Tolls for Passage

This is something that I threw together concerning PCs and their groups traversing the domains of lords they are not affiliated with. I find the notion of well-armed groups traipsing through the civilized lands of those with whom they don’t owe fealty to be odd at best.

Tolls for Passage
The lord of a land will not allow others to cross through their domain without being challenged. This typically takes the form of a toll for passage. Each toll payment will purchase a writ of passage good throughout that lord’s domain for a month. Patrols only occur if a garrison has been paid for and if that garrison is present in the domain.

Possession of a writ of passage is good within a vassal realm as well. For example, a writ of passage obtained from a Count is good within that Count’s marches and baronies.

Encountering a Patrol
The chance of encountering a patrol is 1-2 (d6). Roll once per day if the group is stationary or each time a patrolled hex is entered.

A group may actively attempt to avoid patrols. Doing so means that the group’s overland travel speed is halved, receiving a x1/2 modifier. Each day, have someone in the group roll 1d20. A roll of 18+ indicates success and regardless of the patrol encounter roll, the group has escaped notice. If an Explorer, Elven Ranger, or a custom class with the Difficult to Spot proficiency is in the group, a roll of 14+ indicates success. Group members making a successful Hide in Shadows roll will grant a +2 bonus to the avoidance roll, but only one such bonus may be applied.

The avoidance rules pertain to mixed groups. A solo Explorer or a group comprised entirely of Elven Rangers for example, can use their Difficult to Spot abilities to outright avoid patrols, doing so on a d20 roll of 3+. Likewise, casters may have magical means at their disposal to completely evade detection. Common sense should prevail in these cases.

Patrol force
The Captain will be 2 levels lower than his liege, min 3rd lvl

There will be 1-2 Lieutenants, each will be 2 levels lower than the Captain, min 1st lvl

Each lieutenant will have a squad of 4-6 Men-at-Arms - if human, these will be 0th lvl men, otherwise they will be 1st lvl non-humans

All members of the patrol will be mounted and well-equipped. The patrol will have banners, tabards, and shields bearing the heraldry of their liege.

Toll Amounts
Toll amounts are typically 10gp per PC per level. Each henchman will cost 1/2 the amount of a similarly-leveled PC. The toll on mercenaries is half their monthly wage. Specialists incur a toll equivalent to 10% of their monthly pay rate.

Optionally, the group can attempt to bargain with the patrol’s captain. A 2d6 reaction roll is made and the following table consulted:
2-: hostile, passage refused, group arrested
3-5: fee doubled
6-8: normal fee
9-11: fee halved
12+: fee waived, the group is invited to be guests and will be feasted
* Diplomacy, Intimidation, and Seduction proficiencies may apply
Other modifiers may come into play, such as racism, noble stature, or religious position. I recommend no more than a +/- 2 for each.

Groups that receive a result of 3-11 may still refuse to pay. If this is the case, they will be arrested and escorted to the local stronghold.

Arrested characters are imprisoned for 1-3 days before being brought before the stronghold’s lord. While you will likely want to run the arraignment with his lordship as a role-playing session, you might also want to make a typical reaction roll to determine the outcome. In addition to the normal modifiers, such as Diplomacy, give this roll a -2 because the group is already at a disadvantage for refusing to pay.

Alternatives to payment
Groups that receive a non-negative (6+) reaction during their arraignment might convince his lordship to an alternative to the toll. Such alternatives might include activities such as performing a service or quest, or some form of friendly challenge.

 Examples of challenges are: Gambling, Riddles, non-lethal Dueling, Performance, and Archery contests. Note that the wager his lordship will demand will be at least double the toll fee. This means that if the fee was previously doubled, it will be quadrupled should the group fail the challenge.

I’d say that this could hold true for lower-level characters (especially before Name Level), especially if low-born and well-armed. When concerned with nobles (usually Name Level characters or above), many non-hostile local lords would show hospitality, even if very suspicious hospitality, as it should be wise to treat characters of such power and status with respect. Of course, some lords will use the opportunity to offer their noble guests “an offer they cannot refuse”…

I agree in general. Of course, that depends upon the type of campaign you’re running and the types of positions your characters have worked themselves into. Still, even if the characters aren’t pursuing domain management at high-levels, their renown or notoriety is sure to come into play.

Ultimately, I think that the Judge’s sense of what fits the situation should guide these types of interactions. I was going to add a paragraph about noble standing, religious affiliation, and the like, but opted for simpler modifiers to the bargaining table.

Looking at the costs for PCs and henchmen, they may be on the low side. Something like 1/2 the Gp Threshold on ACKS Core, pg 146 would scale better with level.

It would be more elegant to use the random encounter mechanics as-is in place of the ‘encountering a patrol’ rules, above. I do this sometimes when I roll brigands on the Men table in civilized terrain by making them Lawful servants of the local lord (and if they happen to have a L9 bandit commander with them, then the lord himself (or one of his court) is out hunting or surveying his territory). Other than that, good stuff.

How can the patrol tell what level the PCs are so that they’ll know how much to charge?

By asking them what their title is, of course!