D&D 4th Edition Strongholds, Followers, and Domains in 4e


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    Strongholds, Followers, and Domains in 4e

    The last thread I started on Stronghold/Domain rules has pretty much drifted into dealing entirely with 4e assumptions, so I figured I'd move to appropriate forum.

    This post is a summing up of the brainstorming on the other thread, filled out a little bit to provide a broad framework to continue the discussion.

    Stronghold, Stronghold Components (Dungeon, tower, etc) and stronghold rooms will be similar to magical items. The stronghold itself, and various special rooms within the stronghold will provide site-based places of power which give some sort of in-game advantage similar to a magical item.

    Followers:

    Followers will be divided into four types

    1) Hirelings - Followers who can cast rituals or perform various non-combat services that are similar to rituals. You pay these followersfor each service they provide.
    2) Henchmen - These followers actually follow you on adventures, with a build and powers similar to that of the beastmaster ranger. Divided by power source into 4 types - Squire (M), Apprentice (A), Acolyte (D), and Initiate (P). Probably better as a paragon path.
    3) Servant - Basic staff and guards that simply exist and provide no mechanical advantage to the player aside from performing mundane tasks in the stronghold.

    Domains

    The domain will resemble an artifact, in that it provides benefits to you the more effort you expend to attempt to improve the realm and curry favour with the residents. The focus of the domain rules will not be on ruling the domain in depth as the primary focus of the campaign. It will be a rules light version of Birthright which can be handled at the end of a session after the ordinary dungeon crawling adventure is finished.

    Some concepts ported in from Birthright:

    Domain types - Fief, Guild, Faith - Fief rules assume you govern a particular land holding. Guild assumes you have a commercial (or illegal) interest under someone else's power. Faith assumes you are a spiritual leader of a burgeoning religious sect that recognizes your authority.

    Second in Command - Every domain has a Regent (or Seneshal or Vicar, or Vizier or whatever) who can substitute for the character when he is away from his holding. This character is assumed to be able to handle all mundane threats or problems that affect the domain.

    Domain Action - Reference to an event that affects the domain. Sometimes it is a boon (new gold, new follower etc.) sometimes a crisis (lost gold, lost follower etc.) You can choose 4 responses to an crisis that strikes your domain. You can personally intervene, send your regent to intervene, send a hireling to intervene, or ignore the problem. Each has a chance to solve the problem, though with decreasing probability of success.

    Realm Actions - Actions the player can undertake by spending gold or directing his forces to respond to a crisis in the realm (see above) or to improve or curry favour with the domain. These might include granting titles, building fortifications, opening trade routes etc. The Regent is assumed to handle these actions when the character is not available to do them personally.

    As said previously, in depth rules dealing with the maintenance of a domain or waging wars of conquest can be handled with expansions to these rules focusing on those specific types of campaigns. So rules that will be avoided will include those on espionage, undermining other realms, bloodlines and succession, building cities, or directing armies on the battlefield.

    Anyone see any problems with the above broad framework for the rules thus far, before we start talking about how to fill in the specifics?

 

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    So a character might have the fief domain "Edyne" (which acts as an artifact) and the King's Castle stronghold (which acts as a magic object), and these two elements are separate from each other, right?

    I ask because artifacts tend to provide static bonuses while magic items usually provide a circumstancial bonus plus a daily power. So there would a separate track like the "daily magic item uses" for strongholds?

    Also, how might pricing a domain and determining whether it is heroic/paragon/epic work? My gut is that there is no pricing and it's up to DM discretion, and the more fantastic the domain the higher level - so a temple in the local city would be heroic, a temple surrounding a font of life might be paragon, and a temple with a gateway to the Astral realm of the god might be epic?
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    Yeah, I would think really fantastical domains would be Epic. Not sure a domain in general seems terribly appropriate to a Heroic character, but those kinds of things are really just guidelines anyhow. I would think of it like a lower level domain, like a manor might be considered level 10 or possibly a bit lower. So maybe a 5th level character could conceivably have such a domain.

    I don't know anything about Birthright, but I have worked up fairly systematic rules in the past for costs, income, etc for properties. I have some OLD material too, like all the Judges Guild castle construction stuff, which was pretty good. That provides basic numbers for labor and costs and construction times for fortifications and similar stuff.

    At some point we had also worked out some other things, like what the value of a field, a forest, a pond, etc would be. How many people are required to make it work and what incomes you could expect.

    I think the idea of treating a domain in a general way and approaching it like a 4e artifact essentially is pretty good. I would just call it 'approval'. There could also be morale for followers and various options for controlling the population. Like get them to like you, get them to fear you, get them to fear something else more than you, etc. Fief, guild, and faith should work pretty well. I think that covers the various possibilities pretty well.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Quickleaf View Post
    So a character might have the fief domain "Edyne" (which acts as an artifact) and the King's Castle stronghold (which acts as a magic object), and these two elements are separate from each other, right?
    I was thinking so. After all, you might want a stronghold without a domain, such as the crotchety wizard who ignores everything outside his tower, or a stronghold that travels like a spelljamming ship.

    It is hard to imagine a domain without a seat of power though, and certainly building a stronghold should gain you some credit with the domain. If you raise a new castle in the area, it is going to grant you greater security for your power in the local area, as William the Conquerer and the Normans proved with Motte and Bailey keeps.

    I ask because artifacts tend to provide static bonuses while magic items usually provide a circumstancial bonus plus a daily power. So there would a separate track like the "daily magic item uses" for strongholds?
    The stronghold was going to have special abilities based on the rooms you had in the stronghold. They would be like wondrous items you don't actually have to carry around, so you can't go too crazy with what circumstance bonuses and/or daily powers you give those rooms. The key barrier will be cost, because we don't have magic item slots or encumbrance to keep people from grabbing as many as they can. So they are probably going to be more expensive than wondrous item of a similar power level.

    I haven't put much thought into what the domain would do for you if you managed it well. I guess one approach would be to have a "Power" rating which measures how well your subjects lover and/or fear you, and a "Prosperity" rating which measures how your domain is flourishing. So if you had a high prosperity rating but a low power rating, you probably lose your domain to ungrateful peasants. If you have a high power rating, but a low prosperity rating, you are a tyrant who has worked his peasants to death.

    What you would get for having a high prosperity or power rating? Access to the Mythic Sovereign (Dragon #367) Epic Destiny? A Sovereign Crown of power that is a true artifact in itself?

    Is having a flourishing kingdom enough of a reward in itself that is worth the trouble of running one? Can you gain income, or will that unbalance the game with excess cash?

    What should well-run domains reward a player with for all the gold and time he has put into it?

    Also, how might pricing a domain and determining whether it is heroic/paragon/epic work? My gut is that there is no pricing and it's up to DM discretion, and the more fantastic the domain the higher level - so a temple in the local city would be heroic, a temple surrounding a font of life might be paragon, and a temple with a gateway to the Astral realm of the god might be epic?
    Strongholds are easy, they are of the proper tier for the benefits each room gives. You'll know whether it is heroic, paragon or epic by its cost/benefit.

    I'm not sure what to do about domains though. For example, the Planeshaper epic destiny is obviously one way you might get a new epic domain, given that you are shaping the seed of a new plane out in the Astral Sea.

    I think I'm forced to agree with you. There is no real way to price out a domain and will have to come about because you have taken over the surrounding area. I think you'll have to assume that you are the "seed" for a new point of light.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AbdulAlhazred View Post
    Yeah, I would think really fantastical domains would be Epic. Not sure a domain in general seems terribly appropriate to a Heroic character, but those kinds of things are really just guidelines anyhow. I would think of it like a lower level domain, like a manor might be considered level 10 or possibly a bit lower. So maybe a 5th level character could conceivably have such a domain.
    I figure the expense of a stronghold will pretty much determine the level. But yeah, a saloon, abandoned monastery, or small moathouse might be the first stronghold they get in the upper heroic tier. They might keep it, they might expand it, or they might even sell it later. To prevent the PC's from simply selling off a lot off the keep, the DM will have to ensure that the value of the keep isn't placed too far above the treasure requirement of their level.

    It might also be the case that it might be some changes to the assumptions of 4e to make strongholds more enticing. For example, having a dwarven smith follower who can make you the magical weapons and armour that you want isn't that interesting if you can stroll down to the local "Magic Mart" and buy anything you want between adventures.

    At some point we had also worked out some other things, like what the value of a field, a forest, a pond, etc would be. How many people are required to make it work and what incomes you could expect.
    I think there is definately room for that style of play, but I'm not really thinking in terms of simulation with these rules myself. I'm putting the brakes on making up comprehensive rules because I'd like this stuff to basically take up about 10-20 minutes at the end of a session.

    If we look at the 3e Stronghold Builder's Guidebook, it has its problems, but it is pretty much as good as you can get for flexibly simulating a mundane stronghold. I'm going to take the approach that the mundane part of the stronghold isn't very important. So I'm not going to worry how many servants a castle requires, or how many peasants a manor takes, or how much the kitchen costs.

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    Right. I think basically it is up to the DM how much "paperwork" they want to do. If you have a castellan or something like that, then they basically take care of making sure you have the right number of peasants, etc. However even the "mundane" parts of a realm can act like "items" in a way. They can provide some money, give the PC a secure place where they can defend themselves, or even allow access to certain ritual like bonuses.

    I would look at the cost vs profit part of it like an investment. You acquire a domain and build a stronghold, all of which eats up a whole bunch of the character's money. From then on if they get an income from it, then they aren't really ending up necessarily with "more treasure" than they should. Possibly in the long run it would make them enough money to make them more wealthy, but at the same time they are going to earn that profit because they will have to defend their domain, etc, which is basically further adventures. Adventures where the treasure is "you can continue to own your domain and make a profit from it".

    Since the details are taken care of by your henchmen for the most part all the DM really has to do is consider that the domain pays for itself and disburse any profits above break-even as treasure.

    Once you get into the more fantastical elements as you're talking about, then those things are exactly treasure, just like buying magic items. I do like it because it provides a lot of plot hooks for players. It is fine when the goblin invasion is a threat to the town and the PCs go out and sort the problem, but it gets a LOT more interesting when the goblin invasion is threatening to overrun the PCs domain! Now they're fighting to keep their own treasure! Of course they can also make more when they win. Some of it can be in the form of the people love them and the domain makes extra money.

    In any case I see these things as a trade off for the players. They can subject themselves to more fiendish DM plots. In return they get a bit of money. The main thing is it should be balanced so that the PC with a domain isn't more important than the one who just wanders around the country slagging monsters for a living.

    It seems to me one way to deal with domain types is to base them on power sources. So essentially the domain types become just Martial, Divine, Arcane, and Primal. Within each of those the exact form of the domain can be fairly abstract and described by the player within whatever bounds the DM wants to set. So a Martial domain is pretty much an estate or something similar, or it could be a guild or something like that. A Divine one could be a cult or an order of religious knights and their supporting lands, etc. An Arcane domain could be a wizard's school. A Primal domain could be a tribe of nomads or a forest full of elves. Each one could fall under the classification of fiefdom, following, or guild/business. That gives you your quick rules classifications for how they work.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AbdulAlhazred View Post
    However even the "mundane" parts of a realm can act like "items" in a way. They can provide some money, give the PC a secure place where they can defend themselves, or even allow access to certain ritual like bonuses.
    I've been wrestling about how to handle taxation and the possibilities of human capital. Should an adventuring party be able to raise soldiers? I would answer yes, and assume that if you take them on an adventure you lose power


    I would look at the cost vs profit part of it like an investment. You acquire a domain and build a stronghold, all of which eats up a whole bunch of the character's money. From then on if they get an income from it, then they aren't really ending up necessarily with "more treasure" than they should.
    The money part is what really worried me. The 3e "stronghold builder's guide's" solution was to provide free gold with a "landlord" feat which allowed you gold solely for the purpose of building strongholds. However, this wouldn't work for my purposes, since my stronghold components grant player abilities. I considered taking treasure parcels and calling that the income a stronghold is providing, but that seemed to be taking away rather than adding. I also considered having treasure be given and taken away with "boons" and "crisis" events, but that seemed like it would frustrate those looking to get ahead.

    I think instead I will introduce a system of "realm points" that allow characters to do things like take extra domain actions, improve loyalty or morale, improve an asset, increase your population, or gain new followers. You gain realm points when you solve a crisis, invest in your stronghold domain, throw festivals, or gain a level.

    You get the sense of your domain growing, but rather than rewarding you it simply opens up more options for you to purchase. So with enough realm points you upgrade the stronghold, and suddenly you get more fantastical features that can be put in that stronghold. For example, Fergul the Conjurer destroys a kobold invasion of his realm, gaining enough realm points to upgrade his stronghold tower. Now he can purchase more powerful stronghold rooms or site-based magical effects that his old stronghold couldn't accomodate.

    It is fine when the goblin invasion is a threat to the town and the PCs go out and sort the problem, but it gets a LOT more interesting when the goblin invasion is threatening to overrun the PCs domain! Now they're fighting to keep their own treasure! Of course they can also make more when they win. Some of it can be in the form of the people love them and the domain makes extra money.
    That's really what I'm hoping everyone will get. In 3e, nobody really learned the names of any of their followers except for the one that was 1 level lower than the player and served as the player's sidekick. I'm hoping if that the stronghold and its rooms are treasure, they won't want to leave it unguarded and will appreciate what their followers will do for them when they aren't around (like fight off the occassional monster incursion!)

    So a Martial domain is pretty much an estate or something similar, or it could be a guild or something like that. A Divine one could be a cult or an order of religious knights and their supporting lands, etc. An Arcane domain could be a wizard's school. A Primal domain could be a tribe of nomads or a forest full of elves. Each one could fall under the classification of fiefdom, following, or guild/business. That gives you your quick rules classifications for how they work.
    I was doing the types of strongholds that would match by various classes, but I think you're right it would be better to do it by power source instead. The primal domain could be "wilderness" domain, so the four types of domains would be "Guild", "Fief", "Wilderness" and "Faith". Wilderness could be distinguished by the fact that it would lack a settlement or certain types of strongholds.

    I think you're right too that I shouldn't make domains any bigger than the stronghold, one settlement and 1-4 "assets" (mines, shipyard, halfling caravanserai etc.). That would pretty much restrict the types of things people would try to do with their holdings to local matters rather than playing kings and castles. I could see an expansion though where ruling a realm is the main story in the campaign rather than the sideline, and you would stitch these various domains and strongholds into a kingdom. Then you bring in rules for espionage, raising troops, conquering domains etc.

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    Finally popped over here from GD. I don't play 4E, nor am I familiar with the mechanics, so I'll just offer general comments. Like I said before, I'd like to convert this to 3E when it's done.

    Quote Originally Posted by ferratus View Post
    If we look at the 3e Stronghold Builder's Guidebook, it has its problems, but it is pretty much as good as you can get for flexibly simulating a mundane stronghold. I'm going to take the approach that the mundane part of the stronghold isn't very important. So I'm not going to worry how many servants a castle requires, or how many peasants a manor takes, or how much the kitchen costs.
    Yeah, that book did it really well, and I agree - if DMs/players want to delve into the minutiae of pricing, that's great, but I don't really care for it myself. Tell me how much the place costs and let me go at it.

    I've been wrestling about how to handle taxation and the possibilities of human capital. Should an adventuring party be able to raise soldiers? I would answer yes, and assume that if you take them on an adventure you lose power.
    Yes. I have rules for a network (used with the Gather Information skill), but we could adapt them to a militia. Pushing the network, for instance, would be akin to calling up the levies. You could also use Mongoose's Open Mass Combat System (available as a free download; I made a revised version).

    The money part is what really worried me. The 3e "stronghold builder's guide's" solution was to provide free gold with a "landlord" feat which allowed you gold solely for the purpose of building strongholds. However, this wouldn't work for my purposes, since my stronghold components grant player abilities. I considered taking treasure parcels and calling that the income a stronghold is providing, but that seemed to be taking away rather than adding. I also considered having treasure be given and taken away with "boons" and "crisis" events, but that seemed like it would frustrate those looking to get ahead.
    Just have any proceeds gained from the stronghold go into a special fund that can only be used to improve the stronghold/domain. That way, the PC(s) have their own gold for buying gear, making spells, or whatever, AND they have a separate fund for improving their home, paying followers, etc.

    I think instead I will introduce a system of "realm points" that allow characters to do things like take extra domain actions, improve loyalty or morale, improve an asset, increase your population, or gain new followers. You gain realm points when you solve a crisis, invest in your stronghold domain, throw festivals, or gain a level.
    That could work too.

    I haven't put much thought into what the domain would do for you if you managed it well. I guess one approach would be to have a "Power" rating which measures how well your subjects lover and/or fear you, and a "Prosperity" rating which measures how your domain is flourishing. So if you had a high prosperity rating but a low power rating, you probably lose your domain to ungrateful peasants. If you have a high power rating, but a low prosperity rating, you are a tyrant who has worked his peasants to death.
    You could adapt the Reputation rules from the PHB II (3.5, not 4E). I cribbed a set myself and adapted them for integration with my revised Leadership/cohort rules (they're variant 3.5, but I'll be happy to share them if you're interested). That's why I'm interested in this system - this would fit perfectly with that stuff.

    As your reputation increases, you'd gain more followers, more influence, and more power. This power could translate as material wealth, a better stronghold, and/or a larger/more powerful domain. Which just gave me a thought - have you though about domain improvements, as opposed to stronghold improvements?

    I was doing the types of strongholds that would match by various classes, but I think you're right it would be better to do it by power source instead. The primal domain could be "wilderness" domain, so the four types of domains would be "Guild", "Fief", "Wilderness" and "Faith". Wilderness could be distinguished by the fact that it would lack a settlement or certain types of strongholds.
    Excellent. I was going to suggest that you could have a domain without a seat (pulling out the ranger's forest as an example), but Abdul beat me to it.

    I think you're right too that I shouldn't make domains any bigger than the stronghold, one settlement and 1-4 "assets" (mines, shipyard, halfling caravanserai etc.). That would pretty much restrict the types of things people would try to do with their holdings to local matters rather than playing kings and castles.
    Agreed. Adventuring PCs should be no better than dukes (local lords); if they become actual rulers of nations, they should be more or less retired from adventuring, or in a campaign that focuses around politics and intrigue, not adventuring.

    I could see an expansion though where ruling a realm is the main story in the campaign rather than the sideline, and you would stitch these various domains and strongholds into a kingdom. Then you bring in rules for espionage, raising troops, conquering domains etc.
    I would love to see rules for that. D&D has been around for 30 years, and no one's ever done it (at least, not to my knowledge).
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    Oh, there were people that published whole rule sets for running countries, etc. I think Judges Guild had something, way back in the 70's. I don't remember exactly.

    However there are a few sources of SOME information of that sort. JG published a whole set of Castle Construction rules. Basically "how much does a tower cost" and "how many man-days does it take to build it" and "how many master masons do you need", etc. Given that 4e's gold really isn't significantly different than old DnD gold (costs for equipment are pretty much identical) the numbers work OK.

    It is designed for creating a "mundane" stronghold, but even the special magical parts you are talking about would still be essentially a mundane building/room/whatever with magical attributes. So the base cost could be the mundane part and then you just add in an X level magic item cost on top.

    I'm not sure why you need to keep gold in separate piles or use realm points. The way I envisaged it you could invest your gold in your realm and there would (at least potentially) be a profit. So if my character spent 1,000,000 gold establishing the realm, then maybe he makes a profit of 100k gold per year. Not a problem. He sacrificed 1 million gp worth of personal spending to get that income. Plus he's going to have to pass skill challenges or wipe out monsters, or fight with other domains in order to keep his investment. He could sell it, but nothing says he gets back full price. Maybe he will, maybe not, that's up to the DM.

    The stronghold itself, if there is one, I would think would simply be a cost center. I would just run that as an overhead. If the stronghold cost 100k gold, then it costs 10k per year to maintain it. That pays for the staff and building maintenance, etc.

    I think where the interesting part could come in is with what kinds of things you can do to maintain your realm (or possibly expand it). They would be different for each power source of realm, but say for a Martial Fiefdom it might involve tournaments, donations of money, paying scutage to a liege (or other taxes), etc. Again this would be the 'overhead' plus what you add to make the realm better. Failing to maintain the realm would be bad of course. Skill Challenges could be allowed in order to resolve issues specific to the campaign. Taking ten would be like letting your castellan deal with the problem.

    As far as raising armies and whatnot, that sort of stuff could fall under the skill challenge mechanism, as could fighting large battles. OTOH there are just a plethora of mass combat systems. Chainmail, AD&D Battlesystem, etc. Battlesystem had pretty extensive rules for costs to raise, train, and equip your army, and what kind of pay they would need as well. I would probably just use Chainmail as an outline of a combat system and rejigger the numbers to the 4e style of AC and HP and stuff. Not hard really. I already came up with a good rough outline a while ago.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AbdulAlhazred View Post
    However there are a few sources of SOME information of that sort. JG published a whole set of Castle Construction rules. Basically "how much does a tower cost" and "how many man-days does it take to build it" and "how many master masons do you need", etc. Given that 4e's gold really isn't significantly different than old DnD gold (costs for equipment are pretty much identical) the numbers work OK.
    They have similar rules in the 1E DMG - prices for every little thing down to arrowslits and shutters.

    I'm not sure why you need to keep gold in separate piles or use realm points. The way I envisaged it you could invest your gold in your realm and there would (at least potentially) be a profit. So if my character spent 1,000,000 gold establishing the realm, then maybe he makes a profit of 100k gold per year. Not a problem. He sacrificed 1 million gp worth of personal spending to get that income. Plus he's going to have to pass skill challenges or wipe out monsters, or fight with other domains in order to keep his investment. He could sell it, but nothing says he gets back full price. Maybe he will, maybe not, that's up to the DM.
    See, that's what I was thinking too - if he's a million in the hole, he's not going to recoup that money quickly, even if he's adventuring and getting income from his domain.

    I think where the interesting part could come in is with what kinds of things you can do to maintain your realm (or possibly expand it). They would be different for each power source of realm, but say for a Martial Fiefdom it might involve tournaments, donations of money, paying scutage to a liege (or other taxes), etc.
    That would be cool. I came up with some generic sources of income last night...

    Docks/shipyard

    Stables: You can raise/breed/train one or more kinds of normal or exotic animals (the more exotic the animal, the better the stable you need).

    Mines: Duh. Mines also lend themselves to monster incursions and finding lost dungeons/items.

    Farms/quarries/forest (wood): Again, this could lend itself to several types of challenges; a forest, for example, could be inhabited by evil (or not so evil) druids, fey, or others intent on not losing their home; a quarry could be the same as a mine.

    Livestock: The domain raises cattle, mink, or whatever for meat/fur/hide etc.

    Taxes: The stronghold is placed somewhere where it can collect tithes from travellers passing through (like a mountain pass).


    I think what we could do is start with the basics: types of domains and strongholds and where they can be located, then work up from there. We're just tossing out ideas to see what sticks, but I think having a base to work from will help us figure out what we need and what we can use.
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    Agamemnon: "Their process of building each edition atop the previous ones has resulted in 3.5 being the Michael Jackson of RPGs, desperately improving itself to ward off obsolescence but attaining only a kind of perverse lichlike state as a mockery of healthier games."

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