Adventure Notes #7: The Lisbon Affair

Finally, after a month, we got to sit down and play a game! I'm telling you, I was going through some serious withdraws!

I had a hard time prepping for this thing, I was thinking in such a large scale and totally pyching myself out, that is something that I'm terrible with. With prep, it has to be done in steps. There is no sense in prepping an adventure too far in advance. Doing it can burn you out quickly.

Thus, I chopped up the entire adventure arc into three separate pieces, which will lead up to a grand adventure that I'll be using a module for. Getting there is half the fun, or at least it should be. This session I took the PCs by ocean from London to Lisbon, Portugal. I prerolled random encounters and just prepped what I needed, I ended up ignoring a fight with a giant octopus because it was just too much. I also wrote up a time table of events that would take place during the days. This always seems to work, keeping track of NPC's can be a huge pain, writing down key events that will take place gives you just enough prep to improvise.

Most of my key events revolved around a monster who has yet to be exposed, or fully realized, infiltrating the crew. It attacks random people, these random people were determined during the prep stage, and, since the goal of the monster is to keep things quiet as possible, I still have to make things fair so I quickly roll up the battles to. Only one victim won Initiative, so the shots fired gave the PC's a clue that something spooky was happening. It worked out really well, and I'm not forced to railroad the game by just writing down events that are going to happen.

It is really hard to DM adventures on a ship. On land, PC's generally stay close to each other, and ignore many of the NPC's, but on the confines of a ship you've got NPC's all over the place, and all of them are known. The PC's also aren't going to hang out in the same rooms at the same times. As the adventure ran, two characters took the night shift, and two took the day shift. Plus this was the first leg of the game so folks aren't all on the same page or fully into character yet, so running combat encounters didn't run as smoothly as they could have, but ran smoothly enough. I do have to figure a way out to keep these voyage days more smooth.

Once we got to Lisbon, everything changed. Every DM knows that an adventure is always flawless and perfect until you allow PCs to enter the picture because they'll muck it all up. It's just the law of D&D physics! Normally my PC's are pretty good, they all know that as far as THEM Vs THE WORLD is concerned, they'll get the short end of the stick every time. This time, however, they screwed up from the get-go.

My actual Lisbon City prep was minimal. I drew up a rough city map and only placed the position of the hotel they'll find to rent a room, and the badguy house which was their job to destroy. Other then those two things, it was just a bunch of blobs with the districts so that I could draw buildings as I went. I fully mapped the badguys house and keyed it. I always wanted to run were-rats, so that was the monster. I rolled up my major villains, threw in a member Si-Fan (an organization that they know all about) and the rest I just sat on and thought over. I thought about little things, like "How did the rats get the building?" "What business dealings do they have with rival factions?" "What is the structure and inner workings of the gang?" Millions of questions of stuff that I didn't think that I would need, but as it turns out, I am really lucky that I did!

If this had been a published dungeon, the PC's would had blown it wide open, but because I was able to account for millions of little details I was able to react seamlessly.

Now, as written, I assumed that the PC's would break into the safehouse, scope it out before they blew it up. You know, get a feel for the place, look to see if there is any loot to be had before blasting it to hell. Well, as it turns out, something like this never even entered their minds. Not once! They just wanted to torch the place and get going.

Well, maybe I should back up. I wanted a more Cloak & Dagger feel to the game, so I introduced a MOLE inside of the PC's chief rival, The Six-Fingered Hand. He gave them personal information about everybody who is on the team which has the same goals as the PC's, that of obtaining an artifact. The MOLE requested that, as a sign of good will to him, that they destroy a building. The PC's had no idea what this building was, and they just took it from hearsay from some guy walking past the place, that the place was spooky.

The house itself was a safe-house for an global criminal organization that calls itself PRIME. The Red Death has taken over this guild and filled its ranks up with wererats. These wererats practically run the city. The fact that the MOLE wants this place destroyed begs more questions then what it answers.

Now, the PC that was a demolition expert hasn't been able to make it to the games anymore, thus I created a backup plan. The rats have rigged the place to implode at a moments notice, small reinforced holes will give them time to escape if they need to burn and destroy all of the evidence. The guild steals nothing but junk, looking for information. They make most of their money by producing drugs. Si-Fan was there on this day to secure a large shipment of Opium in exchange for a chemical that they need to manufacture a drug that they can introduce into the water supply that would make all of the humans slaves to the rats (an idea influenced by The Red Death) Because of this security system, the PC's didn't need to use any TNT what so ever! But of course, they didn't enter the place to see this, they just went out and procured 30 pounds of explosives, with a plan to blow the place up from the outside and get the heck out of Dodge.

Well, this plan would had worked . . . kind of, and aright boring as it is, however one of the PC's, for whatever reason, decides to chuck a brick through one of the windows to see what would happen. I guess that he was expecting somebody to come out and yell at him or something, but instead, it just alerted the rats that an enemy was afoot.

The MM says that ratmen can only dominate 1d6 giant rats, well this is boring. I gave them the power to dominate ALL of the rats in the city. They can't see what they see, but they work as spies for the group, millions of little spies running unnoticed through the city, and able to by pass almost any security that one can think of. The PC's weren't expecting this, and had no clue that they were constantly being watched. The PC that threw the rock quickly caught up with the other PC's, thus telling the rats who to watch. Because they insisted on buying TNT, they ended up unknowingly buying it from PRIME, they were just getting deeper and deeper into trouble and they didn't even know it until they realized that almost all of the stuff in their pockets was gone. Checkbooks, money, bullets, keys, any little item on their persons were up for grabs. It was a nightmare!!!

To top it all off, PRIME gave a bad tip to the cops which claimed that the ship that the PC's were using was smuggling opium, so the cops ceased the ship, since it was too late to really search it, they just closed it off and guarded it until the inspectors could enter it the next morning.

Finally they realized that the longer they go without doing SOMETHING, the worse off for them it is going to be. But they don't make any logical decisions, their plan was to set off a keg of gunpowder that they were able to steal off of their own ship, and use to to blow away the back wall of the house, while they entered the front. I had given them a great henchman, a 1st level midshipman who was essentially an empty slate, they could had turned him into something special, but unfortunately, they gave him the job of lighting the powder keg, and needless to say, they got more bang then what they expected. I honestly thought that at least 2 of them would be dead. It messed them up good! But surprisingly didn't kill them . . . well of course the midshipman wasn't so lucky, but Shannon and Josh took the brunt of the explosion and somehow managed to keep 3 hp, and the funniest thing was that the two healthy PC's took off running like a couple of school kids, leaving these guys to try and limp away!!!! Oh, I was laughing my butt off!

Needless to say, the Rats didn't have a hard time rounding them up to demand compensation, the leader of the rats was assassinated right there infront of the PC's, and the other rats just walked away.

Next adventure will take us from Lisbon to the Azures Islands.

Random Combat Event Generator

Some folks say that D&D combat is too sterile and orderly, and they aren’t often all that wrong off of the mark. I don’t think that we’ll ever get gritty, realistic combat-- in fact, I doubt that any of us really want that. It takes to long to play combat situations as it is, but if you and your players are getting sick of battles, perhaps it’s time to pepper a combat scenario with some random events.

Now this list is just a suggestion, and it is kept open and brief on purpose because it would just be impossible to create a list for every situation, and again, it would be too complex if it was. Determining a Random Event is done by the DM before INITIATIVE is rolled by checking a d20. If a 1 or a 2 is rolled, then a random event is triggered.

RANDOM EVENT GENERATOR d12
1- Change In Area
2- Heroes set off Trap
3- Villains Item Breaks/dropped
4- Hero slips
5- Random Armor Failure
6- Random Grapple
7- Initiative gets Lucky
8- Random weapon failure
9- Villain slips
10- Hero’s Item Breaks/dropped
11- Villains set off Trap
12. Random Encounter


Change in Area: This triggers a drastic change in the environment. A tree suddenly falls, a fire starts, a lightning storm, avalanche, it is case sensitive and it should effect all of the combatants at the same time. This event shouldn’t cause outright damage without giving all involved a chance to make a saving-throw or an ability check of some kind.

Heroes/Villains set off Trap: This can be a real trap in the area, or a natural trap or terrain hazard. For instance a barrel full of beer falls off of a ledge and lands on a characters head, a snake in the grass lashes out, floor gives way, etc.

Hero/Villain’s Item Breaks/dropped: An item that a character is carrying is smashed or dropped, if the randomly selected character is carrying a magical item, it could go off effecting as many people as possible.

Hero/Villain Slips: A character is suddenly on the ground, roll a saving throw to see if item is dropped. The character loses all attacks, and if INITIATIVE is failed, is AC 10.

Random Armor Failure: A random character’s armor malfunctions. A breastplate slips, a visor falls, a shield breaks. Saving Throws may apply, attack that round could be lost, or a chink in the AC presents itself to an enemy.

Random Grapple: Two combatants from opposing sides suddenly find themselves locked in a grapple, weapons were dropped and the two are engaged in unarmed combat.

Initiative gets Lucky: A random character gains +2 bonus to his favor in all rolls made that round.

Random Weapon Failure: A random character’s weapon malfunctions. This can indicate a break (saving throw applies), the weapon is dropped, magical qualities are triggered, the weapon gets stuck in a tree or a wall and character must spend the round trying to yank it out or abandon it.

Random Encounter: A sudden Random Encounter happens, a wild animal suddenly enters the combat neutrally and defends it’s territory. This encounter can be neutral, or work in a sides favor depending on what is rolled.

Suggestions for DM’s

Don’t be a slave to this list. If something is rolled and is either unpractical or doesn’t make sense, then you can either change the situation or ignore the roll entirely. The DM is also always free to just chose an event from the list, while keeping things impartial, perhaps a grapple is indicated and you roll up something weird like a Wizard who is well behind the line? This could mean that an enemy has slipped behind the line and earned himself a chance to attack the wizard. Other times creatures simply can’t slip because it is impossible for them to do such, you’ll need to either ignore the roll or pick something else to happen that may stun the creature for a round.

I really wouldn’t waste to much prep time on this list, it is specifically stuff that you can easily make up on the fly to fit damn near any situation. The key here is to enhance the fun and danger of a combat scenario, not overshadow it, side track the adventure, or punish players. FUN is the key word, as is RANDOM. Keep this in mind and even fist fights with flesh golems can be enhanced.

Training Rules Applied

Soloman smashed the skull of the zombie lord with a stoke of his mighty war hammer! Suddenly, he felt a change in himself; not only did he feel new strength surging through his veins, and wield his hammer better, but he abruptly knew how to use a crossbow, regardless of never having picked one up before, as well as acquiring the exact methods of how to construct his own arrows. It was amazing! And there was much rejoicing.

Leveling up leads to a few technical dilemmas in a game. It never fails to amaze me that a player can argue about the fact that crocodiles can’t breath fire, and then turn around, five minutes later, and be excited because, suddenly, he can cut his own gems without giving it a second thought. Today we are going to study the Optional Training method of leveling up, why and when we should observe it, and how to go about enforcing it.

Leveling Up

This is probably the most exciting part of the game. Getting better at your trade, and obtaining new skills. We DM’s can put them through more hell, which is good for us, and they get to be stronger, which is good for them, so everybody is happy!

Leveling up is definitely a necessity of the game, but it shouldn’t be an excuse to lose the logic of the game. Some stuff will automatically be apparent, while others will require a Dungeon Master to make a judgment call before they take effect. For this we are going to break down exactly what happens when a character levels up, and how we can translate this into our games logically.

Of course the first thing we have to do is change our thinking about what happens in the first place. In order to level up, one has to first satisfy the XP requirements to do so. This alone doesn’t grant special skills, it just allows the character the ability to grow. He is now ready for the next level! Doing this can lead to sever problems if we don’t apply logic. For instance, a character who satisfies his XP requirements while in the city will have more options then one who does so while battling his way through a dungeon crawl. We always have to ask ourselves if this is something that can be obtained by practice, or if it is something that must be learned through time. We as DM’s and Players must look at our environment and our past to see exactly what our leveling up options are.

Hit Points

Our experience does make us more skilled at seeing stuff coming, and knowing how to avoid it. The hit point works with your armor class. A highly skilled character is more skilled at avoiding grievous bodily harm then a less skilled one.

I suppose that it is possible for sudden bonus hp to take effect immediately, however we had to do something truly heroic before it does. If we slay a boss or a creature stronger then us, then we have completed this requirement, however if you got this new level from fighting lesser individuals, you’ll have to wait.

Hit Points can be gained above ground by boasting to others about your fighting ability. Telling stories ourselves, a fellow character boasting of your ability, or even an NPC bard singing of you as a hero can gain you the extra hp that leveling up has afforded you.

THAC0

Thac0 is, of course, your ability to hit armor class zero. It makes hitting your enemy easier. This one is automatic, it comes from your experience of watching an enemy and knowing how they will move to avoid you.

Saving Throws

This ability is also automatic, it is our ability to avoid and endure situations based on our experience, thus it is a natural ability.

Weapon Proficiencies

Now, this is where it gets a bit tricky. Depending on the character, and how a player is playing it, determines exactly what kind of WP is available to him. A warrior who is fighting with an Axe and wishes to specialize in it should be allowed to do so. So should a character who has used a weapon that he isn’t proficient with. By using it, he has been practicing. A character can also state that they are practicing with a weapon in their downtime-- if, in fact, they are getting downtime. A character who has spent his entire level in a dungeon isn’t getting any downtime to practice. He also must own the weapon that he is wishing to be proficient in.

A character can also learn a new proficiency from someone how is proficient in the weapon to begin with. This can be training with a fellow PC, or paying an NPC to teach you. Warriors wishing to specialize in a weapons group, or a specific fighting style must take time off of adventuring and pay a master to teach him this skill.

Training can also be extended to fulfilling ones ability to improve their THAC0, especially if the party has too much money, the DM can relieve them of it by insisting that they must pay a specific amount before they improve it. It would also make Leveling up more difficult as a Character of 10th level must actually seek out a warrior of 11th level before they can receive the improved THAC0. In this way, we can keep the dice in our favor for longer, which does improve the challenge of the game in the long run.

Non-Weapon Proficiencies

A misunderstood concept. All characters can, say, light a fire, but a PC who is proficient in lighting fires can light one with wet wood and under trying circumstances. Some NWP can be obtained by simply practicing, while others require skills that must be learned. This is up to the DM, and is totally a logical decision. Skills open up to the character could depend upon culture and up bringing. If you don’t know if a skill should be available for free, ask the Player how they would know how to do this in the first place.

Skills that require teaching should cost money, and some time away from adventuring. Some NWP require more then one slot. Armorer for instance, requires 2 slots. The first slot must be paid for with cash as you’ll need to study under an actual professional. The second slot can be then filled through practice. Of course a PC armorer will never have the skills of professional armorers, however they will be able to maintain their own armor and with the right tools, manufacture their own.

Naturally, for trade type NWPs, you’ll need to have access to somebody who can teach you the basics. Other things must be learned through trial and error, if a character attempts to perform an action that they aren’t proficient in, they can write it down on their sheet, even if they fail! Later, when they get another slot they can easily add it to any of these abilities to become proficient in it.

Also, I’d like to point out that the Slots listed in the PHB are just suggestions. Sometimes you as the DM can judge that they have enough time on their hands to acquire a bonus slot, for instance if a party has to spend a few months on a ship, or some other activity that will be able to afford them time to practice a new skill, then they should always be allowed to do this.

Class Skill Abilities

The rule of thumb here is that in order to access benefits of leveling up, one must find the proper teacher. A teacher who is 5th level can train all levels below him, but won’t be able to train a 6th level character.

Warriors: This class is already covered above. If a soldier sees lots of action, improvement could be immediate, or require catering to his ego, or studying under a higher level warrior.

Wizard: This class already forces this rule. New spells must be researched in laboratory conditions, and written in a spell book. Spellbooks must be purchased and constructed, first spell requires acquiring the proper components, after the spell is learned, the components are usually considered to always be on the wizard. Gaining access to higher level spells could either be natural, or require further training by a properly leveled teacher. Cost of training should be expensive and time consuming. A suggestion is 500GP per spell level, plus 1 week per spell level.

Priest: Spells are acquired through meditation, so this handles itself. WP’s however need training as described. THAC0’s are only improved by learning from either a fellow priest or a warrior with the appropriate level.

Rogue: Abilities can either be placed on skills that you have used regularly, or you can buy training from a thief who has more points dedicated to a specific skill then you do. If you want to put 15% points towards your Open Locks score, then you must find a thief who has at least 15% points above your current skill level; if they only have 10% points, then that is the maximum that you can learn from that character.

Improving a thief’s fighting skills requires either a fellow thief or a warrior of the appropriate level.

Active Training

A character who fails to fully max out may or may not had missed the opportunity. Proficiency slots should always stay open, but things like THAC0 should not be. If a warrior misses an opportunity to increase his 3rd level THAC0, and obtains 4th level, that opportunity will be forfeited because a character can only gain 1 THAC0 point per level.

Potentially, this can improve role-playing opportunities, but of course this will depend on your players. Some would get a kick out of this, while others would leave the game and of course we don’t want this to happen. This is an extreme of how you can run this, finding a happy medium is still important, and again! This system won’t work for all campaigns, especially ones where the action is non-stop and the characters never get any breaks to do their trainings. Good luck!

Tavern: Gamings Most Tired Cliche

“I find a corner of the tavern, and I drink my ail with my back to the wall and watch the room.”

How many times have you heard this? I know a player who always plays the same character. Sure, he was fun to play with, however I don’t think that he had as much fun as I did. He’d always try and play a ranger, but the only alignment that he could play was Chaotic Neutral, thus, he was lucky to stay a ranger for more then two sessions. Every game with him was the same! YES he was a thinker, he could puzzle with the best of them, but in regards to all of the stuff that doesn’t require a life and death decision, well, he was always the same CN Fighter. He became a total pain in the ass when he tried to get us to pay him to come along with our adventure. We said screw that and tried to just leave him in the Tavern, but of course he followed us.

He doesn’t play no more, nor do I believe that he has the interest to as I’ve invited him back into the group but he just lost the glow.

A discussion over at Noisms’ Monsters & Manuals blog got me thinking. It got pretty heated, but the crux of the discussion was overused ideas. Some players get stuck, and I think that the DM can reinforce this if he isn’t careful, by overusing the same idea. Probably the greatest misuse of the cliché is how you give your players information. Yes folks, I am blasting the Tavern! Not that we shouldn’t ever use taverns and bars, but the idea of using them every time is dryer then troll turd in the desert. Why not mix it up some? I suppose that by doing this, we just might have to change the dynamic of how we guide the players around the world that we’ve created. For the greatest amount of ideas as possible, lets just assume that our city will be a capital, it has the greatest amount of places to find work, and that is really what we are after, WORK!

What is an adventurer? Well, if he was around today then we would call him unemployed. But who wants to play somebody with a real job? NOT I, I say! Unless it’s a cool job, like sailor! But for the most part, adventurers are henchmen. They work for others doing running and such, always hoping to get enough cash to afford a treasure hunt where they’ll strike it rich. Information is their business! Especially in the acquiring of it. One place to collect work and rumor is, of course, the tavern. However this isn’t the only place, and depending on the exact line of work that the adventurers seek, there are different ways of accruing it.

Public Places

The easiest, and the cheapest form of information gathering is of course by going where people go regularly. Of course on the top of this list is Church. Weddings and Funerals are one of the best spots to gain work and intelligence, also during holidays when people gather to celebrate. Carnivals make great places to congregate as well, yes they only come around once or twice a year, but during times like this money flows pretty freely, and tongues loosen. The carnival also attracts a specific kind of information barker, CHILDREN!!! Folks talk pretty freely around kids, if you want information, employing a group of children is cheap and very effective.

The Market is a valuable source of info and work. Everybody has to eat, and these bright streets are the true hub and heart of any city, as is a well. Water is collected daily, all one had to do is hang out in this area and you will see everyone that lives in the area.

News is usually delivered by callers, or barkers, as well as boards placed in places of business that are useful to adventurers: Weapons Shops, Armories, Supply Shops and such.

Places of Entertainment

Folks need a change, Carnivals are entertaining, however we relax and blow off steam more then once a year. Games are an excellent place to find work, especially if you invest in it. The games are usually free to the public, and feature a variety of different sports. One way to make money, is of course to become an athlete yourself! But the wealthy will also go to these games to gamble and cheer, however they will be separated by the poor by buying passes. If you yourself are lower-class, one way to change your status is to purchase season tickets. In these seats you will be able to mingle with the elite, the more money you put into it, the more status that you will buy. A few favors to a lord or official will help you greatly in making a name for yourself. Wealthy merchants will also be in these seats, and normally have little jobs that need to be done.

Plays are an alternative for folks that just don’t have an interest in sports, you will find a better class of citizen congregating at these functions. The bards are more then just entertainment, they are also a warehouse of news from around the region. These are free to the public as well, however, the wealthy will buy tickets to these showings to keep away from the lower-class.

Public Executions were more then just law at work, it was entertainment and did offer a chance to bet and gamble. EVERYONE went to executions, the morbid fascination with death has been a hallmark of the human race since the dawn of our existence. Wherever people meet, there will be business to be done.

Public Services

The rich always tried to pamper themselves, but even relaxation and seeking entertainment doesn’t offer them a break from work, in fact, the wealthy preferred to do business in places like this.

Libraries were not free, one had to pay for membership. Museums also offered culture, they didn’t focus on history or fine art, the most common museums were of the taxidermist stock. Humanoids are probably off limits, and considered to be in bad taste, however everything else is open game. Adventurers can find work supplying these places, Libraries, museums, and other such businesses with their wares. An adventurer may also contract a taxidermist to stuff trophies of his own!

Of course the most preferred place to conduct business, is in the bath house, a very civilized place. It is the polar-opposite of a tavern, and yes it does cost money to go to a nice bath house, however the jobs that an adventurer can obtain while there may pay better the actual cost of the bath. The bath house is where promotions are discussed, politics are fixed, laws are created, and many dark deeds are contracted in private.

Another civil place where one can discuss things in private, as well as obtain the peace required for ruling a corrupt public is a garden. Gardens are kept behind walls and again, one must be a member to enjoy the splendor of them.

Memberships

Guilds make the world go around, most workers are involved in guilds: Hoopers, Butchers, Smithies, all were active in guilds to determine how much a product should cost and how many products need to be made, as well as policing the industry. Even if one isn’t part of a guild, one can be employed in guild business, however doing small running is required to get one’s foot in the door.

Hunting clubs, beaches, gardens, specific libraries, magical shops which sell components can also require a membership. This can be any guild or secret society that a dm can imagine.

Work

Where people live has been discussed, but where people work will afford an adventurer with opportunities that simply hanging out in Taverns can get you. Can’t afford a sage? Try talking to a sailor, these guys get to see the world, many learn vocabularies which would humble a language scholar. Mines need hunted, even abandoned mines need rescuers to enter then from time to time to fetch people out. Docks and Merchant routes offer the odd job, especially if the goods are worth stealing. By helping merchants protect their routes, one can get their name out there, and a name is really what makes adventuring profitable.

Soldiering is a business. Freelance soldiers had best be good at what they do! How you chose to dish out work to adventurers is up to you. Perhaps the local Man-At-Arms has a list of work which he employs freelancers with on a weekly basis. All of the freelance adventurers gather there in the morning and wait to see if they can gain work. The Man-At-Arms will usually pick people who he knows by name to be dependable. These jobs will usually require traveling some distances, and involve much danger, risks he wouldn’t want to expose his own men to.

A local constable is usually over worked and under manned, bounty-hunting is very profitable, as is aiding the constable in solving mysteries, however don’t expect much support from him or his men. The fact that you are there implies that they are incompetent.

The Underground

Sometimes an adventurer needs info from sources that are unavailable to even the richest noble, crime infested dregs of society! Beggars, whores, thieves, homeless murderers, these men and women haunt the cities underworld. One can find them wandering the streets above and below. Dealing with these people is harder then one would at first assume. If you just pay them for information, then you will normally get nothing but lies, else mobbed on a regular basis. Many of these people at one time desired to take the path that the adventurer is taking, but failed. Most never had a chance! Taverns is where they hang out, spending what little money they could steal to feed their addiction to cheer, these people are surprisingly unfriendly and just as likely to set the adventurers up so that they can rob them, as they are to stab them right there in the bar.

Brothels, jails, sewers, make-shift camps, all of these places you can find these dangerous individuals. Why you would want to is solely for information. Favors are the preferred coin of the realm, they will except money, but money can corrupt them even worse. Handling the lowest criminal elements should be an adventure in itself!

Royalty

And finally, we get to the holy grail of jobs. Official jobs!!! These are never given out, officials don’t trust just anybody with a sword. Getting this kind of work takes money. Gift-giving, finding ways to enter the right circles through paying your dues and doing lots of grunt work. Official titles are not earned, they are bought! Art objects, magical items, rare gems and jewels these are the quickest route to gaining their favors. The coin of this realm is always the coin of the realm itself, attending feasts is desirable, making a name for yourself on the freelance market, sharing information with the right people. This is how a nobody of common birth can obtain land and secure his future. This is a cut-throat business and only the strong survive, gaining information from taverns alone will get you drunk, and little else. It takes imagination as well as courage to become a successful hero, one can keep their lives and still lose this game, potentially every thing is a challenge!

(EDIT: TheLemming told me about a cool website here that is also interesting.)

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