Realm Management in KING BEOWULF: Development Journal 5

KING BEOWULF is a major expansion for BEOWULF: Age of Heroes that provides resources for higher level play, including a realm management system that allows your Hero to become the ruler of their own land, manage events that occur in their realm, and negotiate or wage war with other rival realms.

Jacob back once again to talk about KING BEOWULF, and a major part of this expansion for Age of Heroes: realm management!

From the earliest days of the project, one expectation of higher level play was a chance to establish your own home-base, a stronghold that you could invest in and improve, as something to do with all that newly discovered treasure from adventures undertaken in the most dangerous parts of the setting.

So having a chance to become a ruler, manage a realm, develop it, and deal with threats that it may face is a big part of KING BEOWULF, and the reason for its name. And, like Beowulf in the poem, a chance to become a ring-giver and a wise ruler might likely be the ambition of a Player, especially in a duet game.

KING BEOWULF provides support for multiple players and even multiple gamemasters, though we anticipate that a lot of KING BEOWULF games will be a natural extension of a duet Age of Heroes game.

Every ruler needs a realm, and some say that every realm needs a ruler, so in the book we introduce methods for acquiring a realm, such as inheriting it, winning it in battle or an adventure, or carving it out of the wild deer sea. Each of these is expanded on in depth elsewhere and we’ve covered campaigns focused on each method in a previous development journal.

Scires are the administrative sections for a realm and finding that term was a bit of a voyage on a rocky whale road. Terms such as ‘province’ aren’t really best to evoke the language of the Early English, and other historical terms have appeared in extraordinarily popular fantasy novels and movies.

Each scir has a leader, sometimes called an ealdorman in Early English historical records (the source of the modern ‘alderman’ for a council-member as they often advised a ruler). Each scir has a set of tags, the very common burdens and gifts, which represent the natural resources and constructed improvements of the scir.

Each season within your realm gets its own turn, where events occur, possible adventures arise, when new buildings are constructed, and new threats or disputes that must be addressed. This provides enough time to allow Advisors and perhaps the ruler to move around the realm as needed, for messengers to reach other realms, and perhaps for a not-yet-quite-retired ruler to go on an occasional adventure.

We offer a choice on how much detail you want to delve into as a player. The realm system can generate nice simple results very directly, or provide really engaging levels of detail on your living, changing realm, season on season.

The first step is the Support step – your realm needs silver with which to pay warriors and build ships, as well as care for its people and defend itself against Monsters and enemies. Historically in these early societies, ‘taxes’ were most often in the form of foodstuffs (most of the populace were at least part-time farmers after all) and goods. 

We consolidate all of this into a single £ value to make things  easier:  it is the rare player that wants to record that this season’s tax payment was 113 bushels of barley so that they can try to sell it to their trade partners. Instead, we just imagine that this sort of stuff happens in the background all the time. We also take this chance to determine how much economic activity a scir is producing, and how much revenue the realm can generate from this trade.

Now that we have collected money, it is time to pay up. A realm must spend to maintain their battle-readiness. In this time, this takes the form of  a ruler being generous at the  meadhall (to make sure your warriors stay close) and golden rings given for the winner of a wrestling competition (to keep them fit), rather than monthly pay and daily training exercises. 

The next step is included to represent the random vicissitudes that a ruler may face. For each scir, there is a chance of a random event. The KING BEOWULF system is calibrated such that about once every other year or three, one scir will see some sort of event. This could be something terrible (like an attempt on the life of a scir leader), something celebratory (a wedding or regional festival), something strange (a Monster or strange supernatural activities), or something mundane (a natural event, a possible new Advisor to recruit, a trade opportunity).

The player then has a chance to undertake an action for each scir, perhaps to build a new structure, improve an old one, gather new warriors or sailors, or receive an Advisor for consultation on some matter. After the player has had each scir act, the ruler may also take an action, to represent things like the chief ring-giver assisting in shoring up defences, or moving troops around in anticipation of a possible conflict.

If your realm is at war, the next step details that, with a set of exciting and evocative battle rules to resolve conflict on both land and sea. This step is skipped over during the winter realm turn each year (it is too cold in the Land of the Twin Seas to fight then). Inspired by the Follower journaling in Age of Heroes, if the player makes a record of the realm’s development during a season, they are reward with  an extra Improve action as an encouragement to do so.

We are close to the completion of the manuscript with KING BEOWULF. These Journals have covered many of the major components of the book, but we still need to talk about negotiations between realms and perhaps a bit about petitions and proposals, two kinds of events that might involve negotiations. Our scouts and Advisors believe that a crowdfunding campaign for KING BEOWULF will be coming soon and we will be delighted to share more news about that as soon as we can!


Find out more about BEOWULF Age of Heroes
Read the previous Development Journals