Area Lore - how do you handle it?

Some recent experiences in my saga how caused me to wonder how folks handle the Area Lore ability. I should preface this with the fact that I am running a "companion/grogs only noble saga" centered on a manor, as suggested in the Grogs books (though I started the saga over a year ago).

Several of our characters have Area Lore: Manor A but, over the course of the saga, they have relocated to Manor B, which is literally 2 miles away... but for which they technically have no lore skill. This seems odd to me, that they wouldn't know anything about their neighbors. Other characters have no Area Lore skill at all and a few "well traveled" characters Area Lore for the kingdom or a large region.

The issue came to a head for the saga when an ally was captured and held for ransome by a rival knight. The players decided to go rescue him, mounted up and bravely rode off... only to discover that no one knew where the rival knights manor was because only one character had a remotely applicable Area Lore and that at 1. He failed his roll and our heroes where forced to turn around and ask directions from the porter.

So, firstly: How do you use Area Lore in your saga? When do you make characters roll it? How focused and specific do your characters Area Lores tend to be?

Secondly, what would you think of the following house rule... I already have the precendent of being able to change Specialties when an Ability increases. I'm thinking of allowing changing the focus of an Area Lore under similar circumstances, "up or down" one "step" (for instance between Manor and Barony, between Barony and Shire, between Shire and Kingdom) to represent a broadening or shrinking "focus." This is largely intended to save the player having to buy a whole new Area Lore skill for every region as the saga grows.

I think your situation is definitely one where a simple handwave would work. A season or year in the new manor should allow them to port it over.

As for your questions, I use the 4th edition expansion on Area Lore: ... r_ch5.html

Secondly, I think your idea is definitely a good one. In your scenario, I think it's almost required and I would lump it under (Local) with the Manor as a specialty. But generically allowing someone to move up a rank/category, I think is an excellent idea. I would add the disclaimer that the individual needs to earn XP or declare they are seeking to expand their Area Lore into that larger area prior to a Story or a Season/Year.

Thirdly, I think it should really work like languages in many instances maybe with a higher penalty. -2 for movement up/down the rank? (Mythic Europe to County Lore would be -4). However, I would think that some aspect of having one Area Lore makes it easier to have another. For example, I have Manor A Lore/2, then I should also have County or Kingdom at 1. Or it should be cheaper to purchase...

For the example given, I wouldn't allow a shift-over. Area Lore isn't just a mental map of the area, but also knowing the people and situations at work within the area.

Area Lore (Manor) means the person knows a lot about that manor. They know who the various people are, who is important, who isn't, who to go to for illegal stuff, etc.
They would also know the lands around the manor - so finding Manor B would be doable with a fairly easy area lore roll for area A. However, knowing anything about the people who live in Manor B (beyond those Manor A has regular contact with) would not be covered by Area Lore (Manor A).

Treating area lore a bit like languages makes sense. A -1 to -3 penalty for trying to use Area Lore (Manor A) on one of the neighbouring manors would make sense. I'd even be inclined to either let the second area lore ability be developed from the 'penalised rank', or grant the 7xp practice even if the person doesn't travel the area regularly until it reached that level to indicate existing familiarity.

2 miles is pretty close together. I wouldn't even require an area roll to find one from the other unless there was some serious mitigating factors, such as a pea-soup fog. Otherwise... 2 miles is close enough to cast sight range magics on individuals, so finding a building shouldn't be hard. :slight_smile:

Manor economies are also fairly interdependent (based on what I've read which may or may not be true... etc). In addition, you're likely to have extended families that can claim relationships in the neighboring manor. Churches aren't on every manor so folks would travel from one to the other. Festivals usually draw neighboring manor folk.

I think its a decent fix. That -2 is going to count when you're looking for specifics (higher ease factor) but still allows you familiarity. You can likely track down the best man to hire for field work, best brewer, figure out any eligible bachelors and get a general sense of their family. Chances are you know someone who knows someone who gossips. As long as you're not getting into "Does Farmer Bob walk the roads late at night regularly..." or something like that, it should fit within a rough implementation.

There was a good conversation about the scope of area lores, sizing them up and down, changing them over time, and interfacing them with rules that use area lores, a few months ago. I'd link to it, but forumrunner for android is terrible at threadomancy. Search for "scope of an area lore?"

In looking over the responses, both here and in humboldtscott's other thread (which, respectfully, is not a good thread at all IMO), I think perhaps what I might do is change the "units" of Area Lore...

The smallest might be Area Lore: Local, which covers a roughly 7 mile radius around a market town (the distance a commoner will walk to market). Above that might be Area Lore: Country, which covers a roughly 20 mile radius (the distance a man on horseback can comfortably cover in day, and thus the distance a castle can easily project force). Above that, I would err toward larger political divisions, like Area Lore: Shire or Area Lore: Diocess, and above that Area Lore: Kingdom.

Making tests "up and down" the scale (such as someone with Area Lore: Local trying to remember something about the Shire) would be at a higher Ease Factor than a similar test by someone with the "right" ability.

I think it helps to consider that Area Lores are not mutually exclusive, particularly when you get to the lores of very small areas. If you have Area Lore:Manor A, then you should know quite a bit about nearby Manor B. You should know where manor B is, roughly how many people live there, which fields it owns, etc, because this is information about the area around Manor A. But you probably wouldn't know which room is the lord's sleeping chamber at Manor B, or who his favourite mistress is.

So would have said questions like "where are the nearby manors" (within a day's travel) would be a trivial application of Area Lore: Manor A, which would not require a roll. For relatively distant manors (more than a day's travel, but still within the same diocese, say) you should roll, and even a good roll might only get you "on the other side of the forest", or "three day's march down the road", or "at the mouth of the river", but you will probably know enough to get there (even if not very efficiently).

I'd say each village will have an area lore, and the effective area lore of the surrounding villages is three less then the area lore of the village itself (or half, whatever floats your boat). Cities could have a single area lore and roll against higher DC's or have area lores in the specific districs of the city.

You could also make the area lores broad (county, or a stretch of land similar in size if for instance you live on the border), and have them specialise in the village, you might want to bump the specialty bonus to 2 or even 3 to make it more noticable.

Then you could patch out all of mythic europe and state your area lore consists of an area equal to the center (village sized) radiating outward one for each point in area lore you have, with an effective area lore = AL-(distance to center). For a linear area lore (waterways or roads) this could spell some issues, but you could make it so you area lore covers a stretch equal to 4x your AL-1 score in counties maximum.

I tend to give one free extra "exposure" XP per season to characters to put it in Area Lore, Organisation Lore or Folk Ken dependng on circumstances.
I also allow a change of speciality everytime a skill advances.

I'm tending to go with something like this: Define your Area Lore by a focal point, such as a Covenant, Village, town, or city. The Area Lore score (5 for example) is useful at full value for an area roughly 2 - 10 miles radius around the center of that locale, more or less whenever it begins to bump up against another similar entity with its own focal point, like another village, covenant, town, or city. Specialities could cover a specific area within that radius (neigborhood of a city, the forest outside the village, or whatever) or be scoped differently (the guilds of the city, nobleman of the area, etc).

Beyond that, the area lore value drops by one per "order of magnitude." With Area Lore (the village I grew up in) 5, it would be village and environs (5), country (4), duchy (3), prinicpality (2), kingdom (1), Tribunal (0). (Ignoring terms like shire and barony as my campaign is set on the continent).

These are rough guidelines of scope, not absolute, as of course some counties are bigger than some kingdoms, some Tribunals consist of a single kingdom, etc. But, roughly applied, they also reflect that more fractured politics will limit scope of area lores, which seems appropriate.

If the character had multiple overlapping area lores, they would use the highest adjusted value. Unusual Area Lores would be handled on case by case basis. For Area Lore on the Mediteranean or Baltic Seas, for example, I would probably start with a home port city and then adjust based on number of ports between their home and the location in question. A similar system of declining by ports could be used on most rivers, perhaps also or instead lowering with each fork, portage, etc; on a road, caravan, or pilgrimage route, a similar reduction per town and/or per fork would seem appropriate.

Specialties could change when the ability is raised; I HR this with abilities as well. I would let the "center" of the Area Lore change within some broader scope when raised, but haven't defined that yet as it hasn't been an issue yet. I expect that I would limit it by what you can reach with the positive value of your current (before raising) score. In my above example, the focal point could be shifted up to the kingdom level.

My goal is simply to avoid forcing knowledgeable, well-travelled people who might relocate occasionally from taking dozens of area lores.

Perhaps my recollection of that coversation is overly rosy. I wasn't really satisfied with the answers I got; not to insult those who responded; just that the answers didn't satisfy what I want for my saga. Thought it might be partially useful though to consider the impact of whatever you come up with on related rules like mass combat from LoM - running a knights-saga, right? I imagine you're using those extensively.