The first full draft of a chapter for #Stonetop. All art is placeholder.

The first full draft of a chapter for #Stonetop. All art is placeholder.

The first full draft of a chapter for #Stonetop. All art is placeholder.

I’d really appreciate anyone who’d give it a close read for language, clarity, typos, questions, etc.

Originally shared by Jeremy Strandberg

Draft of the Steading Playbook chapter. I’ve posted various versions of the actual playbook before, but herein you’ll find explanations of the stats and moves, along with substantial examples of most of the steading moves.

I’m sure it needs a bunch of editing, and I’d definitely appreciate feedback and questions. Like, for reals. Typo hunts are good, too!

(The layout is also a draft, something for Jason Lutes to eventually professionalize, and the art is all placeholder.)

38 thoughts on “The first full draft of a chapter for #Stonetop. All art is placeholder.”

  1. Jeremy Strandberg Oh, that makes sense. I didn’t realize it was all placeholder. Also, I didn’t mention it before because I was only able to glance through, but I really like the options this gives players to affect a steading. I recently played around with a compendium class that let them affect things like this, but your approach is better for the group aspect. Stonetop reminds me of a game I saw on Kickstarter called Kingdom Death, which looked really awesome as well. Keep up the good work!

  2. Scott Selvidge thanks, mate!

    I’ve seen the minis for Kingdom Death (which are incredibly creepy and weird and well done), but I’ve never looked into the rules. What about Stonetop reminds you of it?

  3. This looks amazing! Only one typo/grammar thing so far, which may be correct: Page 11: “GM: The palisade helps with the wind, but even after y’all FILL the cistern with snow there’s still more.”

    Rather than after “y’all filling”. Just a suggestion!

  4. This looks amazing, can’t wait for #Stonetop 🙂

    General question: on a 6-, is it just the player who made the roll that marks XP? Failure on some of these moves affect the whole steading – I could see a table deciding that everyone marks XP on a 6- for those rolls. If you have an opinion, Jeremy, it might be worth calling out explicitly which way you think it should work.

    Some specific comments:

    * p3: “He’s falling back to join you, fending off three of them, when another jumps him from behind they dogpile him.” There needs to be something between “behind” and “they” – a hyphen or semi-colon, or even end the sentence after “behind” and have “They dogpile him” as a separate sentence.

    * p3: “… the crinwin are circling, warry.” Should be “wary”.

    * p5: “My crew all have travelling cloaks, and so do I.” I was a bit confused by this, thinking that the player was choosing these travelling cloaks as her picks. It would have worked better for me if it was a little more explicit: “My crew all have travelling cloaks already, and so do I.” It became clear as the example proceeded in any case.

    * p6: “Caradoc: Yeah! Roll +Population, right?” I know we should never name the move, but given this is an example, it might be better if the player did in this case, especially since the last move mentioned was Rhianna’s crew Doing their Thing… “Caradoc: Yeah! Pull Together… I roll +Population, right?”

    * p7: “Rhianna: An 8. Hmm. Our Fortunes aren’t that great, and I want this done. Unexpected obstacle or challenge it is!” The rules for Pull Together say that the GM picks the complication on a 7-9, not the player.

    * p7: “A successful adventure boosts morale and sets your home on the path towards prosperity – or at least it undoes some of the damage from you Meet with Disaster.” Would work better if the “Meet with Disaster” move name was worked into the sentence grammatically, e.g. “or at least it undoes some of the damage after you Meet with Disaster.”

    * p12: “Once unlocked, improvements last the GM makes a move that takes it away.” Should be “Once unlocked, improvements last until the GM makes a move that takes it away.”

  5. New version posted, with changes from comments above incorporated. Thanks David de Jongh and Robert Rendell.

    Robert Rendell, I added something to the last page about who should mark XP on a miss. Give a look?

  6. It is clear now who should mark XP on a miss. Nevertheless, I’m more on the side of giving everyone XP on a miss in outfitting or seasonal change. Let’s see this way: if you have to go undersupplied for a quest, you certainly are going to learn something. Whether how to live with less or how to prepare better in advance next time.

    Also, regardless who rolls the seasonal change the PCs are important characters in their hometown, so the impact of their actions burdens them and they has to confront the result of their poor luck or management, learning in the process.

    Besides that, is funnier that all rolls has meaningfull results that also affect players. And it is easy to remind: “6- always mark XP” instead of learning the exceptions.

  7. p6: “On a 10+, the job gets done; on a 7-9, the pick:” looks like an incomplete edit from when it used to say “the GM picks”… I guess it should now say “on a 7-9, pick one:”?

    p10: “Rhiana (after updating the Steading Playbook): An 8. So… what happens?” On a 7-9 for Pull Together, the player now picks, not the GM 🙂 Although I guess in this case you could interpret it as the player delegating their choice to the GM when she asks “what happens?”

    p12: “… dropping the urn containing the bound storm elemental and it shatters and now everyone has to deal that.” Should be “to deal with that.”

    (thanks for the “who marks XP on a miss” sidebar – nice and clear!)

    p12: “If you unlock Aurochs Hunting by cooperating with the Hillfolk, you’ve not only gained new move and resource, …” Should it be “not only gained a new move and resource”?

  8. Robert Rendell yeesh, you’d think I wasn’t paying attention or something… thanks! Updates made.

    Alberto García-Casillas sure, and I figured that plenty of folks would feel the same way, which is why I included that parenthetical bit that says “or you could give everyone XP, that’s cool too.” I expanded on that a little, and gave my reason for no one marking XP, which is: I prefer that PCs level more slowly.

    Stonetop is definitely a more slow-burn style of game (higher XP to level, you need days of downtime to Level Up, Burning Bright eats XP, the End of Session questions are harder to hit each time). I don’t like having an “everyone gets XP” mechanic accelerating things.

    But it’s personal preference, and something I expect folks to tweak at their own tables.

  9. Sir, is there a guide or something for stonetop? I was on your Google+ Site but i’m confused. There are a lot of playbooks and stuff. So you have something like “what is stonetop?” or the like? Your stuff is really looking good. Why you are not on drivethru?

  10. Hi Jeremy Strandberg — something you’re doing here is persistently nagging at me. In the case of Deploy, Muster, Recruit and Pull Together, my sense is that if you have to explain “this move isn’t for this, use this other move” then the move itself is too subtle. I understand what you’re trying to do and the differences of the approaches, but I think you should consider more streamlining in here.

    For example:

    Right now, Pull Together says, “When you set the people of a steading to work on some endeavor”, but then goes on to spend 5 additional paragraphs of when it should and shouldn’t be used. To me, that’s not a well written move.

    These paragraphs essentially lay out the following:

    * It’s really the community or a large subset of the community.

    * You state the intent of the move is for projects.

    * It’s meant for improvements (and as a rational extrapolation, repairs).

    * You restate the community requirement

    * You talk more about the costs and make them different than what the move says, but we don’t really see much more about that until we look at the specific improvements in the playbook.

    So, you introduce both flavor and mechanical changes to the move that aren’t represented in the move itself. To me, a good move is a discrete operation, rather than a “maybe this, maybe that”

    What if the move is written to eliminate some of the additional text requirements?

    Pull Together

    When the community of Stonetop comes together to build new improvements or make significant repairs, roll +Population.


    I think the list of possible outcomes can also be expanded. I love the ones you have, but think most GMs want more help with ideas or outcomes than this move might suggest for the scale of the move itself.

    All project are effectively bound with time, cost and quality. We’ve also seen big public works projects have issues with safety. So, maybe some additional ideas in the move to give GMs more to work with?

    Surplus is another resource we can use up.

    Safety — what happens if the Foreman recruited is accidentally killed on the job? What about the workers?

    Does the reputation of the leader of the community (who decided to “invest” in this improvement take a hit for poor planning?

    The work drags into the next season — no additional move has to be taken.

    The work encounters a significant new requirement (such as a key resource is in short supply).

    Ultimately, I see this move as a way of building everything from a barn to a cathedral, so it’s incredibly powerful.

    Please don’t take any of this in the wrong way — I love the path this is on. It’s likely the single best kingdom development type effort I’ve seen for any game system.

  11. Wow, that’s fantastic feedback Brennan OBrien. Thanks for taking the time to think it through and write that up (and for the kind words).

    I’ll play around with this a bit. My gut says that the trigger should still involve you (the character[s]) doing something, rather than a move that triggers when the steading does something without PC guidance. But I think you’re right to frame the trigger more concretely in what it’s used for rather than leaving it vague and requiring five paragraphs of explanation.

    I’ll take another look at the 7-9 choices, too, but I’m a hesitant to offer more than 3 or 4 options. And a lot of the items you suggest feel more like GM moves on a miss to me than “success with limits.”

    Thanks again!

  12. Brennan OBrien just uploaded a new version, with some changes prompted by your comments. Didn’t go quite as far as you might have been suggesting, but give it look?

    Also updated the “Who Marks XP” box to be in 2nd person (instead of 1st).

  13. On page 7 of the latest draft, the dotted line you use to separate different examples appears to be in the wrong place.

    It occurs between “Rhianna: I’ll put Eira in charge, from my crew. And I want my boys rotating… two working, two on watch, and two resting. Good?” and “GM: Yup! Reduce Surplus and roll +Population, +1 because of your Logistics.” which are part of the same example.

    But then there’s no divider between that example and the one further down about the big wooden sphere in the Woods.

  14. Jeremy Strandberg Wow, I really like that re-write along with the following paragraphs! I’m still a little lukewarm on the “Don’t use this move for day-to-day tasks” paragraph, but mostly in my mind that’s because the move already should give me a sense of the scale. Maybe a slight adjustment on the move to “…work on significant improvements”? Or do you have another in-play situation you’re thinking of with the “don’t use this move” paragraph?

    Can I throw another idea in?

    Is it possible to change the time scale? For example, could we say years or even decades instead of seasons?

    Admitting my agenda here a little, could the move truly give us the vast differences from an encampment building it’s first motte and bailey all the way to the Imperial City building a new cathedral or the Ancient Egyptians building a tomb complex for their Pharaoh?

    Is there any thought around “scale” issues? Let’s say I have two steadings. A hamlet and a city, both with steady population. I assume the city could be working on more improvements at a given time than the hamlet? Or no? I can see that getting out of hand darn fast — and I can see the fiction being “strained” by saying “no, hamlet or metropolis, one project a season.” What do you think?

    Clearly, beyond the scope of what you’re intending with Stonetop, but with a bit of nudging and you’ve got something really powerful here. What happens if we go grab, say, the buildings and wonders from Civilization 5 and put requirements to them?

    Do you mind if I look at some of the other moves with the same thought process in mind?

  15. Jeremy Strandberg I answered part of my own question about scaling while I thought more about it. The City size is the last size a single “steading” can be… after that, the city converts to a district, with other district surrounding it. The other districts start as hamlets, grow to villages, towns and eventually their own districts. I like this because it creates organic growth of a place — mirroring what’s simulated anyhow. An area grows, it improves itself, others come, build more… hmm..

    As to the number of “Pull Together” actions available to a steading in a given season, based on the descriptions seems to be a function of size and population. Maybe no more than 1+size+population, minimum 0? A booming city would have 5, while a village undergoing an exodus would be 0.

    Were the fiction to point us to a more military set of terms, perhaps hamlet becomes camp, village becomes fort, town becomes keep and city becomes stronghold?

    Now I’m into thinking about things like specialists, recruiting, corruption, justice, attrocity…. what have you done to me??

  16. Jeremy Strandberg

    Some thoughts on Muster and Deploy

    Muster has just a couple of bumps in it from my reading. As noted previously, if you have to explain what it’s not, it feels like it’s too subtle for my liking.

    I wonder first if the title of the move might be more like “Call to Arms”? Similarly, the wording of the move might allow more specificity?

    “When you press the community to defend the steading proper against a threat…”

    A couple of notes on the outcomes. First, if you don’t want the move to be confused with “recruiting”, you probably want to change the last move outcome to not use the word “recruit” — I get what you’re saying, but the outcome could be confusing on a fast read.

    I really dislike Rianna’s statement in the narrative text about “I’m going to Muster”. I think it hits me square in the “don’t name the move, describe the action” I say that to my players early in campaigns with regularity.

    What’s unclear to me is when I would necessarily use deploy versus necessarily using Muster. Is the only difference the potential cost of Fortune? Is that difference sufficient to justify two moves? It feels as if you could add a couple of the flavor options from Muster back into deploy and collapse these into a single move. Is it really fictionally all that different to say “I muster every able-bodied soul” versus “I deploy my full defenses?”

    If that were the case, we now need to have a conversation about the differences of gathering a posse through recruiting and using deploy to deal with threats. That tells me the line between the two isn’t as clear as it may need to be.

    So, you use the Deploy to have the community deal with threats and you use recruit if you want to take folks with you to deal with the threat yourself? Is that the idea? Sorry, I’m probably being pedantic.

    Again, love the whole thing and want to see this baby shine, so please treat this as nothing but polish.


  17. My reading of the difference between Deploy and Muster is that Deploy is reacting to a force that’s threatening your steading right now, while Muster is used to put the steading on a war footing, taking advantage of the time and freedom afforded by a lack of enemies at your gate to prepare.

    So, moving the population of Edoras to Helm’s Deep, repairing the outer embankments and arming every man from youth to greybeard is Muster. Dealing with the uruk-hai trying to swarm over the walls is Deploy. Admittedly that’s stretching the moves slightly, since the Rohirrim left their home steading to defend from a nearby stronghold.

    If I have the intent of Muster correct, perhaps some of that idea of time and space to prepare could be incorporated into the move’s trigger?

  18. Hey Brennan OBrien… I think you’re maybe trying to push this into turf that the system wasn’t intended to deal with. Stonetop operates on a relatively intimate scale. That’s intentional. We’re not following the day-by-day lives of our heroes (usually) but we’re not hand-waving years at a time, either. I chose “the season” to be the main beat that drives the gave because that feels like the right level of abstraction to match the agenda and principles I’m going for.

    The Pull Together move caps out at 1 season per roll because Seasons Change would interrupt any longer project. Both moves interact with the same game (Surplus, Population, Fortunes) and overlapping fictional constraints. They need to synch up, or you’re going to get weird mismatches and situations.

    If you wanted a Pull Together move that could handle a larger scale, you’d need to “zoom out” the core “time passes” move, too. Maybe you zoom out to a year per roll, maybe you go with something vague like Legacy’s “Turn of Ages” move.

    Regarding things like “a number of ‘Pull Together’ actions based on Size and Population,” maybe something like that would make sense for a big, abstract, Civ-like game, but it seems like you’re ignoring fictional positioning, the conversation, and GM moves that really drive PbtA games. I the village of Stonetop, what you can reasonable accomplish by Pulling Together is limited by how much time it’ll take and your Population, but also by whether or not its spring or summer or autumn and whether you can convince people to do it. In the sprawling city of Lygos, what you can accomplish is limited by the resources available and what you’re willing to spend and how many projects you (or your people) are willing to juggle.

  19. Regarding Deploy vs. Muster… they are really not intended to overlap. One involves actively engaging (or attempting to engage) a foe, while the other is about making preparations. Basically what Robert Rendell is suggesting. Sort of analogous to Hack & Slash vs. Defend (though that analogy falls apart quickly).

    I’ll look at the wording again (especially the bit about “recruits”) but don’t expect the core concepts to change.

    Regarding Rhianna saying “I’m going to Muster,” I don’t have any problem with it all and I see that sort of thing in play pretty often. There’s no “never speak the name of your move” principle for players, and in fact its often clearer to indicate the move you want to trigger and then figure out what that looks like than it is to angle for a fictional trigger. It’s in the Dungeon World book, unfortunately, but there’s a great discussion of that in AW itself, right when they introduce the concept of moves.

  20. Jeremy Strandberg Oh, no — you’re absolutely correct — I’m not thinking about some of these “natural next steps” as Stonetop — it’s totally inappropriate for what you’re trying to do. What I’m thinking of is the potential implications for my own desires to run some sort of Birthright/Kingmaker style sandbox using DW/PbtA and find your approach here really does create a solid basis to work from. So, really, you’re hearing me “type out loud.” Sorry for any confusion there.

  21. Brennan OBrien, it’s all good. And it’s worth thinking about… one of the things I intend to include is a “hacking Stonetop” chapter that walks folks through making their own settings but keeping the underlying conceits (local heroes, steading playbook, etc.).

    The easy way to do it is to keep some of the same assumptions (poor village, edge of the known world, neighbors a few days away, built on the bones of a much older civilization, Things Below and spirits and fae and distant impersonal gods) but change the specifics: the name of the village, it’s locale, the local shortages & resources & neighbors, the weird fear/taboo (deep water for Stonetop), the cultural touchstones, the name lists.

    But you could go bigger. What if you were the heroes of a town instead of a village? What if you weren’t isolated in the middle of nowhere, but there were villages only a day or two away. A game like that could end up in a different, more urban scale, and it wouldn’t be bad to have some guidelines for it.

    In other words… keep thinking out loud! I’m interested to see where you take this.

  22. I couldn’t spot anything to nitpick about this time 🙂

    Deploy seems nice and clear to me (but I didn’t have a problem with it before either).

    WRT Brennan OBrien’s thoughts about larger settlements being able to Pull Together over more than one project – I think the way the move is currently worded, those limits could be dictated purely by the fiction. The move says “when you set a community to work,” but “community” is a nicely nebulous word that doesn’t necessarily mean everyone in the settlement. It probably does in a village or small town, but larger settlements might have multiple communities all mixed in together. For example, as the village grew into a town, perhaps the Lumber Consortium has become quite powerful (as a result of the PCs’ work to protect their camps and forging trade with neighbours), and they’ve become a sizeable faction within the town. If the PCs have sway over them, they could attempt to Pull Together using the Lumber Consortium’s resources in the same season as a Pull Together using the townsfolk in general.

    So, rather than having a limit to simultaneous Pull Togethers dictated by the size of the settlement, have the limit arise from the number of different groups that have grown to sufficient strength to be considered a “community”.

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