[Interest Check] RP/Tactics PBF "Dogs of War"

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[Interest Check] RP/Tactics PBF "Dogs of War"

Postby Zubb » 28 Mar 2017, 07:55

Hi, I’m planning to run a tactics/role play game focused on stories of battles and glory of Mercenary Captains in a fictional Medieval setting.

Players will take on the roles of Captains of a Mercenary Companies in a fictional country of Talia, a fractured land of warring city-states, not unlike medieval Italy.

Inspiration
My personal one came from our-world condottieri history, mercenaries in G.R.R. Martin books and PC games like Mount and Blade, Horned Rat and Dark Omen. I do_not want to run a game in a specific setting, however, if anything, to avoid scaring of people unfamiliar with the lore. I also prefer a minimal-to-zero magick and fantasy elements. This is an attempt to port the tactical part of one of my groups' LARP games to the PBF format.

Game flow
The game will have two alternating phases:
Planning Phase, where Captains will recruit reinforcements and new units for their companies and negotiate which side to take in upcoming conflicts this season. The phase will conclude with all active players picking a contract for their Company for this season.
Tactical Phase, where Captains will lay plans for upcoming battle, receive a hex map from GM to observe army positions & make battle plans. The phase will conclude with players receiving GM-adjudicated results of their battles, their losses, incomes, pillage and other acquisitions.

How to play.
To start, you will need an idea of your alter-ego for the game - a landless noble, a canny tactician, a greedy sellsword or anything that comes to your mind. Make him as detailed as you like, but please think of both strong and weak sides of your character. As one old sellsword once said, "There are old sellswords and bold sellswords, but no old bold sellswords".

When think of what type of unit your Captain would choose as a Core Unit for his company - heavy-armored pikemen, a small regiment of mounted lancers, a band of marksmen? You can suggest anything you like, while staying within boundaries of common sense. All Companies will start the game at strength of no more than 1.000 men. More skilled and more heavily-equipped units will be smaller in size because of higher expenses and higher recruitment standards. Later, you will be able to recruit more men to your Core Unit and/or hire auxiliary Detachment Units to increase your strength (and cost). (For game mechanics options see the bottom of the post).

The last thing you will need to do will be choosing your starting position at one of the City-States. (More on those below).

Rules & Mechanics
City States and Contracts.
Peace is rare in Talia and every season at least some of its City States are at war with each other. Warring City States will be stated in the opening post by GM for every Planning Phase. Each one will provide a contract option for Mercenary Captains, stating its war goals for the season (invasion, defense, capturing a key objective, raiding, etc.) as well as their suggested price. The final price received by Companies will depend on how many bids the City-State gets for its contract, its willingness and ability to hire multiple companies and, later in the game - on Company renown.
In Tactical Phase Captain(s) who have signed the contract will plan to achieve the war goal and lay battle plans to best their fellow Dogs of War who have signed for the other party in the conflict.
In some cases, especially if the City State was unable to recruit enough sellswords, Captains will be also given command of the part of the City-State own forces.
Choice of the City-State from which they take contract (or where they start the game) will also influence the Captains options in the next Planning Phase, because different City-States provide different bonuses/penalties.

Ex. Working for a Southern City with good wine and beautiful women will improve morale of your men, but skilled horsemen will be hard to find in that region.

Mercenary Economy
You will start the game with a small stash of ducats. You will have two main sources of income - Contracts and Pillage. Defense contract usually pay more and are a "safe bet", but by successfully invading enemy territory you might gain even more by pillaging. Crushing offensive victories can score huge stockpiles of gold. There are some extra potential sources
Your expenses will include:
- Salary of your Core Unit. Raising will boost morale and attract more recruits, but be careful - lowering salaries seriously damages morale and causes an outflow of men.
- Bidding for Detachment Units. Those are independent, if smaller, bands of mercenaries, whom you pay money and they manage themselves.
- Shares of Pillage. You are free to decide how much you let your men to keep for themselves. Sure, you'd spend this money better, but being greedy is bad for morale.
- Horses. Mandatory for those who are fighting mounted, but rich infantry units often choose to ride to the field of battle for additional maneuverability and to secure better positions on the battle map.
- Improving equipment and expanding the armory. There are three levels of armory for a Mercenary Company - BYOW (bring your own weapon), Standardized and Exceptional. BYOW reduces the number of recruits as not all of them can afford to buy weapons (unless your Company fights with clubs and rocks), Standardized costs you extra when you expand your units size, while Exceptional costs you extra for every recruit. Obviously, better weapons result in better combat effectiveness.
- Optional rules provide extra ways to spend money for such things as spying to learn your opponents deployment for battle, bribing City-State officials to give you the contract over a more renown company, etc.

Combat
Combat is originally dice-based, turn-by-turn affair. But I don't see a way to port it to the PBF format without making things way too slow. I will adjudicate battles following provided battle plans (with as may if_when options as you want) to the best of my ability.
Things that matter^
- Unit types (pikes are best against cavalry, tight packed formations are vulnerable to projectiles, etc.),
- Positioning (hills are good for defense, flanking is good when you do it, etc.)
- Combat skills allows units to better fulfill the given task and that should not always be just attack/hold ground - fighting withdrawal to make them expose the flank is quite a legit order, for example.
- Numbers and Morale.
Numbers matter often - most mercenary units are quite skilled and with other things equal numbers win. Also no-one fights to the death, especially not in a sellsword vs. sellsword battle, so than bodies start piling up, even veteran mercenaries begin considering an organized retreat.
Morale is probably the most important characteristic as a result - battles are rarely when the enemy is wiped out. Battles are lost when one side decides that it has had enough. However, there are no way to permanently raise morale - it is always fluctuating in response to the recent events.

Renown
Is essentially a Victory Points Score that also effects which Companies get contracts (first come - first served if equal) and has minor effect on some other things. You get renown for winning, winning decisively, winning against the odds, winning against renown companies.

Things I would like to know:
- Are you interested in such a game?
- How many RPG elements would you want in a game?
-- Options include Traits for Captains - from negotiating an extra few % on a Contract to limiting the number of Detachments you can command and being a frontline berzerker. Note - not all Traits are good things. Units also can have Traits beyond unit type, skill, numbers, equipment and morale, such as "veteran", "ferocious" and "pillagers", this adds over, non-Talian nations to the game (you may even invent your own). Additional characters can be introduced, and have Traits, too - Paymaster, Spymaster, Lieutenants of Detachments etc.
- Do you want IC duel clashes between your characters? It doesn't happen in every battle, it is fun, but I'm a bit worried that might drag the time table too much.
- How much "fantasy" do you want in the game? None? A few Relics and Mystics? Major fantasy events with Warrior-Priests shielding units from arrows with Divine Shield and Orcs serving as heavy infantry?
- If at least 5+ people are interested - I'll post rules, taking your suggestions into consideration, but if you want to ask anything - don't hesitate, ask straight away.

To start the game we will need to confirm the rule set and at least 5 confirmed participants. It will be totally possible to join in process. Nice thing about this game - as long we have enough active players, some people retiring don't do much harm.
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Re: [Interest Check] RP/Tactics PBF "Dogs of War"

Postby ccloughley » 28 Mar 2017, 15:08

I'll answer your questions in order:

Yes, I'm interested
A moderate amount
I would love to have special traits for commanders
Might be interesting
Very little fantasy. A little is fine, just to spice it up, but too much gets kinda hard to follow.

Thanks for offering to run this btw.

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Re: [Interest Check] RP/Tactics PBF "Dogs of War"

Postby I Love Italy » 28 Mar 2017, 17:15

Yes I'm interested
As much as can be implemented without becoming cumbersome
I would love to have special traits for commanders
Yes
None. I think for something like this it'll be much more fun without any magic.
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Re: [Interest Check] RP/Tactics PBF "Dogs of War"

Postby Zubb » 29 Mar 2017, 22:59

That is something, thought not much. I will roll out more rules regarding Company recruitment by Sunday or earlier.
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Re: [Interest Check] RP/Tactics PBF "Dogs of War"

Postby Jordan767 » 30 Mar 2017, 05:18

I would be interested.

Some RPG but not overboard.
Special traits for commanders would be cool. Maybe a couple extra characters or unit traits.
IC duels? What are those? I am up for a lot of things so probably not opposed.
Very little fantasy.
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Re: [Interest Check] RP/Tactics PBF "Dogs of War"

Postby I Love Italy » 30 Mar 2017, 07:44

Jordan767 wrote:IC duels? What are those? I am up for a lot of things so probably not opposed.


In Character Duels. I.e. as part of the battle the commanders of the company would have a duel with each other (controlled by the players somehow).
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Re: [Interest Check] RP/Tactics PBF "Dogs of War"

Postby Jordan767 » 30 Mar 2017, 08:00

I Love Italy wrote:
Jordan767 wrote:IC duels? What are those? I am up for a lot of things so probably not opposed.


In Character Duels. I.e. as part of the battle the commanders of the company would have a duel with each other (controlled by the players somehow).

Nice. I figured it'd be something like that.

One or two in a campaign would be fun but more than that would drag.
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Re: [Interest Check] RP/Tactics PBF "Dogs of War"

Postby ccloughley » 31 Mar 2017, 15:51

So I think we have 3 people now, are we going to proceed?

I hope we do.

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Re: [Interest Check] RP/Tactics PBF "Dogs of War"

Postby Zubb » 09 Apr 2017, 22:31

My apologies. I can't make rules work for PBF so that I would personally like them, and re-writing half the stuff feels like too much for me now. I don't want to start something I wouldn't be able to continue. I won't be starting any new games from now on. Maybe in a few weeks I will come back to this, but I really don't want to upset anyone of you by starting something half-cooked and risking not being able to fix it on the go/continue it reliably.

Hope to play some good games with you in the future!
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Re: [Interest Check] RP/Tactics PBF "Dogs of War"

Postby I Love Italy » 09 Apr 2017, 23:03

I'd rather you waited until you were satisfied than play something half baked.
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