Tuesday 21 February 2023

How to build a Domain in AD&D 1st Edition Part 6

Recently completed Machodor detailed map

It's been a year since I wrote my series on how to build a domain. Those posts are my most read on the blog and are still finding new readers, so I've been meaning to add this new part to the discussion since I think it fits with what has gone before.


Growing a Patron's base by encountering groups from the monster manual, as described previously in this series, is one thing; but a Patron will also want to increase the numbers of his population of normal humans drawn from the local area. If nothing else, as per class descriptions from the PHB, each new addition is a source of a number of silver pieces per month. However, increasing the general population is not directly covered anywhere in the rules. Clever domain lords will come up with ways to draw new citizens by adapting to campaign specific situations, but these don't have bearing here. The method below is drawn directly from the rules and should be applicable almost universally.


PHB pg. 20

Given the above, a domain lord with the resources available should prepare places of worship in advance, so that when these clerics arrive they can immediately get on with the business of attracting followers. The DMG allows you calculate the costs of each church like so:

DMG pg. 117

For a Church of appropriate size I've been using 2000gp total for the building itself, then using the holy water creation rules to calculate the cost of a font, then double this amount to account for an altar. A side benefit of this construction is the capacity to create a constant source of holy water (or unholy water if your domain goes that way).

DMG pg. 115


Using copper this comes out at an approximate total cost of 3000gp. If you go for a wooden church (about 40% of the cost of stone) and don't bother with a font just yet (note that construction can take up to 10 weeks), it can be done a lot more cheaply.

Now, over a month or so the clerics lay followers (2d10*10) and troops will roll in. The troops are determined on the table below.

DMG pg. 16

On average one Patriarch will attract 110 followers and 112 troops. Quite a generous number compared to other character classes. Now, you may be wondering about how often such a cleric will show up on the domain encounter tables. 

Inhabited/Patrolled encounters in Temperate or Sub-Tropical regions


From the perspective of a Lawful Good domain, Dervish and Pilgrims are available. Neutral domains could pick up Merchants, Nomads, Berserkers and (a few) Pilgrims; while evil domains could get Pilgrims and Brigands.

The overall chances of "Men" useful to a Lawful Good Domain by terrain type:

Plains 41%
Scrub 34%
Forest 20%
Rough 32%
Desert 65%
Hills 23%
Mountains 20%
Marsh 2%

It is clear that if you want to build up a lot of "Men" encounters then the desert is the place to build! God created (the desert) to train the faithful, and all that.

Interestingly, random "Men" encounters who can't be Good aligned have clerics at only level 7 or below (with the exception of Buccaneers, these can have clerics up to 15th level (!), but they don't appear on land based random tables anyway). This is possibly a reflection of the underlying benefits of a Good aligned church or to prevent evil domains from proliferating.
  • Each Pilgrim group is guaranteed to have a Level 8 Cleric; Lawful Good Pilgrims will join the domain and Chaotic Good ones may join on a good reaction roll result. 
  • Each Dervish group may have a Level 8 Cleric. The Dervish also have a level 10-12 Cleric, but I consider the Dervish group as a whole as taking the place of the followers available to this Cleric, so allowing more would be double dipping.



In the case of Machodor, each time a Patriarch arrives I assign him to a Church in Minas Mandalf and allow a month for the supporters to accumulate before adding them to the total. Once established, sometimes individual Patriarchs can lead their followers off to found new settlements such as with Long Grass Village and Xantsol's Folly, or to bolster existing settlements such as Fordebridge and Murkwell. The city of St Raul was founded by three Patriarchs working together.

So far Minas Mandalf has built around 25 Churches, plus more in other towns in wider Machodor, the total population from this source is approximately 7,000 with about half of those being civilians. I assume this source of civilian population is made up evenly of men and women, and this helps with the sex imbalance that I've otherwise had to solve by sourcing Trollops.


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