Posted by FateOfNever (1814 posts) -

In today's news, Episode 3! Here you can find Episodes One and Two, and now episode Four!

So, these blogs don't seem to be getting much response at all, least right now, but, that's ok because I'm still using them to help me finish getting the start of this campaign ready for Sunday, so, at least until then, they shall continue!

Last time we did some basic history work and talked about population ratios within the city. This time I'll be talking about city government and law. There may be time for something else to work its way in here, but, I'm not going to force anything else in if it doesn't feel natural.

Creating A D&D Campaign: Episode 3! (I Am The Law!)

Here we are today talking about government. This one shouldn't be too long, I don't think. I'm not going to get into a great big list of laws that the city has, most laws are pretty common sense after all. Don't murder, assault, harass, steal, so on, so forth, you get the idea. But there are still things that have to be worked out.

As a starting point, I'm going to answer some questions proposed in the Dungeon Master Guide 2 regarding-

Law Rank

Law Rank is more or less defined as "The degree to which any jurisdiction upholds the rule of law. The fairness of its authorities and their effectiveness in suppressing criminality." (pg. 101 DMG2) The scale isn't so much defined by exact numbers as it is by whether or not your total is positive, negative, or approximately zero. To get this Law Rank Number, you answer a few simple questions that have some math associated with your answers.

Question 1!

This is as accurate a representation of the alignment grid I could find. Plus, yo, Ghostbusters.
  • What is the alignment of the local power center? (+2)

3.5 D&D is based off of an alignment system consisting of 9 different alignments: Lawful Good, Neutral Good, Chaotic Good, Lawful Neutral, True Neutral, Chaotic Neutral, Lawful Evil, Neutral Evil, Chaotic Evil, which create a 3 x 3 grid with the upper left corner (Lawful Good) being "the most good guy" and the lower right (Chaotic Evil) being "the worst bad guy." So this question more or less comes down to "is the local power center good or bad, are they lawful, neutral, or chaotic?" Civilized power structures don't tend to be chaotic, as they don't often do whatever they want whenever they want because they simply have the power to do so. Not that they CAN'T be, but, chaotic societies don't tend to advance very far. At the same time, many power centers don't actually tend to abide by the law all the time. They may put on a face of abiding by the law as often as possible, but they also tend to bend and break the rules when others aren't looking. People are prone to moments of corruption or self interests more than they are to uphold the law even behind closed doors. Anyway, I'm getting into this probably more than I need to. So the answer here I think is that the power center will probably be good, but neutral. By the book, this gives me +2 points.

Question 2!

  • Over the past fifty years, have all transfers of power from one ruler to the next been peaceful? (+4)

Hmm, this means I have to consider the history some. Let's say the city is maybe... close to 300 years old (the lycanthropy incident taking place maybe... around 200 years ago.) As for what the power structure/ruling body is, let's say that there's a prime ruler that has a council working directly under him or her that keeps the city running. The prime ruler, let's say, is an elf that has been in power since just shortly after the lycanthropy incident, meaning he's been in power for let's say 174 years (oh elves and their absurdly long life span) and let's say that the council members have never been replaced through violence or anything. So, according to the book this means that there's +2 for 50 years and another +2 for more than 100 years. Putting us up to +6

Question 3!

  • Does the city have a written legal code? (+3)

It sure does. A legal code that has more or less been in place since the town's founding, it may have been adjusted a bit over the years, but, not major overhauling of the legal code. So this means that we add +1 for a code of law and +2 for it being around for more than 100 years. Another +3 for a total of +9.

Question 4!

I AM THE LAW!
  • How strongly does the ruler enforce the laws?

This is sort of on a four option scale. Very Strong - nearly always catching or killing criminals. Moderately Strong - catching or killing criminals more often than not. Weak - crimes tend to go unpunished more often than not. Virtually nonexistent - Criminals are almost never dealt with. Well, being a trade city, crime is probably at least somewhat common, and the law can't catch all of them, especially when some people are too afraid to even let the crimes existence be known, so it definitely won't be very strong. There is however law and law enforcement in the city, so, it's certainly not nonexistent. This leaves us with moderately strong or weak. I think I'm going to go with moderately strong, even though I'll probably use the definition of "catch criminals more often than not" a bit more closer to, say, a 60/40 ratio than, say, an 80/20. Either way, that's +1 to the total, putting us at +10 so far.

Question 5!

  • How many of the ruler's law enforcement officials are ready to ignore crimes or harass innocents in exchange for bribes?

Well, of the given options, I'm going to go with 1/3rd of officials are corrupt. I think had I gone with a weak strength of enforcement I would be more likely to run with 2/3rd of the officials being corrupt. I certainly want corruption to be rather common place in the city, despite it's overall good standing. I mean, this is a trade city where people's lives are made or broken behind the curtain, where guilds struggle against each other just to survive, and many people are out to make enough of a living to not just scrape by, even if they have no direct intention of actually being bad people. So, 1/3rd corrupt officials gives us a -2 rating, putting us at +8.

Question 6!

  • In many places the difference of social standing/power/influence between two parties in a case of law effects the outcome. How often do these conditions effect the law cases in your city?

In this city, money, power, influence, status, it's all very important. If the city has to lose an influential person, for example, because the owner of guild A did something bad to random poor citizen B, the entire city would suffer an economic loss. This means I know as much that it WILL matter, now I just have to decide if it just simply 'usually' matters, or if it 'always' matters. Could random noble person being apart of a murderous cult really get off lighter just because he's a noble, even though he's murdered 20 people for the cause of trying to perform black magic? Probably not, I suppose. I'll say that it only usually matters, even though always matters is actually rather tempting. This choice is a -1 to the total, bringing the total to... +7.

Sorry Dredd, this city isn't lawless enough to need you. Now stop pointing that gun at me.

This is a pretty healthy positive law and it means that it has a deserved reputation for justice over all and legal cases are mostly decided in favor of the deserving party. Which, brings us to the conclusion of the decision of Law Rank! Yeah, this may not have been very exciting, but it did make me come to a couple of theoretically important decisions concerning the way that this city handles the law and criminals and what kind of power structure it has.

The next part regarding the laws of the city is actually pretty simple and shouldn't take up much time, but, is at least a tad more fun for me than answering questions about how corrupt or not corrupt the city might be.

Laws The Characters/Players Probably Need to Know Even Though They Will Totally Ignore Them Most of The Time Anyway!

That's right, laws specific to the city that may actually effect the party members on a somewhat regular basis. This won't be a long list since, as I mentioned earlier, most of this stuff is already pretty much common sense. What follows are things that may not be as much common sense, but, totally make sense when you think about the reality of the world these characters would live in.

  1. Your weapons must be bound with chord at all times within the city to make drawing your weapon a difficult task. If I was running a very heavy magic campaign I would probably have this solved by magical means within the city, but, since this campaign will actually be somewhat lighter on the magic, people in the city will be expected to be able to police themselves to some extent and bind their weapons in their sheathes with rope or some other similar type material.
  2. Drawing / wielding your weapon against an innocent person is a crime. This essentially will be part of the common sense law of "don't assault people" but sort of extends the "don't assault" to also include "don't threaten with a brandished weapon."
  3. You must have a city granted permit to cast any spells at all within the city limits, and even then any spell that may cause area damage/property damage/or rob people of their free will in any way are still illegal, as are invisibility spells. (More spell type effects may get added to this later, but, those are what come to me off the top of my head.)
  4. Lycanthropes are forbidden from residing within city limits, whether natural or infected. If seeking treatment for the disease, one must send a messenger into the city as a representative for yourself to contact someone that can attempt to perform treatment.

And really that's just about it. I mean, there may be more I think of down the line, but, much is covered under common sense laws that I hopefully will only really have to worry about laws regarding weapons and spells. I'll glance back over the kinds of things they tell you to take into consideration later, I'm sure, just to double check, but, I'm running out of time and that will suffice for now I believe.

There is one last thing I'm going to throw in here, since it's also pretty short.

Superstitions Within The City

These aren't really 'laws' but are more behaviors or the like that they may see within the city. I only really have three primary ones off the top of my head, and if you've been reading along with the blog so far, you'll probably understand why.

In this town, people still fear the things that go bump in the night during a full moon.
  • Residents within the town stay inside during the three nights of the full moon. They are cautious during the day time even during the event of the full moon, but come nightfall parents bring their children in early and the streets are barren until sunrise.
  • Many families hang a sprig of belladonna somewhere within their home (although this makes the belladonna potentially useless for preventing the lycanthropy disease as only fresh belladonna grants the effect needed to counteract the disease, many families look at the spring as a good luck charm and a ward for evil.)
  • The guards in town are all outfitted with silver weapons that have also been blessed by holy clerics, and the majority of holy symbols within the town are also made of silver (although a silver holy symbol wouldn't do much to fend off a lycanthrope, silver has more or less come to be viewed as a blessed material within the city.)

I'll probably, at some point, come up with some non-lycanthrope related superstitions, but right now those will do fine as little quirks for the city I think.

And with that, I'm calling this a blog folks. As usual, please feel free to leave any feedback at all that you may have. Or, at the very least, I hope you read all the way through and are finding this to be an at least somewhat interesting blog even if you aren't commenting. Thanks again and see you tomorrow for the next installment of Creating A D&D Campaign where I might actually get into some map making!

#1 Posted by FateOfNever (1814 posts) -

In today's news, Episode 3! Here you can find Episodes One and Two, and now episode Four!

So, these blogs don't seem to be getting much response at all, least right now, but, that's ok because I'm still using them to help me finish getting the start of this campaign ready for Sunday, so, at least until then, they shall continue!

Last time we did some basic history work and talked about population ratios within the city. This time I'll be talking about city government and law. There may be time for something else to work its way in here, but, I'm not going to force anything else in if it doesn't feel natural.

Creating A D&D Campaign: Episode 3! (I Am The Law!)

Here we are today talking about government. This one shouldn't be too long, I don't think. I'm not going to get into a great big list of laws that the city has, most laws are pretty common sense after all. Don't murder, assault, harass, steal, so on, so forth, you get the idea. But there are still things that have to be worked out.

As a starting point, I'm going to answer some questions proposed in the Dungeon Master Guide 2 regarding-

Law Rank

Law Rank is more or less defined as "The degree to which any jurisdiction upholds the rule of law. The fairness of its authorities and their effectiveness in suppressing criminality." (pg. 101 DMG2) The scale isn't so much defined by exact numbers as it is by whether or not your total is positive, negative, or approximately zero. To get this Law Rank Number, you answer a few simple questions that have some math associated with your answers.

Question 1!

This is as accurate a representation of the alignment grid I could find. Plus, yo, Ghostbusters.
  • What is the alignment of the local power center? (+2)

3.5 D&D is based off of an alignment system consisting of 9 different alignments: Lawful Good, Neutral Good, Chaotic Good, Lawful Neutral, True Neutral, Chaotic Neutral, Lawful Evil, Neutral Evil, Chaotic Evil, which create a 3 x 3 grid with the upper left corner (Lawful Good) being "the most good guy" and the lower right (Chaotic Evil) being "the worst bad guy." So this question more or less comes down to "is the local power center good or bad, are they lawful, neutral, or chaotic?" Civilized power structures don't tend to be chaotic, as they don't often do whatever they want whenever they want because they simply have the power to do so. Not that they CAN'T be, but, chaotic societies don't tend to advance very far. At the same time, many power centers don't actually tend to abide by the law all the time. They may put on a face of abiding by the law as often as possible, but they also tend to bend and break the rules when others aren't looking. People are prone to moments of corruption or self interests more than they are to uphold the law even behind closed doors. Anyway, I'm getting into this probably more than I need to. So the answer here I think is that the power center will probably be good, but neutral. By the book, this gives me +2 points.

Question 2!

  • Over the past fifty years, have all transfers of power from one ruler to the next been peaceful? (+4)

Hmm, this means I have to consider the history some. Let's say the city is maybe... close to 300 years old (the lycanthropy incident taking place maybe... around 200 years ago.) As for what the power structure/ruling body is, let's say that there's a prime ruler that has a council working directly under him or her that keeps the city running. The prime ruler, let's say, is an elf that has been in power since just shortly after the lycanthropy incident, meaning he's been in power for let's say 174 years (oh elves and their absurdly long life span) and let's say that the council members have never been replaced through violence or anything. So, according to the book this means that there's +2 for 50 years and another +2 for more than 100 years. Putting us up to +6

Question 3!

  • Does the city have a written legal code? (+3)

It sure does. A legal code that has more or less been in place since the town's founding, it may have been adjusted a bit over the years, but, not major overhauling of the legal code. So this means that we add +1 for a code of law and +2 for it being around for more than 100 years. Another +3 for a total of +9.

Question 4!

I AM THE LAW!
  • How strongly does the ruler enforce the laws?

This is sort of on a four option scale. Very Strong - nearly always catching or killing criminals. Moderately Strong - catching or killing criminals more often than not. Weak - crimes tend to go unpunished more often than not. Virtually nonexistent - Criminals are almost never dealt with. Well, being a trade city, crime is probably at least somewhat common, and the law can't catch all of them, especially when some people are too afraid to even let the crimes existence be known, so it definitely won't be very strong. There is however law and law enforcement in the city, so, it's certainly not nonexistent. This leaves us with moderately strong or weak. I think I'm going to go with moderately strong, even though I'll probably use the definition of "catch criminals more often than not" a bit more closer to, say, a 60/40 ratio than, say, an 80/20. Either way, that's +1 to the total, putting us at +10 so far.

Question 5!

  • How many of the ruler's law enforcement officials are ready to ignore crimes or harass innocents in exchange for bribes?

Well, of the given options, I'm going to go with 1/3rd of officials are corrupt. I think had I gone with a weak strength of enforcement I would be more likely to run with 2/3rd of the officials being corrupt. I certainly want corruption to be rather common place in the city, despite it's overall good standing. I mean, this is a trade city where people's lives are made or broken behind the curtain, where guilds struggle against each other just to survive, and many people are out to make enough of a living to not just scrape by, even if they have no direct intention of actually being bad people. So, 1/3rd corrupt officials gives us a -2 rating, putting us at +8.

Question 6!

  • In many places the difference of social standing/power/influence between two parties in a case of law effects the outcome. How often do these conditions effect the law cases in your city?

In this city, money, power, influence, status, it's all very important. If the city has to lose an influential person, for example, because the owner of guild A did something bad to random poor citizen B, the entire city would suffer an economic loss. This means I know as much that it WILL matter, now I just have to decide if it just simply 'usually' matters, or if it 'always' matters. Could random noble person being apart of a murderous cult really get off lighter just because he's a noble, even though he's murdered 20 people for the cause of trying to perform black magic? Probably not, I suppose. I'll say that it only usually matters, even though always matters is actually rather tempting. This choice is a -1 to the total, bringing the total to... +7.

Sorry Dredd, this city isn't lawless enough to need you. Now stop pointing that gun at me.

This is a pretty healthy positive law and it means that it has a deserved reputation for justice over all and legal cases are mostly decided in favor of the deserving party. Which, brings us to the conclusion of the decision of Law Rank! Yeah, this may not have been very exciting, but it did make me come to a couple of theoretically important decisions concerning the way that this city handles the law and criminals and what kind of power structure it has.

The next part regarding the laws of the city is actually pretty simple and shouldn't take up much time, but, is at least a tad more fun for me than answering questions about how corrupt or not corrupt the city might be.

Laws The Characters/Players Probably Need to Know Even Though They Will Totally Ignore Them Most of The Time Anyway!

That's right, laws specific to the city that may actually effect the party members on a somewhat regular basis. This won't be a long list since, as I mentioned earlier, most of this stuff is already pretty much common sense. What follows are things that may not be as much common sense, but, totally make sense when you think about the reality of the world these characters would live in.

  1. Your weapons must be bound with chord at all times within the city to make drawing your weapon a difficult task. If I was running a very heavy magic campaign I would probably have this solved by magical means within the city, but, since this campaign will actually be somewhat lighter on the magic, people in the city will be expected to be able to police themselves to some extent and bind their weapons in their sheathes with rope or some other similar type material.
  2. Drawing / wielding your weapon against an innocent person is a crime. This essentially will be part of the common sense law of "don't assault people" but sort of extends the "don't assault" to also include "don't threaten with a brandished weapon."
  3. You must have a city granted permit to cast any spells at all within the city limits, and even then any spell that may cause area damage/property damage/or rob people of their free will in any way are still illegal, as are invisibility spells. (More spell type effects may get added to this later, but, those are what come to me off the top of my head.)
  4. Lycanthropes are forbidden from residing within city limits, whether natural or infected. If seeking treatment for the disease, one must send a messenger into the city as a representative for yourself to contact someone that can attempt to perform treatment.

And really that's just about it. I mean, there may be more I think of down the line, but, much is covered under common sense laws that I hopefully will only really have to worry about laws regarding weapons and spells. I'll glance back over the kinds of things they tell you to take into consideration later, I'm sure, just to double check, but, I'm running out of time and that will suffice for now I believe.

There is one last thing I'm going to throw in here, since it's also pretty short.

Superstitions Within The City

These aren't really 'laws' but are more behaviors or the like that they may see within the city. I only really have three primary ones off the top of my head, and if you've been reading along with the blog so far, you'll probably understand why.

In this town, people still fear the things that go bump in the night during a full moon.
  • Residents within the town stay inside during the three nights of the full moon. They are cautious during the day time even during the event of the full moon, but come nightfall parents bring their children in early and the streets are barren until sunrise.
  • Many families hang a sprig of belladonna somewhere within their home (although this makes the belladonna potentially useless for preventing the lycanthropy disease as only fresh belladonna grants the effect needed to counteract the disease, many families look at the spring as a good luck charm and a ward for evil.)
  • The guards in town are all outfitted with silver weapons that have also been blessed by holy clerics, and the majority of holy symbols within the town are also made of silver (although a silver holy symbol wouldn't do much to fend off a lycanthrope, silver has more or less come to be viewed as a blessed material within the city.)

I'll probably, at some point, come up with some non-lycanthrope related superstitions, but right now those will do fine as little quirks for the city I think.

And with that, I'm calling this a blog folks. As usual, please feel free to leave any feedback at all that you may have. Or, at the very least, I hope you read all the way through and are finding this to be an at least somewhat interesting blog even if you aren't commenting. Thanks again and see you tomorrow for the next installment of Creating A D&D Campaign where I might actually get into some map making!

#2 Posted by Ravenlight (8040 posts) -

Misread title as Creating an AD&D Campaign. Am only slightly less excited now.

I'm a huge nerd when it comes to the behind-the-scenes worldbuilding that goes on in D&D, looking forward to more!

#3 Posted by okoctothorpe (71 posts) -

Hey, great work so far! I'm always interested to hear how other DMs structure their campaign worlds. It sounds like you have very definite focus (a la lycanthropy) which will help your PCs craft their characters and gives them a chance to trick them out with obscure prestige classes.

When I was writing my first campaign, I found some of the weird sourcebooks incredibly helpful. It sounds like the port city you're building is key to the campaign, so you may want to check out Cityscape or Stormwrack.

#4 Posted by FateOfNever (1814 posts) -

@Ravenlight said:

Misread title as Creating an AD&D Campaign. Am only slightly less excited now.

This actually makes me feel a bit better because every time I write out the title I always look at it and think "A D&D campaign, not AD&D.. maybe I should change that, eh, nah." So it's kind of nice to see that I'm not the only one that thinks that when seeing it. I actually kind of wish I could get my group to try AD&D, but, I think I'd have a real hard time getting them into it.

#5 Posted by FateOfNever (1814 posts) -

@okoctothorpe said:

Hey, great work so far! I'm always interested to hear how other DMs structure their campaign worlds. It sounds like you have very definite focus (a la lycanthropy) which will help your PCs craft their characters and gives them a chance to trick them out with obscure prestige classes.

When I was writing my first campaign, I found some of the weird sourcebooks incredibly helpful. It sounds like the port city you're building is key to the campaign, so you may want to check out Cityscape or Stormwrack.

Thanks! I appreciate the kind words.

I've been using the Cityscape book a fair amount so far, at least as a kind of reference material to help me think a bit more in depth. It's helped me realize how much stuff really goes into helping flesh out a city and think about a lot more things that I may not have otherwise considered. I haven't checked out Stormwrack yet since the main city won't end up being a port town I haven't bothered flipping through the book yet. But, since I know I want a port town very near by the main city, I definitely want to check it out at some point. For that matter while working on the region map I've actually been trying to think of ways to add as many different types of areas into one region as I can because I have the Sandstorm book as well and I love the content in that book and would love to be able to use that along with the books like Stormwrack and Frostburn and similar, they seem like really fun books that really help people think more outside of the box, or, at least look beyond the norm of what you can have in a campaign.

#6 Posted by Ravenlight (8040 posts) -

@FateOfNever said:

@Ravenlight said:

Misread title as Creating an AD&D Campaign. Am only slightly less excited now.

This actually makes me feel a bit better because every time I write out the title I always look at it and think "A D&D campaign, not AD&D.. maybe I should change that, eh, nah." So it's kind of nice to see that I'm not the only one that thinks that when seeing it. I actually kind of wish I could get my group to try AD&D, but, I think I'd have a real hard time getting them into it.

People tend to fall asleep as soon as someone mentions THAC0.