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I’ve been happy to notice that more and more people have been coming up with campaign ideas. It also seems from discussion that many LO players would rather play a battle that involves some sort of plot, than play in a tournament. Finally, it seems that nobody has ever sat down and written anything on to create a playable campaign. So, I thought that maybe I could lend a hand.
Now, I should start of by saying that I don’t intend this to be a definitive guide to writing a campaign. In fact, many of the ideas in this “tactica” are simply elements of a campaign that you may wish to consider. Feel free to mix and match any elements of this tactica, or throw the whole thing out with the bathwater and work on your own. This article is meant to serve as guide, not a textbook.
Why play a campaign?
Campaigns offer players a chance to link battles together as part of a larger picture. Creating a story is foremost task of the campaign. The story can be as in-depth as you like, with character names, towns, fluff, even props, or it can be a simple chronicle of one player’s rise to power. No matter what, each battle won or lost in a campaign will have some larger significance within the campaign’s outcome.
Campaigns can also serve to bring people together who normally would not meet. A league can do the same thing, or a regular gaming club, but having a single event on the calendar that attracts many people, will inevitably bring new faces together. Of course, it stands to reason that any time you bring strangers together, they should be having fun.
A campaign game can also serve as a bit of an equalizer. More in-depth campaigns leave more time for Macro-management. Think of the current war in the middle-east. The Insurgency is fighting with far inferior weapons, numbers, and training. However, their commanders understand the logistics of desert warfare, and are able to make their inferior forces count for a great deal more. Campaigns can give the cunning gamer a chance to really even the odds against those cheesy competitive guys (who probably won’t even show up to a campaign anyway- another bonus).
Table of Contents
1. Types of Campaigns
2. Preparing your Campaign
3. Common Features of the Map Campaign
4. Creating the Map
5. Example Special Rules
6. Node Campaigns
There are many ways to organize a campaign, but for now I will lump them all together into two main forms. The variations within these forms are endless, but almost every campaign can be categorized as fitting into one of these categories.
These are the most common campaigns, as they’re the easiest to run and seem to offer the most opportunity for individualization. “Mighty Empires” or the boardgame ‘Risk’ are a map-based campaigns, and GW tends to churn out map-based campaigns more frequently than any of the other styles.
‘Node campaigns’ are also representative of Map-based campaigns, only more simplified. Rather than having all of the tiles laid out, a node campaign likely involves set routes of travel, and far fewer territories to capture.
The disadvantage to the map-based campaign is time. Often, players in map campaigns will spend turn after turn simply moving their pieces on the map, rather than playing games on the table. Often, campaign organizers fail to provide a means to end the game. Even campaigns which focus on taking the enemy’s capital can last for months!
‘Dungeons and Dragons’ is the most common form of a narrative campaign. Frequently, these campaigns feature some kind of Game-Master who serves as the story teller for the campaign. Other times, players will all sit down and “role-play” the actions of their generals. In all cases, Narrative campaigns appeal less to the win/loss-oriented player, and more towards the player who enjoys the fluff.
‘Ladder’ or ‘Tree’ campaigns also fit into this category. These types of narratives are similar to the old “choose your own” novel. A game is played, and its outcome determines the next battle (if the Orcs win, they lay siege to the castle. If the Empire wins, the next game is a ‘breakout’ mission).
GW loves the Narrative campaigns, and uses them for their smaller ideas. Warbands is technically a Narrative campaign, with the Leader Archetypes, Injuries and Abilities unbalancing the standard Warhammer, but providing a mild narrative on the rise of a particular character. These kinds of experimental or unbalancing rules are great for Narrative campaigns, as the players will be more understanding that they are in place to advance the storyline.
The disadvantage to the Narrative campaign is that it leaves little room for the players to make sweeping choices, and it can be more difficult to add in advanced rules for army management. If you play a purely Narrative campaign, then you will need to nominate someone as Game Master. This poor guy will have the burden of writing the story, and will have to take himself out of the winning.
Here I will describe the key things to think of when you begin to design your campaign. There are several choices that you will have to make, and all of these will lead to a final product. I’m not going to include any examples of special rules in this section- those will come later. For now it’s just important to get the ground work laid for your campaign.
1- understand your players.
It is important that you understand who will be participating in the campaign, or who you would like to attract to your campaign.
A. Map based campaigns will draw the most people, and will leave the door open for “win-oriented” gamers. Attract too many people, and you’ll have to coordinate several schedules. Since map campaigns have two game elements (the map and the battles), this could take a lot of time.
Alternatively, if you have only a few players, you will need to find a way to populate the map. Map campaigns should focus on density. If you leave too much free space, players will be able to avoid one another, and the Map will become more important than the few battles which are played. Density can be achieved by either shrinking the size of your map, or by increasing the number of banners that each player controls on the map.B. Narrative campaigns draw fewer players, and you will have more of the story oriented gamers showing up. It is important here that you learn what each person wants out of the story. Some gamers want to be able to influence the story quite heavily, much as a Roleplayer would at a session of Dungeons and Dragons. Other players would just a like a chance to be part of the story as it evolves. Striking a balance between the two can be difficult.* you should note that you can decrease the density of an over-populated map game by forming teams. This will drastically limit the number of potential targets that each player has, and help to keep things more organized. Creating Teams also allows more flexibility, as a team-mate can step in to play a game if one of their comrades can’t show up for this week’s meeting (who cares if you have a girlfriend?! You need to be here!)
Narrative campaigns can get out of hand if they become overpopulated. Suddenly, you are dealing with several people all trying to get their ideas out onto the paper. This can be combated by putting less focus on player-input. The summer ‘Storm of Chaos’ campaign was a great example of this. The player’s only contribution to the story was the wins and losses of the armies.
Having too few players in a narrative can lead to problems as well however. All of the players will need to agree that the story is moving in a direction that is logical (if not always beneficial) for each player. If one player starts winning consistently, it should stand to reason that they gain bonuses and rise to the forefront of the story. I have seen narrative campaigns work between as few as 2 players. I have also seen people fight and argue like married couples because they feel that they are being cheated (but honestly honey- you were defending an arms cache. Why shouldn’t I get to upgrade a regiment to Black Orcs for free?)
2. Understand your time constraints
This was somewhat alluded to in the previous section, but it is important enough to stand on its own. In fact, it is imperative that you keep a time frame in mind when writing a campaign.
Carptenters say that it is better to cut a piece that is too big and have too much lumber, than to cut a piece too small and not have enough. This is not true of campaigns! It is always better to write a short campaign and find that you could have made it longer, than to write a campaign that is too long, and not be able to finish.
If you make a campaign last for too long, you will have to deal with people dropping out. Students will return to school, soldiers will be deployed overseas, people will go on vacations, people will move away, people will pick up jobs, and in extreme cases: start dating!
Short campaigns may seem unfulfilling, but this is easily corrected: play another one!
At this stage, is it very important to create a schedule. You want to keep your schedule loose, to give players a chance for alternate days, and also to leave room for cancellations or snags. Expect the campaign to run a bit longer than you intend, so if you have 3 weeks to play the campaign, write it to be finished in 2.
There is no need to fill in the schedule right away. It is just important to know what days you will have available to you to put campaign events in. Planning to meet every week on Friday will be a problem if everyone works Friday nights. Later, as you write the campaign, you can fill in the dates on your schedule with designated events like battles, campaign meetings, status reports, and make-up times.
3. Determine Campaign Goals
While the primary goal of every campaign is to tell a story and enjoy playing games of Warhammer, it is possible to place other goals into the campaign as well.
The most common goal is to build an army of a certain size. This is especially true of Narrative campaigns, which provide more opportunity for players to advance at an equal pace. Often, the Warbands rules form a framework for this kind of campaign, with players starting with armies of 250 or 500 points, and building from there.
When playing with this goal, you need to remember to leave adequate time for players to buy, assemble, and paint their army. Expecting players to buy 500pts of models each week is rather cruel, as players with budget constraints will find themselves unable to keep up.
Other goals might include getting an entire army painted, or creating a collection of terrain to go with a new table or gaming shop. Raising money can also serve as a goal, although this can be a bit tricky, and unless you are a shop manager or are working for a charity organization- is often seen as exploitation.
4. Determine legality
This has a bit to do with parts 1 and 3. Campaigns can become very interesting if you allow players to bend to rules somewhat. Introduction of characters created specifically for your campaign, or the chance to take regiments that would not normally be allowed, or allowing choices to be made outside of the regular restrictions of Rare and Special, can add a unique twist to your game.
However, this can be problematic if you have competitive players attending, as they might exploit these opportunities to create incredibly off balanced lists, or might complain that you have broken the balance of the game and therefore given unfair advantages to other players. If you are encouraging players to collect a legal army of a certain points value, you may not want to give them the chance to include 10 Rare units in a 2000pt army.
5. Set a Victory Condition
This is most important in map campaigns, but also holds a place in narratives. It is important for players to understand what goal they are working towards. In a Map campaign, achievement of this goal will likely serve to end the campaign.
The best designed campaigns have some sort of points-scoring system. Although the goal in a map campaign may be to claim the enemy home city, it is important to have a plan-b, in case nobody captures a city before the end of the time constraint (remember section 2? It was important). Points are a good way to do this. This could be in the form of scoring the armies based on goals or on their performance in the game, or by calculating the amount of gold that a player has amassed, or how many territories he has conquered, or who can belch their alphabet the loudest.
Setting a goal will give players a reason to become personally invested in the campaign. Even when you’re playing for fun, people enjoy winning. Giving them a chance to “win” will make the campaign seem more worthwhile, and make it less likely for players to drop out in the middle of it all.From this point onwards, I will stop referring to Narrative Campaigns. They are rather straightforward and too open to write about concisely. Some of the elements of Map Based Campaigns can be overlaid upon Narrative Campaigns, if you wish to keep reading.
In this section, I’ll discuss some of the common features of map campaigns. I’ll take a look at what makes them so intriguing, but also what can cause them to fail. We’ll also take a look at the common little brother of the Map campaign, the Node campaign.
Things to consider in a map campaign
Time should be taken to decide how players will take their turns at the map table. The fastest, easiest way to do this is to have all of the players take each phase of their turns at the same time. That is to say, everyone takes a turn moving, then battles, then the end-phase. Within that system, there are a few different methods that could be used.
a. Standard- just go around the table, clockwise, counterclockwise, opposite the direction of the hashpipe, whatever you want to do.
b. Random- each player rolls a D6, highest roll goes first, or lowest roll goes first.
c. Secret- this is probably the most entertaining method. In this method, each player secretly writes down their actions for the phase, and then all the players show their hands at the same time. This is the most realistic, as generals rarely knew exactly what their enemy was up to. Unfortunately, this can work against you, as players might avoid one another entirely by accident, rather than running headlong into battle. This method also only really works with more simplified campaigns, where there is less to worry about in your turn.
All empire management should be done at the beginning of the turn. That allows players to gather only once, to determine what they are going to do, and then to move. After Management and Movement, players can work out battles on their own. The final phase of a turn should come at the START of the NEXT meeting, when players report the results of their battles and tidy up the board.
Banners are the catch-all term for an army on the map. Common map campaigns give each army a set number of banners to begin with. It is important to decide what exactly these banners represent. In some campaigns, they serve as a simple token which players can move around the map, but in other campaigns, the banner represents a specific army on the table, with its own leader and unique composition.
It is also important to determine how banners are created or destroyed. Here are some options that you could use:
a. Detroy: Win/Loss- the quickest, easiest method that I have seen for determining the “health” of a banner, is the Win/Loss system. At it’s most basic, a banner is destroyed whenever it is beaten in combat by another banner.
Another version however, used a Win/Loss record for each banner. This was interesting as it gave a sense of troop moral- a banner with an impressive win record became difficult to destroy (which could lead to juggernauts). When the Losses outweighed the Wins, the banner was considered destroyed.
b. Destroy: Points- This is also a straightforward approach to losing banners. Each banner is assumed to be worth a certain value of points. These could be the total number of points in the army, or a number higher than the army value (representing reinforcements and reserves). At the end of each game, the Victory Points given up by the owning player is deducted from the banner’s total. When the banner reaches 0, it is assumed that it has been destroyed.
c. Destroy: Roster- A far more advanced version of the Points method is the Roster. This method usually calls for players to create a comprehensive army list for each banner. These lists might be up to 10,000pts, and will represent every troop and character in the army. In this method, regiments which are destroyed or take casualties in the game are repaired or replaced by the reserves in the roster. This lends to a true feeling of managing an army in the field, as suddenly even “expendable” troops begin to become a commodity. The downside to this method, of course, is the massive amount of paperwork required to keep track of the armies, a fact that could slow down the speed of the campaign. Also, it can lead to illegal armies at the table-top level, if people decide to deploy their entire alotment of Warmachines in a single battle.
d. Creation: Respawn- this is the simplest method of army creation. Just like in video-games, whenever a banner is destroyed, it will wait a few turns and then reappear on the table. Often, they will reappear on the player’s Home City, although some campaigns might allow banners to respawn at any friendly city/town/fort.
This can make for a very long game, as players will never truly run out of banners, and can also lead to cheesy players “warping” banners. “Warping” occurs when a player wants to redeploy a banner to a location further away on the table, most commonly to defend his home city. He puts his banner into a position where it will be destroyed, and then respawns it closer to where he wants it. Of course, some campaigns allow “redeployment” which is just legalized warping.
e. Creation: Revenue- this method of banner creation can be extremely detailed, or fairly straightforward. In either case, players are assumed to generate some type of revenue (gold, or maybe just points) which they can use to create new banners. Some methods charge a flat rate to create a banner (most commonly the Win/Loss method), while others will require players to pay to ‘recruit’ new troops to the banner (often the Roster method, with players paying gold-per-point values on each unit).
Revenue adds a new facet to the game however, and can become extremely complicated if you get too carried away. Revenue methods will be discussed in more detail later, but for now, understand that they could really slow down the campaign. Revenue-Creation can also lead to ‘stampede’ victories. A player will get on a winning streak and start to generate a ton of revenue, and suddenly he has twice the number of banners that other players do.
It is important to consider how banners will move on the map. It is usually a good idea to think of this before you create the map, so that you can make sure that the map is not only interesting, but also fair, and also that you do not make your map too large or too small.
During this step, you should determine if there will be any kinds of movement modifiers for terrain, if rivers can be crossed anywhere or only at specific points, if roads will provide a bonus, and if certain armies have special rules for moving in terrain (Wood Elves moving through forests, and dwarves moving through mountains, for example).
Common styles of movement include:
a. Fixed Rate- at its simplest form, fixed rate movement assumed that all banners will move the same number of spaces every turn. Some methods give banners different rates based upon race (which is actually unrealistic, considering the large distances being covered) or based upon composition (cavalry banners move faster). This is the easiest, and most common method, and really has no drawbacks.
b. Random Rate- random movement is far more interesting. Typically, it uses a D6 and a modifier to determine how far a banner can move each turn. These modifiers could be based upon race or composition (as with Fixed Rate) or depend upon some type of supply expenditure. This method is actually more realistic, as it represents the sorts of random events that occur during long marches (Tommy forgot his sword and had to run home real quick, but Bob was singing a good tune and we marched faster).
The downside to this method however, is that it can lead to players becoming frustrated. One player might keep rolling 6’s, and his army will speed across the table, while another player will keep rolling 1’s and 2’s, and seem to move at a crawl. This of course can slow down a campaign considerably. When planning a map, you must also plan for this random movement. The best way to plan is to assume that everyone will roll slightly above average, and space the key points on the map that way.
You should determine the importance of territory during this step. There’s really no need to bullet this one out. The choices are simple. Most commonly, players only “capture” key territories like forts and towns. More complicated systems will allow players to capture any terrain that they move through, forming large empires in their wake. Of course, this latter method is only worth using, if you are going to assign those empty territories some kind of role in the campaign, or allow them to be upgraded. This kind of territory management takes time however, and will slow down your campaign.You should also determine if players will be able to manipulate territories that they capture. Can they build towns or forts on them? Can they upgrade towns to cities, forts to castles, can they cut down forests, or make mines in mountains? This will add complexity to the game, and that comes with the trade-off of time. You’ll also have to work out how players go about influencing the terrain, either by points or revenue or some other fashion.The most interesting (and frustrating) method that I have seen, is to wrap a string around established outposts. This defined the border of the player’s empire, with banners gaining bonuses to movement and revenue generated from within this border.
Everyone’s favorite part. You need to decide what happens when two opposing banners meet. Here are some methods that I’ve seen used:
a. Invasion- this method is the simplest to understand. Whenever a player wishes to move into a space that is occupied by an enemy banner, a battle is fought. If the battle is won, the enemy banner is destroyed or displaced (moving back to it’s last occupied territory) and the invading banner moves into the space. If the battle is lost, then the invading banner is destroyed, or stops on the borders of the territory and cannot move into it.
Some variations of this allow the player to pursue the fleeing enemy, and have rules very similar to Fleeing Regiments on the table-top. Others will only allow the army to displace the enemy if the invaders have a sufficient difference in points, or win the battle by a certain margin. The most quick-playing method allows for the defender to immediately reciprocate, moving into the invader’s space if the attack fails.
The downside to the Invasion method is that it forces players to stop moving on the map, and go straight to a table to figure out if their forces move into the terrain. If you want to go for the “everyone moves, then everyone fights” method of taking turns, you’ll want to use the next method. This method can also result in burn-out, as it will force players to play several battles during the meeting day.
b. Border Skirmish- this is the most preferred method of doing battle. In this method, armies which end their movement adjacent to one another may go into battle. Either player can declare a battle, and if one player declines or loses the battle, he retreats into the previously held territory and the winner can move into the territory just as in the Invasion method.
It will be important to decide if players can move away from fights in this method. If PlayerA moves into a space adjacent to PlayerB, can PlayerB then move away during his movement? The answer is usually yes, provided PlayerB does not move into or through any territory bordering PlayerA’s banner, or closer to PlayerA’s Home City.
c. Mighty Empires- the old edition of Mighty Empires had a Risk-Like system of dice rolling to determine the outcome of a battle. This method can be good if there are several banners on the table, and not enough time to determine a battle, or if two players decide that they are “too busy with real life” to fight their battle. Unfortunately, this method can also lead to escapism, where players will try to roll battles, rather than fight an experienced enemy on the tabletops. For this reason, this method is best for working out Siege battles, if you lack proper castle terrain (which you should be making right now, as you read this).
Now that you know how your Banners will interact, it’s time to create your map. There are a lot of things to consider when creating your map.
‘A’ is for appearance. You need to have a map to have a map based campaign
a. Mighty Empires- possibly the best thing to happen to map based campaigns and the worst thing to happen to campaigns. The tiles look wonderful, have those nice little holes in them for placing banners and those super-chic features like towns and mines and forts. The hexagonal shape also means that you’re sure that the game is going to be nice and fair, as well as being easy to read.
b. A Map- cheap, but not easy. Hand-drawing a map lets you get creative (Hyre be Nerds, go ye notte this way), and to vary the shapes, sizes, and borders of the territories. This will lend a new tactical level to the game- do you want to claim the land that’s bordered by 3 other territories, or the one bordered by 5? It lets you place rivers wherever you want, and place mountains and forests. You can also laminate a hand drawn map, and use dry-erase markers to keep tabs on the action. That makes it even easier to store than a Mighty-Empires set!
You need to determine how features will be placed. There are a lot of things to consider here in order to create not only a fair map, but a map that will ensure lots of action.
a. Terrain- if you are using movement bonuses and penalties that are based on types of terrain, then you need to make sure that you keep things balanced on the field. You don’t want everyone to have a highway leading to 1 unfortunate player’s front door if you’re giving bonuses for moving on roads.
You also want to make sure that all distances between capitals are reasonably equal. If two capitals are located close together, put mountains, forests, or rivers between them to slow down the armies. If two capitals are far apart, place a road along atleast part of the journey. The nearest capital should always be the one on the opposite corner.
b. Choke Points- you should always build choke-points into your maps. This will help to make sure that there are battles taking place. Properly made maps will always offer at least 2 ways into a kingdom, through a mountain, or across a river. This ensures that no single player can dominate an entire region by claiming just one key square. Of course, that will certainly lead to hard fought battles around those areas (although constant warfare over a bridge will keep players from reaching their goals). Providing an alternate route is a great idea.
Key features can also provide choke-points. If everyone wants a mine, they’ll head for the nearest one. Key features should be oriented around the center, and reasonably equidistant from several players. This will get them all moving in one direction (towards the middle) and towards one another.
The final method for creating a choke-point, is to make sure that the closest enemy capital is in the opposite corner. If players want to run pell-mell towards the enemy, the fastest route is to go through the middle. This will direct all of the players through the middle, and deter players from circling the board.
3. Common Key Features
Key features are placed on the map to create choke points, as stated above. Often, they will have some sort of benefit. The most common features are towns and cities, forts and castles, and mines.
a. Towns and Cities- every empire needs a city to be counted as it’s capital. This is normally where banners are created or spawn from. Further towns and cities are population centers. As such, they might train varying levels of troops (Core, Special, Rare), provide more revenue, or just be worth a certain number of points at the end of the game.
b. Forts and Castles- forts and castles provide defensive benefits. These could house armies for the winter, or be used to stockpile baggage for pickup later. The might also provide a small garrison of free troops (a 500pt army perhaps) that represents the local lord’s defense of the bordering territories.
c. Mines- mines, and in extension, other features like Mills or Towers, likely churn out special instruments of war. Mines might create warmachines such as cannons or steam tanks, while Mills might create machines like chariots and stone throwers, or other siege engines. Towers may house powerful wizards capable to creating magical items (or allow the wizard to join your ranks).A note on managing Feature Benefits:
Occasionally you may find that a player is gaining a massive edge in the games. This might be the result of his capture of every Factory in the game, and a sudden spike in the number of Warmachines he has available in his list. This might be acceptable in a cut-throat game, as every player was given the opportunity to do the same, but sometimes these kinds of events will lead to a snowball effect. Perhaps now that he has so many warmachines, he has been able to claim several towns and now has hordes of troops at his disposal. Eventually, this player might become so powerful that the other players feel that it is impossible to stand against him. Here are a few tips for dealing with these situations:
1. explain to the players that there are no rules against forming an alliance to defeat a common enemy. Perhaps meet him on the field of battle with several combined banners, maybe even combined races.
2. Explain to the offending player that he has become so powerful that he needs to be cut back. This may be met with a bit of resentment, as he has indeed earned his bonus fair and square. But let him know that he is killing the spirit of the campaign. Once this is done, you will need to fix the rules in question, to keep the problem from arising again (no player is allowed to have more than Xnumber of warmachines etc)
3. Make your rules watertight! When writing the campaign, focus on keeping the battles legal. Perhaps Factories have a different effect than pumping out warmachines. Perhaps instead they make upgrades to other features cheaper, as they advance Farming, Mining, and Fortification technology.
4. End the Campaign. Admit that he has created an unbeatable army, congratulate him, and end the campaign. This is a last resort, but you can always start a new campaign after this one. Fix the rule in question and have another stab at it.
Map Based campaigns provide the opportunity for several special rules. Below are some examples of interesting rules that I have seen enacted. It is usually best to choose only a few key special rules, so that the campaign does not bog down tremendously. I wish that I could give some kind of formula, but the number of special rules that a group can handle depends on the size and organization of the group, the level of understanding on behalf of the players (No, it’s not spring time, you cannot harvest the wheat and raise taxes at the same time. And stop trying to put that Nurgling in your mouth, it’s not a gumdrop!), and the amount of time available to the campaign organizer (remember the section about Time Constraints?).
One thing that I will say is that the Seasons rule allows you to add in a few more special rules, as you can make them come into effect every few campaign turns. For example, ‘World Spells’ and ‘Catastrophes’ might only happen during the changing of the seasons, rather than every turn.
This was discussed early, but it represents some sort of gain from owning territories. Typically, certain territories will generate more revenue than others. Usually towns, forts, and then mines and cities generate revenue. At the most basic level, this is all that you would need for features.
a. Baggage- baggage can be separated from the normal system of revenue, and represents the food and supplies that an army carries with it. Baggage often effects how much an army can move during its turn (expend 1 point of baggage for every territory moved through, etc). Often, when baggage runs out, a Banner is either destroyed or begins to starve (losing a number of points each turn).
Baggage is normally generated by Farmland, and supplied at Cities and Towns. Some systems allow banners to forage, or to over-harvest certain areas, with negative effects for the latter. In very complex campaigns, every feature in the empire requires baggage, so that cities and mines are reliant upon food from farms and grasslands. Baggage might also be able to be recovered from fleeing or destroyed enemy banners.
b. Manpower- once again, separated out from the normal system of Revenue, Manpower represents populations that are available for recruitment into the armies. This works best with ‘Roster’ armies which can take casualties. At it’s most basic level, Manpower is simply a number of Points generated at population centers that can be drafted into the roster. At it’s most advanced, it represents a specific troop type- villages train Core, castles train Core and Special, while cities train Core, Special, and Characters. Special features might train only Warmachines or Monsters.
c. Gold- again, separated out from the normal system of Revenue, gold could represent the rarest of Revenue, able to be used to purchase both Baggage and Manpower. At the most advanced part of the game, Gold is not only converted into baggage and manpower directly, but is used to purchase the available baggage and manpower from other features, as well as being used like baggage to pay your armies, retain the use of characters or Rare units. Baggage may be able to be stolen, Manpower press-ganged, and enemy features Pillaged for their supply of gold.
Seasons provide a larger organization to the turns. A full campaign might be assumed to last for a single campaign season (spring through fall) or for several years. Seasons can have very interesting effects on the game, if you choose to get very detailed.
a. Spring- in spring, snows thaw and rivers flood, making passage difficult. Bridges may even be washed away. Features close to water might be flooded, while roads become muddy mires. Manpower might dwindle as would-be-warriors stay home for the planting season.
b. Summer- summer is the peak of the campaign season and is the most “normal” season.
c. Fall- in fall, soldiers will want to return home for the harvest, although baggage will become more plentiful along with it. There may be fierce storms as well, which could once again cause flooding and road deterioration.
d. Winter- in winter, roads become obscured by snow, rivers freeze over to form roads or become freezing cold and impassable. There is little baggage available anywhere, and manpower and armies dwindle through starvation and freezing. Disease may break out in full force to ravage densely populated towns and cities. Surprise attacks may find defenders difficult to rouse.
3. World Magic
World Magic represents powerful covens of mages working on behalf of an empire to cast potent spells that may effect entire regions. Such spells might include forced catastrophes on enemies, but might also have beneficial effects to the empire. These spells might be cast a the turning of the season, or be requested in return for revenue. Some spells may not be spells at all, but rather, political moves. Beneficial spells might include
a. Gracious Harvest- double the standard baggage is generated by effected lands, or cancel the effects of a blight.
b. Enrich the Land- effected terrain is now able to be turned into a mine as its bedrock is turned to precious metals.
c. Raise Dead- an army of the undead is brought up from a battlefield to fight for your empire for a turn.
d. Birth of a Hero- create a Hero level character in one army or at a town or city.
Catastrophes are just that, bad things which might happen to your empire. These might be rolled as part of a season, or caused by enemy World Magic.
a. Death of a Leader- the king of the empire dies. The empire is thrown into turmoil, only 50% of all revenue is generated. All banners must take a leadership test, those who fail are disbanded, those who succeed fight on with -1 leadership.
b. Dragon Rage- dragons come down from their mountain lairs. Place a dragon on a mountain feature within the empire, roll a scatter die and a D6. On a 1 or 6 the dragon ceases its attack, on a Direct Hit it remains stationary until the start of the next campaign turn or season, when it will resume its attack. Otherwise it moves a single tile in the direction shown by the arrow. Any tile which the dragon moves through or occupies is assumed to be Razed.
c. Blight Crops- baggage generated throughout the empire is halved.
d. Plague!- a plague springs up through the empire. Roll a D6 for every town, fort, and city. On a D6 roll of a 1, a town is infected with the plague. Any army that enters that town will become infected (effect the same as starvation), and any feature that the army enters will be likewise infected. Enemies who fight the infected army will also become infected on a D6 roll of a 1. Infected features generate no Revenue. Roll for every infected town on the next turn. On a roll of a 6, the town is cured (the roll is reduced by 1 each turn, so next turn a 5+), but on a roll of a 1, the town succumbs and becomes a ghost town.A note on special characters, and battle-affecting special rules:
You should try to keep special characters, units, and armylists to minimum in Map Based campaigns. Map Based campaigns are often intended to be more “fair” than Narratives, and should stick to the basic Warhammer rules. Special Rules which affect stats in battles should also be kept to a minimum, and appear with very little frequency. This does not mean that you cannot create rules which affect an entire battlefield, such as battles fought in forests or icecaps, as these rules will affect both armies equally and fairly (hey, you didn’t have to attack the woodelves in the forest...)
This is a subtype of Map Campaign, and in my opinion, the best way to create a campaign. The Lustria Campaign book was a Node based campaign, but there are even simpler ways to run such campaigns.
A Node Campaign uses a simplified map, with far fewer territories. These territories are often connected by lines representing means of travel. In the Lustria campaign, these lines were marked with numbers that represented the risk of travelling on them. This is optional of course.
A superior (and simpler) form of the Node Campaign is to give each player a Mighty Empires tile. From there, he places 6 more tiles on the borders of the original one (to create a flower). Most of these territories will have a special effect, be worth revenue, or have some other significance. Each player should have the same Features somewhere within their mini “empire”, although sometimes players roll for their features randomly (this helps force players to attack key enemy locations in their quest for resources).
Once these mini empires are created, players put there empire directly next to an opponents. This will create a condensed map, and is best for 3-6 players. This type of campaign does away with Movement mechanics entirely. Instead, players have a banner and are trying to force each other out of their empires.
The benefit to these campaigns is that there is no need to meet on a regular basis, so long as the players are honest. Players will play battles against each-other for control of adjacent territories. Capturing an enemy territory confers its bonus to the invader, who may then launch attacks from that territory as well.
These campaigns can often be played in the space of a single month, although I’ve played one in a single day of very brutal gaming (we also used less than the six standard tiles).
You can still implement turns in the Node based campaign if you want. Often this is done in the form of the four seasons. Each week of real-time marks the passing of a single season. This can allow for very cool rules regarding weather.
The loss of the movement phase, and the fact that the ratio of “turns” to “battles” is much lower, means that you can implement more detailed rules on banner and empire management. Such ideas might include-
1. Baggage- each banner is assumed to carry with it a certain amount of baggage. Each time the banner moves (either to retreat or to claim a new territory) it expends baggage. Banners which run out of baggage are destroyed. Banners which remain stationary slowly generate baggage from the lands on which they are located, except in winter, when everything is under a blanket of snow.
2. Revenue- very similar to the map campaign, except that with fewer territories, it is easier to make every territory in the empire generate some form of revenue.
3. Development and Razing- players can upgrade their territories to be more efficient at what they do, or Raze territories. Razed territories often don’t provide any benefits, or have their benefits significantly reduced for period of time. This leads to brutal raids along the borders to burn your enemy’s farmland, but also to desperate scorched-earth ploys.
Well, I said a while ago that I'd write a tactica on writing campaigns, so here you guys go. I'll expand on it if I think of anything, or if anyone asks questions or has ideas.
Hopefully this will help the people who've been thinking of writing campaigns for their gaming groups.
Thank you very much! Looks awesome...it's something I'm always looking for more tips/ideas with.
I've wanted to be able to get such a thing going for a good long while at my local store...after reading this I think I'll at least post a notice to see if there are enough interested players and than hopefully give it a shot. Thanks for all the great ideas!
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