So I’m engaged in a bit of world building and I have begun trying to develop a system by which I can roughly estimate the character level of any NPC ruler, particularly those who inherited their realm rather than wresting it from Chaos by force of arms (I assume all those folks are weighing in at 9+ by virtue of their ability to wrest effectively).
I’m assuming a few things here, for the purposes of my game world. First is a land which has been civilized for a few generations, with a hereditary system in which the current ruler most likely took over from his father. Second is that the heir probably hasn’t done a great deal of adventuring in his own right, given that adventuring is an extraordinarily dangerous occupation that one tends not to undertake if one is born into wealth and power. Basically, your standard NPC ruler skipped right past Adventurer and Conquerer and waltzes into the game mechanics at 1st level as a King (or whatever title he’s inheriting).
Comparing the “Revenue by Realm Type” and the “XP from Domain and Mercantile Income” tables, it’s a very simple matter to work out the maximum level that any NPC may achieve purely by collecting income from their current realm. What is a bit less clear cut is how long it should take them to get to that maximum.
It’s a single sentence of text that’s giving me pause on this one. On page 146 of the Core Rules, under Experience from Domain and Mercantile Income, it notes, “A follower or henchman managing a domain
earns 50% of the normal domain XP.”
Now, it wouldn’t make much sense if only the followers and henchmen of PCs were subject to this limitation, so my reading on this is that only truly autonomous rulers gain full Domain XP. If an NPC ruler owes vassalage to any other ruler (whether PC or NPC), then he only gains 50% (with the XP halved after the XP Threshold is deducted from the total income, not before).
I read that the same as Aryxymaraki when I was world-building. Not all vassals are Henchmen, although it’s ideal in terms of loyalty. How long it takes to gain max level is however many months it takes to accrue the necessary XP. I would also limit level gains to 1 per month, similar to 1 level per session, which would slow down the first few levels gained. XP beyond that required to advance a level would be lost.
It’d be an interesting way to start characters. Grant a domain, fast-forward through inheritance as an adolescent until they reach the max level gainable via domain XP/XP thresholds, then start there.
Sort of an advanced Beyond-The-Wall-esque “home centered” start to a campaign.
I’d agree it’s one level gain per month.
I’d calculated the above for something one time but I can’t find it. It took a couple years, as I recall, for a duchy-sized sort of realm. I don’t remember if I did the 50% or not, I may very well have.
On another angle, if one inherits a domain from one’s parent, assuming that (for however many generations) originally this was the PC-style “hench-vassal” sort of arrangement, perhaps a roll on a modified table as the hideout’s “Change In Management” table is required to see if the hench-vassal of the ruler who passed decides to re-hench with the new ruler, stay as some varying degree of loyal ally, or refuse the vassalage and go it alone.
From a world-building view, that would apply some churn to the realm structures whenever a realm ruler passes (or is assassinated) - cascading “change in management” rolls, if they go badly, might turn a stable kingdom into a fractious chaos of petty lords.
Being of a lower level than usually required for a realm of that size
Being of a different alignment
Coming into power under sudden circumstances
Any negative modifier from existing domain/realm morale scores
Any negative modifier from inherited domain/realm morale score
Penalty from any active/maintained duty, without offsetting favors, from previous lord
Being of a higher level than usually required
Any positive modifier from existing domain/realm morale scores
Any positive modifier from inherited domain/realm morale score
Coming into power in a managed/predetermined way
Bonus from any active/maintained favor, without offsetting duties, from previous lord
The sudden circumstances/predetermined would be, essentially, either the character/npc was spending their time helping manage the domain, or they were suddenly called back from doing who-knows-what for some longer period of time to take charge.
The inheritor would have to immediately review existing duties/favors to see what they’d pull back or give out to modify the rolls.
I love the smell of synchronicity in the morning. Your thinking on the subject largely mirrors my own, but you’ve taken it in some fresh directions.
I LOVE the idea of basing a campaign around a series of young noble lords who’ve leveled up to their max through domain xp. I think you could get some extra mileage out of the backstory that led to them all inheriting their realms around the same time (war, plague, some terrible pact?).
I’ve done most of the calculations recently for how long it takes to level at each stage of domain management. Most of them hit their effective maximum in 2-4 years (4-8 if you use the vassal as henchmen adjustment). If their income is just barely over the final xp threshold, they’ll have one last level that they’ll achieve after 10+ years in their seat.
One of the things I really like about the default assumption of vassals as henchmen is the way it interacts with inheritance, which you’ve just touched on. Consider: Your father is the duke, an 11th level fighter; his direct henchmen are his five immediate vassal lords (likely counts). They average level 8 or so. Your father dies and you, a 1st level character, inherit his seat. All five of the counts are now no longer henchmen. You cannot recruit them to be YOUR henchmen yet because they’re higher level than you are, but they’re still your vassals. Assuming average incomes for a duchy–and that all your vassals continue paying their taxes–you’re looking at a minimum of 18 months before you hit 9th level.
Congratulations, you’ve got a year and a half (at least) of struggling to retain control of your inherited realm before you can begin re-henching your father’s vassals and establishing the stability of your own rule.
Congratulations, you've got a year and a half (at least) of struggling to retain control of your inherited realm before you can begin re-henching your father's vassals and establishing the stability of your own rule.
Indeed. Not even to mention the loads of other higher-level NPCs within your own realm that aren't supposed vassals - who's the highest level cleric? Mage? Thief? Hell, highest level venturer?
Did your father have any high-level hirelings? A chancellor? A steward?
Other family members? That scheming uncle? Bastards returning to claim their supposed right?
One could also form a break between "Vassalage to the King" and "Vassalage to the Realm" - are the vassals loyal to this person, or are they loyal to the "crown", whomever that is?
And at what point in a realm's development is loyalty to the founder of the realm or his progeny replaced with loyalty to the abstract "crown"? The sterotypical "The King is Dead, Long Live The King" sort of thing? Maybe that's the roll on the table I posted before.
I will say one that that I feel is missing in ACKS' domain rules is family, and the effects thereof (how much of a high-level character's personal upkeep upkeep of a family?); and the second being a class of hirelings that are meant to aid in you domain rule; your small council, let's say. That probably intrudes into Harn and Pendragon's areas? neither of which I'm super-versed in.
Coterminous, nothing! That’s the golden ticket on all of this, and totally confirms that vassal lords are meant to be the henchmen of their liege (non-henchmen vassals have a -2 base morale and don’t perform any free duties). I’m going to dig into that thread and study it for a bit before I continue either this conversation or my larger world-building.
A wise ruler might grant their heir a smaller domain to rule while they still live, so they can get accustomed to rulership ahead of time. That way, the gap to reaching king status is a bit smaller.
Same goes for taking your heir on campaign with you. You can gain a lot of experience leading armies, and you’re generally going to have much nicer equipment, adding to your chances of survival. Only problem is, I think rules as written there are level requirements to lead people, and no particular benefit to just being a sergeant or some other middling rank. And of course there’s the risk that your heir dies in battle, but this was actually less likely than you think. In ACKs, the average ransom is 40gp per prisoner, but that’s an average, with nobles being worth a larger chunk of that money. As long as you had gold to spare, it’s likely the enemies would try to take your heir alive in order to extract money from you.
There’s still XP to be had from being with other troops (spoils of war), and, depending on how the unit is handled, potentially quite safe. Taking control of a vassal domain is obviously much safer and easier.
The ‘noncontigous’ domains, and ‘nonhenchmen vassal’ in the other thread I linked and the idea of “family” feels like it has some merit.
If you have siblings and children you can foist off a domain to, and they wouldn’t necessarily count as a henchmen, but perhaps not have the built-in morale penalty (or their own hidden generated morale score).
It lets you build a sort of dynasty that will outlast the character, with enough variance that sudden but inevitable family betrayals can still pop up.
I think that’d lend something to the multi-tier A,C,K game style.
I’m trying not to reference Game of Thrones, here, but it’s a thing that’s popular right now. I wonder if that RPG took any time to mechanize that sort of thing.
Hmmmm, that’s a good point. It’s been a while since I’ve read the D@W rules in detail, but I recall spoils of war are paid out pro-rata to the expected wages, meaning if you arm your heir like a knight (aka heavy cavalry/cataphract), they’ll level up faster than a light infantry would, and of course when they obtain veteran status they’ll be able to demand a bigger share and thus more XP.
The only possible limit is the fact that only certain people are qualified to be certain types of troops, with heavy cavalry and cataphract being the rarest. Of course, this depends on WHY they are rare. Are they rare because it’s genuinely genetically rare, or because the ways and means to pay for the training and tutelage to become that good is rare? Maybe both? It could be that with enough money and training, your heir could be qualified to be such a high quality troop. On the other hand, troops generally don’t have the 6 ability scores, whereas we’d assume you probably took the time to roll up your heirs stats, and maybe STR, DEX, CON, even INT might contribute to someone’s ability to qualify for certain troop types.
On the other OTHER hand, what determines if an heir has 18 str? Is it strictly random? are they more likely to have high STR if their parents have high STR? could the training afforded a person of noble birth give them the opportunity to train harder than somebody of humble origin?
The parental ruler may well do that, but the heir will still have a significant gap once he takes control of the realm entire. A 1st level character who becomes a count is looking at 2-5 years of rulership before he reaches 8th level, but he’ll reach 5th level in less than 6 months. It’s the last three levels where his advancement will slow down as the xp needed to level keeps doubling, but he realizes less and less of his income as xp thanks to the threshold.
His father could give him control of a barony or a march in advance of his ascent, but it’ll take ~3 years as a marquis to go from 1st to 6th level, or ~7-8 years total to reach 7th. If his father’s only willing to trust him with a barony, it’ll take him ~7 years just to hit 5th level.
So being trusted with a smaller domain ahead of time will make those first few months as count a little less overwhelming, but at the cost of a much longer stint as an “apprentice” ruler beforehand. On top of that, the last few levels he’ll need to be able to take on the rest of his father’s henchmen (assuming they’re all ~7th level themselves) are still a few years away.
This is also an option, but it’s largely subject to the same limitations as the apprentice ruler avenue.
Not that it’s a problem. I like the way the rules are interacting in this fashion.