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  1. #1
    Site Moderator kgauck's Avatar
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    How Should War Work

    My assumption is that the world exists as it does for reasons (rather by accident).

    • realms are the size they are for a reason
    • realms and domains are not easily toppled, many have been around a very long time
    • war is pretty frequent, but it doesn't much change the map


    With these in mind, I outline what war looks like. There is a great deal of advantage to the defensive, so that offensive war is challenging. If the advantage lays with the defender, it makes sense that there are so many small states. All they need are the fundamentals of defense. Part of this is a good network of castles. Part is reflected in the difficulty in raising truly offensive units. Part is reflected in the way militia works.

    Fortifications
    Given the age of the setting and its reasonably static nature, I would imagine that there are many very strong fortresses whose capture would be long and difficult and would represent a significant event. One such example of what this might entail would be the historical siege of Calais, which lasted from the Sept 4, 1346 to Aug 3, 1347. Seven to Eight thousand citizens held off 20,000 Archers, 6600 English Infantry, 2000 Flemish Infantry, and 5300 Knights. In this example, the French never tried to lift the siege. French supplies arrived by sea, but the English tried to stop them and eventually set up an effective blockade.

    Imagine the difficulty in taking Ilien if the same circumstances were in play. It would not be hard to imagine the same overall situation, after reading a description of the events surrounding Calais. Despite the fact that 34,000 man armies would be exceptional in BR (what is that - 170 units sitting around waiting for surrender?) there is no real mechanism for a siege to last that long.

    What if the way Roesone, Ilien, and Medoere gained independence was that the founder-heros gained control of key fortresses by treachery, the citizens throwing open the gates, or other means? Then Diemed spent the rest of the civil war winning battles in a futile attempt to recover the lands lost, because battles won mean nothing without capturing the key fortresses in the realm.

    Elite Units
    Perhaps the reason realms maintain the forces that they do is that they cannot raise units of such quality when they need them, so they keep them around so they have them when they need them. As such, additional troops raised would be no better than irregulars or levies. Growing similar units would either be slow, or would require experience.

    Levies
    There might be levies who rise up for the defense of the province and disappear in all other circumstances. This would also significantly improve the defensive posture of realms without increasing offensive capacity. Levies could be smart, too. They might bide their time until the defender's main army entered the province, rather than rising up to get defeated by an unopposed attacker. Instead they might engage in Robin Hood type guerrilla warfare.

    Another thing that would tend to maintain the staus quo is a dynastic tie to the land. Even when some new person gets invested in a province (or even a whole realm) the old tie isn't broken, and can be easily re-established as soon as you occupy the province.

  2. #2
    Site Moderator AndrewTall's Avatar
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    I figure that realms can temporarily change quite easly - the problem is changing cultural attitudes and over-coming geographic barriers to make the change last. Most realms in Anuire are divided by rivers, mountains, etc so naturally split along their existing borders.

    So Avani conquers Diemed for example, and a generation later with son #1 in Avanil and son #2 in Diemed, son #2 sees that there is a big river between them preventing easy troop movement and therefore either son #1 recognises son #2 as an independent vassal or risks seeing him become simply independent...

    I'm not sure quite how to represent different cultures and realm loyalties - a traits system would be an additional layer of complexity but even just allowing a DC modifier to realm actions and domain attitude checks 'old' and 'new' rulers would encourage the old realms to reform for a while (eventually such loyalties wear thin). I'd note however that players get very annoyed if their actions seem pointless or pre-ordained - they need to be able to 'win' and so should be able to conquer other realms.

    I'd expect that Anuire has probably seen a number of short-lived 'mega realms' since the fall of the empire - they just never held together long enough to be worth mentioning in RoE (or weren't favoured by the chamberlain and were therefore censored, such as the realm of 'Greater Boeruine' which forms one basis for the current Dukes claims over Taeghas, say).


    On castles you could rule that the attackers and defenders make an opposed siegecraft roll - the castle only degrades if the attacker wins the roll rather than simply degrade the castle each season. That allows a great general to keep going for longer - or say that if ships can deliver supplies that the castle doesn't degrade at all, meaning that a seige ties up both land and sea units to be effective.

    Another possibility is that random events occur more often in larger realms - I hacked out some draft mechanics on the wiki to reflect such a system although I need to test it out. That would mean that regents, particularly those with weaker bloodlines would need to create vassals to govern effectively, which then encourages separatism, etc.

    http://www.birthright.net/brwiki/ind...ents_mechanics
    Last edited by AndrewTall; 10-10-2007 at 03:59 AM.

  3. #3
    Senior Member ShadowMoon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrewTall View Post
    On castles you could rule that the attackers and defenders make an opposed siegecraft roll - the castle only degrades if the attacker wins the roll rather than simply degrade the castle each season. That allows a great general to keep going for longer - or say that if ships can deliver supplies that the castle doesn't degrade at all, meaning that a seige ties up both land and sea units to be effective.
    Opposed Siegecraft rolls is great idea to represent active Siege. You can modify it by various events, army size, etc...

    Anyway what kgauck's said; add to that "Muster over time" rule, and limit maximum number units that province could muster, unit experience, command groups, and traits... And You'll get Sieges that could last long, and War that it is far more interesting...
    "If the wizards and students who lived here centuries ago had practiced control - in their spellcasting and in their dealings with the politics of the empire - you would be studying in a tall tower made by the best dwarf stone masons, not in an old military barracks."
    Applied Thaumaturgy Lector of the Royal College of Sorcery to new generation of students.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Beruin's Avatar
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    You offer some nice ideas here, and I'd like to hear in more detail how you would implement them rules-wise. Some of the things mentioned I can picture, like slow musters, experience that has to be earned etc., but namely kgauck's levy-based guerilla warfare sounds like a great idea, but how would you do this in your game?

    For now, I don't really have anything of my own to offer with regard to war, however:

    Quote Originally Posted by kgauck View Post
    My assumption is that the world exists as it does for reasons (rather by accident).

    [list][*] realms are the size they are for a reason[*] realms and domains are not easily toppled, many have been around a very long time
    Quote Originally Posted by AndrewTall View Post
    I'd expect that Anuire has probably seen a number of short-lived 'mega realms' since the fall of the empire - they just never held together long enough to be worth mentioning in RoE (or weren't favoured by the chamberlain and were therefore censored, such as the realm of 'Greater Boeruine' which forms one basis for the current Dukes claims over Taeghas, say).
    Another thing to consider is, how much power the realm or domain rulers really held (or still hold) over their respective areas of influence. Andrew Tall's view seems to me to be akin to the situation after the death of Alexander the Great, when the Diadochi divided his empire and warred against each other, with differing successes and changing alliances. This is certainly a possible view, but it also implies a rather centralized state - otherwise, the Diadochi would've had greater difficulties establishing their authority, instead of 'only' having to deal with each other.

    Well, I recently read about the development of territorial governance within the Holy Roman Empire and that started me thinking on BR:

    Perhaps, during the Empire, the realm rulers' power over their dominion wasn't as absolute as portrayed in the BR rules and subordinate nobles (provincial counts and below) had a greater amount of independence, i.e. controlled many of the provincial law holdings, similar to the situation portrayed for some Rjurik lands. Some of these lower nobles might also have had direct contact to the Emperor, for instance due to a younger son serving in the Emperor's personal guard or by participating in a imperial campaign. The Emperor would also have a keen interest in strengthening the minor nobles to keep his major vassals in check.

    After the fall of the Empire, the greater nobles first started to consolidate and increase their power in their own lands, a slow process which explains why the realms remained so static for so long, barring special circumstances, like the rise of Ghoere or the Tuornen/Alamie split. This also helps explain how realms like Medoere or Roesone could break away from a powerful realm like Diemed.

    Now, i.e. with the situation as portrayed in the rulebooks, this inner consolidation is mostly finished, and the larger powers have started to look outside their realms to increase their power, and things are about to change, meaning that the PCs will live in interesting times...

    As an afterthought, some of the law holdings held in other realms, let's say for example Avanil's holdings in Tuornen, are perhaps not really directly controlled by Darien Avan, but rather represent remaining local law holdings of minor nobles who have developed an affiliation with Avanil. This would be similar to what I proposed in this thread a few weeks ago:http://www.birthright.net/forums/showthread.php?t=3601
    Last edited by Beruin; 10-10-2007 at 10:14 PM. Reason: only deleted a spelling error

  5. #5
    Site Moderator AndrewTall's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Beruin View Post
    Now, i.e. with the situation as portrayed in the rulebooks, this inner consolidation is mostly finished, and the larger powers have started to look outside their realms to increase their power, and things are about to change, meaning that the PCs will live in interesting times...
    The only times in which any PC should live

  6. #6
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    One thing that also has to be considered is that current realms also exist due to strategic alliance/treaties.

    There have to be a bunch of documented treaties that have been signed by rulers re mutual defence vs aggression - although I can't particularly remember reading about any in the histories.

    Diplomacy shields the smaller and weaker (militarily speaking) provinces from being grabbed.

    That and the more powerful Scion's have no interest in just letting anyone else get bigger to possibly become a threat to them.

  7. #7
    Site Moderator kgauck's Avatar
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    Mutual defense treaties are a product of the 19th century, when the time involved in mobilization was so swift that there was no time for diplomacy before the war started. Mobilization times in early modern wars could last a full year for major states.

    Mobilization requires both assembling units and recruiting new men. Recruiting requires a team of men to go from town to town hiring people who are basically unemployed or otherwise seeking to escape their current circumstances despite the risky new occupation being offered. Attempting to recruit people who are productive will deny your realm taxes, food, and things like nails. Recruiting is one of the most easily observable actions you take in your realm. Whenever anyone recruits units, all of their neighbors should know pretty specifically what they are doing.

    For instance, it should be impossible for Avanil to drop 120 GB in a single action, raise 60 units and occupy Diemed in a couple of weeks. One rule of thumb to apply is that if you would not let an NPC realm do it (raise a gigantic army over night) and conquer a PC realm, I wouldn't let a PC do it to an NPC.

    The situation in the rulebook does suggest that the domains are pretty unitary, but this cuts you out of half of the kinds of conflicts which a realm can experience. Its like saying nothing interesting ever happens on this half of the map. When you get away from the rulebook and read the PS's they depict domains that are pretty disunited. Most of them look like they are about to fall apart. The PS's focus much more on the internal problems within a realm.

    Generally I apply the Arthurian arc to a campaign.
    phase 1 before the PC(s) take over, PC's as heirs
    sword in the stone moment- PC's take over
    phase 2 PC's find the realm disunited, must solve internal problems
    marriage to Guinevere - realm united
    This phase sees the older, starting figures give way to the PC's, as they become the key nobles, officers, and regents in the realm. It can be quick, or happen over time.
    phase 3 PC's turn outward and deal with problems they have merely kept at bay until now.

    The PC's may deal with foreign challenges in phases 1 and 2, but most foreign challenges don't get resolved until phase 3.

  8. #8

    Post Good point you made here

    Hm... quite a good insight of you.

    Both?

    Like in crusader kings, the problem is simple. Nobles fight each other instead of allying and then they are defeated by the Shadow easily. Well, in the PC game, the boardgame is different.

    To keep this short, your rules by now allow a lot and anybody worthy to be called game master or mistress should be able to make up rules on their own.

    Could you define and structure both "variants" so players by attitude or whim could decide how the game is played on that? Rhetorical question.

  9. #9
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    Call them standing alliances if you will or informal alliances (and call me anacronistic if you will) but I would think that logically if you are bordering a large aggressive kingdom you would work something out with other smaller rulers that face the same problem and could be swallowed at a gulp. Alliance systems in BR don't have to entirely parallel our own history.

    Fortresses do slow this down - instant absorbtion and allow time for diplomatic recruitment of allies.

    I was suggesting this as another possible reason for the Status Quo to remain fairly stagnant. (As you yourself point out mobilisation times are pretty quick)

    Small city states before the rise of large countries in Europe spring to mind.
    Often marriages would cement alliances.

    Ghoere for instance could invade almost any neighbour and outnumber them between 3 and 5 to one - especially with recruitment and mercs.- so without alliances to stop him and considering his aggressive reputation I can't think of anything else stopping him.

  10. #10
    Site Moderator kgauck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gman View Post
    Call them standing alliances if you will or informal alliances (and call me anacronistic if you will) but I would think that logically if you are bordering a large aggressive kingdom you would work something out with other smaller rulers that face the same problem and could be swallowed at a gulp. Alliance systems in BR don't have to entirely parallel our own history.
    What I am objecting to primarily is that anyone can swallow anyone else in a gulp. Its because I find this artificial and too much like a simple game (breaking the sense that this is a world), I don't see the need to have structures like modern alliance systems to prevent it.

    There should be three things that make this kind of thing impossible.
    1) recruitment should take long enough that other powers can engage in diplomacy and so by the time the attack comes, no one is forced to be alone.
    2) logistics prevent the formation of large armies, especially on the fly. Putting together a proper supply train often took much longer than recruiting and assembling an army.
    3) I think that with Haelyn as a god of both law and war, the concept of a war waged for legitimate aims would be very important. As a result, the beginnings of wars would probably be very ritualistic, with formal declarations of the cause of a conflict, announced deadlines to settle a matter before either side lets slip the dogs of war, rather like the way a strike works today with formal grievances, and then strike deadlines. People who just throw a bunch of troops together and occupy a neighbor without going through these steps would be waging a war outside of the law, and bring in the wrath of the temples of Haelyn. I have to imagine it would be almost impossible to wage effective warfare without their cooperation.

    Ghoere for instance could invade almost any neighbour and outnumber them between 3 and 5 to one - especially with recruitment and mercs.- so without alliances to stop him and considering his aggressive reputation I can't think of anything else stopping him.
    Let us suppose a steady state of petty squabbling, in which each realm bickers with all of its neighbors. Then suddenly Ghoere starts recruiting men, mustering its veterans, and calling for mercenaries. What I imagine would happen is that realms would send envoys to Ghoere asking what they are doing. If no satisfactory explanation was offered, envoys would go out to neighboring realms and seek a consensus on what to do about Ghoere. A coalition would form and Ghoere would face the mobilization of most or all of its neighbors.

    So, I think the more natural state of things would involve responsive diplomacy for most states. Allies are generally unreliable anyway. Sometimes disastrously so. They are too often pre-occupied with their own business, or when push comes to shove they are happy to see you get shoved a bit. Sometimes they have reconciled with the other party and are now in no mood to antagonize them by responding to old treaty obligations.

    Smaller states can't really ally with larger states. The proper relationship for small states that need protection is vassalage.

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