Tuesday 30 July 2019

GLOG class: Really Lazy Cat

After the Really Good Dog and Really Vicious Goose, I give you the Really Lazy Cat. Like a bard, it's generally useless but good for morale and minor healing, with a couple of surprise attacks and mental powers thrown in.


Starting Equipment: Evil Overlord Mentality, Sharp Bits, Fluffy Coat, Fussy Eater
Starting Skill: d4 1= Rat Catcher, 2= Dog Tamer, 3= Alley Cat, 4= Noble Animal

Generally too lazy to run your own evil empire, you have servants to take care of trivia for you. Such as planning and actual work. Your claws and bite deal damage as daggers to people who want to pet you. You have a shiny coat for people to pet, and a viciously annoying mewl to use when someone serves you Wrong Food.

Cat templates
A: Cat, Servants, Tripping Headbutt
B: Stowaway, Hissy Fit, +1 Attack
C: Mad Rake Attack, Venus Hand Trap
D: Dead Eye OR Fluffy Horde, +1 Attack

You can't manipulate things with your hands, because you're a cat. You can't talk, because you're a cat. You understand all spoken language perfectly but you generally can't be arsed to convey useful information to your Servants, because YOU'RE A GODDAMNED CAT. You speak Cat fluently.

You can do anything a cat can - climb trees, ladders or stairs but not a rope; carry something light and dead in your mouth; hide in the underbrush even under observation; sleep for hours then groom yourself and go on sleeping on your other side.

Your awesome reflexes and small size give you +4 armor class. Your movement is 15 in a short sprint (12 for an ordinary human) but 10 for longer distances. (Have a Servant carry you.) You have half the inventory slots as usual and don't start with any equipment.

Sure you can multiclass. Rogue is obvious. Here's a cat wizard instead.

You can adopt a random monkey or a small pack of them. Yes, fine, "hoo-mon" or "elf" or whatever. They are now responsible for your wellbeing: Proper Food, scratchies, a dry place to sleep. As long as Servants take care of you, their house/camp/ship will remain blessedly free of vermin (although they'll find the occasional hairball and all their gear will be covered with cat hairs). Your soothing presence allows Servants and yourself to heal +1 hit point per Cat Template every short or long rest.

Tripping Headbutt:
Non-cats are klutzes. Take advantage of this by headbutting them at an opportune moment so they trip over their own feet. Roll a Dexterity attack against an opponent; if you hit, they make a Dexterity save or either trip or drop a precious item.

Cats of Ulthar - Abigail Larson on ArtStation

You are forever getting into places the monkeys don't want you to be. Once per session, you may declare that you've been napping in some hideaway like a backpack, under a blanket or in the bushes - as long as there was a plausible way for you to walk to that place, that's where you are now. Deal with the consequences of invading the queen's boudoir once you're discovered.

Hissy Fit:
Having come to the conclusion that non-cats rarely know their place, you've adopted ancient techniques to scare the fear of cat into them. Roll under your charisma to throw a proper hissy fit; creatures with hit dice equal to or lower than your cat templates need to roll a Wisdom save or be too afraid to approach within 10 feet. This lasts while you keep up the display, maximum 1 turn.

Inner monologue. ArtStation, by Massimo Righi

Mad Rake Attack:
You can now make two claw attacks every Attack you make. If you haven't moved yet and both claws hit, you can rake with your back claws for one extra claw attack. This costs you your movement for the round.

Venus Hand Trap:
By rolling on the floor and exposing your delicious fluffy belly, you tempt foolish monkeys to come closer if you make a Charisma roll. Either allow them to pet you for a number of rounds equal to your Charisma bonus, or launch into a Mad Rake Attack.

Dead Eye:
It has occured to you that a lot of the monkeys that generally stop to pet you and jabber are not, strictly speaking, alive. You can now see ghosts, spirits, faeries and other supernatural entities even when they're hiding under cloak of invisibility, and your attacks affect them normally. Once per day, you can enter the spirit world at will for (charisma bonus) rounds. That's how kitty got inside the locked vault.

Fluffy Horde:
Your vast multitude of casual lovers and offspring have moved in with you. You now move at the centre of a cat swarm 10 feet on a side (with many, many strays out to 30 feet). Consume thrice as many rations. Gain extra hit points equal to your max hit points and make an extra Attack every round. If you lose all your extra hit points, many cats have been driven off and a short/long rest can only restore the extra hit points up to 4 lower than previously. If this reduces your extra hitpoints to 0, you may instead gain Dead Eye (or start a siring spree to rebuild your horde in d6 months.)

Sunday 28 July 2019

Pirate wavecrawl - map handouts

Prep work for a possible pirate campaign: I'm going over Skerples' overview maps for his pirate wavecrawl and am turning them into player hand-outs and DM summaries.

I aimed for a yellowed paper style map that has been annotated by a later owner to spell out profitable trades and possible adventures. Will expand this into a trading system in a later post.

Like any rumour you'd do well to take these notes with a pinch of salt. Check out Skerples' notes and the original adventures for what your group will get themselves into.


Get all the images in this series here, in versions with and without notes.


This is available under CC by-nc-sa/4.0, which means feel free to share and modify as long as you attribute me. No commercial use, please get in touch to discuss if you're that interested. (In any case, the original maps and module summaries were not put together by me but by Skerples!)

Map icons: mountains/volcanoes by Red Blob Games, palm trees by FreeVector


Written up by Skerples. A Caribbean-like archipelago where Old World countries fight for the best colony sites. Much is unexplored and there is enough room for pirates to slip between the cracks or even topple the local powers.

With notes, all islands, all ports and settlements

Add your own notes

With only the main named islands


Based on Forgotten Realms' Tomb of Annihilation but with the supernatural dialled way down and overarching plot removed. Skerples has done a fantastic job reflavouring Forgotten Realms powers as Old World countries and reskinning to fit the pirate sensibility. Chult is now a powder keg of ambitious lordlings, greedy merchants and oppressed commoners, waiting for a match...

This map again adds notes that hint at what sites are all about (useful for players as well as the DM) and adds one or two hints taken from the broader Realms lore. I've hunted through the module and online sources to get a list of favoured imports and exports.

Below are versions that don't show the location of the pirate triad nest; the google drive folder has versions that proudly fly their three-boned flag.

With all the bells and whistles except the pirate anchorage

No pirates, no notes - pristine map for your group to mess up

Even more basic; left out the mountain / jungle icons.


"It'll be easy", I said. "Just have to pull the original maps into Illustrator and reskin a bit", I explained. That was a week ago. Sure, Illustrator can convert jpg outlines into vector shapes...including holes where map icons or text sat, which then all need to be patched and smoothed. Happy with the result though!


Yoon-Suin, the Ape Archipelago, and the Island of Dread!

Wednesday 24 July 2019

GLOG wizard: pyromancer

Found this GLOG wizard class in a homebrew I prepped for first time players and hey, why not share it? Based on the Elementalist. Very much Oh Fuck Its A Wizard. Damage-focused and probably overpowered compared to regular GLOG wizards because they recover magic dice so easily, but let me know what you think.


I tend to write for people who know of a general topic (roleplaying, physics) but aren't immersed in it. So, just in case: the GLOG or Goblin Laws of Gaming by Goblin Punch is a trimmed down version of D&D, optimised for speed, improvisation, table rulings over lengthy rule lookups, and customizability.

Original and further posts by Goblin Punch, pirate variation by Skerples, overview of the GLOG's many contributors by DIY and Dragons.

GLOG wizards in particular:
  • come in four levels of power and risk life, limb and soul using magic
  • get one magic die (MD) and one spell slot per power level
  • can use a wand (has one spell memorized) and robes (+1 MD)
  • learn 2 spells at level 1, one spell at each next power level, from a widening spell list (d6&d6,d8,d10,+6 spells from list)
  • invest MD to cast memorized spells in spell slots, which run off the [sum] of the [dice]
  • retain MD that roll 1-3, lose MD that roll 4-6, refresh all after a good night's sleep
  • have always-active perks and drawbacks, and cantrip spells they can cast without using MD

Source: Kevin Keele


Fire was the second spirit we made a deal with - ancient, hungry, always in danger of running wild. Orthodox wizards may sling more refined spells, but none with the purity of flame.

Perks: can recover one magic die by starting a fire and tending it for an hour. This is your only way of recovering magic dice.

Drawbacks: smell slightly smoked, cannot eat uncooked food. Forbidden to put out fires and cannot cast fire magic if you are soaking wet. Use the Size of fire table below to determine how many magic dice you lose when hit with an equivalent amount of water. Four buckets of water should drench you, as will a barrel full.

Right off the bat, you're a pyromaniac. You're always fiddling with fire because that is where your power comes from. I'd say that you cannot actively put out a fire with water or sand, but you can let it peter out in a controlled way. You could also stop a forest fire by starting a controlled burn in its path and exhaust the local fuel supply. Your drawback is easy to predict and accessible even for townsfolk: soak the pyro in water so he can't burn you to death.

  1. You can always start a fire, even if the wood is soaked or a gale is blowing.
  2. Snap your fingers to summon a flame the size of a candle's for a second. Cannot deal damage.
  3. Sense the direction and rough distance to the nearest fire.

Useful cantrips, but you'll need them if you want to perform magic. I'd rule you can't start a fire underwater (your drawback would prevent your magic from working), but in a monsoon, you can either keep a tiny flame going or sense the nearest village with a fire pit.

Dawww. Source Nishio Nanora


(On doubles on magic dice; suffer the mishap that matches any matching dice. Yes, 2-2-5-5 makes you suffer two mishaps at the same time.)

  1. MD only return to your pool on a 1-2 for 24 hours 
  2. Take 1d6 damage 
  3. Random mutation for 1d6 rounds, then make a save. Permanent if you fail. 
  4. Burn-out. Cannot regain [dice] for 24 hours. 
  5. Burning agony incapacitates you for 1d6 rounds. 
  6. Bursts of 2d6 fire fly to random flammable targets in 50', 1d6 rounds. 
Mishaps 1-3 are standard; mishaps 4-6 show what happens when you lose control.


(On triples on magic dice; each time, take the next higher Doom)

  1. Take sufficient fire damage to reduce you to zero HP.
  2. Each time you cast a fire spell, Save Cha or the spell flies out of control and escapes into the world. Treat your spells well, and good luck luring them back into your spellbook.
  3. Fire consumes you.Take enough fire damage to reduce you to a pile of ash. This doom can be avoided by performing a great service to Fire, such as reigniting a dormant volcano or resurrecting the mythical Phoenix bird.
A big goal of senior Pyromancers is to hunt for Phoenix eggs, or to unblock a lava tube. A big goal of non-Pyromancers on the same continent is to stop them.

Size of fire: [dice]
An apprentice can't yet command a forest fire, and even a master will struggle to make a forest fire do their bidding.

  1. torch - can fit in the palm of your hand, perhaps fill a bucket.
  2. campfire - size of a barrel or a small child.
  3. pyre - size of a cart -or a person- requires two hands to control. 
  4. bonfire - size of a cottage, requires two hands and half your movement to control
  5. conflagration - size of a small keep or forest fire, requires two hands and your whole round to control

Anyone else feel cold huh huh huh

Anima banner: your inner fire made manifest
An idea I got while adding images. This fits with Oh Fuck Its A Wizard. As a Pyromancer, fire is in your very soul and the more magic you use, the more this spills out into the waking world. As you cast spells, you will be surrounded with a ghostly image of fire; it doesn't start fires and doesn't burn anything it comes into contact with but it is bright. This anima banner (stolen directly from Exalted) starts as near-invisible flames and blossoms into an iconic image.

When you cast a fire spell, increase your current anima level by the number of [dice].
Anima levels drop by 1 for every scene you're not actively using magic.
  1. From certain angles, a flickering flame seems to dance on your brow. Subsides an hour after you stop using magic.
  2. The soulfire on your brow is visible from across the room. Disadvantage on stealth. Subsides one level a turn after you stop using magic.
  3. Your entire body is enveloped in soulfire bright enough to read by and the flame on your brow is a golden blaze that shines through any covering. Stealth is impossible. Subsides one level a turn after you stop using magic.
  4. You are enveloped by a bonfire from your feet to a foot above your crown. Anything it touches becomes bleached as if left in the sun for may days. Enough light to read by out to 100 feet. Visible a mile away. Subsides one level a turn after you stop using magic.
  5. Your towering soulfire takes the shape of the great spirit of fire that inspires you; for instance, a fiery dragon, a powerful smith, a twisting salamander, a hulking efreet, a golden bull. The spirit moves, observes, responds, but takes no direct actions. The glare is visible for miles. Ghost heat prickles the skin out to a spearcast. Thankfully, subsides one level the next round you use no magic.

Pyromancers should have anima banners that flare up the more [dice] they use. Cool. Let's add that to the class. Image found here


Pyromancer apprentice spells

1. Control fire
Range: 50’
Target: existing fire up to [dice] size
Duration: concentration up to [sum] rounds
  • Shrink a fire up to [dice] size steps down to 1 for [sum] rounds (concentration to maintain)
  • Make a fire grow up to [dice] size steps for [sum] rounds
  • Move a fire up to [dice] size a distance up to your movement speed

Talk to a fire, see if you can get it to do something for you. Note that you can't completely extinguish a fire, and that it's quite easy to make a fire grow out of your control. At least a fire that's too big for its fuel source will burn itself out. (You flame murderer.) Then again, if a bigger fire finds the powder room or dries out the undergrowth enough to catch fire...)

2. Protection from fire
Range: touch
Target: [dice] targets
Duration: 10 minutes / 8 hours
Ignore [sum]+[dice] fire damage for 10 minutes. Alternatively, the spell protects its targets from the negative effects of heat for the next 8 hours.

Was very tempted to make this a higher level power. But I like the idea of wild-eyed apprentices thinking they're now invulnerable to flame.

3. Ignite
Range: 50'
Target: object or creature
Duration: 0
Target takes [sum] damage and catches on fire. Save negates.

Upgraded version of your firestarter cantrip. You need this. Start more fires. Fire fire fire. Yes, this spell as written can set anything on fire. Fires burn out without a fuel source.

Source: GunBooster

4. Ancient Flame
Range: touch
Target: ashes
Cast upon ashes to determine what they were before they were burnt. You can see what happened in the [sum] rounds before the object caught fire. [dice] determines how old the ashes can be:
1 [dice]: a day
2 [dice]: a week
3 [dice]: a year
4 [dice]: a decade
5 [dice]: a century or more

Because fire is more than damage; it's destruction and rebirth. Crazy pyros swirling their hands through ashes and getting wild visions.

5. Wall of Fire
Range: 20’
Target: wall
Duration: 1 minute
You summon fire to form a 10’ by 10’ panel per [dice]. You can mold the wall, similar to cutting holes and notches in a sheet of paper. The wall does not block line of sight. It deals 1d6 fire damage to anything that passes through it. Save vs Dex or be set on fire.

Seen it before? Sure. Love the classics. Fire is beauty. Fire keeps you safe. Build more fires.

6. Fire Sight
Range: 10'
Target: fire you lit from another fire
Duration: concentration
Cast this on a fire you lit from another fire that is still burning. You can see and hear as if you were present at the site of the original fire. At 2 [dice], can speak through the fire (flames take on shape of your face). At 3 [dice], can cast spells on the original fire.

It'll take a bit of setting up, but now you can use fire to scry and cast at a distance. Light the lord's privy council fire with an ember from the kitchen or the smithy. Hear his words, strike him down from afar. Yes, you can multiclass and cast other spells through this link.

Pyromancer adept spells

7. Fireball
Range: 200'
Target: 20' diameter
Duration: 0
Does [sum] fire damage to all objects.

Some schools get fireball only as a legendary spell. Those schools are amateurs who are playing with entirely too little fire.

I'm in love. Found here

8. Black Flame
Range: 50'
Target: fire up to [dice] size
Duration: [dice] hours
Cause a fire equal to or smaller than [dice] size to stop shedding heat or light.

You can not see it,  you cannot feel it. You just hear the crackling of the wood around you and then your skin turns to ash. Light a torch with black flame and wander through the castle.

Source: Lucas Graciano

Master pyromancer spells
9. Fiery retribution
Range: self / target within 50'
Duration: [dice] x 10 minutes or depleted
Target who attacks you immediately takes 2x [dice] fire damage. Once this spell has dealt [sum] damage, it ends.
Fire you want fire I will give you fire

10. Unburn
Range: touch
Target: flame
Duration: concentration up to [sum] minutes
Cause a burnt item up to [dice] size to become whole again in [dice] rounds. Target will burn again once you stop concentrating.

Again with the utility magic. Players can peer back in time, disguise stuff they need to smuggle as ash, and so on. Reconstitute ancient warriors from the fire that consumed them. A zombie is a size 3 fire; a skeleton a size two. An ancient fire dragon, burnt out after its death, size 5. Gives you zero control over anything you Unburn.
Source Tavener Scholar

11. Heart fire
Range/target: fire within 50'
Duration: 1 round per [dice] refreshed
Pull fire from a nearby blaze and reshape it. You temporarily refresh a number of MD up to the fire's size-1. These dice remain for [dice] rounds; each round, you lose one of them.

This might be overpowered. I just can't resist the idea of a pyromancer, cornered and exhausted after lighting the castle on fire, nothing left to throw at the guards...and then she sucks in the surrounding blaze. Verges on the edge of extinguishing a fire, so be a good pyromancer and start some fresh fires to make up for that.

Mythical spells

12. Body of Fire
Range: self
Duration: [dice] rounds
You turn into a fire elemental; immune to fire damage, vulnerable to water/cold, touch deals 1d6 fire damage.

I am become FIRE. Cannot fly, cannot enter water, in fact water is now deadly poison to you. But fuck water. Droplets evaporate before they touch you, rain creates a hissing cloud of steam, and it all doesn't matter because you're blazing away like a happy little elemental.

13. Phoenix
Range: within 50' of a bonfire sized fire
Target: self
Duration: special
You can cast this as a reflex when you take enough damage to kill you. Explode in an impressive shower of sparks. If taking [sum] less damage would not have killed you, you reform in 100 / [dice] hour.

Inspired by a psionics power from D&D. Keep some magic dice in reserve to try and cheat death.

I'd rule that savvy enemies who know of this spell can douse your ashes in water to prevent your resurrection. Keep in mind that it's rare and mythical, so they'd have to see it once. If a fire the size of the [dice] you used could be extinguished by the amount of water used, you stay dead.

(Or do you just wait until the ashes dry out? Ancient pyromancers finally reconstituting after the amphora holding their ashes in holy water gets broken by adventurers. "I. I need. I need FIRE." Awesome.)

Found here

Monday 15 July 2019

Spending your loot, part 3: houses, mansions, castles

Are your PCs traveling the world? Dirt poor even though they're ordering pit fiends around? Then this post isn't for your. If you're interested in giving PCs a place to live, though - read on. Part 3 of a mini-series; part 2 looked at buying yourself a position like head merchant, baron or bishop. Part 1 is an inventory of the many ways to siphon wealth from your PCs. Part four is about outfitting a lab, library or shrine to further your spellcasting.

Updating this with lower numbers now that I've stopped using XP-for-gold.


No more sleeping in the gutter or on the floor of the tavern common room! Get your own private hut, a house, or even a tower or a fortified manor. If you can get permission from the ruler, that is.

This post builds on Skerples' Castle building and Investments by Skerples. I've changed some numbers for 5e and added details such as prices for ordinary houses, and information on manors - like how large they are, the staff they need and the lifestyle that a manor will provide you with, gratis.

Benefits of buying a house are of course no more paying rent, or even getting meals for free in a manor; a place to keep your belongings safe and bragging rights over who has the most elaborate stonework on their tower.
Downsides: locks you to one location, big homes need a caretaker, servants and upkeep.

Tavern life becomes boring after a while. Found here


D&D 5e handily gives you a chart of the cost to maintain a certain standard of living, split into housing (if you're renting a room), meal costs and 'other'. I'll reproduce it here, so you can see what buying a house saves you on rent and food costs (in case of a farm or manor).

  • Wretched - life on the road, begging for scraps. Doesn't cost a thing. Hunt or beg for food, or starve.
  • Squalid - a leaky, filty shack in the most violent and disease stricken part of town. Threadbare clothes. Thin gruel and moldy bread. Daily cost: 7 cp rent, 3 cp food.
  • Poor - a one-room cottage, a room in a flophouse or a mat in the tavern common room. Much-patched clothes. Sufficient food, although you seldom see meat. The few coppers you can spend each day may go to repairs for belongings, or you can save up for big expenses. Like a torch. Daily cost: 1 sp rent, 6 cp food, 4 cp for other expenses.
  • Modest - two rooms in a larger house, or a simple room at the inn. You eat healthily and can afford meat once or twice per week affair, and you can afford new clothes and some luxury items. Daily cost: 5 sp rent, 3 sp food, 2 sp for other expenses.
  • Comfortable - You rent a house or a quality room. The food is varied and prepared well; you can afford meat or other luxuries daily (although you might need to dip into your 'other' expenses). Daily cost: 8 sp rent, 5 sp food, 7 sp for other expenses.
  • Wealthy - Not a care in the world, except for money and the opinions of the high and mighty you're becoming visible to. Daily cost: 2 gp rent, 8 sp food, 12 sp for other expenses.
  • Aristocratic - Daily cost: 4 gp rent, 2 gp food, 4 gp for other expenses.

There you are, chests full of arcana that could level a castle - and nowhere to store it because you decided "wretched is free, why pay for more?"

So who lives at what step on this ladder? Find a complete overview of who-earns-what in part 2 of this series, but here's a summary:

  • Assume that unskilled workers, apprentices or subsistence farmers live a squalid or poor life.
  • Journeymen crafters are poor or live a modest lifestyle if they're in a high-status guild.
  • A wizard adept - barely out of apprenticehood - lives poorly unless their spells can be monetized. They'll spend most of their extra earnings to pay of the loan that paid for their education, then move up to a comfortable or even wealthy lifestyle.
  • Modest to comfortable lifestyles are where you find people with some delegated responsibility. An expert in a trade, a guard captain.
  • Wealthy living costs 4 gp a day, or 120 gp a month; these are for merchant guild masters, who can technically just afford an aristocratic standard of living but will spend their entire monthly income on it. Expect a couple of luxuriously decorated rooms to entertain guests.
  • An aristocratic lifestyle pulls out all the stops. The entire house full of art and luxury, grand feasts and hunts organized, trophy pets kept and so on - living at this standard is reserved for the very wealthy; high status bishops and corrupt abbotts, viscounts, counts, earls and higher, merchant princes and master wizards.
Merchants live well, but they're still commoners. Still, better to cry in an opulent mansion than out on the street, no?


From leaking huts to large town houses. The price is either to buy or to build, we're not going to detail construction costs and loans here.

  • Hovel - cost 5 gp, one room of 5x10 ft. A wooden frame with woven mats. Miserable.
    Saves you the housing costs of a squalid lifestyle: 25 gp per year.
  • Cottage - cost 100 gp, two rooms of 10x10 ft each. Piled stone wall and thatched roof. Saves you the housing costs of a squalid to poor lifestyle: 25-36 gp per year
  • Small house - cost 1000 500 gp, two rooms of 10x10 ft and an attic. Wattle and daub.
    Saves you the housing costs of a poor to modest lifestyle: 36-180 gp per year
  • House - cost 2000 1000 gp, two floors of two 10x10 ft rooms each. Wattle and daub or brick.
    Saves you the housing costs of a comfortable to wealthy lifestyle: 288 to 720 gp per year.
  • Large house - cost 4000 2000 gp, two to three floors of three 10x15 ft rooms each. Wattle and daub or brick. Includes 5 poor servants. Maintenance and servant wages run to 100 gp per year, but this saves you the housing costs of a wealthy to aristocratic lifestyle: 720 to 1440 gp per year.

Medieval Buildings by GrimDreamArt at DeviantArt

Farms include a parcel of land you can work or have worked. A small farm is just enough for a family to not starve, 

  • Small farm - cost 500 250 gp, cottage and surrounding land. If you work all the time, you will not starve. Congratulations, you can now maintain squalid living conditions (36 gp/year total) indefinitely. Revenue 12 sp/year. We'll find a way to tax that.
  • Large farm - cost 1500 750 gp, small house, surrounding land and cottage for 1d6 tenant farmers who work the land. Revenue 12 gp/month or 144 gp/year. A nice gift so a newly minted knight can meet their upkeep. Will produce enough to keep its occupants in poor living conditions (72 gp/year total).


A local lord's manor and estate are the smallest unit of feudal life. Part of the estate is reserved as farmland or hunting grounds, and the estate can generally support itself and even turn a profit. 

Buildings are made out of wattle and daub, brick or dressed stone. They can be fortified, with a watchtower and moat, but do not include a proper central keep like a castle. Includes cottages for tenant farmers (2d6 families of 1d4 farmers each) and extra housing for other farmers (2d6 / 3d6 / 4d6 families of 1d4 for a small/medium/large estate) who pay you homage.

The cost includes the deed to the surrounding land. Revenue is after paying for repairs and servants' wages. What's not included is the upkeep for your noble rank, or the bribes (upwards of 2000 gp) you'll have to ply the local baron to knight you with to grant you the estate if you're not already a noble.

Manors generate revenue instead of costing upkeep. The servants still draw wages and the roof still needs fixing, but the manor's produce takes care of all those costs as well as food and housing. (In other words, I didn't feel like having to add, then deduct costs for production, wages and maintenance.)

Stokesay Castle in Shropshire, a fortified manor house - photo Jeffrey L. Thomas.

  • Small manor - 10,000 gp 5000, main house and two side buildings, cottages. Five servants, revenue 50 gp/month or 600 gp/year. Provides your family with a comfortable lifestyle.
  • Manor - cost 15,000 7500 gp, large main house and three side buildings, cottages. Ten servants, revenue 65 gp/month or 780 gp/year. Provides your family with a wealthy lifestyle.
  • Large manor - cost 20,000 10000 gp, main house and wings: three floors, many rooms, four side buildings, cottages. Fifteen servants, revenue 75 gp/month or 900 gp/year. Provides your family with an aristocratic lifestyle.
  • + hamlet under your protection - 2000 1000 gp, 2d10+40 peasants. Adds tax revenue: 10 gp/month or 120 gp/year.

Go wild with the side buildings: add stables, a hunting lodge, definitely a watchtower, a butchery, a chapel or hospital - whatever tickles your fancy.

Two notes about manor houses for ruling nobles.
See how they're way more expensive than large houses, even though the main building is the same size? What you're not seeing is the surrounding estate with all its free labour. That's why a manor house generates revenue while a large house only costs you. Farmers growing crops, a carpenter, a smithy; all are available on site.

Also, did you spot the sentence about "providing your family with a ... lifestyle"? That refers to the table for lifestyle expenses by social class - meals, housing and other. A large manor provides your group of 4-6 with an aristocratic lifestyle, 10 gp's worth per person per day, for free. Nobles with a manor may have less raw income than high Clergy, but their basic costs are completely provided for.

A New and Accurate Plan of Blenheim Palace, the Seat of His Grace the Duke of Marlborough. Look like a place you could retire?


Suppose your band of miscreants wants to raise their own fortified keep, a monastery or a wizard tower. That's fine! You can either repurpose one of the options above (reorder a house and you have a four storey tower of 10x10 feet), or design and build a structure of your own.

For fortified structures, you'll need permission from the lord of the land - either the local knight or the baron. This generally includes getting a deed between 100-1000 gp (5000 gp for truly extravagant structures) and a knighthood (starts at 2000 gp worth; often not bought outright but gifted to you, not your heirs, for services rendered).

Coins and Scrolls' castle building procedure is dead easy to use. Here's his basic idea:

As building material you need dressed stone. Strip and collapse a dungeon after you've cleared it. Every 5ft stretch of 10ft high corridor wall gives you a 5x5x10 ft block of stone to place in a design of your choice. Cost to raise a construction of 100 such blocks in 1 year is 1980 gp, or 1380 if you are a noble and can get the basic labour for free from your serfs.

As an example of dungeon quarrying, here is the Tomb of the Serpent Kings with ceiling heights of 5, 10 and 15 feet. I'm counting enough stone to furnish 238 blocks of 5x5x10 feet for new constructions. Map by Janon.

Details and complications
Finishing a new structure and dreading to count each individual square? Just round to the nearest 25 or 50 blocks, pixelbitching is tiresome. If you do want to get fussy, use 20 gp per stone block as the cost of labour, food for the workers and sundry costs. Or 14 if you have serfs on the job.

If you don't have access to a cleared dungeon, you can buy stone at the quarry; count on an extra 25 gp per 5x5x10 ft block. For the 100 block structure above, that adds 5000 gp to the price! Clear that dungeon, the stone is worth more than the treasure hoard.

<digression>How do I figure 25 gp per 5x5x10 ft block of stone?

"Should be easy", says the physicist in me.

Here goes...this quarry quotes 125 pounds per tonne of garden wall stone. Looks sturdy enough; I'll take it.

Now to find out how many tonnes of stone in a square on the map. Search for the mass density of "Forest Marble"...I can't find an exact match, but this table gives densities for stones around 2500 kg/m3. I'll use 2470 kg/m3 as given by this quarry

...which is a fine number, except not in the heretical unit of mass per cubic foot. So excel it up for 5x5x10x(.3048)^3 = 7.08 cubic metres per 5x5x10 foot block, and I end up with 17.5 tonnes per block. The cost is 125 pounds sterling per tonne, round up to get to 157 dollars per tonne, divide by 100 to get gp, multiply this by the 17.5 tonnes per block for 26.69 gp/block of stone. Then round down to 25 gp/block because.

Which matches nicely with the 20 gp in labor and supplies we were working with, and lends weight (ah-hah) to Skerples' statement about dressed stone being expensive.</digression>


What kind of structures can PCs afford to buy and what does this do for them?

Case 1: the watch tower
Your band of heroes has cleared the brigands from the forest ruin. In return, the local knight awards them a plot of land and the right to use the stone from the ruins to construct a guard tower that oversees the road. The PCs decide to build a four storey tower with walls 5ft thick and 10x10x10ft rooms, something defensible. For extra living space, they build a house of 25x35 feet. The house walls are half thickness of the tower walls; this place has to be sturdy but they don't need the walls to take up four storeys of weight.

Tower: 4 storeys of 12 stone blocks (5x5x10 ft) makes 48 stone blocks.
House: 20 half-width blocks makes 10 stone blocks.

Cost to construct: 58 x 20 = 1160 gp, and the builders take half a year because this is ~half of their standard 100 block job. The PCs don't have that much time and double the cost to 2320 gp to get the construction finished in three months. Using xp-for-gp, a 4th level character is worth 2700 XP = gp; a band of four could certainly afford this hideout.

At ~50 blocks, annual upkeep is 6 gp per month, for 2.5 servants - I'm assuming a guard dog.

Note that the PCs could have saved themselves about 700 gp if they'd asked the local knight to have his serfs offset the manual labour. Oh well.

Watch tower and small house.

Case 2: the wizard's tower
Not content to buy a large town house, the master wizard decides to have an old-fashioned tower constructed. There's no easily cleared dungeon nearby - and they want to live near the city anyway - so to the quarry it is. Having lived in the cramped tower from case 1 for years, they decide on a spacious 20x20 ft room size, with five stories and a two storey house attached. The tower walls will be 5 ft thick.

Hearing about the plans, the baron slaps down a 500 gp deed for the fortified tower. Five stories with outer walls 20 ft long runs to 100 blocks for the tower walls; or 4500 gp to be built in a year. The medium-sized house adds 2000 more gp, and with the 500 gp deed this adds up to 7000 gp total. Annual upkeep is 12 gp, which funds maintenance and the five servants.

A level 9 wizard is worth 48,000 gp, so this is easily affordable. Adding furnature and lab equipment is going to be the expensive part (should I do a post, or does that risk turning Dungeons & Dragons into Home & Garden?)

Case 3: Blenheim Palace
Because that estate totally looks like a place my PC could retire. I'm eyeballing this without any clue as to how big this is as an estate; let's go with a large one, for a whopping 20,000 gp plus 8000 gp to become a manor lord. 28.000 gp for a single PC is a staggering amount, but by level 8-9, you could afford it and not go completely bankrupt. That's nine levels to curry enough favor with the baron so they'll consider you in the first place. You'll live in appalling luxury ever after, even if you sometimes have to venture forth and loot dungeons to pay for the king's mercenaries.

But wait! We know from the overview image above that this manor is the seat of a duke, so if you wanted a ducal crown...instead of 8000 gp for the position of a mere manor lord, you'd be spending around 100,000 gp for the privilege of becoming Lord of Blenheim! Level 13 characters or higher may apply and will need to spend 5/6th of their wealth on this position. On the plus side, the 'estate' they'd rule now becomes a full Duchy, with an estimated annual income of ~12,000 gp.

20,000 gp for the estate plus 100,000 gp for the Duke's crown - worth it. From

Case 4: the Monastery of the Serpent Kings
Skerples has created the huge castle of elemental evil using his rules already, which runs to 10,000 5x5x5 foot blocks and takes five years to build at a friendly price of 34,500 gp/year.

I want to build a smaller place for a new order of monks.

Having cleared the Tomb of the Serpent Kings, a party of 5-6th level clerics, monks and bards (all part of the nosy, dungeon delving Order of the Scroll) decide to sanctify this dreadful place and build a monastery. Let's see how far they get. According to the xp-for-gp rule and XP chart, they're worth 6,500 - 14,000 gp each.

From my tally, the whole dungeon has 238 blocks of stone to offer. However, let's assume that the group wants to continue dealing with a couple of inhabitants and leaves the lower tomb (rooms 38-49) intact, leaving them with 179 blocks to work with. Xiximanter doesn't care as long as there's an acolyte or two to work with/on; dito the basilisk.

A quick count says the building below is about 183 blocks; lets round up to 200 so the roof of the central chapel can be raised a bit. There are seven cells for acolytes and five for more senior monks. Storage spaces, a library, refectory and so on - quite the structure.

Cost to construct: 200 blocks at 20 gp per block comes to 4000 gp, and construction will take 2 years. Doubling for a one year project, this comes to 8000 gp. (Actually 8850, because those extra 200-183 blocks not only need to be handled by the masons, they need to be bought at the quarry as well.) Upkeep is 24 gp per year; the "servants" get a tonsure and are the first batch of initiates.

Monastery of the Serpent. Totally not named after the huge basilisk in the basement.

Are we done yet? Hardly. This monastery is now part of the Order of the Scroll, but the PCs don't automatically hold a position. Of the four PC party, let's make one a lowly Abbot (rank 2; cost 12,000) while the others become monks or nuns (3x300 = 900 gp), for 12,900 appointment costs.

Appetite whet? I'm sure one of the PCs -let's say the party barbarian- bit the bucket while they were clearing the Tomb. Let's cannonize them as a minor saint for 10,000 gp. Unfortunately, the barbarian wasn't part of the First Estate, so we'd also have to have him made a priest posthumously (300 gp). This is becoming pricey, and the barbarian's loot doesn't begin to cover these expenses. Have them be officially made into a Blessed Soul for 2,500 gp instead.

Total cost of this venture:
  • excavate dungeon and build a monastery: 8,850 gp.
  • appointing one player as Abbott and the others as monks: 12,900 gp
  • cannonizing a dead PC as a minor saintblessed soul: 2,500 gp 
  • TOTAL: 24,250 gp, or about 6060 gp per character.
The four PCs in this excercise are level 5 or 6 and are worth 6,500 - 14,000 gp apiece; this is ruinously expensive for the level 5 characters, while the level 6 characters still see half of their wealth disappear. On the other hand, they now have an annual income of 5-60 gp (monks/nuns, depending on how debauched they are) to 2400 gp (for the Abbot). The band retires safely and can offer a safe haven for future characters.