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Monday, December 5, 2011

Impromptu Towns and Search Order

The Babbling Bane posed a question in the comments to the post on impromptu towns: given a settlement like Ducksborough, with two temporarily undefined local craftspeople, what do you do if the PCs search for three or more different trades, like glass-blower, basket-weaver, and armorer?

One simple answer is that I would ask them who they are looking for first. This means that in theory, players could meta-game the system, looking for the most useful crafts first. However, they are hampered by the fact that they don't know what I rolled for the number of crafts, or if I've gone ahead and selected all the local crafts beforehand (as I have for the village I'm currently using in a game.)

If there's three or more PCs, they could conceivably look for all three simultaneously, at which point I'd roll in this order:
  1. Associated with regional economics but not "do it yourself"
  2. Common but not "do it yourself"
  3. Luxuries that peasants can do themselves
  4. Rare or completely unrelated to regional economics
There's two bits about this list that need explanation: what counts as "DIY" and what counts as "rare". Anyone doing limited research into pioneer America, Old West prospecting, or medieval Europe would soon discover that farmers or peasants didn't buy all that much, only necessities they couldn't find or make themselves. Almost everyone should be able to cook, build an ugly shelter, make ugly furniture, and make simple containers. Many pioneers and peasants routinely made their own soap, candles, butter, cheese, and pottery. If they had horses, pioneers probably knew enough about blacksmithing to shoe a horse and could maybe even perform crude repairs on ironware; medieval peasants might be less likely to know how to do this, but they might instead know a little bit about tinkering, enough to repair a tin pot. At the other extreme, you have skilled crafts that rely on other trades, special materials, or special needs; these will be rare for an area that can't really support them. If there's no sand or clay locally, you're unlikely to find a glass-blower or a potter; if there's no trade in tin or tin goods, there's not likely to be a tinker; if there's no steady stream of military types, there's not likely to be an armorer.

Thus, "basketweaver" in Ducksborough is a luxury (the locals could probably make their own crude baskets.) "Butcher" would also count as a luxury (they can slaughter their own ducks,) but maybe a dairy would be ranked as a common non-luxury craft. A glass-blower is unrelated to the regional economics, but not necessarily rare (there might be easy access to sand,) while an armorer is unrelated AND rare. I would subtract 1 from the number of potential armorers, except at fort settlements or others with military activity, which means small villages always have zero armorers, unless specially placed. Bowyer, on the other hand, makes sense regionally (if the locals are duck hunters rather than duck farmers;) bowyer would be treated as a common non-luxury.

If players do a simultaneous search for a glass-blower, a basket-weaver, and bowyer in Ducksborough, I'd do bowyer first, then basket-weaver, then glass-blower. Since Ducksborough is a small village, there's only one tradesperson per trade, so there's no roll and therefore would be no glass-blower; if the players specified a different search order, there might be one. In a small town, there's an actual roll for the number of craftspeople in a given trade, so there's actually a chance for things like armorer.

Any craft that the players don't find is either imported (hit the weekly market...) or can be made by just about any of the locals (ask a peasant if they'd like some extra cash.) Or flat-out unavailable, for rare trades. For repairs, modifications or crude facsimiles, rather than normal trade items, some trades can act as emergency stand-ins for others. For example, I neglected to include "blacksmith" in the notes for Ducksborough, even though the table clearly indicates that there would be one. A blacksmith could repair minor damage to metal armor and might even be able to make crude armor, although there would be a risk of malfunction in battle and possibly a reaction penalty as well when your opponent sees your leather jacket covered with linked horse shoes.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, how did I miss this? You must have post just after this or something. Thanks for clarification. Exactly what I was looking for!