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    Fortified Holdings and Contest Actions

    I got asked an interesting question by one of my players today. He asked if there was any way to fortify himself against contest actions. As far as I can figure, this question is not addressed in the BRCS (at least the version that I have): It was not endorsed or forbidden.

    Here is what I came up with.

    First, the new contest action has fundamentally changed from the 2nd edition action. The old action reflected a struggle for control of the entire holding (hence contested), while the new action reflects a reduction that seems to be best paralleled in military occupations. The new language also states that "[c]ontesting another holding is like declaring war."

    It seems to me then, that given the similar principles and effects, fortified holdings should also e protected against contest actions. What I ruled was that each individual level of damage from a successful contest action should be examined individually. If there is an unprotected holding level, that will be reduced, otherwise a level of the holding's fortification will be reduced. So a Guild 3 with a level two fortification will lose its unprotected level first, then will have its fortification reduced one level, then will lose another guild level that has become unprotected.

    I think there is a good policy implication for this, first of all it will make holding fortifications more desireable by making them more useful to domains that generally do not participate actual warfare. However, it will not make the fortifications all powerful such as, say, requiring that an actual military siege be used to reduce the fortifications before the holdings protected by them can be contested.

    The only question then would be how holdings protected by province fortifications should behave. I tend to think that such holdings should be protected until siege is used to reduce the level of protection. However, that would make it almost impossible for domains without state support to compete with those that have state support. It just seems wrong to me that a province fortification could be weakened by contest actions though.

  2. #2
    Birthright Developer irdeggman's Avatar
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    The reason that the BRCS doesn't address fortifying against contest actions is because you can't - that is what spending RP is for - to counter influence the population.

    Fortifications are assets and counted in domain maintenance as such. Basically they are structures built for a siege. Contest actions work on the basis of changing influence of the respective people (or land/source). Think of it like armor and attacks. Armor works against a sword but not against a touch attack.

    No wall in and of itself will make the population feel better about the regent in charge and the quality of his rule. Using fortifications to resist contest actions will end up diluting the importance of RP and that is something people have already displayed a desire to change - i.e., increase the value of RP in regards to domain actions and reduce the importance of GB on them inn relationship toRP.

    Fortifications (Province):
    Province fortifications include a province-wide system of fortifications dominated by a massive seat of military power (usually a castle or walled city).


    Fortification (Holding): Holding fortifications are small systems of fortifications that are constructed to protect the holdings of one regent. This might include fortified cathedrals, armed warehouses, walled forts or small castles, or any other reasonably limited defensive structure.


    Contest Holding [Standard/Realm; Administrate; 1 GB]

    A regent can neutralize another regent’s domain by contesting his influence. This action targets one holding held by an opposing regent. The DC for the domain action check is 10 plus the level of the targeted holding. On a successful check against a holding, you reduce the level of the contested holding by 1d3 levels; if the holding is reduced below level 0 then it is destroyed. This reduction is permanent, although subsequent rule actions could allow the holding to reestablish itself.

    Generally, holdings can only be contested by other holdings of the same type. Law holdings are also able to contest guild and temple holdings (but not source holdings). Contesting another’s holding is like declaring war. A successful contest action robs the victim of regency and gold collection and other support from the holding, bidding wars for Contest actions can get ugly and expensive very fast. In most cases, regents use the Contest action as a threat or a negotiating tool, rather than actually performing it often.

    Realm action: As a standard action, Contest affects one target holding. This action can be supported by court actions to affect the scope of an entire realm. For each court action spent, an additional holding of the same type or held by the same opposing regent can be targeted. Success rolls and costs (including RP bidding) are calculated separately for each target


    Military domain assets

    Fortifications

    Provinces and law, guild, or temple holdings have goods, buildings and personnel that are critical to the power base that they represent. Without protection, these critical assets are vulnerable to occupation or destruction by military forces. Fortifications make a province or holding more difficult to attack. Fortifications are built using the fortify domain action. There are two types of fortifications: fortified holdings and province fortifications.



    A fortified holding makes one holding resistant to destruction. Fortified holdings might be defensible monasteries or cathedrals, walled warehouses, or hidden bandit strongholds. A fortified holding remains under a regent's control even if hostile forces occupy the province in which it lies. Normal (unfortified) holdings may be razed when an attacker chooses to occupy a province, but fortified holdings remain until taken by siege or storm. Fortified holdings are rated by level, just like holdings. The level of a fortified holding cannot exceed the level of the holding it protects. The fortification only protects holding levels equal to its rating, any holding level which exceed the fortification are subject to destruction. Fortifications have a maintenance cost equal to a holding of the same level. Thus, a fully fortified holding has double the maintenance cost of a normal (unfortified) holding.



    A province fortification represents a castle and a system of walled towns, armories, and other military buildings can provide some level of protection throughout the entire province. The overall strength of a province fortification is represented by its level. A province fortification can be built up to level 10, regardless of the level of the province. A province fortification has a maintenance cost equal to a province of the same level. Thus a fully fortified province has double the maintenance cost of an unfortified province.



    Hostile forces cannot move through a fortified province without neutralizing the province fortifications (see Strategic movement). Province fortifications can protect a number of law, temple, and guild holding levels equal to the level of the province fortification; the province ruler decides which holdings they wish to protect. Province fortifications are dependent upon a castle that acts as the province stronghold; if the castle is taken then all benefits of the province fortification are lost.
    Last edited by irdeggman; 10-01-2005 at 02:39 AM.
    Duane Eggert

  3. #3
    I would argue that to a certain extent the text you cite would seem to support my obervations. Mostly because I'm insufferably contentious

    In the text, a holding is made up of the interplay of two components "influence" and the "critical assets" (which should in theory be protectable by an asset) that underly it. The better one's infrastructure, the easier it is to maintain and expand influence. A contest action needs to be an attack on both, otherwise destroying a fortified holding through it would leave some interesting problems. Mostly, if the regent has such strong protections built around his critical assests, why does he suddenly lose control of them?

    In considering unfortified holdings, it is not difficult to surmise what happens to these critical assets as the holding as the holding is contested into the ground. they are merely appropriated by the people as influence is lost.

    With fortified holdings, however, the people must also contend with the walls, barricades, and armed guards who are paid to ensure the regent's property rights. Extra effort is therefore required to ensure that the holding is razed to the theoretical ground. The small network of protections is disassembeled node by node, allowing critical assets to be lost, and thus guaranteeing a permanent diminishment of influence.

    The alternative, I suppose would be that if a fortified holding is contested out of existence, that the regent can keep the asset itself: He has a network of walls. Thrilling to be sure, but fairly useless. Perhaps he could sell them to the usurper, but otherwise their construction was ultimately a tremendous waste of money.

    I think what needs to be considered is what exactly the nature of a holding is. The abstract nature of the Birthright system makes this difficult to guage. In my mind, however, it works something like this:

    Influence is the result of a holding, not the holding itself. There is a direct causal relationship between the holding and the influence. Consider a law holding for example. The law regent does not have influence over his people as an innate aspect of his character, but because the sharp swords of his guards and the dungeons below his keep demand that they obey his laws and respect his influence. A guild holding controls economic influence because the people have to meet their economic needs somehow, and the fact that the guild controls what wagons come, and what goods are sold demands that they give you their coin, and thus influence. People have religious needs, the spiritual influence of a temple is determined by its capacity to meet those needs.

    Holdings are not influence. Holdings command influence. This is why the contest action in the original edition worked the way it did. In that action the agressor attempts to assert control over the entire target holding. When this happens, the holding enters a state in which the holding becomes controlled by neither party. The people, unsure of what is happening, cannot grant influence (in the form of regency or income) to either party. Once one regent regains control of the holding, he enjoys all the influence that it grants.

    So how would I define a holding?

    A holding is a combination of infrastructure, assets and the people required to administrate them, that are bound to the regent and command influence for him over a specific sphere.

    Of course, this is only my opinion.

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    Site Moderator geeman's Avatar
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    Fortified Holdings and Contest Actions

    Yeah, fortifying a holding again contest actions (and other things) makes
    sense. Spending RP to oppose such things is... something
    else. Fortification is best defined as taking the trouble not to just have
    something like a guild holding, but the security measures taken to prevent
    that holding and its assets from simply being destroyed or
    confiscated. Enclosed buildings, locks, safes, guards, etc. are all things
    that might be considered "fortification" when it comes to a holding.

    Gary

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    Fortified Holdings and Contest Actions

    Bearcat schrieb:

    >This post was generated by the Birthright.net message forum.
    >You can view the entire thread at:
    >http://www.birthright.net/showthread...newpost&t=2792
    > Bearcat wrote:
    >I got asked an interesting question by one of my players today. He asked if there was any way to fortify himself against contest actions. As far as I can figure, this question is not addressed in the BRCS (at least the version that I have): It was not endorsed or forbidden.
    >
    >Here is what I came up with....
    >
    Why not simply use the 2E Bless Holding realm spell from the Book of
    Priestcraft? It already describes a protection against Contest actions.
    bye
    Michael

  6. #6
    Senior Member Osprey's Avatar
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    Hmm, this is interesting. Bearcat, I can see your point in viewing Contest throught the 2e lens: one holding (or set of holdings), over which various regents vie for control.

    The BRCS, I think, takes a different view on the matter. Contest actions are about rival holdings/regents vying for control of a province within a certain domain (commerce, spiritual influence, law and order, or magic). That's why it requires a regent to have at least a L0 holding to initiate the action.

    When a regent tries to contest another rival within the same province, he is not trying to take over the existing holding - he's trying to destroy its influence. Once he's damaged or destroyed that holding's influence, the resulting vacuum of power makes it possible for him to begin ruling up his own holding and thus establishing a new source of power within the province.

    Let's take guilds for example: Say we have EH (El-Hadid) with a level 4 fortified guild holding in Braeme (a 4/1 province), and GK (Guilder Kalien) with a level 0 holding there. Kalien has representatives, an office, maybe some contacts among the local merchants. But EH controls all of the vital trade and commerce in the province, and makes the real profits there.

    However, GK's foothold is enough to launch a series of "attacks" on EH's control of Braeme's trade. People are "persuaded" to buy Endier's goods instead of Ilien's; propoganda undermines the people's trust in EH's merchants and goods; perhaps Kalien diverts vital products out of Braeme's markets entirely (through banditry, bribery, conspiracy, or simply buying up all the trade goods before they reach the market), leaving the people with nothing to buy - and they'll hopefully blame EH for not coming through.

    Point is, fortified walls and guards on EH's warehouses and offices won't do a damned thing to protect his control of commerce in the region. Kalien is undermining his credibility and control, not necessarily razing his stockpiles of trade goods. Ultimately, if Kalien is successful, he can then try to rule up his own guild holdings and start asserting the control of the Endier guilds in Braeme. Whether he builds his own structures or buys EH's is somewhat irrelevant - the infrastructure exists only to support his growing commercial power, it isn't the power itself.

    I would reason that EH is indeed left with a set of L4 holding fortifications - only they aren't really protecting anything worthwhile anymore, and so will probably be abandoned by an efficient regent like El-Hadid - unless he re-establishes control of trade there, in which case I as a DM would allow him to retain his former fortification levels so long as he pays the seasonal maintenance for them.

    Interestingly, though, this does raise a good tangental point: why in the world should fortified holding levels be limited to the level of holding? Why not allow a L4 temple to be a L10 fortified holding? Treat them much like provincial fortifications - double the build cost and maintenance for every level above the supporting holding level. With such a rules change in place, it becomes easy enough to deal with fortified holdings whose influence has declined but whose physical defenses remain (those unsupported levels now have double maintenance!).

    As far as I can tell, fortified holding levels being limited by the level of holding is a completely arbitrary rule that has little or no rational, in-game justification. Writing in a statement that landed regents would tend to discourage or prohibit such things is well enough, but a flat game rule prohibiting such construction seems...odd.

    There's my take on the whole issue, anyways, and a suggested rules adjustment for the 3.5 BRCS to boot.

    Osprey

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    Fortified Holdings and Contest Actions

    In a message dated 10/1/05 2:51:03 AM Eastern Daylight Time,
    brnetboard@BIRTHRIGHT.NET writes:

    << So how would I define a holding?

    A holding is a combination of infrastructure, assets and the people required
    to administrate them, that are bound to the regent and command influence for
    him over a specific sphere. >>

    IMO, you are overstating the capital assets and understating the human
    assets. In the case of the Law holding you mention, I see the holding more as
    the local judge(s) and sheriff (jarl, chieftain, whatever) and their deputies,
    and the influence they hold among the people; as well as their
    courthouse/jail/castle. In that order.
    If a foreign regent wants to contest a Law holding, then his best course
    of action is to sway the loyalty of the law-keepers. For instance, Avanil has
    Law holdings among his vassals of Brosengae and Taeghas-- does that mean he
    holds the deed to the courthouses? To my mind, he has the loyalty of the
    judges or sheriffs, not the rulers of the province, they judge according to his
    wishes, and everyone knows it.

    Lee.

  8. #8
    "IMO, you are overstating the capital assets and understating the human
    assets."

    Which is why I said that a holding was also "the people required to administrate them." An attack on a holding could consist on an attack any one of these elements. If you burn the keep to the ground and break the swords, then the law holding is hurt as much as if you rode about and killed all the sheriffs and guards who would use them to keep order. If you steal the goods, then it doesn't matter if you have wagoneers to drive them, or merchants to sell them. Its all interrelated, but the people who run the holding's business are an important part of it.

    "If a foreign regent wants to contest a Law holding, then his best course
    of action is to sway the loyalty of the law-keepers. For instance, Avanil has
    Law holdings among his vassals of Brosengae and Taeghas-- does that mean he holds the deed to the courthouses? To my mind, he has the loyalty of the
    judges or sheriffs, not the rulers of the province, they judge according to his
    wishes, and everyone knows it."

    Even if he doesn't hold the deed to the courthouse, it doesn't mean that he doesn't control it through those agents. De facto ownership is as valid as de jure ownership in my opinion. But what you say is very much in line with the classical contest action: create a crisis of leadership so it is unclear who is really in charge, and then use the investiture action to assert control.

    Human resources are as much an asset of the holding as anything else, and because people are the ones actually moving stuff around they are the gatekeepers to the other aspects of the holding. This does not, however, mean that the other aspects are not important. And it does not mean that my assertion that holdings are not influence, but instead command influence is not true.

    The number of people that are required to administrate the holding will be relatively small when held up against the entire population of the province, and yet the holding will command influence over a significant portion of the people as a result of the power of the holding.

    I think that the new version's contest action is more about the numbers game than it is about whatever the philosophical foundation of the holding is. I will be the first to admit that it is annoying to think that a level 7 holding can be disabled, destroyed or usurped so quickly. Incremental damage can make the pill easier to swallow.

    But I think that when contest actions are incremental attacks, even if they are ultimately undertaken to reduce the influence of the target regent in the province, they do so through attacks on the human and material assets of the holding. To assert otherwise seems to confuse the end with the means. It only seems logical, then, to force an attacker to peal away whatever defenses may have been erected around these assets before allowing him to destroy them.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Osprey's Avatar
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    But I think that when contest actions are incremental attacks, even if they are ultimately undertaken to reduce the influence of the target regent in the province, they do so through attacks on the human and material assets of the holding. To assert otherwise seems to confuse the end with the means. It only seems logical, then, to force an attacker to peal away whatever defenses may have been erected around these assets before allowing him to destroy them.
    If a Contest action is viewed as eroding influence, I don't think it is at all confusing means and ends to think that there are plenty of non-physical ways to do this (numerous examples supplied in my previous post). It seems to me that you are somewhat fixated on the nature of this action being a direct physical attack on the holding and the assets (material and human) it represents.

    That is certainly one valid approach, but it is hardly the sole means of contesting a holding. In fact, I'd say it is a rather crude and unlikely means of contesting political influence. Since Contest actions are based heavily on RP expenditures, it stands to reason that political and social influence play by far the largest role in determining the success or failure of a contest action.

    At best, Bearcat, it might be reasonable to allow fortifications to provide a small bonus to resist Contest actions. The reasoning behind this is not the physical defenses they provide to the regent's assets, but rather the permanence and strength they represent. If a holding regent is willing to invest the time and monies to build and maintain fortifications, it stands as a symbol of supreme confidence that says to the effected people "these holdings are here to stay."

    In mechanical terms, I might assign the following bonuses:
    Holdings Fortified to at least 1/2 total holding levels: +1 to Contest DC's
    Holdings Fortified to full holding levels: +2 to Contest DC's

    Or something along those lines, enough to provide a +1 or +2 bonus at best. Beyond that, I think it should remain true that the primary function of fortifications is to protect against raiding and pillaging. In my experience, this is an extremely valuable function, since an occupying army is often quite tempted to sack the hell out of unprotected enemy holdings, while fortified ones require dedicated effort and risk (especially if they have standing garrisons as well).

    Osprey

  10. #10
    That I don't put my attacks in quotation marks does not mean that they are limited only to physical violence =)


    >However, GK's foothold is enough to launch a series of "attacks" on EH's
    >control of Braeme's trade.

    >People are "persuaded" to buy Endier's goods
    >instead of Ilien's;

    Not likely, a level 0 guild holding does not have the capacity to meet demand. Endier does not have the merchants, guards, employees, warehouses, and supply routes in place to bring his goods to market. It is one thing to persuade (or threaten as you seem to imply) people into agreeing to buy your goods. However, when push comes to shove when i need bread, or pants, or a new cow and El Hadid can sell them to me and Guilder Kalien can't I'm gonna have to buy El Hadid's pants.

    >propoganda undermines the people's trust in EH's
    >merchants and goods;

    Same as above. I'll buy it, but i won't like it. This would be an agitate action to reduce loyalty, not a contest action. Don't confuse influence with loyalty. Loyalty indicates how cooperative I feel, influence indicates how much of a choice I have in the matter. If you are the only person that can give me what I need, then you have a great deal of influence over me, regardless of whether or not I'd like to kick you in the shins. If I kick you in the shins and take it anyway, well that is a revolt.

    >perhaps Kalien diverts vital products out of Braeme's
    >markets entirely (through banditry, bribery, conspiracy, or simply buying up
    >all the trade goods before they reach the market), leaving the people with
    >nothing to buy - and they'll hopefully blame EH for not coming through.

    These would qualify as attacks as I see them.

    Banditry= attacks on human and material assets.

    Bribery and conspiracy= attacks on human assets, and perhaps indirectly on the material assets as the human assets exert control over the material assets for the regents.

    Buyout scheme= a fairly obvious, but nonviolent attack on the material assets.

    What each of these does, as you point out, is reduce the ability of El Hadid to meet the needs of the population. Now nobody has pants. Because influence is a product of the holding (the material and human assets), a diminuition of those assets results in a diminuition of influence. El Hadid's influence extends only as far as his wagons will travel. Laws will be enforced and obeyed only where the guards are willing to patrol. Religious doctrinal authority will only be maintained where there are those able to ensure that it is maintained. The holding is not the influence, the holding commands the influence.

    >the primary function of fortifications is to protect against raiding and
    >pillaging.

    Forgive me for being cynical, but i think that the primary function of fortifications is to maintain control

    I think it is also a fallacy to think that a fortification is just a wall. Frankly, it is a pretty crappy wall that will fall over almost immediately if the regent fails to pay maintenance. There are examples of walls all over the world that have stood for hundreds if not thousands of years without being maintained.

    So where does the money go? I will admit that some will go to routine maintenance, but consider also this: walls have gates, and gates need people to open and close them, and walls need people to walk them. A fortification is more than just a wall. It is too is human and material assets, but unlike a holding whose assets are directed outward towards the province, the fortification is directed at the holding. It controls who has access, when they have access, what they can bring with them, what they can take with them. In short it is vigilance, "security measures" if you will, and people are watched.

    Even if the primary purpose of the fortification were protection against pillaging, that purpose would be only rarely used. It seems that all this expense could also be put to another use, a more commonplace use. Think along the lines of this analogy: A fortification is to a holding as a law holding is to a province. It provides control, but it doesn't ensure it.

    And don't think that the only means to get around it is through a "physical attack". Guards can be bribed, elaborate means of getting messages in and out can be devised, security can be overcome. However, all that is an extra effort. You have to peel back the levels of protection before you can get at the meaty bits. Hence, my proposal.

    >If a Contest action is viewed as eroding influence, I don't think it is at all
    >confusing means and ends to think that there are plenty of non-physical
    >ways to do this (numerous examples supplied in my previous post).

    What I meant by my admittedly cryptic remark was this: Holdings are not influence, holdings produce influence. If I have a holding, I therefore have influence. If your end is to reduce my influence, you don't sally forth to wage a campaign against the influence itself. That would be tilting at windmills, it would be akin to persuading people to buy your goods instead of mine without having any means of backing up the persuasion. The means then by which you deny me influence is by attacking the source of that influence.

    If I have a shady parking spot and your end is to deny me that shade, then you don't attack the shade itself, you chop down the tree that provides it. Or you take care of it through other, sneakier means

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