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D&D 5E Buying the Farm - Claiming the Ruin - Occupying the Dungeon


I've seen a tongue-in-cheek dungeon as a business operated by intelligent monsters (beholder, mind flayers and drow), where a young goblin was the main character in a solo adventure. The guy running that game made a cartoon story of the adventure. They invested various treasures and magic items throughout a dungeon full of traps, monsters, that are prepared by a crew (resetting traps, healing the injured monster threats through the place.) A success for them was when visiting adventures end up as TPK, those are the most profitable...

Had a group wanted to operate a tavern for a short while, it only lasted a couple sessions before all but one player got bored with it...

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Back in 1e my friend and I played a monty haul type of campaign that you do when you are 13. We played D3 The Vault of the Drow and we led a slave revolt, destroyed the various Drow Houses, and killed Lloth, so we decided to build a massive tower in the middle of the Vault. I am not sure why!


It's actually a common trope for a party to be given a stronghold, but it's currently occupied. In a 2E game we needed to drive out drow from an abandoned dwarven outpost because one of the PCs won the title to the property. What's funny is when we found the wine cellar, one of the players said "sweet, I start taking the good wine" followed by him mimicking taking bottle off the shelf and putting them in a bag. When I pointed out he was looting from ourselves he mimicked the reverse and everyone laughed!


CR 1/8
The Rules Compendium (of the old BECMI set) has the best rules every produced for this. Get a copy of that. Alternatively, the 3E Stronghold Builder's Guidebook is not bad and is newer. I can't really recommend MCDM's Strongholds and Followers as much as I want to: it isn't quite what I was hoping it would be and as a first outing for them it is a little weak.
That ought to be "Rules Cyclopedia", just for the record.

(I only mention it in case someone tries to google it, and since the "Rules Compendium" was a different thing (4e Essentials, iirc?).)

In my current campaign I included an abandoned adventurer's guild headquarters in a city where the party was going to spend some time, with the intention that after they did a few jobs for the town guard and convinced them that the town needed adventurers again they'd be offered the space as a base. Alternatively they might just hole up there without official dispensation, it was set up to be a location they would end up clearing out one way or another if they stayed on mission at all, and everything about it was set up to say "make me your base".

First day of the campaign I improvised that the reason the ruins of a wizard's tower I mentioned in passing had never been demolished was that the curmudgeonly wizard had implemented wards against members of the town government. The party had one brief exchange of "so wait, this is like a law-free zone?" and boom, random location I hadn't prepared anything for at all became the base. The abandoned Adventurer's Guild, which I bought a digital battlemap for, has never yet been visited.


I recall a time back in 2e days when we just finished killing he werewolf hiding in the swamp who had a small keep on an island, but there was some reason that insects did not come onto the island. My thief at the time thought it would make a cool place to create a hideout since it was not too close or too far from town and nobody came to the swamps, plus the lack is insects would make it bearable. No sooner do I say my intend, the DM comes back with a mosquito suddenly lands on my hand to bite me.

The adventure was cool, but by shutting me down, made me not want to keep up with that game. It was fine, but stuck with me.

There was another time with the same DM that we just reached high enough level and gained enough gold to want to create a temple to the dwarf gods and make a place for dwarves to gather. I drew maps of the place and got all into it. The DM created a dream sequence and when I woke up, I was on the windy mountain steppes looking at the temple I had drawn. The gods somehow created the place to match my plans and now left it to my PC to gather the dwarves.


One of the games I ran years ago saw the party becoming the owners of a tavern/inn after they trashed it so badly in a fight that the local magistrate required them to pay the owner more in damages than the entire place was actually worth... :p
The previous owner just signed the place over to them and took off for other parts, causing the magistrate to saddle the party with the responsibility of fixing the place up and providing for the employees whose livelihoods they'd wrecked.
They eventually became known as the town's "official" adventuring party, since they ended up owning not just the tavern, but a trading company, a smithy and some low-income housing...

They seriously couldn't manage to walk down the street in that town without somehow causing property damage...


Limit Break Dancing (He/They)
The Rules Compendium (of the old BECMI set) has the best rules every produced for this. Get a copy of that. Alternatively, the 3E Stronghold Builder's Guidebook is not bad and is newer. I can't really recommend MCDM's Strongholds and Followers as much as I want to: it isn't quite what I was hoping it would be and as a first outing for them it is a little weak.
You're not wrong; the Rules Cyclopedia was going to be my starting point if I ended up having to draft up a 5E version. It's not as detailed or "complete" as the 3rd Edition's Stronghold Builder's Guide, but it's a lot more straightforward...I feel like it would be easier to adapt to 5E.

I'm hoping I don't have to adapt it at all, though. Maybe someone out there already knows of a 5E-compatible resource?
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Of course players will take over property. They'll probably want to improve it too. I'm quite experienced with this by now. Happened in every campaign I have been the DM in. In my case it takes surprisingly little effort to manage.

The building, town
You probably have a map already. Hand over a copy to the players. Done. They probably want to rename it.

Fixing, expanding, improving

You can mostly just wing it. Buildings cost in the thousands of gp and takes months to fix. And good quality is a lot more expensive than a quick-fix. And getting stuff done quickly also costs extra.
But if major expansions are considered, or you deal with an entire castle, then "Fortresses, temples & strongholds" is convenient to read. Seems 5E compatible to me.

Let the players mark all changes on their own map, and ask for an update afterwards.

Traps & weapons
The players will likely want to protect their property with traps. And it wouldn't be the first time a ballista gets mounted on top of a farmhouse in D&D. As a DM you only need to check the costs and delivery times of that.

Costs of everything
The construction workers and craftsmen will want to get paid (partly) up front. Players will demand payment after completion. Do some haggling, and then tell the players that you as a DM cannot be bothered to keep track: So while you guys roleplay that some payment is done on completion, the full cost gets deducted from the character sheets immediately - to avoid bookkeeping. Again, no burden on the DM.

Managing the inventory (i.e. furniture, chests with stuff, decorations) should be done by the players. It's a nightmare for any DM to keep track.


In the game, personnel (i.e. the butler, the guards) can be treated as inventory. Top tip: Don't do that in real life, it's quite unethical.

Plot hooks

If you make anything - even a penny - disappear from their house, catching the thieves and retrieving their stuff is now priority #1. You can use that as a plot hook or side-quest, but players will see it as the new main quest.


A suffusion of yellow
some of the best fun Ive had was when the PCs acquired a manor which included open field system of wheat fields and orchards, peasant hamlets, pastural commons, a forest with a resident druids grove, a swamp occupied by hags and an adjacent market town with a good harbour (lead by a yeoman merchants guild). I learnt a lot about peasants rights of Pannage, Estovers, Turbury, Piscary and Marl and also the English Inclosures (when the commons was turned into private estate).

A Year on the Medieval Farm - Medievalists.net is an overview of each months priorities for a medieval farmer which was a great help and the sight has many other cool info (like ways that servants might defraud a manor lord). Do Farm events per month and see how you can complicate things with seed shortages, goblin raids, resident serf marriages (festivities), tenants refusing to pay rent or the swamp flooding over into the estate, allowing swamp-dwelling stirges to attack new lambs. The swamp cant be drained without offending the hags or druids. negotiating with the town provost to register the farms income or with the druids to supply seeds or the local nephelai to keep it watered are all good.

For mechanics I determined had Farm turns each season spring=seed, summer=growth, autumn=harvest, winter=debt

Autumn Yeild = Acreage farmed *d6+bonus
Harvest DC = Yeild/labour/days v Nature Skill

for size I set the manor at 120 acres, with there being 600 acres in a square mile. The town also covers 120, as does the druids
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