Hooks: Deliverance

Kelan looked up at the sound of the cart and was momentarily sweat blinded. He wiped his eyes in time to see Jessa jump down from the driver’s seat.

“Ho!” she cried with a grin.

“Greetings” replied Kelan sourly. “You took your sweet time getting back.”

“Is that fair?” she said with her fists on her hips. “After all, it was your lousy planning that made the trip back to Tashal necessary!”

Kelan sighed. “You’re right, of course. I’m sorry. It’s been a very long, very hot day, and I’m not thinking straight.”

He walked across the the cart, a massive four wheeled affair pulled by six sturdy oxen. He peered under the canvas cover sheet.

“So, did you manage to get everything we…I mean I…forgot?”

Jessa came up to his side and put her hand on his shoulder.

“No” she said softly. “There simply wasn’t enough money to buy it all. I saved where I could by buying used and old equipment, some of which we’ll have to fix ourselves. I was able to save quite a bit that way, but there were some things that just were so expensive that we could not afford them. I’m sorry.”

Kelan turn to Jessa urgently. “You did get the items I said were critical, though, didn’t you?”

She shook her head sadly. “Not all of them, Kelan. They simply were not available…at any price.”

Kelan groaned. “If we don’t have all of those things, it will be years before this manor will be financially independent. We may not survive the winter.”

Jessa looked up into Kelan’s stricken face and said “Yes we will, my brother. You and I, and all the people we convinced to come with us, we will survive and we will prosper. You’ll think of a way. You always do!”

Her tone was full of pride, and her face shone with affection and confidence, but Kelan didn’t…couldn’t feel that way.


Establishing a new manor, especially one that is cut from wilderness is a daunting exercise, and an enterprise worthy of inclusion into a campaign. It could be the starting point of the campaign, or even its focus. Alternatively, it could be just a sidebar to an ongoing campaign; a reward for services rendered to a noble of high station, say.

But what kinds of things would a GM have to consider when planning such a campaign piece? After all, it’s not like any of us have any pioneering experience, even if our lineage includes such people. Of course, we can always conduct research and I think that would be vital to the success of any such campaign. But just by applying some common sense to the question, we might be able to have a fair stab at answering the following question:

“What equipment and skills would be needed to establish a new manor in the wilderness, say, on the western bank of the Kald River?”

4 comments on Hooks: Deliverance

  1. Western banks of the Kald……

    Really really really good skills at getting long term military back up, or really really really good skills at getting barbarians that don’t like your Kingdom to leave you alone ‘long term’.

    If the Kath kill one peasant a month, that can slowly ruin a manor.

    On a positive note, unlike the Pagaelin, the Kath are not noted for being completely devoid of any sense of decency, even if they are noted for doing their best to kill off any efforts by Kaldor to RE-settle the western banks of the Kald.

    It is not completely beyond possibility that an ‘understanding’ could be reached with the local Kath tribes. If this is done, settlement suddenly becomes VASTLY easier.

    A few observations:

    It is nearly certain that the land intended for settlement will substancially more trees than needed, and might even be mostly forested. The clearing of the trees might actually generate a modest profit. In fact, the Lord of the Manor might start things off with a Timber operation for a year or two. Don’t plan on harvest income during this time. Contract with existing Timberwrights. They do this for a living.

    If at all possible, DO plant a few crops the first year. Not for any expected sale value, but just to “force” possible problems to reveal themselves before you are really depending on getting a full harvest planted.

    Having money to feed the entire manor population for MINIMUM two years, AND have a fund for emergencies AND have money for MINIMUM two years of expected bills. (With luck, you’ll only need one year worth of the money….)

    If the Timber operation at least manages to not lose money, and a few tiny fields planted before the Timber operation ends force possible problems to reveal themselves, then when a full planting is planted, assuming weather cooperates, there should be a full harvest to harvest.

    Even if it is just a rock free section of beach, have a place for cargo carrying riverboats to load and unload. Also, seriously think about encouraging some of the peasants to take up fishing.

    That some of the first timber harvested will go into building the outer walls of a fortified manor is a given. Hire a ‘mason’ experienced in such fortifications. I’d go slightly large on the size of the walled area, so the site of the ‘intended’ manorhouse can be left bare. Build the actual manorhouse LAST (live in something temporary the first year or even two years).

  2. Don’t forget that Thonahexus 8 has an article on building a manor in the wilderness. This article is a great start to listing the skills a new lord/bailiff would need to carve a manor out of the wilderness.

  3. Derfman, I’d argue that building a strongpoint would be the best opening move. The initial timber cleared from a suitable site would be used in the construction of this building, and the area around the building could be immediately made into gardens.

    I’d pick the most defensible area of my land; the place I eventually want to build my manorhouse. I’d look for a creek or gully, a cliff or even just a small hill, and clear that of timber. Then I’d build a big barn and I’d build it as quickly as I could, but also as solidly as I could, and then I’d fire-proof it as best I could. Then I’d build a palidase around the barn. With a tower or two on each wall of the palisade, and similar firing points on the upper floor of the barn. At the same time I’m building the palisade, I’d dig a well.

    The barn and yard would provide both a place of shelter from inclement weather for people and animals, as well as a defensible point in case of small-scale barbarian attacks. The barn would serve as the focal point of the new settlement, a command centre and a gathering place; it would become the heart of the hamlet.

    Once more land is cleared and the people are feeling more secure, they could construct their own dwellings, including the manorhouse; an even more sturdy building, but one that is more costly in terms of resources expended.

  4. I agree entirely on the fort building. Even if you cut a deal with the local Kath, hazards still abound.

    In cases like these, as a player, whenever possible I side step many traps by hiring professionals. I don’t need to know all the details about building a fortified manor if I hire an experienced professional builder that has been building and working on them for decades.

    As for making the manor functional, I stand by ‘attempting’ to get a tiny test field planted as soon as possible. Whenever possible, force problems to reveal themselves on YOUR terms, not by surprise and at the last possible moment.

Leave a Reply