User:Trevyr/Espionage Actions

Some good points. Let me tell you how I handle them.
On Mon, 15 Nov 1999, the Falcon wrote:
Well, all nice and great that espionage action, but how would you use it? There's only so many people you could consider to assassinate. And there's only that much information you might need on other domains, especially if you're a non-landed regents - besides, troop movements can only be monitored by holdings and scouts.
Where does it say that troop movements can only be monitored by scouts and
holdings? However, if this is really what you mean, then you're missing a
whole dimension of the game. Especially in PBeM's, but also in F2F games,
the espionage action has the potential to wreak lots of havok among your
enemies and be a constant source of funds.
An example: by regularly maintaining contacts and informants in Ghoere's
court (1 esp. action every season), Roger Guilder of Roesone learns of
Ghoere's plans to invade Roesone. Rather than charging Marlae Roesone for
the information, Roger decided to curry favor with the Baroness, and
loyally tells her of the news. However, he also offers this proposition:
for a mere 10 GB he can cause Ghoere to attack Osoerde instead. Receiving
permission, Roger arrainges an assassination attempt on the Baron (Duke?)
of Ghoere, but carefully arrainging it so that the blame falls on
Osoerde's shoulders. He spends 2 espionage actions prepairing the attempt,
spends an additional 4 GB on the attempt itself. At the end of the season
he is 3 GB richer, and is owed a major favor by Marlae Roesone.
It is fully concieveable to consider a guilder character or NPC as an
information broker. He figures out what kind of information people are
likely to need or want, finds it, and offers to sell it to them. One of my
favorite tactics in PBeM games when I'm playing a guilder is to spend my
free espionage keeping track of the army units of any province rulers who
make (what I consider to be) unreasonable demands on me. As soon as the
ruler begins to build up his units, I figure out who she is likely to
attack, and offer that person detailed information in exchange for
sizeable sums of money.
My rule is that espionage actions are not penalized as long as
they take place in a province in which you have a law holding, a guild
or in a province bordering a province in which you have a guild
holding (0-level holdings count). As the province in which you wish to
conduct the espionage becomes further away from your holdings, I apply a
-2 penalty per province distant to the roll that is not modifiable by GB's
or RP's. I would allow any regent who controlled a Bards College (by
building it with the Build Action) to halve this penalty and treat any one
other holding-type as guilds for the purpose of espionage.
Further, while it is true that any regent can conduct an espionage action,
guilders have a dinstinct advantage in this because: 1.) They have much
larger guild holdings to work with, and so can cover more ground; and 2.)
their holdings are much more likely to cross political borders. For the
most part, trade across Cerilia (or at least Anuire) is held to be
"beneath" the nobility (Brechtur being the notable exception), and so is
less heavily politicized. What I mean is this: A province holder typically
reacts quite negatively if a rival establishes a law holding in one of his
provinces. The response can also be quite negative if another temple
attempts to get established. But for the most part, as far as guilders are
concerned, the more the merrier. The province ruler benefits by an
increased ability to make law claims against many small as opposed to one
large Guild, and the ruler can skim off as many trade routes as there are
trade route openings. Thus a guilder is in a position to get into places
where the information is without raising alarms.
Further, the Intrigue proficiency has the potential to be very powerful
(and therefore also greatly abused) if used creatively. For example, as I
read the description, it can be used to set up virtually any type of dirty
trick, scheme, or powerplay a character can think of. For example, lets
say Roger Guilder instead of an assassination attempt wanted to kidnap the
Duke of Ghoere. As I read the book, this would require 3-6 weeks of
preparation, which I would translate as 1 or 2 months of Espionage actions
to "set up" the plan, and then a third to set it in motion (and I would
allow a lientennant action to assist this). I would set up the time
necessary (1d3+3 or DM's opinion) and allow an Intrigue proficiency check
by the player to determine whether one month's preparation was enough.
Both the player and the DM roll the proficency check (the DM in secret),
and then the DM compares them: if they both are successful, the
character's guess as to whether he has prepared enough truely reflects
reality. If the player succeeds and the DM fails, the player is told that
his character thinks he has prepared enough, regardless of whether he has
or not. If the player fails, he thinks he needs additional preparation
time. If both player and DM fail, it is possible that the target is
alerted to the intrigue.
Then the Espionage action is taken wherein the dirty deed is actually
done. As long as the roll succeeds, THE PLAN GOES OFF EXACTLY LIKE THE
PLAYER DESIGNED IT. The exception might be if the opponent was actively
using espionage or intrigue to counter any attempt ("counterespionage").
Thus, Roger Guilder can kidnap the Duke of Ghoere, throwing his court into
chaos and making any concerted attack on Roesone very difficult. Ghoere's
son does not even inherit the Regency, because his father is not dead yet.
This would greatly hamper Ghoere's ability to conduct domain actions
(limited to 1 lieutennant action per season as I read the rules).
So, as I said, as far as I'm concerned the limits to the espionage action
are limited only by the imagination. And I've had some pretty creative
players, whom I've more often had to rein in than encourage to use the
Espionage Action.
Mark VanderMeulen

November 1999

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