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[Pastoral fantasy, sort of] Playing as fantasy villagers in a rural slice-of-life game

Aegypto

Treelicious
RPGnet Member
Validated User
The last couple of weeks I have been playing Stardew Valley, which is a life/farming sim inspired by the Harvest Moon series of videogames. The bulk of the gameplay is a sandbox built around farming chores (tending seasonal crops, handling farm animals, fishing in lakes and rivers, chopping wood and mining ore to craft equipment and machinery) and small town social life (talking to villagers, courting the local bachelors/ bachelorettes, attending town fairs and festivals). Slice of life stuff.

Except when it comes to mining. Mining requires you go to the far upper right corner of the map, where there is an entrance to the mines. There are monsters in the mines, which you fight and loot for better weapons and valuables, and the further you go down, the tougher the monsters get and the more valuable the loot you get. It’s about the only part of the game where there is combat and you can die (temporarily, though the penalty is harsh), and there’s also a time limit (you need to be back in your farm by midnight) so it can get tense when compared to the farm activities.

There’s also a wizard tower, an adventurer’s guild, and other weird stuff that you discover as you play, and it’s suggested in game that some of the villagers are aware of this. But ultimately, it’s just a bit of oddness in an otherwise normal setting – your goal is to run a successful agro-business, form a family and develop closer ties with the town inhabitants. AFAIK the closest thing to a “save the world” plot is that you restore the decaying community center and kick a Walmart stand-in out of town.

And that got me thinking about the stereotypical D&D village which happens to be located next to the dungeon/ancient ruins/haunted forest and how things would play from the perspective of the people living there, rather than the murderhobos who pass by.

Anyhow, if you were going to run something like this, how would you approach it and what sort of system would you use? I have this weird notion that I’d like some sort of mechanics for tactical farming, even if I'm not sure how they would work in the first place.
 

Ven

Registered User
Validated User
Anyhow, if you were going to run something like this, how would you approach it and what sort of system would you use? I have this weird notion that I’d like some sort of mechanics for tactical farming, even if I'm not sure how they would work in the first place.
Definitely take a look at Harn. For example the Asolade adventures published free on https://www.lythia.com/
 

John Marron

Exoticising the other
Validated User
It might not be exactly what you are looking for, but my favorite "village fantasy" system is Beyond the Wall. Mechanically, it's a fairly stripped down OSR system, but the killer app for the game are the character generation playbooks, which are lifepath tables that tie the characters strongly to each other and to the village. Definitely worth checking out, and the playbooks are free here: https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/121971/Beyond-the-Wall---The-Village?cPath=10142_10206

John
 

mitchw

Viral Marketing Shill?
Validated User
That sounds like either Ryuutama or Beyond the Wall.

is an RPG developed in Japan by designer Atsuhiro Okada. It is set in a world where the "NPCs" of the village--the bakers, farmers, shopkeepers and healers--set off on a wonderful adventure exploring a fantasy world together. Some people colloquially call it "Hayao Miyazaki's Oregon Trail", because of its heartwarming (in Japanese "honobono") feel of family anime, and its focus on traveling and wonder over combat and treasure.
The characters are travelers in a world without classical fantasy wizards and warriors. Instead, the characters are minstrels, merchants, healers, hunters, artisans, farmers and nobles who decide (or were fated) to leave their towns and explore the world. Using a light rules system based on polyhedral dice where the randomness in results leads to more story development, Ryuutama provides a framework for travel-focused stories fun for adults and enjoyable for all ages.
Beyond the Wall
Every home needs its heroes…
Your small village seems like a haven to you and your friends, but it is not safe.
Dangerous faeries lurk in the forest just outside of town, wicked men and ferocious monsters are a constant threat, and sometimes dark forces find their way into your neighbors’ hearts. You and your companions are young and untested, but ready to protect what matters.
 

DavetheLost

Registered User
Validated User
Beyond the Wall might be a good starting point. It is a D&D iteration that takes as its starting point characters who are villagers just coming of age and starting their adventuring careers. Character generation also builds the home village with players adding NPCs and locations to the village map.
 

Eled the Worm Tamer

Spider Jeruselem's Warior
Validated User
I was working on a kind of exentualist slant on this as part of my homebrew RPG, a setting where magic came down to the ability to invest meaning into even simple acts of survival and where the slow exhaling enui of fading farm towns and dying rust belt cities creates an open door to things born of the universe's own wish to simply give up and surrender. But I haven't gotten very far on either the setting or mechanics.

Was very heavily inspired by Stardew Valley though.
 

randlathor66

Registered User
Validated User
I second the Harn suggestion; it is really detailed on what life would be like in a pseudo-medieval fantasy village (or town, or city). Heck, one of the adventures is called 100 Bushels of Rye, which is about troubles at a nearby village (their mines specifically, I think) and that they might cause a problem with the villages tax (the aforementioned rye). I always thought that if I was going to run a game that had the characters all start out as villagers - not already adventurers - I would base it in Harn. That is your best bet for this type of game, AFAIK.
 

Geburah

Brickotherapist
Validated User
This is rather interesting. I'm not sure it would fully work as a classic tabletop RPG session, but it might work well as a "crossmedia" thing: it made me think of the old Kingdom simulation play-by-mail (snailmail, not email) that I used to see advertised in Dragon in the nineties. I'd use a system like that to run the day-to-day/week-to-week (or larger timescale - seasons?) of the farm, with a limited amount of stamina or energy to spend on various activities (including social/adventuring), a pretty map of the farm (with squares) to draw on to describe where and what things are planted, what areas are to be cleared or are for pasture... And prefereably one with a computer program to handle cost/benefit ratios, any kind of skill check (if used, most video games seem to not bother with that for the pure farming aspect), selling goods and even random events, etc. This could allow even for generational play.

On the side, I'd have a PbP forum for characters to interact and connect, with a certain number of "moves" to be allocated by stamina costs in the "week-to-week" planning. For example, it could be visiting the village pub or attending a fair, with a certain amount of rolls the people could make - the rest being only socialising and chatting with no impact. Another take could be to even import something from Hillfolk (if you're looking for more drama - Deen and Karan both seeking Elara's hand in marriage, Elara wanting recognition from Briony, her estranged mother) in terms of character needs and desires, and granting or denying petitions.

And finally I'd have tabletop sessions for the major social events or "incidents" (orcish raid, murderhobos arriving in town, etc.) that require more intense roleplaying and attention. To prolong the fatigue or stamina system use present in the other levels, I might look into a system that has or uses that feature (nothing comes to mind immediately, aside from GURPS). Ryuutama could be an interesting system in some respects, with more "grounded" classes (Farmer, Herbalist, Artisan, Noble, etc.) but it is geared more towards the travel aspect, and with nothing in the system geared towards staying in one place and growing or developing stuff (no farming rules for the farmer!).
 

Geburah

Brickotherapist
Validated User
It made me think of the old Kingdom simulation play-by-mail (snailmail, not email) that I used to see advertised in Dragon in the nineties. I'd use a system like that to run the day-to-day/week-to-week (or larger timescale - seasons?) of the farm...
If you really want to go all out, you could track down copies of the Realms of the Unknown players and controllers manuals. This is VERY detailed down to how many swords were produced by the blacksmiths in your villages, etc. ;):oops:
Haha, great minds. I never played one these (OK, a few turns of a homebrew one, in the context of a D&D game) but it seems like an interesting way to go for farm management. Somethink like Fief & Town might also have some interesting (if not yet turned into a gaming system) info on prices, population densities, services and wages...

EDIT: OOOOOHHHHH, was forgetting Pendragon's Book of Estates: https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/115353/Book-of-the-Estate

A review of RotU I found, as I'd not heard of it: https://www.rpg.net/reviews/archive/classic/rev_6283.phtml
 
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