Making Nobility Work for Players and PCs

So, truly, I like the idea of expanding the DMG a bit in the direction of motivating the players to find reasons for the PC’s to want to gain holdings and land and titles and all of that.  Rather than have unending sessions of murder-hobo (which is a fine enough way to play), I want to encourage (mechanically, if need be) greater participation in the less directly dungeon-useful aspects of RP in D&D.

So, borrowing a bit from the Kalamar setting (from 3rd ed and other editions) concept that Divine Right of Kings actually is a force in the world (and helping to explain how there can even be interesting or entrenched nobility or royalty in a world where the raging 10th level Barbarian can depose just about anyone without PC levels or monster templates), I fleshed out an optional rule system to maybe inspire or draw interest for players to test the waters of more holistic development.

For the trailing columns, here are the “traits” or “features” associated with different ranks of nobility and royalty.  Keep in mind, this isn’t intended to match any real-world system (people get whole degrees in that complex history of class and title), just something straightforward enough to spark some want and imagination.

  • Great Renown = X number of Resistances (can be spent 1 for Resistance and another 1 to Immunity)
  • A Long Life = 4th death save roll, instead of 3
  • Prosperous Legacy = 1 luck re-roll/day
  • Good Fortunes = Advantage on saves vs. Magic

Note that none of the special features says anything about the NPC (or potential PC), elsewise.  Take your standard Noble or Merchant or NPC Aristocrat and add all the features for a High King–while it’s interesting to think about them being immune to piercing and bludgeoning and whatnot, in truth that only gives them an advantage over minor attacks.  It helps systemize why commoners aren’t great at jumping the king with a dagger and critting for enough damage to kill him (but why a high level adventurer still could).

Note, also, that “Peerage” concerns whether that title has a social division based on heredity worth noting.  One can be (for instance) a Duke on paper… but the Duke that has Peerage is one that’s from old blood.  Purely an RP and story distinction.

Rank Title Category Lifestyle Income (monthly) Peerage “Great Renown” “A Long Life” “Prosperous Legacy” “Good Fortunes”
1
Emperor
Royalty
N
9
Y
Y
Y
2
High King
Royalty
N
8
Y
Y
Y
3
King
Royalty
Aristocratic
(46) 7d12 pp
N
7
Y
Y
Y
4
Archduke
Sovereignty
Aristocratic
(33) 6d10 pp
N
6
Y
Y
Y
5
Duke
Sovereignty
Aristocratic
(23) 5d8 pp
Y
5
Y
Y
Y
6
Marquis
Sovereignty
Wealthy
(14) 4d6 pp
Y
4
Y
Y
Y
7
Count
Nobility
Wealthy
(39) 7d10gp
Y
3
Y
Y
N
8
Viscount
Nobility
Wealthy
(27) 6d8 gp
Y
2
Y
N
N
9
Baron
Nobility
Comfortable
(18) 5d6 gp
Y
1
N
N
N
10
Guildmasters
Gentry
Comfortable
(14) 4d6 gp
N
N
N
N
10
Ranked Clergy
Gentry
Comfortable
(8) 3d4 gp
N
N
N
N
10
Gentlemen
Gentry
Modest
(5) 2d4 gp
N
N
N
N
11
Commoners
Peasantry
Poor
(5) 2d4 sp
N
N
N
N
12
Low Commoners
Peasantry
Squalid
(5) 2d4 cp
N
N
N
N

Below is a fleshing out of holdings–lands and people and smallfolk and the like.

Rank Title Category Description of Holdings Size of Holdings Regular Soldiers Possible Conscripts
1
Emperor
Royalty
An empire of (3d4) nations
2
High King
Royalty
A small empire of (1d4) nations
3
King
Royalty
A nation, virtually any combination of holdings below
(31250) 2500x5d4 sq miles
(3750) 1500x1d4 soldiers/guard
(5250) 500x3d6 commoners
4
Archduke
Sovereignty
A nation or protectorate, a large castle, a small castle, (2) forts, (1d10) keeps, (1d20) towers, a capital city (virtually all faiths, trades, etc.), (2d4) other cities, (2d10) towns
(10500) 1000x3d6 sq miles
(1875) 750x1d4 soldiers/guard
(2500) 1000x2d4 commoners
5
Duke
Sovereignty
A duchy, (8d4) towns and (2) cities; small castle, (1d4+1) keeps, (2d4) towers throughout domain; 1d4 major natural resources (special mines, timber, game, etc.)
(2500) 500x1d4 sq miles
(500) 100x2d4 soldiers/guard
(625) 250x1d4 commoners
6
Marquis
Sovereignty
A city and surrounding land, major temples of (1d8) faiths, minimum (1d6) guildmasters of different trades
(14) 4+4d4 sq miles
(250) 100x1d4 soldiers/guard
7
Count
Nobility
A county, a keep with two towers (need not be with the keep), 2d4 towns with three of them involved in some industry (mill, port, trading post, etc.) and at least one connected to a major, developed road through the land
(225) 10×8 sq miles
(50) 10x2d4 soldiers/guard
(135) 10x3d8 commoners
8
Viscount
Nobility
Major areas of a county, (2) towns with at least one possessed of industry (port, mill, trading post, etc.), a keep, etc.
(25) 10d4 sq miles
(13) 5x1d4 soldiers/guard
(53) 5x3d6 commoners
9
Baron
Nobility
A barony, a large manor, a dozen scattered small farms
(3) 1d4 sq miles
(3) 1d4 soldiers/guard
(7) 2d6 commoners
10
Guildmasters
Gentry
Guildhall, dockside buildings, wagons, boats, forges, etc.
(3) 1d4 commoners
10
Ranked Clergy
Gentry
A temple or shrine, minimal
(5) 2d4 commoners
10
Gentlemen
Gentry
Simple property: a dozen acres, a small manor, a shop, etc.
11
Commoners
Peasantry
A pack animal, tools, maybe a change of clothes, assets worth less than 5gp.
12
Low Commoners
Peasantry
The clothes on their backs, total assets worth less than 1gp.
Advertisements

3 comments

  1. These are great rules! I might actually build on them by adding additional luck rolls for kings, high, kings, emperors. Essentially build emperor’s up to 4 luck dice (which is Better than the lucky feet, but they are an emperor and probably don’t have much in the way of character levels in my games). Also might look at adding the equivalent of durable for kings and above or toughness, or something that just makes them hardier and harder to kill — as long as it aligns with the idea of “Divine Right” Hmmm… maybe I need to look at Cleric stuff OR the old Favored Soul character traits, and see what can convert. I don’t want to go Too overboard, but I actually have a campaign that I’m playing out where the characters will eventually go against the city-state and have to depose the king. Along with the divine right idea, I like the idea that if the ruler is aligned with the church and in good standing with the “official religion” maybe they are under a semi-permanent “bless” effect, as long as they stay in good with the church.

    You have SO many really good ideas. I think she should kickstart a hard copy supplement with some of this stuff.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s