Draft War System
The war system adjudicates conflict in the broad arc of campaigns and seasons; while players and staff may tell stories about raids, battles, sieges, daring special operations and the like, the broad scope of a campaign occurs over the course of a season, where depending on the outcome of the campaign the Known Worlders may take a city, the Kurgans may take a city or there may be some sort of stalemate.
- 1 Overview
- 2 Adjudicating War
- 3 Starting A Campaign
- 4 War Rolls
- 5 Milestones
- 6 Concluding A Campaign
- 7 War TPs
- 8 Special Goals
- 9 Moving Units During Campaigns
- 10 Multiple Commanders On A Side
- 11 Example Campaign 1: The River War
- 12 Example Campaign 2: The Siege of Meekham
- 13 Example Campaign 3: The Defenders of Qattabad
- 14 FAQ
The wars of each season are divided into campaigns, which may be named descriptively 'The War in the North' or for a target 'The Zatan Campaign'. In general, there are probably 3-5 campaigns in a given season, corresponding to the general theaters of war.
At the start of the season and as the season progresses lords, priests, and guilders will commit troops in companies to a campaign. Each IC Period, the campaign will move forward based on rolls made in the background and the relative forces committed to the campaign. At the end of the season, one side or the other - or neither, or both - will achieve their objectives and territory will change hands.
Each season, the Kurgans and the Known Worlders will send soldiers to support a particular campaign, measured in companies. The number of companies may change over the course of a season as casualties are taken and deals are struck, but if one side outnumbers another most rolls will receive a bonus - generally, a +1 for every one-third larger one side is than another.
Each IC period, staff will make three contested rolls for the general in charge of each side of a campaign. One is a Wits+Warfare roll, one is a Presence+Command roll, and the third will be a roll of staff's choice based on the narrative currently going on about the war. The VPs of those three contested rolls will be added to a running 'War Total' kept for each side.
During the season, casualties are calculated as if a battle had been fought every time a side reaches 10 VPs - so at 10 VPs, 20 VPs, 30 VPs, and so on. These milestones also represent major events occurring, such as a decisive battle, the sacking of a town, or some other narrative development.
At the end of the season, the two sides' totals are compared. If they are roughly equal - the winner is within one-third or so of the loser's VPs - then either both sides achieve their goal or neither side does, though the side with more VPs may receive some minor victory short of their goal. If one side has a clear but not overwhelming advantage in VPs -- between a third and two-thirds again of the loser's VPs -- then the winning side will achieve a victory. The winning side will achieve its goal and the losing side will not, though the losing side will also get something -- perhaps some better position at the start of the next season or another concession. If the winning side has an overwhelming advantage in VPs, however, it will be total victory, with the winning side achieving its goal and the losing side achieving nothing.
Starting A Campaign
Campaigns begin with the selection of goals for each opposing force. Goal selection is an interactive process between staff and PCs, but generally a campaign goal is the conquest of an enemy town and its surrounding lands; a season in the Craglands, for instance, might have a Known Worlder goal of taking Ideros and a Kurgan goal of taking Arsuf. Not all goals are easily possible; before a major capital is taken, for instance, usually a side needs to be in control of other nearby towns, though staff might adjudicate unorthodox plans by giving one side a boost in their VP total. For instance, if the Kurgans wanted to have a goal of taking Auberry without first conquering Arsuf and Prior's Ford, the Known Worlders might start the season with a 20 VP advantage.
While goals are usually the conquest of some territory, other goals are possible. The Known Worlders could conduct a campaign to shut down all the monorail lines leading into Revelation, for instance, or the Kurgans could have a campaign goal of sabotaging the planetary shield at Akko. Staff may add bonuses or penalties to rolls or forces when special goals are in play, in order to represent their effect on a campaign. For example, two very common special goals -- defending territory and raiding -- are discussed separately below.
Before the start of fighting, the two sides will decide how many forces to commit to the campaign. Generally, the Kurgans will determine their commitments first, followed by the PCs; after the PCs make commitments, staff will make a series of contested Espionage and Warfare rolls to determine how many forces the Kurgans can redeploy in order to match the Known Worlders.
Generally, this will be one contested Espionage roll, one contested Warfare roll, and one contested roll with the better of Espionage and Warfare for each campaign. The net VPs on these three rolls will determine what percentage of forces the Kurgans can redeploy, with 10% of forces able to be added or subtracted for each net VP.
When a campaign is being conducted between two PCs, staff will flip a coin and give the winning side the choice of going first or second.
Each IC Period, staff will make a series of three contested rolls for the commanders on each side. One of these rolls will be a Wits+Warfare roll, one of these rolls will be a Presence+Command roll, and the third roll will be some combination appropriate for the present course of the war. It could be a Yathrib roll, for instance, if the story being told is about small units hunting each other in the Craglands, or it could be a Bureaucracy or Commerce roll if the war has settled into a great siege that consists of a battle over supplies. When no other roll is appropriate, staff will default to having each side roll the better of Wits+Warfare or Presence+Command.
One character does not need to make all three rolls; the PC who is the general-in-chief of a campaign can designate other characters - PCs or NPCs - to make the appropriate rolls. For instance, a character might hire a Muster tactician to make Warfare rolls, or a local scout to make Yathrib rolls. Depending on who is doing what, staff may adjudicate public perception -- a warrior count who constantly relies on others to do his commanding for him may be said to shy away from war, while an invalid baron who has his son command his armies may be seen as preserving family tradition.
When the third roll is going to be something unusual, staff will give players advance notice as appropriate so that they have an opportunity to arrange through RP for appropriate help.
War rolls are contested; the VPs earned will add to one side's total or another, raising the War Totals of the winner of each roll.
For every 10 VPs a side earns in its War Total, casualties will accrue and developments will occur in the war. Casualty calculations occur exactly as they do in the battle system; the side which is presently losing the war will take losses based on the viciousness of conflict, while the side presently winning the war will take a percentage of the losing's side's losses based on the closeness of their relative war totals.
Thus, if the totals are Known Worlders 30 to Kurgans 15 during a normal war, the Kurgans will take 10% losses, while the Known Worlders will lose half what the Kurgans lose. If the totals are Known Worlders 30 to Kurgans 25, the Kurgans will take 10%, while the Known Worlders will take five-sixths -- 83% -- of the Kurgan losses.
Additionally, milestones represent narrative developments in the war. The side that reaches the milestone will have some sort of victory or positive development -- the sacking of a town, the capture of an important enemy commander, a decisive battle, or some other sort of interesting development. Sometimes, these milestone developments will have mechanical benefits, but often they just represent a vehicle to describe the progression of the war.
Sides gain milestone victories even if they are presently losing the war. If the Known Worlders' total is at 36 and the Kurgans gain enough VPs to reach 20, there will be a milestone victory for the Kurgans -- despite the Known Worlder advance, they may hold an instrumental valley pass long enough to allow the evacuation of a critical airfield or their raiders may make a series of behind-the-lines strikes that demoralize the peasantry.
Concluding A Campaign
At the end of a season, staff will compare total VPs. If both sides are roughly equal, then either both sides will achieve their goal or neither side will, depending on the choices of the commanders and the progress of the war to this point.
If one side has solidly more VPs than the other - roughly more than a third again of the losers' VPs - then they will have victory -- they will achieve their goal, taking the territory they are seeking or otherwise achieving their end. However, war is not without compromise, and so the losing side will also have some 'concession' -- perhaps they will partly achieve their own goal, or they will start out better-positioned to retake the lands they lost the next season since they were so recently dislodged. Concessions are often on the scale of a 10 VP bonus to the next season's campaign, representing the tenuous of the victor's gains.
If one side has overwhelmingly won - with two-thirds again more VPs than their opponents - they will have a total victory; they will achieve their goal, and the enemy will achieve essentially nothing as they are driven from their strong places and the victors have the time and opportunity to reinforce and settle in.
As with everything, these categories are fluid and serve the story. Particularly, commanders may choose to sacrifice more in order to retain what they have. With staff's approval, for instance, the commander holding a castle who has just lost a campaign might refuse to vacate the keep even though he has lost; instead, he may give up several concessions, starting the next season with the keep besieged and the enemy at a 20 VP bonus as hunger and disease walk the halls of his keep. The war system is designed to make the story rule, and serves only as a framework to express the consequences of player choices and adjudicate their effects upon the world.
The broad framework of the war system is intended to provide a backdrop for war TPs -- not just full battles but commando raids, air sorties, skirmishes over isolated farmsteads, disease problems in siege camps and the full panoply of stories related to conflict.
The bulk of that storytelling we intend to put on PCs and Player-Run Plots; the relative war totals will give players a sense of how the war is going, and we hope that they will then tell stories for themselves that are reflective of that progress. Doing so also has a benefit -- after running a campaign-related PRP, the characters' war total may increase.
Staff encourages players to run PRPs that are reflective of the current war totals; if the Kurgans are ahead, for instance, players might run a PRP where they defend a farmstead against Kurgan raiders, while if the Known Worlders are ahead instead a PRP might be run sabotaging a fuel depot in a daring commando raid.
After running such a PRP, players should submit a +request describing the plot and its results. Staff will then make a check (generally at Goal 10) to represent the impact of that plot on the larger war. On a success, the heroes' war total will increase by 1 VP. On a critical success, it will increase by 2 VPs, while on a mishap, the enemy's war total will increase by 1 VP -- even though the heroes may have succeeded, their effort pulled resources that allowed the enemy to advance elsewhere.
This 'War TP' check is usually made at Goal 10. Particularly exciting, involved, or clever PRPs may provide a bonus to the check - sometimes up to Goal 12 -- while adverse circumstances may reduce the goal of the check as low as Goal 8. When the battle system is used to run a War TP, instead of rolling a separate goal a VP is instead added to the total of the winning side.
There is no limit to the number of War TPs players can run in an IC period, though as the number of PRPs increase the goal for each individual PRP may decrease.
While most War TPs are PRPs, staff may also sometimes run such stories. The same rules generally apply.
Major Battles and Decisive Events
Most war-related TPs use the rules above, even Battle System battles and other involved affairs. Sometimes, however, a TP may be a much more decisive, centerpiece affair -- a major battle or some other decisive TP. In those cases, staff will adjudicate the TP like its own mini-period, adding VPs to one side or another based on results.
Battle System battles often fall into this category; at the conclusion of a major battle, both sides will add their VPs to their war totals and calculate casualties, since by definition a major battle represents a milestone.
While decisive event TPs are more likely to be staff-run, some player-run plots may also fall in this category.
Two special situations often come up as war goals, when a commander wishes to spend a season defending -- just trying to hold on to territory rather than gain new land -- or raiding, where the commander is interested in profit, not new lands.
Both of these circumstances essentially double the effective strength of the army committed to the campaign; an army of 10 companies that is only trying to defend its lands counts as having 20 companies, just an army of 10 companies that is only trying to raid - rather than conquer land - also counts as 20 companies.
Commanders can switch to these special goals from a conquest goal at any time during a campaign season, abandoning their prior goal but making future rolls at double strength. However, switching from one of these special goals to a standard 'conquer land' goal is hard -- if a commander wishes to move from defending or raiding to a traditional war of conquest, their current VP total is halved.
If a commander chooses to spend a season only defending her lands rather than trying to conquer new lands she receives a bonus and is able to count her army as being double-sized. If the town targeted by the enemy has a major fortification, she receives an additional bonus -- if the targeted town has a keep or castle in it, the commander receives an effective +2 VPs at the end of each IC Period, win or lose. If the targeted town has one of the great keeps, she may receive +4 VPs or more each IC Period, depending on the keep and the narrative of the war. (Sidon or Johburg, for instance, are +4 VPs per period, while Kerak or Joyeaux might be +8!)
However, if a defending commander ultimately is the victor in the campaign season, she does not gain territory or achieve some other goal; instead, at a solid victory she retains her lands while the enemy gains a concession, while with a total victory the defender retains her lands and the enemy goes home with nothing.
Commanders can also choose to engage in opportunistic raiding, trying to burn outlying villages, take caravans and otherwise cause disruption and gain profit rather than gain land. Commanders who choose to raid for a season count as having a army one and a half times its actual size when calculating relative strength. Additionally, if the commander has raiding-focused units as a sizeable portion of her army -- say an assault lander, raider corvette, or a high percentage of elite raiders -- the commander will receive an effective +2 VPs each IC period, win or lose. The commander can also receive an effective VP boost if they have air- or sea- superiority over the enemy, by engaging in coastal raiding against an enemy that has few ships or having air superiority to prevent defenders from using air transport to respond to raids. If the raiding commander has significant air superiority - generally more than twice the enemy aircraft - they will receive an extra +2 VPs at the end of each IC Period, win or lose, and will also receive an extra +2 VPs at the end of each IC Period if she has significant sea superiority.
Even if a raiding army wins, however, they do not gain land. Instead, at the end of the season they will gain plunder, to the tune of approximately 10,000 firebirds for every VP they exceed the enemy by. This amount may go up or down if the two sides are very large or very small.
Moving Units During Campaigns
While generally forces are committed a campaign for a full season, as IC events develop alliances may form or break and the armies of one side or another may swell or dwindle. Soldiers can be moved during the campaign season, and when they arrive at a new theater of war they count towards the forces committed there for all future war rolls.
Most troops take time to move from one place to another. Generally, if you want to redeploy soldiers during the season, they will be out of combat for a full IC period. The character controlling the soldiers should put in a +request indicating that they are moving to a different campaign. When that +request is resolved, they will be removed from the current campaign they are part of and will not count towards any campaign that IC Period. The next IC period, the controlling player should +request again and they will be present for the war rolls in that subsequent IC period.
If a campaign is being fought at an extreme distance - for instance a war being fought at Bassem Mroue or the Sathraist Kingdoms - it may take two IC periods of 'transit' before a company can redeploy.
Some units can redeploy more quickly. Mechanized units can redeploy to a nearby place - roughly within a county or to one of its immediate neighbors - within a single IC period. Airborne units can redeploy anywhere within the region - for most campaigns, the Shining Gulf - in a single IC period, while space units can redeploy anywhere on planet in a single IC period. The character controlling one of these more mobile units just needs +request that they redeploy and they will count towards the war rolls in their destination as soon as the +request is processed.
Multiple Commanders On A Side
Sometimes - indeed, often - one side will not have a single general-in-chief during a campaign but will have several independent commanders who only loosely coordinate their actions.
Independent commanders make independent war rolls. Each independent commander (or their subordinates) roll Wits + Warfare, Presence + Command, and whatever the third context-specific war roll will be. If any independent commander beats the enemy, then the allied side wins, using the independent commander's roll as the winning roll. However, if no independent commander beats the enemy, than the enemy wins, and the lowest rolls among the independent commanders is used for purposes of comparison.
Thus, if Lord Jack and Lord John are both independent commanders facing Alex Khan, each will roll independently. If Lord Jack gets 4 VPs on his Warfare roll, Lord John 2 VPs, and Alex Khan 3 VPs, then the allies will win as Lord Jack's forces surge forward and add 1 VP to their war total. If on their Command rolls, however, Lord Jack gets 2 VPs, Lord John fails and Alex Khan rolls 3 VPs, then the Kurgans will win and add 3 VPs to their war total, exploiting Lord John's failure despite Lord Jack's brave effort.
If both sides have multiple commanders, these effects combine -- the winning side will use the highest of their rolls while the losing side will use the lowest of their rolls as the chaos of battle causes larger swings in either direction.
While independent commanders may have different size forces under their command, we count the total allied forces during a campaign for the purposes of determining size bonuses -- thus, if Lord John has a force of 6 companies, Lord Jack 10 companies, and the Kurgans have 12 companies, both Lord John and Lord Jack will get a +1 to all their rolls for their side being one-third larger than the Kurgans.
Independent commanders need to command a reasonable percentage of the army to be able to roll independently. While there is no hard and fast rule, a force of ten percent or less the total is unlikely to have a major impact on the course of an IC period.
Example Campaign 1: The River War
In the first example campaign, the Kurgans are trying to take High Fen, while the Known Worlders are trying to take Falconet. The Known Worlders have 15 companies dedicated to the campaign under the command of the Baron of High Fen, while the Kurgans are lead by the fearsome Malik Khan.
In the first IC period, the Kurgans gain 6 VPs, while the Known Worlders gain 4 -- the Known Worlders won one of the three rolls, but did so by quite a bit, while the Kurgans won the other two. The Kurgans are advancing, but there has been no milestone, yet; just intermittent raids along the river. The Baron of High Fen runs a PRP about an ambush of some Kurgan scouts by his river-men, and submits a +request; staff rolls, and he gets an extra VP, making the River War now Kurgans 6, Known Worlders 5.
In the second IC period, the Known Worlders roll much better. They get a total of 8 VPs, while the Kurgans get only 2. Now, the tally is Known Worlders 13, Kurgans 8 -- a milestone for the Known Worlders. Talking to the Baron's player, staff works out that he lured an advancing Kurgan force into a marshy area at the edge of the fens, to set up a Battle of the Fens between the two forces. That battle is a separately rolled Battle System conflict; staff decides it is a major battle, and so at the end the Known Worlders add 10 VPs to their total, and the Kurgans 8 -- it was a close fight. Winning the battle is the Known Worlders' next milestone, but the Kurgans are now at 16, giving them their first; staff decides that as the Known Worlders press towards al-Fasir, the Kurgans are able to mount a lightning raid at High Fen, capturing the Baron of High Fen's wife.
The third IC period opens as the Known Worlders arrive around Falconet, beginning to besiege it. The rolls are less good for the Known Worlders, this time -- the Kurgans roll 5 VPs, the Known Worlders 4, for a total of Known Worlders 27 to Kurgans 21. Though the Known Worlders are still ahead, the Kurgans are able to send a supply convoy down the river from Grenede, which is their milestone. However, several players run a PRP to poison one of the wells inside the city; they +request after, and while it doesn't shift the VP total at all staff notes that girardia is starting to run rampart among the defenders.
The fourth IC period is the final IC period of the season. The Known Worlders get 3 VPs and the Kurgans get 1. They keep their supplies up, but the airlift running into al-Fasir just isn't enough; with a final total of 31 to 22, the Known Worlders have a solid victory and drive the Kurgans from the city at the end of a siege. Of course, the Kurgans still menace -- they are near to al-Fasir and may have a bonus when trying to retake the city next season.
Example Campaign 2: The Siege of Meekham
In this campaign, the Kurgans are trying to take Meekham, while the Known Worlders are trying to defend it. The Kurgan columns is some 20 companies, lead by Jalalkhan himself, and the Baroness of the Tomb has only 7 companies to defend the tomb. Of course, she doubles their numbers for defensive purposes, so they count as 14 companies, but the Kurgans still outnumber the defenders.
The first IC period, the Kurgans net 3 VPs to the Known Worlders 1, as Kurgan raiders begin to hit around Meekham. The Baroness runs a PRP where she personally leads a raid; after a request, this is an extra VP, for a total of Kurgans 3, Known Worlders 2.
During the second period, the Known Worlders have a critical success -- good, since the Kurgans win the other rolls. The Known Worlders are at a total of 10 VPs to the Kurgans 7, but that first milestone means that a punitive raid by the Known Worlders is able to burn the Kurgan siege train, leaving them unable to directly assault the city the next period.
The third period the Kurgans meet the Baroness in the field, and Jalalkan excels in such situations. He scores 8 VPs to the Known Worlders 2, and the total becomes 15 Kurgans, Known Worlders 12.
The final period is the siege proper; the Kurgans draw close around, and each side ends up with two more VPs. At 17 to 14, there is no clear victory, and after speaking with the Baroness it is determined that the siege will continue next season.
Example Campaign 3: The Defenders of Qattabad
In this example, the PCs have stolen a march on Qattabad; at the opening of the season, they use aircraft to raid Qattabad, dropping troops in swiftly in hopes of holding the city against the Kurgans who will attempt to retake it. Though ostensibly the Known Worlders hold the city and the Kurgans are besieging it, in fact the Kurgans goal is to defend while the Known Worlds' is to conquer territory. As a consequence, the Kurgans 15 companies double their strength, while the 20 companies of the Known Worlders stand alone. However, staff rules that the Known Worlders can get +2 VPs an IC period for holding the Qattabad keep, at least until the Kurgans dislodge them.
The first period the Known Worlders get 4 VPs and the Kurgans also 4. With the +2 from the Keep, the tally is Known Worlds 6, Kurgans 4, as the Kurgans try - and fail - to retake the city.
The next period, however, the Kurgans have 6 VPs to the Known Worlders' 0. Even with the +2 from Katta Castle, the total is 10 to 8, and there is brutal city fighting as the Kurgans get over the walls and try to dislodge the Known Worlders.
Staff decides to run this battle as a major event; at the end, the Kurgans have 10 VPs to the Known Worlders 9, leaving the city burned and the totals 20 to 17.
In the third period, the Known Worlder force tries to retake the city. They roll well -- 8 VPs -- and the Kurgans rolls only 2, though they now get the +2 from the keep. The total is 25 to 24, with the Known Worlders just ahead.
The final period of the season is a Known Worlder push, and with a series of excellent rolls they make 7 VPs to the Kurgans 0. Even with the Kurgans +2, the totals are 32 to 26, which is just barely enough for a solid victory, leaving the Known Worlders holding Qattabad but with the Kurgans threatening.
What does it mean to commit to a campaign?
A campaign is a broad military effort that takes place over months, generally with the end of goal of capturing a town, preventing the enemy from capturing a town, or gaining wealth from enemy lands. While that is the end, however, it may not come in a straight line.
A campaign to take Rabaq, for instance, is not just a mass of soldiers marching at and then besieging Rabaq, and people can commit to that campaign in many ways. For instance, a campaign between Johburg and Rabaq will have naval action, raids on coastal villages, feints towards other towns, commando operations to cut supply lines, and forces committed to that effort may be doing a wide variety of things.
For instance, a company of soldiers committed to the Rabaq campaign might be doing any of the following things:
- Participating in a ground invasion of the city
- Patrolling the coastline near Rotdam to watch for raiders
- Raiding out of the desert far behind enemy lines to hit Rabaq's vassals, disrupting supplies and reinforcements
- Serving as marines aboard naval forces engaged in running battles in the Shining Gulf
- Garrisoning the Johburg so that Rabaq forces cannot attack it
A company doing any of these things is 'committed' to a campaign; soldiers involved in a campaign might be defending their lands, raiding the enemy's lands, engaged in strategic gambits or doing anything else a player can think of. Soldiers committed to the campaign may be close on the front lines or serving as reserves back at home, enjoying a relatively good life.
We do not track with specificity what any given company is doing, though we use players' intentions about what their forces are up to to decide where casualties are assigned and parcel out glory. Still, the description of /what/ your soldiers are doing is a fundamentally narrative one; it has no mechanical bearing on the outcome of the war system, but instead gives staff clues about how to describe the story of the war.
What Does It Mean To Be A General?
Each side in a campaign has one or more commanders or generals, PCs or NPCs who are in charge of the overall war effort. Being a general requires a major effort each IC period, and a character can usually only be the general of a single campaign. Often, one character is in charge both of strategy (making warfare rolls each period) and field command (making command rolls each period), but sometimes one character handles strategy and another handles field command.
While being a general entails a major commitment of IC effort, it does not mean that a character is out of Akko. Indeed, a lot of strategy is planned from Akko, where there are more resources available, and even field commanders spend as much time giving orders as they do riding in the mud and dirt. The existence of flitters and other transport make such things easy.
Each IC period there is a third roll besides command and warfare, usually something related to the story or plans of the campaign. The character making this roll may be a general or she may not, and depending on the situation staff may or not require a major effort to contribute in that fashion.