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When characters have come to the attention of the rulers of their land, usually by performing the sort of deeds that only heroes can manage, they may be granted titles of nobility and land grants.
This will vary from campaign to campaign depending on the preferences of the players and the Game Master. As a rough guideline, it should happen when the party are close to 6th level—although some groups or some individual players may wish their characters to continue the life of a travelling adventurer rather than taking on the responsibility of ruling.
The area of land ruled by a noble (whether a player character or otherwise) is called a Dominion. This applies whether or not the noble is given their title by a ruler or the noble strikes out on their own and simply claims land and assumes a title. A single dominion consists of a stronghold and all the surrounding land that is ruled from and protected by the stronghold. If a ruler had more than one stronghold (except for when one is simply a garrison) then each one and its land is considered a separate dominion.
Of course, it is entirely possible for player character (or non-player character) to ignore this whole hierarchy and simply claim some area of wilderness and proclaim themselves the ruler of it using whatever title they feel like. Depending on the location they choose and the title they adopt, this may be met with anything from indifference to derision to downright hostility by other local rulers.
While it may be attractive to not have a ruler to pay salt tax to, the independent dominion runs the constant risk of invasion—not only by monsters (since it has no allies to back it up) but also by neighbouring countries who may wish to add the land to their own.
While some lucky independents — usually those in the most isolated areas away from other states—are able to grow from a single stronghold to a whole country, the vast majority soon become part of a neighbouring country; either by being taken over militarily or by the political expedient of the independent ruler accepting a title of nobility from the royalty of a nearby country and swearing allegiance to that country in order to avoid a war they cannot win.
And, of course, some simply disappear; struck by plague or famine or worse.
However, claiming wilderness and declaring oneself to be an independent ruler is always an option for a particularly desperate or adventurous character who wishes to own a dominion without having to impress someone else enough to grant them one.
No dominion can survive without a stronghold of some sort. The stronghold provides not only an administrative centre for the dominion, but also a secure place to store the dominion’s wealth and to retreat to in times of war.
The area of land covered by a dominion is measured in Fiefs. A single fief is an area of about 12 miles radius. If using hex maps, this translates to a single 24-mile hex that contains the stronghold, or a cluster of nine 8-mile hexes.
Usually, a dominion will consist of a single fief, with the stronghold roughly in the centre so that no point is too far away for easy access. A large stronghold with several external troop garrisons can increase the effective dominion to anything up to seven fiefs (one containing the stronghold and another six surrounding it). However, the increased travel time needed for either troops to get from the stronghold to an outlying village or for the villagers from that village trying to seek refuge in the stronghold limits the maximum size of the dominion to no larger than this.
If someone wishes to clear out more land and enlarge their dominion beyond this size then they must build another stronghold to protect the newly cleared land — and this then becomes the centre of a second dominion.
Before a stronghold can be built, the surrounding area must first be cleared of monsters that would threaten the builders. This job is ideally suited to adventuring parties. Once the area is clear, the stronghold itself can be designed and built.
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In order to determine the resources available to a dominion, the terrain of each fief must be determined. If you are using 24-mile hexes, this is straightforward, as a single map hex will equal a single fief. If you are using 8-mile hexes or maps without hexes then you will have to classify each fief according to its predominant terrain type.
Each fief is classified as either Civilised, Borderlands or Wilderness, according to the table below, depending on the terrain type of the fief and how close it is to a major city or to other civilised fiefs. Note that the other civilised fiefs don’t necessarily need to belong to the same dominion or even the same country, as long as there are trade links between them and the fief in question (which will usually be the case, barring embargoes).
Table: Dominion Fief Classification
|Terrain Type||Within 144 miles of a city||More than 144 miles from a city but within 72 miles of a Civilised fief||Not near a city or Civilised fief|
(1) Fiefs of this type can become Settled if populated by anyone (2) Fiefs of this type can become Settled if populated by elves (3) Fiefs of this type can become Settled if populated by dwarves (4) Fiefs containing oases are considered to be Civilised
This civilisation level of the fief determines both the number of families that will be attracted to settle the area when the stronghold is built and also the maximum number of families that the fief can support. See Table: Civilisation levels, below, for details.
Any Clear, Forest, Grasslands, Hills or Woods fief that is has over 1,000 families living in it is considered to be of terrain type Settled rather than its basic terrain type.
Mountains fiefs with over 1,000 families become Settled only if populated by dwarves, and Forest and Jungle fiefs with over 1,000 families become Settled only if populated by elves.
This has two effects. Firstly, settled terrain uses different columns on wilderness encounter tables than other terrain types. Secondly, the change to settled terrain may change the civilisation level of the fief, with a corresponding increase in the maximum number of families that the fief can contain.
Table: Civilisation Levels
|Level||Settling Families||Max Families|
The change in civilisation level of the fief may have a knock-on effect on other nearby fiefs, since they may now be within 72 miles (three 24-mile hexes or nine 8-mile hexes) of a civilised fief.
Example: One of Lady Gretchen’s dominions consists of a castle and its fief. The entire area is Mountains, and is well away from other civilised lands. When the castle is first built, the fief is therefore at the Wilderness level of civilisation.
After a few years, the population of her fief grows to 1,033 families. Because Lady Gretchen’s people are primarily dwarves, that fief is now considered to be Settled rather than Mountains, and therefore becomes Borderlands and can support a higher population.
Another of Lady Gretchen’s dominions is in the hills closer to the rest of the kingdom. It is also not within 144 miles of a city or within 72 miles of a Civilised fief, but two of the fiefs adjacent to it are within 72 miles of a Civilised fief.
Those two fiefs (which belong to allied barons) are therefore considered to be Borderland Hills and Lady Gretchen’s fief is considered to be Wilderness Hills.
After a few years, one of the adjacent Borderlands fiefs reaches 1,014 families. It is now considered to be Settled terrain rather than Hills. This changes the civilisation level of the fief to Civilised. This change in civilisation level means that Lady Gretchen’s fief is now within 72 miles of a Civilised fief, and its civilisation level is now upgraded from Wilderness to Borderlands accordingly.
Any fief that loses enough population that it no longer has 1,000 families also loses its Settled type, and reverts back to its normal terrain type. Again, this may have a knock-on effect on other fiefs; which may no longer be within 72 miles of a Civilised fief, and therefore may drop in civilisation level themselves.
Should this cause the maximum population of a fief to drop below its current population, the population of that fief will reduce by 20% per month until it is no longer unsupportable.
Each fief of the dominion will produce between one and four resources that must be exploited to generate income for the dominion, determined by rolling a d10 and consulting the following list:
|1d10||Number of Resources|
Although the actual resources available can be very varied, for game purposes they are simply split into three categories: Animal, Vegetable and Mineral.
For each resource found, roll 1d10 to see which type it is.
The Game Master or players may wish to go into further detail about exactly what types of resources these are; for example a mineral resource could be a gold seam or a source of strong stone for building or a source of fine clay or any one of dozens of other types of mineral. See the Income rules, below. This detail may enhance role playing, particularly if the players like doing trade negotiations, but it does not affect the dominion rules. In the example above, although gold is far more expensive than building stone, there will also be far less of it and the relative income for a gold mine or a quarry in a fief will be similar.
Example: When Lady Gretchen was granted her land and built her castle, the Game Master rolled for resources for the fief. He rolled that the fief had three resources: two mineral and a vegetable.
Jim discussed what those three resources could be with the Game Master, and between them they decided that there was a silver seam that could be mined, a source of granite that could be quarried, and - because the mountain fief is in a warm region and on the edge of the mountain range - olive groves in the valleys and foothills.
In six20 Fantasy, ruling of a dominion takes place in the timescale of months and years, dropping down to a day-to-day basis only during unusual situations. To be specific, the population change and the economy (the income and expenditure for the dominion) are handled on a monthly basis, and the level of satisfaction—or unrest—of the populace is usually handled on a yearly basis but may need to be checked in exceptional circumstances.
Population Change Each month, the number of families in each fief of the dominion will change due to a variety of factors. Rather than try to account for each individual factor, six20 abstracts the whole population change for the month into a single check. For each fief, the basic population change is based on the existing population of the fief: * 1-100 families = +25% * 101-200 families = +20% * 201-300 families = +15% * 301-400 families = +10% * 401-500 families = +5% * 501-750 families = +3% * 751-1,000 families = +2% * 1,001+ families = +1%
In addition to this percentage increase, each fief with fewer than 250 families must roll 1d6 and consult the following: * 1-3 = Lose 1d10 families * 4-6 = Gain 1d10 families
In the case of more populous fiefs, these small changes are simply assumed to be irrelevant compared to the normal population growth.
When Lady Gretchen builds her castle, the fief is wilderness. Therefore it attracts 1d10x10 families as settlers. Jim rolls a 7, so 70 families settle the fief.
After a month, Jim checks the fief for population growth. There are less than 100 families, so there is a 25% increase, making 94 families. Additionally, because there are less than 250 families in the fief, Jim rolls a d6 to see what the random fluctuation is. He rolls a 6, which is good news because it means that there is a further increase in population of 1d10 families, but is disappointed when he then only rolls a 2 on the 1d10. Two extra families arrive, making a total of 96 families at the start of month two.
Monthly Economy Check Each game month, the ruler of the dominion, along with the Game Master, needs to check the economy and tally up the income and expenditure for the month.
Income Monthly income comes from four sources: Resources: Each fief of the dominion will have between 1 and 4 types of resource in it. These resources provide income for the dominion ruler based on their resource type:
Each family within the fief may work on a single resource within the fief. The ruler of the dominion may simply let the populace split themselves evenly between the available resources, or may direct the populace to concentrate on exploiting a particular resource. However, doing so is subject to a few limitations. Firstly, given the infrastructure needed to exploit a particular resource (animals need breeding, crops need sowing, mines need digging), the ruler of a dominion can only change the emphasis once per year. The ruler must decide what their priorities will be at the beginning of each year, and the actual change to those new priorities will happen at the beginning of the following year. When doing so, it is convenient to assign priorities in terms of percentages of families rather than in absolute numbers of families, since the total number of families in the fief will change from month to month. Secondly, the populace must work all the resources in the fief for the local economy to thrive and for the populace to be content. In particular, forcing too much of the population to work in dangerous and unhealthy mines makes the ruler very unpopular. In game terms, each resource must be worked by at least 20% of the families in the fief. For each 1% below that threshold in a year, there is a cumulative –1 penalty to the dominion’s Confidence Rating. Similarly, no more than 50% of the families in the fief should be made to exploit mineral wealth. For each 1% above that threshold in a year, there is a cumulative –1 penalty to the dominion’s Confidence Rating. Thirdly, any fief that brings in a monthly revenue of 15,000gp or more will attract corruption, black markets and bandits. Unless that fief contains the stronghold from which the dominion is ruled, 1d10x10% of the potential resource income will be lost to such forces.
Service: Each family in the dominion brings in the equivalent of income worth 10gp per month in service, such as building works, growing food, tending animals, and so forth. Unlike other sources of income, this is not actually received by the ruler of the dominion as money. However, it can be used to offset expenses such as holidays, tithes, salt tax, and the paying of armies (mercenary or otherwise). Any service income that is not used is wasted and cannot be stored. Poll Tax: Each family in the dominion normally pays 1gp per month in poll tax. This is actual money-in-the-coffers tax paid in coinage. The ruler of the dominion can set the tax rate higher or lower if they desire. For each extra 5sp that is paid per family, there is a –10 penalty to the dominion’s Confidence Rating per year. For each 5sp less that is paid per family, there is a +5 bonus to the dominion’s Confidence Rating per year. Additionally, when the ruler increases the tax rate, this gives an instant –25 penalty to the dominion’s Confidence Rating and forces an immediate confidence check. Similarly, decreasing the tax rate gives an instant +10 bonus to the dominion’s Confidence Rating. Salt Tax: If the ruler of the dominion has other nobles who have sworn fealty to them, they are given 20% of the total income of each lesser noble’s dominion. This income is normally paid in the form of services, and therefore doesn’t actually arrive as coinage. However, like other service income it can be used to offset expenditure. Like service income, this income cannot be stored, and must be used or wasted.
!!! Expenditure Castle Staff and Maintenance: With the exception of armies, which must be accounted for, the cost of castle staff and routine maintenance is assumed to already be covered by the service income of the dominion. However, extraordinary expenses such as rebuilding works in the wake of a siege or a monster attack must be paid for out of the ruler’s pocket. Service income may be used to pay for these expenses. Troops: Whether a full time standing army, a “special forces” unit of adventurers, or a group of mercenaries; troops must be paid for. Armies and mercenaries can be paid for with service income, based on their costs given in Goods and Services in the Equipment section, but adventurers usually only work for cold hard cash. In times of dire need, a peasant militia can be formed from the local populace. Up to 10% of the families in an are a can provide “poor” quality peasant militia (providing an average of 2.5 troops per family). A further 10% of the families in an area can provide “untrained” quality peasant militia (providing an average of 2.5 troops per family). If either are called up, the families providing militia will not produce income of any type during the months in which the militia is active. Tithes: One tenth of all gross income (income before any expenditure has been taken out) must be given in tithes to the various churches and temples that are worshipped throughout the dominion. Tithes may be paid with either service income or money, or a combination of the two. Failure to provide the full amount of tithes results in the churches being angered, and they make their anger known to the populace. The net result of this is that any year in which tithes are not paid in full gives a –50 penalty to the dominion’s Confidence Rating. Salt Tax: In just the same way that the dominion may receive salt tax from subservient dominions, it must also pay twenty percent of its gross income (income before any expenditure has been taken out) to the noble or royal that the ruler of the dominion has sworn fealty to. Salt tax may be paid with either service income or money, or a combination of the two. Festivals and Holidays: Some days during the year are declared as festivals or holidays. These may have been declared by the ruler of the country, or by one of the major religions of the country, or the ruler of the dominion may declare their own. The overall cost of a holiday is 5gp per family. This represents both the expenditure for celebrations and also the lost income because people are not working. This cost may be paid with either service income or money, or a combination of the two. If the holiday was one declared by the churches, its cost can be recouped from the tithes paid to the church. Similarly, if the holiday was one declared by the ruler of the country, its cost can be recouped from the salt tax paid to that ruler. However, if the cost of the holiday is too great to be covered by the tithes or salt tax (or if the holiday was declared by the dominion ruler rather than by a higher power) the dominion ruler must pay the remaining cost themselves. Each time a regular holiday or festival that the populace are expecting is cancelled, a –5 penalty is applied to the dominion’s Confidence Rating, and an immediate confidence check must be made. Each time an extraordinary holiday or festival day is announced, a +2 bonus is applied to the dominion’s Confidence Rating. Entertaining Visitors: Etiquette demands that visiting nobles and royalty are entertained according to their station. The following costs apply whenever a noble (and their retinue) are visiting: * Knight = No extra cost * Baron = 100gp/day * Viscount = 150gp/day * Count = 300gp/day * Marquis = 400gp/day * Duke = 600gp/day * Archduke = 700gp/day * Prince = As nobility + 100gp/day * King = 1,000gp/day * Emperor = 1,500gp/day
!! Confidence Level Each dominion has a Confidence Rating. This is a number that represents the general state of content (or discontent!) of the populace. There is a single confidence rating for the whole dominion — different fiefs do not have separate ratings. When a dominion is first established, the initial confidence rating is set to the sum of the ability scores of the ruler plus 150 plus an additional d100 roll. In addition to the confidence rating, a dominion also has a Confidence Level. The confidence level is based on the rating, and periodically a “confidence check” is made. Whenever a confidence check needs to be made, look up the current confidence rating on Table: Confidence Levels, below, and this will indicate the new confidence level. It is important to remember that although the confidence rating may change frequently, the confidence level only changes when a confidence check is made—even if the rating moves into a different range between checks.
Yearly Confidence Check At the beginning of each year, the Game Master checks the current confidence rating on Table: Confidence Levels, below, in order to determine the confidence level of the dominion. This confidence check may also be required as a result of certain actions by the dominion ruler (e.g. when an expected holiday is cancelled) or as a result of a disaster striking the dominion. Descriptions of the various confidence levels and their effects on the dominion are given below:
Table: Confidence Levels
|Confidence Rating||Confidence Level|
|49 or less||Turbulent|
|50 to 99||Belligerent|
|100 to 149||Rebellious|
|150 to 199||Defiant|
|200 to 229||Unsteady|
|230 to 269||Average|
|270 to 299||Steady|
|300 to 349||Healthy|
|350 to 399||Prosperous|
|400 to 449||Thriving|
|450 or higher||Ideal|
Average: The dominion is running smoothly. There are no special conditions or effects. Belligerent: In each fief that has fewer troops than one half of the number of families, half the families will form a peasant militia (providing an average of 2.5 troops per family). No poll tax can be collected. A quarter of normal service income can be collected in areas without a peasant militia, but none can be collected in areas with a peasant militia. A –10 penalty is applied to the confidence rating. All trade caravans and travelling officials will be attacked by bandits. Any of the dominion ruler’s troops that move or deploy within the dominion will be attacked by peasant militia, deserters, bandits or enemy agents. There is a 50% chance that an enemy state will provide the peasant militia with military support. Defiant: In each fief that has fewer troops than one third of the number of families, half the families will form a peasant militia (providing an average of 2.5 troops per family). However, these militia will not attack unless provoked. No poll tax can be collected. A half of normal service income can be collected in areas without a peasant militia, but only a third can be collected in areas with a peasant militia. A half of normal resource income can be collected in areas without a peasant militia, but only a third can be collected in areas with a peasant militia. Healthy: All income is 10% greater than normal. There is a 25% chance per agent that enemy agents working in the dominion will be exposed. Ideal: All income is 10% greater than normal. There is a 75% chance per agent that enemy agents working in the dominion will be exposed. If a random check indicates that a disaster will occur during the coming year, there is a 25% chance that it will not happen. A +25 bonus is applied to the confidence rating. The confidence rating cannot drop below 400 before the next confidence check. Prosperous: All income is 10% greater than normal. There is a 25% chance per agent that enemy agents working in the dominion will be exposed. If a random check indicates that a disaster will occur during the coming year, there is a 25% chance that it will not happen. Rebellious: In each fief that has fewer troops than one third of the number of families, half the families will form a peasant militia (providing an average of 2.5 troops per family). However, these militia will not attack unless provoked. No poll tax can be collected. A third of normal service income can be collected in areas without a peasant militia, but only a quarter can be collected in areas with a peasant militia. A third of normal resource income can be collected in areas without a peasant militia, but only a quarter can be collected in areas with a peasant militia. A –10 penalty is applied to the confidence rating. Steady: There is a 25% chance per agent that enemy agents working in the dominion will be exposed. Thriving: All income is 10% greater than normal. There is a 50% chance per agent that enemy agents working in the dominion will be exposed. If a random check indicates that a disaster will occur during the coming year, there is a 25% chance that it will not happen. Turbulent: 95% of families will form a peasant militia (providing an average of 2.5 troops per family). No income of any kind may be collected, except by force. A –10 penalty is applied to the confidence rating. The confidence rating cannot rise above 100 until the ruler of the dominion is removed. All trade caravans and travelling officials will be attacked by bandits. Any of the dominion ruler’s troops that move or deploy within the dominion will be attacked by peasant militia, deserters, bandits or enemy agents. One or more enemy states will provide the peasant militia with military support. Unsteady: There is a 20% chance that a –10 penalty will apply to the confidence rating.
!! Events Each year, 1d4 random events will happen in the dominion. These can provide adventure hooks and new plots lines, or merely be set backs and distractions. Due to the huge variety of events that can occur, it is not possible to list them here. However, they can be roughly classified into types of event. For each event that occurs, roll on Table: Events, below, to determine the type of event. As always, although this table is random, the Game Master should be fair to the players and should not let players’ dominions be wiped out by a few bad rolls which indicate disaster after disaster. The Game Master should make sure that the players’ decisions have a real impact on the way their dominions prosper or struggle. Types of event and their effects are listed below:
Table: Events <placeholder>
Credit: This section contains material converted from
Dark Dungeons and
Darker Dungeons, fantasy RPGs released under the OGL and placed in the public domain.