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Author Topic: Riddle of... Gold?  (Read 10275 times)
Lyrax
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Posts: 268


« on: May 08, 2002, 01:30:17 PM »

Hello folks, I'm the fool doing the Thieves' supplement.  Right now, we call it "The Riddle of Gold," but that's not what I want to talk about.

I want feedback from you.  Is there something you want to see in it?  I've already got lots of "thief" concepts (such as bounty hunters, robbers and assassins) and how to make them.  I've got some skills, two modified thief skill packets, a few gifts and flaws, some pre-made characters, and a few adventure hooks.  Anything else?  Anything you want particularly stressed here?  Speak your mind!
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Lance Meibos
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Valamir
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« Reply #1 on: May 08, 2002, 02:02:13 PM »

Mind speaking #1:  I do not, under any circumstances want to see the RoS equivelent of the "Thieves Handbook".  Thief "kits" dont' interest me and frankly I find the idea of thieves as a "profession" being both silly and done to death.  If you want my oppinion:  No thieves guild, no thieves cant, no secret signs, no packages containing "pick locks", and "pick pockets" and "hide in shadows", that sort of urban skulking ninja/secret agent character is largely myth anyway.

Mind speaking #2:  What I WOULD be interested in seeing.  Historical based research on the world of the outlaw and how one gets labeled as outside the law in the various Wyerth cultures.  Sample outlaw communities where hardened thugs rub elbows with discharged soldiers with no other career, and good folks whose only crime was trying to feed their families by poaching on the kings lands.  Essays on actual local peasant revolts which oftened had a core of these dispossessed people.

Other historical color like locks.  Even in the 1800s locks were still pretty crude.  What were they really like from medieval times through the age of enlightenment.  How did shackles really function.  What were common punishments for common crimes.  If the combat rules are realistically gritty, I want to see the punishment of common thieves being equally gritty.

Historical law enforcement efforts.  In the days before organized police forces who was responsible for rousting out the riff raff.  I'm not interested in seeing some Thieves World-esque "town watch" nonsense.  How are the sheriffs and constables appointed and what authority is vested in them.  Are they the same people responsible for collecting taxes?  What form does tax collection take, how is it handled and how is it paid (crime and tax collection go hand in hand...witness Robin Hood or the IRS).

What kind of trial or judgement could they expect, what kind of treatment were they afforded before and after conviction and how does that vary by region.  If you see a man robbing your house can you simply kill him?  What if he's of a higher social class than you?  What recourse is available to common folk who have crimes committed against them...can they appeal to a higher authority.

What about canonical law.  Do the clergy of Wyerth operate under different laws than the secular?  How about other forms of crime like river piracy or Wreaking.  Smuggling is as old as tariffs...whose smuggling what to where in Wyerth?



I know this sounds like alot...but to me, what seperates Riddle of Steel from d20 even more than the mechanics is the attitude towards realism and period fidelity.  Truth be told, I have zero interest in a d20 guidebook converted to RoS game mechanics.
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #2 on: May 08, 2002, 02:03:55 PM »

Quote from: Lyrax
I want feedback from you.  Is there something you want to see in it? ...Speak your mind!


First, I like you're working title, you should go with that.

Second, include supporting notes on motivation and background for theives. Why is my character a thief? How does that play into the spirit rules? What sort of subcultures are there that support such individuals (and don't just do the tired Thieve's Guild thing yet again). I see "thief" as a description of a person with serious problems, as opposed to a vocation. How do you make heroes of such individuals? How do you make protagonists of them (I see a lot of characters perhaps starting as thieves, but eventually becomming warriors, essentially; Han Solo anyone)? I'm not saying it can't be done, just that it's difficult and that's primarily what I'd want to see from such a supplement. It's already a very derivative idea. So if you're going to do it, you should take a very original tack.

The last thing we need is more D&D thieves.

Mike
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Nick the Nevermet
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« Reply #3 on: May 08, 2002, 02:51:14 PM »

Valamir and Mike covered everything I could think of and more.  Historicity is a good thing for tROS.
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Ace
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Posts: 204


« Reply #4 on: May 08, 2002, 04:23:22 PM »

I will disagree a tad with the other posters and suggest you keep in mind that a bit of fantasy wouldn't be amiss in the supplement.

If there are ninja like characters in Weyerth cultures players will want to play them.
Especially considering how effective an ambush would be :)

While I do agree that the usually D&D thief types aren't appropriate in Weyerth there is one caveat.

Fafhd and the Grey Mouser have a very TROS feel about them, they are legitimate Fantasy archetypes that may inspire some TROS players. Silly Thieves Guild and all.

A mention of that wouldn't be amiss


Anthony
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Nick the Nevermet
Member

Posts: 352


« Reply #5 on: May 08, 2002, 05:46:03 PM »

Thats a good point.
Even though its subtle and uncommon, magic really exists in Weyrth.
It would be useful to Pose and answer the question, "How would that change what happened historically?"

However, whatever exists needs to be grounded into the setting in a manner that is internally consistent.  If something ninja-esque exists, there would need to explain where that came from.

on the rules end of things, I agree that skill packets, skills, and flaws would be nice. especially if they flow into the setting information well.
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Nick the Nevermet
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« Reply #6 on: May 08, 2002, 06:01:11 PM »

just to be clear about what this is supposed to be:

Is this a supplement to buy or something for the web-page?
Also, how does/should the answer to that question change the expectations and goals of The Riddle of Gold?
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Rattlehead
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« Reply #7 on: May 08, 2002, 07:25:56 PM »

I'd have to say that I agree with the other posters here 100%. I would like to chime in on the subject of ninjas/hiding in shadows... info on that sort of char would be appropriate considering the existence of Tengoku (and other asian type places) in Weyrth. You'd have to be careful how you did it tho, and they'd surely be as rare as hen's teeth, but I dont see why they couldn't be around - particularly in the eastern part of the world.  As for thieving as a job, I agree that it would be out of line with the feel of the world (aside from those who are just trying to survive). Then there are those who prefer to live that life. Why work for a living when you can slip you living out of other's purses?

"Thieve's Guilds" are a silly notion at any rate. What would make sense though is a description (and examples) of organized crime in Weyrth. This could draw on historical sources as well, I'm sure. Perhaps you could break it down by nation. Or perhaps the whole book could be divided into a section detailing all this stuff for each nation. A few chapters of general info, and a chapter for each "established" nation for those details specific to them.

Another suggestion for the book would be descriptions and examples of traps that one might encounter. I think everyone agrees that traps are a common item in fantasy settings, and they'd fit nicely in TROS. Especially in a book dedicated to thief-type characters. Maybe even rules for trap construction?

Well, that's my take on that.

Brandon
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Grooby!
Jake Norwood
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« Reply #8 on: May 08, 2002, 08:14:26 PM »

Hey y'all. I havent shown up in here for what...a day? Anyway, this is my take on the Riddle of Gold. I've read Lance (Meibos') intro and a bit of his outline, and I like it a lot (it's funny, at least). I originally saw it as being kindof a "thieves guild book" ala pre-D20 D&D, but after all of the posts in here I agree with y'all completely, and think that TROG could be Much, much more. Lance--you've got your work cut out for you.

As for the "Will this see print?" question, the answer is "only if Lance pays for the printing."

::grins wickedly::

The Riddle of Gold will be online (for a fee or for free I dunno...that depends more on Lance then on me, and on my take on its final quality).

Otherwise we'll be doing the Bestiary (we're looking for a good name for it) and Sorcery and the Fey first up, followed by The Flower of Battle. After that...we'll see.
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"Civilized men are more discourteous than savages because they know they can be impolite without having their skulls split, as a general thing." -R.E. Howard The Tower of the Elephant
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Rattlehead
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« Reply #9 on: May 08, 2002, 08:44:33 PM »

Quote from: Jake Norwood
As for the "Will this see print?" question, the answer is "only if Lance pays for the printing."

::grins wickedly::


Ok, so how much would something like that cost, anyway? I for one would be willing to pay in advance for it if I saw a little of it to make sure it was something I wanted. Perhaps you could take orders for it before it's printed and then use that to fund the actual printing of it?

I have no idea what I'm talking about, of course. Just an idea I had. :-)

Brandon
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Grooby!
Jake Norwood
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« Reply #10 on: May 09, 2002, 08:22:45 AM »

That's a feasible option IF I get over 500 orders (not going to happen at this stage of the game). Any less than that and it's too much money for too little return, especially considering the downpayment and the risk involved. It's not that I don't think that such a thing would sell (I think it would), but who's going to pay for the printing...Driftwood is operating with a serioiusly limited budget...we are an "indie" game company, despite the spiffy hardback. We can (and I'll ask all of you to) hope and pray that TROS pulls a starwars this fall and that suddenly Driftwood has the means to really drive stuff all over the place, but for now I'm thinking realistically, if optimistically. As long as things go well we'll have the Big Three supplements a'coming, plus PDFs online, and so on, as long as TROS is paying for itself.

A general note about publishing...it just doesn't pay well--or at all--on small levels. TROS is a labor of love for me, and its success exists to pay for itself, but not for my time (not yet, at least). I'm doing this 'cause I like it.

Jake
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"Civilized men are more discourteous than savages because they know they can be impolite without having their skulls split, as a general thing." -R.E. Howard The Tower of the Elephant
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #11 on: May 09, 2002, 08:48:09 AM »

Hi there,

Couple of notes for consideration ...

1) The Thieves' Guild in Fritz Leiber's fiction was satirical - a deliberate slam on capitalism, or rather, corporatized capitalism. To think of it as a basic element of "fantasy setting" is a result of non-critical role-playing culture; to retrofit it into a setting in some kind of consistency-based way is ... well, perhaps an interesting exercise, but definitely an exercise.

2) I want to reinforce the point made about the "town watch" or "city watch." Such characters did not exist in the hard-and-gritty fantasy literature until the 1960s at the very earliest, when a lot of paler Conan imitations appeared. Some of these were tongue-in-cheek, such as Kothar the Barbarian (Gardner F. Fox); others were simply stupid imitations, such as anything written by Carter and deCamp (including "Conan" as they wrote him) and Brak the Barbarian (John Jakes).

"Law" as we understand it did not exist for much of human history. "Police" as we understand them barely exist even today, and are very recent even in our own country. The functional equivalents of these things, historically, were tied up very tightly with local power structures in ways that you and I would call "corrupt" from the get-go. Bluntly, if someone was paying you to steal X or kill someone, and if that someone owned a lot of stuff or a lot of land, you were legal. Theft and violence as crimes, by principle at the societally-enforced level, did not exist.

Given #1 and #2, I suggest that this supplement would do very well as kind of a wake-up call to traditional fantasy role-players, regarding thieves, assassins, and (huck ptoo!) ninja.

Functionally speaking, all the rules are already there - such activities and social roles may all be considered applications of violence, in some fashion, and answering "Why am I doing this?" is what the Riddle is all about.

Speaking in terms of content, I would be very interested in the distinction, for the major cultures of Weyrth, between (a) being outlawed or hunted in some way, and (b) doing or not doing honorable things. A and B are never entirely the same, and different peoples have different ways of coding and distinguishing between them.

Best,
Ron
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Valamir
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« Reply #12 on: May 09, 2002, 10:27:20 AM »

Quote from: Ron Edwards

"Law" as we understand it did not exist for much of human history. "Police" as we understand them barely exist even today, and are very recent even in our own country. The functional equivalents of these things, historically, were tied up very tightly with local power structures in ways that you and I would call "corrupt" from the get-go. Bluntly, if someone was paying you to steal X or kill someone, and if that someone owned a lot of stuff or a lot of land, you were legal. Theft and violence as crimes, by principle at the societally-enforced level, did not exist.


Quite so.  I'll just add that this is a feature and not a liability when it comes to adventure creation.  Consider for a moment the modern cop show.  Many such shows will eventually feature an episode about 'dirty cops' who accept bribes, look the other way, even do some dirty deeds themselves.  Much of the show is filled with convoluted and flimsy excuses for how the dirty cop has managed to get away with it etc. etc.

In the period RoS is set in, this sort of thing is par for the course.  Its not some unusual situation that you have to shoe horn in some lame rationale, its how things actually work.  

Consider the role of the tax collector I mentioned earlier.  How do taxes get collected in the days before (and somewhat after) organized bureaucracy.  Well, the noble appoints an official in charge of collecting taxes from a local district (in England IIRC the "Shire" was a royal tax collection district that was seperate from and overlapping the political "counties").  There was no real tax "rate" the official (in England the "Shire Reeve" or Sheriff) had a certain amount that he was expected to deliver.  How he raised this amount was his problem.  Typically he'd collect a good bit more than was required and pocket it for himself.  That wasn't corruption, that was status quo.  It was expected and a big part of the reason why the job was desireable.  Now if he got to obnoxious about it, he might be convicted by his superiors, but the conviction would have nothing to do with "cheating the people" and everything to do with the superior feeling cheated that he could have asked for more.

Now obviously the tax collector isn't going to be a very popular guy, and people don't typically volunteer to pay it, so the tax collector is going to have to have a group of loyal retainers at his disposal to bully the local populace into paying...who of course will have to be paid themselves requireing more taxes.  

"Crime" as it was seen by the nobility was anything that disturbed the status quo...i.e. the flow of labor and revenue provided by the commoners.  As long as the taxes were paid on time, they didn't much care if Bob Thatcher was killed by John Millerson, as long as the manor's "productivity" wasn't harmed.  Now let the disturbance grow so it begins to effect revenue, and peace must be restored.  What local party knows the area, and has his own group of retainers available for rousting out the troublemakers?...why the local tax collector, of course, and hense the Sheriff became an "officer of the law"  

Another interesting feature is that the Sheriff was a royal office responsible to the king's court and usually not beholden to the local nobility (and I'll point out this is all from memory, its been awhile since I delved into Ivanhoe era politics).  This sets up all manors of confrontation.  The Sheriff was a pretty powerful official, whose royal commission gave him influence rivaling the local barony.  But they were not of noble birth meaning they didn't have the protection provided by lineage.  The politics of just a local shire, its interaction with barons whose counties it overlaps, the local villages full of down trodden commoners etc etc, provide enough adventure ammunition for an entire campaign.  

"theives" in such a setting would be the various outlaws and other dispossessed attempting to eke out a sustinence existance in the deep woods.  To the extent they take to banditry and theivery it would not be cat burglars and swashbuckling highway men, but thugs, ambushers, and smugglers.  



As another example, consider the case of a free man farmer who finds his livestock being rustled.  He and his sons drive off the rustlers killing them.  Heres a great situation for gameing.

1) the rustlers were collecting taxes for the local baron, the free man is branded a traitor and arrested for execution.  He's a criminal.

2) the rustlers were from a neighboring fief.  Losing the livestock would have reduced the local baron's tax base, by stopping them the man's a hero.

3) the neighboring fief is owned by a duke who isn't pleased that his retainers were killed.  He demands satisfaction from the baron.  Not wanting to anger a more powerful lord the local baron brands the man a traitor and arrests him for execution.  He's a criminal again.


So who are the players?  The man and his son.  Retainers of the local baron ordered to carry out this perfectly legal but by the players modern standards immoral order?  Travelers through the land who witness this "injustice"?

Combine, Stir Well, and Serve.
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Rattlehead
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« Reply #13 on: May 09, 2002, 12:59:59 PM »

Quote from: Valamir
"theives" in such a setting would be the various outlaws and other dispossessed attempting to eke out a sustinence existance in the deep woods.  To the extent they take to banditry and theivery it would not be cat burglars and swashbuckling highway men, but thugs, ambushers, and smugglers.  


While I think it's important not to stray too far from historical accuracy, we must keep in mind that in a fantasy setting cat burglars and swashbuckling highwaymen do have their place. I think of it as those who for whatever reason turned to crime and discovered that not only did they like the lifestyle, but found that they were good at it. These are the ones who will be "theif" characters.

If The Riddle of Gold is limited only to real-world historical examples of crime and punishment, it's going to be a rather grim book indeed. I think one of the major motivations for players to play criminal characters is the (obviously fictional in real life) glamour of a life of crime. Even in a world of gritty realism, there's a place for the Dread Pirate Roberts and his crew. Although, I have to say that my vision of a "theif" character would probably be more like The Mouse from Ladyhawke (for those of you who remember the film).

Just throwing in my 2 pfennig!

Brandon
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Grooby!
Bladesinger
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« Reply #14 on: May 10, 2002, 10:45:19 PM »

a....I have but one small remark on a theives book for ROS..........AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH...............NNNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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BLARG!....................Eddie
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