Adventuring Companies Characteristics

So, I know I've been pretty quiet on this project, but I've been continuing to noodle with it in the background. After I posted that table of contents last time, I did an analysis of what sections depended on other sections and realized that the main core that would affect how just about everything else played out was statting up the "adventure company" itself. I think that this, plus the colony rules, will be the main contributions of this project (assuming I do a half decent job, anyway). The colony rules are going to take a bit more doing, but in the meantime, here's the start on how to record, track, and make use of the company/expedition as a unit of its own.

The core of the company as a unit is the company record sheet. I have shamelessly stolen the basic concept from GW's skirmish games like Necromunda and Mordheim, and the idea is that it gives you everything you need to resolve situations treating the company as a single unit, or at a medium level of detail where "important" characters act individually, but hirelings/henchmen/grunts are handled as groups. If you want to go full individual detail, just use standard D&D stats. Here's the record sheet followed by a breakdown of what each stat means:



Officer 1

Officer 2

Henchman Group 1

Company - Daily Hex Map Movement Rate
Officers - Individual Tactical Movement Rate
Henchmen -  Individual Tactical Movement Rate
Armor Class
Company - Average of all members, rounded off
Officers - Individual Armor Class
Henchmen - Individual Armor Class
Hit Points
Company - Equal to total hit dice of members
Officers - Individual HP
Henchmen - 1 per HD per invidual
To-Hit Bonus
Company - Based on Company Class and Level
Officers - Based on individual class and level
Henchmen - Based on group class and level
Company - Class of Leader
Officers - Individual Class
Henchmen - Class of group (all members are the same)
Company - Average level of members, rounded off, minimum 1
Officers - Individual level
Henchmen - Group level
Company - All skills of all members, use highest in case of overlap
Officers - Individual skills
Henchmen - Group skills
Company - All tags for all members, ignore overlap
Officers - Individual tags
Henchmen - Group Tags
Company - Traveling and company level equipment and cargo only
Officers - Special equipment and cargo only
Henchmen - Special equipment and cargo only
Company - Total inventory slots
Officers - Individual inventory slots
Henchmen - Group inventory slots
Company - Leader’s leadership
Officers - Individual leadership
Henchmen - Group morale

Types of Characters
Officers are tracked and act as individuals. In a game with player characters, it is assumed that all PCs are officers, along with some player-controlled, leveled retainers. Specialized retainers hired for their skills are also treated as officers.

Henchmen are tracked as groups at the company level. These groups are generally 3-5 people, with no more than 6. All members of a henchmen group are considered to have the same class and characteristics at the company level and advance as a group.

This section is based on the henchmen rules from Mordheim.

In addition to the standard D&D classes for officers, non-combatant specialists may be hired from the following classes
- Ship’s Captain - required for travel on the ocean if no officer is qualified
- Naval Navigator - required for travel out of sight of the coast if no officer is qualified
- Cartographer - improves travel rolls by decreasing chance of getting lost
- Physician - improves healing
- Guide - improves chances to find undiscovered sites of interest
- Engineer - Specialist in Architecture, building, demolition, and siege-work
- “Build Your Own” with the skills available - +1 to any one skill per level

Henchmen can be the following classes:
- Laborers - good for carrying things, clearing paths, establishing forts
- Teamsters - provide and care for beasts of burden
- Sailors - required for sailing or operating large boats
- Infantry - combatants with standard hand to hand gear
- Pikemen - combatants with pikes or other polearms
- Ranged - combatants with ranged weapons
- Cavalry - mounted combatants

As in LotFP (Generic Skill - 1 in 6), with the following exceptions/additions:
- If interacting with never before contacted cultures (e.g. "the natives"), test language skill once per month of exposure to determine understanding
- Rather than the standard chance of getting lost, a successful navigation roll must be made to stay on course
- Exploration related skills (navigation, cartography, bushcraft, languages, etc) can be improved by all characters

I may not keep these, but the idea is that here is where you can put some cues about anything special about the guy/group: stuff like "Elves", or "flying", or "vicious" or what have you. Most of the stuff I thought about putting in here is now covered pretty well by the other categories.

At the company level, only significant equipment should be recorded, like food, loot, excavation equipment or whatever. Each piece of equipment in this category takes up one slot. (More detail on this to come as I work out the other sections).

Inventory & Encumbrance
This is the number of "slots" a character can carry if you aren't zooming in to full encumbrance rules. Regular gear doesn't use up slots, only large/unwieldy things, food, and loot. Normal humans have three regular slots and one encumbered slot. If the encumbered spot is filled, that unit moves slower tactically and on the map.

Standard pack animals (mules, unless your setting has something more exotic) can carry 6 slots unencumbered and 8 encumbered. Each teamster can handle two pack animals.

The idea is that a normal person, in addition to his regular gear, can carry enough food for a week's trip out and back, plus one other thing (a week's worth of food is one slot). This is slightly based on personal backpacking experience and partly based on trying to make a game-interesting resource management issue. I haven't worked out exactly how the movement works yet (and thus the encumbrance effect), and the number of slots and number of pack animals per teamster may need to be adjusted. The idea is to make for tough, hard choices when it comes to how many fighting types and how many carrying stuff types you bring on dangerous expeditions into the jungle/mountains/islands. 

This represents an officer's ability to command the loyalty of the henchmen or the henchman's ability to face dangerous, terrifying, or bizarre threats. Default assumption is that it works exactly like D&D/Warhammer morale/leadership checks, with underlings getting to use the leader's leadership (rather than their morale being modified by his charisma).

Running a Company as an Individual
In this case, the player's character is the leader, other officers are analogous to "henchmen" in AD&D, and henchmen are more typical hirelings/retainers.

Running a Company as a Group
Here, the default assumption is that each player has a PC officer, and there is some system for making group decisions (such as travel direction and speed, how to pay the henchmen, et cetera). Another method would be for there to be a stable of officer characters that players rotate through depending on who goes on what expeditions/missions.

Adventuring Companies Working Table of Contents

Following up my general thrust post on the adventuring company setting/game thing I’m working on, here’s the working table of contents for what I’m planning to write, with some initial indication of organization. I have a few questions about this that would be helpful to get answers for:

1. Does this look like something cool? Would anyone besides me get any use out of this?
2. Has too much of this already been done too well to be worth repeating? (If so, what and where can I find it?)
3. What am I missing?

Now, if nobody chimes in on the questions, I’ll just chug along for my own self, but I’d love to hear some outside opinions. The idea is that each of line of the TOC is a relatively discrete chunk that can be used or replaced at will without affecting the other pieces. Anyway, here’s the current table of contents:

Setting Creation
Hex Map Terrain Generation
Creating General Features
Placing Sites of Interest
Creating Sites of Interest
Creating Villages/Settlements
Placing Villages/Settlements
Determining Amount of Treasure
Placing Treasure
Creating Rumors
Creating Weather
Creating Disease
Creating Random Encounters by terrain
Creating Creatures/Monsters

Faction Characteristics
Creating factions
Populating map with factions
Off-screen faction interaction

Company Creation
Company characteristics
Creation of Companies
Types of Characters (Officers, henchmen, etc)
Equipment for Companies
Companies run by 1 player
Companies run by multiple players

Colonies/Base Camps
Creation of Base Camp/Colony
Types of Resources
Conversion of resources to treasure/money
Colony Features/Assets - including defenses
Buying/Building Assets
Expanding/Improving Colony
Colony Inhabitants and growth
Starvation and Deprivation

Supplies, Encumbrance, Speed
Travel Rolls
Encounter Rolls
Mass Combat
Significant Location Mission Rolls
Recovering Treasure

Managing a Company
Payment & Upkeep
Recruiting new members
Experience for henchmen
New skills/abilities for henchmen
Experience and new skills/abilities for officers
Converting Treasure to Gold/Assets/Other stuff
Sending treasure home/taxes

Variations and Example Combinations
Minimum abstraction for traditional D&D campaign
Medium Abstraction for Company Play D&D campaign
Maximum Abstraction Competitive/Solitaire Game
Turns & Turn Structure
Win Conditions

How to convert between D&D and other games (especially Mordheim)

Example Setting
General Features
Random Encounters by terrain type
Native Village/Settlement tables
Sites of Interest (~10, ½ - 3 pages each)

Adventuring Company Expeditions and Modularity

So, now that I've gotten Middenheim out the door and received a gratifyingly positive reaction, I've started thinking about another project idea I had a while back. It was spurred by a blog post I read somewhere (maybe Monsters & Manuals or Hack & Slash?) that talked about the lack of quality OSR innovation in the Campaign Setting arena. I don't know if that's still the case, but that thought mixed with some other ideas resulted in the outlines of a thing I want to make.

Here's the idea: a product that supports organized professional groups undertaking expeditions in a fantasy milieu. I say "product" because I don't know if what I have in mind would be best served by a book, a deck of cards, a website, or what. Let me break down some of the inspirations and what I want to accomplish to illustrate why I'm not sure a traditional book format is the best one.

What I want to do: make something that can be used end-to-end as a full campaign setting/modification to the fantasy game of your choice. Perhaps more importantly, I also want to design/write it from the ground up to be as modular as possible. What do I mean? Do you only want a method for generating a map and sites of interest? Cool, just use that. Want rules for resolving a large expedition abstractly but already have your own map and interesting sites? Got you covered for that too.

Now, obviously, D&D players have field-stripped modules and supplements since time immemorial. What I want to do is make that process easy by intentionally supporting it in every aspect of the finished product. I'm not sure what that will be yet, so help or suggestions are greatly appreciated. As for content, here's what I'm thinking.

Organized professional groups: I'm intrigued by the idea of professional adventuring companies or guilds. They don't make any sense in my dark ages themed main campaign world, but I think there's a lot of potential fun there. From the anachronistic comedy of things like Penny Arcade's "Acquisitions Incorporated" to the real-life inspiration of the the English and Dutch East India companies. David McGrogan wrote a pretty cool article about conquistador companies and their similarities to adventuring companies in D&D. Then, of course, is the original Forgotten Realms on-character sheet presumption that characters belonged to an adventuring company or guild with a logo.

Expeditions: central to these sources is the idea of organized expeditions into unknown territory (for plunder). Not just exploration of the sort you tend to see in traditional wilderness sandboxes, but exploration with a specific objective (gold, or relics or unobtanium or whatever). Also, the idea that civilization is far away: so scarcity of resources is a higher order concern than just torches and rations for a few days. Even your "home base" needs to be provisioned and can face deprivations. Gus L. has some cool stuff on this idea in the underdark.

More as I write it!