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The Olympia Primer

by Van Norton

A dusty, weatherworn sign outside the small wooden building read, "Pilgrims Aid Society." Underneath the sign, someone has carved into the wooden wall, "Free advice and worth the price."

Inside a small man sits behind a table with swarthy complexion and the dressing style of a desert nomad. A rough parchment map covers most of the back wall and a large chest to his left overflows with documents some obviously crafted by the steady hand of the scribe Hewlett-Packard and others by the less steady hand of faithful Epson.

Ah, come in, come in. Welcome to Olympia and my humble abode. My name is Akmall, Akmall Benhalla. Greetings and welcome worthy friend. Please, have a seat.

So, you wish to discover the secrets of Olympia. Perhaps you seek wealth, adventure, or hidden knowledge. Well, you have come to the right place, my friend. Hang up your cloak and we'll explore some of the mysteries together.

First, my friend, you need a purpose. Some driving force which gives your faction direction and not incidentally puts gold in your pocket. Patience, my friend, we will come back to the gold, but for now you use choose your path. Some have chosen a dark path. They are petty bandits, highwaymen, and drug dealers. Others are on the path of light: beast slayers, priests and explorers. Many are on neither path, they are merchants, builders, mages and many other things. All these paths are possible in Olympia.

Once you chose a purpose, the skills which your nobles will need to learn should be evident. If you plan to be an explorer for example, you probably do not wish to study alchemy. Since each skill and subskill costs 100 gold to learn, you will quickly pauper yourself if you learn skills you don't need.

Speaking of paupers, many young nobles squander the inheritance they begin with and find themselves with more followers that they can afford to support. Don't let this happen to you. There are a variety of ways to turn a coin in Olympia.

The most obvious money maker is building a castle. Castles allow nobles to rule over land and collect taxes from the native population. Castle are also the **most** difficult thing to construct in Olympia. It can take a good crew a year and a half in Olympia (12 turns - three real months) to build one castle. During the first (game) years of Olympia, many nobles scrambled to build a castle and begin collecting their share of taxes. Now most of the good castle building sights are claimed. A few sights remain in either remote or stone poor locations. So if you want to build a castle, the minimum you will need is a ship to find an isolated area and about 1200 gold saved up to pay your maintenance bills while the construction is going on.

But obvious is not necessarily best, my friend. In many way, Olympia is much better now than it was during that initial land rush. Castle building nobles are beginning to provide a steady income of gold into the world. Clever factions will provide services to these nobles in exchange for gold. This new economy should provide a much more stable world for us all.

However, my friend, let us not get carried away by this talk of wealth. Your initial concern is how to get started on the right foot. New nobles begin in a safe haven city. You are perfectly safe there as no one can attack you within the safe haven. However, safe havens tend to be the **most** crowded spots in all of Olympia. Which means it will be almost impossible for you to recruit more peasants, make money doing common tasks like pot making, or generally advance your position. The thing that safe havens **are** good for it studying.

You begin with one noble and eight peasants. If your one noble does all your studying, you will have a very learned, very vulnerable noble. It is better to use your noble points to recruit two or three additional nobles to aid in your task. Now each of these nobles can learn a skill or two before leaving the safe haven. Which skills you wish to study depends entirely on what you intend to do. Combat is a good skill regardless which other skills you choose, as it allows you to train soldiers, make weapons, and so on. Don't bother learning all the subskills right now. Only learn the skills which you will immediately use. Then stack all your nobles together and leave the safe haven.

Is it wise to leave the safe haven so soon? Yes, my friend, for the wide open lands of Olympia provide the opportunity. The safe haven only provides stagnation. There is a free Olympia Atlas available from the Skulking Vermin. Use it to chart a journey away from the safe haven. As you travel, you will find the number of nobles per province drops sharply. Once you have gotten beyond the competition of other nobles, you can set about meeting your goals. Building a galley or roundship is an easy task so do not hesitate to set sail if you find the entire continent Provinia too crowded for your taste. Also, the many cities of Olympia can provide the skills you need when you need them. Combat and construction are common and can be learned nearly anywhere. The magic skills (except for general magic), stealth, and mining are rare and should be learned if your find a city which will teach these skill (and you want the skill).

Pilgrims like yourself often ask me about alliances in Olympia. There are no formal organizations recognized in Olympia larger than a single faction. However, a number of factions have organized themselves into alliances. The alliances change so rapidly that I hesitate to name any names. Read the Olympia Times (game newspaper) to see which alliances are active when you arrive. The Pilgrims Aid Society Land Claim Log which is available free also can give some idea as to where alliances have staked claims.

You also can set up a free tower for study. Towers give your faction a defendable position to camp and rest, however, after they are built, they must be continually occupied or the next person who comes along can claim the tower for themselves. Towers, like all buildings, add to the civilization level of their province. Generally, Castle owner will be happy for you to build your towers on their lands as it increases the taxes the receive. Do not set up your tower until you are in the area you plan to stay in for awhile.

Finally, here are a few safety tips. Do not send nobles alone into strange areas. Wild creatures can and will attack them. Stacks of three nobles are usually safe from most NPC predators. Do not claim all the gold you have available. Only carry the gold you will need for the next turn or two. That way, if you are attacked or robbed, your attacker will get very little of your wealth. Use your noble points carefully. Do not horde them, but do not waste them either. Noble points are the one resource which can not be increased. You will get one additional noble point every eight turns regardless of how well your faction is doing. Plan your faction's growth accordingly. Do not stay in one place, especially a city, for too long unless you are certain you can defend yourself. Stationary nobles make tempting targets for highwaymen and robbers.

I wish you well. Please come back and see me if you need assistance. My advertisements run in each Olympia Times. Fare well, my friend.