Domain Ruling Game Notes

An idea of a quick RPG based on negotiation and conflict.

First choose a frame. Clan elders of a dwarven settlement making policy decisions? An alliance of fantasy races settling disputes? A diplomatic hub where star empires negotiate treaties to end wars or settle trade disputes? A single warship’s crew, leading a rag-tag of survivors to a quasi-mythical new home?

Ratings are -1 for poor, 0 for normal, 1 for skilled, 2 for expert, and 3 for master.

Traits are Cunning, Inspiration, Organization, and Research.

Normally you roll d6 and add the appropriate rating based on the primary trait you use. However, circumstances can be bent. A good bend takes you up to d8 or even d10. A bad bend takes you down to d4 or d2.

If a total is 2 or more higher than what’s needed (status quo is 4, otherwise the opposing total, or overall scores in a group of competing characters) then you win. If the total is a tie, or within 1 of a tie, then fall back on your secondary method and roll again in the next phase, possibly adjusting the bend based on the appropriateness of the secondary method to the conflict.

In situations where rank applies, dice for authority figures can bend up one for each level of advantage. If that’s more than two, or combines with other factors to raise it above two, then the authority figure bends up two levels and the rest of the difference bends the other characters down.

(Duke Gyver is up against a knight, 2 levels lower, AND has popular support, so the Duke goes up to a d10 and the knight goes down to a d4.)

There are 4 phases: plan, discussion, implementation, and legacy.

The plan is built to have a rating of -1 to 3, and superior plans can bend the roll for the discussion phase and implementation phase. Using traits appropriate to roles, characters try to get their plan implemented (or assist others with sympathetic plans) by winning the discussion part.

If your plan is implemented, you get a renown point equal to the level of support of the body, from -1 to 3, depending on how much approval is behind it. (a little more tinkering to figure that out.)

Then you get renown again as part of the legacy phase; so, an unpopular project, botched in implementation, can be spun to come out as a renown positive to the one behind it if spin is properly managed.

Overall prestige and power are based on range bands of renown, though people are not always obligated to go up or down in rank. (Being in the wrong rank can bend your rolls,though.)

The way this works is to have tables made up in advance that involve complications for existing problems, and fresh problems. There is a 1 in 6 chance of a complication each phase (a 6 total on the roll), and a 1 in 6 chance of a fresh problem. Every phase that passes where neither happens, add +1 to the roll, until it is inevitable. So, every phase each plan and its supporters gets attention.

Each fresh problem has a “fuse” and each complication affects the length of the fuse for an existing problem.

Make sure there are lots of toys in the toybox. Disgruntled elements of the population, agitating idealists, foreign spies and saboteurs, sickness, windfalls from distant caravans, loss of key personnel, problems from nepotism, etc.

Make sure there are lots of crisis points. The volcano under our home will erupt. A plague has struck the city and is moving through it quickly. Our neighboring town was destroyed.

And each character has a fuse, too; how long can they serve before being replaced, or falling to age or illness?

Every plan a character is involved in is -1 to that character’s Organization rating for the duration. Every level of rank is -1 to Inspiration for the duration.

A session begins with a new crisis emerging, and the session ends when people are ready to stop taking turns to freeze the board (or deal with all crisis) until next time.

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