Campaign of the Month: July 2016
Domains represent organized social or political structures and their chain of command. Domains take many forms. A feudal kingdom and its nobles or a church hierarchy and organization. Even a small association of craftsmen who band together to increase their profits could constitute a domain.
Describing the day-to-day activities of a domain is impractical unless relevant to a specific role-playing goal. Instead, domain-level activities are described abstractly through the use of short-term goals referred to as domain actions. Domain actions are resolved month-to-month (the domain round) or by season (the domain turn).
Regardless of the size, power, or purpose of the power base that a domain represents, all domains share some features. A domain’s regent is the head of a specific ruling body that has the primary responsibility for the domain. The regent may hold absolute power or be a powerless figurehead, but they are the person that holds final authority in all domain decisions in the minds of those with whom the domain interacts. Provinces represent areas of land in which tax-paying common-folk look to the regent for military protection and succor in times of hardship. The relative size of the province is represented as the province level. Any domain that includes a province is referred to as a realm. Holdings represent an organized power base, and the places, people, and things that constitute it. The relative size of a holding’s power is represented as the holding’s level. There are four holding types: guild, law, source, and temple. Additional domain assets include armies, trade routes, the skill of a realm’s courtiers and spy network, the strength of a realm’s castles, highways and other important domain-level features.
A province is a distinct area whose borders are defined by prominent geographical features, cultural and political traditions, and economic infrastructure. A province is a political division of land, like a county or shire. A rural province generally measures about 30 to 40 miles in diameter, but an urban province that represents a major metropolitan area may be no larger than the area enclosed by the city’s boundaries.
The defining domain-level measure of a province is not its size, but rather its level – its overall measure of population, technology, and industrial prosperity. A province’s level is an abstraction that represents the relative contributions of loyal subjects of the province.
A ruling regent has putative control over an entire province. A province ruler can tax the province and make laws and regulations
within the province, but without the power of the local Law holdings the regent has nothing to directly enforce her edicts. In most cases the province ruler is also the most powerful law regent in the province. Law is supposed to be a tool by which the province regent can enforce her will.
Rulers are regents that hold one or more provinces and thus are often considered to be of higher status than unlanded regents. Regardless of the power of the realm, significant political power and rank is generally associated with the stewardship of a geographic area.
Domain holdings represent centers of regional political, economic, religious, or magical power and the institutions and personnel that allow the holding’s regent to wield this power. The defining domain-level measures of a holding are its type and level.
There are four areas of influence in each province represented by holdings. Economic power is represented by Guild holdings.
Political power in a province is represented by Law holdings. Spiritual power is represented by Temple holdings. Finally, arcane power is represented by Source holdings.
Guild holdings represent control of a province’s economic activity. Guild holdings can represent artisan guilds, merchants, underworld organizations, or any other establishment that seeks profit and power through the acquisition and sale of goods, services, and information. In the vast majority of cases, guilds are considered to be legal enterprises, but in many cases they also contain some less-than-legal elements. Guild holdings consist primarily of various guilds, especially of the primary economic activity of an area – artisan’s guilds being the most common, as well as merchant companies. Guilds are integrated into most levels of a province society, and, as such, have excellent access to information. Guilds are also always in control of whatever trade comes through a province.
Law holdings represent direct control over military and secular political power or what passes for “the law” in a province. Law holdings represent bureaucrats, constables, taxmen, highway bandits, rebel organizations, a system of feudal lords, or any other establishments whose primary purpose is to enforce laws/whims, collect taxes/tribute, and execute justice or injustice in their regent’s name. Control of a province’s law holding impacts whether edicts and laws are followed, how vigorously laws and taxes are applied, the level of crime, and the general contentment of a province’s citizens.
Temple holdings represent influence over the religious activities of a province’s populous. Temple holdings represent an organized faith of worship and the itinerant clergy, shrines, churches, or cathedrals that preach to the masses. Temple regents can cast divine realm spells, but more importantly they are the trusted spiritual advisors to the people. Temples have an enormous impact on how the successes and failures of other regents are perceived by the common man.
Source holdings represent mastery and control of the continuously renewed mystic essence of the living land. A source regent does not wield temporal influence through the holding as do other regents, instead they tap their holdings to cast powerful arcane realm spells. Because of their mystical nature, it is far more difficult for most regents to undermine the power-base of a source regent than visa-versa. Therefore, although they have little direct political or economic power, source regents are respected, or even feared, by most other nearby regents. Source holdings and realm spells are described in Realm Magic.
The principal measure of the extent of a holding’s influence is its level. A holdings level indicates the fractional proportion of a province’s relevant power-base (the province’s level or source potential) over which the holding holds influence. For example, a guild (3) controls three-fifths of the potential economic activity in a province (5/1). The maximum level for a holding is the province level (or source potential, for source holdings). This indicates that the entire relevant power base in the province is under the control of the holding’s regent. Likewise, the sum of all holdings of the same type in the province cannot exceed the province’s
level (or source potential, for source holdings).
The minimum level for a holding is 0. A 0-level holding holds almost no power; instead a holding (0) represents a significant network of contacts that can form the basis for observation of the province and for the eventual establishment of a base of power.