Wednesday 9 February 2022

How to build a Domain in AD&D 1st Edition Part 3

Machodor today

In Parts 1 & 2 I tried to be reasonably generic so as to have the widest possible application, but in this post I will begin delving into detailed specifics with examples, focussing on encounter evaluation.

First, a brief history. In the aftermath of the July Trollopulous Patron game, Macho Mandalf found himself in possession of a ruined keep to the west of Trollopulous and in command of 150 Pugmen. He garrisoned the keep with 50 and then did a wide loop around the map in the Skiff (a floating ship captured from Tharks which he named Swift Sunrise) travelling much of the western part of the Trollopulous map, stopping at all the major attractions to memorise safe Teleport spots for later use. 

FOB1 aka Barad Pug
FOB2 aka Tregard

He also dropped off groups of Pugmen at two strategic locations (FOB1 & FOB2) far removed from the Keep. This was both to stake a claim to the locations and give himself options if the Ruined Keep was wrested from his hands.

Initially a revenue raiser,
Fordebridge is now the western
gate to Machodor

FOB3 to the north of the city

Later, when the campaign continued, Mandalf created the race of Puglins (bred from Pugmen and Goblins utilising the spells Polymorph other and Haste) and mass produced several hundred of them, giving him the man(?) power to construct and occupy two more outposts, as well as digging a huge ditch around the now repaired keep, which he renamed Minas Mandalf. He was also able to patrol the area in strength.

Fordebridge (Pugmen can be seen in the foreground)

Time passed, and the ditch around Minas Mandalf gave way to a stone wall using many spells over many weeks. After an unfortunate episode, Macho Mandalf was forced to occupy the village of Murkwell to the west, lest it fall into ruin after all its inhabitants were murdered. Studying the map, it suddenly dawned on him that he did not have simply a city with various outposts under his control, but a realm, which, in a fit of creativity, he named Machodor.

First Period

When I first grasped the domain rules described in Part 1, I went back through my chat logs and worked out when the local patrols had first cleared the immediate area (30 mile hex) around Minas Mandalf.

This worked out to about 3 months worth of encounters to generate from the "Temperate and Sub Tropical Conditions Inhabited and/Patrol Areas" table (DMG p186) and the "Temperate and Sub Tropical Conditions Uninhabited/Wilderness Areas" table (DMG p184) which below I just refer to as Inhabited and Uninhabited. Note, I now use the equivalent tables at the back of the Fiend Folio. 

Because some of this was back dated I also had to work out when, as the Minas Mandalf sphere of influence expanded, the 30 miles radius condition kicked in. It more or less coincided with the 14 weeks detailed below, so in future periods only "Inhabited" encounters are still required.

14 Weeks of Encounters

As you can see, the majority of first period Uninhabited encounters were with wild animals of different kinds. Since the patrols were made up of 50 Puglins, I ruled that they were simply chased off. There was one outlier, a Pegasus lair. A DM mediated encounter saw this group join Macho Mandalf for his promise of protection and glory.

Incidentally, a domain's initial uninhabited encounters are important because these are where you get a chance to encounter things like Pegasi, Blink Dogs, and even Dragons. Who wouldn't want some of these fine creatures on their side? If you roll such an encounter, roll to see if it is in lair (i.e. your forces found the lair while out patrolling), and, if so, contact your DM asap to adjudicate the encounter. It could be foundational for your budding domain.

The Inhabited encounters had their share of wild animals as well, but also;
  • Bandits (Neutral) these became the major encounter
  • Merchants (Neutral) these sold their wares in Minas Mandalf
  • Gnomes (Lawful Good) these became citizens and settled in a place in the hills called Gnomesville
  • Dervish (Lawful Good) these became citizens and the back bone of the realm's defences
  • Pilgrims (Lawful Good) seeking the legendary blessed fountain housed in the Keep, these became citizens and their Paladins formed the Order of Saint Michael
  • Nomads (Neutral) these negotiated the use of a wide territory south of Murkwell in exchange for patrol duty and tribute
There were also some monsters that are still roaming the area, including a single Manticore. The Manticore became an unresolved encounter and then became a PC mission, which the DM turned into a fun session (with more adventure still possible).

Flier distributed around Minas Mandalf

Once I caught up on and processed the "suitable" Inhabited encounters, I needed to resolve one big "unsuitable" encounter for the full period. Since this was such a long period with lots of encounters I will only describe this "unsuitable" encounter, which was three sets of Bandits base 20, 40, and 80, in detail here.

Now, in principle, you could resolve these encounters with just handwaving or putting the load entirely on the DM; but I've tried to put some thought and random chance into it as much as possible to help add to the campaign world.

To resolve the 3 bandit groups I allocated a number to the hexes around Minas Mandalf and rolled for each. The results placed the Group with 20 in an 'informal camp' in hex 3, the group of 40 had a hidden cave complex in hex 2, and the group of 80 had a "Medium Small walled castle with keep and 2 light catapults" in hex 5 (the swamp, the original builders must have been very persistent).

From their sorties and rumours I allowed that the hex locations for each group were known, but not where they were in those hexes. They would have to be searched out before they could be dealt with.

How Macho Mandalf got Gust
 working for him is another story
Macho Mandalf requested Gust the air elemental to search for the group in hex 3, rolling a d10 each week and counting a 1 as a success (since they were in plain sight from the air) and found them in week 4. By that time some Pegasi had been recruited and were also involved in searching. They found the Castle in the swamp hex after 2 weeks of searching.

The Gnome settlers discovered the group in Hex 2 in the cave complex while setting up Gnomesville. I apply a principle of  Edgar Rice Burroughs logic so that if two things are in the same area of course they will bump into each other.

Since the Bandits had been left unmolested for some time, I assigned a probability that they might join together, which they did at the Castle in the swamp.

I had intended to try to do a chainmail battle for this encounter, but it was now a siege, and in the event Macho Mandalf had other means to deal with them once the bases were located.

He set out in the Skiff along with 300 Dervish troops and 200 Puglins to lay siege to the castle. Then, using Clairvoyance to discover who and what was there, he found the customary prisoners and slaves the bandits held and realised that Cloudkill was out of the question.  The alternate plan was far less messy; having identified the leaders, he requested the several level 12 clerics who were on hand cast successive Aerial Servant spells to capture them. When this was successful and the leaders were restrained on the deck of the Swift Sunrise, he prevailed upon the remaining bandits to surrender (using Audible Glamour at full volume to drive the point home).

The resulting morale check required a d100 roll under 50 modified by; 
  1. Leader slain or deserts check at +30% 
  2. Outnumbered & outclassed by 3 or more to 1 +20%  
  3. Taking casualties without receiving any +10% 
  4. Foolish enough to oppose Macho Mandalf +50%
  5. d100 roll of 73 
Even with #4 existing only in Mandalf's head, the result was still way over the mark, resulting in morale failure and they all surrendered.

The Bandits were escorted back to Minas Mandalf where a mass trial was held, with detect lie and ESP being used to determine guilt (and level of guilt). Those guilty of murder were executed, the remainder were given varying custodial sentences of hard labour (the Minas Mandalf sewers won't dig themselves). About 100 were executed in this manner, including all the leaders except the Magic User. I roll for any spells an opposing Magic User has in their spell book so I can apply them when resolving the encounter. This Magic User had no offensive spells and his Alignment came up as Lawful Good! Clearly, he had been pressed into the service of the Bandits but his heart was never in it. He now toils around Machodor casting Wall of Stone until he has served his sentence.

Once again, the idea of this method of resolution is to find some plausible description of what happened with the encounter, drawing upon the rules as much as possible, but also without needing more adjudications from the DM than are necessary. As always, the DM can veto or change any part of this. 

Bandit Treasure recovered

Because this was a total victory, all of the Bandit treasure was removed to Minas Mandalf. There were 27 pieces of jewellery and 40 gems with a round total of 130,000gp worth! There was also coinage of 2000ep, 2000gp, 1000sp, and 1000cp, and of course the Castle itself is valuable it its own right.

The swamp Castle now manned by Puglins

The Bandits had numerous Magic Items which added up to a total 33,000xp. Note that I generate the Magic Items as much as I can, before resolving the encounter, and determine if perhaps any of them can influence the outcome. For example, in one case I was excited to roll up a suit of Plate Mail of Etherealness, but then, since it was owned by one of the lower level officers and not a leader who was grabbed by an Aerial Servant, I decided that the owner would simply have used it to escape capture and so the armour was not part of the treasure haul at all. Another time a desperate lower level Magic User activated a Wand of Wonder, only to get the result of "grass grows in area of 16” square before wand, or grass existing there grows to 10 times normal size". This result, although of little use in defence, is now greatly appreciated by passing Pegasi.

I could give you a full list of the Magic Items acquired from the Bandit encounter, but Macho Mandalf thinks that would be making things too easy for Machodor's enemies.

After the example of this encounter, I expected that the incidents of banditry would dry up in the immediate area, and so in future weighted encounter locations so they were more likely to be further afield in Machodor.

I hope you enjoyed Part 3 of this series. It turns out that I will need at least a Part 4, and maybe more, to cover everything I wish to on this subject. So I hope you'll look forward to the next instalment.

1 comment:

  1. Very cool! Domain play looks very different from adventurer play but still incredibly fun.


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