Thursday, 22 November 2012

By The Sword Divided - An English Civil War Campaign

Stolen with little regard for copywrite or the feelings of the enemy is the rules and opening narrative to the new English Civil  War campaign at the RGMB.

By the Sword Divided

An English Civil War Campaign

The opposing forces of the Royalists and Parliamentarians are preparing to leave their winter quarters and recommence their campaign: it is 1644, and England's fate hangs in the balance. As budding Generals it is up to you to further your factions cause, or fail in the attempt!

The Rules:
Each player picks which faction (Royalist, Parliament etc)  they will support and begins with a force selected from the army lists in Pike and Shotte, to a total of 250 points. There are some restrictions and compulsory choices:

  • You must include a General.  If he has a Random Command Value Roll this once at the start of the campaign, he retains it throughout.
  • You may include up to one Brigade Commander, but no more than one.
  • You may include up to one Artillery Unit, but no more than one.
  • You may not include any Dramatis Personae.

Each player than arranges and plays games against players of the opposing faction (or even the same faction if he feels like he can get away with it!) and attempts to capture as much territory as possible.  In particular the support of Towns and Villages that matters most, and victory will go to the faction or player that is able to secure the most such Territories for his cause!

Each Player starts with 3 Territories. One of these will be a town, the place your troops spent the winter and the location of your Headquarters. Pick an appropriate name from amongst towns known to be loyal to your cause. This is your capital, the place from which your campaign of conquest will be launched!
This town, also provides an extra 100 points to spend on available troops, as per the Territory Chart below.

Roll a D66 ( I.e a D6 representing the Tens and a D6 for the Ones!)  twice on the following table. You may reroll any duplicates, and reroll any results of Special Event for the moment: They will only come into play as battle start to be fought.

These two territories plus your Capital are your three starting Territories.

Capturing Territories:  Each time you play a game you and your opponent will  “stake” a Territory that you own on the outcome of the battle. When a victor is decided he must roll on the Territory chart again: he may pick either his opponents stake, or the new territory he has just rolled up, his defeated adversary gets what ever is left as a consolation prize!

Each time a Town or Village is rolled it must be Identified with a name: A Mappe will be kept displaying the current status of each Town and Village so far in play and new ones will be added as they are rolled up. Obviously if a player loses a town or village that he staked, it may well switch faction!
The winner of the campaign will be the player/faction that has more of the towns and villages on the Mappe marked as supporting their cause!

Some other Important Rules:
Limited Powder: At this stage of the war powder is in short supply: Each firearm equipped unit/cannon only has enough for 4 turns worth of shooting, including any shooting done in the opponents turn (closing/traversing fire for example). One these four turns of shooting have been made the unit is unable to shoot! Certain Territories may lift this restriction!

At various times during the Campaign a Special Event will occur.  This will be probably be a Bad Thing for at least one player if not all of them and is mainly designed so that everyone gets to laugh at somebody else’s misfortune! It will involve a roll on the appropriate table.

Occasionally the Rules will refer to a “Regiment of Foote”, where this does so it will refer to a unit of Pike and its associated units of Shotte, (the number of which will vary depending on the army!), so while I might refer to a “unit” and mean just that, “Regiment of Foote” may refer to up to 4 units, all of whom would be affected together.

Veteran: If a unit defeats in melee an enemy unit which subsequently “Breaks” as a result of a failed break test the unit gains a “veteran Bonus”  This takes the form of a reroll which may be used once and only once, to reroll the units “to hit” rolls for shooting or melee, or the units saves.  However if you elect to use the Reroll you must reroll all the dice in the group, even scores you’d rather keep and you must abide by the second set of results even if it is worse! 
The Veteran Bonus can only be used once, but a unit may have up to 3 of them available. For example a unit of Horse defeats two enemy units which both break: the Horse gains two veteran Bonus’s.  In its next game poor rolling results in a lot of failed saves, so the player chooses to use a Veteran Bonus to reroll the whole set. The bonus is used up and lost forever. The player has no recourse to use the second bonus during that game and saves it for his next battle!
If a unit that has won a Veteran Bonus ever “Breaks” for any reason any unused Bonus’s are lost forever!

The Territory Chart. Roll D66 to select a territory.

11 :  Special Event: Alert the Umpire as he must roll on the Special Event table, You may now roll on the Territory Chart again.
12- 20 :  Village:  Select a name for the Village and add it to the Mappe. Whilst you retain control of this Village it adds 50 points to your available Forces.
21-27: Town: Select a name for the Town and add it to the Mappe: Whilst you retain control of this town it adds 100 points to your available Forces.
28-31: Chapel/Church: Allows a Preacher or Priest to be added to one of your units of infantry: It gains the “Fanatic” Special Rule.
32: Agitator : Parliament only (Royalists reroll this result) An Agitator joins the ranks of one of your infantry units, select one at the beginning of each battle: 1-3 it Gains the “Untested” Special Rule, 4-6 it gains the “Ferocious Charge” Special Rule.
33-35: Road: Control of a good Road enables you to concentrate your forces quicker and supply them more easily: Whilst you retain control of a Road you may add +1 to the Dice to determine who gets first turn. If no dice would be rolled you may steal the 1st turn on a 6+!
36-42 :  Port:  Control of a port enable you to bring in good quality equipment from the continent, whilst you retain it each game you may nominate one Regiment of Foote/Artillery piece/other firearm equipped unit to have unlimited powder supplies, in which case the restriction on gunpowder is lifted.
43 :  Special Event: Alert the Umpire as he must roll on the Special Event table, You may now roll on the Territory Chart again.
44-46: Armoury: Allows an extra Artillery unit to be selected as part of your force.
47-49: Parade Ground: Control of this territory allows your troops to be better drilled, whilst you retain it one of your Regiments of Foote gains the “Superbly Drilled” Special Rule.
50-53 Experience: Your troops have survived the furnace of battle and learnt a few tricks: this territory lets you nominate a Regiment of Foot to gain the “Elite” Special Rule.
54-57 Gallantry: A Regiment of Horse has proved its worth: One unit of Horse may be nominated to gain the “Marauder” and “Tough Fighters” Special Rules.
58-61 Promotion:  This enables you to include an extra Brigade Commander in your Force.
61-62 Strategist: One of your Officers has been studying the histories of ancient generals or the drill books of modern warfare: Nominate one of your Brigade Commanders to add +1 to their Command Rating.
63 Inspired Tactics! Your General has moments of sheer tactical Genius: each game he may reroll one Order Test, but he must abide by the second roll!
64: Special Event: Alert the Umpire as he must roll on the Special Event table, You may now roll on the Territory Chart again.
65: The Great and the Good: Your Success has been noted and a one of the leaders of your faction has joined your force: you may include one Dramatis Personae in your force.
66: Spy Network: Control of a network of spires requires a lot resources but can be worth it: before each game roll a D6 on the Spy Chart.

Spy Chart: Roll a D6.
1) Counter Espionage  Your Spy is caught and the network unravels, the territory is lost!
2) Assassin: An attempt is made on the life of an enemy officer: Rolls D6: 1-2 Fails  3-6 The target is dead, or unable to take part: a subordinate takes his place but with a -1 modifier to his command rating.
3) Sabotage: A saboteur gets amongst the enemies horses in the night and hamstrings as many as possible before capture: Roll a D6 for each enemy mounted unit: on a 4+ it takes one stamina point.
4) Bribery: An enemy officer is in your pocket! Nominate an enemy unit at the beginning of the game: for the rest of the game it must roll a D6 at the start of each turn: on a 6 it is disordered.
5)Stolen Plans:  With access to your enemies plans and maps it is much easier to pick your ground! After set up but before deployment you may reposition any one piece of terrain. You may also pick your deployment zone in any case where you would normal dice for this.
6) Poisoned Wells!  The Spy manages to weaken and disrupt the enemy in one blow! Roll a D6 for each enemy unit at the beginning of the game after deployment: on a 6 its owning player must choose between the unit beginning the game disordered or taking a point of stamina!

Periodically a result on the Territory Chart,or boredom on behalf of the Umpire might result in one or more players being effected  by an Event.  The Umpire or a Representative of the Umpire will roll on this table. The result will effect all players unless he decides to allow players to elect democratically the target of Gods Wrath or simply pick a victim randomly.

1) “Bryng Out Yer Ded!” An outbreak of Plague has made some towns and villages no-go areas, and people are leaving urban areas in droves…this is making billeting and Recruitment a bit tricky. Each effected player rolls a D6 for each Town or Village they control: On a 4+ it is unable to provide you with any extra forces for your next two battles!
2) “Stande and Deliver!” An outbreak of Highwaymen in the area causes disruption to your communication system; messengers have been mugged, supplies stolen.  If one of your Territories is a Road you may not use its benefits for the next two battles, if you have a Spy Network it will be unavailable for the next battle. You will also be unable to use one of your available Brigade Commanders in your next battle as he is probably still blindfolded and tied to a tree somewhere…
3) “The Peasants Are Revolting!” The people of England are growing restless from the hardships of prolonged war and decide to declare independence! One Random town or village held by the effected player no longer provides him with additional forces: In each subsequent game the owning player may attempt to bring the town back under control: After deployment he may remove from the table one Regiment of Foote: this has been dispatched to re-establish law and order!  If you win the battle this regiment is considered to have succeeded and you regain the use of the town.
4)  “Put that Bloodee Lyght out!” A surreptitious smoke causes one of your powder magazines to be blown sky high, you immediately lose a random territory, and shortages mean that in your next battle you fight all your units with firearms/cannons are only able to conduct a maximum of 3 turns worth of shooting!
5) “Rat on a Stick,Rat Pies, get yor hot rat pies here, 2 for a shilling, Rat on a stick, only the finest rats used, tuppence each, what about you young sir, thy looks hungry…” times are getting hard and famine has struck; your troops must go further afield to forage: One of your Brigades must start off the table in reserve in your next battle: there is a -2 penalty to an order to bring the units of this brigade onto the table in the 1st turn, and a -1 penalty in the second.
6) “Storm Chaos Grips Ye Olde Englande!” Rain, Fog, Driving snow, High winds and hail, and all the other features of a typical English summer, conspire to quench your fire: in the next battle all shooting hits at no better than 6s regardless of modifiers.

Opening Gambits:  Now Of course you're all excited, can't wait to get started and your all wandering...what do I do now?  You need to go here and follow these instructions:

1) Declare your Support for the cause of your Choice!
2) Declare which Army List you will draw your forces from.
3) Take Command! Select your General: this is your tabletop representative.  Roll his Command Rating if appropriate. Select a name for him and declare it and his intentions, aims, hobbies and Interests, foibles and allergies to the world!
4) Raise your Standard! Declare which town support your faction and will be its base and Headquarters. 
5) Roll Your starting Territories: You may do this in another persons presence, or on your own if you think you can be trusted!  
6) Muster Your Troops! Collect, paint, and organise an army up to the total allowed by your starting territories, ( I.e 250 points, +100 for your Headquarters town, plus whatever else you rolled. Don’t forget to include your General etc in this total, and that there are other restrictions noted above).
7) Take the Field!  Seek out your enemies, destroy them in battle, take their territories and claim Victory!

So that's the beginning, well the start of it at least...btw I feel I aught to point out that I had no idea at all that "By the Sword Divided" was also the title of a BBC drama set during the ECW...that's just pure coincidence! The basic campaign system is shamelessly stolen from Rick Priestly and adapted to suit Pike and Shotte.
As soon as everyone responded to the Recruitment thread linked above we can start unfolding the story...


Beating the Drum...

Across the north west military leaders are declaring their support for King or Parliament, and mustering their forces...only a few have revealed themselves or stated their intentions so far and are reluctant to make a move until all the players are on the board.  

First to declare was that infamous watery cad Lord Flasheart (or Rick for short)! No , we weren't sure what a watery cad was either but thats how his auto-biography ( "Candy Theft and Philately; My Story", £2.50 from all good discount book stores) described him.  He raised his knockoff copy of the Royal Standard in Wrecsam, an event that went almost completely unnoticed, and would have gone entirely unrecorded if it weren't for the  Pig Market taking place on the same day, and was thus covered by a reporter from the Pig Monthly Gazette. 
    Skillfully dissuading the local fuzz from arresting him on charges of Inciting Violence, Lord Flasheart despatched his troops to claim to local strongholds, Holt and Beeston to ensure the use of their respective castles and the loyalty of the populace.  Their Royalist tendencies have obviously overridden their repulse at being under the control of such a dishonest scoundrel!  Perhaps it was the promise of complementary hair care products that swayed them...

Encouraged by the evident popularity of the Royals in the area a second Royalist was quick to make himself known: Lord Byron( AKA Red) began his campaign in Altrincham with a poetry recital of some of his latest work, which whilst reported as completely awful, was regarded as "the best night of entertainment in the history of Altrincham". Much was made of his endurance (3 days non stop) and his skill at rhyming such unlikely word pairs as "Orange" and "Wallpaper".  
      After winning over the local populace and gaining the support of the local troops, Richard, 2nd Baron of Byron took his show on the road, first to Hale and then on to Knutsford. He received a warm welcome in each and many have flocked to his banner, encouraged by his stated intention to support development of community arts projects. His first task as local Royalist commander was to run evening lessons on classical history.  Rumour has it the first to sign up was one Tiberius Derek Ramses Flasheart...

Eager to slow the march of Royalism over the country one plucky horticulturalist has declared for Parliament.  Captain-General Sir Samuel Stapleton-Smythe was elected as the local Parliamentarian representative after voting which resulted in a landslide victory, Sir Samuel being the only member of the electorate present, and therefore casting the only vote.  Support from his home town was virtually guaranteed after he had brought home the gold for Warrington in "Englande in Blume, 1638". It has to be added that there is no basis what so ever in the accusation that Sir Samuel "bought" his constituents support with the threat of gentrification with extreme prejudice.
     Stapleton-Smythe consolidated his position by marching on Wigan, and once his flag was flying there, workng parties and patrols from both towns ensured the A49  would remain open for the use of his forces. And though Sir Samuels Topiary skills far outweigh his tactical skills he is astute enough to realise that with Royalist forces to his South and East he is in a difficult situation, however it doesn't appear to have occurred to him that laying siege to his own garden shed is perhaps not an auspicious start to his campaign...

The map displays the current disposition of known forces, however this is certain to be incomplete.  But there are hints and rumours of more troops being mobilised in the area, and it is only a matter of time (we agreed on two weeks) before someone opens the ball...

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