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  1. #1
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    Seasonal Adjustments

    Some of the discussions on this board have touched on adjusting certain things in BR to simulate seasons. Since I am sympathetic to the simulationist approach and like to apply it whenever it is not too onerously complicated, I wanted to solicit the community's ideas on how best to implement some sort of seasonal adjustment into the system as a variant rule.

    I have some of my own initial thoughts to get this going. Please provide criticism or suggestions of your own.

    First, I would treat the various regions that are broken down in setting materials the same, so that any modifiers for season apply across that whole region and all the provinces within it (i.e., the Southern Coast of Anuire is one region, the Northern Marches another). Anything at a more micro level is, I think, too burdensome.

    Taking late middle ages life in Europe as a basis for comparison, I would think that the seasons could affect income, but also (perhaps primarily) warfare. Random events would be more common in some seasons than others (weather disruptions, plagues, etc), but I'm not going to try to address that table right now.

    For income, I would take Kgauck's advice on another thread as a good starting point. In the Fall, each region gets a 1d4 roll, with a 1 causing a -25% decrease in income across the board, 2-3 normal, 4 as a 25% increase. Of course, a good crop or bad crop can have a significant enough affect to benefit or trouble a realm for an entire year. Note that this income affects all regents in the region; agriculture is the basis of the economy, affecting taxes, charity, guild purchases, etc., and the weather that caused good or bad agriculture is likely also going to affect trade in similar ways.

    I would not modify income for the other years, but I think an interesting possibility here would be to allow each level of fortified guild holding to offset a loss of 1GB income, with the guild choosing which income is offset. So a guild with 10 fortification levels could ignore a loss of 10GB to itself, or share some of that benefit with any regent that has holdings or province levels in the same provinces. Fortification thus represents diversified industry, better food storage, and better agricultural methods that reduce crop failures or lessen the impact of them.

    The rest of the seasonal impacts, I think, would have to do with war and loyalty. Climate, mostly related to latitude, should create several bands here. In Anuire, I would place the Southern Coast in a comparatively balmy one, the Western Coast, Heartlands, and Eastern Marches in another, and the Northern Marches in another.

    I think troops will be affected in many ways by temperature and storms/wetness, as well as availability of forage, impacting primarily morale and movement. Also, I would remove the normal province level penalty for levies lost and make it a loyalty penalty related to the season in which they are used, because if a significant proportion of the population misses the Spring planting season or the Fall harvest, that province's prosperity is going to be in danger. Note that loyalty penalties effectively DO impact income, as long as Taxation loyalty modifiers are being used, because it will be harder to gain as much tax income from provinces with low loyalty without impoverishing the populace even more and driving them into hostility and rebellion. With my adjustments below, even having full law holdings, keeping levies active during Spring and Fall, particularly if they are also suffering the loyalty penalties from fighting in a foreign war, even Moderate taxation will could soon drive those provinces into rebellion (an outcome that causes loss of province level and likely the destruction of other holdings).

    Spring:
    1. -1 morale penalty for all troops fighting in Northern Marches;
    2. in all regions, -1 penalty to loyalty level if levies are active during this season, since they miss the planting season (does not apply to urban provinces)

    Summer: -1 morale penalty for all troops fighting in Southern Coast

    Fall:
    1. -1 morale penalty for all troops fighting in Northern Marches;
    2. in all regions, -1 penalty to loyalty level if levies are active during this season, since they miss the harvest season (does not apply to urban provinces)

    Winter:
    1. -1 morale penalty for all troops fighting in Southern coast;
    2. -2 morale penalty for those fighting in the Western Coast, Heartlands, or Eastern Marches;
    3. -3 morale penalty for those fighting in Northern Marches;
    4. in all regions, double movement cost through all terrains (snow, mud, frozen ground, bad weather, additional care of draft animals required, difficulty of forage)

    These rules would make even long-standing wars more seasonal and place pressure to end them quickly or avoid sieges. The most intense fighting would likely occur during the summer (it's true that heavily armored troops probably wouldn't like this season, either, but I didn't want to adjust down the unit level). Levies would be disbanded during the Spring and Fall, but the lack of a permanent province penalty for losing them outside your borders should help encourage their use in warfare. Winter would be a nasty time to do battle, as well, with the most disciplined troops gaining an advantage over less disciplined ones. Winter, thus, would be the season where the normal advantage of superior numbers could be matched or overcome more easily by more disciplined ones. It would also be the season to try to break sieges.

    What do you think about these? Should there be a seasonal adjustment to the DC or rates of certain domain actions (listing just "Seasonal" next to their title line to indicate that they take the seasonal modifiers), or is this getting just too complex or not realistic? (For instance, Build might slow by 1GB per action or by half in Winter; Rule, Agitate [positively], Create might all take the above morale penalties to DC.)

  2. #2
    Site Moderator kgauck's Avatar
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    Classical Medieval war was mostly a summertime occupation, partly having to do with the preponderant obligations of agriculture. Late medieval warfare extended the period of warfare to the non-winter, easily six months, up to nine.

    I would make winter prohibitive. Normal warfare operations are just impossible in winter for medieval armies (and early modern armies for that matter). Movement is effected, attrition is effected (and can be huge for troops not in winter quarters), in addition to mention morale.

    The easiest thing to do is impose a hit on every unit that moves or fights in winter conditions (not the winter season, as winter on the South Coast and most of Khinasi might be mild and rainy).

    On the South Coast I would tend impose a minor penalty (movement and morale) in summer and winter.

    In Khinasi I would make summer the bad season, and impose the hit on every unit that moved or fights in summer, impose movement and morale costs.

  3. #3
    Site Moderator AndrewTall's Avatar
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    Keeping it simple - +1 GB per 4 province levels in autumn (scaled for other domains), -1 GB per 4 levels in winter? (also scaled).

    Alternatively have the income boost in both summer and autumn, and the drop in winter and spring.


    I like the idea of war in spring and autumn being restricted due to agriculture - but am not sure how in practice to split it - the planting month will vary depending on seasons with some areas planting months earlier than others, it also ignores dual crop locations.

    Perhaps you could roll this into the random income roll - each unit mustered from the populace during a planting month gives a penalty of 1 to the roll or some such, hmm, you could even roll in a penalty for the use of realm spells to keep the witch-burners happy or add a further penalty for major battles in a big province...

  4. #4
    Site Moderator kgauck's Avatar
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    By the late medieval period, the agricultural restrictions were gone because armies were paid soldiers, both recruits and mercenaries, and didn't need to go home to plant and harvest. It is those units raised by the levy for "free" that should only be available in the summer season, and simply not in spring and fall. Levy's for defense are possible in winter, but would not campaign away from their home province.

  5. #5
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    Do you prefer the professional soldier option?

    I prefer feudal obligations for Birthright, because it seems more appropriate to the setting IMO to have nobles summon their men-at-arms and come to the call to war. Certainly professional armies could be maintained or hired as supplemental soldiers, but I do like "calling the banners" as a good BR flavor. In fact, I've been considering implementing a "Manor" holding system inspired by ROE that could provide more heavily armed "levies" in addition to some small income. Alternately, Law holdings could work that way (if you don't want new holding types). But such a thing would provide Knights, Cavalry, and trained Infantry and Archers, with general Levies filling out the ranks of less skilled soldiers. Then the lord would march to war with a real army behind his small standing force of 5-15 units, and supplement them with mercenaries. However, his nobles (who provided the core forces) wield considerable direct power. Kgauck, I know you can explain a noble's power without a direct mechanic, but I find it helpful as a quick and easy guide.

  6. #6
    Site Moderator kgauck's Avatar
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    By "professional soldiers" I only mean people whose life is warfare, so I mean a noble and his men-at-arms as much as commoners who enlist and serve for an extended period of time.

    As long as the bulk of armies is not composed of agricultural workers, the harvest and planting won't produce grave restrictions. That's why I would limit its impact to the units raised with the levy rules.

    I think armies are mostly feudal because of the costs involved in raising them (these forces must own their own gear), and so I suppose they have nothing to do with working farmland.

  7. #7
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    Ah, I see. You're not talking about a "standing army?" Fighting men called to service would presumably be doing other things for most of the year. I thought the average time of service was 40 days a year, and I don't know if that accumulates at all if unused, but it did include all arms and armor and even provisions, IIRC.

    However, if this is the system in service, then muster costs should be nil for these forces, and there should not even be provisioning costs for the first month, at least, and arms maintenance after that would still be the responsibility of the owner (only food would presumably be the liege's responsibility). The standard BR system seems much more focused on professional standingarmies, more akin to modern militaries. That's why I was interested in a Manor holding that would effectively represent typical muster of more skilled soldiers.

    Could you help me walk through some demographics, then? If nobles, for instance, make up about 3% of the population (not sure that's accurate, but I'll use it for now), 1 out of 3 of them might be fighting age men who would either fight themselves or pay scutage when called to duty. That's 1% of the total population available as professional soldiers based on social class. If a 1000sqmi plains province sustains a typical population of 100/sqmi, that's 1000 men. More than I expected, actually.

    So should if you assume full settlement of a province, should that number of men be available for muster at little to no cost? Of course, if the 40 day rule is in place, any considerable war would be rotating men in and out--not all would come to service at once. I can go into what I'm working on for Manors and resources, but that might be better for another thread.

    What I am wondering here, then, is if BR uses feudal obligations, should a certain number of skilled soldiers be available for limited service at little to no muster or maintenance cost? Or should these skilled soldiers be treated as a professional standing army, only?

    Levies under either system would still represent relatively unskilled, poorly-equipped conscripts. Do levies, however, make up a considerable portion of armies of the time period?
    Last edited by Rowan; 12-01-2008 at 11:54 PM. Reason: Changed numeric assumptions

  8. #8
    Site Moderator kgauck's Avatar
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    I'm not keen on the 40 day service idea, because it doesn't mesh well with other parts of the domain system. Different parts of Cerilia doubtless have their own customs, and there is no reason any one of them must correspond with the high medieval practice. In more general terms the feudal system was a distribution of the costs of war in exchange for a like distribution of the management of the kingdom, especially the rights of justice and taxation.

    Given the Imperial scale, and the need for wars in distant places rather just local defense, I don't think a 40 day period of service makes much sense, except for levies. Instead we should presume that the feudal system offers ready armed and trained bodies of men in ther service of local nobles, subject to summons by an overlord. The lord is expected to pay the costs of the campaign, but he is not subject to the much larger costs of training and equipping men.

    This way the domain system works perfectly. Muster costs are extremely low, maintenance costs are low, and mustering is very fast. This is how the domain system works.

    Modern professional armies (like say, the New Model Army) would cost vastly more to muster and maintain, and would take longer to recruit. A state that raised them would have to have a more linear tax curve, getting much more money out of the larger provinces.

  9. #9
    Birthright Developer irdeggman's Avatar
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    I think that this concept of troops should also have a greater restriction on the number that can be raised in a province though.

    Since the troops are those who don't farm (or otherwise contribute to the economy) then there should be a lot fewer of them so a higher than the present restriction should be a better reflection of this. Any troops mustered over that limit should then start to impose increasingly greater restrictions on the economy since you are now tapping into those who contribute to it on a regular basis.

    Just my opinion.
    Duane Eggert

  10. #10
    Site Moderator kgauck's Avatar
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    This is a real phenomenon, and was one of the motivating factors in using mercenaries rather than native troops, but the benefits are too small to measure in the big scales of BR. If a province collects income as GB, for tens of thousands of people, what's another couple dozen gp in lost revenue?

    This would have to be something that only has an impact past a certain point.

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