[CFMS] Scale of Play

Over the last couple of days we’ve talked about how the manor system scales size and time. But there’s one more scale-related facet to explore and that is the scale of play-styles.

There are many ways to play the Chronica Feudalis Manor System. Largely this is because there are many elements that can scale in complexity based on how interested you are in the element. If the tenants of the manor are villeins who work on your demesne, then you roll each season to see how they do with their farming / fishing / sheep herding. If they are free peasants, you roll nothing and just collect flat rent payments from them every year. The choice between the two has as much to do with the play style you’re interested in as anything else. If you’re interested in mining and lumbering, you can hire laborers to do these tasks for you or you could just buy the materials outright and avoid the hassle.

And because of the way that the system scales in size and scales in time, you have some choices in this regard. Are you telling the story of a family of peasants working one virgate strip of land – because the system can do that – or are you telling the story of several wealthy barons, each with their own manors, because the system can do that too. Or maybe each player is a peasant with their own virgate or perhaps all the players collaborate on running one baron’s manor. Are you playing with the manor system as a framework for your adventures or are manors something that work in the background of your role-playing focused campaign?

So what’s the problem? Lots of choices and scalability are good things, right? Well the issue that comes up now is how do I write this? At any one decision point, I feel the need to spell out not only all the various options, but also how each previous decision impacts all those option. Choosing between villeins and free peasant tenants is a different choice depending on weather you are playing the tenants or the lord.

My decision – for the moment anyway – on this issue is to create a default play scenario and write the manuscript targeted at that play-style. The scenario will likely be the one that most engages with the rules. It’s not that this play-stye is any better than any of the other options, it’s just that it hits on nearly every eventuality. Likely we’re talking about a knight’s fief (allows you to see every facet of manor life but still gives you room to grow) with the players sharing responsibilities of running the one manor (to illustrate how responsibility sharing can work) that uses the manor system as inspiration for short, episodic adventures (so that we can explore epic time-frames of castle building and generational play). I will of course hint at and imply the various other play options – probably including a section that introduces several of them – but it seems like it would make the writing of and learning of the system too muddled if I map out each path linearly through each chapter.

  1. No news since november on your manor system ?

  2. Hi Serge,

    Actually I should be posting some news pretty soon here. Sorry it has been such a long time, but I finally just finished the first draft and handed it off to my editor. I will tell you right now that the design has evolved immensely since these early blog posts.

    So watch this blog for upcoming information on Noblesse Oblige (which is the supplement’s title).

  3. VoilĂ  une bonne nouvelle ! that’s some good news !

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