- Campaign Premise
The PCs are lesser nobility in a kingdom undergoing a dynastic struggle. Should they survive the dangers of the war for the throne, they must gather additional allies in order to resist the oppressions of the neighboring realms.
The Peninsula runs north from Estristan Hegemony border for 260 miles to the sea, and is generally about 230 miles wide. The islands of the Osenmarch lie about thirty miles east of the main land and are generally narrow and long on a north-south axis. At least three small mountain and hill chains help divide the Peninsula. A major one runs north-south slightly west of center and shelters the Orc Wastes to the east. There may be some secondary peninsulas jutting out as fingers from the main landmass.
Bailis is located in the southeast, partially separated from Gaitia by the central mountain chain and the Orc Wastes. Kellis lies northeast of it near Osenmarch. The Weslon empire occupies most of the north half of the Peninsula.
Terrain wise, the Peninsula is mostly rolling hills, usually forested. There are obviously craggier hills, low mountains, marshes and river deltas, and a few plains or barren wastelands.
Some humans are mageborn, to a greater or lesser degree. Others are saints. Roughly 1 in 1000 humans in Bailis is a practicing mage or minor saint.
All elves are mageborn. There are no known elvish saints.
There are no known dwarf saints or mageborn. Some dwarves, depending on their Stone, Sculpt, or Soul, can wield the power of the dwarvish runes. These dwarvish runepriests can create magical effects.
The fae are inherently magical, but no fae practices magic as humans or dwarves do. To be fair, no fae practices blacksmithing like humans or dwarves do, and fae consider either craft to be equally mysterious and worthy of curiosity.
The Powers Edit
Great Powers Edit
- Baillis (The Twelve Duchies of the Noth)
- Loose confederation of seven duchies, an archduchy, two shires, and assorted other holdings united under a High King. Borders all Great Powers and many minor powers.
- A breakaway country formed out of two former duchies of Baillis. Shares borders with Baillis and the Weslon Empire; has a non-aggression pact with the Weslon Empire and a mutual defense agreement with Osenmarch. Gatia has been known to intercede in wars on the behalf of Kellis.
- Weslon Empire
- A hostile empire currently occupying one of the duchies of Baillis. Interested in conquering more. Sited on the north edge of the peninsula, has a powerful army and navy. Low ethical standards means its willing to ally with/recruit orcs, evil dragons, giant spider beasts, etc. Shares borders with Baillis, Kellis, and Gatia.
- A merchant republic on some neighboring islands. Its large merchant marine gives it a potentially powerful naval force, but it currently prefers to trade with everybody and maintain a smaller naval force for anti-piracy duty.
- Isolationist kingdom with ties to Baillis, Kellis, and the Weslon Empire. Borders Estristan, the Weslon Empire, and Baillis.
- Estristan Hegemony
- A huge country, roughly in strength and scariness to the combined Peninsular powers, riven by its own internal strife. Currently occupies one of the 12 duchies of Baillis and would like to own more. Borders Baillis and Gatia, both of which have to maintain their southern borders with sufficient troops to deter the Hegemony. Hegemon mercenaries are willing to fight in Peninsular wars.
Lesser Powers Edit
- Nine Kingdoms of the Dwarves
- Mutually hostile dwarf kingdoms living in several mountain chains that cross other people's lands (plus tunnels that go below). Relatively high tech (TL4) with good armor and primitive fire arms. Excellent allies if you don't mind getting involved in their internal feuding.
- Orc Wastes
- Disorganized greenskin tribes living in places no one else wants to. Periodically rage out and kill stuff. Acceptable mercenaries for those in need of cannon fodder.
- Kingdoms of the Elf Forests
- Disorganized groups of elves hanging out in the woods. Pain in the ass to organize, but excellent archers, mages, and flying cavalry.
- Kingdoms of the Elf Plains
- Disorganized groups of elves hanging out on the plans. Pain in the ass to organize, but excellent horse archers and mages.
- Kingdoms of the Sea Elves
- Oppressed marine elves who fight the Devilfish. Could be persuaded to fight in Peninsular Wars.
- Domination of the Devilfish
- Upright fishmen who fight the Sea Elves and engage in infrequent acts of piracy and seashore raiding. Could be persuaded to fight in Peninsular Wars.
Major Independents Edit
- They live in the mountains, or in the clouds, or in the sea. They eat a lot and are generally unlikeable. On the other hand, they're amazing good troops in Mass Combat terms.
- Titans, Dragons, Rocs, and Leviathans
- They live in remote places, devastate the local economy, and are equal to entire battle lines of ground troops. Tricky to recruit, but you need some way to deal with them.
- Long slumbering lich lords
- Find them, wake them up, get undead armies. Or put them to sleep forever to keep your enemies from getting undead armies.
Minor Independents Edit
- If you give them letters of marque, they become privateers and interfere with your enemy's economy. Right?
- Gnome/Kobold Bands
- They live in hills and aren't worth much in combat, but if you have one, your enemy can easily recruit the other. Probably.
- Seelie Faeries
- Treants, brownies, dryads, sylphs, nymphs, naiads, selkies, and all kinds of weird (but mostly pretty) critters. Theoretically recruitable if you dance 3 times around a stone ring at midnight and have appropriate sacrifices.
- Unseelie Faeries
- Giant talking bloodsucking spiders, nightmares, headless horsemen, and all kinds of weird (but mostly ugly) critters. Theoretically recruitable if you dance 4 times around a stone ring at midnight and have appropriate sacrifices.
- Marsh Lizardmen
- Swamp dwelling humanoid reptillian primitives. They're cheap, and they're the best marines in the world. But they're kinda creepy.
Stylistic Notes and Random Thoughts Edit
Concept of Play Edit
Phase 1: Dynastic Struggle Edit
The High King of Baillis is dying of old age. His children are dead; his oldest grandchild is illegitimate but mildly competent; his legitimate grandson is a spoiled brat; his granddaughter is a minor and may not be technically eligible for the throne. The King's surviving uncle has no living children; likely other candidates for the throne include the (highly competent but cruel) descendants of the old royal line (that the High King's grandfather arguably usurped) and some of the PCs.
Politic, make alliances, and prepare for the war that will break out when the High King dies. Choose a candidate for the throne and fight to secure it! Hire Hegemon mercenaries to supplement your forces, but don't let the southern border get to weak lest Estristan get hungry!
Phase 2: Peninsular War Edit
As the (hopefully) victorious PCs take measures to stabilize Baillis, the Weslon Empire wakes up some liches/recruits some giants/summons up some demons and invades! Alternate between fighting desperate holding actions, conducting raids against Imperial depots, making alliances with other Peninsular powers, and tomb-raiding for the legendary weapons necessary to kill 70' walking siege engines. Balance forward energy against the Empire with the sure knowledge that Estristan seeks to steal your lands.
(Optional) Phase 3: The Great War Edit
Assuming the campaign is still going at this point, and the PCs are now riding around on tame dragons the size of 747 while Titans haul their chests of gold around and their navy is supported by devilfish raiders, it's probably really time to stop. But if the players want to continue and can convince the GM not to abandon this for Harry Potter, it's time to introduce a bunch of other nations and then invade the Hegemony. Or some such.
Really, the idea of the Hegemony is that its a resource sink and potential threat, not something you invade.
A Question of Ethics Edit
Ideally, the PCs will choose to sponsor the High King's grand daughter after his legitimate grandson gets killed off, and then be the leaders of her Council of Regents (and if the campaign went on for long enough, her privy council). Then they have some room for negotiations with other Baillis leaders and space for compromise. But hey, her claim isn't so strong and maybe the PCs think that blood inheritance is a crappy way to organize government anyway. The emphasis of the game is supposed to be on political scheming, choosing between incompatible options (if you recruit gnomes you can't recruit kobolds!), and leading armies. If the PCs want to lead armies of the undead and be merciless tyrants, they should totally get that option. Or if they plan, seize power, forge the fascist Steel Empire of Baillis, and stomp around the world with an army of steampunk mecha, that's supported too.
Sandbox Game Style and Player Pro-Activeness Edit
This isn't my normal player pro-active game (which I'm beginning to give up on, anyway). A lot of the map has already been colored in, or at least outlined. Players should still be free to create details, especially about their home duchy, or even about the other countries within the broad outlines already put down. Though they have some opportunity to provide input, there are limits. They can't decide to be Elector Counts of the Threen Empire, because that place doesn't exist.
After play starts, the PCs do have opportunities to be both reactive and proactive. This isn't a West Marches style game: there are powerful NPCs out there, plotting to do harm. But there are a lot of plots, and the story needs to develop in response to the PC's plans: if the PCs kill the princess and rescue the lich, then the War goes on. The PCs may have lost legitimacy, but hey: armies of undead provide their own right to rule.
The idea is to have more of a fantasy kingdom simulator, with opportunities for huge battles, smaller raids, and even dungeon delving and tomb-robbing. But unlike, say, the Red Hand of Doom, there isn't a schedule. If the PCs stage a daring raid and kill Warmaster's Kharn's dragons and and giants, then Kharn's plan to overrun the city of Brindol is pretty much a failure. Kharn will have to come up with something else to do with 3000 hobgoblins looking for stuff to loot.
Not that I'm a big fan of GNS theory, but the intent of this game is to be mostly a simulator. It's not particularly gamist: some fights are going to be unfair or too challenging or whatever. It's definitely not narrative: Mass Combat rules pretty much tell us that if you take your spunky little army and assault the gates of the demon lord who outnumbers you 50:1 with 10:1 class superiority across the board, you're going to lose, no matter how dramatic it would be for the tide of the war to be turned in one climatic battle. (I guess it's narrative, if you think of military history as the assumed narrative: "then the demon lord committed suicide in his bunker and 3 weeks later the boys of Easy Company arrived to drink his hootch and detain his surviving henchmen for war crimes trials." Or whatever. The 1st Punic War is just a valid a model and I can't even remember how that turned out).
New Rules Needed for Mass Combat Edit
- Improvement through battle
- Forces should get batter after fighting. Probably requires the owner to pay maintenance for their new quality for several months while they're winning battles without taking too many casualties. Better troops require more battles to go up in quality.
- Would also need rules for disbanding disabled units to supplement other units; ie turning a Good unit with 60% casualties into reinforcements for other Good units in hopes of getting a Crack unit.
- Limiting concentration of forces
- Roads should limit how many forces can be in 1 space (probably ~200 WT per road-mile per hour, modified for road quality). This limits the advantage of overwhelming force (100,000 troops have to split into multiple columns to travel quickly) and makes cavalry and air raids more feasible.
- Simple economic rules
- How much money can be raised from a captured territory? How many troops can Essex County support? What happens to the bad guy's income after you organize every pirate in the world to go after him?
Military Strength Assumptions Edit
Most countries have a population density around 50/sqmi, and standing armies around 4% of population. So (in theory) 1 infantry element per 5 sqmi. Frontline reserve is 10% of population (2.5x normal); maximum call-up or militia is 30% of population (7.5x normal). Obviously, troop and gear quality drops off as reserves are called up.
Standing troops are raised with $50K/sqmi (for both force and logistics) and maintained with $10K/sqmi/mo. So the hypothetical Podunk Barony (300 sqmi) can have up to 60 elements in the standing army with a raise value of $15000K and a maintenance (including logistics) of $3000K/mo.
Frontline reserves are raised with $20K/sqmi and maintained with $4K/sqmi/mo.
Militia reserves are raised with $10K/sqmi and maintained with $2K/sqmi/mo.
Todo: Make sure the assumptions above square with the actual numbers I'm getting from the sample troops and design spreadsheet.
They don't. At all. Dwarves require $75K/sqmi to buy their frontline troops; Forest Elves $120K, Plains Elves $250K, Orcs $16K, Devilfish $120K, and Seal Elves $90K. Front-line reserves, with 2.5x the unit density and 40% of the budget, are going to be terrible. The militia is going to be completed unspeakable: Poor gear, Terrible quality Medium infantry for everyone. I suspect that will be not fun.
Solution: Rethink economics. Increase land value to 1/10th the starting GURPS wealth for the culture's TL, modified by wealth (Struggling for Orcs in the Wastes, Comfortable for Elf gentry aided by magic, average for most everyone else, etc). Standing armies usually have 1 element/5 sqmi and no more than 1 element per 4 sqmi. Reserves have at least 1 element/3sqmi to a max of 1 element/2sqmi. Militia is at least 1 element/sqmi up to 1.5 elements/sqmi. Thought: TL4 dwarf troops should probably cost double, which halves their effective income.
Some cultures (dwarves) have a lot of excess cash, and thus their reserves are going to be just as good as their standing armies. Which is probably a good thing. Other cultures (Struggling low-tech Orcs) don't have enough money to raise their standing army to maximum density, so their reserves are going to wretched and their militia unspeakable bad. Which is also appropriate.
Note: 50 people/sqmi is really low population density. Which is probably fine, as it leaves more space for monsters, boogums, hidden dragons, and whatnot.
House Rules & Character Creation Edit
Party Creation Edit
For reasons of fun and GM sanity, every PCs needs to have broadly similar goals and compatible backgrounds. A party of three knights who support the queen, their friend the lovable thief, the necromancer who considers the living to be waste, and an elven fascist who hates humans is not going to work. This is may be a wargame, but the style is players versus GM, not player versus player.
Practically speaking, the players need to get together and figure out the overall theme of the characters and assign roles. There need to be some generals, some diplomats, some skirmish fighters.
Character Creation Edit
Tentatively, start with a DF delver template and add about 50 points in Power-Ups/Racial abilties/Lenses and another 50 points in Status, relevant non-DF skills (Administration, History, Intelligence Analysis), and the like.
Stupid Wizards Edit
To discourage spell-casters from taking IQ 16+ and then being strategic geniuses and expert diplomats, create a "Cunning" attribute that is the average of IQ and 10. All spells are now based off Cunning plus appropriate talent (Clerical/Druidic Investment, Magery). Magic types have the option of buying down IQ to 12 and purchasing additional levels of talent.
Stupid Knights Edit
To encourage relatively low IQ Knights and Barbarians to become strategic geniuses, Leadership, Soldier, Strategy, and Tactics are based off Cunning instead of Intelligence. Born War Leader no longer adds to Strategy but instead gives a bonus to Soldier. Add a new talent, "Great Captain", that gives bonuses to Administration, Diplomacy, Leadership, Savoir-Faire (Military) Soldier, Strategy, and Tactics and costs 10 pts/level. Templates that used to provide Born War Leader still provide Born War Leader but add the option of upgrading it to Great Captain. Add Born War Leader 2 and Great Captain 2 to the optional advantages of Barbarian, Martial Artist, Scout, and Swashbuckler.
Rank, Status, and Wealth Edit
Instead of dealing with the wackiness of the currents GURPS Status and Wealth rules, each level of Wealth costs 10 points and provides 3x the starting money and income of the previous level, as well as some kind of Rank/Status as appropriate for the character's background.
Sample Wealth versus Status or Ranks chart (at TL3)
Cost of Living
|-1||-10||$350||$250/$200||Peasant Farmer||Rural Guardsman||Apprentice|
|0||0||$1000||$750/$600||Yeoman Farmer||Soldier||Rural Priest||Craftsman|
|1||10||$3000||$2500/$2000||Mayor or Squire||Guard Sergeant|
|Urban Priest||Master Craftsman|
|2||20||$10000||$7500/$6000||Unlanded Knight||Guard Officer|
Royal Guard Sergeant
|3||30||$30000||$25000/$20000||Manorial Knight||Royal Guard Officer||Monsignor|
|6||60||$1000000||$750000/$600000||Royal Prince||Head of Church|
If a character has multiples positions of respect, pay for the most expensive one and another 5 points for any that are within 2 of it. Example: His Reverence, Sir Robert Smithson, Duke of Clearwater, Bishop of Kotter, Lieutenant of the Royal Guard, and Craftsman in good standing with the Ironmonger's Guild, pays 50 points to be a Duke, another 5 to be a Bishop, and another 5 to be an officer in the Royal Guard. His knighthood and guild membership are free, though.
Signature Gear Edit
Signature Gear is bought in ranks, for 4 points per rank. Each rank of Signature Gear increases your Position by 1 rank for purposes of starting Wealth only. The difference in wealth between your base Position and your Signature Gear wealth can be used to buy plot protected gear, only.
Alternately, a Signature Gear Perk can be used to plot protect a single piece or set of gear that you can afford out of your standard wealth, such as the King's Signature Triple Proof Dwarven Fine Plate or a peasant's hat.
Example: Sir Robert Smithson normally has $300000 in starting wealth. For 8 points in Signature Gear, he can purchase another $2700000 in plot protected gear. Alternately, for a single Perk, he could plot protect his $100000 sword purchased out of his starting wealth.
Techniques as Perks Edit
Techniques are a really neat concept in GURPS, but at 2+ points, they're way too expensive. It's almost always a better deal to just buy up more skill. This is unsatisfying, because it makes everyone a generalist (even more than GURPS already encourages that).
Instead of having that silly little table, a character can buy a Technique as a Perk. Doing this gives them +3 on the relevant Technique (if Hard, +4 for Medium) up to the Technique's normal maximum. These Perks do not count for purposes of General and Style Perk points. A character cannot take a Perk twice to get double the benefit.
Sample styles for PCs.
Revised Army Lists Edit
The Element values in the 1st version of Mass Combat are completely insane. There's things like Flying Cavalry being twice as expensive to buy as Flying Mages, despite Flying Mages having 2.5 times the TS and a bazillion class sppecials. Or Titans having 20x the TS of Giants but having the same cost to raise and maintain. Most large critters (giants, titans, leviathans) cost orders of magnitude less to maintain that the equivalent TS in infantry troops. David Pulver has already admitted that a fair number of the tables are wrong.
The MCFC uses the troop lists in the last page of the Mass Combat Unit List. The unit list also contains the default 20 element battleline of each Power. Though only some have been worked up so far, in case you're looking for a preview of what the armies of undead are going to look like.