Saturday, 6 February 2016

War on Barsoom - A HOTT Campaign

Actually war is a constant situation on Barsoom, as various nations struggle for dwindling resources on the dying planet. So it made sense, when I decided I wanted to try out some ideas for a mapless HOTT campaign, to set it on Barsoom. That, and the fact that my armies were still to hand from their outing on Thursday evening.

Regular readers of this blog will know that I have a bit of a thing for mapless campaigns. I love to play around with mechanisms which fill in the gaps between a series of battles, and drive the narrative a little. I have certain criteria I like to apply though. I like both sides to enter a given battle with a reasonable chance of victory; the individual games should still be fun for all involved. Some campaign systems end up with certain players so badly beaten that all they can do is sit on the sidelines for a while and try to recover. This isn't very interesting for them. I also like to minimise bookkeeping. Keeping track of a few simple states is quite enough. At the end of the day a campaign should be all about generating interesting tabletop battles with something, no matter how small, at stake beyond simply who wins or who loses.

This one is very simple, and is designed for HOTT, although it could be adapted for other games with little difficulty. There are six nations, although it would work with any even number. Actually it would work with an odd number as well, but one nation would sit out each round, which wouldn't be much fun for the player. Each nation starts with three Resource Points (representing territory, wealth or some other desirable commodity) and zero Prestige. Each nation has a fixed, 24AP army.

The campaign is played in a number of seasons.

At the start of each season, each nation rolls a D6 and adds the number of Resource Points they control to the total. This dictates the order in which nations will choose to attack other nations. The nation with the lowest total chooses which other nation they will attack. Then the nation next lowest total chooses. And so on. A nation that has been chosen as the target of an attack doesn't get to choose; they are already locked into a conflict this season. In the event of a tie, the nation with the lowest Resource Point total chooses first. If that is a tie, then roll a dice. Come on, you know the drill!

Play all of the games as straight 24AP HOTT games - if you were selected as a target then you are the defender, and the person who attacked you is the attacker. Normal HOTT victory conditions apply. If one nation has a higher Prestige total than the other then it gets a Warlord bonus (which you can rename to suit the background of your campaign; I'm not fussy). Once per game you may use the Warlord bonus to roll two dice for PIPs, and then choose the highest. Use it wisely. I always roll two ones.

At the end of the battle, if the attacker wins then they take a Resource Point from the defender and add it to their own total.

If either nation has won against an opponent with an equal or higher Prestige total, then that nation gains a Prestige point.

If a nation has lost to a nation with a lower Prestige total, then they lose a Prestige point.

Total up the enemy AP your army destroyed. Add 2AP to the total if you killed the enemy general and 4AP to the total if you captured the enemy stronghold. If your total is three or more times that of the enemy, then you gain a Prestige point. This happens regardless of whether you won or lost the battle and regardless of relative Prestige values.

Once all battles are resolved, start a new season.

The campaign is won by the nation with the most Resource Points at the end of a predetermined number of seasons. The nation with the most Prestige is allowed a smug smile.

The system is set up such that as you gain more Resource Points you are less and less likely to be the attacker in any given battle. And you can only gain Resource Points if you are the attacker. They should find themselves fighting off resource-hungry enemies season after season. Nations with low Resource Point totals are more likely to be able to pick their opponents, maximising their chance of victory and of gaining Resource Points. Prestige is linked to the Warlord bonus, which is a reward for winning battles, even as a defender, and winning big.

In the next post I will show how this works in practice, with the report of the first two seasons of a campaign I played this afternoon.

1 comment:

  1. Very nice report, and some great campaign ideas! I've read through all your Barsoom posts....might have to take another look at HOTT!


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