[CFMS] Step-Dice and Manors

Let’s start delving into some of the proposed mechanics for the manor system. The first step is step-dice. We’ll use the various die types – d4, d6, d8, d10, and 12 – to rank a few key facets of manors.

Holding size:

  • d4 is a virgate of land, typical to a single peasant family
  • d6 is a hide of land, the very minimum to support a lord and his immediate family.
  • d8 is a vill. It’s the typical amount of land given to a knight as a fee for his services.
  • d10 is a parish. Basically a larger version of a vill and a respectable size for a single manor.
  • d12 is a hundred. A division of a county/shire. Generally only bishops and earls would hold this much continuous land.

If you have four of one particular rank of land, they can be combined together to form the next rank up. So four d4 vigrates makes a hide, four hides make a vill and so forth.

Population:

  • d4 is a family – husband and wife, maybe a sibling or parent or two who lives with them and a few children.
  • d6 is a large extended family or a group of neighbors.
  • d8 is a small village worth of people.
  • d10 is a largish village of people.
  • d12 is the resident population of a town.

Like holding size, each rank is made up of four of the rank below it.

Tools:

Step-dice will also be used to rank the tools available to the manor. This works basically as a technology level. Each manor starts with d4 tools, but various implements will increase the rank by one step. These implements are: oxen (or work horses), a forge, and a mill.

Holding size is effectively a cap on how much population can work on the land. Various manor endeavors are resolved by rolling the die appropriate for the population working on the endeavor and including the tool die in the pool. So just like core CF resolution, but with population replacing skill. Various aspects can then be invoked to enhance your chances or endured to make things tough.

  1. By the way why don’t you creat a chronica feudalis yahoo group so people can discuss the rules, propose characters, scenarios and so forth ?

  2. I’ll definitely consider that.

    In the mean time, feel free to start a discussions at rpg.net, story-games.com, therpghaven.com, or your favorite gaming boards. And if you send me a link, I’ll be happy to chime in if there are any questions I can help out with.

  3. In addition to Population and Holding Size, I think a third, obvious parameter should be taken into account : Prosperity, measuring how “bountiful” a fief can be, how much economic wealth it can actually produce – because such things were very different from one fief to another in medieval times.

    It could easily be linked to the two other traits : a fief with a Population die step greater than its Prosperity die step would be economically precarious, meaning increased poverty etc for the local common people and probably increasing the chances of peasant revolts (I guess you’re planning to include a system about such things).

    Conversely, comparing Prosperity to Holding Size would also make sense, economically speaking.

    Another possibility would be to have two different traits here : one measuring potential Prosperity (perhaps another term, emphasizing the “potential” aspect, would be better) and the other measuring how well the fief is actually managed (Stewardship ?). The sum of Holding Size and Population could give some sort of “required thresholds” for the sum of potential Prosperity and Stewardship – ie the larger and more populous the fief, the more bountiful and well-managed it needs to be.

  4. A fief should have aspects also. This could include things like :
    - fishing harbour
    - merchant harbour
    - mine
    - on a trade road
    - on a dead-end
    - isolated in winter

  5. Good comments. Prosperity is definitely an important facet of manor life to consider. I like how you’ve approached it, Olivier, but I’m not convinced Prosperity should be a stat in and of itself. I’m looking at the factors that contribute to prosperity: good workers, good weather, fertile land, smart agriculture, and strong tools; as well as the end result of prosperity: the success of a harvest, whether or not everyone has enough to eat, any surplus goods to trade and spend on other things. But at the end of the year, you should be able to tell if it’s been a prosperous year or not. And as time goes on, you’ll hopefully have a good indication of whether or not you have a prosperous manor – or which manors are prosperous and which ones are not.

    A lot of it depends on how lucky you are with your dice rolls. But what besides luck can contribute to one d8 population on a d8 holding with d6 tools being more prosperous than another d8 population with d6 tools? Well, I think Serge’s suggestion comes at an opportune time: aspects.

    Each manor, like a character, will have aspects. In addition to Serge’s suggestions, here are a few more examples…
    - Rich soil
    - Rocky fields
    - A hardy stock of sheep
    - Gently rolling hills
    - Dark forest

    Manors, like characters will have Ardor points. You’ll spend the Ardor to invoke aspects that could contribute towards increased prosperity. While aspects like “Rocky fields” might hinder husbandry of the land, the Ardor they earn you can be used towards other endeavors.

    All that said, I really like what you said about comparing the Prosperity rank to the Population rank to get a good idea of the condition of peasants. That feels about right, so I’m interested in seeing if something out of the results of a husbandry roll can be used in such a comparison.

  6. In addition to a manor’s intrinsic qualities and ‘tools’, perhaps you could have a category of traits reflecting the, well, skills of the people managing the manor. Perhaps you could even add a fifth skill category for manor-based games, in addition to the four existing categories of “adventuring” skills (chase, parley, combat, subterfuge). For symmetry’s sake, this “manor skills” category should logically include six different skills – which might be a bit difficult to fill. What do you think of the following concepts ?:

    Stewardship : economic management

    Justice / Legal : used to resolve judicial disputes, legal litigations etc (which as you know were very frequent in medieval times and could often have far-reaching consequences)

    Military Organization / “Marshalry” : used to organize troops, fortifications etc; how well the fief is defended or “battle ready” on a general basis.

    Intelligence Gathering / Surveillance : how well the fief is ‘watched’ from the inside; using network of informants, uncovering peasant revolts before they erupt etc.

  7. I’m not sure quite where to plug in Stewardship and Justice as skills. By which I mean, in what situation would you make a Stewardship roll? And when would you make a Justice roll? And what would be the effects of those rolls? They’re important concepts that should be explored, but I think they’re maybe best represented by the choices each player makes than by the skill system. Your stewardship is how you choose as a player to run and manage your manor. Your justice is how you choose as a player to administer and enforce the law.

    But you’re right that besides what I’ve discussed already, there needs to be some room for skill to effect the prosperity of the manor. I’ll hopefully have a chance tonight to put together my next post. This one will be on “masters.” Masters are an extension of CF’s mentors. They provide the professional skill that allows your manor to harvest resources and build better. So, more soon on that.

  8. About stewardship and justice : of course, player’s decision and choices should always trump hard game mechanics but surely you are not going to ask a player to go through the daily routine of every stewardship decision or legal litigation – I’m not talking about important, dramatic situations here, but about daily life, business-as-usual decisions which IMHO need to be abstracted in some way. And since CF also abstracts things like Empathy, Entice or Deceive, there is no real reason why this logic could not be extended to things like administrative or judicial management – and after all, the existence of Parley skills does not prevent good roleplaying and player’s decision from having a great impact on where the story goes.

    That being said, as your “Masters” idea seem to suggest, it would probably be more consistent to treat things like stewardship or justice as characteristics of the manor (with, for instance, a wise seneschal impacting on stewardship etc) rather than as character skills per se.

  9. How about stats for:
    - “Happiness” or Loyalty of the people (could be rolled for when you try to get them to make sacrifices for you, or in cases of potential rebellion)
    - Treasure (is this already planned? Seems consistent with the PCs purses)

    I am inspired by Reign’s company stats: Might (i.e. military), Treasure, Influence (diplomatic), Sovereignty (this is sort of like happiness/loyalty above), and Territory (which I guess you already have).

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