Kingmaker

28 September, 2010

In summary: we now will have plenty of cash coming in. We may fail stability, but with Rainor on the job we can buy unhappy peasants off by building houses.


Michael,
It has been a season since I last wrote. Several things – of course – have happened, but our situation is much less dire than it was.

When last I wrote, we were very much hoping to get Melanae (the Nixie) helping us with administration, in particular with The Art. It makes sense, you know, even though the fey can be difficult – an understatement if ever there was one!

Melanae was upset about her trees being cut down and wanted them replaced. So we decided to head to Oleg’s and see if we could order in five Qualls Feather Tokens of “tree”. But we decided to go by way of some of the unexplored are in the western forest.

Directly to the west we found some sort of hermit who simply attacked us. He was – a very tough opponent and showed me a thing or three about stabbing someone while they are looking the other way. We did defeat him, eventually, although who knows how it would have gone if Morgana hadn’t blinded him (creepiest thing in the world to watch cataracts form in someone’s eyes in a matter of seconds). Even blinded he was tough.

Following the river west and north, we found an old fort, which it turned out was inhabited by some sort of frog creatures. Negotiations went sour pretty quickly, and a fight broke out. We cleared out the fort – by which I mean we killed the people there. It’s a little too far out to assert title, but when we do I think it might prove a very handy border defense.

North and west again from there was an abandoned village. Rainor believes that it was attacked from further west, but really it’s a bit far out to investigate. Something to keep in mind.

This all took a week, so from there we headed in to Oleg’s and placed our orders (collecting the bounty for the Tzatselwryms). As we had already spent nearly two weeks away and it would take a week to get back, we headed straight home.

The next month, well, we spent at the fort. Jope was ruling, I think, and arranging for a proper smithy with a resident smith. Morgana brewed up an absolute storm and made a bucket of cash, which we all spent on items on account of she was uncharacteristically silent about what should be done with the money. She and I both got in one of those headbands to improve your memory, and frankly it’s been a godsend in helping me to keep various … names and activities straight, let’s say. I scribed some more scrolls. Eventually our Quall’s Feather Tokens arrived. Everything safe and secure, it was time to head out to Melanae. But first: a detour.

We investigated the eastern side of the lake, looking for this enormous turtle for bounty. We found its lair, right enough, and just went straight in. Another tough fight – ever tried shooting at a turtle? They have shells, you know. But we managed to put it down, eventually. We took the carcass back to the castle (quite a collection of offal we are accumulating), and his lordship orderd the shell be made into an enormous bathtub. A bit of a waste – that shell would have made several very fine compound bows – but he explained to me that it’s important for a lord to be seen as acting like a lord, and that means publicly wasting money.

Anyway.

It was time to go see Melanae. Morgana brewed a potion of Eagle’s Splendour just for the occasion, to see if we could take a little more of the uncouth off His Lordship (the crown definitely helps). It was all very formal and careful, of course. Melanae was very happy to have some trees back, and agreed to assist our little barony with the arts. With some conditions – a week off to visit her grove, a little shrine or park to be built by the water at the castle, she gets to veto anything relating to the western forest, and a caster’s tower to be built when possible.

Well, this was all very agreeable. I’m interested in seeing what a Nixie’s idea of a caster’s tower might be. We built her a shrine to the elements, starting work more or less straight away. It was unexpectedly expensive, using up about all of our reserves. But absolutely worth it – she is a marvel. She applied the arts of “Feng Shui” to our castle and grounds, did something (I don’t know what) to the farms, and in short with her doing whatever and Morgana looking after the budget our money worries are more or less over for now.

I’ve chipped in as well – I’ve stopped chasing up dissidents among the peasantry and I’m currently concentrating on tax evasion and white collar crime (smuggling, dodgy weights and measures, people hiding their taxes under the floorboards – that sort of thing). Things may get a shade out of hand, but Rainor can deal with it and we can always buy people off with housing and the public works we can now afford.

So, things are going well enough for the present. We need to resume expanding in the near future.

Your sister-in-exile
Seldrynn.


Kingmaker

19 September, 2010

Summarising the financial situation: we have broken even with 1 BP to spare. Yay! If we make the stability check, we will have – wait for it – 2bp. Ideally we’d like to make the economy check, too. But still hamstrung by lack of a magister. All other posts filled.


Michael,

Well! It has been an eventful month! We are still surveying these lands, and we were going to be asking that Kobold chieftain if he would patrol the countryside. There’s a lot of advantages, you know, for him: his people will be allowed to move freely, they’ll get nice uniforms, and what’s more their tribe won’t simply be wiped out by Freedonia. But before we could visit him another problem cropped up: people being horribly killed, simply torn apart as if by a wild animal but without being, you know – eaten.

All the indications were that a lycanthrope was in the area, so we hustled all the farmers into the castle and set out to wait where it had has been spotted, with a nice little herd of the local sheep. Well it was just as well that His Lordship arranged an alarm signal back at the castle. We rode back as quick as possible (one of the horses injured itself in the dark, but I summoned a replacement) and what do you know – the castle had been attacked. So Morgana healed people up (they are calling her “Mistress mercy” now – how little they know) and we went hunting.

Not a difficult job. We came upon a man obviously in the grip of the condition – he was half transformed, yelling at us to stay back. Which I thought at the time was very much a point in his favour. We did the usual – Morgana enlarged Joup and I went in for a bit of a stab. Actually – only Rainor and I had silver weapons: I think I may have landed the final blow, but really I can’t say.

In any case, we decided it would be best to drag him back to the castle and publicly … well good question – but publicly something. We brought him in the back way and chained him up. After questioning some peasants, we found that someone had likely been bitten, so we chained him up too. Joup is actually something of the the armoursmith, and he lined the manacles with silver, working the forge himself in public. It caused comment, but I suppose a mere baron can get away with doing such things.

Anyway. The local who’d been biten recently got a wolfsbane potion, which Morgana had brewed so as not to be too poisonous – no point curing him if the cure kills him. The main lycanthrope told us a bit of a tale. He seems to be a tribesman wandering through the area – exiled or some such. Frankly, I didn’t catch the details. But he definitely seemed terribly honourable and remorseful and whatnot. The Baron would have been quite within his rights to execute him – both for the killings and also in the name of public health. But … well, we are rather short of good men.

So. We arranged for a remove curse for him, and we have put him in charge of the local constabulary. And for good measure, we’ll lock him up for the three days of the next full moon and see what happens. It seems unwise to put him in charge of the guards, but really he’ll do a splendid job, and if he turns werewolf again then – well – I expect that the other guards will do their duty.

But that all took a week or two to organise, and some other things happened as well.


While Kundal was in the lockup, we went to see Chief Sootscale to make our proposal. Thank Desna he speaks a little common now, so I didn’t have to translate. It was all quite courteous – we didn’t simply announce that we were annexing his territory. Although we were. Quite the keen negotiator is our kobold friend. He wanted his lands farmed in exchange for he and his tribe patrolling the countryside. We agreed, even though money is tight as anything. But really, from the deal we now have regular patrols, a nice bit of farmland, and a working coalmine (that’s where the “soot-scale” name of the tribe comes from). We have almost no reserves left, but I think that we are just about at break even point.

We also rather badly needed someone to act as diplomat and do foreign relations. We had the perfect candidate – a certain Kestin Greaves, or Quaves, or something (you know I can’t read my own writing). A third, or fourth, or fifth son or something stuck at Oleg’s trying to make a living. He was very happy to accept an official role in our government, and one that meant that he could head back to Restov and hob-nob with his own people – as a foreign diplomat, no less! We gave him our silver weapons to seal the deal, but I really don’t think it was necessary: the man was positively slavering. Who knows, in a month or two we may even be able to give him a budget to accompany his new title, and that will be nice for him.


Finally, it was time to do a bit of exploring and surveying. We headed west into the forests, which was quite wonderful. I do miss home, and I hadn’t thought that I would. In any case, we found a logging camp which – well, it wasn’t abandoned, at least not more than a day or two, but there was no-one there. Following the river, we came upon a – a situation.

There was a bit of a widening in the river, and a team of loggers were faced off with a nixie. Well – I was over the moon, of course: I had been hoping to find fey and here one was. But the situation was not good. She was not happy about the logging, not even a little bit, and had enchanted at least two of the men … she had rather “enchanted” all of them, if you get my meaning – or so I judge – but two were definitely under magical compulsion.

Anyway. The Baron – Desna bless him – took the nixie’s part. But the woodcutters did make the rather excellent point that they were cutting wood for our castle and other buildings, so maybe we should have been more on their side. But the baron asked the nixie if there were other copses that she’d be happy to allow logged. Turns out that upstream was a copse that hadn’t been touched in ages, because the area was inhabited by a Tatselwyrm.

Well! I haven’t mentioned it, but there was an outstanding reward for a Tatselwyrm skin at Oleg’s, and we had been looking for one for months. So we decided – we’d clear out the monsters, and the wodcutters could log that area. And this seemed provisionally acceptable to everyone. The loggers went back to their camp, but their foreman came with us. He looked to be handy with a bow, so we had no problem with that.

Upstream, we spotted the clearing where the wrym lived. we prepped and attacked (I went with a jump spell, as the thing lived on an island midstream.). There were actually a few dragonkin living there – blue lizards of some sort, some of us got rather nastilly fried. I used a wand of burning hands for the first time. An uninteresting little evocation – but definitely effective. Looking over my spellbook, I actually don’t have a lot of offensive spells – I find them dull – but I suppose I should make room for a few.

Anyway. There was a tatselwrym, the blue lizards, and then this even bigger tatselwyrm attacked, and things got a little hairy (it seems no-one but me has the sense to duck when a dragonkin opens its mouth), but we all survived in one piece. The woodsman was very, very happy with the trees and he and his men will be converting several thousand years of magnificent growth and life into logs in no time flat. But, that’s civilization human-style for you.

The nixie was … somewhat mollified. Wee have agreed that her area of the forest will remain untouched – except for the logs coming down the river, obviously – but she wants her trees replaced. I think she’s thinking of a Quall’s Feather Token (you know the ones?). I would dearly love to see us hire her, too – we really needs someone to deal with magic and it’s impact on a functioning kingdom: Morgana and I are both far too busy with other things, and Bokken the mad alchemist is far too mad.

Anyway. Things are going – not well, but not necessarily catastrophically. I think we were going to be looking into rumours of some sort of giant turtle next.

As always,
Your sister-in-exile,
Seldrynn.


Kingmaker

12 September, 2010

This post will include some discussion of the kingmaker mechanics, which I will do in italics.

Well, Michael,

If Father doesn’t think that it’s a good idea for the council to be part of this barony or duchy or whatever we are trying to build, then I suppose Father is right. Just don’t anyone come crying to me when the humans start chopping down the forests at our northern border and fouling the streams with mining tailings.

Anyway. This business of running a kingdom is somewhat delicate. I might discuss it a little.

Stability and Unrest

The first, most impotant priority at this stage seems to be to maintain the support of the commons. If you don’t have support, then you don’t have a kingdom.

With the kingmaker rules, you lose if unrest gets to 20. Unrest of 20 is the equivalent of a TPK. In a nutshell, the game – at this stage – is expanding while keeping unrest down.

Now, there’s really no way at present to keep people from suggesting that we don’t know what we are doing. really – we don’t. It’s fair to say that we really aren’t ruling at all, yet. So the only thing to do is to keep the unrest among the commons down as it occurs.

We do not yet have the buildings and other mods to beat our kingdom stability check. Actually, we don’t have enough anything to beat any check. At present, we are going to fail this check every month – it’s pretty much a given. This means 2 unrest every month no matter what.

I suppose that we could keep things sweeter by concentrating more on the commons at the court level. Most critical are keeping an eye on the commons (covertly and overtly) and religion. Having a big public hero is good, too.

If you are missing a Ruler, Councillor, High Priest or Spymaster, this will directly cause unrest each turn. The roles that aid general stability are General, Grand Diplomat, and High Priest. We are missing two of these and that’s where our penalty is coming from. We have put people into Loyalty and Economy roles, but it’s pointless at this stage of the game. At least – putting people into loyalty roles is pointless: I think “loyalty” means military and nobility, and we don’t have any, yet. We do not need a Magister, or Marshal and we can live without a Warden

The other possibility is that – how shall I put it? – one of us could take certain elements in the population in hand.

Morgana, Rainor, or Switch could do the royal assassin role (Int or Dex), and I rather think that we are going to have to go that way. Morgana will do it because she likes it, Switch because she is a bit racist, not sure about Rainor. We don’t need a Marshal at this stage, and Rainor’s Dex otherwise suits him to be assassin or spymaster.

Aside from simple discontent, the main threat to our little kingdom is simply running out of money, so I should discuss money a little.

Money

If we run out of money, the people will simply revolt and that will be the end of it.

If you can’t pay upkeep, you lose 2 stability points. You can lose the game in three months with a combination of running out of money (2 unrest), losing the stability rolls (2 unrest), and not having a councillor (1 unrest), high preist (1 unrest), or spymaster (1 unrest). Without a ruler (-4 unrest), you can lose the game in two months.

If we keep an eye on the money, we can probably manage a few grumblers by building houses and parks and whatnot and … by more direct means.

Point is: if we fill all the roles we can survive 2 unrest a month by assassinations and buildings. We can’t survive 4 unrest a month, which is what will happen if we run out of BP.

However, money is tight, tight, tight owing to one or two decisions we have made. By which I mean: using our startup cash to build a castle.

I’ll use “100 square miles” to mean “an overland hex”, and “1000 gold” to mean “one BP”. It’s not accurate, but that’s ok.

Our treasurer could in theory extort quite a bit from the monthly taxes, but in practice we are simply not able to collect.

We cannot make the Economy checks.

So this means that we will have to depend on farms, which are a reliable source of income. They generate – say – 1000 gold per 100 square miles per month.

Each hex and city district in your kingdom requires 1 consumption. A farm reduces consumption by 2. Hence, 1 point nett for each farm square.

The difficulty is it costs about 1000 gold to extend the kingdom by that much, 1000 to put roads through, and about 4000 to build fences, farmer’s cottages and whatnot. We also are absolutely crippled by the decision to establish our capital at Fort Thundertusk – we could do the farmland conversion for half that if we were not in the hills.

Anyway. This means that it takes 6 months before a single 1000 square-mile area of farmland (built in hills) starts paying for itself.

Now, we have (in effect) maybe 50 thousand worth of resources and whatnot from the swordlords – it sounds like a lot, but believe me, it gets spent damn quick. We spent over half of that repairing the fort (although it does make a nice castle – more or less). Housing in the city – just basic housing – was 3000. Oh, we could have put up some tenements, but it causes problems if you do.

In any case. We have enough cash to convert another four hundred or so square miles of farmland, and then we’d have to wait to get ahead. And that’s not leaving any slack in reserve for emergencies.

Oh well.


In summary: We need to continue putting most of our resources in Stabiliy, to prevent unrest. We need a magister and warden so that we can start passing the economy checks and making BP. With some BP, we can then claim hexes, building buildings to handle the increased control DC as we expand.


Apart from that, part of the job of kingdom-building is clearing the area of monsters and bandits, and that’s coming along. We’ve explored quite a bit of the area and dealt with a dire wolf and a smallish shambler (didn’t know they came this far north). I say smallish, but it was still a difficult fight. Both fights I just stayed out of it and shot – it’s definitely the safest way to go.

We intend to ask that kobold chief if he will serve as “Marshal” – it’ll be interesting to see how that turns out. We also, well, none of are really right for the job of ruler, you know. Jop is fine with a halberd, but not so good with a desert spoon if you get my meaning. Our best plan at present is to install a figurehead – it will be fascinating to see how that goes, too.

Anyway, till next time,
Your one-fifth of a baroness sister-in-exile,
Seldrynn.


“I am a sex addict”, Caveh Zahedi.

5 September, 2010

Watching “I am a sex addict”, Caveh Zahedi. Reminds me of “Bridge across forever” by Richard Bach – the confession of a fully narcissistic, self-centred creep. Zahedi has the advantage of being somewhat aware of it, and of possesing a sense of humour, which Bach – like most hippies – notably does not.

In Bridge across forever, Bach presents himself as transforming and changing. In fact, he does not – his sense of self expands, but he’s as self-centered as ever.

Best example: early in the book, he and his partner-unit quarrel over Bartok’s “Concerto for orchestra”. He is bewildered that she likes it, when he can tell with certainty that it’s obvious rubbish. He grows to like “Concerto for orchestra” and presents this as an accomplishment. But the problem was never that he did or didn’t like this or that – the problem was his insistence that his personal likes and dislikes ought to be normative. The problem was his intolerance, not what he happened to be intolerant about.

His idea of becoming a better person is that he finally dealt with the problem of his wife-unit being in some respects different to himself by changing to be more like her. He has changed, you see. He has adapted and learned. About Bartok. About one or two other things. But so what? By the end of the book, he is as certain that “Concerto for orchestra” is good as he was certain that it was bad at the beginning, but the manner of his certainty has not changed. It is still all about him.

You see, the thing that bewildered and horrified him about the partner-unit’s liking of this particular track is his conviction that anyone who is not just like himself, anyone without exactly the same set of hippy-dippy attitudes about absolutely everything is a grubby lesser being. She pulled a trick on him. She fooled him into thinking that she was worthy of him. The scandal! The betrayal!

Not once does it even occur to him that it’s ok for his partner-unit to like something that he doesn’t, and that this does not make her a lesser person, or that he himself is not the ultimate homo correctus that he supposes that he is. Not once does he cease judging the entire rest of the world, nor does he waver from using himself as the platinum standard by which all else is judged.

Nahh – Bach doesn’t actually change at all, not meaningfully. He never really addresses the central fault of his character.

Now, Zahedi. In this movie, anyway – god what a dick (of course, it’s deliberate humour). At one point he looks a his root du jour and he “sees into her soul” – it strikes him that she’s an actual other person and it “scares him shitless”. Well done, dude. That’s what the movie is about, so far. I wonder, however, if he will realise that this realisation itself is something that most normal people go through in their teens. Or will he suppose, by the end of the movie, that he is unique and special for discovering that other people have humanity, too?

It will be interesting to see how Zahedi does. Perhaps his sense of humour will save him, in the end. Perhaps I’m taking it all a little too literally: please feel free to replace “Zahedi” with “The Zahedi character”.


Kingmaker

4 September, 2010

Michael,

We all know how rapidly these annuals move, but I am discovering that I am not nearly as used to it as I thought. You know these “swordlords” decided to send out some parties to pacify the “Stolen Lands”, yes? Well, aparrently they have decided that they also have the authority to found independent kingdoms there, or should I say here, and guess who gets to be kings?

Quite the turnabout. In any event, I am enclosing a letter addressed to father and the council. It’s rather important – by all means read it, and if father won’t, then have mother make him.

Yay! The map of Fort Thundertusk is at our fledgling kingmaker site. Unless someone else wants to do the web thing.


Variel Verdant and the Council of Families,
Yel’liannir,

An unusual sequence of events has occurred here in the so-called “Stolen Lands” to the south of Brevoy, and a very unusual opportunity presents itself to the council.

As you are aware, the Swordlords of Restov have taken it upon themselves to pacify the lands around Thundertusk Lake [insert elvish name here 🙂 ], sending parties to address the general lawlessness and banditry to their south. They have decided as an ongoing solution to found a new nation, nominally independent of Brevoy.

While I am not certain as to how such a thing might be possible in the legal sense, nevertheless they seem committed to the process. Preposterous as it may seem to create a nation out of thin air in such a manner, humans and others from Brevoy and elsewhere will indeed settle these lands over the coming years, will build farms and roads, and levy armies of themselves, and establish the various apparatuses of state. They will establish “facts on the ground” as they call it, and concern themselves with legal niceties later.

A charter to rule and administer this new as yet unnamed nation has been granted to the group which dealt with the worst of the organised banditry, the group of which I am a part. Our group, however, will be spending much of our time over the next few moths and probably years surveying these lands and rooting out bandits, savage races [elvish ‘hraka’ = ‘turds’] and monsters. We will have to appoint administrators. Simply put: we will be establishing a court.

Of course, the swordlords will be keen to pack this court with persons sympathetic to their own aims. However, I am sure that as a co-holder of the swordlord’s charter I will have at least some say in the process.

I therefore petition the council to propose a few people able and willing to assist with administration. At the very least we will need a court magister whose duties will no doubt mainly involve predicting weather and eclipses (there are rumours of fey in these lands, which could also become a problem). I am sure that everyone can be easily persuaded that one of our people is best for such a job. I am sure also that someone able to give advice on history, law, commerce and such matters would be appreciated – although I have no doubt the Swordlords are also lining up someone for the role.

Any of the people wishing to settle or set up shop in this new kingdom will be welcome. There are obvious long-term benefits to making ourselves more of a presence here in these lands between our ancestral lands and the human lands to the north. However, these lands are still wild and dangerous, and anyone wishing to settle here must appreciate the very real risks in so doing.

Finally, I cannot stress enough how quickly these events are moving. Humans do not take decades to organise such things. We have already been petitioned by multiple groups looking to “stake out a claim” in these lands which we have not even fully surveyed. The swordlords are already extending and widening the southward road from Restov to the currently ruined fort on lake Thundertusk which we have nominated as the site for our capital. The people and the council must move quickly, within the year – within the season if possible – or risk having yet another entirely foreign human kingdom encroaching towards our lands.

With respect,
Selrynn Verdant.