Military Operations

I have already mentioned that I intend to have a battle web in the storyworld, but the previous battleweb was too simple and too direct. I wonder if I could not come up with a variety of military operations to enrich the dilemmas presented to Arthur?

The most obvious is the response to a Saxon raid. Word comes in that a Saxon raiding party has hit some portion of the realm (in one of the characters' lands), and that character appeals to Arthur for aid in chasing down the raiders before they escape with the cattle. Arthur can offer a variety of excuses for refusing to help, but most of these will result in reduced Kingliness. If Arthur declares that he will respond, he enters a "volunteering loop", in which each character approaches him in turn and declares whether he will accompany Arthur and how many warriors he will bring (it might be less than the number available: "I have to leave some behind to guard my lands in my absence.") Arthur can respond with thanks, an appeal for more warriors, a demand for more warriors, or a curse -- which might yield more warriors.

In what order should they appear? I think that they should organize themselves in descending order of warrior contribution. The most faithful and powerful characters will show up first, and the others will lag behind. The least supportive characters will show up at the very end. This way, Arthur knows how many warriors he has before he applies pressure to the characters.

Next Mordred plays his role. He secretly approaches a few of the most vulnerable characters and falsely indicates that this military operation will likely fail, and that the character would be wise to either abandon it entirely or reduce the number of warriors s/he will bring to the rendezvous point.

Shortly afterwards, the army gathers at the rendezvous point. Some characters will fail to honor their promises to Arthur, and he will have the opportunity to call off the operation, berate the character, forgive him, or perhaps put him on trial.

The army sets off for the choke point that they know must delay the raiders. There they will meet the Saxons in battle. Mordred, at this point, can send word ahead that Arthur is coming, so that the raiders try to escape via a different route, or perhaps they can ambush him.

Arriving at the battlefield, Arthur sizes up the situation, and can order a retreat, a headlong attack, or an attempt to encircle the Saxons -- a risky maneuver that promises total victory if it succeeds. Arthur must choose a trustworthy lieutenant to lead the latter operation.

I suppose that the battle itself will proceed with the same basic system as before, but I need to make it shorter. Instead of sweeping through the battle character by character, I will define a battle in, say, four phases: initial contact, development, crisis, and mop-up. There will have to be separate verbs for each of these depending on the overall approach that Arthur has taken.

After the battle is over, Arthur returns the cattle to their rightful owner and either returns to Camelot or conducts a counter-raid.The counter-raid will operate in the same manner as the regular raid, but will have a greater element of surprise.

Regular raids are triggered by a Saxon outrage, which gives Arthur the opportunity to launch a punitive raid. The gathering of troops will be the same, but once they set off for Saxon territory, a different subweb comes into play. Arthur takes a contingent to guard against a likely Saxon relief force, and the others spread out to collect cattle. Arthur must decide how long to delay; the longer he waits, the more cattle are rounded up, but the more time the Saxons will have to respond. At some point the Saxon relief force is sighted and Arthur gives the order for the raiders to return to Camelot. He must then decide whether to attempt an ambush with his contingent, or fall back and fight a set-piece battle with his entire army. Either way, he's in for a fight -- unless he bugged out early and has few cattle to show for the raid. Once again we fight a battle using the same format as earlier. The battle is really for the cattle; winner takes all. Either way, Arthur returns home with the remnants of his army, and the accounting begins.

If the raid was an overall failure, then the subweb is about blame. Arthur can blame those who didn't come, somebody who screwed up on the battlefield, or accept responsibility. Depending on how believable his story is, his Kingliness value will change. Arthur might haul somebody up on charges. If they win, then there's a credit-assignment subweb, in which Arthur must praise those who performed well; this will enhance their prestige -- a two-edged sword. There is also the matter of divvying up the cattle, although this could be done as part of the credit-assignment phase. Lots of opportunity for resentments to arise here.

Dammit, it's time to start writing.