Freebooters 2e: Moves, Settlement Events, and NPCs

Freebooters 2e: Moves, Settlement Events, and NPCs

Freebooters 2e: Moves, Settlement Events, and NPCs

I had to get this out of my system since I became kind of obsessed with settlement event generation. The linked PDF includes all of the projected moves for the game, some slightly tweaked and some new. Also included are the NPC and settlement event tables. The event tables are not quite done — I still need to add the task/job tables, which should add another page spread.

Heads up to John Marron, J. Walton, and other people out there currently running games.

This has been distracting me from Stonetop layout duties, so now it’s time to get back to that!

22 thoughts on “Freebooters 2e: Moves, Settlement Events, and NPCs”

  1. Some questions about the Travel moves…

    1) Is it intended that the Judge cannot compel a Danger encounter on anything but a fail of either move? (I’m fine with that, but it is a change).

    2) What does “You make good time” mean in game terms?

    3) Does “No one becomes exhausted (Judge chooses 1 party member to suffer 1d4 Constitution damage)” imply that if that is not chosen, the burn happens on every Navigate? If so, I think that should be in the main wording of the move. I think like it, but not really as much as my Negotiate Terrain suggestion.

    4) I sometimes find Make Camp’s + nothing chance of encountering a danger fairly oppressive, especially if the focus of the game isn’t necessarily on random wilderness encounters. I think having a chance to increase it even by +1 would give players a little more agency (and a nice hard choice). Perhaps as an option for Navigate or Scout, such as “You observe something that grants you +1 forward on either the Navigate or Camp rolls”

    5) I wonder what downtime move failures should look like…

  2. David Perry

    1) Yes, that’s the intention. I am looking for ways to make Scout and Navigate work more smoothly together, and moving the occurrence of a Danger firmly into general GM move territory was something that came out of that. I will be explicit in the main rules about how “drop a Danger on them” (or whatever I’m going to call it) is an important GM move.

    2) It means you reach your destination earlier than anticipated, and have extra time to do with what you will, including pushing on to a new destination before you need to Camp. I can be more explicit about that, though I would also like to keep it open to interpretation.

    3) Point taken. I like the idea of your Negotiate Terrain move, which is why I started playing with this idea, but I don’t like opening it up to any ability. I like putting a premium on CON over other abilities in this context.

    4) I hear you on the oppressive aspect of that roll, and a way to mitigate against it is a good idea.There’s about a 40% chance of rolling a 6- on +nothing, and a +1 would drop that to 28%. Another option would be to again remove the chance of a Danger to the realm of a pure GM move, or restructuring the Navigate and Camp moves to include a hard-coded encounter chance — for instance by including a “on a 4-, you encounter a Danger” clause (16% chance). When I was originally putting together FotF I wanted to build encounter chances into the rolls, but then had second thoughts about stepping away from the basic PbtA philosophy about a 6- roll. I do really like the idea of players being able to mechanically mitigate the chance of encountering a Danger, in any case.

    5) I am thinking about the FotF equivalent of Fronts, which I am tentatively calling threads. Each thread would have a name and a timer/countdown, with a events assigned to some or all of the steps of the timer. So for instance, if the PCs plunder a tomb and return to town without realizing they’ve released some undead from that tomb, the Judge could start a thread for those undead, choose a timer length — let’s say 5 — and assign events to steps on the timer, with #5 being “undead reach the settlement walls” or the like. “Tick down a timer” would be a GM/Judge move and attractive option for when a PC rolls a 6- on a Downtime move. Threads could be used for everything from NPC relationships to global events, the idea being to create the sense of “living world” with a minimum of overhead.

  3. Is there ever much of a reason to be involved in the world as freebooters? A problem I found when I was running it, was how the traits PCs rolled up rarely had an opportunity to be used in any meaningful way. The games goal of silver sidelined any objective besides hunting for the biggest stack of loot.

    So, as much as I like the idea of settlement events, unless there is a strong incentive to protect those places. Why bother? Perhaps a similar system to bonds would be useful, with silver/exp rewards for aiding and completing bonds.

    Also i’m curious, does everyone make the group set camp every night of a journey? I personally just skipped over large chunks of travel and settled most journey’s with one or two camps. I feel as though any dramatic weight and interest is sucked dry from a journey when you roll too many times. Or is this just a matter of making less areas of the world perilous and most just dangerous. Therefore, up to GM fiat?

  4. Timothy Stanbrough, in our games, tons of stuff ends up happening in town. Attempts to sell treasure, wring silver from the locals, or steal valuable gear have all spun off in entertaining directions. The drive was still toward getting loot and prepping for the next expedition, but the towns became rich sources of interest in their own right. I’ve seen dungeon-crawling games that discourage town-time, but based on my group’s experience I have an urge is to embrace it. As far as incentive to protect a settlement, none of the towns we’ve played in have come under direct threat, but isn’t the need for a convenient place to sell loot and resupply decent incentive?

    The way we play, we do Make Camp every night in dangerous territory, until the PCs find a safe and reliable way to cross it (once we had a Magic-User look over the party’s maps of a region and roll to Perceive a safe route to the dungeon to which they were planning a return visit). It does seem to run the risk of becoming tedious. We never felt that, but my group rarely made forays to places more than 3-4 days’ journey from their home base.

  5. Really love the sound of threads. I can see using those to shake up familiar areas (threads from area A expand to area B) or to handle how much dungeons recover from being raided. So 3 points of ‘recovery’ in a dungeon let’s you add a defence, restock a major room, etc.

  6. Jason Lutes I love the idea of PCs mucking around in a dungeon tomb and inadvertently awakening some unforeseen terror that starts a doom clock which becomes a scourge upon the land possibly even threatening the town and makes journeys more perilous. I’ll be using that one next chance I get!

  7. Jason Lutes

    1), 2), 4), Cool.

    3) I agree CON would be the go-to stat for exhausting characters on journeys, but I wonder if hitting it as the default for 1d4 would actually be too rough, considering it factors into recovery, and would be the first choice to recover before anything else. Something to keep an eye on.

    5) I like bringing Fronts into FotF, especially given that the game will now be standalone. But I also hesitate to further emphasize settlements, considering the traditional advice for West Marches style games, that players often get sucked into town intrigue and ignore the frontier. Of course this is totally up to the Judge and the group for what kind of game they actually want to play, but I think it might behoove the rulebook to disclaim this phenomenon in case the judge wants to steer the game one way or the other. That said, the new tables give the Judge a good way to be “hands-off” about the settlement aspects of the game.

    On a related note, I’ve seen praise for FotF for being even easier for an inexperienced GM to run than Dungeon World, due to the profusion of random content tables. It might be good to lean-in on that point in 2e, offering some procedural advice or procedures on how to run a game almost entirely from the tables.

    I wonder how difficult it would be to hack it further to be GM-less…

  8. David Perry, yeah, I agree about the potential dangers of a persistent Constitution toll. I’ve been tinkering with the moves some more. here’s a set that folds in some of your ideas, plus working encounter chance into the move rolls themselves. I am aware that these are somewhat dense by PbtA standards, and I prefer simplicity, but I am curious to see/hear how these versions might change things, for better or worse.


    When you take point and keep an eye out for anything unusual, roll +WIS: on a 10+, choose 2 from the list below; on a 7-9, choose 1.

    > You observe something that grants +1 forward to the Navigate roll

    > You discern a beneficial aspect of the terrain (describe it)

    > You spot an ideal campsite—take +1 forward to Camp if you make use of it

    > You get the drop on whatever lies ahead


    When you make decisions about the best path to your destination through dangerous or unfamiliar territory, roll 1d4 to determine the physical toll of the trek, +1 if the region is difficult. Then, roll +INT: on a 10+, you’re wise to the ways of the region—choose 2 from the list below; on a 7-9, choose 1; on a 5-6, mark XP and the GM makes a move; on a 4-, mark XP and you encounter a Danger.

    > You find a Discovery along the way

    > You make good time—ask the Judge how good, and do with it what you will

    > You avoid difficult terrain—reduce the physical toll by 1d6 (min. 0)

    Then, you and your companions suffer Constitution or Strength damage equal to the physical toll, divided among you as you see fit.


    When you settle in to rest, choose one member of the party to Manage Provisions. If you’re bedding down in dangerous lands, decide on a watch order.

    Then, the Judge chooses one person on watch to roll +nothing during their watch: on a 10+, everyone gets rest without incident; on a 7-9, the Judge chooses 1 from the list below; on a 5-6, mark XP and the GM makes a move; on a 4-, mark XP and a Danger manifests—you’d better Stay Sharp!

    > One party member (Judge’s choice) suffers a restless night

    > The person on watch notices a Discovery

    > The person on watch finds evidence of a nearby Danger

    When you wake from at least a few hours of uninterrupted sleep, and you ate and drank before bedding down, you heal 1 or +CON points (whichever is greater), which you may apply to hit points and/or ability points of your choice (excluding Luck).

  9. I like these versions a lot, although the 4- result will take some getting used to as it breaks the usual PbtA pattern. I especially like the Scout move offering bonuses to navigate and camp.

  10. Hmm, what if the +1 to Camp occurs if the Scout chooses “Get the drop”, but no Danger manifests on Navigate (or maybe even if it does)? That has the benefit of addressing the weirdness that happens when the scout gets the drop, but it just fizzles if Navigate is aced.

    Also, I think I like Camp’s flat 6- = GM move, potentially a Danger, if the possibility of a +1 to it is available, rather than the 4- exception.

    I think I like the “distribute the toll among you” idea. I also had the notion that it could be tied into Load/Encumberance.

  11. ‘divided among you as you see fit’

    I love this, because the answer will suggest fiction. “I’ll take most of the CON loss – Boromir will carry the hobbit on his back through the snow.”

  12. Jason Lutes scout is perfect I really like it … still thinking through the other two. Navigate especially seems fiddly. My first thought would be: is there some way you could roll that d4 effects into the moves?

    Maybe something like:

    10+ the journey is tiring but does not tax you overly no con/str modifier and choose 1.

    7-9 the journey has been tougher than expected you lose 2 from strength or constitution or both but also chose 1:

    – find a discovery

    – make good time

    – avoid difficult terrain – +1 to any stat below max

    I played around with the idea of on the roll: 7 lose 3 str/con… 8 lose2 … 9 lose 1 as an option to at least wrap it all into one roll.

    So when you awake with a few hours sleep why can’t luck be one of the stats that bumps up?

  13. Ron Thomas thanks for your thoughts on Navigate. Still chewing.

    You can’t refresh Luck on a Camp because it’s supposed to be more high-value across the board in the way you can burn it to improve rolls. Right now the only way you get Luck back is when you Level Up, a restriction meant to make people think hard about when they’re going to burn it.

    The subtext on my end is, if you survive to the next level, your Luck (fate, destiny) is holding out in big-picture terms. Having a restful night might restore your physical and mental well-being, but it won’t improve your relationship to the universe.

  14. David Perry, I like that the scout has to make a choice and that getting the drop might whiff. It makes it a tougher decision, and adds tension: how much do you trust the odds of the navigator making a decent roll? I also like that you can get that +1 to Camp, but only if you stop right there to take advantage. Giving the player both effects at the price of one is too much insurance, imo.

  15. On Make Camp, you could keep it 6- / 7-9 / 10+, but have the modifier be based whether you’re in unsafe or perilous lands. Something like:

    Then, the Judge chooses one person on watch to roll +nothing during their watch. Add +2 if camping in unsafe lands (as opposed to perilous). On a 10+, everyone gets rest without incident; on a 7-9, the Judge chooses 1 from the list below; on a 6-, everyone marks XP and a Danger manifests–better Stay Sharp!

    With that +2 modifier, your 7-9 result chance is still the same as with +nothing. But the chance of a Danger vs. an uneventful night flip-flops between ~17% and ~42%.

    The Scout’s potential +1 bonus to camp is pretty big swing, then. It moves camping in unsafe lands to ~8%/33%/58%, and camping in perilous lands to ~28%/45%/28%.

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