[Let's Read] The Rules Cyclopedia

Gemini476

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I might as well post the Mentzer Basic reaction table, since that's kind of what the RC based theirs on:
First RollReaction
[HR][/HR]2[HR][/HR]Immediate Attack[HR][/HR][HR][/HR]
[HR][/HR]3-5[HR][/HR]Possible attack,
roll again*:
[HR][/HR][HR][/HR]
2-8Attack
9-12Uncertain,
roll again*:
2-5Attack
6-8Leave
9-12Friendly
[HR][/HR]6-8[HR][/HR]Uncertain,
roll again*:
[HR][/HR][HR][/HR]
2-5Attack
6-8Negotiate,
roll again*:
2-5Attack
6-8Leave
9-12Friendly
9-12Friendly
[HR][/HR]9-11[HR][/HR]Possibly friendly,
roll again*:
[HR][/HR][HR][/HR]
2-5Uncertain,
roll again*:
2-5Attack
6-8Leave
9-12Friendly
6-12Friendly
[HR][/HR]12[HR][/HR]Immediately Friendly[HR][/HR][HR][/HR]

*Wait 1 or more rounds, and consider character actions, the speaker's Charisma, and the overall situation before rolling again (as explained below).
Character actions are a -2 to +2 modifier and include charades if you don't understand their language, and charisma is only added (or subtracted) if the monster can understand what the speaker is saying. The example used is a part meeting a Bugbear and a character with -1 Charisma speaking Goblin while a character with +2 Charisma tries Common - the Bugbear doesn't know Common but does know Goblin, so the -1 is used.


Also, the history of clerics getting their powers from gods in Basic is long and twisted. Suffice to say that they didn't in BECMI but do in the RC, and the followup Wrath of the Immortals book included some special options for Clerics of specific Immortals.
Druids get their powers from the planet-sized Megaliths (Mystara was one, for instance) in the original Immortals set, but I'm not really sure what happened with them in the post-Gazetteer setting. I think Megaliths got removed?

And yeah, demihuman clans should get explained further later on. The Relics basically let the Relic Keeper pretend to be a Cleric and also spend a couple millennia to craft a special magic boat of some kind.
Artifacts got cut from the Rules Cyclopedia and moved to Wrath of the Immortals, although they were in the Master booklets originally.
 

Spikey

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Thanks for that table, Gemini476: that's, er, that's quite a thing.

Suffice to say that they didn't in BECMI but do in the RC....
Not in the class write up, they don't. From p13: 'A cleric is a human character who is dedicated to serving a great and worthy cause. This cause can be an Immortal being dedicated to a specific goal or attribute; sometimes the cleric is serving only his alignment, and has no interest in immortal beings.' (My emphasis.)
 
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Gemini476

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Oh yeah, that looks like a concession to the earlier pre-Gazetteer material when Mentzer recommended that you keep religion out of the game and the Immortals were superheroes with a strict "Statute of Secrecy" and non-interference policy regarding the Prime Plane.

That changed later on - one notable bit is how one of the Immortals' adventures has pretending to be a god as this big taboo and how the later Mystara material has the Immortals do that all the time to the point that they're pretty much just gods with a different name and origin story.

It's kind of sad, really, how the setting got changed to conform more with all the other ones.
 

Sleeper

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Yeah. I don’t mean to pick nits and I’m trying — however unsuccessfully — to avoid it. But, when a table says ‘peasant’ as part of a few words of notes, it may, for all I know, be a technical term explained later; it may also be intended to have mechanical impact: are peasant troops supposed to be less well-trained? Less experienced? These things are represented mechanically in the war machine, after all. It must be important or it wouldn’t be there instead of any indication of armour worn or secondary weapons used.
There aren't a lot of technical terms in old school D&D. The same term can mean different things in different contexts.

Hmm. That's probably a difference between a modern and an old school mindset. Let me try to explain it.

The mercenary table pre-dates D&D. Something very similar shows up in OD&D, but its true origin is hoarier. The idea of differentiating troops based on categories like "heavy foot" or "militia" (peasants) -- and obsessively detailing their equipment -- is borrowed from the wargaming tradition. It's a legacy.

Plus, there's always been a tendency to just create independent subsystems for D&D, or import them from elsewhere.

For instance, OD&D has this whole section on aerial combat, which seems to have almost nothing to do with the rest of the rules. It's not related to the standard (alternate) combat system, the ship-to-ship naval combat rules, or even the Chainmail mass combat rules. (It's actually an adaptation of Mike Carr's old Fight in the Skies WW1 dogfighting wargame.)

And that tendency to create entirely new systems (or repurpose them from other sources) carried over, at least until third edition. (For instance, MacBalance noted in the let's read that 2e's The Castle Guide supports three entirely different and completely incompatible systems for siege warfare -- it seemed like every new writer just came up with an entirely different set of rules, instead of working with what had been done before). The one major exception is B/X, which is actually fairly well integrated.

The War Machine is one of those independent subsystems. It's aware of the mercenary table, but the Powers that Be at TSR clearly didn't have any interest in forcing Mentzer to make sure it was 100% compatible with the existing rules, when he wrote the Companion Set. And since the mercenary table came first, it's entirely unaware of the existence of the War Machine. So they don't talk together, or work together seamlessly and smoothly. And fixing that was clearly beyond Allston's mandate when he compiled all the pre-existing material in the Rules Cyclopedia (and it wouldn't have been easy, in any case -- it would have required more of a 3e-style rewrite).
 
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Spikey

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A mystic (p134) may build a type of stronghold called a cloister, which may be partially or totally paid for by the mystic’s order, if they have ‘had a good and noble adventuring career’. (Even if it’s an evil order of chaotic mystics?) The new cloister is a branch of the mystic’s originating cloister unless and until the mystic reaches Level Thirteen and chooses to become independent. Mystics do not rule territory. ‘A cloister’s mystics and mystics-in-training may farm the surrounding lands to support themselves, and may keep the region clear of dangerous monsters.’ But they don’t rule over anyone living in the area (except those living on the land they’re farming, I can only assume) and are never required to support the local ruler militarily. Because they are schools rather than seats of government, ‘regional rulers do not normally become involved with mystics and their cloisters.’ (I can just picture the scene: a growing cloister, needing to expand its fields, cuts down some ancient woods. The local druids are angered by this and start attacking the mystics. They fight back. No-one thinks of referring the dispute to a higher authority both groups acknowledge because there isn’t one. Both groups apparently live entirely outside the authority of whoever jokingly calls themselves the ruler of the area.)*

A thief must get approval from the thieves’ guild to build or buy a hideout. (Is that the local thieves’ guild or is there an overarching thieves’ guild all thieves belong to?) The guild may deny permission if there is already a thieves’ guild in the area in question. If the area has not already been claimed, ‘the greater Guild’ will incorporate the new hideout as a branch and send new apprentices to work for the thief. (So the writers understand some of the conceptual difficulties of saying, Just set yourself up as the local authority wherever you choose. But they only apply that understanding to thieves’ guilds.) The guild will ‘probably’ help the thief to deal with independent thieves operating in their area. Most villages and small towns will not have existing thieves’ guild hideouts but larger settlements may have about one for every thousand ‘normal, nonadventuring’ inhabitants. ‘Rulers are too wise to incur the wrath of player and nonplayer characters by harassing or destroying the large Thieves’ Guild network.’

‘If a character has been denied permission to build a stronghold’ (which would seem an eminent possibility but has been glossed over so far in this chapter), they have two options.
  • Wait and try again. Without permission from the local ruler (which this page of the book has stated is not needed for magic-users, not relevant for mystics or thieves, and ‘probably’ granted without the character asking for fighters, which, I suppose, does leave clerics and demihumans, for which classes the descriptions on this page don’t mention seeking or gaining permission), the character may not build ‘defensive walls’ — which, I guess, would be walls that have a mechanical value in the war and/or siege machine — around their dwelling nor employ more than fifty mercenaries. If (p135) the character ‘tries building a walled structure or employing a larger force of troops, ‘[t]he ruler may decide to march troops against the PC, or to send a series of warnings before attacking, or to take more subtle steps to curb the PC’s ambitions, as the DM chooses.’ (This is the same ruler the book stated one page above would be ‘cautious or respectful enough’ of the player character ‘that they prefer not to oppose him on this matter.’ I think this guidance would make for a better game, for what it’s worth, having to seek approval from the government before setting up as a local baron or whatever, but it’s like this chapter has been cobbled together from two texts with totally incompatible approaches to that question.)
  • Settle in wilderness unclaimed by any ruler. This is basically founding one’s own independent government and may be approved of by the character’s previous ruler or anger them. The character in this case may choose their own title but nearby rulers may take offence if they choose poorly. There is a table of ‘Ruler Reactions’ to roll on to see if a given nearby ruler does anything: the book says a ‘reaction roll’ can determine whether the reaction is favourable or unfavourable but there isn’t even a chapter reference for where I might find more information on reaction rolls — and the only ones that have been explained so far are for monsters (p93) and prospective retainers (p132). (I suppose nearby rulers would count as monsters and would react at the speed of communication rather than round by round.) The book notes that the unclaimed wilderness may in fact be de facto acknowledged as the territory of a monster or monsters — a dragon and some orcs are rhe examples given — so they may become the character’s enemies. (So orcs don’t use this system? Do only humans and demihumans use this system, with no diplomatic relations between them and other species? Because it seems weird to suggest that communities capable of going to war with each other, even laying siege to each other’s homes, and speaking [at least some of them] a common language, would never make treaties or recognise each others’ borders.)
I’ll do another table: the ruler reactions table, which gives probabilities for each rank of nearby ruler reacting according to the title a character gives themselves.
assumed titlebaronviscountcountmarquisdukeother
baron100%80%60%40%20%10%
viscount100%90%70%60%30%20%
count100%90%80%70%40%20%
marquis100%90%80%80%50%30%
duke100%100%90%90%80%50%
archduke100%100%100%100%90%80%
other100%100%100%100%100%100%
(Now there’s a table that could have skipped its first column and last row. Apart from that, it seems fair enough, although it would seem equally appropriate to me to say that nearby rulers always react in some way: it doesn’t seem terribly realistic for a ruler to ignore someone setting up an independent state in wilderness near their own territory. Then again, it doesn’t seem terribly realistic for a government to just not bother claiming land no-one else has claimed that’s near its own territory, so there is that.)

The section on titles follows, so I think I’ll leave it there for now. More next time!

*Seriously, this chapter seems to have completely failed to grasp the relationship between land and government. If there are resources, such as farmland, forests, quarries, mines, rivers, lakes or whatever, the local people — or whoever is able to successfully assert ownership of those resources — will control and benefit from them. If a school, or a monastery, or whatever, controls the local iron ore mine, the local ruler will interact with the school partly based on how they view iron ore as a resource, not based on an a priori distinction between schools and castles. This also feeds into the surrealism of rulers not routinely contesting Name level characters just setting up strongholds: if your castle controls a river crossing, or a mountain pass, or whatever, the politics of that thoroughfare are going to influence how people interact with you and your castle. What you do in the castle — or the fact that you’re about as powerful as one of the local monarch’s courtiers — will not override that.
 
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Gemini476

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Early D&D had a theme of taming the untamed wilderness - Keep on the Borderlands is a good example, what with having you start at the literal border of the wilderness and travel in to pacify the Caves of Chaos. It's Law, with civilization and whatnot, fighting to establish itself against Chaos.

That's why a government wouldn't necessarily lay claim to the wilderness - because it could be riddled with dragons and orc hordes or whatever. Not to mention how it takes some effort to colonize the wilds, since you need to build roads and buildings and strongholds (against said orc hordes) and chop down forest or whatever to get space for everything in the first place.

Also, I'm pretty sure that the assumption is that the one that actually turns into a Baron (a.k.a. a landlord who actually matters) etc. is a Fighter. Clerics get a church, Thieves get a hideout, Magic-Users get a tower and Mystics get an extensively described cloister in a book where they weren't even a PC class. (Seriously, they got a list for the entire cloister hierarchy whilst Clerics, who have that as an in-class incentive, get zilch. What.)

And yeah, the Thieves' Guild is supposed to be global or at least of such an expanse that you're likely to be able to get assistance from it or an associate anywhere you settle down. The Basic set had more fluff on the matter, but suffice to say that they're tolerated since they're so useful for adventuring and since nobody who matters cares if you pick a goblin's pockets. (There's also a nice note on how Thieves who steal from their party are unlikely to be allowed to adventure with them again.)
 

Sleeper

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Early D&D had a theme of taming the untamed wilderness
Yes, D&D doesn't assume a well-populated and civilized land where every inch of arable land (except a few forests preserved in the King's name) has been exploited for centuries, like the real (European) Middle Ages. No, it's the Wild West in tights and tabards, with a Homestead Act that discriminates based on hit dice (presumably because the trails between settlements are beset by things like dragons).
 

Spikey

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That's why a government wouldn't necessarily lay claim to the wilderness - because it could be riddled with dragons and orc hordes or whatever. Not to mention how it takes some effort to colonize the wilds, since you need to build roads and buildings and strongholds (against said orc hordes) and chop down forest or whatever to get space for everything in the first place.
There's a difference between laying claim to an area and colonising it. Look at the discussion in the real world about various nations' claims to the arctic, or (earlier) discussions about the moon.
 
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Spikey

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The next section (p135) is on titles. A fighter who becomes a local ruler is ‘typically’, as above, made a baron but there are other titles possible. The book notes that other classes may acquire noble titles — the possibility of demihumans being ennobled by human rulers is mentioned above but the example given here is of a thief posing as a fighter being made a baron when they build a stronghold, which is less than helpful. (I’m in two minds about the idea of other classes being ennobled. On the one hand, if the assumption is that society is basically feudal, it makes very little sense for the monarch to confer authority over territory on people without ennobling them. In the real world, although the church held lands without anyone being ennobled, there was a tendency for landholding clerics such as abbots to be considered members of the nobility and there was some interchange. On the other hand, the feudal system would require nobles to raise armies to support their monarch in war, which several classes clearly aren’t expected to do. The real question for me, though, is whether the restriction of noble titles to fighters is a form of niche protection. Anyway.)

The ruler of a dominion is a noble (this is presented as a definition of ‘noble’ but ‘dominion’ has yet to be defined). Noble titles are normally granted by sovereign rulers. The standards for noble titles are as follows:
  • A baron or baroness rules a dominion called a barony, which has at least one stronghold. They may build additional strongholds and appoint seneschals to manage them.
  • A viscount or viscountess rules over one or more baronies and at least one baron. ‘A viscount may also be a baron and thus directly rule a barony, or may choose not to keep that duty, as desired.’ (I’m not clear on what is being said here. Is it possible to be a viscount[ess] ruling a single stronghold through oneself-as-a-baron[ess]? Or does a viscount[ess] require at least one other person — a baron[ess] — as a vassal?) ‘A viscount can become a count only by adding a dominion by conquest; other methods adding dominions do not change his title. A viscount may appoint seneschals.’ (So, by implication, there are other ways for a baron to be elevated to the rank of viscount.)
  • A count or countess is a viscount(ess) who has added a dominion to their holdings by conquest and rules at least three dominions (so that’s three strongholds, I suppose, that were once in separate dominions). The overarching dominion of a count(ess) is called a county. They may appoint baron(esse)s and seneschals. They may only become a marquis(e) by adding a dominion by conquest.
  • A marquis or marquise is a count(ess) who has added further dominions by conquest and may appoint barons and seneschals. A marquis(e) may become a duke or duchess if they add to their land holdings by any means.
  • A duke or duchess is a marquis(e) who has added one or more dominions by any means; further additions do not elevate them above the rank of du(ke/chess). They may appoint seneschals and nobles of any or all ranks above ‘as long as the dominion requirement for each is met.’ (Given that most of the dominion requirements are to have acquired holdings by conquest, this is — reading it literally — ‘nonsense upon stilts’. It seems relatively easy to puzzle out how many dominions someone would need to be considered a given rank — one for a baron[ess], one for a viscount[ess], three for a count[ess], four for a marquis[e] and five for a du[ke/chess] — except that the implied idea that dominions are a unit of land area is a rather silly one. Also, if we’re making up a playable system, why not say a viscount[ess] rules over two dominions and make it nice and neat?)
Above the nobility (in the usual run of things: the book does note that any royal may bestow noble titles, in contradiction to the write ups below) is royalty, with ranks as follows:
  • An archduke (or archduchess?) is a du(ke/chess) (it just says ‘duke’) who is related to the king (queen?) or emperor (empress?) in whose kingdom (queendom?) or empire their dominion lies; their dominion is called a grand duchy. Alternatively, an emp(eror/ress) may give the title grand du(ke/chess) to an unrelated du(ke/chess) who joins their kingdom but, the book notes, this is very rare. (Whereas being granted a barony for killing rust monsters and gelatinous cubes is very common.)
  • A prince (the book mentions ‘princess’ as the feminine form) is a child of a king (queen?) or emp(eror/ress). They are ‘usually a baron, but he need not be a dominion ruler unless desired.’ (Which would make perfect sense if the same page of the book hadn’t defined a baron as ruling a dominion.) A prince(ss) may only grant titles as allowed by whatever noble rank they hold, eg a baron(ess) prince(ss) may appoint only sensechals. The dominion of a prince(ss) is called a principality. A crown prince(ss) is one who stands to inherit the dominion from the king or queen to whom they are related and an imperial prince(ss) is one who stand to inherit the dominion from the emp(eror/ress) to whom they are related.
  • a king or queen is the ruler of ‘a large greater dominion’ which is called a kingdom.
  • An emperor or empress is the ruler of a number of mutually independent dominions, themselves possibly kingdoms: the ‘greater dominion’ is called an empire.
There follows a paragraph on forms of address. Taking the ordering above, a noble from baron(ess) to marquis(e) inclusive is addressed as ‘your lordship’ or ‘your ladyship’; a du(ke/chess) or archdu(ke/chess) as ‘your grace’; a prince(ss) as ‘your highness’, a crown prince(ss) as ‘your royal highness’ and an imperial prince(ss) as ‘your imperial highness’; a king or queen as ‘your majesty’ and an emperor or empress as ‘your imperial majesty’. In passing, the book notes that a knight is addressed as ‘sir’ or ‘madam’ unless one of the above applies and that anyone of the rank of ‘archduke or higher’ may refer to themselves as ‘we’ rather than ‘I’ (and ‘us’ rather than ‘me’, presumably), to express the fact that they are speaking for their dominion (‘l’etat, c’est moi.’)

The next section concerns stronghold construction and begins by implying that all classes apart from magic-users must seek permission from the local ruler to build strongholds, so I’m glad that’s cleared up. The first step is to clear the immediate area — one map hex or an eight-mile square (not an eight-mile diameter circle?) — of any monsters. All ‘significant’ monsters, including ‘man-killer’ animals (p136) but not other animals, even dangerous ones, must be either killed, driven out of the area, or made to leave the character’s subjects alone by some other means; bribery and persuasion are mentioned, as are ‘mutual-defense agreements’. Once the area is clear, the player makes a complete map of the stronghold, ‘using the details from the Fortification Table’ (which is below: I’ll get to it but, glancing ahead, it seems to be a list of castle parts with game stats). The DM reviews the map and may suggest changes, then, with the DM’s approval, the character may find and hire an engineer and, if they have the money, the fortification begins to be built.

‘Most characters build strongholds that are medieval-style castles.’ (Well, the character write ups told me that dwarves build underground complexes, elves build strongholds up trees and behind waterfalls, magic-users build towers with dungeons attached, mystics’ strongholds are called cloisters, which is an architectural term for roofed walkways around quadrangles, and thieves build secret hideouts, so I suppose ‘[m]ost characters’ here means ‘clerics and fighters’. I’d better give up hope of rules for building anything other than a medieval-style castle, I guess.) Castles are designed for later additions to be built as necessary and a ‘full castle complex’ might ‘easily’ cost a quarter of a million gold pieces: a fortune which, if a character found it on adventures, would be about enough to get them to Name level without any other experience. Outside walls should be about ten feet thick, ‘tower and gatehouse walls’ about five feet, and domestic stone walls one to two feet.

I can't really go any further without getting into the fortification table, so I think I'll leave it there for now. More next time!
 

Gemini476

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A viscount or viscountess rules over one or more baronies and at least one baron. ‘A viscount may also be a baron and thus directly rule a barony, or may choose not to keep that duty, as desired.’ (I’m not clear on what is being said here. Is it possible to be a viscount[ess] ruling a single stronghold through oneself-as-a-baron[ess]? Or does a viscount[ess] require at least one other person — a baron[ess] — as a vassal?) ‘A viscount can become a count only by adding a dominion by conquest; other methods adding dominions do not change his title. A viscount may appoint seneschals.’ (So, by implication, there are other ways for a baron to be elevated to the rank of viscount.)
It sounds like a viscount needs to rule over a baron, at least, and since ruling over yourself seems somewhat nonsensical I'd reckon that you can't just double-dip to automatically ascend from baronhood.

In other words, if you rule over the County[?] of Sandwich, consisting of the Baronies of Ham and Lettuce, the Viscountess of Sandwich might also be the Baroness of Ham but you'd also need a Baron of Lettuce to (literally) lord over. Or you could have only one Baron that you rule over with the title of Viscountess being acquired through royal connections, I guess, in which case Sandwich would be smaller and less green. Or vegetarian. Either or, really.

You could also skip out on the Baronhood completely if you don't want the additional paperwork, I suppose, so the Duke of Lunch doesn't need to also be a Baron of any of the constituent Baronies.

(not an eight-mile diameter circle?)
Squares and hexes are easy to work with when the suggested map format is in squares and hexes. (It's easier to figure out character movement and whatnot that way.)

mystics’ strongholds are called cloisters, which is an architectural term for roofed walkways around quadrangles,
From Wiktionary:
Noun

cloister ‎(plural cloisters)

  1. A covered walk with an open colonnade on one side, running along the walls of buildings that face a quadrangle[.]
    [*] A place, especially a monastery or convent, devoted to religious seclusion.
  2. (figuratively) The monastic life
I also got the impression that back then the Fighter was a pretty common class for players to play as, so maybe they're just writing from experience. Also while I can't find the equivalent text in the booklets the Expert set does say that a Cleric builds a castle as well - seeing as those two classes are the sturdiest and lack prerequisites, I could certainly see the majority of 9th level characters turning out to be Clerics and Fighters. They're not poking at traps or running around without armor, after all.
 
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