What are your experiences with the rules for steadings?

What are your experiences with the rules for steadings?

What are your experiences with the rules for steadings?

I’ve run about 30 sessions of DW,  and I’ve never used them. As it turned out, play was either centered on a single huge city, or in a desert environment where there were only a handful of (again) huge cities. So the steading rules never seemed pertinent.

I’m now looking for some multiple-community-management rules (for another game, not particularly derived from DW), including a between-session update procedure. So I’m wondering if many people here have used steadings in the way that the DW text says to. If you have, has it achieved much for you?

9 thoughts on “What are your experiences with the rules for steadings?”

  1. I’ve only used them (RAW) to help design steadings and give them some flavor, never to actually update them in play or between sessions. It just hasn’t come up in the games we’ve played.

    There was one where it would have (a good 1/3 of the town died at the hands of some crazy druids and the whole ecosystem got kinda out of whack), but that all came about in the last 2 sessions. Campaign ended after that (stoopid babies).

    My #Stonetop  stuff is an attempt to make the steading(s) more important characters in the game. Maybe you’ll find it useful?


  2. I think it is a great way to non-arbitrarily allow the GM to show the players the consequences of their characters actions on the world. Like how Geralt can improves towns in Witcher 3 or how the protagonist can improve, or harm, the holds in skyrim via the completion of quests.

    The concept goes all the way back to Dave Arneson and the means by which he gave DM’s tools to improve hexes in his First Fantasy Campaign supplement. 

    It’s something that easily could have been left out of the rules. Big thanks to Sage and Adam for including them. 

    Imagine the pride the players will have when, after a long campaign, they can look back at their starting village (poor, steady, militia and blighted) and see that it had grown and prospered in concrete ways? What better way to make a living world?  it’s a form of character advancement that doesn’t myopically focus on levels 1-10. So your character is level 10, but there are so many villages, towns and cities to yet to save…or ruin!

  3. I think the steading stuff serves as a very solid starting point for GMs hoping to flesh out a little piece of civilization. The tags help a GM organize the steading in a way that makes sense and can also help shape future events.

    That said, I agree with Cooper Walden that it could have been left out of the rules it was probably included for newer GMs still getting used to medieval/fantasy demographics, or GMs that needed to whip up a steading on the fly.

    Personally, I have always focused more on the people and places that make up a steading as opposed to the census data. That kind of stuff tends to emerge through the unfolding fiction anyway.

  4. My intention was to say that those rules are something other designers would not have thought to include in their rules, but Sage and Adam brilliantly included them.  I consider the steading rules a critical part of the game.  “Tags” and “Problems” are super helpful for sandboxing purposes.

    D&D’s flaws are that they give rules for resolving combat, but tell the GM to “make up” everything else on their own.  No modern game designer worthy of the name should put the weight of world creation outside the rules and force the GM to spend hundreds of hours on his own making artisanal villages and towns from scratch like some Brooklyn hipster churning his own butter :D.  One pays money for a game in the hopes that it facilitates the play of make-believe.

    Steading rules are a flexible algorithm for procedurally generating  and updating the world.  It doesn’t just help novice and veteran GM’s with creation, it helps them change the world based on the players’ actions.  DW is one of the best games I’ve seen that increase the productivity of the player of the GM character.  

    Where other games would say, “See what Tolkien did with his world creation?  Go do that”, DW Gives you proceedures for creating the Shire and proceedures for it’s Scouring!

    Now that I think about it, my only complaint is that they did not include a procedure for creating random dungeons in the same way they create random towns although I suppose the “fronts” is a procedure for all adventures above and below ground. 

  5. Cooper Walden​​

    It is not a flaw of DnD but a feature. They pay a lot of lip service to creating your own advenures but their business model demands that you buy their books. 

    I am not denying that the steading rules may be usefull. I am just saying that they are not useful to me. My brain works in a different way when I make up stuff.

  6. I have used them raw. Mapped out two kingdoms and needed some places for pc’s to root out smuggler s from. Founds the steadings easy to use though I did end up just puting an excel sheet together that let see what changes each month.

  7. It all becomes clear If you look at the interaction between the various steading rules. (p. 216) They are giving you the means to adjudicate war. Specifically, battled, opportunity, clash. They manage this without requiring 100 miniatures and a sandbox or a calculator.

    Then if you look at the other tags like trade, aid, profit they are giving you a mini-diplomacy war game for the girding of war, dependent on your characters actions, to help or hinder a steadying.

    Pretty gnarly stuff when you realize what they manage in 2 pages compared to CHAINMAIL or Mentzer war machine rules from the Companion set. 

    Sure, any GM can make up their own towns and cities, but without the steading rules, if war is part of your campaign front, you would be left with capricious and arbitrary decisions as to a war’s outcome. Capricious GM moves is not an aspect of DW play (p. 11).  did the PC’s cure the blight and drive the lich from the Xothal’s tower? (p. 214) Well, that new +prosperity village with an oath might be just what the neighboring city needs to increase its +defenses that drives off the Olg’gothal orcs…or not! And when you use these rules, the players–and the GM, will both be playing to see what happens.

    It basically lets you manage the intricate and butterfly effects of player character actions on the wider world: similar to the effect when, in LoTR, Peregrin and Meriadoc had when they convinced the Ents to destroy Isengard which weakened Mordor’s ability to disrupt the Rohirim aid to Minas Tirith at the Battle of Pelennor Fields (and you realize that the entire trilogy is Gandalf and Sauron playing the role of a Military Generals with the eye always on Pelennor Fields. Each move of the company weakening Sauron’s ultimate ability to bring overwhelming force to bear in that one battle. Including the ability to bring a Dragon and a Balrog.). But I digress!

    Almost nobody needs help making a town, but keeping track of how player actions effect a town and the town’s effect on other villages, towns, and cities? Hell yeah you need some sort of system. Of course, not every group is going to mess around with truly Epic Fantasy Fronts and Impending Dooms, but DW might be the first FRPG to actually live up to the promise to deliver it for those that want it.

    interesting note: the word “doom” is not idly thrown about by Tolkien. doom meant “fate” with the capital ‘D’ Doom meaning the “fate of men aka mortality”. It is fitting that DW uses the word “impending doom”. What is the impending fate of those characters and that world? That’s what you play to find out. but the GM can’t know beforehand either. And, for that, you need the steading rules.

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