Thursday, January 26, 2017

Under Hill, By Water Post 4: The Commonwealth

The Commonwealth 

The Commonwealth is the home of the halflings. Visiting the Commonwealth is like visiting a human fairy tale. It consists of many hills with homes carved into them (called "holes"). There are giant mushrooms. The halflings ride around on pigs and giant rabbits. Some of the birds talk. 

The Commonwealth lies in the Vale, a verdant valley surrounded on all sides by a high-walled mountain, through which the Pass runs. The Vale is cut by the Water, a well-stocked river that rarely meanders from its banks. The Commonwealth is divided into four marches: Eastmarch, Westmarch, Northmarch, and Southmarch. Each march boasts half-a-dozen small villages. Each march is governed by a mayor. The mayor is the head of civilian bureaucrats such as couriers, sherrifs, and bounders, but typically have enough free time to pursue their own original careers. 

At the center of the Commonwealth is their capital city (really, just a largish village) called Farthington (Four-Thing Town). The thain lives in Farthington, and is the official--but mostly ceremonial--head of state. The thain is elected from the four mayors by popular vote once every six years. 

Around the Commonwealth is a high hedge, called simply the Hedge, which borders the country. It is difficult for anybody larger than a halfling to crawl through the Hedge, so visitors are obliged to enter through one of the gates. 

Most halflings work in some agrarian production capacity: farmers, shepherds, brewers, smiths. A few work in a service capacity: servants, tavern owners, accoutants. The halflings have some sort of almost-preternatural subconscious bend towards order. Though they never formally plan the structure of their society, they always have just enough people filling any particular niche so that everybody has a role and no job is left unfulfilled. Wizards comment on this sometimes. It's quite curious. 

Mapping All PCs are from the same village. As a matter of play, use the march map to sketch out your home village and the NPCs that dwell there. 

Choose (or roll d4) to select which march your village is in. Every halfling thinks that somebody from outside of their march is "a bit queer" and "almost a foreigner." The GM can make up what's going on in the other marches.  

The map separates a march into four tiers: village, outskirts, the boonies, and beyond the hedge. 

The village tier is the center of march life. It's where all the commerce happens. It's where market day is held. It's where the fair is centered. It's where the mayor lives. This is at the top of the map.

The outskirts tier lies near enough to the village that the people who live there have near neighbors, but still enjoy pastoral peace and quiet. This is in the middle of the map.

The boonies is a place for larger farms and fields, often broken up with sporadic woodlands. People who live there have no near neighbors and are more likely to encounter things from over the Hedge. This is at the bottom of the map, over the Water. 

Beyond the Hedge is the wide world outside of the Commonwealth. There's some danger lurking out there. This is in the top left corner of the map. It's numbered 20. 

Notice all the little holes and such are numbered. When you need to generate rumors and events, you can roll a d20 to find out who's involved. Blam.


What's the march village name? Roll 1d20 twice and combine the first and second elements. Write it on your march map. 

First element:

  1. Bramble
  2. Under
  3. Crick
  4. Bind
  5. Whisky
  6. Needle
  7. Way
  8. Spring
  9. Bellow
  10. Horn
  11. Hay
  12. Thistle
  13. Marrow
  14. Marsh
  15. Peat
  16. Rime
  17. Winding
  18. Riddling
  19. Lesser
  20. Greater
Second element: 
  1. Gate
  2. Hall
  3. Hole
  4. -bury
  5. Hollow
  6. -wold
  7. Wood
  8. Delving
  9. -ton
  10. -burrow
  11. -windle
  12. Down
  13. -moot
  14. Running
  15. -bottom
  16. Ford
  17. None, first element begins with "The"
  18. None, first element begins with "The"
  19. None, first element begins with "The"
  20. None, first element begins with "The"
I assume that most villages have enough halflings of any particular profession that you can find just about any trade good that the Commonwealth has to offer there. 

Next, name your village pub. You're confident that it's the best pub in the four marches. Write it into an empty space in the village. Roll 1d20 twice and combine the first and second elements. 

First element:

  1. The Bird & 
  2. The Green
  3. The Burnt
  4. The Singing
  5. The Lion & 
  6. The Pilgrim & 
  7. The Dog & 
  8. The Wandering
  9. The Giant
  10. The Willow & 
  11. The Wakening 
  12. The Gilded
  13. The Old
  14. The Wooden
  15. The Hammer & 
  16. The Sleepy
  17. The Bear & 
  18. The Three
  19. The Whistlin'
  20. The Sword & 
Second element:
  1. Baby Tavern
  2. Wyvern Inn
  3. Clover Pub
  4. Traveler Inn
  5. Harp Pub
  6. Fool Tavern
  7. Lord's Arms
  8. Gentleman's Accords 
  9. Rose Pub
  10. Crow Inn
  11. King's Accords
  12. Coin Tavern 
  13. Pig Pub
  14. Fair Maiden Inn
  15. Troll Tavern
  16. Yeoman Pub
  17. Stone Inn
  18. Tree Tavern
  19. Pool Pub
  20. Knight's Arms
...which is famous for their (roll 1d10):
  1. Brown ale as sweet as cream - best ale in four marches!
  2. Stews, brewed by Ma Alice - most comforting food in the Commonwealth
  3. Songs and stories told around a great hearth
  4. Games of luck and skill - surely, this pub is the most fun
  5. Collection of books and quiet corners - it's like a library, it is!
  6. The landlord's beautiful daughters - none fairer!
  7. Dog - His name is Luke and he's the best boy! 
  8. Baths fed by hot springs - best place to relax after a hard day
  9. Ghosts - it's said this place is haunted; at the very least, you dream strangely if you stay there
  10. Adventurers (feh) - the landlord used to do some wandering and now is visited by strange foreigners who tell strange tales
Beyond the Hedge
Roll on the following table to find out what strange danger lurks just outside the Hedge. 

1d4 twice

  1. The standing stones ...
  2. A ruined city...
  3. Barrows...
  4. An abandoned tower...
  1. ...of ancient Men from across the Sea
  2. ...of dwarves, driven from their home
  3. ...of elves, who tarried here in sadness
  4. ...of goblins, who lurk there still
Also, all around the Commonwealth is the Deeping Woods. The trees are strange there. Whispery. All of the marches can easily access the Deeping Woods just past the Hedge...if they dare. 

Population: You

Now that you have a sense of your march with those random tables, each PC chooses a location on the map and places themselves in an empty hole there. 

Write in the name of your ancestral home. You live there. 

Population: Sites and Citizens 
Next, each PC takes a turn rolling a d6 and filling in one of the empty slots on the map. 
  1. Meeting Hall
  2. Tavern
  3. Guild Hall
  4. NPC
  5. NPC
  6. NPC
Meeting Hall
One of the core facets of Commonwealth society are the communal orders that populate it. These social associations wield considerable influence in their village and in their march. If this location is rolled, the player who rolled it should roll a 1d10 and note down what society is housed there. Duplicates should be rerolled. 
  1. Matronly Order of Good Manners: This somber collection of mothers and grandmothers are dedicated defenders of good taste and propriety. If there's any hubbub or hooplah or, heaven's forfend, hullaballoo, they'll stamp it out! 
  2. Mathom-house Curators: Halflings call any old thing they'd rather not part with a "mathom." A mathom-house is, therefore, an exhibit of a collection or a rudimentary museum. The Mathom-house Curators are a group of armchair historians, authors, and artifact-collectors that meet semi-regularly over pipes to discuss the venerable history of the Commonwealth and the Vale. 
  3. Knights of the Old Road: A group of martial halflings who have formed their order based on an edict from the High King that grants halflings the Vale with the provision that they protect and maintain the king's road. Their wives soberly point out that there hasn't been a High King for nearly five-hundred years and their husbands are basically just LARPing.  
  4. The Hill Dogs Croquet Club: A gentleman's sports society, the Hill Dogs play rather extreme version of croquet (referred to as "Hill Dog rules") that features a moving goal post, using the entire Commonwealth as a play area, and light melee. 
  5. Knitting Circle: A woman's social club, the Knitting Circle ostensibly organizes community picnics and charity events. Any canny observer will tell you, though, that the Knitting Circle is a powerful political organization. Mayors and thains alike will be obliged to bend to the gentle but unyielding power of this society. 
  6. The Benevolent Rite of the Lion: This fraternal order couches itself in mysticism, morality, and symbols. Its members have a flair for panache and the theatrical as their secret handshakes and code words are all fairly nonsensical. This theatrical air is countered by the utter secrecy with which members must cavort themselves with. No member of the Rite may admit that they are a member, or even that the Rite exists--even though the entire village may see them walking in their red robes into the Lion's Lodge every Friday night! 
  7. The Prestigious Order of the Eagle: A reserved society of intellectuals, philosophers, and debate-enthusiasts. Entry into the Order of the Eagle is predicated on being able to defeat a standing member in a riddling contest (which is a primary occupation of many meetings). 
  8. The Exalted Order of the Serpent: A social club of business-minded halflings who attempt to cross trade-guild lines and foster a business environment that's mutually beneficial. At least, beneficial for those within the Order of the Serpent. The order's actions are usually notably terrible for those not within the society. 
  9. The Most Noble and Goodly Order of the Badger: A group of halflings wasn't sure why orders "most high" or "protective" were so stuffy and unfun. The Order of the Badger is a drinking club dedicated to trying out all of the taverns in the Commonwealth and rating new ales and mead expressions brewed. 
  10. The Lads Who Won't Do Nothing: Social clubs are so prevalent in the Commonwealth, one was formed for the purpose of opposing them.  The Lads Who Won't Do Nothing is a social club of halflings who refuse to join a social club. 
Create another tavern using the procedure above. Your village is cool enough to have several taverns. Congratulations on your good fortune! 

Guild Hall
When this location is rolled, go over to the profession list. Roll d50. The guild hall for this profession is based in this location. The very finest exemplars of this profession can be purchased here, and (at least) yearly every member of this profession comes to your village for the annual convention. 


Roll on the profession and familial name chart and pick a random name to create a random NPC. If they have the same last name as a PC, they're your relatives (probably annoying ones). Each time you create a new NPC, the PC that rolled them can describe them and their relationship with them. Put them into one of the empty houses on your march map until all empty spots are filled. 

Viola. Now you have your own little corner of the Commonwealth to call your own. 

Check out the full game here!

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