When do the NPC ruled army attack?

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2097
Joined: 2012-09-23 13:25
When do the NPC ruled army attack?

In my new campaign there are a couple of city states at war with each other. I wonder when they will strike at each other, vs when the war will be "cold"? When will they launch spy missions against each other, when will they launch full scale attacks, when will they try to intercept each others fleets etc? Some of the city states change allegiance from time to time… I'm trying to figure out when that happens?

When the NPCs are meeting one NPC, talking to her or fighting her, it's pretty easy to figure out what she's going to do. But it feels a little weird to just decide when a particular government strikes on another government.

Also, does "D@W — campaigns" have navy fights? All of the city states are coastal. (Am basing the campaign on Corsairs of the Great Sea from (2e of unnamed game).)

2097
Joined: 2012-09-23 13:25

Am thinking something similar to "Vagaries of Recruitment" but for politics. The PC:s have the local ruler's ear so they could influence / try to stop (or, conversely, try to hurry) any action undertaken by their city's ruler (a council). But the enemy city they don't have the same influence over. But can imagine awesome games where they try to enter there and try to manipulate the goings-on there.

In the original CotGS box, the NPCs are the stars and they yank the players around on various spy missions for one side and then the other and then the one side again etc etc. And it says in the book that the various generals and emirs etc just start these missions when the story-writer wants them to… it's pretty scripted. Instead, I want rolls and tables to drive what the NPCs are doing on a macro level and whether or not the PCs get rumors of  what's going on and can decide to interfere.

BTW, great work with the Campaigns battle system with heroic forays etc. Will try to figure out some sorta quick formula from population → battle rating for those battles on the other side of the country that the PCs can't really influence.

Hardrada
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Joined: 2015-06-28 02:40
OTHER DUST has a system to model some of the background interactions of NPC groups, though there's obviously a lot of interpretation necessary.
Jard
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Joined: 2012-07-11 23:23

I don't have any good suggestions for figuring what you're asking for out based on a table, I mostly just couldn't figure out what CotGS stood for.

Jard
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Joined: 2012-07-11 23:23

ok, fine, let me take a loose stab at this:

At their most basic, wars are predicated on trying to take land from someone else, right? But you can only take land easily from someone who is weaker than you.  Strength is generally measuring by a combination of ruler level and size of army, neither of which is necessarily known by their would-be opponents.


So maybe you do something like keep track of how much each ruler knows about another ruler's army.  Maybe keep a slider with increments like so:

100,000
50,000
25,000
10,000
5,000
2,500
1,000
etc.

Every time one ruler successfully spies on another ruler, they know to the next best increment how big the enemy army is.  So if their foe has an army of 135,000 troops, first they'll know there are between 100k-200k troops, then they'll know there's 100k-150k, then they'll know there's 125k-150k, then they'll know there's 130k-140k etc. etc. etc.

So then once a month, have each ruler roll a reaction roll against the opposing realm, subtracting that ruler's charisma modifier.  Apply these modifiers (and anything else you might think of)

Ruler's army is bigger than targets: +1
Ruler's army is 150% the size: +2
Ruler's army is 200% the size or more: +3
Ruler's army is smaller: -1
Ruler's Army is 75% the size: -2
Ruler's Army is 50% or smaller: -3

Result:
2: Seek to form an alliance.
3-5: Seek to improve relations
6-7: Tenuous peace.
9-11: Prepare for war, +1 to future rolls and spend month recruiting more troops.
12+: To war! 

GMJoe
Joined: 2013-01-04 12:56

At their most basic, wars are predicated on trying to take land from someone else, right?

-Jard

Well, not always. Sometimes you just want to sack a few cities, get some revenge, maybe stop someone from preying on your trade routes...

That aside, your table's a pretty cool - I like the way it implies small power groups are more likely to avoid war by paying tribute or seeking the protection of larger powers, with the consequence that most wars are fought between opponents of nearly-equal strength.

I suspect checking for war once a month might be a little too frequent, though; Since campaigns can potentially drag on for months, it implies that everyone's at war with at least one of their neighbours at any given time. Maybe check once a year (perhaps during midwinter, when people have time to reassess) for the most hated foe only, and roll 2d6 to determine how many months later war takes place if the 'To War' result comes up?

2097
Joined: 2012-09-23 13:25

Hmm, yes, Sine Nomine games. Thanks Hardrada. The original SWN, and Silent Legions, has XP rules for these factions that guide what they want to do to each other and to the PCs group. I haven't found similar goals in Other Dust and Red Tide/AER. I kinda wish the same thing existed in a fantasy setting. Something similar to page 139 in Silent Legions or p 115 in Stars Without Number. They're also kinda tied to the that particular system, referring to its stats etc. Maybe that's just what I'll do, port over Force Cunning Wealth from SWN. I've used Silent Legions' system for a more sorcerous and insidious D&D campaign but here I'm more after "fantasy Traveller", with island hopping, mercantile ventures from ACKS etc.

I was wondering if there was sort of an Autarch/ACKS best practice for this? For figuring out which army strikes first and which is just biding its time. And, first and foremost, to take some decision weight off the referee's shoulders.

In the campaign, ten years ago, Qudra tried to attack and destroy Hawa but suffered great losses in a very one-sided battle on Hawa's home turf. Now both sides want revenge against each other. But it's been bubbling for a decade. And the other city states nearby have forces too.

Jard
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Joined: 2012-07-11 23:23

I am relatively confident, being somebody who (perhaps to an unhealthy degree) follows ACKs products, that such a set of guidelines has not been published.

2097
Joined: 2012-09-23 13:25

Big thanks, Jard! I was reading through Campaigns over and over.

Alex
The Autarch
Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

No, I have never written any rules like this. I tend to run the strategic aspects of my campaigns like wargames, with the NPCs actively played either by me or by a friend unaffiliated with the campaign. 

A Vagaries of Politics table might be interesting, though; for each neighbor you roll, 1d40 for allied, 1d60+40 if allied, and 10d10 for neutrals. Maybe with different tables for different types of nations. 

Here's an essay I wrote on running adversaries that might be of interest:

http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/tabletop/checkfortraps/766...

 

2097
Joined: 2012-09-23 13:25

Yeah… we have some PCs on the Hawa side and some on the Qudra side. And I'm not sure when the leaders of Hawa vs the leaders of Qudra will strike, and who will strike first at the other. To run the other council members (corsair council on the Hawa side, mamluk council on the Qudra side) and to call for missions, attacks etc. That's a lot of power over the game world that I'm not sure I want to put in my own hands as DM.

Thanks for the article, which I promptly read carefully. It strikes me that if I can be that subjective, like determine on my own whether the I.V. party has gotten ahead of the party to a particular dungeon, or not, why do I need any rules? I'm not trying to be rhetorical or pointed or provocative, I'm trying to understand the sandbox mindset. I come from an impro background but have started to run my games more and more sandboxy since I first discovered OSR games five, six years ago.

2097
Joined: 2012-09-23 13:25

I really appreciate all the advice. I've implemented a lot of it in my game already and we play often. (Just to make sure I don't come across as someone who just asks and asks and never plays.)

Alex
The Autarch
Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

Yeah… we have some PCs on the Hawa side and some on the Qudra side. And I'm not sure when the leaders of Hawa vs the leaders of Qudra will strike, and who will strike first at the other. To run the other council members (corsair council on the Hawa side, mamluk council on the Qudra side) and to call for missions, attacks etc. That's a lot of power over the game world that I'm not sure I want to put in my own hands as DM.

Thanks for the article, which I promptly read carefully. It strikes me that if I can be that subjective, like determine on my own whether the I.V. party has gotten ahead of the party to a particular dungeon, or not, why do I need any rules? I'm not trying to be rhetorical or pointed or provocative, I'm trying to understand the sandbox mindset. I come from an impro background but have started to run my games more and more sandboxy since I first discovered OSR games five, six years ago.


-2097

Your query about subjectivity is an interesting one.

ACKS is designed to allow players to engage in self-directed strategic choice or agency within the game world. It tries never to put the player into a position of making a decision "because the story would be more interesting if I did this".  The reason the design is done this way is explained here, in my essay on the Agency Theory of Fun:  http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/tabletop/checkfortraps/748...

Strategic choice requires that some things be known, and other things unknown. If everything is unknown, there can be no strategy as all decisions are unfounded, and if everything is known there can be no strategy because the outcome is clear.

The causes of the known are (1) laws of nature, casuality, history, geography, etc. The need to have knowns is why I reject "quantum ogres" and retroactive continuity adjustments for the sake of "the story". (Side note: Since I believe in the Agency Theory of Fun, I feel that story games which compromise player agency are going down a dead-end design path. They require you to purposefully put obstacles in your character's own path, or purposefully abandon the objectivity of the game world, for the sake of making the character's path more interesting.)

The causes of the unknown are (2) complexity, (3) chance, and (4) free will. Complexity means deterministic causal outcomes that cannot be predicted in advance (e.g. weather). Chance is true randomness. Free will is human choice. You can think of this in a video game as game physics, a virtual die roll, and a menu selection by the player. 

ACKS provides rules for (1) known factors, (2) complexity, and (3) chance. It does not provide rules for free will in most cases as the players and Judge are assumed to be bringing those elements to the table. In those cases where it does have rules for free will, they tend to be for cases where emotion dominates over reasoned judgment, such as morale breaking or being seduced.

Hence, you should be subjective where subjectivity is required, e.g., in making choices about what the NPCs whose free wills you simulate, have chosen.

 

 

2097
Joined: 2012-09-23 13:25

Alex, this discussion is very interesting to me. Mind if we continue it for a while? Either way, thanks for taking your time so far. I really appreciate it.

The causes of the known are (1) laws of nature, casuality, history, geography, etc. The need to have knowns is why I reject "quantum ogres" and retroactive continuity adjustments for the sake of "the story"

Oh, me too, that's to me the most interesting thing about sandboxyness and why ACKS is even more appealing than Lab Lord, S&W etc with its more detailed systems for thieves' guilds, domains etc.

That's why this felt so shocking because to me it felt like it went against that. Or did you use some dice system, simplified delving mechanics etc to simulate the I.V.'s progress? I.e. you placed them on the hex map, rolled navigation / movement rolls for them, used a simplified skirmish system for them (Zak suggests 1d4+HD, one-hit-kills, for off-screen battles and that's something I usually use) etc? Or did you just determine by feel which dungeons I.V. had cleared? That can be fine but that feels to me like a bit of a retroactive continuitiy adjustment; or at least it's hard for me with my current perspective / capacity to distinguish it from other forms of quantum ogre. (Am familiar with Courtney's texts on that topic.)

(Side note: Since I believe in the Agency Theory of Fun, I feel that story games which compromise player agency are going down a dead-end design path. They require you to purposefully put obstacles in your character's own path, or purposefully abandon the objectivity of the game world, for the sake of making the character's path more interesting.)

Fascinated by the unabashed objectivism even for this :D

Yeah, we play a mix where the "physics layer" is a hard landscape of rules&consequences (and here, I want the game world to be very objective even though that's so difficult), but the "decision layer" are sometimes made with considerations other than "what would bring the greatest chance of low-risk, high-reward success for the character". "Flashlight dropping", it's refered to here in Europe, when you let your characters be cowardly, incompetent, emotional, messed up etc even though it brings them and their friends more pain than pleasure. For example two of the characters are a divorced couple who still have their hooks in each other, and another two are siblings who are rivals. There definitely is a "play to lose"-mentality. A combination of story gamers' goals in the hard landscape of the sandbox. Sometimes the combination is synergistic, sometimes dysergergistic.

You may be right that it's a dead end, design wise. My game design philosophy is to test various design paths with a detached mindset and see what sort of play it produces and what sort of play it hinders.

Hence, you should be subjective where subjectivity is required, e.g., in making choices about what the NPCs whose free wills you simulate, have chosen.
This trips me up because of all the power I have. If I understand you correctly, I can pretty much decide that all the rulers of Utaqa, Hafayah, Qadim, Muluk, Umara and Liham join forces with either Hawa or Qudra and make a joint strike against the other. That definitely does not sit right with me.

For me, one of several stumbling blocks / mental locks I had to untangle on my way to the sandbox mentality was that I needed separate hats between "prepper/world-builder" and "referee". If we've pressed play and I've got my referee hat on and the players enter a room with one dozen orcs. Then it's my job as referee to push the pedal to the metal wrt those orcs, to not pull any punches. The same Sandra that put those orcs in the room (either on my own volition, or through a stocking algorithm, or through choosing a module) -- that was "prepper Sandra", and now I'm "referee Sandra", the players have chosen to entered that room and now it's all action.

Same for humans with secrets in the cities, the players are interrogating some NPC in order for them to reveal the location of a spy the players want to capture. I can do it, I've got lots of practice at doing those sort of scenes as objectively as I can.

But when we zoom out to a macro level, that's where it breaks down for me. Portraying one dozen orcs -- in a room the players have voluntarily entered -- cruelly and skillfully, going for the casters first etc, doing guerilla tactics, ambushing the party in the dungeon etc -- I don't mess around, the gloves are off once we've put play. (My DM in the Lab Lord game, which was pretty lethal, ran a 5e campaign and noone died. In mine, it's been... pretty extreme. Even though we've run the exact same modules with the exact same monster counts etc. I just don't pull any punches).

But on the whole "world" level... if I decide that 10 000 orcs happen to march on the player's little inn (they own The Inn of the Billowing Sails in Hawa)... at that point I'm just one step away from being a "Rocks fall, everyone dies"-DM, amn't I? If I'm right, then it can't be the referee's free will entirely.

The players are controlling one character each. Even their lackeys, vassals etc (when they get any), they have to roll for on various tables, vagaries etc. The referee is controlling the rest of the world. Yes, army sizes etc are derived from population, realm sizes etc but if I basically have a Mindslaver helmet on all of Zakhara and they do my bidding, it's not going to be a fair fight. Hence the word "referee" rather than "adversary".

I always tell the players: "It's you vs the world, and I'm the referee". My monsters -- or rather, my pretties -- fight dirty AF. They hit downed PCs to kill them, they go for squishies, they hit the party where it hurts, they're cowardly and efficient. But I don't send all the monsters in the world against the party at once.

I've tried explaining my mental lock / stumbling block in a couple of ways here. Maybe it's subtle and hard to get.

(As a similar example of one that I did eventually get past was... the rules for jumping over chasms in some games are pretty complicated. But as GM, I can just put in any chasm width I want. That felt unfair. The metaphors of the two separate hats, and using different rules for myself in prep time vs myself "after we've pushed the 'play' button", have helped me a lot there.)

Hence, you should be subjective where subjectivity is required, e.g., in making choices about what the NPCs whose free wills you simulate, have chosen.

I mean, on page 131 on the core book there's a table for whether or not some NPC:s rebel against the players. Where's the line?

Controlling one or a handful of NPC:s that the PC:s run into in the slums and backwater inns are fine but when those NPC:s are the commanders of thousands?

Alex
The Autarch
Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

At an individual level in the short term, human behavior follows nothing but free will. But despite free will, over the long term at large scales human behavior follow deterministic economic laws. And deterministic laws of sufficient complexity have effectively random outcomes (from our human scale point of view) so it does arguably make sense to model mass behavior,or certain geopolitical events, or so on, in a random way. 

And so I think it definitely is hard to know where to draw the lines. 

Jard
Patreon SupporterDomains At War ContributorSinister Stone of Sakkara ContributorLairs And Encounters Contributor
Joined: 2012-07-11 23:23

At an individual level in the short term, human behavior follows nothing but free will. But despite free will, over the long term at large scales human behavior follow deterministic economic laws. And deterministic laws of sufficient complexity have effectively random outcomes (from our human scale point of view) so it does arguably make sense to model mass behavior,or certain geopolitical events, or so on, in a random way. 

And so I think it definitely is hard to know where to draw the lines. 


-Alex

 

I think things like what you wrote for Senatus are probably a good middleground.  They give vague, general directions but ultimately it's up to the judge to add context and turn it into an actual set of actions by NPCs. 

 

Also, to go back a couple of threads of thought: in defense of doing retcons "for the story".  There are a couple of reasons I do such things.  Most often is when I have a player with an irregular schedule who can't make a session that's already inside a dungeon/event they wouldn't reasonably be expected to just *poof* dissappear from.  The other is when I've failed to adequately explain the rules of the world and/or a player has a character concept they are pursuing but lacked enough mechanical understanding to do some thing X back at town that their character would have reasonably done.  I often err on the side of "yeah we can pretend you did that".

2097
Joined: 2012-09-23 13:25

When I read that you sometimes do retcons, Jard, I thought "well, I certainly never do that" and then you wrote the exact same circumstance where I always do that. :) When PCs come and go because they're players have been absent. And when a PC dies and the replacement PC arrives.

The mechanical understanding thing hasn't happened yet but I guess I can understand you there, too.

 

Alex, you have one good reason — how large scale changes psychology to sociology — and the other reason is that... they have one person each — and their hirelings they have to wrangle with morale rolls and the like — and I have… 12 orcs? If it's a battle of wills, me bringing more wills (12) than them (1 each) doesn't feel fair. Ofc I also have some mechanics on my side, such as morale rolls… looking for mechanics such as that on the macro level. Something that can harness / temper my will, not replace it completely. I dunno. It's a tricky question.

GMJoe
Joined: 2013-01-04 12:56

Forgive me for butting in, but...

The players are controlling one character each. Even their lackeys, vassals etc (when they get any), they have to roll for on various tables, vagaries etc. The referee is controlling the rest of the world. Yes, army sizes etc are derived from population, realm sizes etc but if I basically have a Mindslaver helmet on all of Zakhara and they do my bidding, it's not going to be a fair fight. Hence the word "referee" rather than "adversary".

-2097

That sounds like your problem, right there? It sounds like you're conflating your role as "the person who decides what NPCs decide to do with their free will" with your role as "the person who controls the forces that oppose the players."

The former is about building a coherent world that seems to make sense, so that players can make reasonable assumptions and make reasoned decisions based on those assumptions. The latter is about providing the players with a challenge. You need to do both.

So, when working out whether and how the Empire of X provides a millitary response to the players' provocations, it's very unlikely they'll send their entire millitary force to the players' doorstep. That would be overkill, expensive, and would leave their home territories completely undefended. Plus, it's unlikely that an empire is that coherent; There's a reason why mustering troops from vassals is only done when necessary.

Yes, it makes sense for opponents to try and kill the adventurers - but that doesn't necessarily mean they should devote 100% of their effort and resources to it; That's just not how people work. NPCs with free will should have other stuff going on in their lives, and generally only kill people in service of some other goal, be it revenge, honour, chivalry, greed, anger, fear, enlightened self-interest, bloodlust, hunger, or what-have-you. Going all out should only happen when they have a very good reason, and "a bunch of level five guys keep stealing my McGuffins" is rarely a reason that good.

I guess another way of putting it is that you shouldn't confuse your goal of "having that guy's forces attack the players" with that guy's goal of "preventing those adventurers from interfereing with my ongoing plan to take over the island via millitary force."

...If I've misunderstood your issue, I apologise; I suspect I may have, given how it can be hard to define and pinpoint this kind of problem.

2097
Joined: 2012-09-23 13:25

You're right, it's tricky. Not sure we understand each other — it's possible you understand me but that I don't understand your proposed solution, GMJoe.

Alex suggested a wargame perspective — hence the hypotheticals from my part of what I fear would maybe happen if I became "the person who controls the forces that oppose the players" (or, for that matter, that oppose the players' enemy — the problem is the same regardless of whether it's Hawa or Qudra that gets the hammer dropped on them). As for free will… my brain is only big enough for maybe… 100, 200 consciousnesses? I can't hold millions of people (all of Zakhara) in there. (Am not sarcastic or rhetorical.)

GMJoe
Joined: 2013-01-04 12:56

Alex suggested a wargame perspective — hence the hypotheticals from my part of what I fear would maybe happen if I became "the person who controls the forces that oppose the players" (or, for that matter, that oppose the players' enemy — the problem is the same regardless of whether it's Hawa or Qudra that gets the hammer dropped on them). As for free will… my brain is only big enough for maybe… 100, 200 consciousnesses? I can't hold millions of people (all of Zakhara) in there. (Am not sarcastic or rhetorical.)

-2097

Hmm. Have you tried thinking to yourself "So when I think about this course of action, does it seem like something that would happen in reality? And if not, why not?" You don't need to simultaneously simulate all those conciousnesses so much as recognise that there are multiple conciousnesses, and it's unlikely they all want the same thing.

For example, for your siotuation where ten thousand orcs decend upon the adventurers... Ignoring the fact that they're orcs and not humans, under what situation would someone send an army ten thousand strong just to defeat ten or so adventurers? Is a 1000:1 numbers advantage really that much better than a 100:1 or 10:1 advantage? What would it take to get that many orcs to work together in the first place?

I guess I don't really understand how the kinds of situations you're worried about could arise in the first place. Could you perhaps provide some more examples and the thought processes that you believe would bring you to them?

2097
Joined: 2012-09-23 13:25

I guess when it's that many people, it turns into weather for me. I don't want to decide if it's sunny or rainy, I want to roll for that.

The "orcs" was a hypothetical; both Hawa and Qudra have forces of humans, elves, orcs, halflings etc all joined together.

But yes, they might send 10000 strong to burn down the city where the player characters have taken up their residence. A city that has 2000 guards but the player characters could still get killed. And they're on the council ruling the city. It's not something I want to decide to do. If I were to decide, I would decide that it would not happen also because it was such a hassle to learn the info about this city, find the maps etc.

It's a cold war right now and I want to simulate that, not, hmm… arbitrarily act out that according to my own volition.

There's a subjectivity to this that makes me feel like I could just do away with all the economical rules, all the army rules, all the everything rules because even though they're pulling their weight and adding detail and interest to the world, they're a lot of work for me (I don't really have a lot of experience with games of ACKS' complexity) and they would feel "meaningless" if I could just be so subjective with so big things as which armies join forces, when do they strike etc. This becomes a philosophical question — I'm not trying to argue a point. I think I'll try Hardrada's suggestion and make some sorta mashup of SWN/AER (it doesn't have a lot of info for nautical campaigns though). I can use the data from ACKS as a base. It'll have to wait until I have a few hours to spare to work on it.

GMJoe
Joined: 2013-01-04 12:56

Thanks for the additional information. Unfortunately, I'm afraid I still don't understand the problem you're having. I suspect my perspective might be off... Hopefully wiser minds than mine can help you grok it.

Perhaps try asking your question at RPG.stackexchange? There's some remarkably insightful people over there who're very good at looking at a question and working out what the querent's point of confusion is, though it may take some back-and-forth for them to zero in on the issue if you're not used to the site's format.

2097
Joined: 2012-09-23 13:25

I'm not sure the SE crowd would understand; they don't have the best track record with OSR-specific issues of sandboxery and objectivity.

Other games have solutions; A Red & Pleasant Land has the Events table that you roll on every d8 days, but it has weird stuff like time distortion, invisible cats etc. Writing my own would be a solution and I've started it and abandoned it a few times. Their list don't really pull any punches when it comes to major NPCs being found dead etc — but their world has non-linear time so there's not the same need for consistency.

Stars Without Number have "goals", "XP" and clear turn taking that can solve the problem. I would just need to port everything from planets&ships to islands&boats.

The reason I brought it up here is that since we have an ACKS economy already, and I have D@W, I thought the Campaigns book would have a solution and I looked through it three or four times and then posted here. Of course, Alex, I realize your philosophy. I just have a hard time applying it fairly, myself.

Jard
Patreon SupporterDomains At War ContributorSinister Stone of Sakkara ContributorLairs And Encounters Contributor
Joined: 2012-07-11 23:23

You're right, it's tricky. Not sure we understand each other — it's possible you understand me but that I don't understand your proposed solution, GMJoe.

Alex suggested a wargame perspective — hence the hypotheticals from my part of what I fear would maybe happen if I became "the person who controls the forces that oppose the players" (or, for that matter, that oppose the players' enemy — the problem is the same regardless of whether it's Hawa or Qudra that gets the hammer dropped on them). As for free will… my brain is only big enough for maybe… 100, 200 consciousnesses? I can't hold millions of people (all of Zakhara) in there. (Am not sarcastic or rhetorical.)


-2097

 

if it were me, i would try to make a list of priorities that a given NPC ruler has, ranked from most important to least important, and then filter any event through that list of priorities to try and get a rough idea of their reaction.  Basically try to flesh out a character and try to give yourself a way to eliminate possibilities, get the number of potential reactions down to just a handful from which you can pick the most interesting.

 

edit: missed your reply mentioning R&PL and SWN.  I too have tried, in vain, to port over the R&PL list to a different setting by doing find+replace on the NPC names.  It didn't really pan out, but the main thing was i had to be willing to discard results that didn't make sense and roll again, as well as be willing to accept that some events just wouldn't be relevant to the PCs.

Rather than burdening yourself with making an entire list, you could try coming up with a smaller list, but having the last entry on your given die size be "make up something new".  This saves you from having to do all the work, and every time you roll "make up something new" you only do a small amount of work but end up with a bigger table to roll on next time.

Weron
Sinister Stone of Sakkara BackerLairs And Encounters Backer
Joined: 2013-10-07 06:44

Could you use the table for domain favors and duties on page 131? A result of 3 on 2d6 is "Call to Arms" to go on military campaign. Or 1 / 18 chance per month.
You could do something like domain morale for how the different actors feel about each other, make a scale and do morale rolls to see how angry / aggressive they are.

tire_ak
Patreon SupporterSinister Stone of Sakkara BackerLairs And Encounters Backer
Joined: 2015-05-27 22:24

I guess when it's that many people, it turns into weather for me. I don't want to decide if it's sunny or rainy, I want to roll for that.


-2097

 

I've had the same problem regarding large-scale decisions that have a heavy impact. I like to watch the game unfold, not tell my players what's going to happen (I too have made stabs at converting the Sine Nomine GM minigames).  For some types of events, I decide what happens but let the dice determine *when* it happens.  I might decide that Kingdom A will attack Kingdom B but is waiting for B to show a sign of weakness, and that this will happen in 1d6+2 months.  This takes the weight of decision away to an extent: there is still a random element involved and the players' actions still have agency.

Another resource you might consider is the encounter system in Oriental Adventures, which adds monthly and yearly events to your game calendar. Things like war, major incursions, politial plots, rebellions, assassinations, and so on are well represented here.

GMJoe
Joined: 2013-01-04 12:56

I'm not sure the SE crowd would understand; they don't have the best track record with OSR-specific issues of sandboxery and objectivity.

-2097

Perhaps not, but they're pretty good at understanding and acknowledging that there's a plurality of playstyles. The worst that could happen is that they can't give you an answer, which is no worse than your current situation; The best that can happen is that your problem is solved. You've got nothing to lose. Well, except the time spent writing up the question and responding to comments asking for clarification, but that's basically what you're already doing here.

2097
Joined: 2012-09-23 13:25

A lot of really good answers from all of you — I follow along on a device where I can't really post answers, and have to remember to go here when I'm at the desktop.

I've had the same problem regarding large-scale decisions that have a heavy impact. I like to watch the game unfold, not tell my players what's going to happen (I too have made stabs at converting the Sine Nomine GM minigames).  For some types of events, I decide what happens but let the dice determine *when* it happens.  I might decide that Kingdom A will attack Kingdom B but is waiting for B to show a sign of weakness, and that this will happen in 1d6+2 months.  This takes the weight of decision away to an extent: there is still a random element involved and the players' actions still have agency.

Another resource you might consider is the encounter system in Oriental Adventures, which adds monthly and yearly events to your game calendar. Things like war, major incursions, politial plots, rebellions, assassinations, and so on are well represented here.


-tire_ak

The 1d6+2 months idea is great — simple, general, flexible, yet gives me the "objective" feeling. I already had one event on such a clock (when a giant turtle with a fortress on its back will reemerge from the ocean) but didn't realize that I could use it for politics. If I put in mutually contradictory things on such clocks, what happens first will happen. Very interesting.

It's also useful with various levels of granularity. For example, we have PCs with ties to both the corsair council in Hawa, and the mamluk council in Qudra. I can put in clocks for specific council members and their proposals and how their own opinion swings over time. But put a more general, abstracted clock for something more distant in Zakhara.

That system in OA looks very interesting as an adjunct to that — which version of OA is that? 3e, 1e, some other e?

These clocks also might synergize well with Sine Nomine style minigames (whether or not I ACKS-ify those minigames with info from D@W:C).