need a leader and having some form of actual governance (even a Border Prince) is usually for the better. Two, Border Princes really want to control towns. They're the perfect place to build a base of power, because you have lots of people all in one place. One place that has walls, even. Walls are good. Lots of people means lots of taxes. Central locations usually mean a market and lots of trade. Trade means more taxes. More people also means more soldiers. Still, the general level of fortification across all homes and communities in the Border Princes is the main thing that sets them apart from settlements elsewhere in the Old World. If you thought Goatman Prime lurking in the bushes back in the Empire was bad, imagine being near one of the major orc homelands and
having Goatman Prime in the bushes while not having the State Troops. Towns all get distinguishing features, and also get a bunch of economic resources because they're towns; one per 1000 residents. We'll get to those soon.
Villages are smaller, though not as tiny as Sigmar's Heirs imagined villages to be. The average village is 3d10x10 people, so about 180. These are fortified farming and resourcing communities, or the communities that spring up around a keep or stronghold. It's assumed there may be more villages in the area than the ones you actually roll; you just roll the ones that have interesting features. Depending on the number of squares a Prince controls, their territory may have anywhere from 1 to 8 villages of note. Like a town, villages roll for a special feature nearby, but don't have guaranteed economic resources. Homesteads are much smaller multiple-family farms or mining colonies or religious communities with 3d10 people. Each Principality has d10 'interesting' homesteads and as many more as the plot demands. They also get distinguishing features. Unlike towns, homesteads and villages definitely exist without Princes ruling them. You generate 1-6 interesting unclaimed villages per map and d10 homesteads of interest, as if the unclaimed land of your region was a medium Principality.
The average village or town is relatively self-sustaining. Like anywhere else in the world, they'll contain a shrine or small temple to an important God for the people, a mill, a town hall, all that sort of stuff. They just also have higher walls than elsewhere in the world. Little things like which God the villagers like best are up to the GM and there's no table for basic local color. The main results on the community resources table are economic resources, strongholds, chokepoints, an infestation of cultists, or a 'special' feature beyond normal (any roll of 91+, any roll with a 0 for the ones digit). Resource rolls provide +10 to the roll for the next community in line, making special features more likely. Cultist rolls provide -10 for the next one, making them less likely and also making it so if you roll 0 or less, the next community has no actual special features. The special table provides the possibility of really weird situations like having a Shallyan hospital or an outpost of Templar knights or a monster the village has some kind of agreement with. It can also just provide 2 distinguishing features instead.
Resources roll again to see if they're a Resource, an Oddity, an exceptional local Craft, or if the settlement is a major Market and hub. Resources are things like furs, mines, etc. Gem, silver, or gold mines automatically become Strongholds as well; the settlement has enough money to build serious defenses and really needs it because it's producing something ridiculously valuable. These resources represent not just the town or village, but the 8 squares adjacent to it; the places people could walk to in a day relatively easily. Many of these resources and crafts aren't immediately useful to Adventurers, but exist to fill in the economic activity and flavor for the region and set stakes for adventure. As the book says, if you're defending the only iron mine in the region during an adventure, your success or failure suddenly has much bigger consequences. Many places will still have a smith, or a weapons maker, or whatever even if they don't roll that they have one; an Armorer in a settlement just indicates it's one of the best places in the region for buying armor. Maybe that's the only place you can get plate. Placing that kind of stuff also gives the PCs reasons to travel to specific places when they need things, and adventure can always find them on the way. A Market in an area makes it count as one size higher for purposes of PCs finding rare goods there; a town with a Market is about as good as a City beyond the Border Princes and can be a big hub for Adventurers.
Oddities are especially unusual and meant to be GM fiat, though some ideas are presented on the next page. These can be things like an honest, competent doctor who always keeps their tools clean, or a weird cRPG merchant who will always buy goods at half their fairly assessed selling price with 0 questions asked no matter what they are. I appreciate you, cRPG merchant, for being a weirdo. It could even be that the local inn is super eccentric and rents lots of private rooms at cheap rates that should drive them out of business but that are really comfy and safe. Or that the locals have a spectacular pie recipe. The locals could even have a treasure filled dungeon and a community bent around catering to dungeon delvers.
Some other oddities are really funny, like the town being a decoy designed to trick raiders into attacking the fake town while the villagers actually live in a cave system nearby, or a town with an anti-goblin trench (it's full of shiney objects to distract them).
Strongholds mean the settlement has a good well, food stocks for a siege, good walls, possibly an actual keep or castle, and that it's generally going to be a tough nut to crack for the small armies seen in the region. Princes often like to live in strongholds. Many strongholds were built by a would-be Prince, but even if they have no political purpose anymore, villagers will happily take over and maintain a stronghold. Any community benefits tremendously from protection.
Choke Points represent strategic locations; river fords, mountain passes, or even a toll settlement built on an important road. All villages and places with Choke Point have additional features; you roll once more for them. These are big meeting places and very important communities.
Cults happen. Especially in an isolated place like the Border Princes, you can run into entire communities dedicated to the Dark Gods. Large communities dedicated to Khorne or Nurgle don't last; Nurglites eventually dissolve into goo and horror, Khornates eventually kill one another over using the wrong fork when stabbing your neighbor to death at a communal supper. Slaaneshi and Tzeentch worshipers can persist a surprisingly long time, though. A community with a Cult is not necessarily all in on the Dark Gods; decide for yourself if the whole community is a hidden cult that's taken over the town and is luring outsiders for sacrifice or if it's just a portion of the population. In the latter case, Khorne and Nurgle will do just fine. Most cults have ridiculously grandiose aims to rule the whole Border Princes and turn the land into a dark land of evil. It tends to go about as well for them as it does for anyone else.
It's also possible to end up with a Shallyan hospital, a Templar order chapterhouse (which instantly makes the settlement a Stronghold, too; knights fortify their territory), a place with a beneficial magical effect the GM designs, a monster that lives nearby and has some kind of deal with the community, a witch, a trained wizard, or a monastery. The towns and villages of the Princes can be quite colorful places, and these rules do generate surprisingly fun realms. I enjoyed making the economy, population, etc of Pferdekrieg almost as much as I liked making the Princes. They give you a good sense of a 'setting'. They have enough detail to make the region feel like a populated place and it's fun to see what each Prince owns to get a sense of their overall realms.
This section also contains the worst part of the book, the new classes. The issue with the new classes isn't just that they're weak (though they are), it's that most of them have terrible Exits. Let's take the Swamp Skinner as example. They're a 'ranger' class, good at scampering through nature, hiding, and searching for stuff. That would be perfectly fine, but their only Exits are Mercenary, Peasant, and Vagabond. All 1st tiers, and of them only Vagabond even really continues on a 'ranger' track. The Advanced Careers are a bit better aside from the inexplicably terrible Badlands Ranger, which is just a much shittier Scout except you can only advance into it from various 2nd tiers for some reason. The Enforcer is a decent Tier 2 wandering vigilante who is decent in a fight, okay at investigation, and promotes into Witch Hunter. The Border Courtier is an interesting alternative to Courtier; they're worse at social matters but much better with a knife and poison. Politics in the Princes can get a little more physical. The extra classes just feel like an afterthought, like they didn't really have any exciting ideas for the new land and just had to put a few in for the purposes of saying the book has some new classes for tradition.
Next Time: The Towns and Villages of Pferdekrieg
Oh, so that's why no-one's killed Alaric yet
Original SA post
Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 2e: Renegade Crowns
Oh, so that's why no-one's killed Alaric yet
We'll start with Li Na's realm, since it's fairly large but it's actually the least populous of all the regions. Which makes sense, she's a mountain bandit ruling a bunch of forested mountains. Not really a place that supports large scale agriculture and population. Since all 4 Princes have reasonably small realms, I decided to roll for the two biggest in land area (Alaric and Li Na) as if they were medium Principalities even though they don't have 80+ squares. Li Na rolled a 10 for her Number of Villages chart and got 6. Her main village will be the one that rolls highest in population, at 260 people, placed on the fertile valley near the waterfall where the Hundshemd river flows down from the mountains. It gets a Special for its feature, and rolls 'Roll Twice'. Rolling again, it gets Stronghold and a second Special, which rolls Magical Effect. So she controls a mountain bandit fortress with a nearby magic trait; I rule that as this is the source of a major river, there's a river spirit that dwells in the area and it makes the water especially clean and safe for this community in return for regular gifts of food. A bit like something you'd find in Kislev. This will be Li Na's personal base of operations because she flubbed the 'have a town' roll.
She also controls a village with a Market, which I say is down where the river meets the plains. This is where the produce of her realm comes together to get sent on to other areas. She's also got another village with a cult problem hidden up in the mountains; she hasn't detected that and they're frighteningly close to the ruins of the dwarf temple. They might be a problem later. Also owns another with the main iron mine for the region and another with the best armorer around, which will be two major advantages for her realm in defending itself. Finally, she has a major source of building stone. Her homesteads contain a skilled bowyer, a fur trapping outpost, and a homestead with a Hospital. There's a small Shallyan outpost in her territory that her troops protect and permit. I keep this in mind for later.
So she's got a sparsely populated realm that probably needs food from elsewhere; the locals rely on hunting and trapping, and that won't feed a large population. But she's got a lot of resources and her people are hardy mountain folk. She and her boys probably spend a lot of time patrolling and occasionally raiding the plains, stealing from the other Princes she hates and leaving Renata's realm alone. About right for a kingdom being established by a mountain bandit warlord who is slowly becoming a better captain.
Renata is next because she's small. She only controls 16 squares, but she rolls a 90 on 'have a town', so she has our first town in the region, with 3600 people. I place it down on the tor near the river in the hills, surrounded by grassy plains the locals use for farming. She only has a single village and 2 homesteads, so her lands are almost entirely just her big, well-defended town on a natural chokepoint. I decide to fiat in that her town has a chokepoint feature because c'mon, it's built into a natural fortress on a major river passage. For its other feature, it ends up with a larger Shallyan hospital; I'm going to say that the small one up in Li Na's realm comes from these Sisters. Renata got permission and a promise from Li Na that she'll allow them to operate and defend a small missionary outpost in her territory. The town is also a major Market, which makes sense as it's on the gateway out of this region by river. It also has a good general smith (not a weaponsmith or armorer, someone who makes tools and horseshoes) and some excellent tailors. I think Renata's trade-town probably feels like one of the most developed areas in Pferdekrieg. She runs barter town.
Her one village produces medical plants, which makes sense with the Shallyans in the area. Her homesteads are built around a copper mine and the last is a tiny Templar chapterhouse. I'll say she invited Verenan Templars since she's highly devout, so they'll be a small chapter of the Order of Everlasting Light because I love those silly cursed knights of justice and they suit the Border Princes.
Renata controls a small, but stable and well developed economic center for the region. Her home is the most built up part of the region, even if it's a tiny Principality. It's very desirable, and others probably plot to overthrow the terrifying 'wizard lord' and take it from her. But for now, it's a comfortable home and someplace she can study. Her alliance with Li Na probably helps keep her secure and from the presence of the Shallyans and Verenans, I think her realm is considered one of the more faithful and 'civilized' in the area, which probably drives Alaric nuts since he still thinks she's a Slaaneshi.
Marcelle also got a town, but only two villages and three homesteads. Marcelle's town location is obvious; the fertile valley next to the pool on the forested hills. It's really good land, with fresh water nearby and fertile, pleasant land in the immediate area. It still only has 2000 people, but that makes sense, since he doesn't have a lot of non-swamp land to support a big place and it isn't connected to the rivers and such like Renata's. Still, this is clearly his home base. Its two resources are quite powerful, too: He has the best Weaponsmith in the region and he rolls a 40 for the second, getting him the 1% chance of having a gunsmith. He has the only source of locally produced firearms in all of Pferdekrieg. For the other feature of his town, he's also got a major brewery for beer. This pisses him off to no end; his land is terrible for wine and he has to make due with beer and ale like a dwarf or worse, an Imperial. His villages continue this woe, having another brewery and a major clay pit. His home produces so much beer and he hates it! But his men love it, so he gets by.
The homesteads get a bit weird. One is a major chokepoint, a lonely toll booth guarding a strip of solid land leading through the swamps to the river. Since that gets them another feature, they're also a fur trapping outpost. He's got more clay in another homestead; potters all over the region rely on Marcelle the swamp king. Finally, the third homestead is both noted for its fat frogs and juicy snails (which are sent directly to Captain Marcelle's table) but also for being the lair of an astonishingly intelligent hydra. The beast has a deal with the settlement. They lead the occasional Adventurer to it and give it part of the bounty they get in return for the frog harvest, and in return it keeps from eating the homestead. It's just smart enough to realize leaving the screamy two-legged scaleless critters to gather food for it is better than just eating the twenty of them now. Marcelle is not aware of this deal or the existence of this beast and would want it dead (by someone else's hand, he's not getting near it) if he was.
Marcelle has some stuff other people want and is pretty well set up to rule his kingdom of the swamp on the southeastern section of the map between the Katzenhosen and Alpaka-Schuhe. He's content, for now. Except for his plans to fuck up Alaric some day. Screw that guy.
So if everyone hates him, why isn't Alaric dead? I was thinking this the whole time I was working on him, and the dice answered it. He has no town, but he's got 6 villages like Li Na. And they're a fucking fortified crusader kingdom. He has a gem mine, 2 normal strongholds, and a templar stronghold for 4 of his 6 villages. Which means the majority of his villages are castles or heavily defended, and he has a big source of raw income. The existence of a full village-sized chapter-stronghold of Myrmidian Knights of the Righteous Spear also suggests he has some outside support. Another village in the area is a Chokepoint and also produces a lot of medical plants; I'll say this is on the plains in the western border of the region. Thus, he controls one of the major road routes west and into the mountains and out of the Border Princes in general. His last village is a den of secret Slaaneshi cultists that he's missed in his hurry to find proof that Renata is a Slaaneshi. The irony is not lost on them.
He also has 5 Homesteads, and one of the is a silver mine! I think he's working on trying to expand that into a full village after some prospectors struck silver. That also means it's a Stronghold, too. He has another Stronghold Homestead that I'll say is an armed toll collection station for the roads he controls, plus two other small steads with good smiths and the area's only vinter. Before he and Marcelle had their falling out, he was Marcelle's only source of local wine. No wonder they fell out so hard when they did. His last homestead is another den of cultists, and I'll say this is a small place he established at advice of the Slaaneshi village to spy on Renata's lands and look for 'proof'. In truth, the cultists there are missionaries, who also suspect Renata is a Slaaneshi and want to reach out to her to betray Alaric to her, not realizing that she is not actually in league with Chaos and fucking hates it. That should make for fun fireworks later when PCs stumble into it.
So Alaric's lands have no major river routes or many terrain features, but they're on fairly fertile grassy plains and he clearly has both mineral wealth and a lot of dug in, well-defended settlements. Not to mention outside support from his cult. He must have some friends back in more developed territory. His realm is brittle, though; if he loses those sources of income or they run dry, he'll go bankrupt trying to maintain so many fortifications and such a largely militarized population. Still, this is why no-one's driven him off yet. He might be a blowhard, but he's a blowhard with a squad of actual plate-armored knights templar and a bunch of keeps.
Finally, the independent villages: There's only 3 of note, and I put them up in the northeast, so it can be a base if the players explore the scrub mountains up there. This is important, as the two Oddity ruins are in the scrub mountains in the northeast and the worst, most dangerous part of Marcelle's swamp, which he hasn't explored, and they'll be important to long-term plots in the region. Two turn out to be simple Resource villages, with a market for all the areas not served by a Prince (excellent for basing PCs) and the best shoe and boot maker in the region. The third is Special, defended by a Monster. I think this village will be the hint about the Golem mess up in the Oddity ruin in the mountains, having figured out some way to make its wardens (a nest of giant eagles) protect them, too. Finally, there's only a single homestead of interest, and it's another nest of secret cultists. I think they're trying to get close to the Golem Oddity too, tipped off by the curiously well defended village near the mountains. The Northeast area is there partly so players can establish their own Principality here in case they want to rule one and don't want to overthrow an existing Prince; I left it open on purpose.
So there. All four realms came out pretty interesting! I didn't do much fudging or rerolling here beyond putting more villages than their squares would indicate in Li Na and Alaric's domains, but they still turned out to have a nice variety of economic and strategic elements to them. Their realms also explain why they're at something of a stalemate despite the Princes having so many bad feelings between them; Alaric is too dug in to take out directly, Marcelle is across two rivers and a swamp and on a hill, and Li Na lives in a mountain. Renata is probably the most vulnerable, but the Tor makes her town a naturally well defended area and it's one of the most important places to local commerce, plus no-one actually hates
her. Alaric suspects her of all kinds of evil, but I imagine he still allows trade with barter-town. In fact, I think I'm going to call her town Tauschdorf, because Renata runs Barter-Town. She's the most vulnerable of the Princes, though, something that probably worries her girlfriend (and her).
This also produces a region that has a nice mix of bases for the PCs to explore the various ruins and menaces, if they're focusing wholly on adventuring rather than trying to become Princes themselves. The conflicts are also at a level that works great for PC involvement; Alaric could hire them to spy on Renata, someone could hire them to sabotage his gem mine, they could go after the Curiously Intelligent Hydra, etc etc. Lots of potential for stories in the region and the towns and villages only help that further. Plus, Li Na's waterfall stronghold just sounds cool as hell to see.
Next Time: Wandering Monster.
Why are there so many tables
Original SA post
Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 2e: Renegade Crowns
Why are there so many tables
So, the wandering monsters are the weakest part of region creation, which is a bit of a disappointment. There's some good material here, but the actual generation methods are clunky and it's a little rougher when it comes to things PCs are actually going to be killing later. One of the neat ideas here is that the swarms of monsters in the Border Princes are actually a way of gauging how much good the armies, roadwardens, and PCs have done in other lands; you're way less likely to be attacked by monsters in the Empire. The roads are safer because the Empire has organized hunts to destroy serious threats and an army it can bring in to face Beastherds. Bretonnia's Errants actually do make a dent in the monster population, to say nothing of the Questing Knights and Grail Knights, or even the Herrimaults shooting critters to keep their forest hideouts safe. Here? There are rarely such organized responses to creatures, and it makes monsters both more numerous and more dangerous than in more developed regions.
First, you decide on the general level of monster activity in your region: This will decide how much your campaign deals with monsters vs. people. If you have only a few monster lairs in the region, they'll be much less of a threat and leave the Princes and PCs free to stab one another more often. If you have a moderate number, you'll balance fighting beasts and alliances of convenience against backstabbing and politics. If there are many, many monsters, the Princes of the region will probably be cooperating with one another by default even if they hate each other; someone with two arms, two legs, and one head is a lot less likely to eat you than everything else in the area! If you have Many monsters, you can have up to 22 lairs, which can have over 1000 orcs or whatever each. An individual band of greenskins can have 20 trolls in it. 20! Now imagine 22 of those. That can be a problem.
The real problem, though, is that the tables are just weird. For instance, say you roll a Chaos threat. You then roll to see what kind of Champion or leader is leading it. Based on that, you then roll on a much smaller table to see what their followers are. But it's possible to roll a '+4 on the next table' result and the second table only goes up to 5+? And also you can't actually roll, say, a general Warband of Warriors and Marauders led by a Champion. Similarly, the Undead tables are a little confusing and hard to theme around the specific undead; a mummy isn't going to have Vampire Bats serving it, damnit. Overall, the monster tables just don't produce anything as interesting as the other parts of region creation. They also don't really have the built in plot hooks that the ancient menaces do in the ruins. If I was going to skip one step's randomization entirely and just place threats myself, I'd do it here.
To that end, we're just going to get right into the threats to Pferdekrieg. It has a Moderate number of monsters and rolled 8 lairs on the table. I get Undead, Undead, Chaos, Chaos, Monster, Monster, Monster and Greenskins. There's an unusually low number of orcs for a region in the Border Princes.
One of the Undead rolls Dead Lord, and rolls Mummy. That's easy enough. The original general who was commanding the fortress ruins is found in the ancient monument tomb, along with several Bastethi (I used them instead of the Dire Wolves he rolled he had backing him up) and 120 skeleton soldiers. He is hell bent on either warning people, or as no-one speaks Nehekaran in the region, scaring/driving people off from the region so they don't accidentally unleash the same ancient evil he did. The other major Undead in the area is a banshee haunting one of the barren sites, a victim of the original demon outbreak whose tortured soul tries to kill anything that gets close and keeps that small bit of scrubland from ever recovering.
The first Chaos force is just a Bestigor-led Beastherd, which you know, there's a fair bit of forest, there'd obviously be one of those. The other group is led by a Chaos Warrior, which means a Champion. With what he rolled, his followers would have to just be Beastmen, but thinking on it I thought it better to just fiat in that he's leading a mixed Marauder/Warrior Warband, a unit that has been raiding up and down the east and south of the Old World since they, too, split off from Crom during his defeat. And now they're in this region looking for someone. Chaos doesn't like letting people leave
, you see. They're not only a severe threat to Li Na's bandit Principality (it's a 100 person warband, but I'd say that includes like two dozen actual Warriors and the Champion, which is a serious force) but worse they might pick up on the Demon in the old dwarf ruins and try to give it a hand.
Right now the 'real' Warband is just wandering about, raiding; they don't know where their target is, and they don't quite have the numbers to crack the fortified spots like Alaric's realm. They're still a serious threat to any non-fortified village and a regional menace, and worse, they could link up with the Beastmen. Beastlords and Beastmen will almost always bow to an actual Champion and join them as servants. The two combined could start doing real damage to the region if PCs and others don't stop them first.
The Greenskin band turned out very small indeed. A unit of 1 Black Orc and 10 Boyz. I'm going to say they're a scouting party, here to see whether or not this land is safe to move into. They aren't a threat to anyone right now, but if they complete their scouting mission and go back to their Warboss, they could trigger a larger migration into this land. The relatively small group makes hunting them down and killing them a good short adventure for a 2nd tier party.
The Monsters are a Jabberwock that lives in the forested plains off the mountain (another thing they don't want to let Chaos get hold of), a Griffin who has taken up residence in the mountains and is spending his time posing majestically and murdering goats and goatherds, and another nest of Giant Eagles, also protecting the scrubland mountains in the Northeast. Two Giant Eagle nests is a big warning that whatever's there is something really important, given Giant Eagles are messengers of the Old Ones and immune to Chaos. I'd want to re-evaluate and make that particular Oddity ruin especially important due to all this security.
With this step done, I fill in some last loose ends about Pferdekrieg's history. This region has been unsettled for a very long time, and the Greenskins avoided it because their shamans said to. Only now that they see 'humies' living in it again do they consider sending in scouts and deciding if it's worth krumpin' parts of the place. There's always been Beastman activity, like there is anywhere with forests, but there's also an unusual number of actual Monsters in the area. Perhaps the demon calls them somehow? The intelligent Hydra in the swamp is also an abberation, and the other Oddity ruin is down there. Maybe it's a broken guardian of some kind from the old age and not a natural creature? An especially old and magically enhanced hydra, given the Dark Elves sometimes use them as warbeasts. The older elves could have done the same.
Similarly, I decide that settlement here in Pferdekrieg only goes back about 50 years, and that Tauschdorf is the oldest settlement in the area. It was established by the first prince to start pushing into this region again; his advanced age is part of how Renata accidentally gave him a heart attack. I also decide all 4 Princes are fairly young, and that this is set in 2532, 10 years after the Storm. Most of them will be late twenties, early 30s at this point, and their situation has persisted for about 5-10 years. For a long time, the skeletons and the damage from the ancient demonic battle kept people out of this place, and only now have humans decided it's safe and realized the land here is pretty good by local standards. So this region hasn't been strongly explored and the settlements here are mostly 2 generations old or so.
And with that, Pferdekrieg is complete. It's full of plot hooks, it's a flavorful land, it's got a bunch of conflicts for PCs to get involved in, space for PCs to declare themselves Princes, space for PCs to overthrow and steal Principalities or decide to help one or more Princes...it looks like a great place to use. The combination of geography, ancient history, recent history, personalities, economics, and politics that you roll up really does work for its intended purpose. I just wish the monster generator was better. Given 'generating subsettings' is one of the main purposes of the book, though? The fact that it made a really cool subsetting that I am definitely going to use in at least one game now says it succeeded at that purpose. I also just had a lot of fun rolling and writing and pondering why all these things fit together where they did and where to use fiat vs. trust the dice. That I had a good time doing this is also a mark in its favor; if it was boring drudgery that produced a decent campaign setting that wouldn't be as good.
This is a style of campaign/setting generation I've never actually done before, and I expected to hate this part because again, I am not good with maps or geography. But the system makes it easy to do in an Excel sheet or by building a 'world map' in Roll20. So on this front, Renegade Crowns is doing really well! Will it keep that up in the Realm Management Rules? We'll see! Before that, we'll be going over how the author made his own region and how it guided how I worked on mine. It's actually a really good working example of the systems in motion and a great way to get across their intent.
Next Time: David Chart's Masserschloss and how he made his own region
Original SA post
Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 2e: Renegade Crowns
So, Masserschloss is the author doing the same thing I did with Pferdekrieg, and it's interesting to see how his approach differed versus how it informed mine. What's curious to me is that he uses a larger than 20x20 area while still calling it a small region; I found I was able to pack a lot into 20x20 just fine. He also ended up placing an entire second river by fiat because of the number of swamps he got, and also ended up altering some rolls to make sure he had varied terrain as he started to get an idea of what would make for fun adventures in the region. Masserschloss ends up with some decent land in the north northwest, a fair amount of swamp, a sudden desert badland in the center, two small rivers that don't go beyond the region, and a nice grassy plain in the southwest. There's also an awful lot of forest in the area; the swamps and plains have some big clumps of dark forest that would be perfect for terrible things or tougher Princes to hide in.
He gets 7 ruins and almost immediately decides this is too many. Fair enough. Much as the plot and history of Pferdekrieg was shaped by its ruins results, he gets an Oddity with an Enigma for why it was abandoned that's infested with Undead and ends up making a dark tower of bone formerly inhabited by a necromancer, who left for no discernible reason only a year ago. The whole region fears he'll come back and the terrible Reign of the Necromancer drives much of the adventuring/dungeon crawling plot for the region. Much like me with the bands of barren hill and scrubland, he decides that the desert land in his center is the result of a magical cataclysm that took out a couple settlements in the region and fiats it being a Chaos Ruin infested with Demons. Much like with Pferdekrieg, the Ruins provide a good skeleton of history and adventure ideas for a campaign that doesn't want to go entirely into regional politics; he has a Chaos Temple being built as the oldest ruin, then a Dwarf Fortress built nearby to contain it, before the Temple blew up and made the Badlands and the dwarfs left to escape the madness. Then, 700 years ago, Arabyan settlers abandoned a major mining town because they were simply afraid to go back into the mine near the Badlands. Then the Necromancer moved in recently and began messing around with dark magic in the area. A legacy of darkness could be discovered and settled by PCs who want a 'classic' campaign.
He leaves it a fair bit more open than I did, but that's fine; he's writing a creation example, I was having fun filling in history.
He originally plans only a pair of Princes but decides to add a third. Ending up with two Bandits, both of whom are surprisingly decent people in their own ways, and then a delusional but extremely strong mercenary who wants to become overlord of the whole region. The first Bandit is a Tilean named Massimo, known to be greedy but surprisingly honest. He also just sort of decides the extent of the Princes' realms rather than rolling for them like I did, because he wants to generate some specific regional tensions to cause adventures; by having the two Princes occupy major territory in the southwest and northeast separated by swamp and badlands, he can create a difficult but constant conflict. Dieter the Merc was the soldier of the former prince of northwestern Masserschloss (and the actual town of Masserschloss) who got tired of watching his master ignore the threats of monsters while ordering him to ride about and kidnap beautiful women. So he overthrew him and took power for himself. Dieter is a 5th career super-badass, with Champion completed and well into Captain, a bit like Li Na in my region. He's also delusional, thinking he's the rightful heir to the area and illegitimate son of the prince he overthrew. Also tells everyone he killed the Necromancer, and is secretly terrified the guy will come back.
He's also a crazy warlord who has taken over a harem in his desperation to produce sons who will succeed him. So on one hand, he's the most powerful Prince in the area, but accordingly he's the biggest prick in the region. A lying, delusional warlord.
The third Prince is another surprisingly virtuous Bandit, honest and with a set of moral rules they always follow. Thinking on it, and being the author of Knights of the Grail, he decides to make this a Bretonnian noblewoman named Dhouda who turned Herrimault, then Faceless. She wanted to be a Knight, but never got time to get to that form of crossdressing, having to settle for opposing her brutal and evil brother unsuccessfully until he drove her and her Herrimaults into the Border Princes. She tries to run a just realm here in the Border Princes, but years of working in a land full of wannabe machiavelli dipshits and game of thrones fans have started to really wear her down. He expects players will probably like Dhouda, and that they might just decide to fight out a campaign helping her, which is good because she faces overwhelming odds from Dieter and Massimo (she has a weaker, central realm in the forested plains) and thus there will be a lot of conflict if players take that path.
What's interesting is he spends a lot more time fully fleshing out the villages as he goes than I did, giving them all names and a bit of backstory. I spent more time fleshing out the Princes and the general regional history. He also ends up with an awful lot more Greenskins in the region than I did, but dice-wise that's pretty likely. Greenskins and Chaos dominate his wandering monsters, and with a powerful Cult village in among the unaligned villages of the region he decides that he'll be setting up major Chaos confrontations for later in a campaign whatever the players do. That awful temple in the Badlands is the perfect place for a climactic battle/adventure. Masserschloss town, itself, is the only actual town in the area and really cements Dieter as the most powerful political entity. He also goes over where PCs could start and how this would alter a campaign, depending on if they want a game about being normal adventurers, becoming princes, or helping someone like Dhouda survive the shitstorm of an angry, delusional warlord, Chaos forces, and the massive tide of orcs. There are at least four different campaign styles that would work great with Masserschloss.
I didn't go into as much detail here because I already gave you a detailed example of region creation, but it's interesting to see Chart lay out his thinking and what he's doing the whole time he's rolling and altering a region. He does a lot of rerolling and shifting around and painting the map; he's still primarily driven by randomization, but I think this example exists partly to reinforce that yes, it's okay to only be guided by the randomization, not to stick to it religiously. The other key is that he demonstrates how you should be thinking while you're writing; you're putting down adventure hooks and conflicts that should all have 'And then the PCs arrive' as part of their elevator pitch. You're writing an RPG setting and the principle characters will be the PCs. If they choose to help out Dhouda, it will be by their choice; sure, she's a character he suspects his group would want to aid, but the hooks aren't built with the assumption they will, only the possibility. Same for leaving trails of monsters and mysteries and employers leading to the Necromancer's Tower and the Chaos Temple.
It's a specific skill, to write for an RPG setting, and the people who wrote for this line were mostly very good about it. Masserschloss's creation tutorial is a good example of someone who is a very good setting/hook writer sitting down and explaining step by step how he's using the tool he created to make a hook-and-plot filled region for PCs to play in, and I think that's a very valuable thing to include in this book.
Next Time: Catch the falling knife.
None of this would have happened if you had just stopped.
Original SA post
Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 2e: Renegade Crowns
None of this would have happened if you had just stopped.
Aside from being a subsetting generator, this book also contains actual realm management rules. You see, unlike in the Empire, there's actually a fairly good chance a pack of 3rd tier PCs take over a major political power in the 'setting' if you're playing in a Border Princes region. The reason this is still good for adventure is because the actual personal strength and actions of those 3rd tier PCs will remain instrumental in
spinning those plates until their inevitable downfall
a prosperous and smooth function of the realm. Princes aren't secure, and even having a couple extra buddies you can actually trust on board is a huge edge over the average Prince. This is also a good land to have players maintain their power by continuing to actually have adventures on a scale that WHFRP is good for. Why is the Prince riding out to personally investigate some random horror murder? Because you rule a Principality the size of a postage stamp and you're the only one you can trust to do it.
An interesting thing here is Chart goes over the phrase 'a grim world of perilous adventure' and what it means for the writing of the Border Princes. It's interesting because it gels with what I've seen of the shitty, shitty last acts/endings of almost every major published campaign and adventure. World, obviously, means that there should be a sense that the world is bigger than PCs. Stuff happens outside their adventures. Adventuring isn't the main concern of the world; Adventurers are actually usually regarded as kind of lunatics until they strike it rich (or die). Perilous mean that your work is really dangerous and there's always the chance you get shot in the head. Adventure means the game is concerned with adventure
. Thus, the realm management system is not going to care about how much wheat your wheat minister is skimming off the top, except if he's doing that for sinister, wheat-based rebellion that goes all the way to the top. Time is going to be measured in Adventures, not months or years, and you will deal with the issues of your realm by going out and Doing Stuff. This is not a resource management game subsystem, not that there's anything wrong with those.
Grim is the word that can cause the most trouble. The idea behind Grim, in this context, is that no matter what you do you aren't going to magically unite the Border Princes or actually achieve a truly stable rule. The region is swarmed with shitlords who take signs of justice and mercy as signs of weakness and come at you if you do them openly. Reputation matters. Players will see easy roads to clinging to power that go through an awful lot of blood and darkness. And if they succeed and somehow hold on, or even save the world from some ancient menace in their region, no-one outside the Princes is going to care. All these struggles, epic as they might seem to the PCs, are taking place in an area half the size of Rhode Island over a region of maybe 10,000 people. They certainly matter to the region, but the smallness of the stakes is intentional. The sense I get is that at some point in being a Border Prince, you should be left wondering why the hell you want people to call you Prince so badly that you're willing to cling to it at any cost. Chart is also clear that this one is the most open to change; if you want to play a very different kind of game, do it. And if you do go for the Grim game, don't forget to make it funny. The world isn't Grim because it's solemn, it's Grim because Vice keeps telling itself it's better than Virtue even as Vice keeps fucking up and getting pasted by Chaos and Greenskins. The brutal 'pragmatists' and wannabe Hard Men Making Hard Choices don't actually do any better than the decent people they look down on, they just drag everyone down into the mud with them. And when they get wrecked just as hard despite all their pontificating about how genius they are for being bastards, it's really fucking funny.
Now, the idea of Grim as 'players will never achieve anything' (rather than what's here, where it's more 'players are unlikely to achieve much on a huge scale'; if they actually manage to finish out the campaign as Prince that's kind of a huge achievement and we'll get to that in a bit) definitely shows up in the weird anti-climaxes of a lot of the adventure writing for WHFRP. Adventures will build to some climax that should change things or do something big and then it just peters out and they come up with an excuse for why you don't get paid and nothing happened. They're afraid to let PCs become major setting characters, something made a lot less odious than Metaplot heavy settings by the fact that the 'major setting characters' don't actually show up much in WHFRP. This is fairly obviously not how I run my campaigns, nor how the ones I've played in have gone; we like to focus a lot more on the Peril, World, and Adventure bits. The Grim bit for us is usually more that you keep having to deal with the stupid shitlords who keep trying to drag everything into the mud. A Sigmarite reformer shows up and the Church fights him every step of the way, then two hundred years later they're naming holidays for him and taking credit for everything he did despite trying to kill him. That kind of thing. I think the setting plays a lot better when you're willing to let things change instead of going back to the status quo all the time, but at the same time I suppose it's for the best that the official material doesn't do that or we'd get an infestation of Metaplot.
The actual Realm Management rules are very simple. You have two meters. Internal Trouble and External Trouble. They start at 0 (possibly more, if you fucked up taking power). Each Adventure you play, they each go up by 5. If your Adventure dealt with Internal or External trouble (say you took out the Cultists you rolled for one of your towns) you might not raise it by 5 this time. Any time a gauge hits 25, you have to resolve an Adventure around an external or internal crisis, and success will lower your trouble gauges. If, after an adventure, a gauge is still at 25, another crisis happens immediately. If BOTH gauges are at or above 25 after an Adventure, you are in serious trouble and it's time to decide if you're going to go down with the ship, shooting for the tiny chance you'll somehow be able to handle both a major internal crisis and an external crisis at the same time while clinging to power. This is likely to result in you losing both your realm and a Fate point, then reflecting on how stupid the bastard who stole your realm is for wanting to do this.
As an aside on Fate, you do not regain Fate for solving a major crisis for your Principality even if you did something incredibly cool and difficult. Clinging to power by your fingernails does not count as a 'great deed'. This can lead to PCs running out of Fate over time as they try to rule their Principality. To offset this, they can
regain Fate if they manage to solve a major crisis without resorting to brutality and injustice. That has other consequences in this region and can be very difficult to do. Very difficult. There is going to be a lot of pressure on you to go full tyrant for short term stability. It will also put you in a death spiral that will ruin you, but hey. That's life in the Border Princes.
I am very, very fond of measuring time entirely in Adventures. This is a much better idea than tracking months or whatever and if Realms of Sorcery had done this a lot of its mechanics for research, brewing, and runesmithing would have been much easier to integrate into the game. I am also fond of the way your interaction with your realm management system is also entirely through the medium of RPG adventures, in this, the RPG about having adventures. The Realm becomes a thing that drives a campaign, rather than a side gig. Then you get rare breathing space where neither gauge is in crisis and you can go do something else for a bit. The book also suggests that if players are getting bored with constant crisis management, give them an Adventure off to go do something different without raising the gauges. You're all here to have fun, after all, and if your realm is starting to feel too much like a day job but the players don't want to run for the hills and never look back just yet, giving them a break is entirely appropriate.
Next Time: Taking and Seizing Power
Welcome to Bergschatten
Original SA post
Welcome to Bergschatten
Even for the Border Lands, Bergschatten isn't a hospitable place. The northern and eastern borders are hemmed in by tall, snow-covered mountains that slope down into thickly forested slopes. The southern border is defined by a mountain river that be useful for transportation... if it didn't immediately drain into the large swamps that cover most of the eastern borders. Due to its proximity to the Badlands, greenskins are abundant in the area. The only redeeming feature is the semi-dormant volcano that juts out near the center, giving the region its name. Mount Handlung looms over the region, but the rich volcanic soil creates the most arable land in the area at its base. The town of New Altdorf is located here, rivaled only by "free city" of Herria across the river. Further down the slope, there's a grassy plain dominated by a tor topped by Unzerbrechliches Schloss (aka Nsburg), the 'castle' of Imperator Krankvater.
Imperator Krankvater is the sole authority figure in Bergschatten, as Herria is only independent in the sense that they can't rely on Krankvater's army. Despite his background as an Imperial mercenary, his condescending attitude and bizarre temper, Krankvater is actually a fairly popular leader in Bergschatten. He served the previous Prince as the head of his army until the Prince died a young but natural death of Consumption, and seems to be honestly committed to sparing the innocent and protecting his subjects. When surrounded by Greenskins, the guy with an army is going to be a welcome sight - even if he harshly punishes anyone who harms a fly in his presence. A few years ago, a Khorngor and his herd moved into the area and announced themselves by massacring a settlement and defiling the corpses. Krankvater has been obsessed with avenging the victims ever since, distracting him from other dangers.
Krankvater's love of flies isn't as innocent as it seems. Their wings whisper to him, telling him the dark words of Ze'bub, a daemon of Nurgle. Krankvater first started hearing the voices after his unit uncovered a mass grave of noncombatants massacred by Khornites, when he was swarmed by flies. He's not an idiot and realizes that it's probably not Sigmar whose talking to him... but Sigmar is probably dead, so let's see what the flies have to say. Ze'bub guided him south to Bergschatten and eliminated the previous Prince as part of a plot to release an ancient plague, but Krankvater's obsession with killing the Khorngor has put that on hold.
Krankvater's control ends at the river. To the south is Herria, which is located at a highly defensive peninsula and contains a Vampire Lord is mostly just trying to keep her head down for now. Herria is the main way travelers access Bergschatten or trade goods. However, there aren't many travelers coming to Bergschatten due to the two large orc tribes that have settled here and wage constant wars. Da Blood Tide to the north is larger and has more orcs, but Da Tigers continue to control the forest due to their superior tactics. The wars and the rivers keep most of the greenskins occupied, but raids are a common fact of life in the area. Further up the mountain is a large goblin settlement, mostly content to mine and explore the nearby Underway. Ze'bub was maneuvering Krankvater into power in order to invade the goblins' territory. Also there's a Hippogryff in the south.
Ruin 1 (reddish brown squares with numbers) is the massacred settlement, still abandoned after these years. If the PCs wanted to hunt down the Bestigor, this is likely where they'd start.
Ruin 2 is a semi-abandoned Chaos fortress, guarded by a half-dozen Minotaur. If the PCs uncover or overthrown Krankvater, Ze'bub would lead him here to become a Chaos Warrior.
Ruin 3 is a late age Khemri fortress that was supposed to survive anything. Instead, they all perished due to a magical plague, which Ze'bub is trying to unleash.
Ruin 4 is a Tomb King's tomb. While the mummy inside is resting at the moment, the army it commands is extremely dangerous. The orcs avoid this area due to the mummy's wards, which blocks them out of Bergschatten.
Ruin 5 is an outpost established and destroyed a few generations back. Some idiot stole a magic sword from the mummy and hid it here. The mummy's minions still search for it (ineffectively).
My experience and impressions of Renegade Crowns
I don't know why I own this book. I don't DM Warhammer Fantasy, so it was probably some sort of "Here are my game books because I'm going to college" sort of deal. I didn't even think of it until this week, but I remember my initial impression, before Night10194's review, being fairly negative. While the writing tries to be engaging, it's a lot of randomization tables and result descriptions for a setting I don't use. I do remember thinking the second half, with the game advice on the sort of adventures a Border Prince could have, being pretty good. I don't think I ever rolled up my own region. With most randomization engines, I like to stay true to the dice until the end. After that point, I'll heavily edit and change the results until I get a final product that I like. I'll be giving an overview of my experience and not getting into the specifics of what I rolled.
I struggled a lot between flipping between pages in the book and tabbing between my spreadsheet and my online dice roller, especially when first generating the terrain. Maybe it would have been easier with physical dice, a piece of paper to keep notes, and some familiarity with the system to generate the map. Keeping count of how many normal features I had, and how many points to add to the dice, was frankly kind of irritating. I also ran into the issue Night10194 mentioned with large areas of boring geography - the only special features I rolled were a volcano and a tor.
I rolled an average number of ruins (5), but didn't really feel any spark of creativity from them yet. I also decided to roll for the number of princes, and was very disappointed when I rolled only 1 - I had really enjoyed Night10194's web of intrigue and relationships, and instead I had a sort of boring empty map with just one prince in the middle. I decided to go with it and see the results, but if I hadn't been assured that no, this was going to be cool... I probably would have put the book down and stop there. Luckily, I didn't.
The prince I rolled up was weird and interesting, and THAT sparked some creativity. Originally I had been planning to fiat in a second prince, but after I created Imperator Krankvater I decided I was going to make him the star of the show. So instead, after rolling up two towns (one under Krankvater's control, one independent) and a bunch of villages and homesteads, I decided to make my region one infested by Many Monsters. When I rolled up the number of lairs, I rolled very low so that there was only 12
distinct monster. If I had rolled between 4-8, there would have been 15 to 18 lairs. To put that in perspective, Nights10194's review had only 8 - when you set your campaign in a Many Monsters area, there are a shitload
of monsters and dealing with them is REALLY going to be the main focus of the campaign. The tables were extremely wonky, inconsistent, and produced a lot of nonsensical or unworkable results. For one of my Greenskin rolls, I rolled incredibly hot and resulted in a goddamn WAAGH with 750 snotlings, 1000 goblins, 2 trolls, 250 orcs, and 30 black orcs - along with the 4 other groups of Greenskins I randomly generated.
My advice? Don't use the monster tables. If you must, use the Ancient Ruins table to determine the number of Major Monstrous Threats and the type table to determine what they are, and ignore everything else. I only took the loosest of inspiration from the monster results, and most of it was stuff I was planning to do anyway. It was by far the most annoying and least useful bit of randomization.
What I like about Bergschatten and Krankvater is that there is a lot going on, and a lot of ways a group of PCs could get involved. I already had an idea of a Nurgle presence due to the Khemri fortress full of plague and the abandoned Chaos fortress, so it felt 'right' when my prince turned out to be a innocent-sparing cultist. I rolled up Krankvater's desire to avenge an atrocity when I was planning to add a second prince, but I switched it to the Khorngor instead. I like the idea of a chaos cultist who isn't really
that bad a guy, and I like emphasizing the internal divisions to Chaos. Krankvater could end up being a patron to the PCs who they redeem, or someone they reveal and overthrow, or maybe they just don't like him being a condescending jerk and they kill him immediately. I like that freedom to put him in the role of supporting figure or major antagonist, depending on what happens.
I like how the two most obvious quests (kill the Khorngor, explore the zombie-infested outpost) lead to secondary stories that aren't immediately obvious (Stop Krankvater from releasing the plague, settle things with the Tomb King who wants your sword) and have huge consequences (The orcs are coming!). There's also just a LOT going on - I didn't touch on any of the villages or homesteads with their own deals. There is a whole Chaos Cult and a Witch that I didn't even mention, nor any of the courtiers! It really feels like, no matter what my players might do, there'll be something here for them. And it's all stuff they could interact with, and want
to get involved.
Con: I still find the Monster Lair section very frustrating in general, and having to flip around the book a lot was very aggravating. Generation is awkward and inconsistent, especially if you aren't familiar with the rules.
Pro: Once I started filling in the map with characters and locations, it sparked a lot of joy. I could envision my players really falling in love with this 80x80 square miles of scrubland and mountains.
When Gildemeister Nazril Gudrunsson first entered the Border Princes 30 years ago
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When Gildemeister Nazril Gudrunsson first entered the Border Princes 30 years ago,
he had a map of the ruins of his people, enough coin to satisfy settlers and a head full of commerce and masonry thanks to his years as a Merchant. He did not, however, speak the Imperial tongue. Traveling upriver through the region to where the river forked and the caves lurked at the foot of the mountains, he asked his guide what this place was called. "Langweilig und sinnlos." replied his guide.
And so the town of Langweilig-und-Sinnlosstadt (Lusstadt) was formed.
Lucien-Etienne Champlain, a mercenary from Bretonnia who his men called "The Exalted One", and Holy Father Nils Borshevsky, a local boy with aspirations of becoming the head of religious state, were the next to take a stab at colonizing Lus 20 years later. Nazril did not care what they wanted but he told them: "this land is mostly worthless. As long as most of your own land is mostly worthless, I don't care where you settle". Naturally the two humans took land with plenty of grass. Though Nils got the good end of that bargain, Lucien wheedled the better metals out from under the eye of Nils. Lucien also settled his own town, Sudlusstadt (South Lusstadt because, well, it's more south than the old one).
Things were fine until they went to war five years later and the next Prince showed up, a Norscan knight named Hanna Hakonsdatter with a mass of barely intelligible seamen who staggered across the Borders until they could find a new home. "Go live to the West", the warring provinces advised her, "and don't touch our shit". She took their advice and she also did not touch their shit and things were fine for a time as the war continued. Lucien committed crimes upon Nils' people, Nils committed crimes upon Lucien's, standard business.
Things got worse when the Greenskins and the Kislevites showed up. Specifically, three thousand Kislevite soldiers lead by a self-styled Tsarina, Anastasia Nikita Antonina Devora Kristina Petrov.
"There's not a lot of room for you," said Lucien.
"That's okay, we'll find some space." said Anastasia.
"I think this might be getting too crowded," murmured Hanna.
"What's the plan for these Greenskins?" asked Nils, being pretty heavily ignored for the moment.
"Just don't name whatever encampment you set up South South Lusstadt" grumbled Lucien.
." said Anastasia.
"Good enough." said Hanna.
"I'm sorry did you say your last name was Petrov?
" interrupted Nazril as he thumbed through his Book of Grudges.
The Border Region of Langweilig-und-Sinnlosstadt (Lus)
For the sake of reference, 1/1 is at the bottom left corner.
Originally settled by a Khemri prince as an excuse to bury his many, many, many grandchildren in a far away land where nobody could see him kill them, Lus was last actually occupied by Araby around 700 years ago before that occupation ended. Since then it's been a wild and lawless land of homesteaders and small villages getting by until Nazril came to town to take back what was his. Lus' main claims to fame are "not much" and being the genesis point of two rivers that feed into each other and the local swamp, one from the cliffs to the west and one from the eastern geyser. The west river is known as the Klippe Erbrechen River for its placement while the eastern river is called the Abgetrennte Aorta for the pigment of the dirt from the badlands that gets carried until washed out.
To the south is a small clan of reclusive giants that would like to be left alone and Tsarina Anastasia is trying to keep her men from bothering them. To the west lurks a small war band of Chaos that Countess Hanna has to deal with. Lead by a Bestigor, his mutants and beastmen are a hazard, making a blasted and otherwise useless land more useless.
The two bands of Orcs are their own problem. To the east, in the badlands, are the runts of the litter. 750 snotlings, 100 goblins, 2 trolls and 25 orcs call the badlands their home, a motley crew of some power and danger but mostly scattered and disorganized. It's the other
group that's the reason why nobody's bothered trying to settle the swampland: an army of 750 snotlings, 25 goblins, 20 trolls, 500 orcs and 50 black orcs. The southeastern army poses enough of a threat that it's the reason why the war between Father Nils and Lucien hasn't boiled over into one side settling. Both sides are forced to mostly terrify each other with acts of insurgency that wage open war, because whoever wins will be overexerted and tired with no mercy from the Greenskins.
Gildemeister Nazril Gudrunsson
is a Dwarven merchant with a passion for his heritage and a hatred of monsters and other miscreants. He's in love with his own power and refuses to let it go, almost to the point of paranoia. He's attended by a solid retinue of his own people and makes his home in Lusstadt, overseeing commerce more than performing princely duties. His land is his business and he expects people to act as such, deferring and demurring to his economical overtures. His big weakness is he is a compulsive note-taker and often doesn't clean up after himself, needing to rifle through his various charts and graphs and notes at a moment's notice. His other big weakness is his tendency towards mercy in secret.
Nazril's lands are economically wealthy. Lusstadt is a Dwarven ruin repurposed into a fortified city, a stronghold with a choke-point on the river. If there's one complaint he has, it's the local witch all the humans keep relying on for lousy magical mumbo jumbo. If Nazril had his way he'd just pitch her into the river and be done with it, but it would be more trouble than it's worth to put her down. He also lays claim to a stone quarry at 1/18, a gold mine/stronghold at 3/15 on the river, one of the local markets at 9/18 and a silver mine with a man who makes remarkable shoes at 16/19.
Holy Father Nils Borshevsky
was a good local boy, once upon a time. It's not like his religion changed him into a bad man. He just learned at a young age that Sigmar purifies the wicked as their souls leave their body, and when faced with the brutal ways of life in the Border, decided that the best way to spread his message would be to rule. Nils is a genuinely nice man, which is a problem when you lead a religious cult. His word is his bond and he treats all people on his land as his equals (and expects the same in turn). Sure it's kind of a problem that he wants to rule all of Lus. Yes he's actually secretly an extremist zealot and not just a faithful of Sigmar who set up shop in an impoverished land to help people. But his eyes are open, his mind is clear, his cause is just and his heart is full of love. Plus he's got a good sizable cult that waits on him hand and foot.
Nils doesn't have a town but he does have the prime grazing territory in the land. He resides in a pleasant stronghold at 13/3 that also functions as his church and training grounds for his soldiers. 12/6 is the miracle that told Nils to make this land his own, a well-spring of magical energy that heals the sick and invigorates the faithful. 14/8 is a lead mine and rather unremarkable. 16/6 is his dirty little secret in the area: a small village of cultists sworn to Khorne. Nils vaguely knows of them and their cause but he also knows two things. First, the love of Sigmar will help cleanse their terrible souls and it's his duty to love the sinner and hate the sin, keeping them isolated. Second they're more than willing to fight that dirty Bretonnian fuck Lucien-Etienne Champlain and why not use them and hope Sigmar purifies them as they die in battle against his enemy. If not him, the Orcs, he needs them for the Orcs. He'll get rid of them one day when they've outlived their usefulness.
Lucien-Etienne Champlain the Exalted One
didn't really have the chops to make it as a knight so he became a mercenary instead, making coin in the Empire as a sell-sword and picking up other disgraced kin as he went. Not a noble, not a knight, not a Merry Man, not much of anything back home, Lucien wants to claim this little slice of the world for himself and his men. He is Inscrutably Bretonnian to a baffling degree in his rule, relying on foreign social mores and conventions with a smile in his eyes as you falter for the right gesture. But he is a...relatively honorable man, his word worth its weight in gold until he's crossed (like that stupid inbred Sigmar-loving fuck Nils done did, by the Lady). He's catered to by a large retinue of his countrymen (and women) who do their best to keep his fear of apples in check. Nobody is sure why
he's afraid of apples, but cider is certainly banned (much to some consternation). He's also an agent working directly for the Lady's courtly affairs to keep an eye on Bretonnians abroad but that's on the down-low.
Sudlusstadt is Lucien's fortress, his rock. A stronghold with a choke-point built on top of a quarry suitable for building stone, Sudlusstadt does business with everyone in the region who needs anything sturdy built. 11/18 and 12/10 are iron mines under his control, though 12/10 is his favorite due to having a solid chokepoint and recently discovered veins of tin that are getting him excited for new revenue. 14/11 is his other pride: a local village with a competent armorer working on weapons and protection for his men. These assets provide him the solid edge he'd need to take out Nils once and for all...but those Orcs are there...eh, perhaps later.
Countess Hanna Hakonsdatter
was raised a long ways away from the Border in a land of spraying saltwater and blood. A headstrong girl by their standards, Hanna was taught to hold an axe before she could walk, raised to be a Knight of Chaos and plunder. Her first raid was spent promptly going AWOL to live anywhere else
and not deal with a life of deprivation and despair by murdering the captain and capturing the boat. Thankfully her crew thoroughly agreed and with the little Imperial tongue she knew (mostly taught to her to help her raid better) she demanded land for her people. Was this shitty scrubland? Yes. Was it warmer and safer then home? Also yes.
In theory Hanna is still a thrall of Chaos, a deep-cover agent who is furthering their insidious goals and begging for their help. In execution she's more of an Easter and Christmas Chaos cultist and has been trying to break the habit of swearing with their names. Hanna is friendly to her subjects, obsessed with acquiring more capital and completely amoral, sticking only to the creed she was educated under: live to survive. She is also an absolute glutton, possessing little to no self restraint after years of hard training and starvation. A few years of being able to eat more and live more have softened the iron of her upbringing and helped cool the fires inside of her, filling the hungers inside of her with constant nourishment somewhat recklessly.
There's not much to Hanna's lands; a lot of her crew were allowed to roam wherever they saw fit. She resides in a stronghold at the base of the cliffs at 5/13, occasionally telling the Beastmen and Mutants to get the fuck back into the forests and leave her alone. At 7/11 she's got the area's sole gunsmith, keeping her soldiers in better arms than what they had both home. And they need them, too: the big source of money in her lands is found at 10/1, a dungeon. There's something down there and there's money down there. She hasn't found either yet. But anyone willing to give it a shot can find themselves armed with a gun in no time with a pack of food on their backs.
Tsarina Anastasia Nikita Antonina Devora Kristina Petrov
is pretty sure a Tsar is supposed to have a long flowery name and she's working on adding more. She was in the cavalry for a while before she realized the real money soldiering was found in banditry, and a little greasing of the social wheels helped her coax her unit into padding their pockets with plunder. Soon she and her riders were attracting more and more members until they became a cartel that wasn't really wanted in her home country anymore. So they set out to somewhere warmer...and found a ton of absolutely nothing in their new home and four new neighbors with axes to grind. Anastasia is a bit soft-hearted when it comes to "innocents" and as such her army is full of women and children making a home among her roughnecks. She's also a firm believer in individualism, eschewing traditional courtly politics and doing what thou wilt but ruling morally. Unlike the other Princes, she has a code she tends to actually adhere to. The main thing that's a point of contention is her open door policy...that applies to her bedroom and boudoir only. Her subjects understand she's a libertine but she walks a very strange line between being a free spirit and being incredibly unprofessional. It's all absolutely consensual, of course, but then a lot of people wonder if this means they're a thing
and then are even more confused when she moves on to the next paramour without really talking about it with them.
Lusdorf probably wouldn't have taken off if not for her cartel being a couple thousand people strong and the discovery of marble in the hills. They also have a potter, which is handy. Both allow them to make high quality goods to carry to markets and sell them as Authentic Kislevite Marble and Pottery before they're in turn sold down-river into another province. Her other asset is at 6/5: a witch from the old country who has decided to stick to tradition and live in the hills with a community.
these operate all along the rivers for the most part in the places that are livable but not claimed.
- 15/13: the regional coal mine which makes a killing being the "local" mine.
- 16/9: an independent market that promises to treat all principalities fairly.
- 16/15: a local stronghold that prides itself on not taking a side (for now).
- 16/19: another witch.
- 17/8: a small training chapter of Templars who are the people actually helping keep the Greenskins in check by educating neophytes on combat against them.
Oh boy here we go.
Fundamentally it all comes down to the war in the region between Nils and Lucien when a dispute between the two of them lead to Nils converting some Bretonnians to his faith at sword-point. Things got worse from there. It turns out it's easy to have politics when only one Dwarven merchant owns the lands.
dislikes Anastasia because of something a relative of hers did 40 years ago. She has no idea what's really going on there but he's planning on extracting his repayment from her and hers to cross it off the book. Been a while since he's had a proper Grudging.
hates Nazril because the independent market has been doing better business with him over her. She deserves recognition and appreciation, damn it. He's got his own fucking market. It's not fair.
has the hots for Nils wife, which makes him incredibly
uncomfortable to share a border with her. It's not that he's got a problem with her libertine behaviors (he legitimately doesn't have a problem with her pansexuality); love the sinner and hate the sin and such. It's that he knows she doesn't keep people around long, but this crush has been going on for a while
and neither party has any idea how to broach the topic because Anastasia doesn't particularly care for the Father himself. Could this be resolved by talking to his wife? Probably.
doesn't really have much of a problem with Hanna right now. Things are calm between them. There's just general friction because he's got more of the grazing land.
thinks Hanna is a decadent bitch who needs to learn some self control. Liking things is fine. Having things you like is good. But the Norscan is just indulging in some downright conspicuous consumption and it reminds Anastasia too much of home. Hanna, in turn, doesn't need some self-righteous nymphomaniac telling her how to live her life.
As for the war itself, it's mostly Nils and Lucien occasionally doing horrible things to captured members of the other province to send a message of strength. Lucien has the power and armaments and defenses but likes having Nils as a bulwark against the Greenskins. Nils wants to push hard but doesn't want the Greenskins to sneak up on him and destroy his flock. Nazril wants nothing to do with either side: Nils is a maniac capable of atrocities and Lucien's arrogance has soured their business relationship. Hanna doesn't think much of Nils for now but is terrified of Lucien's martial prowess; she was a raider, yes, but he's had a more disciplined upbringing when it comes to war and knows more than she does. The only one who has any real interest is Anastasia. She likes the cut of Lucien's jib and likes the way he commands an army and would love to have that kind of relationship with her men. That said, it's less "I'll join this conflict!" and more "god I wish that were meeeee...".
And one day a band of adventurers will inevitably throw this entire ecosystem out of whack!
God I love random tables. This was good. This was stimulating. This was fun to do over the span of two days I had off. But.
1: the layout is bad. God it's bad. There's so much flipping.
2: the explanations for the bonuses is lacking when it comes to running tallies and god don't make me keep this math tracked, please.
3: some of the formatting and presentation could be better.
4: I'm not statting out every single homestead, hell no, god no.
Will I ever use this for a Warhammer game? Yes. Super yes. The initial map construction is fun.
It's incredibly satisfying to take a 20x20 map and fill in all the wonderful little dots and build a realm and then pit a bunch of people against each other therein. And I actually do like the monster aspect, even if it's swingy. The ruins are good for flavor but rather one-note. Instead the atmosphere really shines when it comes to the villages and who has what to sell or which special feature. The towns are also a great aspect, as is the fact that you can have multiples based on random rolls. So I would use this again but I would have to cut some of this way the hell down and maybe set up a better spreadsheet ahead of time.
...also this could have all been shorter but I am absolutely extra and in love with my own words, so you got a stupidly intricate political assessment and backstories for all of these replaceable fools.
Orcs, Vampires, and an Angry Ulrican
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Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 2e: Renegade Crowns
Orcs, Vampires, and an Angry Ulrican
I also happened to find this book in my local library's DnD section yesterday.
I'm terrible at making up names in fake-German, so sorry. I made up generic fantasy names for everything.
The Bleak Hills
are aptly named. This region consists of a fertile river valley flowing to the coast on the west, and a whole lot of hills and mountains further east. The mountains at least are forested, and there's another freshwater river coming out of a lake up in the middle of the mountains.
is the only town in the region, at the delta of the western river. It's a natural center of trade and the closest thing to a bastion of civilization in these parts. It has the region's only market, and is a natural hub of farming and commerce, but suffers for a lack of other nearby resources. It is, however, the domain of Princess Aurora
a Bretonnian questing knight who got found out, exposed as a woman, and chose exile. She's brought a bunch of knights errant with her, and they rule out of Tradewind. Aurora is a basically honorable woman, but while she's incredibly good at killing things and has access to a number of armored knights who are also really good at killing things, none of them know much about how to actually rule a land. Aurora's chief advisor, who she relies on to do all the actual running of Tradewind and its surrounding communities, is secretly a cultist of Tzeentch and not the priest of Myrmidia he claims to be. Aurora being Bretonnian, she doesn't know Myrmidia from Grugni and lets him do whatever the hell he wants. The advisor knows about the same mysterious ruin on the outskirts of Aurora's land that Erik below is interested in, and has been trying to persuade her to send an expedition in.
Captain Harald Kronn
is the ringleader of a large bandit gang that runs the hills to Tradewind's north and northeast, in the shadow of the mountains. These hills have a lot of natural resources, mainly mineral, but the farmland is awful. Kronn's gang has mostly made their living raiding Tradewind's farming communities, but the arrival of Aurora and her knights has made that problematic and Kronn is reconsidering his options. He's decided he wants an alliance with Aurora, she can provide the people to mine the hills and provide some protection. The problem is, Kronn is is incredibly greedy and self-centered. He's always gotten by far the biggest share of the loot in his gang, which he gets away with because he's really quite smart and clever, and he's gotten it into his head that taxing people might be more productive than just robbing them. But unless Aurora makes a deal with him, he's stuck rustling cattle and robbing passers-by.
Kronn's alternative is an abandoned dwarf-hold in the hills, which he's steered clear from since losing a lot of men to dwarf defenses in there. Kronn's sure there must be priceless treasure down there, but the one dwarf he got to read the inscriptions on the hold said the hold was abandoned due to pestilence, and Kronn's canny enough to realize that that might be a problem.
lives up in the mountains proper, and his people guard their secret source of fresh water jealously. Erik, no last name thank you very much, is a man with a problem. Everyone knows he's a wizard, and take his paranoia about anyone discovering his secrets as a matter of course (plus they really want to hide the fact that they have one of two reliable sources of fresh water in the region). Thing is, Erik is not the Amethyst Wizard from the Empire that he claims to be. He is in fact a fully fledged Necromancer who once aspired to become a Von Carstein, but inadvertently severely pissed off his vampiric patron back home and had to run for it. He still wants to become a vampire so he can live forever, and conducts secret experiments on his people, claiming that the... results... of his experiments are beastmen raiders. People believe him, and Erik thinks he's getting close to a solution: there's an old Strigoi ruin down in unclaimed territory near Tradewind. If he could only get at the trove of arcane knowledge inside, he might very well achieve his goal.
Lady Elena Karl
is the last Prince in the area, and she rules the hills and valleys in the south and southeast of the region. The land's terrible for farming, but the pasture and grazing is good, and there's a lot of villages sprinkled through the area. Elena is a priestess of Ulric, exiled from the church in the Empire due to some violent disagreements about certain obscure points of theology that make no sense to anyone but an Ulrican theologian. Her infamous temper probably has a lot to do with it, though: Elena isn't the badass that Aurora is, but she's certainly up there and has a habit of piking the heads of people who disagree with her. That being said, her people don't seem to mind. She gives them good government, she's organized a decent militia force, and so far she's kept them safe from the greenskins to the north - she was more or less made prince when she saved a village from an orc attack. She's principled for an Ulrican, and dreams of driving the greenskins out of the Bleak Hills for good... and then conquering or vassalizing everyone else.
Why doesn't anyone settle along the eastern river out of the mountains? Orcs, and lots of them. They have free reign of the north and east of the region, and it's mostly a matter of luck that they haven't overrun Erik's mountains or Elena's pastures. They don't have a strong leader, and inter-clan rivalries keep the orcs divided and occupied fighting each other. If they do unite, though, the whole region's in trouble.
There aren't many ruins in this part of the not-Balkans, but those that are, are concerning. This land was once ruled by the Strigoi vampires and the dwarfs, and for a time they managed to coexist relatively peacefully. Until one Strigoi got it in his head to turn dwarfs into vampires, and started with the main dwarf hold in the region. It was even looking to work, until a high priestess of Valaya cried out to the goddess, and the goddess responded with a terrible plague on the infected and the Strigoi responsible. A whole lot of killing later, and the dwarfs and Strigoi mostly wiped each other out. The surviving dwarfs abandoned their hold, inscribing warnings of plague-bearers (vampires) on the hold's entrance, and trapping the hold extensively against any surviving vampires. One Strigoi survived the fracas, too, and still waits in her former capital for her subjects to come back.
Should Erik find the ruins and reach the old Strigoi, he quite likely will become a vampire himself. Meanwhile, Kronn has the issue that the pestilence in the abandoned hold works quite well against all non-dwarfs. If he presses too hard into the tomb, the whole region could be in danger. And of course the Chaos cultists in Tradewind would dearly like to uncork all of this.
The region's surprisingly light on monsters beyond the orcs and vampiric creatures lurking around the old Strigoi ruins, though. Most prominently, some pegasi live up in the mountains in Erik's land. He pays them no mind, but if Aurora learns about them, she'll probably want one.
Aurora and Elena are loosely allied, mainly on the principle of fuck greenskins. If the orcs do attack, they'll probably join together to try to stop them, and Elena's been trying to convert Aurora to Ulric's faith. Given Aurora's bitterness about Bretonnia, it's working. Aurora's advisor really hates this, naturally, and is trying to have Elena assassinated.
Aurora and Kronn are more or less at peace, on the basis that Kronn does not want to fuck with a Bretonnian questing knight and her buddies, but Aurora refuses to have any formal negotiations with a mere bandit.
Aurora and Erik also are informally at peace, for the moment. Erik actually knows that Aurora has a Chaos problem under her nose and has been trying to warn her about it, but Aurora doesn't trust him because death mage and male mage.
Kronn and Erik hate each other, and the absence of open war between them is mostly because of the intervening terrain. Erik is genuinely attracted to Kronn, but Kronn was horrified at a death mage guy who's way too into studying the undead and firmly told him no thank you. These spurned advanced, coupled with Kronn's habit of raiding into Erik's territory, has lead both to treat the other as kill on sight even if they're not actively trying to destroy each other.
Kronn and Elena have recently become very standoff-ish with each other. Kronn used to graze his horses in the lands that are now Elena, but Elena has told him on no uncertain terms to stop unless he can guarantee his men's behavior. Converting to Ulric would be helpful, too. Kronn has taken these demands as a personal insult, and their border is very tense.
Erik and Elena despise each other. Erik sees Elena as a bloodthirsty barbarian, and Elena distrusts arcane magic of any kind intensely.
If Erik succeeds in his plan to become a vampire, there's a pretty good chance all three neighboring princes would unite to destroy him.
This time will be different!
Original SA post
Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 2e: Renegade Crowns
This time will be different!
So, you want to seize power. First, start by asking yourself why you want to do this. Is the Prince a dick? (Probably) Do you think you're significantly better? (Unlikely) Do you just really, really want a good excuse to wear a crown and refer to yourself as 'we'? (Valid)
Now, start by asking yourself how you want to do this. You have three general options outlined here, though these are far from the only ways you could become a Border Prince. These are treason (extremely popular, perhaps even the regional favorite), assassination (significantly less polite treason), and actually being a big hero such that a settlement asks you to become their Prince when they didn't have one (alternately, forcing the settlement into terrified acquiescence, but shush). You may notice the latter is significantly tonally different! The issue is that the former methods could get you a Principality that has a town and castles and shit, while the latter gets you a single unaligned village to start with. That isn't to say there aren't benefits to the latter; it's the easiest and safest method of becoming Prince. It just leaves you in the weakest starting position, surrounded by outside assholes who want to murder you. As opposed to the other methods, which leave you surrounded by internal assholes who want to murder you and a realm that's wondering who the hell you are and why you're giving it orders.
You're in for a rocky road whichever one you take. But you wanted to be a Prince.
Treason is actually significantly more involved than you'd think. It isn't simply betraying someone. To betray someone, they need to trust you to begin with. This is less impossible than you'd think, despite the region: A Prince has to trust someone
or they're not a government at all. They can't run the 'country' by themselves. They need ministers, trusted warriors, marshals, bailiffs, and all sorts of other officials. At this point, your PCs are probably Tier 3 or so (or far into Tier 2) and are the kind of people who can solve serious problems. Convincing the Prince that they need you isn't easy, but it's step 1. Convincing them you're loyal takes time and patience, and several adventures fighting on their behalf. You also have to deal with other courtiers who may not know you're trying to become the Prince, but DO know you're trying to become High Justicar of New Altdorf and are super pissed off about that. These people will try to see you discredited or killed in the process, and may even falsely accuse you of treason (you haven't actually committed any yet! How dare they jump the gun!?). Navigating all this is an adventure in and of itself, as is laying some groundwork and making friends with other courtiers. It actually takes a lot of effort, time, and advancement to set up a smooth betrayal.
Perceptive players might also note that by the time you are in position to betray the Prince if you're doing it properly, you're actually in a high position in government that may have significant perks even as you aren't the number 1 target for every ambitious climber. Stopping here might not be the worst idea, depending.
I appreciate the book reminding the GM that if you're at the point where you're in position to move on the Prince, by all likelihood they don't actually know the PCs are planning to betray them. Having a prescient Prince suddenly turn around from awarding honors and rewards to the players to just 'knowing' they're plotting their downfall would be a bit of a dick move. Some of the scenarios for moving on the Prince are neat: If the players dump the Prince into a fight they can't win, the game suggests switching things around and having the GM play the Prince and their bodyguard while the players take control of a monster encounter and try to kill them, thus letting the players be directly involved even if the PCs only got the ball rolling. In general all the adventures do a great job of keeping the focus very firmly on the players and their decisions. Still, the primary aim in this phase is to get rid of the Prince. You can't become Prince if there's still another Prince, that'd be silly. You can also frame the Prince, or maybe even actually discover the Prince is a Chaos cultist or something. But whether they are or not, successfully finding and manufacturing evidence to accuse them of being such is just as good as assassins.
At the end, your position (and even if you become Prince) depends as much on the groundwork as on the big dramatic 'deal with the Prince' stuff. If you have allies, no direct enemies, and the Prince went down fairly smoothly, you waltz in, you're crowned to great ceremony, and your trouble gauges both start at 0. Your enemies abroad are impressed with your political acumen and you intentionally set things up to have relatively few opposition figures at home. Good job. Long live the Prince!
However, if you still had enemies, they rush for the throne and you now have an adventure revolving around civil war or even just a big brawl in the throne room. People who don't think they can get the throne NOW flee to try to grab it later. If you let them get away, or only drive off all your foes in this phase, your trouble gauges start at 10 External (they might flee to enemy courts) and 20 Internal (there are major figures to organize opposition around). This is Bad. Don't let them get away with opposing you! If you stop them and let them live, trouble starts at 10 and 10, because you're seen to be somewhat weak for the region. Who overthrows a Prince and then doesn't crush their enemies at court? Major regional faux pas. Killing them brutally or publicly starts you at 5 External, 10 Internal. You may note that making an example of the people who opposed you only helps with the foreign audience; people at home will grumble just as much. This is because a lot of the brutal options in these adventures only actually impress your enemies, who are obsessed with the destructive and nutty idea of 'strength' popular in the region.
Killing the Prince without doing any groundwork leads to the court trying to pick a successor without realizing you were even in the running. This leads to needing to fight the entire court. Not doing your homework is very bad for seizing a principality! If you fail but control the castle, you immediately face a 25 point Internal Trouble as the escaping courtiers rise in rebellion while having a 20 External score because your enemies rightfully recognize you as kind of slipshod murderhobos who bumbled into the throne. If you kill the entire old court, that's actually pretty impressive but also tremendously weakens your realm, so you start with 15 on both trouble gauges. Do your groundwork! Do not attempt to seize power without setting it up!
If your GM is a
large fan of Richard the III, the Prince can have a child heir when you overthrow them. Until the heir is dealt with, rebels use the heir as a rallying point and make the important threshold of Internal Trouble 15 instead of 25. If you become excited for party times and throw the heir a dagger party, however, you are a total bastard and have also committed one of the few crimes even the Border Princes don't shrug off; if you're caught or connected to the murder of a child heir, your Internal Trouble goes up by 30. Immediately. This also happens if someone proves it (or even just credibly suggests it) later on. Probably at the worst possible time. There is no winning in the child heir situation. It is presented solely as a sort of 'hard mode'.
You might thing assassinating the Prince is very similar to Treason. It is, in many ways. You still need to do your homework and set up the murdering properly, as well as prepare yourself to seize power in the aftermath. But the difference is primarily in not becoming a courtier. You instead become guards and servants at the castle, plotting to poison the Prince and annoying members of the Court (or stab them after smuggling in armor as a laundry worker and swords as a cook) and befriending the rest of the castle staff. The idea here is to have the 'little people' ready to take over at your command, rather than taking over via the court. You can alternately prepare to coerce some useful members of the previous court, but functionally the eventual adventure is pretty similar to Treason but riskier, with less required groundwork.
If you kill the Prince and have some dirt on the right people, you come out of an assassination at 10 and 10. If you get into a fight with the old court and win (without killing everyone), you come out at 15 External (realm weakened) but 5 Internal (No-one left to oppose you, and the locals don't care, those were just courtiers). In general, it is actually better to have External than Internal problems, so this might even be to your benefit. If you actually kill the entire Old Court in open combat, though, you scare the hell out of everyone and start at 0 and 0. People who can just...get into a castle and win a pitched battle with the guard and the hardened warriors who make up a Border Prince court scare the hell out of everyone. How the hell did you do that? That's nuts. If you kill every noble via careful poisoning and assassination and name the servants your new court, you start at 0 Internal Trouble (people like this!) but 25 External (The other Princes can't just let the HELP take over a castle!) and immediate foreign crisis.
Finally, you could actually just become Prince of an unclaimed area. This can even happen by accident, with a village proclaiming the PCs their lords after they rescue it from some terrible danger, at which point it's up to the PCs if they want to make the
decision to accept the crown they are so graciously offered. Alternately, they ride into an unclaimed area and start actively working to convince people they'd be a good choice, helping with matters of justice, throwing money around the community, and fighting monsters until people realize it might be good to have these lunatics move in. PCs who are trying to muscle into an area and 'convince the locals of the benefits of a Prince' by force may have to maneuver local leaders out of the way and will have a tougher time. In general, this method is going to involve the least villainy, as it does not inherently require any treason or murder. As above, PCs might simply be offered the crown at a time when the PCs want to try running a Principality but didn't want to put in the time to overthrow any other regional Prince yet.
The nice part is if you take over smoothly by popular acclaim, the people start at 0 Internal Trouble. The bad part is the other Princes think you're weak and need to be stamped out before you unite more independent villages or threaten any regional towns. Thus, you start at 20 External. How well you did at convincing people to let you rule switches up how bad the Internal Trouble is to start; killing the local mayor and priest because they said you were bad starts you at 15. Negotiating down opposition starts you at 10, because you did talk them into it, but you had to talk them into it; they're still grumbling. If you got rid of the local leaders quietly but don't have many friends, you start at 5. People can still point to things getting a bit weird when you came around. You are, naturally, better off starting this kind of adventure with the consent of the governed.
You may notice taking power requires a lot of work and adventures! It's meant to be a serious objective that takes real effort. Principalities might have high turnover, but they don't have that
high of turnover and often the last Prince was someone who was capable of pulling off all this bullshit against the last
last Prince. They are not necessarily fools. They are also not omniscient, though, and they need servants, courtiers, and aides. From hence, you can slip in and put a knife in their ribs. And of course, no-one's going to manage to get the drop on you the same way. This time, it will be different!
Next Time: IT'S NOT DIFFERENT AT ALL, IS IT, HANS!?
A little death in a little swamp, using tables
Original SA post
Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 2e: Renegade Crowns
A little death in a little swamp, using tables
Most of this was done by the book, with only a few rerolls. We've got: two feuding siblings locked against each other, one looking to Tzeentch for answers and the other just getting weirder. A bandit wandering in and deciding to be the best dashing rogue ever, with the help of Slaanesh. And last but not least, a Tilean noble who came in with a solid plan to get rich, is following through perfectly, but is probably the most doomed out of all of them.
is so named because of the swampy ground dominating much of the area, though that is not the reason anyone cares to live and kill there. In a region of arid plains and rocky hills, underground springs break out from the hills and have created a shallow valley filled with woodlands and grassy pastures. Between the hills, plains and swamps, this is an oasis in an otherwise inhospitable land which has drawn increasingly ambitious waves of settlers looking for a better life. Many of the current settlements were built and protected by the Bretonnian warlord Jean Terrehaute, who took the long view and decided to build something to be proud of. Unfortunately for his legacy, heirs Amanda and Reginald are still squabbling over the realm that he built.
Rolling gave me 9 Barren Hills, 150 Barren Hills, 26 Barren Plains, 100 Scrubland Swamps 56 Forested Plains, 160 Barren Plains and a Whirlpool. All those Barren Plains and Hills makes the area quite dry and rough, and the Swamps are just nasty, but the Forested Plains are pretty prime territory. The Whirlpool demands the inclusion of a River, so that helps explain the presence of the woodlands and swamps in the middle of an otherwise dry region. There's not much rain in this area but the Hills are the source of underground springs that have greened the lower reaches of the hills and spawned the River, which goes on its way before becoming a broad Swamp. This is borderline uninhabitable and very difficult to march troops through, so the Swamp makes a natural barrier in addition to the River and the extensive Hills. The smaller patch of Hills gets thrown in at the border between the Plains and Swamps, a very unappealing patch of rocky ground that hasn't had natural springs make it fertile. Petit Mousillon is a little patch of green in between mud and rock.
The oldest major ruins is the Khemrian fortress of Ashpar, sinking silently into the muck at the center of the swamps formed by the Blue Fountain river. Nobody is quite sure what it's all about, but a band of skeletons periodically emerges from it, plows through the swamp in an orderly march, and eventually returns about a week later. Although everyone agrees undead are bad news, the area is borderline uninhabitable and the patrol route hasn't changed in decades, making it easy to avoid. The disquieting part is that people still ocassionally go missing, and some of the undead seem to be zombies, rather than ancient skeletons.
Ashpar is still active, in a sense. The undead are obviously ancient Khemrian soldiers still on patrol, but what the local rulers are missing is that any humans they kill are brought back and reanimated as reinforcements by a long-forgotten ritual. An ambitious and unscrupulous lord could learn a lot about necromancy from this ruin, or even try to take control of the undead.
Only two ancient ruins rolled, and the first is a typical Khemri fortress, housing a Weapon. I put it right in the middle of the swampland on the river, so imagine huge stone ruins jutting out of the water. Back in the day the watercourse would have been different and the area well-maintained with canals and flood control, so the whole region could have been lovely fields and pastures instead of stinking swamp. There could be the remains of roads and other structures around it, but it's been thousands of years since they were repaired.
The other major ruin is the old Arabyan fort-city of Ghazi, perched on the dry hills overlooking the river and swamps. Long overlooked by settlers due to the inhospitable terrain and distinct possibility of vengeful Arabyan ghosts, it's only recently gained more than the passing treasure hunter. Although still uninhabited, the lands around it are being built up by Brando, the heart of what could be a new empire in these lands. Brando is planning to send explorers into the ruins, both to make sure it's completely safe and to bring out any treasures.
Ghazi was razed in war after the summoning of a great daemon of Slaanesh. The daemon remains locked beneath the ruins, forgotten for centuries. Since Brando's arrival, it has been influencing him and others with dreams of glory, and tainting the water supply with euphoric passion. It's gone unnoticed amid the general frontier optimism, but with years or decades it could cause mutations or madness.
The second ruin is an Araby Fortress, housing a Daemon, and destroyed by a Military Attack. Since this would be built well after Ashpar was abandoned, the swamps would have expanded and made the region much as it is now. A commanding position on the high ground just outside the swamps, overlooking the river and the Frothing Mouth whirlpool is a fairly decent place for a watch post, and if the aquifers are accessed there will be no shortage of water for a growing community. The Daemon makes the end of the city more dramatic, presumably the inhabitants turned to Chaos and were destroyed by their neighbours while binding a daemon for some purpose. On the surface the ruins appear ordinary and empty, but beneath it you have a classic dungeon of traps and whatever else got locked away with the Daemon.
Below Ghazi in the river is the most perplexing feature: the Frothing Mouth. The otherwise placid river becomes incredibly turbulent as it approaches the hills, eventually becoming a whirlpool. This inexplicable wonder of Manann might be impressive, but it renders river passage impossible. There's no apparent solution, so river cargo has to be ported overland, making the teamsters very happy.
The Whirlpool makes the region just a little bit more inconvenient, since it means you can't sail the length of the river. Ghazi was built overlooking it and any portage goes on here. It might be purely natural, or it might be related to the Daemon under the city.
Captain Amanda Terrehaute, Grand Hauteurs
Elder daughter of Captain Jean, Amanda took to the sword and bow as readily as her father. His untimely death at the hands of Greenskins left his land without a designated successor, and as the eldest and most martial Amanda leapt for the role. Based out of her father's keep at Semillon in the north, Amanda's lands consist mostly of the fair forested foothills and riverside. Although small, the land of Grand Hauteurs is easy to defend and run for the aspiring tyrant, who runs the realm similarly to the military company her father raised her in. Despite her best efforts, she has been unable to beat her brother Reginald. Her father, a consummate tactician and student of war also invited an order of Myrmidian knights to his realm, who were willing to assist him in building a peaceful, martial kingdom. They insist on keeping out of her feud with her brother and would only fight humans for a very good reason, preferring to build their forces for a campaign against Greenskins and other monsters. Amanda is driven to distraction by having an entire corp of skilled knights who refuse to actually serve her, and wishes she had the political skills of her brother to get everyone moving in the same direction. The Myrmidians are even sitting on one of the prime river crossings, helping enforce the stalemate with her brother!
Secretly, Amanda has fallen into the worship of Tzeentch, struggling to find any scraps of forbidden lore that might give her an edge against her brother or anyone else, with the ultimate ambition of becoming a powerful witch, or perhaps just immortal. The Khemrian ruins at Ashpar are her current project: if any place has ancient lore, it's ancient ruins. Putting an end to the undead emanating from the ruins is an easy enough public justification, but she's unwilling to throw away good soldiers on what could well be a pointless deathtrap.
Our first Prince is a Bretonnian Mercenary with the following: This power is mine, What’s that, Follow your instructions, Chaos Cultist, Moral Rule. So, she's quite invested in being a Prince, has no real compunctions about doing terrible things to stay in control, doesn't brook dissent or questioning of orders, worships Chaos, but has at least one strict rule she won't break (yet). A bloodthirsty Khornate is a bit passe, Slaanesh can't be everyone's favourite, and Nurgle doesn't quite fit. So she's into Tzeentch, hoping to get access to secrets and powers beyond her own limited mundane means, whether that's battlefield success or ascending to a higher form. Progress is slow because she's no scholar, doesn't know who to trust, and is stuck in an isolated backwater, but that just means she has to try harder. Maybe she'll get to grow up to be a Chaos Lord or Daemon Prince someday? Adventurers could quite easily end up working for her, since she acts professionally, appears to be on the winning side, and will pay them well for investigating the Ashpar ruins.
Grand Hauteurs is a fair but small realm, Semillon is an extremely good town with 2700 people, a Stronghold, Copper Mine and Smith. There's only one village and four notable Homesteads, but Semillon and one of the Homesteads have Templars as well. This must cause quite a bit of stress for Amanda, being a Chaos Cultist and all. She NEEDS to get rid of them or subvert them one way or another, but one wrong move will have dozens of pissed-off holy warriors tearing her apart. She could send them against the Undead or Greenskins, but it's unlikely that Myrmidians would get themselves trapped and destroyed so easily.
Emperor Reginald Terrehaute, Exact Hauteurs
Younger son of Captain Jean, Reginald learned the aspects of the court better than his sister. He managed to use his influence in court to 'steal' the southern and western reaches of his father's domain, twice the size of his sister's share but also twice the headache. Although the forests around Beaujolais are good land, the farmsteads scattered around the swamps and hills to the south demand his attention as well. He refuses to abandon the people under his charge, but patrolling such a wide and treacherous land is extremely taxing. The sudden arrival of Jonas the Spider snatching away his northern march was the greatest disaster since he crowned himself, and he isn't sure if he can win out against both his sister and this new aggressor. Still, he has loyal soldiers and loving peasants, and is willing to let his enemies make a mistake first.
Reginald is extremely stressed and in over his head. He's developing strange habits and beliefs, but every setback just makes him dig in harder to defend 'his smallfolk'.
Reginald is a Politician, and because he's Bretonnian and (via relationships) has an Inheritance Dispute with Amanda it gave an interesting possibility that the two were directly related. Amanda emulated their warlord Mercenary father, while he learned politics and realm management. He's got Give me liberty, or give me a moment to run away, Save the children, I wouldn’t expect you to understand, Strange Hobby, and Religious Fanatic. He's not cruel or greedy, but running a spread-out realm while fending off attacks isn't doing him any favours. He's trying to keep everything together, but there's too much to do and not enough soldiers to cover everything. He expects a terrible fate if his sister captures him and genuinely wants the best for his peasants, so he's focused more on survival than glory. While he might be the most qualified person to administer Petit Mousillon, everyone else is against him and adventurers probably won't back the losing horse. He's also the most likely to be attacked by two of the Greenskin hordes, which could cause the Myrmidian Templars to come to his defence, even though they technically work for his sister.
Exact Hauteurs is almost twice as large as Grand Hauteurs, but all that extra space is Hills and Swamps. Land is land, but a couple of extra shepherds and frog-catchers don't quite make a realm. Beaujolais is only 1900 people, but there are four Villages and five Homesteads. Two of the Homesteads are Strongholds, so his father left him a couple of small keeps or fortified towers that he's been using to stay alive. He also has the largest village of all at 270, which is unfortunately infested with Cultists. He really can't get anything good, can he? Overall he has a good economic base, his subjects like him, but he's politically isolated, militarily overwhelmed, and is have a bit of a long-term mental breakdown due to everything going wrong. And he doesn't even know about all the daemons and cultists yet.
Margrave Jonas, Free March
Jonas the Spider rolled into Petit Mousillon over a year ago with his train of bandits and refugees, fleeing an unfavourable situation elsewhere. Arriving from over the inhospitable hills, he raided deeply into Reginald's lands, capturing the headwaters and a large amount the forests and hills that once belonged to Reginald. The idea of settling down a bit and ruling as a benevolent tyrant appeals to him, since it seems like a bit less work than desperately looting farms and running away from angry warlords. He only has a small realm of scattered foresters and shepherds, but the Free March has an old keep to serve as his palace for now. The isolated vale seems to have attracted other unusual groups, as he also 'obtained' a Shallyan-run hospice and a small order of ascetic Verenans. He's not entirely sure what to do with them, but is very proud of having such unique people in his domain.
Not only is Jonas a bandit warlord, he's also an aspiring Slaaneshi cultist. On one of his patrols through his land to personally inspect everything, Jonas encountered what the local shepherds called the 'Wishing Glade'. This otherworldly window showed him possibilities and dreams that he had never considered, all his if he just worshipped a new, loving god. Growing from his personal aspirations, Jonas doesn't wish to destroy and despoil everything to satiate some vice. He simply wishes to possess all of Petit Mousillon, have everyone acknowledge his superiority, and prove that he's simply the best Prince in all the world. This will probably change with time, but for now he's just an exceptionally ambitious, heretical bandit lord.
Jonas is an Imperial Bandit, the perfect man to suddenly appear in a situation when you least suspect it. This fellow has Marvel at my wondrousness, Save the children, Honestly, you’d embarrass a snotling, Chaos Cultist, and Compulsion. Is everyone a Cultist or Daemon around here? He's getting Slaanesh because wealth, glory and luxury are all things a bandit aspires to, and a brutish Khornate jerk is no fun at all. He's actually more principled than the more civilised Amanda, and he's got strong delusions of being a genuinely great ruler if only everyone else got out of the way. He's slaughter anyone who tries to stop him, of course, but he considers everyone under him to be more like treasured children or possessions, to be protected and nurtured.
The Free March, as Jonas has whimsically named it, takes up the northern end of the river valley and forests, plus all the surrounding hills. There is no Town, but two Villages and six Homesteads, making it quite undeveloped compared to his neighbours. I imagined it as him suddenly invading Reginald's lands from behind, snatching up all the places he could before running out of steam. One of the villages has a Stronghold, which suits him quite well as a home base. The other Village is tiny, only 40 pop, but contains Hospital likely run by Shallyans. There's also a Homestead which is a Monastery, another a Weaponsmith, and a family of Cultists. Another Homestead has a 'Magical Effect', which I took to be a weak spot in reality that inspires dreams and visions. It just so happens that it gave this guy a faceful of Slaanesh, and he's very easily influenced.
Baronet Brando Davagio, Novi Torri
The Tilean explorer, adventurer and gentleman Brando Davagio had recently arrived in the area as well, bringing with him the biggest changes since Jean Terrehaute's generation. Following scholarly study of the Arabyan ruins that had been overlooked till now, he deduced that the city of Ghazi could not normally thrive in such a place, and searched for aquifers and wells around the city that could still be used. It was possible that Ghazi was built on and added to older Khemrian designs, but that was immaterial to the fact that a previously barren landscape could be turned into a green paradise.
Using all his wealth and influence in Tilea to bring forth colonists and materials, Brando has built his new city of Cometo on the hillsides, naming his land Nova Torri and spreading his grasp across the plains. With the underground springs watering the crops, rich veins of minerals being discovered, and growing control of the Blue Fountain portage, Brando might well come to overshadow the other Princes in the region. His peasants are certainly happy to have a safe and stable home, and he's even begun drawing peasants from elsewhere in Petit Mousillon through sheer reputation. Overall, Brando is very happy with the ease at which he is amassing power and wealth.
Brando is a Tilean Knight, and is a man with a plan. He's got Money can too buy happiness, Death to monsters, Let’s get to business, Foul Murderer, Religious Fanatic. I take this to mean that he's really pragmatic and no-nonsense, here to get wealth and power at any cost. He's got a strange interpretation of the Myrmidian faith which might have encouraged him to leave Tilea, and might cause problems with Amanda's Templars should they find out. The Foul Murderer secret is a bit tough to figure out because he's otherwise pretty sensible, but perhaps it ties into the Death To Monsters feature. Brando could have come across a settlement with mutants or a cult, and he overreacted a little and had hundreds of innocents butchered just to be safe. Unfortunate then that he and everyone else in Cometo is bathing in Daemonic energy!
Besides Cometo as the biggest town (2800!), there's two Villages and eight Homesteads. The settlements in the hills have Stone, Tin and Lead mines. Although the map says it's all barren, he's taken advantage of Ghazi's springs and aqueducts to irrigate fields and supply his people with water. Since he's separated from everyone else by swamps, there's not much risk of conflict and wants to consolidate his power while the other three headbutt each other. A mysterious Wizard has set up shop in his northernmost territory, claiming to be studying the Ashpar ruins and the undead. Brando is fine with this, and hopes that cooperation will lead to the Wizard working for him more directly in future, particularly if there's something mystical under Ghazi (there is).
Two villages and a number of homesteads are in between allegiances, either predating the modern borders or having fallen out of control due to the recent political changes. One village possesses a Copper Mine and is growing rich from it, while the other is secretly home to a Chaos Cult.
Sure are a lot of Chaos Cultists around here!
Amanda and Reginald really quite hate each other. Though siblings, they won't rest until they have taken or destroyed the other's lands.
Bitterness/Stolen Inheritance - This inspired the whole political situation and joined the two characters as siblings.
Amanda and Brando respect each other, seeing the other as tough and clever enough to survive in these lands.
Respect/Cunning - Brando sees Amanda as the proper heir, being older and more martial. Amanda doesn't see Brando as a threat, rather a buffer against threats to the east and a potential ally.
Brando and Jonas have secretly entered an alliance, despite being completely separated by the Terrehautes. Should one face a serious existential threat such as invasion, they will aid each other. This might also develop into a shared campaign against Reginald.
Alliance/Diplomacy - They have little in common, but they are both recent arrivals. While they're establishing themselves and assessing the potential dangers of the region, they might as well promise to help each other.
Brando has naught but contempt for Reginald, seeing him as a delusional and weak leader who's already lost much of his lands.
Contempt/Military Defeat - Brando simply doesn't respect Reginald, and would prefer to see Amanda and Jonas finish the job.
Jonas is an interloper into the Terrehaute situation, but he's not making the situation easier by publicly falling in love with Amanda's boyfriend Maxi. It's making the diplomatic meetings very uncomfortable.
Envy/Beautiful Consort - Amanda is too busy and driven to get distracted right now, but Jonas is entertaining ideas of love and grand romances. Perhaps Maxi is feeling neglected by Amanda, who's getting increasingly distant as she tries really hard to become a wizard.
Jonas has made his current goal the capture of Reginald's remaining lands, or at least the good parts. They deserve a better ruler, really.
Envy/Vast Wealth - Jonas simply wants what Reginald has, very simple and direct for a Bandit. If he takes much more of Amanda's inheritance then they might come to blows.
Three independent hordes of Greenskins have appeared on the horizon recently. The Squigfangs are the smallest, and have set up to the east of Brando's lands. They are content for now to raid travellers, particularly on the river where there's nowhere to run. The Backsnappers and Morkgang are to the south, and it's not clear whether they will attempt to destroy each other first, or just get straight to raiding. Either way it's likely to end poorly for Reginald.
These mobs are about medium-sized, big enough to require a proper army response but not too big to effortlessly roll over a Prince. If two of them combined that would be a big problem, but they might just wipe each other out or wander off in different directions. They're still the biggest and most obvious threats to Petit Mousillon and could cause the political situation to change massively.
A reclusive hippogriff has been spotted in the south of Exact Hauteurs. It seems content to snap up goats and sheep, so the shepherds have given the area a wide berth. Reginald takes it as a good omen, and (perhaps desperately) a guardian for his southern border.
A giant flesh-eating monster isn't ideal, but this one isn't too aggressive so Reginald is fine with leaving it in place. The Greenskins might want to try to eat or tame it, and Amanda might try to obtain it for a ritual.
A daemon clothed in the flesh of a possessed victim was accidentally summoned in an isolated swamp village, and now rules the terrified survivors like an angry god. It's only a matter of time before it strikes out to expand its dominion and makes itself known to the local Princes.
This roll initially gave a single Gor beastman. Not very impressive! A reroll gives us a Daemon, but it's not trapped like the one under Ghazi. It has to be able to exist in the material world, which would imply it's possessing an object of some kind and manipulating people, or wearing someone as a suit and causing carnage more directly. I prefer the Edgar Suit version.
The Khemrian undead from Ashpar are simply following ancient patrol routes around a land that has long-since turned swampy. Killing anything they encounter, the recent settler effort has given them a few more fresh recruits.
This mob of skeletons and zombies directly inspired the type of 'Weapon' in Ashpar. They don't even have a commanding officer Khemrian, they just patrol and bring back intact bodies.
Brando is content to sit out the current conflicts and build power, but Greenskins could ruin his ambitions. Uncovering what happened at Ghazi could lead to the unleashing of the Daemon within, while leaving it untouched will all but certainly lead to the destruction of his realm via madness and mutation. He's also a little interested in the Ashpar ruins, but it's well beyond his present concerns.
Jonas is most interested in conquering Reginald's realm and becoming a 'Real Prince'. As a bandit he's already on thin ice, but should his devotion to Slaanesh be known both Reginald and Amanda would stop fighting to get rid of him, and Brando wouldn't honour the alliance. He's not as careful as he should be, and will probably accidentally reveal himself at some point.
Amanda's attentions are split between war and lore, and wants to uncover what's in Ashpar. She'll do almost anything to succeed, and is likely to become more of an overt tyrant. It's unlikely, but it's possible she could actually find some dark artifacts or learn some kind of magic. Far more likely is frustrating failure, and potentially mutations. If it were to become known that she's a Chaos cultist she would almost certainly be deposed, unless she can get rid of the Templars breathing down her neck.
Reginald is the most likely to suffer and fall. Faced by Amanda and Jonas, two Greenskin mobs, and a growing Chaos cult, he's most likely going to be executed and his lands split up between conquerers.
The various Chaos cults and the actual Daemon walking around are all unaware of each other for now, but as borders shift and secrets are uncovered, they're going to be forced to act overtly.
Family squabbles, a cursed land, and the single unluckiest priest of Ranald around
Original SA post
Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 2e: Renegade Crowns
Family squabbles, a cursed land, and the single unluckiest priest of Ranald around
The Sjkarny River Valley is cursed. Let's not pretend. The valley runs south west; rich in game, fine timber, and fat fish jumping along the river. An escarpment running the length of the valley holds the forested hills four hundred feet above the barren wastes - and the greenskin encampments - of the badlands below. Yet every attempt to settle it has ended in failure. The ruins of Tilean expansion are scattered along the valley, each a monument to the Sjkarny's cursed nature. Giovanas was covered by a landslide. Vessertulli was hit by plague. Sariane was a bustling metropolis, until the day that all the townsfolk vanished without a trace.
The natural resources of the Sjkarny River Valley have proven too tempting for Tilea to stay away. The twin Princes Leonardas and Lucretia Cancio have come to claim their birthright in the valley. Their grandfather, Giovanni Cancio, was the founder and Prince of Giovanas before it was destroyed, and both twins believe they have the right to these riches.
has raised a new town in the heart of the valley, which she has dubbed Precipenanza
. The town is already sizable by the local standards, with nearly eighteen hundred people making a home there. The local bees, the Sjkarnymehek, create a particularly pure wax, and the candles from Precipenanza are prized as far away as the Reikland. Lucretia is considered a down to earth Prince, preferring to cut out small talk wherever possible. She comes from a mercenary background, and has no problems with the idea of hiring ne'er-do-wells to clear out the small greenskin encampments nearby. She quickly loses her temper if anyone mentions the old ruins that litter the valley, and an absolute rage if anyone dares bring up her brother. She is currently curious about an old dwarven ruin that has been found in her lands. It is guarded by four animated statues that crush anyone who comes nearby, and Lucretia is convinced that anything with that sort of defence must contain some serious wealth.
has long since been banished from the valley proper. He and his inner circle of ruffians, cutthroats, and thugs have taken control of the village of Sesselschein
and the homesteads around. Despite being little more than the leader of a bandit crew, Leonardas claims to be the true prince of the Sjkarny valley, and constantly schemes to unseat his sister. The old ruler of Sesselschein, Maria Bennuci, has sworn herself to Leonardas' service, but he is unaware of her true master - the Chaos warrior Nikolas the Unborn. Through Maria, Nikolas has been slowly corrupting Leonardas, seeing in the bandit prince a potential servant of the Raven god. Maria has introduced Leonardas to the local art of tatooing, and his body is already dark with ink. As Leonardas sleeps, the various tattoos of warriors, emperors, beasts, and birds that adorn his frame whisper in Nikolas' voice, slowly giving Leonardas instructions. Nikolas craves access to the nearby tomb of a long dead chaos worshipper - and the fell weapon contained within - but the daemon that guards it would kill far too many of his mutant followers.
To the north of the valley, where the Sjkarny river splits into a vast swampland, Captain Boris Serchenko
has raised the stronghold of Valley Watch Keep
. Boris is here for one reason, and one reason alone - to cast down the works of the Cancio family, and wreak vengeance that has been brewing for a hundred years. The Serchenko family were the original owners of the Sjkarny valley, until the Tilean expansion drove them away. Boris was a soldier in the armies of the Empire for nearly forty years, man and boy, and has returned to his native soil as a Knight. He is honourable, brave, and utterly dedicated to taking the valley back over the dead bodies of the Cancio twins. Even if they surrender. The swamps surrounding Valley Watch Keep are infested with greenskins, with several major camps constantly raiding the few villages that cluster fearfully around the keep.
The final major settlement in the Sjkarny valley sits where the hills rise into mountains, and the river runs strongest. It is the only surviving settlement from the early expansion, with nearly three thousand people, thick walls, and a thriving market. An Amber wizard has made her home in the town, alongside a hospital run by dedicated Shallyan priests. It is the town of Hassalburg
and it is run by the single 'luckiest' Ranaldan priest in the border lands. The Holy Father Marcus Flaus
is barely an initiate into the priesthood, taking only the barest steps into the first career he's embarked upon. One day, two years ago, he challenged a stranger to a hand of cards. After a bad run, he found a perfect hand. He went all in, and the stranger raised him and offered the deed to a town in the border lands. Marcus won, and the stranger was true to his word. The rulership of a large, prosperous, town with a happy and productive populous. Marcus isn't a fool, and knows that this is clearly a set up. He doesn't know if the stranger was a drunken prince, a seer, or Ranald himself, but Marcus knows that there's something bigger at play. He's convinced the locals that he knows what he's doing, but he's on the look out for someone - anyone - who can help him work out what is going on, who set this up , and does it have anything to do with the cursed reputation of the valley. He doesn't have any contact with the other princes yet, but if any of them find out the truth, they'll almost immediately invade. He'll be honest with adventurers, attempting to use an honest face and a genuine desire to do the right thing to convince murderhobos to help him out.
The last of the princes isn't, not really. Boris is correct, the Serchenco's have long been the masters of the valley. Myca Serchenco
has been the prince here for longer than anyone else. The strigoi vampire lord claims no one town or village of his own, but instead travels the valley in search of prey. Canny adventurers that discover the vampire may blame it for being the originator of the curse, but Myca is generally defensive of any human that lives inside the valley, considering them his personal herd, and has been attempting to hunt down the cause of the curse himself. Adventurers that approach the strigoi with openness about trying to uncover the curse will find a strange but potent ally.
The ruins of Giovanas, Vessertulli, and Sariane
are all built on excellent sites for settlement for the aspiring town builder. But, well, curse. The landslide that hit Giovanas is still there and is strangely animate; swelling like a tide with the moon, rising and falling to crush those that get too close. The dead of Vessertulli have failed to stay dead, and hundreds of zombies and a dozen packs of wolves that fed from the dead still roam the area. Sariane is filled with several thousand bees, all of whom are violent and - for some reason - completely fireproof. The Amber wizard in Hassalburg is known to avoid the Sariane ruins at all costs, and refuses to answer any questions about them.
In other news, this is the best book and I am so glad I bought it tonight.
Why did you want this?
Original SA post
Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 2e: Renegade Crowns
Why did you want this?
So, rather than cover every scenario concept in detail (they're about what you expect: Popular issues, betrayal, war, conquest, building new resources, etc) I'm going to talk about the scenario design, the trouble gauges, and the overall structure of a Prince campaign.
First: There's a lot of really good advice about intrigue. The most important part is that no-one is omniscient, and everyone has to trust someone because it's completely impossible to rule alone. No-one has that shittiest of tropes, The Impossibly Vast and Clever Spy Network That Knows Everything. Princes know they live in a dangerous and unstable land where someone in their court is probably plotting to take the Principality, but they can't cut themselves off from everything or avoid trusting anyone
because if they do, they've effectively already put themselves out of power. This is important both for your PCs betraying a Prince if they go that route, but also for remembering that they still need to trust and give jobs to members of their court, soldiers, etc. You cannot run a Principality alone, but the fact that you can't firmly trust anyone is part of why the region is a shithold of constant turnover and war.
Similarly, I like one of the ideas on betrayal adventures: It's fine to open with the players getting blindsided by an assassination attempt or something. But if you go that route (rather than a longer route of hinting and showing signs that they can spot and prevent the betrayal), the attempt will be deeply flawed or outright fail. The idea being that it's okay to start off with an unseen assassin throwing a knife at a PC who had no warning they were there...as long as that first knife misses and then the scene becomes an exciting escape scene or clues the players in that there's someone trying to kill them and kicks off a WEB OF INTRIGUE. The game should always be about the players' decisions. It's fine to have an in-character perception that the players only narrowly escaped totally unexpected assassination while the players know out of character that they're not going to get shot in the back without a chance to see it coming.
Second: The idea of STRENGTH is killing the region. The concept of the Strong Ruler who brutally kills all their enemies and rules with an iron fist is an ideal in the Border Princes, and it's basically
why they're ungovernable because trying to live up to it causes your province to fall due to internal pressure while trying to ignore it outright will cause your province to get swarmed by outside foes who think you're 'weak'. You aren't actually an absolute ruler, and while the regional ideal is to act like one as much as possible, doing it will get you killed in the long run. At the same time trying to avoid it too much leads to you getting swarmed by people who misread Machiavelli and who hate you. One of the best examples of this is in the Popular Dissent adventure, where every Agitator you convert to supporting your regime gets you -2 Internal Trouble, a serious boon. Any you kill or imprison gets you +1 Internal Trouble. But every one you kill or imprison gets you -1 External Trouble because it's what impresses foreign courts. The astute among you will note that tradeoff is NOT WORTH IT. Focusing too much on appearing strong to fend off foreign trouble will get you overthrown in the long run. At the same time, you have to find places where you can afford it or else you'll be facing constant warfare.
Third: Theatricality fucking matters. What you do is actually less important than what people think of what you do. For instance, if there's a rebellion in your lands and you decide to carefully investigate and make an effort to get the actual ringleaders and not hurt anyone else? Even if you miss and get the wrong people it still makes you more popular, because people are surprised you put in the effort (and a lot of them assume you must have gotten the ringleader), plus you still killed someone over it so you don't look weak. If your PCs declare themselves equal co-rulers and princes, you take +2 trouble an adventure on both gauges because you 'look weak'. If you declare one PC prince and then RULE as equal co-rulers but only one of you is actually called a Prince, no problem. People in this region care a lot about the appearances of your actions. There's always a ritual at the end of each major crisis where you have parades or festivals or elaborate ceremonies where you forgive a settlement for rebellion to let them know they can stop worrying about reprisal. The appearances of your actions matter a lot
, and perception often matters much more than reality.
Four: This does not apply when an actual Courtier rebels. If one of your Courtiers rebels to need to A: Get the right person and B: Kill them. Getting the wrong person leads to the traitor being emboldened to one degree or another by getting away with it. Showing mercy to a rebellious high official makes others think it's safe to come at you. While you will need to balance perception and reality with the common folk and rebellious settlements, if your High Justicar or whatever tried to poison you, you need to hang them. You don't get much room to let them live unless you really
need that person. You also need to actually show actual evidence or you start to scare your court. Acting arbitrary is another really good way to get everyone to sharpen the knives. When your real officials start turning on you, you need to find the right person and you need to apply the same kind of force they're trying to apply to you, but you also need there to be a consensus that yes, that person really was a traitor or you start making people think they'd be safer with the arbitrary Prince dead. Reality DOES suddenly start mattering more than theatricality at this point.
Five: You always want External over Internal trouble when possible. Solving Internal problems often only treads water on the External, but winning External adventures very well tends to resolve Internal troubles, too. While brutality shows off for your foreign audience, winning foreign adventures really impresses the people at home. Winning External crises with the best results will stabilize your realm. Sometimes you might even want to bait a neighbor into thinking you're 'weak' so you can punch them in the face for respect.
Six: You are probably going to fail and you won't get much out of being a Prince. You are kind of meant to wonder why you did this most of the time. You might survive it, but it's intentionally very hard to keep the trouble gauges in order and requires long strings of highly successful missions, as well as choosing the right trouble to have. You don't really get much from your renegade crown besides being able to say you have one. The general intention is that eventually, no matter how hard you fight, you will probably lose your crown and move on, wiser and wondering why it was ever so important to you. It IS possible to keep power, just very difficult by design.
One of the things that bugs me a little about the structure of Renegade Crowns' Prince Campaign is that there is no end point. I know this by design, and part of what the (very simple, but for what they're trying to do, effective) Realm Management system is trying to say is that there's not a lot of chance that you're going to be the guy or gal who manages to build a stable state here in the shitty Fantasy Balkans. But it would be neat to have something for players who beat the odds: An End Game Crisis or something. The Thing in the Ruins stirs, or the Greenskins cross the river, or even a neighboring real state notices you've done well and walks in to take your work from you and add a bit of the Border Princes to their actual borders. I just get kind of bored with games that are 'dodge the falling knife until you don't' without any kind of conclusion planned. 'Rule until you can't' risks getting dull as a campaign structure if the players hold on long enough.
I do like how much mileage the game gets out of a tremendously simple Realm Management system. And I really like the focus on player decisions. I'm still not a huge fan of 'victory points' design in RPG design, but this is one of the best manifestations of it I've seen. It IS possible to hang on, just very, very difficult, and I wish there was a little on what to do at the end of a Princes campaign where that happens. But in general, the scenarios section has a lot of good advice on handling these kinds of adventures and keeping it very focused on the PCs and their decisions. The culture of the region and the way the obsession with 'strong rulers' is corroding any chances of actually building stable states here also comes through in the rules, simple as they are. Brutality (or the appearance of brutality) is necessary to hang on sometimes, but it isn't always the right answer, either. The vicious 'pragmatist' who always chooses it won't do any better than a just and honorable person. Like I said, this isn't a land where evil triumphs because being good is dumb. This is a land where evil is dumb as hell, but thinks it's brilliant
. So when people try to be better, the vicious brutality guys try to drag them back into the dirt with them.
Renegade Crowns is a very odd book. There's nothing quite like it in the rest of the line, and the focus on creating your own land and the new Prince campaign structure is a simple but interesting way to try to do what it does. The most valuable part of the book is definitely the subsetting generator; it's a huge amount of fun to play with and it produces a lot of wild, fun results. It's a good example of how to do 'good' randomization in a game, and recognizes it's using it as a writing prompt, not a strict guideline. The book also mostly explains its own systems well and has a great teaching example of how to generate a region. I really enjoyed my time with this book and I wasn't expecting anything out of it. I can see where it could be a disappointment to people expecting a ton of good, evocative fluff for a filled in and fun pre-made setting like they got with Bretonnia and a lot of the other books in the line, but producing Pferdekrieg was really fun and produced material I intend to use in my games, which is one of the biggest criteria for an RPG book being good or not.
This was definitely better than Warhammer Companion! I certainly wouldn't rate it as highly as Knights of the Grail or Tome of Salvation, but it opens up a neat new way to play Warhams and I think this was a much better way to do this region rather than trying to write a detailed Border Princes setting. It really emphasizes how anyone and anything could be here, and that gets at another of the fun aspects of Fantasy: The way everything can mix together in weird ways. You want to have a dishonored Dreadlord from Naggarond trying to be a shitty Border Prince? A Chaos deserter? Losers and edge cases from all over the world? People from far off lands? It's all possible and the game will try to help you make your weird and memorable edge cases. Anything is possible in your very own, special shitty borderland half the size of Rhode Island!
Next Time: Rats In Hats OR Waylaid By Jackassery: The Return