I’m in the process of digesting Ultimate Campaign, the latest hardcover GMing sourcebook from Paizo Publishing.
Even if you don’t rpg the Pathfinder way, much of the book’s subsystems aren’t slaves to d20-style mechanics, which makes it adaptable to a variety of games. (While it is true these sub-systems aren’t entirely free of d20 mechanics, as experienced GMs, you know how to adapt/hand wave/ignore those fiddly bits.)
Now, my interest in the supplement was to mine its material for the downtime rules. There are guidelines and some inspired suggestions on how to account for the time spent by the PCs in the days, weeks and years between their adventures.
Did the PC operate a tavern in the intervening time? Or maybe they enrolled in the bardic college, sought enlightenment in a monastery, or fulfilled their obligations in the thieves guild.
Well, roll a percentage dice, check the appropriate table, and you’ll be able to fill in those blanks.
Alas, one of the downtime activities central to my Steffenhold home game – politics – aren’t addressed by the downtime rules. (Another subsystem in the book, the kingdom-building and the warfare rules covers some of that territory in another way.Â But in my Steffenhold game, nation-building isn’t the PCs’ occupation – that’s best left to NPCs – so that subsystem doesn’t really apply).
No, in Steffenhold, political activity by the PCs is relegated to the grass-roots level. Drawing inspiration from American colonial history and the burgeoning merchant councils of Europe’s 13th century for my home game, political activity by the PCs happens in the town’s coffee shops, taverns, back rooms and the chambers and atriums of the Clocktower Town Hall.
It is in such places they debate the merits of liberalizing political theories, such as republicanism and Â consent by the governed. And it’s put into practice by the relatively toothless Council of Freedmen and Guildsmen, a town council of sorts that the baron tolerates but holds veto power over. The council’s members, ever-bickering and divided by its various factions, rarely come to any agreements, and when they do, the baron is quick to stamp out any anti-feudalism measures through his daughter, who presides over the raucous meetings.
Seeing a hole in this material, I’ve taken it upon myself to craft my own political downtime chart, adapting material from Chapter 3 of Ultimate Campaign. So, should any of the PCs be part of an effort to push forward a candidate of their faction’s choosing or work to get an ordinance passed, the resolution to their activity is just a d100 away.
The chart below uses references from the downtime rules. Even if you don’t have a copy of the supplement, a version of the rules are available online in the Pathfinder Rules Reference Document.
A Political Faction is an organization.
Create: 10 goods, 10 influence, 10 labor (700 gp)
Teams: 1 Bureaucrat, 2 Craftspeople, 1 Laborer, 1 Scofflaw
A faction is a group of people dedicated to making lasting change through the political process.
01-10 Take a Stand
11-30 Public Affirmation
31-45 Friends in High Places
71-90 Image Problem
91-100 Rally the Masses
Crackdown: Local authorities no longer tolerate expressions of dissent. Treat as Crackdown Thieves Guild event.
Friends in High Places: A member of the faction receives appointment or election to government post. Choose goods or influence and for the next 2d6 days, gain +5 bonus on checks.
Image Problem: The faction has been discredited by a scandal, rumor mongering or propaganda by the authorities or another faction. Treat an Image Problem as a Cabal event.
Infighting: Debates among faction members have resulted in heated arguments, brawls even formal dueling. Treat as Infighting Guildhall event.
Public Affirmation: Your faction receives a declaration of support by a prominent or influential person. A successful DC 20 Diplomacy check grants 1 point of influence for 1d6 days.
Rally the Masses: A successful DC 20 Diplomacy check results in an effective demonstration or rally in the streets. Gain 1d6 points Influence and the faction gains a +10 bonus on its next check to generate capital.
Take a stand. Stakes are high as the faction tries to gain a victory in the political arena, either on an issue of policy, such as passing an ordinance, or by gaining concessions from authorities. A successful DC 20 Diplomacy check means a gain of +20 on the next check to gain capital and 1d4 points of influence. Failure means a failure to gain capital for 1 day and a loss of 1 point of influence. A failed roll by 5 or more means there is a 50 percent chance the authorities will subject the faction to a crackdown.
That’s my contribution to the downtime activities. I’d love to hear your ideas for downtime activities or share stories about how you handled these things in your game.