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Thread: ECL of a Realm.

  1. #1
    Site Moderator geeman's Avatar
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    ECL of a Realm.

    One of the weird issues in a 3e version of BR is the effect of controlling
    a realm on the ECL of PCs. A 3rd level fighter is one thing, but a 3rd
    level fighter with a bloodline who rules three provinces, four law holdings
    and controls a castle is quite another. Aside from his realm, the second
    fighter is likely to have personal equipment superior to that of the first
    fighter. He may have a magical sword as a family heirloom, one of the
    finest steeds available, fine clothes, jewelry and enough cash to buy off
    most intelligent CR3 encounters he runs into. Aside from those issues, a
    regent adventuring in or around his realm would have much greater influence
    with the locals than a typical adventurer. While certain aspects of
    role-playing, of course, will be made more difficult for regent PCs
    (certain NPCs will automatically oppose characters who represent "the
    establishment" or may be reluctant to interact with "the authorities") on
    the whole a character who is a politically powerful figure in the region
    can expect more compliance with locals and various adventure level
    encounters than one who is not. All of this begs the question, What is the
    ECL of controlling a realm?

    I`ve been muddling around with various ways of determining ECL recently,
    mostly having to do with equipment. As Falcon pointed out last month in
    the Help from Parents thread (here`s a link if anyone wants to review:
    http://oracle.wizards.com/scripts/wa.exe?A...hright-l&P=169)
    one can determine ECL for equipment by averaging the level of the character
    with the level he would typically have for the value of equipment he is
    carrying on Table 2-24 on p43 of the DMG. That is, a 3rd level character
    running around with 19,000gp (7th level on Table 2-24) of equipment would
    have an ECL of 5.

    I don`t think, however, that controlling a realm should be considered the
    same as equipment, for several reasons. First, as facetious as it might
    sound, PCs aren`t carrying them around. Having control of a castle(4), for
    instance, is a distinct advantage for a PC, but one that doesn`t
    necessarily interact at the adventure level, and the same could be said of
    other aspects of controlling a realm. In addition, one could easily argue
    that controlling provinces is more valuable than controlling source
    holdings, or that control of temples should have a greater effect on ECL
    than guilds because NPCs are more likely to aid a temporal leader than a
    secular one, and that having access to the healing powers of priests in a
    temple realm is of more direct value at the encounter level than the rogue
    powers of guilders.

    Anyone have thoughts on how much controlling a realm should effect ECL?

    Gary

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    Site Moderator kgauck's Avatar
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    Calculating ECL of a ruler would have to reflect what you give experience
    for. Access to equipment is the only consideration for by-the-book
    experience awards. If you give experience for story awards, the realm may
    or may not be of use (depends on the kinds of stories you devise). If you
    give awards for realm activity, certainly some consideration of the relative
    domain power figures is approriate.

    Generally, I`d limit actual ECL changes to equipment. If players used
    holdings to accomplish a story objective, they`d only get experience points
    for telling someone else what to do. For realm accomplishments, I`d use
    comparative domain power in the place of ECL.

    Kenneth Gauck
    kgauck@mchsi.com

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    Site Moderator geeman's Avatar
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    At 09:52 PM 6/18/2002 -0500, Kenneth Gauck wrote:

    >Calculating ECL of a ruler would have to reflect what you give experience
    >for. Access to equipment is the only consideration for by-the-book
    >experience awards. If you give experience for story awards, the realm may
    >or may not be of use (depends on the kinds of stories you devise). If you
    >give awards for realm activity, certainly some consideration of the
    >relative domain power figures is approriate.
    >
    >Generally, I`d limit actual ECL changes to equipment. If players used
    >holdings to accomplish a story objective, they`d only get experience
    >points for telling someone else what to do. For realm accomplishments,
    >I`d use comparative domain power in the place of ECL.

    The 2e version of BR acknowledged that being a regent had an effect at the
    adventure level of play by giving non-regent PCs a 10% XP bonus. ECL and
    CR awards are where that happens in 3e, so I think there should be some
    sort of adjustments made to account for the added influences, resources and
    abilities of regents.

    ECL definitely effects CR awards, but I`d like to discuss how being a
    regent influences ECL before we go to the next step. I`m not specifically
    concerned with story awards, awards for defeating monsters/traps,
    etc. Just determining the relative power of opponents by ECL.

    Gary

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    ----- Original Message -----
    From: "Gary" <geeman@SOFTHOME.NET>
    Sent: Wednesday, June 19, 2002 4:45 AM


    > I`m not specifically
    > concerned with story awards, awards for defeating monsters/traps,
    > etc. Just determining the relative power of opponents by ECL.

    The problem is, it varies greatly depending on the kind of opponents a DM
    sets out, or the players seek out. If the players engage in a dungeon crawl
    (perhaps to recover Sidhe artifacts, or recover imperial artifacts) their
    realm backing is useless once they enter the dungeon. If a campaign sees
    the vast majority of experience points awareded in this way, the value of a
    realm is far less than if most experience points were gained conquering
    provinces, uncovering plots, and forming alliances.

    Therefore a realm cannot have a fixed value for determining ECL of players.

    As for the BR rules, only unblooded characters were given the 10% xp bonus.
    That is not an acknowledgement of the value of then realm, its a
    compensation for the absence of blood powers. There is no compensation
    between scions and regents in the rules. Hence the BR rules give no value
    to a realm`s influence on adventure level of play.

    My prefered solution for common humans is to retain their "any favored
    class" condition, while restricting scions to classes associated with their
    bloodline. So that human scions of Anduiras have a favored class of
    Fighter. Further, scions have their blood powers and a resumption of some
    wealth. This is worth +1 ECL.

    Kenneth Gauck
    kgauck@mchsi.com

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  5. #5
    Site Moderator geeman's Avatar
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    At 12:52 PM 6/19/2002 -0500, Kenneth Gauck wrote:

    >The problem is, it varies greatly depending on the kind of opponents a DM
    >sets out, or the players seek out. If the players engage in a dungeon
    >crawl (perhaps to recover Sidhe artifacts, or recover imperial artifacts)
    >their realm backing is useless once they enter the dungeon. If a campaign
    >sees the vast majority of experience points awareded in this way, the
    >value of a realm is far less than if most experience points were gained
    >conquering provinces, uncovering plots, and forming alliances.

    There are still many interactions possible, even in a dungeon
    crawl. Regents can, in my experience have, and I think should be able to
    call upon their status and influence when solving various adventure level
    events. They can call out the constabulary, get free healing, have their
    network of agents garner information for them, etc. Depending on how one
    uses source holdings (I have many adventure level effects for controlling
    sources) having control of a few of them can dramatically effect the power
    of the PC. What should the effects be on ECL and CR for an adventure in
    which (as is often described in the BR materials) a regent brings along a
    company or two of soldiers? Those soldiers may or may not actually engage
    in combat with anyone, but their presence is definitely influential on the
    outcome of the adventure. As a DM, I can`t put a standard low level party
    up against 50 hill giants. I can put a regent up against that same group,
    however, because they can bring along some archers and heavy cavalry. A
    wizard could cast a realm spell to wipe out the village of ogres who guard
    the entrance to the dungeon, a guilder can send an agent to infiltrate an
    enemy camp before he goes himself. Any and all of these kinds of things
    have happened in my campaigns. YMMV.

    CR awards and ECL are meant to reflect PCs expending 25% of their resources
    on the encounter, but regents have access to many more resources than
    typical PCs. In addition to those possibilities listed above, regents have
    more methods at their disposal to "defeat" opponents. Being a regent opens
    up all kinds of role-playing interaction possible between PCs and their
    opponents that isn`t necessarily available, or as readily available as for
    non-regents.

    >As for the BR rules, only unblooded characters were given the 10% xp
    >bonus. That is not an acknowledgement of the value of then realm, its a
    >compensation for the absence of blood powers. There is no compensation
    >between scions and regents in the rules. Hence the BR rules give no value
    >to a realm`s influence on adventure level of play.

    True. It was there only to balance having a bloodline with not having a
    bloodline, rather than a realm. But where 2e also considered the
    "extraneous" aspects of characters; their equipment, assets, etc. in 3e it
    is possible to account for them and allot ECL and CR awards on that
    basis. If PCs aren`t using up any of their "disposable" equipment but are
    instead going to a pool of NPCs and equipment that their realm represents
    then this throws the system out of whack. Of course, this turns quite a
    bit on style or method. I`m sure many people aren`t worried about the
    effects of being a regent on PCs and are content to deal with the effects
    on ECL on an ad hoc basis, ignoring that it results in greater XP awards
    for regent PCs who don`t use up nearly the amount of resources assumed in
    the system, and just go with it, but regent PCs do have greater resources
    than typical PCs so using the same ECL (and accompanying CR awards) doesn`t
    really add up.

    This kind of thing is much more evident if you run an adventure level BR
    campaign and then have characters become regents over time. When they
    become regents, their resources go up dramatically.

    >Therefore a realm cannot have a fixed value for determining ECL of players.

    ECL is just a general, and very rough concept. In many encounters
    character level itself has only an incidental effect, and the character
    classes involved are quite different as well. Racial modifiers are of
    questionable value in any individual encounter. Any factor used to
    determine overall ECL can be countered in a particular situation. I`m not
    looking for one answer here that will somehow prove the one true way or
    anything. Just a general measurement of the value of the realm in the same
    way equipment is valued, racial characteristics are valued, etc.

    Gary

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    ----- Original Message -----
    From: "Gary" <geeman@SOFTHOME.NET>
    Sent: Wednesday, June 19, 2002 9:54 PM


    > CR awards and ECL are meant to reflect PCs expending 25% of their
    resources
    > on the encounter, but regents have access to many more resources than
    > typical PCs.

    Well, based on this definition, ECL becomes a pernitious concept. This
    concept doesn`t scale up that big.

    > If PCs aren`t using up any of their "disposable" equipment but are
    > instead going to a pool of NPCs and equipment that their realm represents
    > then this throws the system out of whack.

    Apply the already existing rules on cohorts. NPC`s gain experience for
    their actions, I don`t gain experience for my NPC`s actions. When regents
    use NPC`s to accomplish goals, the NPC`s gain levels, the regents - at
    best - gain regency.

    > What should the effects be on ECL and CR for an adventure in
    > which (as is often described in the BR materials) a regent brings
    > along a company or two of soldiers?

    Those same BR materials generally had you match what the player brought
    along to produce a balance. That was their solution. Personally, I`ve
    never seen military units accomplish the tasks of adventurers, though I have
    seen adventurers acomplish military tasks. If the player is accomplishing
    things with little expenditure of resources, don`t give any experience, be
    it the use of holdings, soldiers, or whatever. Experience is supposed to
    measure what the characters accomplish, not what someone accomplishes in the
    character`s name.

    Call this the "El Cid Principle". If I send El Cid to solve all my
    problems, I might be a successful king (and may accumulate regency), but El
    Cid becomes a high level character, because he accumulates xp.

    Kenneth Gauck
    kgauck@mchsi.com

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    Site Moderator geeman's Avatar
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    At 11:30 PM 6/19/2002 -0500, Kenneth Gauck wrote:

    > > CR awards and ECL are meant to reflect PCs expending 25% of their resources
    > > on the encounter, but regents have access to many more resources than
    > > typical PCs.
    >
    >Well, based on this definition, ECL becomes a pernitious concept. This
    >concept doesn`t scale up that big.

    First off, I have a correction. It`s not ECL that I`m concerned with here
    but EL. Encounter Level, not Effective Character Level. My
    mistake. Sorry for the confusion.

    Anyway, controlling a realm should not, of course, have a 1:1 relationship
    with the gp value of equipment. As I noted in the original post,
    controlling a realm is not something one carries around, but aside from
    that I don`t know what the gp value of a realm might be.... I like having
    a general idea what is represented by a province or holding level, but I
    don`t want to determine that down to a few thousand gp.... I`m just
    talking about some sort of gauge that takes into consideration the
    advantages of having a realm at the adventure level so that adventures can
    be balanced. A realm, of course, represents very valuable asset; probably
    greater than gp amounts on the first ten or twelve levels of Table 2-24 of
    the DMG.

    > > What should the effects be on ECL and CR for an adventure in
    > > which (as is often described in the BR materials) a regent brings
    > > along a company or two of soldiers?
    >
    >Those same BR materials generally had you match what the player brought
    >along to produce a balance. That was their solution. Personally, I`ve
    >never seen military units accomplish the tasks of adventurers, though I
    >have seen adventurers acomplish military tasks. If the player is accomplishing
    >things with little expenditure of resources, don`t give any experience, be
    >it the use of holdings, soldiers, or whatever. Experience is supposed to
    >measure what the characters accomplish, not what someone accomplishes in
    >the character`s name.

    >Call this the "El Cid Principle". If I send El Cid to solve all my
    >problems, I might be a successful king (and may accumulate regency), but
    >El Cid becomes a high level character, because he accumulates xp.

    I`m not talking about sending NPCs out in place of the PC-regent, or them
    using units in place of adventure activities themselves. What I`m talking
    about is them utilizing the existing aspects of their realm on those
    occasions where it can interact at the adventure level. If they send El
    Cid off to have an adventure in their place then of course they don`t get
    XP for that. If they send El Cid home to retrieve an item they will need
    at the end of the adventure and he returns with it at the right time so
    that the PC-regents can accomplish some adventure level goal, however, we
    should have some sort of idea what that is worth when designing
    adventures. Having access to that kind of resource is an asset, and I
    think it should be reflected by EL. If PCs can expect to find fresh mounts
    at castles they control, get healing spells performed for no cost at
    temples they run, etc. then I think that`s an effect worthy of note when
    determining EL.

    That`s not the most subtle example in the world, but the point is that
    regents have distinct advantages at the adventure level. They can make
    things happen that other PCs cannot. The questions I have are: Is that
    measurable in EL? How?

    > > If PCs aren`t using up any of their "disposable" equipment but are
    > > instead going to a pool of NPCs and equipment that their realm represents
    > > then this throws the system out of whack.
    >
    >Apply the already existing rules on cohorts. NPC`s gain experience for
    >their actions, I don`t gain experience for my NPC`s actions. When regents
    >use NPC`s to accomplish goals, the NPC`s gain levels, the regents - at
    >best - gain regency.

    Well, I wasn`t really talking about using them as cohorts. NPCs from a
    holding or province need not participate in the adventure action to have an
    influence. Regents are more likely to get aid and succor from the
    civilians and subordinates under their rule, they are more likely to give
    important adventure level information, they are more easily paid for their
    services if one has the deep pockets of a realm to back up bribes.

    Let me try framing it this way: Let`s take three characters and make them
    the same class and level, give them identical ability scores, skills, feats
    and equipment. One we`ll give a bloodline strength score of 35, which
    gives him a +1 ECL according to Travis Doom`s conversion. (The relative
    merits of that particular number are debatable, but let`s just go with it
    for now.) The second we`ll give an identical bloodline as the first, but
    we`ll also give him 35 levels of provinces and holdings. The last
    character we`ll make a gnoll. Which character is going to be have more
    advantages in an adventure? The blooded PC gets +1, the regent also gets
    +1 and the gnoll gets a +2 ECL.

    If you were designing an adventure for one or the other of these
    characters, of course, you`d face different situations, but the ECL of the
    regent does not seem in line to me with his EL at the adventure
    level. He`ll be more effective, certainly, when participating in
    adventures within his own provinces, but he`s probably more effective than
    either the blooded PC or the gnoll.

    Gary

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    Site Moderator kgauck's Avatar
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    Many standard story hooks and published adventures provide many of the
    advantages you write about, fresh horses, free healing, even access to
    special equipment. In those materials, some NPC is the duke and the
    adventurers take a job for him, and he provides information and tangible
    assistance. If were to use published materials, I might just find my
    regular BR PC taking a job for an NPC Baron of Ghoere, and getting said
    assistance. Of course, some other player might play a ruler in a different
    campaign and just use his own resources, rather than hire a band of
    adventurers. But, access to fresh horses (how much does this cost to
    arrange as a free lance?), free healing (I can make my own cure light wounds
    potions or scrolls for pocket change though), and other kinds of things at
    this level can be valued in the tens or hundred of gp`s. The same thing can
    be said for having a hireling or shield bearer run back to base to get some
    item. That kind of assistance never seems to be lacking for regular PC`s.
    In BR that go-for may have a title and wear a courtiers outfit, but his
    courier ability is not neccesarily any greater.

    Let`s also consider the flip side of being a ruler. Much of his time is not
    his own. In my own experience, PC`s rarely are even able to adventure more
    than once a season. Their realms take up a great deal of their time. So
    free lances can adventure as much as their constitutions allow. If someone
    said they expected free lances to have double the xp of holdings bound
    rulers, I would be prone to agree.

    You may gain infrastructure, but you surrender a big chunk of time.

    Kenneth Gauck
    kgauck@mchsi.com

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  9. #9
    Site Moderator geeman's Avatar
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    At 05:23 AM 6/20/2002 -0500, Kenneth Gauck wrote:

    >Many standard story hooks and published adventures provide many of the
    >advantages you write about, fresh horses, free healing, even access to
    >special equipment. In those materials, some NPC is the duke and the
    >adventurers take a job for him, and he provides information and tangible
    >assistance.

    Sure, where such things aid the story by DM fiat that happens a lot. They
    are not inherit abilities of PCs, though, and are the kinds of things
    that--if PCs can instigate them--are worth noting when designing adventures
    because they can then occur for reasons not having to do with furthering
    the story or, rather, they can be instigated by players using more powerful
    PCs than their character level alone would indicate. That`s the point in
    having ECL at all, and using EL to determine the strength of the opposition.

    >If were to use published materials, I might just find my regular BR PC
    >taking a job for an NPC Baron of Ghoere, and getting said assistance. Of
    >course, some other player might play a ruler in a different campaign and
    >just use his own resources, rather than hire a band of adventurers. But,
    >access to fresh horses (how much does this cost to arrange as a free
    >lance?), free healing (I can make my own cure light wounds potions or
    >scrolls for pocket change though), and other kinds of things at this level
    >can be valued in the tens or hundred of gp`s. The same thing can be said
    >for having a hireling or shield bearer run back to base to get some
    >item. That kind of assistance never seems to be lacking for regular PC`s.

    No? It`s lacking for almost all my non-regent PCs.... I give out things
    like "free healing" as payment or treasure, but I account for that using
    the numbers suggested by Table 2-24. That`s different from being able to
    go to the local temple that is a subsidiary of the temple a PC runs and
    have the priests there heal up the party for free, saving the party`s
    healing magic for emergencies. Having a runner go back to the keep (which
    my non-regent PCs rarely have either) to retrieve an item needed to
    complete an adventure? Non-regent PCs don`t usually have access to that
    kind of thing IMC.

    >In BR that go-for may have a title and wear a courtiers outfit, but his
    >courier ability is not neccesarily any greater.

    His level is. What he`d be trusted to carry would be. That was just an
    example based on the one you suggested, not really what I`m talking
    about. I`m talking about the effects of a PC having the weight and
    authority of regency to back him up during play. Just being able to call
    out a unit or two of soldiers, threaten to use a realm spell or sic the
    agents of one`s guild upon an opponent in an adventure is a big deal. I
    don`t know how others play their regents in adventures, but there`ve been
    plenty of times that players have swung their weight around to get what
    they want in an adventure in my experience.

    >Let`s also consider the flip side of being a ruler. Much of his time is
    >not his own. In my own experience, PC`s rarely are even able to adventure
    >more than once a season. Their realms take up a great deal of their
    >time. So free lances can adventure as much as their constitutions
    >allow. If someone said they expected free lances to have double the xp of
    >holdings bound rulers, I would be prone to agree.
    >
    >You may gain infrastructure, but you surrender a big chunk of time.

    Since it`s all gaming time, I don`t think that really makes much of a
    difference. Time can be easily compressed during play, and time spent on
    administrative duties can simply be bypassed with no game effects at
    all. Unless one is running a campaign with a mix of regents and
    non-regents, with characters playing multiple PCs so a regent character is
    put aside to show how he must spend time maintaining his realm, the time
    issue doesn`t really exist.

    Besides, the advantages of being a ruler outweigh the disadvantages even at
    the adventure level of play otherwise it`s probably a bad idea to become a
    regent. Certainly regents have more on their plates than standard
    non-regent PCs, but I don`t think that`s a reasonable balance for their
    greater influence during play. I`ve never been very convinced by arguments
    that those in charge are, in fact, disadvantaged by their status and authority.

    Honestly, I`m surprised this has turned into such a tough sell. Being a
    regent seems so clearly an advantage in an adventure. Certainly worthy of
    adjustments to EL (or ECL, for that matter.) Which of the three characters
    in the previous post would you rather play in an adventure? The blooded
    PC, the regent or the gnoll?

    Gary

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  10. #10
    Site Moderator kgauck's Avatar
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    I don`t think being a regent is an advantage at the adventure level. Its
    huge advantage at the realm level (since everyone else is basically
    powerless), but it strikes me as over-all a disadvantage at the adventure
    level. The people who really get the benifit are often the scion and
    commoner PC`s who get to undertake adventures on a regent`s behalf.

    Rulers tend, in my experience, to be reluctant to go very far from the realm
    (even when I insist that they have able counsilors to leave as regents -
    Wulfram Ironvein, known as the Wainier, had been regent of B-A for two
    years, was supreamly capable) no matter the inducements.

    Rulers tend to spend time in realm actions, while their peers spend time
    adventuring. In my experience, regents adventure one third as often as
    other characters. Effectivly they get a 50-67% experience point penalty
    because they were to busy too take part. Rulers and their court can all
    start as 1st level characters, and before too long, the regent is behind by
    2-3 levels and stays there the whole campaign.

    Because players who have ruler PC`s tend to identify with both their realm
    and their PC, they tend to take extraordinary steps to protect their PC
    ruler to prevent a vacant throne on the realm they have invested so much
    time in. An adventuring party may undertake a mission knowing that the adds
    are pretty gone one party member may die, if the rewards are high enough.
    Rulers almost never accept that calculus and simply wish their champions
    well. And over all, I think they are wise to do so.

    Players accept the burdens to play regent characters because of the
    opportunity to interact at the realm level, usually denied to players
    completely, rather than because of the adventuring costs and benifits. If
    players want to get in on the realm level of play, they accept the costs at
    the adventure level - less adventuring, greater caution, less traval to
    distant places - for the benifits in the realm level.

    Kenneth Gauck
    kgauck@mchsi.com

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