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 Border crossings: expedited or exacting?
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Azar
Seeker

61 Posts

Posted - 04 Oct 2020 :  21:49:59  Show Profile Send Azar a Private Message  Reply with Quote  Delete Topic
Hello everyone.

I was wondering...in your games, do you bother enforcing border checks/inspections between most nations (assuming PCs don't simply teleport/fly everywhere)? This may seem a silly question, I know, but what one deems a nuisance another would deem necessary to preserve the flavor of each sovereign territory. Also, is there an official or fan-created list of all customs and/or fees required when moving across the myriad borders?

Stand with anybody that stands right. Stand with him while he is right and part with him when he goes wrong.

sleyvas
Great Reader

USA
9658 Posts

Posted - 04 Oct 2020 :  22:08:18  Show Profile Send sleyvas a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I've never seen anyone create anything like it that I recall. The closest thing I can think of are the tax stations in Thay, but that's not borders, that's within the country. I don't think policing most country borders in the realms is truly feasible when considering that the number of non-humans that simply don't respect human laws at all are everywhere. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if the borders for many countries are relatively fluid (as in someone may consider a hill to belong to Amn and another might say its in Tethyr and there's nothing concrete as to who actually controls it... or they may go the entire opposite and have a no man's land barrier where neither side claims ownership just to prevent arguments).

Alavairthae, may your skill prevail

Phillip aka Sleyvas
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Azar
Seeker

61 Posts

Posted - 04 Oct 2020 :  22:29:35  Show Profile Send Azar a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by sleyvas

I don't think policing most country borders in the realms is truly feasible when considering that the number of non-humans that simply don't respect human laws at all are everywhere.


A fair point indeed. I imagine that it is nigh impossible to account for the invisible, the intangible and the burrowing.

Stand with anybody that stands right. Stand with him while he is right and part with him when he goes wrong.
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Kentinal
Great Reader

4486 Posts

Posted - 04 Oct 2020 :  22:30:43  Show Profile Send Kentinal a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Ed has commenting some on borders in the past.

What it tends to come down to is there are few clearly defined and defended borders.

A Lord or even a city might have a river as part of a border, a mountain range another part, and a seacoast for example. These are natural borders to help define what is claimed, that claim however is only as good as patrols keep intruders out.

There are not fences or border guards along the borders.

There are not international agreements to borders, there is acceptance of who tends to control a region. Depending on need or ability, various parties will test the outer limits of any city-state or declared nation.

Even a full fledged war would have hard time knowing when border was crossed, the goals being defeat foes armies and perhaps even capture town, castles or territory.

"Small beings can have small wisdom," the dragon said. "And small wise beings are better than small fools. Listen: Wisdom is caring for afterwards."
"Caring for afterwards ...? Ker repeated this without understanding.
"After action, afterwards," the dragon said. "Choose the afterwards first, then the action. Fools choose action first."
"Judgement" copyright 2003 by Elizabeth Moon
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Wooly Rupert
Master of Mischief
Moderator

USA
34020 Posts

Posted - 04 Oct 2020 :  22:38:34  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Borders in fantasy settings -- much as they were in the real world, a few hundred years ago -- are more concepts than anything else. Unless it's a geographical feature like a mountain or a river, borders are just kinda where the official mapmakers say they are, and that's it.

Borders are generally some distance from anything, and usually there's not much of anything out there -- maybe a few isolated communities/homesteads, and that's it. It's a huge expense to build, supply, and man border forts, and most fantasy nations simply have no need to do so.

The only guarded places are going to be strategic ones, like mountain passes or the only place a river can be easily crossed.

Aside from that, most of what would be real-world border controls are going to be at the city gates.

And even there, it's going to vary. Is there a war going on? Is there an active enemy to look out for? Do the people coming in look like they might be trouble?

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Ayrik
Great Reader

Canada
7237 Posts

Posted - 05 Oct 2020 :  00:01:21  Show Profile Send Ayrik a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Nations at war will set up more patrols, checkpoints, ambushes. Nations at peace will set up more informants, observers, spies, and roving tax collectors.

Before we built railways and steamships and airplanes we had to travel on horse or on foot everywhere we went.
Crossing mountain ranges, deserts, glaciers, and rivers is restricted by season and requires a major expedition, those who are unprepared will not survive the journey.

Border security isn't so hard in pre-industrial cultures. Military movements are visible from far away, armies just can't suddenly appear outside your borders unnoticed. Nonmilitary movements (farmers, caravans, merchants, etc) are usually expected, noticeable, easily tracked or followed. Individual movements (criminals, drifters, adventurers) are much less noticeable at the borders but they always have a destination (city, village, etc) where they can be required to submit to "border inspection".

Kingdoms and land owners often get very officious about their territorial borders. But in practice, defending the border at the border itself is very expensive, especially if fortifications are installed, so actual "border defense" against most intrusions will occur well within reach of local authorities.

[/Ayrik]
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TheIriaeban
Senior Scribe

USA
468 Posts

Posted - 05 Oct 2020 :  01:51:34  Show Profile Send TheIriaeban a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Wooly Rupert

Borders in fantasy settings -- much as they were in the real world, a few hundred years ago -- are more concepts than anything else. Unless it's a geographical feature like a mountain or a river, borders are just kinda where the official mapmakers say they are, and that's it.

Borders are generally some distance from anything, and usually there's not much of anything out there -- maybe a few isolated communities/homesteads, and that's it. It's a huge expense to build, supply, and man border forts, and most fantasy nations simply have no need to do so.

The only guarded places are going to be strategic ones, like mountain passes or the only place a river can be easily crossed.

Aside from that, most of what would be real-world border controls are going to be at the city gates.

And even there, it's going to vary. Is there a war going on? Is there an active enemy to look out for? Do the people coming in look like they might be trouble?



The only thing I want to add to Wooly's points is about entering a city. If a good portion of the city's revenue stream is the taxation of trade goods, there will be inspections and payment of taxes when entering the city. If a city has a security concern (like Hardbuckler), they will make everyone entering pay a fee (to help keep the riff-raff out) and will very likely limit the number of non-residents being in the city at any one time (Hardbuckler's is probably less than 100 people). Known troublemakers would not be allowed in.

"Iriaebor is a fine city. So what if you can have violence between merchant groups break out at any moment. Not every city can offer dinner AND a show."

My FR writeups - http://www.mediafire.com/folder/um3liz6tqsf5n/Documents
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Dalor Darden
Great Reader

USA
4027 Posts

Posted - 05 Oct 2020 :  04:21:17  Show Profile Send Dalor Darden a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Patrols might stop someone and ask questions, but in general I would think the first contact someone would have with any authority from a country they were entering would be when they entered a walled settlement of some sort.

Then that is border at peace.

Somewhere like the lands surrounding Yulash that are constantly in turmoil between the Zhentilar and Red Plumes would see constant interaction and even possible violence. Either being "taxed" (read looted at sword point) or possibly even pressed into service...and those two only if individuals weren't seen as spies and either arrested or executed.

Anyone intercepted entering a nation's "borders" that isn't on a road though would possibly been seen as suspicious at the least; even during peace time. Roads are roads for a reason, being usually the fastest and easiest route between two settlements.

The Old Grey Box and AD&D for me!
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Azar
Seeker

61 Posts

Posted - 06 Oct 2020 :  04:51:21  Show Profile Send Azar a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Borders are essentially flexible adventure material and not rock-solid setting detail, then. I understand.

By the way...what happens when there is a buffer state? For example: Cormyr and Sembia are consistently feuding with each other (albeit at a low intensity) while the Dalelands sits in the middle.

Stand with anybody that stands right. Stand with him while he is right and part with him when he goes wrong.
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Ayrik
Great Reader

Canada
7237 Posts

Posted - 06 Oct 2020 :  05:34:48  Show Profile Send Ayrik a Private Message  Reply with Quote
"What happens" from the perspective of adventurers depends on the campaign.

Large events produce things like sullenly resentful peasants gossiping about Cultists skulking around at night, worried whispers about bandits and monsters taking livestock, bitter complaints about taxes and levies, grizzled old men warning of impending war, suspicion towards strangers who might be spies for the Zhents.

Maybe nothing will happen. Or things seem to always happen far away, at the "village next door", at remote farmsteads near the "border". Players might eagerly rush to the scene and find themselves always arriving a little too late. Or maybe they'll find the first hook for an adventure module adapted to fit into the larger events of the background.

Low-level adventurers are unlikely to be charged by the King with epic kingdom-critical tasks. They aren't going to defeat armies and liches and dragons. But they might become aware of larger stories while employed to handle special problems for the local constabulary.

High-level adventurers can be more interested and more influential in national politics. Especially if they've established a stronghold, have land and title, have basically become interested in keeping their neighbourhood clean and have sworn oaths of allegiance to their powerful neighbours.

It depends on whether your setting is just some generic "town" where players can spend all their gold buying weapons and gear and alcohol between adventures ... or if it's a bigger, deeper, richer setting which players feel obligated to defend ... and which they feel obligated to improve. Where they become more interested in the characters and events around them, less interested in just asking NPCs to point towards quests for gold and glory. Where they want to add to the setting, to change things, to have more control over what's happening around them.

[/Ayrik]
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Mrestos Khorvaen
Seeker

Spain
48 Posts

Posted - 06 Oct 2020 :  08:19:21  Show Profile Send Mrestos Khorvaen a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Well, in some cities like Mulmaster, magic is strictly regulated, so probably wizards must pass some controls.
I think Cormyr has border patrols, and probably checks and duties. Also everybody must have her weapons tied with a peace knot, and adventurers companies must be registered.
Many old 2e books talked about smugglers, so indeed there are taxes for foreign goods in many kingdoms and free cities.
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SaMoCon
Learned Scribe

USA
281 Posts

Posted - 13 Oct 2020 :  23:09:14  Show Profile Send SaMoCon a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Taxes, customs, money-changing, shares, insurance, futures... yeah, I do all these things in my games. I also have coin debasing, counterfeiting, fraud, graft, bribery, extortion, and other endemic abuses of power by officials of the state. These are the things required to move the wheels of governance so that the PCs get the appropriate licenses, charters, writs, letters, or other tokens that allow the PCs to have any business or standing amongst the governed citizenry. I don't have these things happen at a border unless there is a significant military/law-enforcement presence that can protect the officials & revenue. Instead, I have patrols that direct or escort the PCs to the settlements with officials that will process them for legal entry & commerce.

Anybody who uses fees, tithes, taxes, or other siphons on PC wealth should tie such things to the setting so that the players do not feel like these takings are arbitrary or punitive. In my games, players that practice PC tax evasion cannot buy or sell supplies, find places to stay, or officially meet with upstanding citizens as they do not have the appropriate papers so everything they do has to be handled by shady intermediaries, traded on the contraband market with its less desirable rates, and promised favors to very dangerous ne'er-do-wells. How often I focus my players' attentions on these adverse actions is based upon their investment into socio-political conflicts or fight-the-power criminality. Otherwise, I give them a bottom line in the flavor-text of my narration setting the scene for when their characters arrive at their first decision point.

Make the best use of the system that's there, then modify the mechanics that don't allow you to have the fun you are looking for.
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Zeromaru X
Master of Realmslore

Colombia
1749 Posts

Posted - 14 Oct 2020 :  00:51:00  Show Profile Send Zeromaru X a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Borders were somewhat important in my Neverwinter campaign. Lord Neverember was watchful of any attempt of the Luskanites (sp?) trying to go south or the Waterdhavians to enter into the Mere of Dead Men without his authorization. And the elves of New Sharandar also had heavily guarded borders.

As Ayrik mentioned, tho, my campaign had the Netherese-Thay-Iliyanbruen war as its background, so borders gained an important spot in the campaign because of this.

Long ago, in the distant past, they fell into decay. The philosopherís path... The river of glory... Even the saints resting in the darkness rise up without response and block the way...
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cpthero2
Master of Realmslore

USA
1433 Posts

Posted - 20 Oct 2020 :  22:47:39  Show Profile  Visit cpthero2's Homepage Send cpthero2 a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Seeker Khorvaen,

You are correct on Cormyr. The Cormyr accessory goes into that quite a bit, especially about specie coming into the country and needing to convert whatever non-Cormyrean specie you possess, into Cormyrean specie.

Best regards,



Higher Atlar
Spirit Soaring
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Bladewind
Master of Realmslore

Netherlands
1266 Posts

Posted - 21 Oct 2020 :  14:35:26  Show Profile Send Bladewind a Private Message  Reply with Quote
The use of patrolled roads and rivers often comes with certain added costs at toll bridges and gate fortresses in the form of tolls paid in coin or goods. For example certain dutch ports had staple rights: the imported goods had to be displayed for the local market for at least 3 days before it could be carted off elsewhere. One can imagine adventuring companies being forced to do the same with loot they gathered, expediting their chance of trading their wares but lowering the price considerably, and forcing them to spend some of their coin in the settlement for a few days.

Roads within a kingdom with a strong military presence and safer roads might evolve some toll gate stations where the transactions of a road tax can be handled by a garrison. Here simple paperwork and good inspections will take up some time, with more lawful regions sometimes even providing escorts along predetermined routes. Kingdoms without a large standing army would probably make more use of unobserved inspections, with reporting cavalry scouts and unexpected patrols sometimes successful in stopping unwanted imported goods or people from traveling to far inland.

On less safe roads bandits and intelligent monsters will usually be the ones trying to enforce toll at exorbitant prices, with lots of manslaughter as incentive to comply. They will probably try to act near river crossings or mountain passes between kingdoms where they can blend into the surrounding country side or mountain slopes if pursued by law enforcers or adventurers. Robber barons and monster lords can become quite wealthy in this manner, and might be able to become some-sort of recognized state able to define new borderlines if they manage to exist long enough.

My campaign sketches

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Creature Feature: Giant Spiders
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Kentinal
Great Reader

4486 Posts

Posted - 21 Oct 2020 :  16:00:39  Show Profile Send Kentinal a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Control of a country or region mostly depends on control of the trade routes and the population ( cities and towns). If you control fords, bridges and ports you control water traffic. Control of the roads is either maintained at a claimed border, or more likely border town close to the border. the roads that most traders use, wagon roads for example. Th trails would not be controlled, though if too many raids occur om farmers patrols would be sent to hunt down or to encourage those raiders to move to another region. The raiders of course could be any race or even packs of animals if they cause too much damage.

How well the efforts can determine who really controls the region. If the orc raiders almost allways beats the patrols, in time it would become an orc region.

"Small beings can have small wisdom," the dragon said. "And small wise beings are better than small fools. Listen: Wisdom is caring for afterwards."
"Caring for afterwards ...? Ker repeated this without understanding.
"After action, afterwards," the dragon said. "Choose the afterwards first, then the action. Fools choose action first."
"Judgement" copyright 2003 by Elizabeth Moon
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cpthero2
Master of Realmslore

USA
1433 Posts

Posted - 21 Oct 2020 :  20:51:06  Show Profile  Visit cpthero2's Homepage Send cpthero2 a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Seeker Azar,

As far as I know, there are no official or fan-created lists of customs, etc. that regard crossing into borders. While I personally find this kind of material interesting to catalogue and consider for use in a campaign for the flavor aspects, most people do not. It's certainly something that would be awesome to see though.

If you're going to do it though, and have some degree of patience in reading things that most people would consider to be rather staid, I highly recommend reading A Magical Medieval Society: Western Europe. It was written by Joseph Browning and Suzi Yee, on behalf of Expeditious Retreat Press. It is a profoundly, and I have to repeat that again, profoundly good book on medieval economics written in largely a lay persons manner of thinking. It does have some material that you have to stop and consider I think if you are not well versed in modern economics, or economic history, but that is minimal. It is written quite well.

I am an economic consultant for part of my day job, and so I can say that it crosses the t's and dots the i's for material that is actually usable in game, and is easy to understand.

Best regards,






quote:
Originally posted by Azar

Hello everyone.

I was wondering...in your games, do you bother enforcing border checks/inspections between most nations (assuming PCs don't simply teleport/fly everywhere)? This may seem a silly question, I know, but what one deems a nuisance another would deem necessary to preserve the flavor of each sovereign territory. Also, is there an official or fan-created list of all customs and/or fees required when moving across the myriad borders?


Higher Atlar
Spirit Soaring
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Azar
Seeker

61 Posts

Posted - 25 Oct 2020 :  01:35:55  Show Profile Send Azar a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by cpthero2

Seeker Azar,

As far as I know, there are no official or fan-created lists of customs, etc. that regard crossing into borders. While I personally find this kind of material interesting to catalogue and consider for use in a campaign for the flavor aspects, most people do not. It's certainly something that would be awesome to see though.

If you're going to do it though, and have some degree of patience in reading things that most people would consider to be rather staid, I highly recommend reading A Magical Medieval Society: Western Europe. It was written by Joseph Browning and Suzi Yee, on behalf of Expeditious Retreat Press. It is a profoundly, and I have to repeat that again, profoundly good book on medieval economics written in largely a lay persons manner of thinking. It does have some material that you have to stop and consider I think if you are not well versed in modern economics, or economic history, but that is minimal. It is written quite well.

I am an economic consultant for part of my day job, and so I can say that it crosses the t's and dots the i's for material that is actually usable in game, and is easy to understand.

Best regards,






quote:
Originally posted by Azar

Hello everyone.

I was wondering...in your games, do you bother enforcing border checks/inspections between most nations (assuming PCs don't simply teleport/fly everywhere)? This may seem a silly question, I know, but what one deems a nuisance another would deem necessary to preserve the flavor of each sovereign territory. Also, is there an official or fan-created list of all customs and/or fees required when moving across the myriad borders?





Ah, economics...I already have enough varieties of magic in my game, thank you very much . Seriously, however, a grand list of border customs/restrictions/fees would be great to have on hand when I want to apply some color to a region. Labyrinthine laws in particular are - to me - not especially appealing unless they have the potential to accelerate the good kind of PC-NPC conflict. You see, I am of the belief that introduction presages consistency; consequently, I am highly selective of the laws I choose to introduce.

Stand with anybody that stands right. Stand with him while he is right and part with him when he goes wrong.
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Wooly Rupert
Master of Mischief
Moderator

USA
34020 Posts

Posted - 25 Oct 2020 :  03:56:59  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Azar

Ah, economics...I already have enough varieties of magic in my game, thank you very much .




Candlekeep Forums Moderator

Candlekeep - The Library of Forgotten Realms Lore
http://www.candlekeep.com
-- Candlekeep Forum Code of Conduct

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cpthero2
Master of Realmslore

USA
1433 Posts

Posted - 25 Oct 2020 :  19:59:24  Show Profile  Visit cpthero2's Homepage Send cpthero2 a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Seeker Azar,

I take your affirmation of my being a great wizard of economic magicks as a most gracious compliment. I thank thee mightily! lol

Seriously, I had a pretty hearty laugh on that one! hahaha

As to your points on introducing certain laws, etc., I can certainly appreciate that. It is always a challenge on deciding what is and is not appropriate for one's game style. I think it is a constant aspect of storytelling that is important to consider for sure!

Best regards,





Higher Atlar
Spirit Soaring
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