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Ultimate Edition

The Empire phase

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The Empire phase

Unread postby icycalm » 07 Sep 2020 17:34

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People have started discussing procreation mechanics in the other thread [ > ], but those are intertwined with the empire mechanics, and we can't really discuss one without discussing the other at the same time, hence this thread.

Let me try to explain to you the challenges we face with these systems. The main problem is that the TaleSpire holdings cannot belong to the entire party. If that were so, you'd never lose them. Someone or other would always have a kid somewhere, so even if the party got wiped, the kid would inherit the holdings and the campaign would go on. Obviously this is unacceptable.

So we need a system whereby the holdings belong to just one person, the lord of the area. That, however, would understandably bum the other players out. So we'll make it more complex and more realistic than that, with different players owning different parts of the estate. You'd always need a lord for the entirety of the holdings, but the players can certainly own houses or estates in the area, and maybe even keeps etc. if you end up building multiple of them. I am not very familiar with feudal culture—they didn't teach much of it to us in Greece while I was growing up, they mostly focused on classical times for obvious reasons—so I look forward to studying it and finding ways to adapt it to Ultimate Edition in ways that promote a cool, deep game. If anyone knows stuff and has ideas, let's hear them.

So if one of the players dies with no heirs, his part of the territory passes on to his NPC relatives, and then you have one more NPC in your midst. You'll have many NPCs anyway, because someone will have to tend the fields, man the stables, guard the area, etc., so one more will not be a big deal.

As for how to deal with NPCs, I have ideas. I want the NPCs to come with the buildings, like in Age of Empires. If you build a house in AoE, you automatically get villagers to live in it, and then you can put them in jobs, which could be military, but it could be anything. That's how we'll handle it here too. That's the reward for building whole towns. Otherwise they'd just be ghost buildings. And of course the bigger the building the more NPCs you get, and the castle buildings will give you the most. All of those can be placed with TaleSpire via a choice of countless miniatures, so your holdings will come alive with hundreds of NPCs, unlike Life is Feudal where you can only have a few.

And that's where the They Are Billions phase will begin. I don't know how this will go, but we'll have to figure out a way to challenge you in the Empire phase. What if you leave for a year to go adventuring? Will your holdings and people still be there when you get back? We need to devise a system whereby you are motivated to build up and fortify and man your domains with tons of people, but we mustn't make the requirements so onerous that you're incentivized to never leave to go adventuring and stay in your home forever. And then on top of that we need to devise motivations for attacking other players' domains. This is especially difficult since those could be on other planets. Why the fuck would a lord go to another friggin' planet to attack someone when he has his neighbors to worry about and expand into? This needs to be figured out.

As a starting point, I am thinking of inventing a new line of non-weapon proficiencies dedicated to nobility and managing domains, so that players who want to control domains will have to spec into it. However, these proficiencies will be deducted from other stuff like climbing, singing, swimming, blacksmithing or whatever, so I am not sure it makes sense for a noble lord to be essentially uneducated just because he is a noble. I would think quite the opposite would be the case. So maybe we need a new system separate from proficiencies. But it has to be a system that cannot be realistically specced into by EVERY player. Thus, the lives of one or two of your party will be more important than those of everyone else, because they'll be the lords.

In short, we need to devise a RULE-BASED nobility system. In regular D&D, this is handled entirely via role-playing, and that's fine for a system that has so little strategy in it. Once we expand the strategy dimension to equal the adventuring one, however, we need proper rules for nobility and followers and so on, and these will have to incorporate the existing follower rules somehow.

It's complicated stuff, but if we want to exploit the full capabilities of TaleSpire, we have to do it, and do it well.
Last edited by icycalm on 15 Dec 2020 21:37, edited 1 time in total.
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Building

Unread postby icycalm » 07 Sep 2020 21:16

So here are some preliminary thoughts on the Empire phase. In this post, I will only discuss building up your domains. The ownership mechanics is another subject, that maybe even requires another thread. For now, post everything here, and I may split posts off into separate threads if I deem it necessary.

So there'll be three ways of building up your domains.


1. Discover a ruin, clear it out of denizens if any exist, and take it over and repair it, then expand it. It could also not be a ruin, but simply an occupied building, which you could conquer or simply purchase. Then that becomes the center of your TaleSpire holdings, indicated on the Battlegrounds app as your "Settlement", and you take it from there.

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2. You order buildings from a TaleSpire "catalogue", which are placed in your Settlement wherever you want. In in-game terms, you contract an architect to design and oversee the construction of the building. All you have to do is pay him, and he takes care of the rest. And of course, the larger and more complex the building, the more expensive it will be and the longer it will take to build. A house might be built in a month but a keep or castle might take years, during which you could be off adventuring. The architect might even take payment in installments for such large projects, meaning you might go into debt in a sense, and have to go adventuring to raise the funds to finish the thing, or risk losing all of it. As for the costs, we'll have to draw up tables of costs and building durations just like the Player's Handbooks of various editions have tables of item costs. Ultimate Edition will have tables of BUILDING costs on top of that. I will make a page on the Battlegrounds site where all the various TaleSpire "slabs" that the TaleSpire community will be making will be catalogued and priced, with pictures.

So if you just want to place a tent down, it will be quick and cheap af (you'll even have a choice of tent qualities):

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If you want a little cabin in the woods, it'll be more expensive, but still very manageable even for low-level characters:

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Or perhaps you'd like a more elaborate and expensive country home?

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Or a stately manor, if you're rich, complete with groundskeepers?

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Or you're a wizard looking to build that massive library with assistants?

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Or you're a priest wanting to erect a cathedral, full of underling priests at your command, for your god's greater glory?

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Or you're a mighty lord looking to fortify your position against your neighbors and bring the area under your complete control via a multitude of forts and castles at key points?

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Each of the GOOD TaleSpire slabs available online will be listed in the Ultimate Edition Player's Handbook with its price, building duration, precisely how many NPCs and of what kind they bring with them, and even their stats. All these NPCs will be generic and identical. All stables will have the same stablehands with the same stats, etc., so you'll know exactly what you're getting and the game will be balanced for all groups.


3. And finally, players will have the option of DESIGNING their own buildings, but in order to do so their characters will have to have the appropriate non-weapon proficiencies from the Player's Handbook. Architecture or whatever, we'll figure them out. If there aren't enough of those in 2E, we'll expand on them for UE. These proficiencies will allow you to go into TaleSpire on your own, design whatever the fuck you want (though the more complex designs will require more proficiency slots spent), and then you'll send them to me, and I'll price them etc. for you according to yet more rules that determine pricing etc. Those slabs will NOT go in the Ultimate Edition Player's Handbook. Those only YOU will be able to build and they'll only be listed in your personal page in the Battlegrounds app. We won't put them online either. Those slabs will be buildable only by the PLAYER who designed them (even across characters, as long as all the characters have the required proficiencies).


And a quick note on the settlement mechanics: If you build close to civilized lands you'll have to deal with the existing lords and neighbors according to yet more mechanics we will devise, which will incentivize going off in the wildlands and building in the middle of nowhere where no one will bother you, like with Rust and FP4X games. Of course, being far from civilization will have its drawbacks, so part of the settlement phase will be figuring out a good place to settle.
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Unread postby ChevRage » 08 Sep 2020 17:48

Pathfinder has some interesting empire-building mechanics that you might be able to appropriate.

Check out the "Kingdom Building" subsection on page 198 of this official supplement to the rules: https://thetrove.net//Books/Pathfinder/ ... mpaign.pdf
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Unread postby icycalm » 08 Sep 2020 19:38

Those are some really cool mechanics. It's reassuring to see them because I don't know much about the new Pathfinder rules and if these are so well thought out it means the rest of them can't be bad, and probably the same should apply to the adventures.

Having said that, someone needs to study them carefully, then also study the Birthright rules AND the old Battlesystem, and figure out how to integrate everything with TaleSpire and the inheritance mechanics.

I got a lot of reading to do. Feel free to chime in if anyone tries to read this stuff and help me out. But first take care of your own reading.
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Unread postby icycalm » 08 Sep 2020 23:58

Your esteemed benevolent DMs have been discussing the empire mechanics in private, and I'll just copy-paste here everything instead of trying to summarize where we are.


CULT|icycalm
Dude have you seen the Pathfinder kingdom mechanics?
They are incredible
It's a whole strategy videogame basically
They even give you the building maps to place on a grid

CULT|danjiro
Oh? I haven't yet but it sounds great

CULT|icycalm
https://thetrove.net//Books/Pathfinder/ ... mpaign.pdf
pg 196
Even some of the illustrations are cool
50k gp to start a kingdom
The kingdom has alignment and levels up
It even has a "character sheet"

CULT|danjiro
Ahhh no wonder I couldn't find it, it's in the campaign book
I've reread all of the 3.5 PHB and most of the DMG. I was going to take a look at Pathfinder specific material next

CULT|icycalm
This is the "Ultimate Campaign" book
It seems to do much the same things I want to do with UE
Only the sexual stuff it doesn't have
But it does seem to have some rudimentary inheritance system

CULT|danjiro
Looks like they have a basic relationship system too
These kingdom rules really are excellent so far

CULT|icycalm
I was floored
Never in a million years would I have come up with this stuff
Well, if it was my job maybe
I am looking at Birthright now

CULT|danjiro
They even have taxation and division of powers covered

CULT|icycalm
The division of powers was where I was going, but yeah they have done it already
Looking at Birthright now it seems the PF people definitely at least read that, and probably built off of it
The hard part now is deciding which system is better

CULT|danjiro
I remember Birthright having some pretty good war mechanics

CULT|icycalm
After the kingdom mechanics, the PF campaign book has mass war mechanics
So I guess these are two different subjects

CULT|danjiro
But this Ultimate Campaign book also has mass warfare

CULT|icycalm
We could mix and match

CULT|danjiro
Yeah, just saw it

CULT|icycalm
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From Birthright
That's what I had in mind basically
I can't find how PF handles it
What I don't see in Birthright is rules for building

CULT|danjiro
In UC, a kingdom turn is 1 month's worth of time

CULT|icycalm
Yeah that's good

CULT|danjiro
So I'm guessing if people are gone for a month and they didn't leave anyone in charge there would be trouble

CULT|icycalm
I have some ideas on how to deal with this, but first I want to see what the books say
So far, it seems to me that PF has the more complex system
So perhaps we start with that, and add whatever good Birthright elements we find

CULT|danjiro
The section on losing hexes in UC has some concrete rules on what it might look like if they start losing control: pg 209

CULT|icycalm
If you look at the Battlegrounds site, the only map with hexes is Pathfinder's
Everything is ready for us there

CULT|danjiro
Very nice!

CULT|icycalm
One of the problems that is troubling me is how to motivate the players to attack each other's kingdoms
One way would be to allow only ONE area in the entire universe to be settled: some area in PF, so they would all be neigbhors
That's not an ideal solution, but it's an idea

CULT|danjiro
If we stat out some enemy kingdoms we can have them receive envoys from them demanding things or trying to set up alliances and deals which could put the player kingdoms in confict

CULT|icycalm
But what if they are in different planets?

CULT|danjiro
I remember some of the older 3e books had stats on kingdoms
Yeah that would be complicated lol

CULT|icycalm
In that case, not only would it be awkward to set up, but the attackers would definitely not be bringing their armies
Btw, have you seen the little building tiles and grids in the PF book?
These could be easily adapted to work on Dark Sun or any world
We just need someone with photochop skills to isolate elements from DS maps
That makes me think we could make all planets and planes settleable
But not in TaleSpire
However, Pathfinder itself would be perfect for TaleSpire
Another option is to not try to motivate the players to PVP at the strategy level
We have PVP at the tactical level, and leave it at that
And for the strategy level, we have PVE

CULT|danjiro
We could allow PVP if they're on the same world and restrict multi-world to PVE for now

CULT|icycalm
A super-epic option would be a kingdom that includes ALL the groups lol
So that one group goes adventuring where another plays the kingdom
And in-fighting for the hierarchy lol

CULT|danjiro
That would be really fun to watch lol

CULT|icycalm
So many options
Once a group has established a kingdom, it would be up to them to recruit other groups if they want
That would also allow a group to grow beyond the D&D max of 6
If you have 7 or 8 players, you can only take 6 adventuring at a time, like a videogame

CULT|danjiro
Oooooh that would work well. First group to establish a kingdom would have the upper hand

CULT|icycalm
That gives yet another reason to want a kingdom: to expand the group

CULT|danjiro
They could offer quests to the others in exchange for support or proceeds

CULT|icycalm
That sounds great
The more the players and groups, the better it would work
It could go any number of ways
They could all coalesce into a mega-group fighting for dominance of an entire planet, or they could make separate kingdoms on separate planets and never meet
I am sure if one of them is on the brink of losing their kingdom, they would ask for help
We just have to set up a system that allows everything, and then just let them play and see what happens
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Birthright is definitely inferior, it leaves too much to chance
Unless I am reading this table wrong, and it's not about chance but initiative or cost of action or something
Still, the whole rulebook seems sparse
PF tells you how much each bridge costs and BR doesn't have buildings at all

CULT|danjiro
Yeah PF is looking more detailed
And expanded

CULT|icycalm
It makes sense since it's like a decade or more later
I don't know where the players will find 50,000 gp
One of the Dark Sun adventures gives them 10 at the end lol
Though that's worth 100x more on Dark Sun or something
It's still peanuts, but it's an introductory adventure
On the other hand, there are adventures in Pathfinder that give players a kingdom
Even a Forgotten Realms one, the epic Bloodstone pass series, gives them a kingdom
So there ARE a few adventures that bypass the 50,000
The Pathfinder kingdom rules even say that the DM might give the players a headstart, but I would rather an official adventure did it
Maybe we could mark these adventures on the map, so the players know to go for them
"KINGDOM ADVENTURE"

CULT|danjiro
Yeah that’s a good idea. If multiple groups are interested it also gives them a chance to run for it and fight over it

CULT|icycalm
Moreover, if a group spends a lot of time playing out their kingdom phases, another group could keep adventuring and grow in power
What if the adventuring group ends up in Council of Wyrms?
Then they could roll a dragon character
Then they come back lol
I will put the chance of going to Council of Wyrms at 1% or something
So the more you adventure and plane-hop, the greater the chances you end up there

CULT|danjiro
That would be a great turn of events lol

CULT|icycalm
https://www.gog.com/game/dd_stronghold_ ... _simulator
Something to look into
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The City-building Mode

Unread postby icycalm » 16 Dec 2020 00:38

It's time to talk a bit more about the Empire phase. Though most of these mechanics won't be unlocked in Battlegrounds for a while—as it would require unlocking Kingmaker or the Birthright setting, both of which are expensive in EP—Robo and I already have noble mansions due to War for the Crown (for which our group is in EP debt; I'll explain that later), so we both have significant holdings in the world that must be managed, and we need rules for that. So I'll talk first of these rules, which are pretty concrete in my mind at this point, and then I'll talk a bit about what will happen when the full-blown Empire phase is unlocked.

So there will be two types of Empire phases: the limited, or let's call it the "city-building" type, in accordance with videogame terminology; and the full-blown type, which we'll call "4X", again in reference to the videogame genre of the same name.

The City-building type is already in play, and consists of straight-up "city-building" (or kingdom- or empire-building, or pirate's cove-building, or whatever kind of settlement and government you want to use). Another way to think of it is like those "home base" segments in some JRPGs, where, in between levels, you are teleported to a kind of home/base that you build up, which however is never in any danger, just like with city-builders, more or less. Of course the J-games have zero danger, but the city-builders have SOME danger, whether in the form of "disasters" as in SimCity, or timed waves of attacks as in They Are Billions.

So this is how our City-building phase will go. This will basically consist of characters carting whatever treasure they accumulate on their adventures back to wherever they've chosen to build their settlement. The settlement itself will consist of whatever type of structures the players want to build, with some of them exclusive to certain classes or races, and with others giving them bonuses or minuses depending on the character's class or race. If you want to start a temple, you'll have to be some sort of priest, but if you just want a shop or something, any class will do. We'll draw up a detailed table. So a group that goes this route will end up with several buildings, one per character, though of course characters can also choose to collaborate on a single building and pool resources, and so on.

Typically, especially in Pathfinder with its absurdly fast leveling, characters will RETIRE near the level cap, building their settlement right before their retirement, with the player and the DM agreeing that thereafter the character becomes an NPC, and the building or settlement is assumed to continue in a type of mechanical "stasis". In terms of lore, there is no stasis; the character ages as normal, and his situation is affected by that of the communities and nations around him; if an adventure or supplement says that the area is razed by an army at some point, then the character and his holdings are affected accordingly, but otherwise they remain in peaceful mechanical "stasis" forever. And this is where the procreation mechanics come in.

If you want to keep building up your settlement over many campaigns (meaning over many characters, especially in Pathfinder where 1 campaign = 1 character), you'll need descendants to pass them on. No descendants means your stuff is absorbed into the game as NPC holdings, and you lose them. So you need at least one descendant before your character reaches the level cap. This makes mastery of the seduction and procreation mechanics paramount for players who're interested in the Empire phase, just as it has always been in real life (and btw, no one is obligated to play the Empire phase; you can spend your whole game time adventuring forever, if you prefer, and if your group has other ideas, you are free to switch groups, ultimately perhaps forming an adventuring-only group).

All this makes sense in reality too: in the past, a king might start a castle, but it would be his son or grandson that would complete it. And even smaller things like churches or walls could take more than a generation. So the mechanic of going off on adventures with new characters, and then returning them to a home base to dump their loot before retiring them and rolling a new character is an extremely realistic one. And of course young men typically prefer to go on adventures before settling down back home, so there's nothing weird about them leaving home at 17 with a group of friends, and coming back in middle age. And like I said, during their absence their inheritance is supposed to be completely safe, unless you were unlucky or unwise in your choice of settling area, and a Paizo or WotC product says that your stuff is doomed. If you've settled say in Varisia, and a campaign comes out called "Annihilation of Varisia", it's tough luck for you of course, but at least in that case the DMs will work with you to give your group dibs on the campaign, in case you manage to avert catastrophe.

So all this brings us to the subject of the CHOICE of area to settle. You will make this naturally as you travel around and get to know more about the world, and things will work here exactly the same as with survival-building videogames like Rust or FP4X games like Life is Feudal and Atlas: the more remote and uninhabited the area, the easier it will be for you to grab and the safer it will be (at least from human adversaries), but the harder it will be to get the things you want to build up and expand. So it's a choice you have to make, and your options here are breathtaking, as you'll have a bunch of planets with any kind of terrain you can think of to choose from. Even just in Pathfinder, the choice is bewildering, from icy mountains and caves to deserts and tropical jungles or forests or plains and island chains. And of course all the building will be happening in TaleSpire, which btw released snow and desert assets a few weeks back, so now you can build almost anywhere in standard-fantasy worlds like Pathfinder, Forgotten Realms, Greyhawk, Dragonlance, and others.

https://twitter.com/talespire/status/13 ... 1875692547

Snow assets
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Desert assets
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Just two days ago they released the "Desert Village Expansion Set": https://bouncyrock.com/news/articles/de ... ansion-set

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And they've already said they're working on a "ship tileset", so a pirate's cove will be possible soon, and the program isn't even out on Early Access yet. It's coming "Q1 2021", at which point it'll explode in content because anyone will be able to create and sell assets for it, on top of the endless assets that the dev team will be creating and selling.

So the City-building part of the Empire phase is pretty straightforward, and all that remains to be done for it is to set building and item costs for all the stuff that will be needed for it. On top of that, I would like to introduce some PVE/wave-attack rules for the settlement, so that, at least while the players are building it up, it's not ENTIRELY free of conflict and challenge. Once the players have LEFT the settlement, to go back to adventuring, then the settlement is safe; it's not that conflict isn't happening, it's just that we assume that the caretakers are CAPABLE of dealing with the challenges, and that they do in fact deal with them. The danger comes in the BUILDING phase, when the characters are in their settlement and are ACTIVELY building it up. Think of how the videogame Factorio handles that aspect of the game: if your factory stays idle, the aliens barely bother you, or don't even bother you at all. It's only while you're building up that they attack, and the more ferociously so the greater your expansion. That's what I'd like to introduce here too. I'd like to weigh all the different types of structure you can make, and create tables of encounters, varying by region/biome, where the DM can roll for challenge depending on what you're building. I don't want the DM to decide by fiat what challenge to send to you, I want you to be up against a challenge that's preprogrammed and therefore objective, as much as possible. I want to take human judgement out of it as much as possible, as in a videogame, at least in this phase of the game, where the parameters are straightforward and we're not aiming for role-playing and drama (though, of course, plenty of drama and role-playing will be generated by it). And I would like to tie all this together with any location sourcebooks that exist for areas near your settlement; if a haunted ruin or infested dungeon is near, I want to somehow force you to deal with it before you're able to fully exploit the area around you. I don't yet have the exact mechanics of how I will accomplish that, but I know what I want to accomplish. It's just a matter now of some group getting to this stage of the game, and trying out small experimental rules on them, expanding them as we go once I hit on formulations that are successful. And I will do this carefully and slowly and progressively so as to not unfairly wipe them out (though I can't guarantee that such unfairness will never transpire, especially in the early days). At any rate the whole thing will be tied to the scale of structures you wish to build, so that for defending a farmstead a group of beginner-level adventurers should suffice, while a sprawling castle will require a group of maxed out characters with magic items coming out of their asses, not to mention funds to pay an army and so on. It's all math in the end: we just need to experiment enough with this stuff, to come up with the right cost and encounter tables, then run progressively bigger scenarios and battles in TaleSpire to test them. But since pure testing is boring af, we'll just do everything in the live version of the game. Hurrah for zero playtesting!

Oh and by the way, note that MANY endgame-level D&D adventures leave off with the heroes having slain some evil lord or other, and essentially in possession of his castle or domain, though the text and future adventures—even sequels—don't really explore what would happen if they decided to take over, since D&D isn't a strategy game. But since Ultimate Edition is, this is another reason to be a goody two-shoes and power through entire campaigns successfully all the way to the end. You're not just losing a character or a party, if you get wiped in such epics, but a goddamn possible kingdom in the process. That said, there will be dangers post-campaign too, depending on the location of your new or ruined domains, and its particular circumstances. Want to kill Strahd and take his castle? Try it. That particular adventure actually tells you what happens. I've read that bit, it's hilarious.

So that takes care of almost every theoretical aspect of the City-building phase, and quite a few of the practical ones. Over the next few weeks I will make it a priority to nail down all the details/numbers, because with the War for the Crown group already possessing two noble manors, and the Rise of the Runelords group reportedly getting a "keep and some land" at some point in the campaign (which I haven't seen yet in my reading though, so I am merely assuming it is coming), we might end up needing them fairly soon.

To sum up, in D&D: Ultimate Edition all groups have the option of using their treasure to build up any kind of fantasy settlement they can think of, roughly in the manner of a city-building videogame, with algorithmically-determined "PVE" challenges arising ONLY when the group is IN their settlement, and actively EXPANDING it. This solves a long-standing major issue with D&D of what to do with all the treasure, especially for level-capped characters who have no more published adventures to tackle. There are always greater threats, especially in the planes, but putting all your money in magical items gets stale after a while. This is where the city-building comes in, which is a bottomless hole. Though like I said it is entirely optional, and if you prefer to just adventure, that's an option too.

So that takes care of the city-building phase, which is basically a type of "metagame" that links all your characters and campaigns together and gives you yet more reasons to fervently try to make them as successful as possible. But there's an even bigger "metagame" on top of that, and that's the full-blown 4X Empire phase mechanics, which are triggered once you go BEYOND merely expanding your settlement into unclaimed lands, and begin expanding them into the CLAIMED lands of neighboring settlements and nations detailed in the setting's sourcebooks. That's when we need to get serious and basically transform the game into a Master of Magic-D&D hybrid. The advantages are obvious: you can claim whole regions and even continents, but the disadvantages are that your neighbors can and will begin invading you, and the chances of losing everything you've built are real, unlike the city-building phase where you rarely stand to lose everything and generally at most merely sustain some damage, setting your efforts back a bit, but nothing truly catastrophic (pretty much exactly as with the videogame city-builders).

But we'll talk about that in a future post. We are QUITE far away from being able to run such mechanics, so we're definitely nailing down the city-building part before we start properly designing the 4X one.
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Unread postby icycalm » 16 Dec 2020 01:10

Oh and I forgot the magical laboratory update for TaleSpire released last month: https://store.steampowered.com/news/app ... 7447705523

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It even has some animation effects:

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There is already a crazy-ass variety of things to build for every character class.
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Unread postby icycalm » 22 Dec 2020 21:13

In this post, I'll explain a couple more features of the City-building mode, before I move on to explaining how the 4X mode will work in the next post. But let me preface this by saying once more that not everyone enjoys city-building and 4X games, and those players can continue adventuring and not participate in any of this, either as whole groups, or by splitting groups and rearranging them along mode preference lines.


SETTLEMENT TERRAIN GENERATION
I am hoping that TaleSpire will include a random terrain generator. If it does, we'll use it the same way we roll stats for characters in the Adventure phase: each group will generate a random terrain (based on the location, etc.), when they decide to settle, and they'll have the choice of either settling whatever they get, or spending more weeks and months scouting terrain to settle. Every roll will represent probably a week's scouting effort.

After a site has been chosen, and settling has begun, there will be several additional features to the city-building on top of the main administration mode. So far, I have the following three: Environmental Scouting, Structure Scouting, and Encounter Scouting.


ENVIRONMENTAL SCOUTING
On top of the randomly generated terrain, we will add modifications in the form of cool pre-made features; environmental slabs taken from the TaleSpire sites. We'll make a table of those, and if you roll well, you'll get nice features.

If there end up being many of these produced by creators, we could even make them unique to groups, so if a group rolls one of these, we remove it from the table for other groups.

Here are some examples:

Environment Module: Big Cliff
https://talesbazaar.com/prefab/884

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Beach, Unoccupied
https://talesbazaar.com/prefab/1485

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Mountainside Path
https://talesbazaar.com/prefab/1136

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Frozen Swamp
https://talestavern.com/slab/frozen-swamp/

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STRUCTURE SCOUTING
If you send out your NPC lieutenants scouting, they may discover structures, whether in serviceable state or ruined, that you can appropriate and fix up to get a boost to your city-building. You won't be able to have those scouting parties on defence at the same time however, so it'll be an interesting choice for you to make. So they may for example discover a derelict keep on a cliff you can fix up, instead of building it from scratch. The keep will have denizens that the lieutenant has to clear out with whatever troops you have assigned to him beforehand.

Some examples of structures or ruins we'll use:

Bridge over a forest stream
https://talesbazaar.com/prefab/1415

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The Sinkhole Crossing
https://talesbazaar.com/prefab/1434

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Abandoned Watch Tower
https://talesbazaar.com/prefab/737

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Dawnkeep Ruin
https://talesbazaar.com/prefab/623

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Teleportation Circle (Ruins)
https://talestavern.com/slab/teleportat ... cle-ruins/

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Derelict Manor in Forest
https://talestavern.com/slab/derelict-manor-in-forest/

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Derelict Keep on a Cliff
https://talesbazaar.com/prefab/882

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ENCOUNTER SCOUTING
We'll also have an algorithm for generating encounter sites. Those render the area around them unsettleable, and contribute to attacks on your domains, so they must be cleared out, either by your lieutenants, or your characters themselves, perhaps in conjunction with lieutenants and your army. It will always be a calculated gamble when you make such forays because your settlement might get attacked in the meantime.

Some examples of encounter sites:

Travel Encounter Goblin Ambush
https://talesbazaar.com/prefab/461

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forest bandit camp
https://talestavern.com/slab/forest-bandit-camp/

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The Writhing Maw
https://talesbazaar.com/prefab/754

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TECH TREE & RESEARCH
Finally, I'd like to remind people that the devs have already announced sci-fi assets, cyberpunk in particular. The cyberpunk miniatures even fire their guns with effects!

TaleSpire: Cyberpunk Pledge Goal
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RdjUXGi9fIs

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This means two things:

1. Our sci-fi settings will eventually be settleable too.

2. Perhaps they'll also create modern and historical assets (Enlightenment, Industrial Revolution, Contemporary and so on), which means we'll be able to go full-Civ in the city-building and 4X modes, with a tech tree and research mechanics that go from fantasy to contemporary to sci-fi. Pathfinder 1E already offers a Technology Guide sourcebook, so a lot of the rules work has already been done for us. It's up to us to develop these mechanics further for use with city-building and 4X modes.
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Unread postby icycalm » 23 Dec 2020 16:23

Two more resources to check out:

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https://shop.mcdmproductions.com/collec ... -followers

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https://shop.mcdmproductions.com/collec ... rfare-book

The first is available now, and the other one "Q2/early Q3 2021", so it's a ways off. They are unofficial rules supplements for D&D 5E that add strategy mechanics. My guess is they just crib material from PF1 Ultimate Campaign, but then again it's two books instead of one, and Ultimate Campaign also has rules unrelated to strategy like downtime rules, so maybe these rules are more detailed. So they are definitely worth a look, and the fantastic covers (especially the first one) bode well for the quality of the content. I am on it and will report back.

The second book had a recent $1.3 million Kickstarter, so there is mad demand for this type of product it seems: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/ma ... more-minis

All signs point to this being the time that D&D evolves into a strategy game, and my Ultimate Edition will be the ultimate way to do it. Without an overworld and true player freedom, strategy will be directed by the DM's whims and will be wretched, no matter how many books guys like these scribble.
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Unread postby icycalm » 23 Dec 2020 16:37

Wow, these books come with a Birthright-like adventure each. I took a look at the Kickstarter page and these guys seem to know what they are doing. I am definitely hyped to read and start using these.
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The Empire Phase: Introduction

Unread postby icycalm » 30 Jun 2021 12:35

The Empire Phase: Introduction
https://www.patreon.com/posts/53109455

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icycalm wrote:Of course, mine is not the first attempt to introduce strategy rules to D&D. It is however the best...
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Unread postby icycalm » 09 Jul 2021 23:02

Alex Kierkegaard's D&D Ultimate Edition City-building Alpha Primer (Construction & Exploration Phases)
https://www.patreon.com/posts/53486299

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icycalm wrote:Sup guys, it's icy again, remember me? Still working hard at the game to end all games, believe it or not, and I have some progress to show you.


This post includes a vastly updated list of assets, plus some stats cribbed from the PF1 "Ultimate Campaign" rulebook, with a few modifications by me.
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Re: The Empire phase

Unread postby icycalm » 11 Jul 2021 00:20

Been doin' some researchin' and I have great news to impart.

Seems like there is an unofficial follow-up to "Ultimate Campaign" called "Ultimate Rulership". This was done by a Paizo freelancer who's worked on tons of material for them, so the dude is solid.

You can read the whole thing here, it's just 38 pages: http://i.4pcdn.org/tg/1501289314484.pdf

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Save to your hard drive for backup purposes. Save also the new building tiles: http://www.makeyourgamelegendary.com/fr ... gTiles.pdf

Official product page: https://www.makeyourgamelegendary.com/p ... rulership/

Legendary Games wrote:A fantastic expansion to the kingdom-building rules for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. If your characters are building a kingdom, this is a product you cannot miss! Designed as a perfect complement to the newly revised kingdom-building system, Ultimate Rulership contains a dazzling array of new options including new Edicts for royal commissions and endowments, espionage and festivals, and militarism and recruiting new armies.

Add nearly 20 new buildings for your cities from Aeries to Tunnels, Hanging Gardens to Crematoria. Guidelines for population and military recruitment, and for integrating settlement attributes, kingdom events, and danger levels; naturally advantageous sites and exotic city locales from cliff dwellings to treetop towns to cities under the sea!

Put it all together and you get an absolutely indispensable resource for the kingdom-building rules in Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Ultimate Campaign, brought to you by the same author who wrote the official rules and designed to integrate seamlessly with them and bring a wealth of new possibilities to your kingdom-building exploits.

Pick up this 48-page product today and Make Your Game Legendary!


I don't know what they mean when they say "by the same author who wrote the official rules". The "Ultimate Campaign" rules were written by Jason Bulmahn, who also wrote the PF1 rules. But maybe this guy was a contributor and they are hyping him up in the back cover of this product, I don't know.

In any case, I looked through it and it looks solid, if not excellent. We're definitely using these rules once we have mastered the base system. This is basically how we will create the 4X phase:

-Start with the rules in the Kingmaker campaign, while running it.
-Once it's finished, that unlocks the "Ultimate Campaign" rules, which are an expansion and refinement of the Kingmaker rules.
-At some point, we unlock the "Ultimate Rulership" rules. Maybe I can tie that to the city-building phase: e.g. once the first group has managed to reach the Small Castle phase, they unlock the Rulership rules.
-Once we have mastered all the above, start thinking of adding more stuff from other systems or editions. These include but are not limited to the 1E "Battlesystem" rules, 2E Birthright setting and rules, several 3E-3.5E books, some of which I've linked earlier in this thread, Colville's "Strongholds & Followers" and his upcoming "Kingdoms & Warfare", and other misc. stuff like e.g.:

https://www.makeyourgamelegendary.com/p ... commander/

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https://www.makeyourgamelegendary.com/p ... rongholds/

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-And of course, we'll still need to add the Heroes of Might & Magic mechanics I am preparing. Btw, these won't be in the alpha playtest tomorrow. I have a good idea where I want to take those, but it would get in the way of mastering the city-building tomorrow, so I'll save these new rules for later.

And P.S. "Ultimate Strongholds" and "Strongholds & Followers" are even on Fantasy Grounds, though both of them only for 5E.

https://store.steampowered.com/app/1367 ... rongholds/

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https://store.steampowered.com/app/1048 ... lowers_5E/

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Now let's get back for a sec to the base system we'll be using tomorrow. I have some resources for this beyond the "Ultimate Campaign" book itself, which is here btw, pages 196-251: https://the-eye.eu/public/Books/rpg.rem ... mpaign.pdf

I found a link that contains apparently all these rules in HTML format. I think this is an official Paizo resource.

Kingdom Building
https://www.d20pfsrd.com/gamemastering/ ... -building/

Should come in handy during play. Might be more easy to look up than the book. I think the book is best for when reading the rules at first to try and understand them, and the website is best during play.

Added to the above, some DM prepared a summary document that boils the rules down to 17 pages.

Simplified kingdom management rules
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1AxUOwT ... FuUr4/view

Save it to your hard drive. At the bottom there is a flow chart of how a turn is supposed to go.

We will CERTAINLY spend MUCH time tomorrow basically not playing and just going between all these documents trying to figure out what we're supposed to be doing next. If this aint your idea of fun, just stay away until I've figured everything out and can run the entire thing smoothly on my own. Then when it comes time for you to play I'll be telling you exactly your options when it's your turn as if you're playing a videogame and clicking on options on the screen without knowing anything about how the rules run under the hood.

So for the viewers expecting a smooth RTS-like stream on Twitch tomorrow, don't. It'll get like that eventually, but it will take months.

This is the thread of the guy who made the simplified document: https://www.reddit.com/r/Pathfinder_RPG ... _document/

Lots of people whining in the comments about how complex the whole thing is.

rekijan wrote:
a shortened version


Still 17 pages. Damn.


PointlessAccount123 wrote:I don't think we've used the rules correctly once. We get along well enough, though.


One of them made an "improved" edit of the simplified rules. I've no idea if it's better, but it's here, so I am saving it: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1JDD ... ehv7k/edit

Moving on, let's talk about the kingdom and army sheets.

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These are the versions in the books, but we'll need some way of filling them and sharing them online. I found two for the kingdom management portion.

Automated Kingdom Sheet
https://www.reddit.com/r/Pathfinder_RPG ... dom_sheet/

(Mostly) Automated Kingdom Management Spreadsheet
https://paizo.com/threads/rzs2swi6?-Aut ... preadsheet

I've found nothing yet for the army portion.
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Unread postby icycalm » 11 Jul 2021 05:03

I have some progress to report.

dndbattlegrounds.net TaleSpire tutorials + testing with icycalm
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EXYHXPi2MHY

I spent 2.5 hours going through the tutorials in the game, and then some testing. I have a decent grasp now of how everything works. In principle, the program is ideal for our needs. It's like it was designed specifically for what I want to do with it. In practice however there are some issues of usability that need to be dealt with. Meaning the program can do what I want, but the execution of certain aspects can be more time-consuming than I'd like, slowing the game down unnecessarily.

One example. In the Empire phase, players will end up commanding thousands if not tens of thousands of units. Perhaps hundreds of thousands eventually. But moving even a hundred miniatures from one end of the map to the other, to attack for example, is not simple. You have to pick up and move every single miniature individually... It's not an RTS where you can just draw a box around them. You CAN draw a box, but for terrain and props, NOT for miniatures. So I guess this is a feature I should ask of from the devs.

Now in our early playtests we won't be having too many units anyway, plus we could always represent say ten soldiers by one unit, etc. It's not ideal, but it will get us going so we can test all the other systems.

The worst difficulty for me though is that the copy-pasting of slabs is a delicate business. You can't just slap them down and expect them to snap to a grid and to the existing blocks, you must fucking line stuff up almost as laboriously as in Rust. It's not as bad as Rust, but neither is it as easy as I would have hoped. So when I am supposed to be slapping down buildings for the players in their turns, it will be a delicate business, at least at first until I get the hang of it. It DOES get better with practice and I already saw some improvement in the brief experimentation I've been doing, so I am hopeful that I can reach a satisfactory level eventually.

Another related difficulty is that when you combine terrain and building pieces you can just slap them on top of each other and call it a day, because again it's not a videogame which has an algorithm to flatten the terrain under your building automatically and make the two pieces flow smoothly into each other. Here you'll need to do the smoothing yourself, and that's not only time-consuming, but also conceptually difficult, as there is an art to it and a bad artist will not make the transition from element to element in a smooth and natural manner. Even a good artist would need to spend considerable time to achieve his full potential. And I'll need to be doing this with every single building or feature the players slap down?

Again, as with the other issues, it is POSSIBLE to become good and efficient at this, but it won't happen overnight. And I HAVE to become good at it, because there's no other option: if we don't do the smoothing, the areas will look crap, and then we won't enjoy building them up, and therefore will not enjoy the game. There are ways to make it easier for ourselves: for example by starting out with a lot of flatland. Flatland is far easier to make smooth than complex elevation or stuff like rivers etc.

On the subject of terrain, I have some incredible news to report. There is a random terrain generator for TaleSpire! It's here: https://quzzar.github.io/TalesTerrain/

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This is fantastic because it will work exactly as in 4X games where you generate a new map every time you play. Only since the map here is enormous and essentially infinite, we won't be generating the ENTIRE map every time we play, we'll be generating an OVERWORLD HEX every time the player sends forces to expand to a neighboring hex. Depending on what the Golarion map shows for that particular region, we'll use the random tool to generate plains, forests, mountains etc. And for the playtesting we'll just mostly generate plains at first, because as I said it will make the copy-pasting of assets a bit easier.

But there's a problem with the random generator too. When you generate an area, it doesn't give it to you in one slab, it gives it to you in like 16 of them, and you have to copy-paste each individual one over, and line up all the 16 pieces with each other, which is tricky because there's almost no automatic "sticking" and snapping to each other, so if you don't pay attention to it you end up with gaps between the pieces that look crap. It can be so frustrating that it makes me doubt whether we'll be able to use the random generator at all.

It's possible that there is some way to snap stuff onto each other, and I just haven't found it yet. I'll certainly ask around and look for more in-depth tutorials. But as of now, things don't look good in this respect.

None of these difficulties are deal-breakers. They just slow down the game, that is all. But you have to consider that, when the time comes for a group to enter the Empire phase, it will be JUST ONE GROUP, it will rarely be more than one at the same time, and moreover they'll be playing their turns very slowly because in between their turns they'll have the Heroes of Might & Magic style quests that are basically mini-adventures taking place in the "encounter-style" TaleSpire slabs that we'll be randomly rolling for. So I will definitely have time to make everything look pristine when the time comes for the REAL Empire phase. The bulk of the problems only affect me NOW when I am trying to run an exclusively city-building game with several players at the same time.

So for this reason, plus the fact that I have yet to read the entire "Ultimate Campaign" rules, we're cancelling today's/tomorrow's test. However, we are not cancelling it entirely. When I wake up, I'll finish reading the UC rules, and then I will start the playtest with ONE player—whoever happens to be available at that time. We'll set up his kingdom sheet stats and play his first couple of turns, and I'll take as much time as I need to make his settlement look cool as fuck. If the first turn takes two hours, so be it. You have to start from somewhere, and then the next turns will be faster, and so on.

Even though I'll be doing one player at a time, however, the playtest will still be multiplayer. Because here's how it's gonna work. Each player will get his own hex/board. So let's say that four players end up playing: that means we set up four boards in TaleSpire. Now all these boards are adjacent on the map, but the players don't know which of their adversaries are in which direction. Only I know, because I've rolled to determine orientation. So let's say Chev's board ends up being the bottom-left of the four boards. He doesn't know that on his south and west he is safe, and that his opponents are to his north and east. He needs to send scouts out, etc. Moreover, since there won't be any contact for a long time, each player can play his first five-ten turns in one go, and only afterwards will we have to play one turn at a time for each player, at which point we can keep the game going throughout the week like any turn-based 4X game. Until I get the data I need, that is: it's just a playtest, we won't be playing for weeks or anything.

So that's what I got for now. All my plans are very feasible, but there are some delicate issues that need to be addressed. And I haven't even properly examined the rules yet, the above is just for TaleSpire, so I am sure there'll be more issues with the rules, but I am sure I'll be able to deal with those too. I'll have more news tomorrow. Just keep in mind that the playtest session is cancelled, and that when I am ready to deal with the first player I will ask on Discord to see who's available, and we'll take it from there.

Haven't decided whether to stream yet. I am thinking I shouldn't to keep all the players guessing where their opponents are and what they are doing. Plus, if the turns are short, I wouldn't want to create dozens of half-hour streams. So I am thinking to not stream until I've hammered down the rules enough, and then maybe we can set up a Saturday where we play for 5-6 hours with a bunch of people, and then I stream the whole thing to demonstrate how smoothly it will be running by then.


P.S. You can see me struggling with all the issues I report if you check my stream. Just skimming it for a bit will give you a better idea of what I am talking about.
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Unread postby icycalm » 11 Jul 2021 07:15

Posted my request in their blog: https://bouncyrock.com/news/articles/ta ... ev-log-283

I wrote:It's interesting to me that you talk of an "army of 50" creatures. I want to use TaleSpire for wargaming, among other things. But how do I move big armies around when there's no "select all" option as in RTSes? I have to pick up and move 50 creatures individually. And even that is nothing compared to the thousands I want to use eventually. How hard would it be to add an option to move units in bulk? You can already move terrain and props in bulk, so I would imagine it wouldn't be that hard to add creatures to that.
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Unread postby Beakman » 12 Jul 2021 01:29

I found a Kingdom Sheet fillable form. This is a PDF document with the same aesthetic design as in the rulebook, but you can fill the fields and tick the checkboxes manually:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/vrhhe9r4xns9v ... s_Form.pdf

I opened the file in Chrome and I can fill the fields (note that you have to download it, it doesn't work in that Dropbox viewer).
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Unread postby icycalm » 12 Jul 2021 03:08

Insomnia has secured worldwide exclusive footage of the first alpha playtest of UE City-building!!!

dndbattlegrounds.net Ultimate Edition City-building alpha test with icycalm and The Cult
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=reXrQa6xSIU

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Cutting-edge graphics and art from Cult Games, as always, and of course mind-blowing mechanics: a 4X game with full destructibility and buildability, in which you can walk into every room and rearrange every piece of furniture and even item on a table, etc.

Cult Games has btfo the whole world again. We are speechless.

Humankind devs crying in shame right about now with their little mini-game from 1991.

The world is speechless and awaiting with bated breath for more updates from this revolutionary project.
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