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10/19/2014 2:23 pm  #1


Warlords of Hyperborea: Strongholds & Followers

Hello everyone, I'm still around.

I'm a big fan of the stronghold/domain endgame as detailed in BECMI/RC D&D and more recently, ACKS. Probably harkens back to the emulation of Conan's career from thief and reaver to warlord and king, but I digress.

One of the things I love about AS&SH, like AD&D 1e, is that it makes provisions for PCs building strongholds and attracting followers at high levels. There's even a mass combat system and a projected income for each inhabitant of your budding domain.

However, also like AD&D 1e, there are no explicit guidelines for actually building, running and mantaining a stronghold and/or the surrounding domain.

I'd love to know, first, whether anyone's actually had high-level PCs build their mighty steadfasts in Hyperborea.

Second, regardless of whether that's happened or not, how'd you handle this. Would you extrapolate from an existing system (like BECMI/RC, ACKS or An Echo, Resounding from Sine Nomine Publishing), or would you just wing it as needed?

 

10/19/2014 7:05 pm  #2


Re: Warlords of Hyperborea: Strongholds & Followers

Good questions! With AS&SH reaching its first supporters back in September 2012, I'm wondering if many other campaigns (besides my own which started back in 2009) have reached "stronghold building" levels (L9+). It's possible. Even in my own game the players have a stable of characters; hence, although we've logged in more AS&SH hours than probably anyone else, there are only a few PCs of high level. To be honest I'm not familiar with An Echo, Resounding, but I am fond of the author's other works.


HYPERBOREA- A Role-Playing Game of Swords, Sorcery, and Weird Science-Fantasy
 

10/20/2014 11:13 pm  #3


Re: Warlords of Hyperborea: Strongholds & Followers

I'm not sure what's lacking in the rules.  You have construction costs for strongholds, number of followers attracted, rules for hiring mercenaries, income of holdings, and mass combat rules.  What else would you need, really?  The rest is just role-playing, isn't it? http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/wink.png


Michael Sipe 1979-2018
Rest in peace, brother.
 

10/21/2014 8:05 am  #4


Re: Warlords of Hyperborea: Strongholds & Followers

According to my players, the "vampire lever" always gets pulled before they can reach such a plateau! But given how vampires work in AS&SH, I better brush up on the cost of barbicans. I will say that--and maybe this is a reflection of the relatively lower treasure in my game--I think it's always easier to *take* a stronghold than to build one.

 

10/21/2014 9:47 am  #5


Re: Warlords of Hyperborea: Strongholds & Followers

I was always a big fan of the BECMI version of this and used it extensively in my 1e/2e mash-up, back in the day. It's crunchy though, as I recall.

Another option might be to look at the 2e Castle Guide, which has a tone of this sort of information. I have not looked at it in years, so can't really quote anything, but I remember liking the book.

At some point, I really should check out ACKS.


ravengodgames.blogspot.com ~ cartography, writing, game design
Author, Forgotten Fane of the Coiled Goddess
 

10/21/2014 10:00 am  #6


Re: Warlords of Hyperborea: Strongholds & Followers

Please pardon my ignorance.  What are "BECMI" and "ACKS"?

Lawrence Whitaker wrote "Empires" for RuneQuest II (shifted by Mongoose for Legend).  The pdf for one or both of those versions can be found at The Design Mechanism or DriveThruRPG.  Empires looks pretty comprehensive at 128 pages for $1.00.

Well, I need to make a few more postings before I can share the links to the above mentioned "An Echo, Resounding" or "Empires".  Both can be found at DriveThruRPG.

Last edited by ThornPlutonius (10/21/2014 11:29 am)

 

10/21/2014 10:54 am  #7


Re: Warlords of Hyperborea: Strongholds & Followers

ThornPlutonius wrote:

Please pardon my ignorance.  What are "BECMI" and "ACKS"?

According to Stuart "OSRIC and AS&SH foreword" Marshall, ACKS stands for "Manager Merchant Landlord".  He doesn't make it sound very appealing. http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/errr.png

BECMI is the set of mid-1980's D&D boxed sets writted by Frank Mentzer (Basic, Expert, Companion, Master, Immortal).  They allow play all the way from 1st level to demigod.  The Rules Cyclopedia (RC) is a hardcover combining the first four Mentzer sets (but not the demigod stuff). http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/happy.png


Michael Sipe 1979-2018
Rest in peace, brother.
 

10/21/2014 11:30 am  #8


Re: Warlords of Hyperborea: Strongholds & Followers

Thank you, Blackadder23!

 

10/21/2014 12:16 pm  #9


Re: Warlords of Hyperborea: Strongholds & Followers

Blackadder23 wrote:

I'm not sure what's lacking in the rules.  You have construction costs for strongholds, number of followers attracted, rules for hiring mercenaries, income of holdings, and mass combat rules.  What else would you need, really?  The rest is just role-playing, isn't it? http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/wink.png

What he said.

I'm also of the opinion that Heroes should die in battle, not lounging on silken pillows, surrounded by their loved ones and half-whit heirs, squabbling over how to divvy up the amassed fortune of tax revenue.  The game is "Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers", not "Ledger and Liens", "Taxes and Tarrifs", or some other nonsense.

All of these endgame kingdom systems all boil down to resource management.  If I wanted to play a game like that, I'd play Settlers of Catan, Caylus, or Agricola, not a D&D-derived game.
 

 

10/21/2014 3:23 pm  #10


Re: Warlords of Hyperborea: Strongholds & Followers

francisca wrote:

Blackadder23 wrote:

I'm not sure what's lacking in the rules.  You have construction costs for strongholds, number of followers attracted, rules for hiring mercenaries, income of holdings, and mass combat rules.  What else would you need, really?  The rest is just role-playing, isn't it? http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/wink.png

What he said.

I'm also of the opinion that Heroes should die in battle, not lounging on silken pillows, surrounded by their loved ones and half-whit heirs, squabbling over how to divvy up the amassed fortune of tax revenue.  The game is "Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers", not "Ledger and Liens", "Taxes and Tarrifs", or some other nonsense.

All of these endgame kingdom systems all boil down to resource management.  If I wanted to play a game like that, I'd play Settlers of Catan, Caylus, or Agricola, not a D&D-derived game.
 

And further, once this idea is embraced, there's no reason why second-level characters or other fodder can't have some moldy pile of stone to call home--provided they can hold it. And deal with the curse.

 

10/21/2014 3:28 pm  #11


Re: Warlords of Hyperborea: Strongholds & Followers

Actually, stronghold building and strategising is as an old D&D-ism as dungeon crawling; even OD&D has rules for this stuff. Also, in my view dungeon crawling is also mostly about resource management.

I very much recommend taking a look at both ACKS and An Echo Resounding; their approach is almost diametrically opposed to each other, but both products make the endgame gameable (and I mean more gameable than most D&D editions by realising the differences in gameplay and providing useful tools).

Last edited by Ynas Midgard (10/21/2014 3:30 pm)

 

10/21/2014 5:01 pm  #12


Re: Warlords of Hyperborea: Strongholds & Followers

There is a set of ebooks called "Hawk and Moor" (available for Kindle) that chronicles the earliest days of D&D down to the course of the original Greyhawk and Blackmoor campaigns.  Those tales make it very clear that the dungeon crawls were absolutely about gathering loot to build power bases so the characters could embark upon grander mischief.

 

10/22/2014 6:17 am  #13


Re: Warlords of Hyperborea: Strongholds & Followers

Ynas Midgard wrote:

Actually, stronghold building and strategising is as an old D&D-ism as dungeon crawling; even OD&D has rules for this stuff.

This isn't news to me.  As you say, the rules in OD&D amount to stronghold building, not crop management, domain/kingdom building, etc...

Also, in my view dungeon crawling is also mostly about resource management.

That is absolutely true.  But...it's resource management at a micro/personal/party level, which is a much different experience than the macro level management found in kingdom building etc.

I very much recommend taking a look at both ACKS and An Echo Resounding; their approach is almost diametrically opposed to each other, but both products make the endgame gameable (and I mean more gameable than most D&D editions by realising the differences in gameplay and providing useful tools).

I've looked at ACKS, but to be honest, I think I gave up on it before I got to the kingdom management part, which I probably would have skipped anyway, as, well, I don't care for that aspect of the game.

 

10/22/2014 6:59 am  #14


Re: Warlords of Hyperborea: Strongholds & Followers

ThornPlutonius wrote:

There is a set of ebooks called "Hawk and Moor" (available for Kindle) that chronicles the earliest days of D&D down to the course of the original Greyhawk and Blackmoor campaigns.  Those tales make it very clear that the dungeon crawls were absolutely about gathering loot to build power bases so the characters could embark upon grander mischief.

Is this supposed to be some sort of trump card?  The old "this is how Gary and Dave meant the game to be played" sort of thing, that so many in our old-school gaming community are fond of trotting out?

First and foremost, even if that is true, it doesn't make much of a difference to me, at my table.  I don't get hung up on the idea that I must run the game the way Gary and/or Dave ran it.

But let's run with this notion that you say Hawk and Moor put forth.

If it is true that Gary and Dave planned for the game to be some sort exercise in dungeondelving as a sort of mechanism for grander mischief, what then was this grander mischief?  Let's look at the material produced for OD&D, including the supplements. 

OD&D:
page 20, underworld and wilderness encounters: "At any time a player/character wishes he may select a portion of land (or a city lot) upon which to build his castle, tower, or whatever."

At any time?  Whenever you have the money?  Not even name level.  That's interesting.

After that, we get construction costs of various castle components, a rundown of costs to hire people to populate the castle, cost for hiring men-at-arms, and a couple paragraphs about baronies, which actually doesn't contain much in the way of rules.  We are given guidance on population and areas which are kept free of monsters.

That's not a lot, if kingdom building is the grander mischief.  Still, Gary had to pack a lot into these books, and surely, much was left out.  I believe he says as much in a forward or afterward in one of the 3 books.  So, what about the rest of the supplements?

Greyhawk: nothing
Blackmoor: nothing
Eldritch Wizardry: nothing
Gods, Demigods, & Heroes: nothing
Swords and Spells: it's a wargame

My conclusion: in the context of rules for dungeons and dragons, the grander mischief is running large scale miniature battles, not neccesarily kingdom building.  Kingdom building is only incidental to the greater purpose of providing a means to field an army, which fits in perfectly with OD&D's wargaming roots.  Further, the resolution of those battles is outside the scope of the core game.  Resolving these battles is first referred to Chainmail, then Swords and Spells.  There is hardly anything outside of tax revenue and populations for manageing kingdoms.  On the other hand, it's pretty clear the game codifies a system for individuals to band together and seek adventure, fame, and fortune.

Now, I'm quite aware of Gary and Dave's background not only in miniatures, but Diplomacy (including fictional and historical variants), and Braunstein, etc...  I'm aware of the Castle and Crusade society, and it's proceedings, which involve nation building, diplomatic exchanges, etc..  However, all of that is external to D&D.  They used Diplomacy and variants for that sort of play.  Opportunity existed to put those components into D&D, and AD&D for that matter, but it wasn't done.  As such, I don't find much traction for the grander mishief being the ruling of kingdoms.

I stand by my assertion that D&D, and it's decendants, like Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea, are fantasy adventure games focused on small groups of individuals seeking their fortunes in a fantasy world. 

Is that to say that kingdom/nation/domain/etc... building is strictly outside the scope of the game?  Nope.  Much like I don't feel bound to Dave and Gary's notion of the game in the 70s, I wouldn't expect others to feel bound by my notion of what the game is.  We're all free to take the game in whatever direction we want. I just think that sort of thing is better served by either winging/hadnwaving it, or moving to something outside of the scope of the game for resolution.

 

10/22/2014 8:34 am  #15


Re: Warlords of Hyperborea: Strongholds & Followers

@ francisca
Obviously, there's nothing wrong with not including domain building and management in your game (my games don't usually deal with them, either).

 

10/22/2014 8:40 am  #16


Re: Warlords of Hyperborea: Strongholds & Followers

Welcome back, Butcher.

The Butcher wrote:

I'm a big fan of the stronghold/domain endgame as detailed in BECMI/RC D&D and more recently, ACKS.

To me, the endgame is the least appealing aspect of fantasy RPGs - I prefer party-based, exploratory low- and mid-level play. If I have to do high-level play, I'd rather Invade Hell to kill Orcus (or some such silliness) than do stronghold/domain play. As a result, I have never paid much attention to endgame rules, regardless of edition/clone. Nevertheless, I am certainly not opposed others enjoying it and desiring rules for it.

I'd love to know, first, whether anyone's actually had high-level PCs build their mighty steadfasts in Hyperborea.

Not yet. If we get there and my players really want the endgame, I guess I would be willing to explore how to implement it. I wouldn't encourage it though because I don't personally enjoy it, at least not through D&D-type rules. Maybe a boardgame or something that explicitly focuses on it would be fun (I loved the Dune strategy videogame).

Second, regardless of whether that's happened or not, how'd you handle this. Would you extrapolate from an existing system (like BECMI/RC, ACKS or An Echo, Resounding from Sine Nomine Publishing), or would you just wing it as needed?

Hmmm... I'd like to think I would review all the available resources and synthesize what I like into something coherent, but I would probably just end up winging it based on what's in AS&SH and OD&D/1E, which are the games I already own and know. I don't have BECMI/RC, ACKS or Echo.
 


Blackadder23: Insanely long villain soliloquy, then "Your action?"
BORGO'S PLAYER: I shoot him in the face
 

10/22/2014 8:45 am  #17


Re: Warlords of Hyperborea: Strongholds & Followers

Certainly Gary and Dave included domain management (of a sort) in their original campaigns, and certainly the first several versions of D&D included some support for this.  My question is: how many other players and DM's over the years actually did anything with this?  Practically speaking, if no one ever used it, it's not really "part of the game" in anything but an academic sense.  I've seen people argue that nobody ever used henchmen or alignment tongues (for example) BITD, and in my experience this is an exaggeration.  Players did occasionally make use of those things in my campaigns.  But I can say without hyperbole that since I began running D&D in 1980 I have never had a single player express any interest in building a stronghold or attracting followers.  Nor have I ever really heard of anyone else doing it.  If anyone can point me toward an internet account of D&D domain management BITD I would be extremely interested in reading it, because the concept is foreign to my personal experience.  I'd really like to see how it worked out in actual play. http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/happy.png


Michael Sipe 1979-2018
Rest in peace, brother.
 

10/23/2014 6:05 am  #18


Re: Warlords of Hyperborea: Strongholds & Followers

francisca wrote:

As you say, the rules in OD&D amount to stronghold building, not crop management, domain/kingdom building, etc...

 
Funny you should mention that...  At the moment, I'm in the process of going through Arneson's First Fantasy Campaign, which is all about his original Blackmoor campaign and how he ran it, including several of the rules he used.  Included among those rules are such things as:

- Annual rate of return on building farms and how that is affected by attacks on the farmers themselves.
- The number of trees per hex of wooded terrain, the number of logs required to build ships, and the rate of regrowth after you've turned some of those trees into logs.  (With an optional rule for cutting the trees down in advance and aging the logs before using them, in order to produce longer-lived ships.)

It was clearly a domain/kingdom-level game, with crop-management-like subsystems in place.

In your next post you said that Blackmoor-the-supplement contained nothing in the way of domain-level rules (I've never seen it myself, so I wouldn't know), but they were definitely a part of Blackmoor-the-campaign.

Which is not meant as an assertion that "Dave and Gary did this, so we must also do it", but merely to point out that "crop management, domain/kingdom building, etc..." were part of the earliest games played using what we now know as OD&D, even if the rules for those activities were never codified as a part of the OD&D rules as published.  (Why weren't they included?  My general impression from FFC is that the information it contains is essentially the history and house rules from Arneson's game, which leads me to assume that domain-level rules were unique to each early DM/Judge, in which case there would be no "standard" set of rules to publish.  But I could very easily be wrong in that conclusion.)

 

10/23/2014 7:27 am  #19


Re: Warlords of Hyperborea: Strongholds & Followers

Trump card?  No.  Just relating game history to add to the conversation.

 

10/23/2014 7:45 am  #20


Re: Warlords of Hyperborea: Strongholds & Followers

I can't get a great read from my players on how interested they are in this. We had one AD&D campaign that stalled out right around name level. They had, as an underpowered but *VERY METAL* party managed to best G1-G3. We sort of tucked those characters aside and started over at 1st level but kept some plans going and had an abortive game that was meant to be cleaing out S2: Tsojcanth when it was discovered in the valley the ranger was trying to clear and hold. One of the clerics had stared building a temple. And the thief was constructing a guild tower--and brothel--in town. He had a ring of air elemental command and so built all the important parts to be accessible only by flying. And then in the Tsojcanth game traded the ring to wish another dead character back. The guy with the ladder monopoly in that town was veeeeeery happy.

But resource management is clearly not my players' favorite part of the game! They like killing things, cursing fate, and dreaming about plate mail. And they like it when things get weird. I have to ride them just get them to pay attention to arrows and rations. The general lack of spell components in AS&SH has been a great boon to them.

I do find, though, that the 9th-level-set-up-a-stronghold dealy is a great adventure hook. We had several sessions where a 1st-3rd-level party was the pawn of a necromancer who had just hit ninth level and tricked them into cleaing out an area for him--by releasing wights all over the place. They took out an entire town! A town of thieves and bandits, sure, but still.

He got his, though. Later they accidentally summoned a daemon after walking a labyrinth made of eyes on fungal stalks. That did for the necromancer. Like I said, anyone can *take* a stronghold. Holding it is harder.

 

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