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I have some players who would be interested in managing their own city. Is there any literature out there which covers the ins and outs of PCs governing a populace?

Some example scenarios:

  • The PCs raise taxes way too high in a fit of greed. The population turns to their torches and pitch forks.

  • Funding hasn't been getting to the medical quarter due to corruption.

  • A competing faction's army is gathering on the horizon. The PCs must call their men to arms and lead them to battle.

Tagged as DnD-3.5 as that's the version we're playing, but feel free to suggest literature from other versions and systems.

EDIT: Also of interest would be the economics of such settlements. GDP, trade, agriculture and the like.

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As this is a game-recommendation question, please adhere to the FAQ, the rules for subjective questions as outlined in Good Subjective, Bad Subjective and our rules for game recommendations. All responses must cite actual experience or reference others' experiences!

Are you interested in systems that can be ported in and third party sourcebooks, or just pure 3.5 material? – Brian Ballsun-Stanton Feb 27 '12 at 23:15
I'm interested in anything that's available. – Lewis Norton Feb 27 '12 at 23:17
My I remind everyone of the rules for game-rec questions - if you haven't used it for this, keep quiet.… – mxyzplk Feb 28 '12 at 1:32
up vote 7 down vote accepted

Use Reign

The company rules are perfectly suited to organizing groups and countries. I've successfully used the rules (including the resolution engine for country-level tasks) as a player in a 4e game where the players have founded their own city, complete with sub organizations like the thieves' guild. It will work better than any official 3.5 supplement that I've seen, not least because it completely ignores the broken aspects of the diplomacy skill.

At the level of abstraction of country-creation, you'll want to read the dungeonomicon as well, so that you can accurately model the three economies and how they interact between REIGN and specific adventures that your party chooses to engage in.

Alternatively, use Birthright as adapted to d20, which addresses all of these questions, or the Kingmaker adventure path for pathfinder.

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Paizo's Pathfinder RPG (essentially 3.5 rules) released a 6 part adventure path called 'Kingmaker' where the PCs rule a kingdom. The rules are quite good and cover things such as taxes & unrest. There are a lot of fun random events that can spring up too (like assassination attempts)

The actual kingdom building rules are in part 2 'River's Run Red', and could easily be adapted to any 3.5 campaign.

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If you can find the old D&D BXCMI line stuff, TSR-1013 D&D Companion Set or TSR-1071 D&D Cyclopedia have the Dominion rules for running PC domains. Good luck, those are getting hard to find.

However, a particular retroclone has those rules rewritten... Dark Dungeons, a retroclone of the Cyclopedia. Darker Dungeons is the same material, but transformed to be closer to stock d20.

Also, for 3.0, there was the Way of the Damyo book for L5R/Rokugan-D20, which has a workable system already in d20 terms, but it's aimed at small estates in a quasi-Japanese setting.

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Good memories...:-) – Yaztromo Feb 29 '12 at 22:00

It's been awhile since I've paged through it but Power of Faerun may have some support for what you are looking for as it covers ruling one of the Border Kingdoms in Faerun. I'd assume you can strip out the Faerun stuff and use the remainder for whatever your setting is.

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The 5th part of the Savage Tide adventure path has a town management section. the party has to fortify an island colony for an imminent pirate attack. I used those mechanics for a town development section in another D&D game I ran and they proved quite good.

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It's not D&D, but the recent Exalted supplement Masters of Jade contains a system called the Creation Ruling Mandate that governs organizational dynamics and is sufficiently abstract that it can be used for running everything from a small tea house to a mighty empire.

The scenarios you outline would largely be represented by opposing organizations trying to attack your assets. A rebellious group of anti-government protesters, a criminal syndicate, and your ancient foes the Kingdom of Badguyistan respectively for your examples.

Obviously, you'll have some conversion work if you try this out, but it's pretty lightweight, relies a lot on GM jugement ("I know your squad of ten commandos are hyper-competent, but you simply don't have the man power to conquer the southern provence by yourselves."), and is fundamentally something to build stories around.

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Maybe not directly about management, but for managing the city it first must be build (whether in game by the players or created by the GM). Here the City Builder series (especial "Governmental Places") or the Castle Builder (Surely your players want a castle, don't they? Castle as synonym to stronghold.) could be helpful. Both are system-independent.

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Care to explain the downvote, please? – Stephen Mar 1 '12 at 19:13

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