Introduction and Chapter 1: Geography

posted by Falconier111 Original SA post

Night10194 posted:

The Border Princes' take on the lure of power and the perceptions of 'strongmen' is fun!

Oh hey!

People get into tabletop RPGs in all sorts of ways; they were introduced to them by a friend, encountered them in a game store, or found a rulebook in a bookstore that grabbed their interest. I got into them through a version of the last method: I found a copy of GURPS Space in a Barnes & Noble, saw tables in the back for randomly generating planets and alien species, and immediately snapped it up because I was and am the kind of nerd to spend hours rolling on those tables. I’ve loved doing that sort of thing ever since, so when I heard someone dedicated an official sourcebook to that, I had to download that shit. And now that I have nothing to do during the quarantine and because I do what I want, I get to show it to you.

Part 1: Introduction and Chapter 1: Geography

For those of you unfamiliar with the more obscure parts of the Warhammer Fantasy world, the Border Princes (refer to it as one thing with a plural name, i.e. the United States) is the name of a miserable stretch of badlands way to the south of where most games take place, stretching between the borders of Bretonnia, Tilea (fantasy Italy), and a gigantic stretch of even less hospitable land mostly occupied by orcs. It’s kind of a dumping ground for everyone in the setting who’s desperate enough to choose the worst possible place to resettle without having to face down actively hostile governments. Before they released Renegade Crowns, they’d established elsewhere that politics and society in the Border Princes were a swirling mess of civil war and counter-coups that made the systematic approach they’d used in other regional sourcebooks impossible, so the authors just dedicated half the book to methods to randomly generate a campaign setting in the region and the other half to DM advice for using that setting once you put it together. As we’ve seen in the thread, official Warhammer Fantasy adventures are kind of shit, but Renegade Crowns takes the opposite approach; it gives you a toolbox to use to generate a campaign from the ground up, providing players with a clear goal (taking the place over), plenty of story hooks, and an interconnected world the players can wedge themselves into as it moves around them. Having used them multiple times, the results you get from these tables just seem to mesh naturally and create something interesting every time.

So that’s what I’m going to do with this review (for the first half of the review at least). I’ll take you step-by-step through the process of creating a region, exploring its quirks and elements as we go, before illustrating how the second half of the book gives you tools you can use to make that setting playable.

Before we begin, I should establish a few things that characterize the Border Princes, just so we can all be on the same page:

We good? We good. Let’s go.

So the first stage of building the campaign map is laying out a grid. Exciting! The book recommends a 20x20 grid for first-time cartographers but I’m going with 30x30 because I’m a badass. This shall be the beginning of the wonderful road we will travel together, guided along the way by my terrible skills at MSPaint. Way this works is I’m going to make a bunch of rolls on this chart:

Yes, all the charts look like this, but this is one of the biggest. Also, check out that border art!

Each pair of d100 rolls will give me a terrain type and how many squares to fill in with it. Each terrain chunk has two parts: terrain type (badlands, which are so rocky they make farming impossible; hills, which are gentle enough to support animal husbandry and some farming; mountains, which are mountains; plains, which are flat enough to farm or easily traverse; and swamps, which are wet, inhospitable, and generally suck) and vegetation (barren, which means desert, unbroken rock, or terrain uninhabitable for some other reason; scrublands, which are too poor to support human settlement but not borderline impassable; forested, meaning the area has enough trees to supply settlements with wood, forage, and also evil goat people; and grassy, which means the area is actually fertile enough to (in theory) support respectable agriculture). You can also get rivers, which the GM has freedom to draw out as they like, and a variety of unique features. Every time you roll on the chart, you add 10 to the next roll until you get a special feature, after which it resets. You just keep going until each map square (which, by the way, represents 16 mi.², or length-wise about the distance you can travel in a day over local terrain) has something in it.

(By the way, I won’t be going this in-depth in the process in the future; right now I’m showing you the basic structure this all runs off.)

Now, while this looks complicated and time-consuming at first blush, that’s because it is. It isn’t actually that difficult a process but building a map does take a while. If you take a close look at the chart (don’t bother, I did it for you), you will notice the results can make you fill in awkward numbers of squares at the same time, place terrains in ways that don’t make geological sense, and leave you with more terrain than the map can fit. They address these issues all at once with my single favorite section in the book;

Renegade Crowns posted:

The first four chapter of this book contains a lot of random tables. Indeed, it consists almost entirely of random tables and guidelines on how to use them. These tables are provided purely to help you create a setting for your campaign. You should ignore the results generated by the tables whenever you have a better idea. If you don’t like the result of a roll, re-roll. This is not “cheating.” This is not even “misusing the book.” This is what you are supposed to do with this book.

One of the hardest parts of creating a campaign setting is filling in the necessary background for the areas where you don’t have great ideas. Use the tables for that. Sometimes, coming up with a great concept is equally difficult, and you can just use the tables and see what the results inspire. However, the tables are there for you to use when you do not have plans of your own. If you have ideas, ignore the tables completely. If a result gives you an idea, ignore all the sub-tables and just put it in.

The tables exist to make your life easier, not to restrict what you can write. Use them as such.

Hell. Fucking. Yes. Most books that make use of random tables heavily urge you to use results-as-rolled, no matter how much they might clash; they usually rationalize it by pointing out that reconciling contradictory results is a great way to spark creativity. This is true and I have never once failed to fudge a roll a roll to get a more interesting outcome. This is the first time I’ve seen a book acknowledge that, and my first time through I fell in love over the course of three paragraphs. I will make copious use of this principle in the rolls ahead.

Behold! The land of Camet!

Some notes on the map:

Oh, speaking of ruins, that’s the next step in the process. Scavengers and desperate locals either destroy or reoccupy most abandoned structures and settlements in the Border Princes, but a few ruins and up being left untouched; these usually have some kind of supernatural menace haunting them scary enough to keep out interlopers. Ruins fill the role of dungeons, providing places a party might explore to either have a break from local politics or fish out something useful to use in their quest for regional domination. Renegade Crowns HEAVILY encourages you to fiddle with the results you get in this stage, since the results you get this early in the process say a lot about the region and its history: not only do they tell you who’s been through the area and why, but they imply what the tone of your campaign might be; more ruins means adventurers and supernatural elements are more likely to show up, while fewer ruins in the area makes for a more mundane and politically-focused game. I rolled a modest number of ruins in the area, so I guess this map offers a bit of both.

Five elements define each ruin: type, ancient menace, original purpose, reason, and age.

Once you finish rolling up your ruins, you’ve completed the first quarter of region generation and are ready to start generating actual Princes of the Border Princes. So let’s do that.

Through the magic of d100s, map labels, and yet more mediocre MSPaint art, we now have a completed terrain map of our new region – and with it, and idea of its history. Let’s go down the list:

And we’re done with the intro and chapter 1! Next up on the docket is generating the princes themselves, followed by laying out their domains and scattering monsters in for flavor. I have no idea how much space each chapter will need, so we’ll see how everything fits together when we get there.

Prince Generation

posted by Falconier111 Original SA post

Chapter 2: Prince Generation

Its princes define the Border Princes both figuratively and literally. “Prince” is a generic term here, as in principality; they rule more or less independently as petty lords, whatever their titles. And they do have titles, usually pretentious ones. As the characters the PCs will most likely focus on, each Prince gets an extensive list of traits, features, and relationships that describes almost every aspect of their character; no other section in this book goes nearly as in-depth. A Prince controls maybe an average of 60 squares, meaning almost every map has extensive areas outside of their control; this is by design, since it leaves lawless areas for monsters and border settlements. As such, unless you roll up an obscene number of princes, you’ll end up with plenty of room on your map (and you shouldn’t use too many princes, since you have to decide what their relationships with each other are and that workload increases exponentially). Renegade Crowns tells us that every region borders other regions whose princes might interfere with them despite not being present on the map, but since it gives us no rules for working with that I tend to ignore it and just make the region hard to access (that’s why Camet’s borders are mostly barren or mountainous). It also tells us that princes frequently band together, maintaining their individual characters and principalities but sharing foreign relationships, something I’ll make use of for the six princes I generate. Six is actually a pretty respectable number; a Prince is characterized by no less than 11 descriptors (original profession, race, experience, goal, principles, personality, quirks, dark secrets, court size, title, and relationships with other princes (each of which has its own set of values)) and I’ll have to generate all of those for each Prince. Cutting down on the number of diplomatic relationships I have to juggle will make this much easier.

The first step (and one of the most important) is determining what the Prince did before they became a Prince, since it determines their general approach to rulership.

Their culture of origin also influences princes, obviously; from most to least common:
Occasionally, you might roll something unsupported by the setting, like a halfling wizard; in that case, the book recommends you shift their classes around to something more likely but still thematically similar (for instance, that halfling might just be a charlatan). It also tells you you might want to add an extremely unusual prince to your map, like a Chaotic being, intelligent monster or undead, or a human from REALLY far off, but you should only have one of those per map since they are supposed to be rare in the first place.

While you can assume every prince is about at the same level, Renegade Crowns gives you tools to determine at what point in their lifespans/careers a given prince is, complete with career paths and stats (most princes are in their third career). I tend to ignore this section or just breeze over it since it’s tied into the system more than most parts of the book. While I’m talking about it, this book relies very little on crunch; for the most part it’s a mixture of write-your-own-fluff and GM advice. You could very easily take your results from these charts and translate them to another system. I’ve never done so, but I guess I might in the future.

After all this we get to generating a given prince’s personality. These elements aren’t setting-specific like the first two sections and boil down statless NPC generation (which it is). As such I’ll cover the individual rolls with a bit less granularity;
Next up is rolling up a court, and… Man, I don’t want to do this. You’re supposed to determine how many people are in each prince’s court, decide which of like a dozen different medieval administrative positions each has… I can’t help but think this is better to leave up to the GM, especially since unlike practically every other chart in the book the chart for title assignment is kind of dumb and unusable. Considering how much time you might spend with a given prince’s court, you’re better off sketching the details out yourself. When I present this map’s princes, I’ll just note how many people are in their courts and let you fill in the details.

We wrap up prince generation by determining their title and principality size. Title is pretty simple; you either choose their title or roll on a big ol’ list of 20 and use the result. To get the size of their principality, though, you roll on that very chart I showed off in the first update and portion off that number of squares as their holdings. Though you can place these wherever you want, you should probably center them on (marginally) arable land with natural borders between them and other princes, though you can do whatever you want, of course. While the book recommends rolling for principality size at the end of individual prince generation, I prefer to do it first; it lets me get a better handle on the personalities of my princes if I know what their situation is first. With all of that rolled, all your princes are now complete.

The final step of this process is figuring out what your princes think of each other. Often the princes will band together and share diplomatic relationships – the book gives you a complicated process for dividing them up fairly – but I find the results make groups of mutually antagonistic princes work like little hive minds, so I tend to avoid that method unless there’s a solid reason (for example, if they’ve been in an alliance for a long time). Each relationship has two values and one subvalue: length, type, and subtype. As you can probably guess, the first is how long a relationship’s been going on, the second is the general flavor of the relationship, and the third represents that relationship’s defining elements – say, if two princes are allied, they might be bound by ties of enlightened self-interest or by ties of sleeping together. The Border Princes being the Border Princes, the line dividing diplomatic and personal relationships is so thin it may as well not exist, so how your princes interact is as driven by personal feelings as much as realpolitik. As such there is no division between public and private feelings in these relationships; one prince having a crush on another is as valid and important a relationship as to princes playing diplomatic games, and the tables reflect this. In theory, you can roll independently for both sides of a relationship (say, if you get an Alliance result for one and a Fear result from another, the former party might believe their alliance is built on mutual respect while the other just plays along because they think the first will turn on them if they don’t), but the book recommends against this as it tends to produce “daft” results; I recommend against it because it makes relationship generation too complex and hard to jigsaw together.

After you’ve rolled up and written down all those diplomatic relations, you’ve completed this stage of region creation (in theory you can work out internal politics at this point, but the book specifically advises against this; it’s a lot of work and more easily done on the fly. Thanks for the court generation section, then. Why is it here?). The last section of this chapter briefly covers how to piece together the history of your region (I’ve already done that) and then we can move on to creating individual principalities.

I’d present writeups of those princes here, but this update is long enough already and posting them now would probably double or even triple its wordcount. I’ll probably put that up as a 2.5 update in a bit before moving on to principality generation.

Princes of Camet

posted by Falconier111 Original SA post

Man, this has nothing to do with ponies and I am so fucking glad about it.

Chapter 2.5: Princes of Camet

Since I cut this part out to save room on the last post (a good decision), I’ll dedicate this one to showing off the six princes I rolled up for this region. As the players will spend more time interacting with/planning to overthrow these characters than anyone else, each one needs an extensive writeup. That’s what this update is. Each Prince has their various values listed next to their names in order of generation (the ones with descriptive names are results from the personality tables) and includes diplomatic relationships below, with redundant entries removed. Man, that sentence sounds technical for something that involves no math.

Every principality (in this region) is named after its ruler’s title (except for the Patrician, who rules the Free City). Each principality’s label sits outside its borders; when I generate communities, I’ll need that space inside it.

Count Dieter von Leibwald (Bandit, Imperial (Vampire), Fifth Career, By My Command, Kill the Mutant, I Wouldn’t Expect You to Understand, Open Book, catchphrase, zero courtiers): before he came to power, Dieter von Leibwald had a reputation as a particularly skilled swordsman and bandit who challenged travelers to single combat, robbing those he defeated and killing those who refuse to fight him. After he killed the previous count in a duel and came to the throne, his secret came out; Dieter came not from the Empire, but from Sylvania. He is a vampire. Granted, he’s about as weak as vampires come; he’s been known to lose fights against mortals, never come out in daylight, and refuse to transform, but you can only drain so many prisoners of blood (as is the standard death penalty in the county) before people stop questioning you. In spite of his undeath, Dieter’s managed to establish diplomatic relations with the other princes of Camet, and though no one likes him, he’s proven to particularly like hunting Chaos and doesn’t seem interested in spreading the curse – and by Border Princes standards, that makes him a lot better neighbor than many ordinary people. Visitors will find him arrogant, condescending, and deeply unnerving in person; without the need to hide what he is, Dieter enjoys playing up the vampire stereotype as a tool of fear. However, aside from his constant threats to drink his subjects dry (which he never follows through on), he’s proven himself a competent protector of his principality, attacking monsters and raiders on his own and driving them off, and he has no interest in expending the lives of his subjects to expand his territory or attack other princes. As such, his subjects, while still unhappy being under the thumb of an undying monster, consider him one of the best Counts they’ve ever had – which says a lot about the Border Princes.

Patrician Abele Columbino (Merchant, Tilean, Third Career, Marvel at My Wondrousness, My Word Is My Bond, Let’s Get to Business, Black Sheep, Uncontrollable Appetite, Eight Courtiers) and Capt. Lorenzo Bibino (Mercenary, Tilean, Third Career, It Must Be Mine, Kill the Mutant, Honestly You’d Embarrass a Snotling, Act of Virtue, Bizarre Temper, One Courtier): Abele Columbino and Lorenzo Bibino both began life in the Tilean city of Trantio, Abele as the son of the prominent Columbino merchant family and Lorenzo as a street urchin who enlisted young in a mercenary company. They met in their youth when Abele accompanied a delegation sent to hire Lorenzo’s company. Despite the fact that Lorenzo was a punk already a grizzled soldier and Abele did ballet was a foppish (if clever) aristocrat, the two bonded, then then went a little beyond bonding, until one of Abele’s cousins caught the two in bed together. Them discovering Lorenzo was, in fact, biologically female didn’t help matters. Since Lorenzo was a sk8r boi could theoretically produce a Columbino heir and throw the family into chaos over lines of succession, they said see you later boy presented the two of them with an ultimatum: either Abele would enter exile and Lorenzo would accept imprisonment (and probable execution under trumped up charges), or both of them would suffer Lorenzo’s fate. After escaping, the two spent a few years drifting until settling in northern Camet, at the time ruled by three petty princes. After years of plotting and gaining the confidence of two of those princes, three years ago the two executed their plans; Lorenzo led a coup against the westernmost Prince, Abele bribed the easternmost Prince’s court to murder him, and the two crushed the Prince between them in a surprise attack. Abele set up a council of eight burghers to rule the Free City in his name before they set up the Captaincy in what used to be the other two principalities. In the years since, the two rock each other’s world have ruled their territories as archetypical Border Princes; they’ve proven ruthless, aggressive, and just barely administratively competent, only set apart by the strength of their relationship.

Abele and Lorenzo might be the happiest rulers in the Border Princes, between ruling (relatively) stable realms and sharing a loving and healthy relationship. This fact does not make them nice or good. If anything, they are the cruelest rulers in Camet, more interested in maintaining control then Dieter, less interested in keeping a good image than Abelard or Shashank, and more proactive in keeping power than Hatshep. However, the two keep each other in check enough to prevent either from crossing the line too far. When visited, the two often play bad cop, worse cop; Lorenzo will lead with his characteristic foul mouth and grow even louder upon hearing profanity from someone else (a personal quirk he’s cultivated), while Abele will play hardball with visitors implying they’d get an even worse deal by dealing with Lorenzo. Since it’s common knowledge that will Abele collects silver coins from across the world, visitors usually bring a few to make negotiations easier. Both of them are more reasonable than they appear; while Lorenzo wants power and Abele once prestige, neither feel taking advice compromises their goal and talking back (without swearing) is as likely to gain the respect as it is to pass them off. For all their power and influence, however, one major issue stalks them; the Columbinos have located Abele and are watching him for signs of greater ambition. If he was to gain enough influence to try to return to Trantio, he would throw their lines of inheritance act into chaos and weaken the house, and they’d rather assassinate him than let that happen. Lorenzo’s weakness goes a bit deeper; he runs a small network of halfway houses for what we would recognize as transgender and intersex children on the run from their parents. If someone were to discover and threaten them, they’d have Lorenzo by the metaphorical balls; he wouldn’t quite give up his life or position to protect them, but he’d compromise his own power to a large degree as long as he can keep those houses open.

Marquise Shashank Espeaux (Politician, Border Princes, First Career, for the Love of the Children, What’s That?, You Have Our Permission to Rise, Chaos Cultist, Compulsion, 10 Courtiers): Of the various children and grandchildren of the original Marquise of Camet, only one survived the Siege of Castle March, a lesser son who settled in the isolated western hills of Camet and claimed the Marquis title. Shashank is his granddaughter, a wildly-rare fourth-generation ruler just recently come to the throne after her father’s death from food poisoning (as far as anyone can tell, an actual, natural death). Intimately aware of her status as the newest and least-experienced prince in Camet, Shashank has taken great lengths to establish a reputation as a cunning manipulator, one that’s already taken root. Unlike her father, who spent most of his reign trying (and failing) to expand, Shashank has successfully favored soft power and influence, and in time she may well come to dominate Camet diplomatically – if her secret doesn’t consume her first. As human as she seems, Shashank is in fact the product of Tzeentchian sorcery. After realizing they were both infertile, her parents turned to a cult within their principality’s border for help; they agreed in return for protection and patronage, and ever since disguised cultists have dominated the March’s internal affairs. Despite the corruption in her blood, Shashank has no interest in serving Chaos, but she values continuing the family line above escaping the cult’s influence; if she has to, she will shelter them within her borders until her death. She deliberately avoids the cult as much as possible and has taken to publicly briefly praying to any divinity that will listen, but neither of those things have helped her situation. If someone was to drive out the cult without realizing her connection to it, she’d owe them a great debt and likely work them in to her already-overstuffed court; if she believed they knew about that connection, she’d support their efforts until they succeeded in gutting it and then have them quietly murdered. If someone was to reveal that secret, both her and the March would probably be destroyed unless in her desperation she properly falls to Chaos; killing a Chaos cultist powerful enough to control a principality might be the only thing Abelard and the Tilean could cooperate on, while her own subjects would quite likely rise up in horror. The March is a ticking time bomb; depending on what happens next it may peacefully unite the region or doom its western half to destruction.

Prince Abelard de Mont Casteaux (Knight, Bretonnian, Fifth Career, This Power Is Mine, Save the Children, We’re All Friends Here, Foul Murderer, Religious Fanatic, Five Courtiers): Prince Abelard has ruled the largest and most influential principality in Camet for over 15 years, having left his old life as a petty knight in Bretonnia behind over a decade before. Outliving countless assassination attempts and perilous battles, Abelard has built a functioning state complete with a legal code and a (minuscule) bureaucracy for solving minor disputes between settlements and collecting taxes. Visitors to his court – and it is a court, even if it’s located in a small castle near his capital with only five advisors and a few servants – find him a gregarious and humble man who nevertheless never fails to impose his will on any situation he is involved in. Despite the ongoing war against the Tilean princes, Orcish and Chaotic incursions, and the standard threat of unexpected death that characterizes politics in the Border Princes, Abelard only faces two real issues. The first, and the most obvious, is that Abelard is getting old. The powerlust that brought him to the throne is growing dull as he ages and his failure to consider an heir early on has come to bite him. While he only cares so much for his principality as anything other than a path to power, Abelard has accepted his eventual death and has no desire to leave behind a pathetic legacy. His twin daughters, his only children, have proven unfit for the throne; one has devoted herself to the Lady of the Lake and spends her days praying to be made a Grail Maiden (even though Grail Maidens don’t work like that) and the other is so dissolute she’s barely fit to walk in a straight line, let alone rule a principality. In theory, he’d be open to appointing his successor, but they’d have to walk the delicate line between impressing him and not threatening him or his family. The other issue has followed him almost his whole life, and in fact caused his exile from Bretonnia. Abelard is a cannibal. He acquired a taste for human flesh at some point when fighting for his liege lord in a petty war in his homeland and that lord exiled him when he discovered Abelard had been eating the infant children of his peasants; even for Bretonnian nobility, that was too much to bear. Abelard has since cleaned up his act – not only is he horrified by what he did in his homeland, he now has a genuine soft spot for the welfare of children that endears him to his subjects. But he never lost the habit. It’s an addiction he satisfies by eating parts of criminals he executes (as far as anyone knows, he likes killing his enemies in private), and if his secret got out, he’d probably lose his crown to hungry neighbors and usurpers riding a wave of popular disgust.

Wizard-Empress Hatshep I (Wizard, Border Princes, Fourth Career, Give Me Liberty or Give Me a Moment to Run Away, Follow Your Instructions, Strange Hobby, Phobia, Six Courtiers): Hatshep is an enigma; she was born in Camet (in her current capital, in fact), but vanished before she hit 10 years old. Her parents believed she’d been killed in a raid. When she returned years later, not only was she alive, but she’d somehow gained the trappings and knowledge of a junior Celestial Wizard (even though she can’t bear the sight of anything painted in that order’s midnight blue). She tells no one how she gained her knowledge or why she returned, though she’s loud enough about her power that she seems unconcerned of rumors getting back to the Empire (her past is left to the GM). Whatever her past looks like, shortly after returning Hatshep took up employment under Abelard and served him loyally for years before getting ahead of herself and claiming a stretch of land near the place of birth as her own. She has since learned to regret her decision. She declared independence by accident (she claimed a village as her own instead of Abelard’s, which he couldn’t allow) and does not have the skill or experience necessary to stay afloat. If she can make it through the next few years she will harden into a proper Border Prince, but as of now she desperately wishes she were anywhere else. Hatshep may well be the only ruler in the Border Princes who wants to be deposed, just as long as she can survive the experience; she would be loyal (and a lot more careful) serving under anyone smart enough to peacefully replace her. That’s if they can figure that fact out, though. If her enemies were looking to undermine her more efficiently, they wouldn’t have to play mind games, just check her basement. Hatshep plays Warhams is deeply addicted to boardgames, forcing her closest advisors to play games she designed while she makes sound effects with her mouth. It’s the one release in her life and she’d rather die than give it up. The revelation of what she does in her spare time would make her a laughingstock in the eyes of the self-consciously tough princes, and make her look weak enough for those same advisors she plays with to overthrow her. So far, none of them have ratted on her out of a mixture of calculation and shame over their participation, but it’s only a matter of time.

And with that, we finally finished prince generation. Next up is actually looking at the territory they rule.


posted by Falconier111 Original SA post

Chapter 3: Inhabitants

After the Colossus that was chapter 2, chapters 3 and 4 are relatively short, so they should go a bit faster. As far as 3 goes, principality generation takes up maybe four-fifths of the chapter with the remainder being stuff for character creation.

It turns out I got the numbers wrong earlier in the review; instead of a village every square, you get maybe one village every four squares, and that’s in the most fertile regions. Most settlements end up under a prince’s control; they may be assholes, incompetent, or both, but they offer some military protection from the monsters and other princes that stalk the area, and that’s better than nothing. There are a few settlements that go it alone, but they are very much exceptions.

You generally encounter three kinds of settlement in the Border Princes; towns, villages, and homesteads. Towns are rare; you can have a max of one per principality and they never show up outside of one without some force keeping them independent. They are distinguished by, unlike every other kind of settlement, not devoting most of their population to agriculture in some way; towns are couple-thousand-people-strong trade and manufacturing centers (they get one distinguishing feature per thousand people), the only ones in the region. Villages, averaging at about 150 people, show up much more frequently; they pop up pretty much everywhere they can access enough farmland to support them. However, most of them don’t have distinguishing features so the book doesn’t advise generating them in detail. The same goes for homesteads; an order of magnitude smaller than villages, they show up a few times per square, but the bulk don’t have distinguishing features either.

What sets important settlements apart – and what makes them worth generating – are a variety of special features the book presents in one of its customary fat charts. During principality creation you roll up the number of towns, villages, and homesteads (the first two are functions of the principality’s size while the last is just a d10 roll) that have said features, then roll up what sets them apart, possibly moving on to other gigantic charts. These features come in several flavors; economic resources, strongholds and chokepoints, and special features.

Economic resources cover any kind of economic activity in general, whether resource harvesting, crafts, or trading. All settlements have some amount of all three; everyone can pull in agricultural products, make low-quality goods, and trade with visitors. What sets settlements with economic resources apart is their access to more or better stuff than everyone else.
Though economic resources themselves are pretty boring, they serve two purposes: flavor and plot hooks. For the first, passing through a mining town or market differentiates between settlements in an area and makes it feel more alive; for the second, it raises the stakes of defending or fighting over that resource. It’s one thing to try to take a village; it’s another to try to secure the only source of medicinal herbs for hundreds of miles.

If you don’t pick up an economic resource, you get one of the other results on a table;

A few careers.

Once you’ve rolled all these out (and decided their names, there are several charts in an appendix for randomly rolling up place names of various types), you’re done building a principality. The next section covers character creation for the Border Princes, but for the most part it’s just a list of careers for players to choose. Not too much exciting here; there are special careers for swamp dwellers, long-distance traders, various flavors of religious weirdos, and so forth. It’s much shorter than the last section, and once you’ve read it, you’ve finished the chapter.

I’ve gone ahead and rolled up Camet’s principalities, but I’ll try and keep this update short and sweet. I’ll go over some of the highlights in the next update.