Rules Lite Domain Rules

Threw together some rules for a downtime adventure I’m running. No idea if they’re good yet, but I’m hoping it adds some meaningful structure to help create meaningful political choices.

You can grab it at this spreadsheet

It’s loosely based on Diplomacy, and might be a bit still be a bit too opposite-of-crunchy. Neat to hear what you think =)


Welcome to the Cauldron! I have never experienced domain level play, but now I want to after reading your breakdown. Downtime is a vast creative space. Curious what you mean by downtime adventure. Can you explain further?

I’ve been running the 5e Icewind Dale module and it’s split into two pretty distinct halves, so we took a break to play other games. In the meantime, 8 months of in game time are passing, and I just said “hey if you guys have anything you want to do in those 8 months, lemme know and we can run something play by post over discord”

Got it from this video by colville. Felt a bit weird at the start but at least one of my players have said it’s their favourite thing they’ve done with D&D

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It looks cool! Have you had a look at The Quiet Year? There might be some interesting ideas to explore in that. Maybe you could add a card-deck system for random events, or just to show time passing (weather, seasons, far off wars, local industrial disputes etc)?

I mean, I love card systems, but you can do something very similar with a couple of d20 tables or something (event/complication for example).

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Hmm The Quiet Year looks cool. I think when I actually use this system in play it will need something like an event system. A deck of cards sounds cool! I’ll keep it in mind when I get there.

In my game, the other factions are already moving around and doing their own thing, but at least a spark table of events sounds like a really helpful thing.

My biggest worry is that there’s something ‘missing’ from this to make it a more complete system. I thought about adding resources but I really liked that simplicity (my players are quite lazy :laughing:). An event system might be just what I need

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The Quiet Year is fantastic and very much worthy as a standalone game.
Some players may bristle against it, though. I’ve had some more die-hard OSR types really push away from the collaborative aspect. To me it was hugely influential to my GMing journey, and something I recommend all world builders mess around with at least once.


Oooh very solid so far, I think some further explanation to the extent of the spy section could be used for explaining how Influence is acrewed and how the interplay of investing influence, hindering it, and progression of projects go.

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Do you have any ideas of how the spy section could be expanded? To be honest it’s kind of tacked on there, it got way bigger than I thought it would kind of out of nowhere.

I feel like it’s missing some sort of incentive to actually make goals. Sure there’s narrative reasons for where you might want to do something like build a bridge, but I feel like there’s a puzzle piece missing. Maybe an event deck can help provide motivation to come up with goals.

Also from a GM side I think it’s difficult to come up with goals for the NPC factions, but maybe they don’t need to be as interesting since they sit in the background. Still though I feel like for spies and hindering to be meaningful you either need convincing fictional rivalries between factions or some actual weight behind the completion of goals.

Interesting to hear anyones thoughts on this :grin:

I think those parts most likely lie in the setting and setup itself. I’m reminded of the advice given in this post by against the wicked city. Setting up the setting so things are broken is key, players should want to build a bridge because godsdammit they need a way to get their caravans across this river without losing half of the merchandise while attempting to ford it, revenue they need because godsdammit building a castle is expensive, building a castle because godsdammit our enemies keep attacking us (and also castles are cooool)

For npc goals, a good way to do things would be make them want the same things players do! Instant conflict.


The idea of a “domain turn” of two weeks is very cool and really falls in line with a lot of the rest of B/X type procedures, like the dungeon turn and structured hex crawling. It’s just a larger turn for larger-scale things to happen. Love that! I might riff off of your rules because I like using the domain turn for faction goals, maybe I’ll generate rules for faction conflict/combat/subterfuge, and then I think things like base building and long term projects fall into line.

I currently have some rules on my itch for carousing in Cairn on itch, which is as close to a downtown activity as I get, but I like James Young’s spreadsheet for downtime activities like research, charity, etc. and I think that could fit nicely into building a stronghold/base.

Okay, done rambling. But I like this idea and I’m going to play with it! :stuck_out_tongue:

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I should probs mention that domain turns can be any length, Im just using two weeks for the game I plan to run it in. I figure most OSR folks are fine with monkeying with the rules already though :stuck_out_tongue: I didnt have to worry about stronghold construction this time around but I think it could be easily enough fit into the goals system alongside whichever rules are best fit

If you end up making those rules for faction conflict make sure to put 'em somewhere! They sound useful :smiley:

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Love to see domain rules.

Here’s how I handle spies in Errant

Blockquote Allows for the target they are spying on to become a source for investigations. Each additional spy that is engaged to spy on the same target adds +1 to the roll for investigation attempts, to a max of +3.

Rules for investigations can be found here, along with all my other downtime rules. I also have rules for faction conflict as part of those since you’re interested.

My big three sources for downtime/domain stuff are Ben L’s downtime activities series, Nick Whelan’s rules, and Into the Wild.