Thursday, February 27, 2014

Instant Church Hierarchies Part 1 (and yes, I see the irony)

I was talking about this end of last year (looky here or see down below). Some people thought it interesting enough to discuss it somewhere in the internet as potentially promising, but not enough. True that. Well, it's about time to finish what I started. So here's a more serious take on the subject. I'll start with some basics and reiterations and will close the first part with some easy examples.

Real world hierarchies (catholic church)

The catholic church is a lot about worldly hierarchies, which makes it ripe to borrow ideas from. Let's see ... For starters, it seems to be a simple pyramid hierarchy with the following titles:

  • Pope/head of the church
  • Cardinals
  • Archbishops
  • Bishops
  • Parish Priests
  • Missionaries
This being a bit two-dimensional, I'd go and look for something closer to what could be used in The Game. Something like this:


All right, here we have a point of origin and some smaller groupings subordinating themselves to it. This (or something like this) is what I want to see in the game and I want o get there as fast and as random as possible. Hence the above linked idea about instant hierarchies. Here's the gist of it:

Roll 3d6 and interpret the results:
  • The plain numbers would be the whole clergy of a church. I'm assuming very small groups, obviously, with the level 1 player being the lowest in the food chain. I'd say a die means one temple. More dice in the beginning would result in a bigger church. But they would be all in one region.
  • Every 6 gets rerolled and indicates the number of those travelling holy men that spread the word without having a temple of their own (other than the player). They would be missionaries, so to speak.
  • Pairs allow for another roll of 3d6, the church just got a bit bigger and expanded another region.
  • Triples not only expand the church, but give it some holy (or otherwise important) site (could be a university, a site where a saint is buried, stuff like that).
  • If the first roll with 3d6 shows three time 1, the player character (or NPC) is the only cleric with access to a lost faith. Maybe he found a holy text, something like that. It's on him to spread the word now.
  • Other than that, 1s indicate lost lore and legends directly connected to that particular faith/deity/whatever, another roll with 1d6 per rolled 1 determining the number rumors, legends, MIA clerics, etc.. Could be the story of a cleric that got lost on a mission, some legend of saints and where their bones might be found, stuff like that. A pair of ones doesn't result in another roll of 3d6.
Doubles and triples will result in higher numbers and other than rerolled sixes, every rolled number relates to the first three (example: a first roll of 3 3 5 and a second roll of 2 1 5 results in two pairs (3 3 and 5 5) and will expand the church further in the second roll, may even produce triples along the way... or quadruples, but I've no ideas for that right now).

Now we need to expand on that.

How many dice for my church?

The basic idea was to roll 3d6 and read the results, but it's only logical to use more dice for a bigger church or less for a smaller one. What the initial post lacked was a ratio by which a DM is able to adjust what seems right for him.

This is has to be, to some degree, arbitrary. The basic question is, what level needs a cleric to have at least to be a fit leader of a church. Name level seems a bit to high for the smallest possible church (1d6), but level 3 a bit to low (I'm using the Rules Cyclopedia here, so the cleric's getting his first spell at level 2 and has only 2 level 1 spells at level 3, to name but one argument ...). A cleric would get his first level 3 spell when reaching level 6, so this seems like a good point to start*. So as a first set of rules:

"Every d6 means 6 levels for the head of a church. If more than 5 dice are used, the level of the head of a church is not relevant anymore, he's just a representative. As a guideline I'd take the numerical result of the initial roll as level.
The rest is politics."

So with 3d6 you'd have a level 18 cleric as boss. Very well, now for the clergy. It's a tad more difficult, mainly because of the huge variety in the results. Okay, one of the already established rules is that every die stands for a temple in the region/diocese. This is definitely something done at name level (using only one die is the exception and may mean there is only a shrine or altar ...**). 

If you use two d6 you got a main temple with the head of church as level 12 and another temple with the local authority (a cardinal?) at level 9. Now the minimum result for a church with 2d6 to have an active clergy is 5***. We already have a level 12 and a level 9 cleric, that leaves us with three more slots to fill. My initial instinct is to go with two more clerics with level 6 (two archbishops) and one with level 3 (a bishop, no less). To summarize, we have now as the lowest possible result with an active clergy of one roll with 2d6:
  • 2 churches in one diocese
  • One level 12 cleric as head of church
  • One level 9 cleric as head of local chapter/parish
  • Two level 6 cleric (I'd say each one of them working in one of those churches)
  • One level 3 cleric (active in the main church)
  • 20 payed retainers (going by the average CHA-score per cleric)
Add a few hundred believers to that and you have a small cult going. I'm quite satisfied with this result and I feel a table coming summarizing all the results ...

By the way, a player character would always be a missionary at first and not part of the number rolled (in the example above he'd be the sixth member of the clergy and, being level 1, the lowest in the food chain) and when used during character generation, I'd suggest to keep those 3d6 per faith.

Distribution, distribution

Those concepts will have some wild results and that makes it hard to see a pattern at first. But let me try anyway, starting with 1d6 and 2d6.

1d6 (results 2-5) - A cult, not a church
  • active clergy is 2-5
  • no temple but a shrine (if a 5 is rolled, make that an altar)
  • head of cult is level 6 cleric
  • there are at best two clerics with level 3
  • with more than 3 members every addtional member is a level 1 cleric
1d6 (fringe results)
  • a 1 indicates that this cult had once existed and left some traces (roll another d6 for the number of relics like holy texts, a shrine, some holy bones, etc.)
  • a 6 means a reroll, but if only one die is used to beginn with, the result of the reroll is read as another cell and interpreted as the initial roll (which means another level 6 leader with his cronies,etc.)

2d6 (results 3-11 + with doubles, triples, etc.)
  • at least 1 temple, might have holy sites, etc. due to triplets
  • active clergy is 2 to 11
  • head of this church is a level 12 cleric
  • the next highest level is 9
  • the number of clerics holding level 9 is the same as the number of dice that resulted in a temple
  • the number of level 6 clerics is the same as the number of dice that produced a temple (or less)
  • the number of level 3 clerics is the same as the number of dice that produced a temple (or less)
  • the rest are level 1 clerics
2d6 (fringe results)
  • a 1 always means some lost lore or relic (roll a d6 to see how many of those exist somewhere)
  • a double of 1s make this religion a thing of legend, reroll both ones and interpret the new results as the size of this particular lost church (which will give you some ideas how many temples existed (there might be ruins), how many clerics preached the faith (skeletons in a dungeon, stuff like that), etc.)
  • a 6 means a reroll, the result is the number of missionaries a church has running around:
1: 1 cleric level 1
2: 2 clerics level 1
3: 2 clerics level 1 and 1 cleric level 3
4: 3 cleric level 1 and 1 cleric level 3
5: 3 clerics level 1 and 2 clerics level 3 
6: 3 clerics level 1, 2 clerics level 3 and 1 cleric level 6 (and a reroll)
  • double 6s mean there is a camp of missionaries somewhere in another churches realm of influence (a triple means 2 of those, etc.)
So much for Part 1

I think that's enough to digest for today. I know, all that seems a bit complex and over the top, but when all is said and done, it's just one roll (with an option of exploding dice) and reading/analyzing the results. Here is Part 2. The next part after that (some time in the future) will deal with 3d6 or more and I'm working on some charts right now to illustrate the idea further.

It's also an opportunity to give me some feedback ...

*And forget about level names. The idea is nice on paper, but if you had to do it for 36 levels per class, you'd run out of alternatives fast.
**Which reminds me of a post I wanted to write and forgot about. Okay, it will happen the next few days ...
*** Rolling a 2 and a 3 are the first results that won't either expand the church (with 2 and 2 being a double), leave it with two active members (a rolled 2) and a lot of legends (because of the 1 ...) or make it completely a thing of the past (two rolled 1s).

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