The purpose of this game is to serve as a test for the battle mechanism being developed for the “Roman Storium” series of games. It will consist of just a few scenes, centered (very loosely) around the “Jewish War” of the late First Century AD.
The Game will consist of three “Acts:”
Act I: The Uprising. In June 66 A.D., the depredations of Gessius Florus, Imperial Rome’s Procurator in Jerusalem, had driven an already desperate Judean populace into open revolt. Judean freedom-fighters, many of whom were secretly armed for quite some time, rallied to their respective factions leaders.
Act II: The Assault of Gallus. During the early weeks of the rebellion, Legio XII “Fulminata” force-marches to their beleaguered comrades aid from off-map under leadership of Rome’s Syrian Provincial Governor, Cestius Gallus. (Note: this scene is a hypothetical scenario; it never happened in real history).
Act III: Titus Flavius Vespasianus. The battle presented in Act III will be the full-on assault of three full-strength Roman legions, to include the much vaunted Tenth.
Source Material: “The Siege of Jerusalem: Scenarios” By Fred Schachter
These will be Player vs. Player (PVP) battles. In situations where the fight is Player vs. Narrator, the same general rules will apply, with the exception that the number of boxes in the Battle Challenge Card would be halved. (For this game, the Narrator will be controlling one of the belligerent Players, but that would not need be the case in future games.
The tactical problem to be addressed will be presented in the form of a “Battle Challenge Card” (BCC). A BCC will consist of a basic description of the battle to be fought, with additional details being provided by the Narrator in the Scene Description. The BCC will include the Initial Combat Odds (ICO). The ICO describe the odds (based on a 100-sided die roll) of a battle having a specific outcome. The ICO will be presented on the BCC from the perspective of the Roman Player (i.e., if ICO says “Roman Defeat,” then the corresponding opposite conclusion (“Enemy Victory”) is implied.
A typical BCO for a Battle Challenge Card might read something like:
Initial Combat Odds:
Utter Rout: 96-100
In determining the ICO, the Narrator will take into account (at a minimum) the following factors:
- Size differentials (if any) of the opposing forces
- Training and Equipment
- Supply Status
- Effects of Terrain
- Effects of artillery, missile fire, and cavalry
- Siege and/or Breaching Assault (Defender in a fort or walled city)
There is no hard & fast rule for how these factors will affect the BCO (i.e., “cavalry advantage = 5 points”). Rather the Narrator (whom you just gotta trust!) will arbitrarily “take these factors into account” when deciding how the BCO numbers will be adjusted as the battle is being designed. (Hint: a battle with clean 50-50 odds may prove to be a rarity.)
Actions of both combatants will have an influence on the battle’s outcome; these will be expressed in terms of Combat Modifiers (CMs) applied to the computer-generated die roll (DR). From an algebraic standpoint, CMs favoring the Roman will be subtracted from the roll; those favoring the opponent/enemy will be added.
Here’s an initial (though not all-inclusive) list of Combat Modifiers:
Strength Card: -5 (Roman)/+5 (Opponent)
Weakness Card: +5 (Roman)/-5 (Opponent)
Military Asset Card: +15/-15
Economic Asset Card: +10/-10
“Generic”(but somehow appropriate) Asset Card: +1/-1
“Generic” (and totally inappropriate) Asset Card: -1/+1
Subplot and Goal Cards: Use the same general rule as for Asset Cards
An example of a Military Asset Card would be “Praefectus Fabrum” (Military Engineer). Playing this card would have prove quite effective in just about any combat situation.
Generals occasionally gave Donatives in the form of cash gifts to their troops on the eve of battle to boost morale and stiffen resolve. A Player with a “Major Financial Expenditure” Card could use it as an example of an Economic Asset.
The Narrator will have some leeway in determining the appropriateness of non-military Asset, Subplot, and Goal cards. A card titled “Make a Name for Yourself in the Legions” would be appropriate, and produce the desired effect. Playing an Asset Card titled “Pet Peacock” or a Goal Card titled “Become a Good Dancer” would not.
Fill in the Boxes! You may be asking yourself, “Why would I ever play a Weakness Card on a battle challenge? If I didn’t have enough Strength Cards or good Goal/Subplot Cards available, wouldn’t I just not play anything?” Great question; we thought of that! Here’s why: When the Narrator resolves a battle, any BCC squares left “blank” will count as 20 points against that Player’s desired outcome! So if it’s the eve of the big battle, and you’re debating on whether or not to play that Weakness Card titled “Pees Himself When Frightened,” just remember that it’s a difference of losing 5 points, or losing 20 points!
Combat Resolution. A battle will require more than one post for a Player to complete. The first post may be thought of as either being “Battle Preparations” or “Opening Maneuvers.” This is the post where the Player plays his cards against the BCC.
Once both participants have expended all their cards, the Narrator will “do the math” and determine what the modifiers will be to the combat resolution die roll. After all the strengths, weaknesses, assets and subplots are played against each other, there will be some net differential, which will be added/subtracted to the computer-aided die roll, which the Narrator now makes. The roll will be adjusted, and the final number will be compared against the set of outcomes listed on the BCC.
Once the Narrator knows the outcome of the battle, he will notify each participant. It will then be up to the Players to describe how the battle plays out from their perspective. The Narrator may provide them with little “bullets” of information (i.e.,” Marcus’ cavalry feint fails miserably, and the horsemen are cut to pieces”) which the Players can then use in the formation of their posts.
One Final Note: Please keep this important philosophical point in mind: The object of a game like this isn’t “winning” or “losing;” the point is to use the battle data to write a really good story! It’s all just an opportunity to do some creative writing! Think of it this way: If “The Alamo” was a Storium game, the Mexican player got the roll he needed to win the battle, but everyone remembers the story the Texican player told describing his glorious defeat!
Hosted and narrated by:
Boyd Crowder (Boyd_Crowder)
Scenes played: 3
License: Community License