Thursday, 2 October 2014

Dux Britanniarum for The Wars of the Roses: The Campaign

Dux Britanniarum (DB) is not just about battles and its central campaign system gives a background to your battles and provides a 'reason' for the battles themselves. Unlike DB however a WotR campaign is not a game of conquests, but an attempt by rival Lords to gain 'influence' and power over an area of land and its inhabitants.

Battles are still an important part of the campaign, but so is building an 'affinity' and projecting your power across the region you inhabit. While wealth and the numbers of Followers you have attracted to your cause will ultimately determine who is the victor, raids and battles will reduce your opponent's wealth and prestige, as well as his military strength, which are the means to this.

I still plan to keep the campaigns simple, with a minimal amount of book keeping. How your Lord's career develops will depend as much on your ability to 'win friends and influence people' as it will on your skill in battle. You can obviously just dispense with all of this and just play battles, and in a future instalment, I will be covering some small changes to the battle rules in DB.

There is a summary PDF for this and the other articles in this series.

Constructing 'The Shire'

The action in Lords of War is divorced from the wider political events of the Wars of the Roses, so it doesn't matter whether you support Lancaster, York, or latterly Tudor. If you prefer to do so, that's fine, but it isn't important. Your Lord is one of a number of families in a region of land, which we will call 'The Shire'. You can use one of the real world ones for this, or create your own. You may even base it loosely on your own area, which has the advantage of a ready made topography and settlement layout.

The game Shire is actually a lot smaller than a real county and in reality would probably represent a 'Hundred'; which by the 15th Century were an undefined area of land, and were the administrative sub-divisions of the Shire. Each Hundred was divided into 'Manors' (or 'Parishes' if you prefer, although this is not technically the right term) or Boroughs (free areas, who held no allegiance to an individual, other than the King), which are the administrative areas which really concern us in the game itself.

Your campaign map should include a single borough, placed in the centre of one map edge, equidistant from the main Manor of your Lords. This represents the major settlement in the region and effectively this is the 'prize' of the campaign. Control of the Borough is the key to winning the campaign. The remainder of the map is divided into Manors, the number of which is up to you, providing it is an even number. Each Manor represents an area of land, which will provide manpower for your Lord and a Borough Council Vote, providing he can recruit them to his cause.  

DB is based on a two player campaign, although there is no reason why you couldn't run it with more players though and it would certainly result in a somewhat different experience as a result. As the campaign system is an open one, there is no reason for an umpire either, so nobody gets stuck with watching everyone else have all the fun. A multi-player campaign should be straightforward enough to play and I'm not creating any specific rules for this.
A very basic campaign map. The Borough is on the left edge and the two players' Manors are distributed across the map. The area of land of each Manor is not important, as it's presumed each Manor provides the same numbers of men and amount of income.  

The simple rules for the map are; each player must have his 'base' Manor on an opposing edge to his opponent and each of his settlements must be separated from his others and his opponent's Manors, by at least one neutral Manor at the start of the campaign. I recommend that each player takes it in turn to select their other Manor locations.

Each player has three Manors under his control initially, which corresponds to his own and those of his two subordinate commanders, who are presumed to be family stewards or bailiffs and who are presumed to be Indentured Retainers (see below). These have their own coats of arms, but wear the livery of your Lord. This is not an essential requirement however, so do what you will.

The Borough

Control of the Borough is the central point of the campaign and relies on the number of seats on the council which the player acquires. There are an equivalent number of seats on the council, to the number of Manors in the Shire, with an additional one for the Borough itself. Each player therefore begins with three seats each. For each Manor a player controls through an Indentured Retainer or Well-Wisher, then he is presumed to have one vote on the council.

Indentured Retainers are guaranteed votes, while those of Well-Wishers are somewhat open to chance. Neutral Manors, Opposing Manors and the Borough vote itself are always opposed votes. To win the campaign a player must be able to force a vote in the Council and gain a majority result, which will get him a place on the King's Council.

The Borough can never be occupied or attacked. It is neutral territory. It also serves as the conduit to the outside world and is the route through which Mercenaries are recruited and produce turned into cash.

Gaining the election is not an end to war however, merely the end of that particular campaign. Things change fast in English politics and the vanquished only have to wait for the next opportunity, be it one, five or ten years hence!

The Manor

The Manor is everything to your Lord, it is the source of his wealth and also of the manpower he needs to fight his campaign. In the early stages of the Campaign, when they have no Indentured Retainers or Well-Wishers to call on, rival Lords will be forced to wage a war of attrition against their opponents, striking at their Manors to reduce both income and men.

Lacking in support however, they may only Harry (Raid) their opponent, forcing him to deploy men to defend his lands and chipping away at his income. This corresponds to the Raiding section on p.19 of DB and is designed to allow each player to gain wealth and prestige. Once a Lord has progressed on his career path and attained the level of Knight, then he can progress to attempting to take his opponent's Manors by forcing battle (p.19 DB).

Only a player's Manors and those of his Indentured Retainers and Well-Wishers may be attacked. Neutral Manors may not. Prestige is reliant on good public relations, even in the fifteenth century! As there aren't the same defined roles in 'Lord of Battles' as there are in Dux Brit, players need to roll a dice to determine who has the initiative each Campaign Turn. The winner then has the option of declaring an attack, should he decline to, then the loser has the option of doing so instead.

Because we are talking a relatively small area of land, it is not necessary for a manor to be adjacent to one held by the player for him to attack it. Word of Mouth would let him now his enemy was mustering and then gives him the option of what force to use to meet it. If he plans on also attacking himself, then he will need to split the troops available to him. Having a spy in the enemy's camp will obviously help in this decision, should he have employed one!

The Campaign Turn

The year in DB is presented as eight campaign turns. Given that the Wars of the Roses also saw action during the Winter months, I've extended this to ten turns. Unlike DB however, the campaign year can be terminated through the Oyer and Terminer rule. Unless mentioned below, all of the usual DB rules are in play

In DB there are defined roles for each player, which essentially gives the initiative to the Saxon player. Roles are less clearly defined in Lords of War, so an initiative roll is necessary each turn, with an edge given to a player who has proved successfully aggressive on the preceding one. This is in addition to the pre-Battle Phase roll (p.22 DB).

Like DB the bulk of the campaign action takes place after a battle. After working out Pursuit or Retreat (p. 56) and referring to the new Results Tables, a slightly different sequence is followed, which includes new rules alongside those in DB.

Oyer and Terminer

While a degree of violence was accepted as normal in fifteenth century England, where this went above that which was accepted, His Majesty's subjects would grow most vocal about the damages to livelihood, crops and person. While armies were quite well behaved as a rule and their leaders conscious of not alienating the general public, having two opposing armies slugging it out did cause some disruption to everyday life.

When the complaints grew too onerous, the King would be forced to task one of his chief nobles with a Commission of Oyer and Terminer. This was essentially a 'Cease and Desist' notice, backed by Men at Arms and Archers. There would be meetings and tribunals, with perhaps a spell in prison for the worst offenders, but essentially the matter would be laid to rest for an undefined period, before flaring up again.

In the real world, the Percy-Neville Dispute was given to the Duke of York to deal with, resulting in Lord Egremont and one of his brothers being imprisoned in Fleet Prison, missing the starting Battle of the Wars of the Roses as a result. No such action was taken the Nevilles by York.  

In Lords of War, the level of violence and a dice roll, will determine whether this will occur, bringing an immediate end to the campaign year. Obviously the chance of this increases throughout the year and is dependent on how many battles and raids have occurred. While losses can be replaced in the intervening period, until the next campaign year begins, no other activity can take place. Like their medieval counterparts, players will have to judiciously determine when to use force to attain their aims!

Raid Results, Battle Results and Reinforcements

Household troops are in limited supply and losses amongst them can only be achieved by attracting men impressed by your track record, or by the upgrading of Retinue units through grim experience. There are only finite numbers of people of certain classes too, so while the better men will replace your Household men and Retainers, the units recruited will be both inexperienced and successively less able. As a result only Yeomen can be recruited.  

As a result Pyrrhic or otherwise costly victories and damaging defeats, will see the quality of your forces reduce quite dramatically. While martial ability counts for something, so does knowing when to call it a day too!


I've treated mercenaries a little different to DB. I've retained the loss of prestige for using them, along with the reduction in income from battle plunder due to their presence however. Mercenaries are also still recruited prior to a battle and not as part of the 'Campaign Turn'.

Mercenaries are however more permanent than they are in DB. Once recruited they remain with their employer until either;

  • He dismisses them. Costing a Yeomen's Purse for each group as 'severance pay'.
  • They leave his service after he has lost a battle (automatic).
Mercenaries are recruited by the group and cost a Retainer's Wage, per group, per month, regardless of type.

The mechanism for recruiting mercenaries is straightforward, the player hiring them declares how many rolls he will be making on the Mercenary Table, deducts the first months pay from his pot and then takes what comes from the table. He may choose to discard a recruited unit, but the roll is still deducted, as is the the pay for the group (the Agent's fee).  

Contested Manors

Individual Manors represent the main holdings of a Lord, along with a number of smaller settlements which are tied to the Manor.  The actual Manor itself has a larger settlement nearby, which I've chosen to describe as a Town for clarity.

When a player Harries an opponent's Manor, he is essentially attacking the smaller settlements of the Manor, not the Manor and Town itself. While crop and village burning was not a feature of the Wars of the Roses, the houses, lands and tenants of the protagonists were looted and tenants harassed etc. This led to loss of goods, income and a degree of ill-feeling towards their Lord, from those attacked. When a player commits to a Battle however, he is committing to taking and holding both the Manor itself and exacting taxes from the Town adjacent to it.

This subtle difference only comes into play when a player is unable or unwilling to meet his enemies forces and like in DB, I've chosen to handle this abstractly. As part of his Career Path, a player is able to improve the defences of the Manors he holds. Each Manor is assumed to have both a Manor House (subsequently replaced by a Castle) and a Town as a single entity. The smaller villages and hamlets are represented by a single theoretical village, in other words, when a player improves 'the Village' of a Manor, he has improved all of the Villages in that particular Manor.

A player who hasn't reached the rank of Lord and has been unable to construct a Castle, may shelter within the 'Town Walls' and the opposing player's siege is conducted against this instead.

Raids are always successful against unimproved villages and are worked out as normal. Improved Villages, Manors, Castles and Towns are somewhat different and have to be besieged. The rules relating to this in DB are used, with the table I've constructed in the pdf. Likewise attacking all of the villages in a Manor takes time and the time taken on the table reflects this, rather than a formal siege as such.  

Indentured Retainers and Well-Wishers

Indentured Retainers and Well-Wishers are the Lords of the other Manors in the Shire. While they no doubt nurture their own ambitions of power, their lack of land, in comparison to the holdings of you and your opponent, prevents them from achieving anything worthwhile. In the meantime they will monitor events and hopefully come to realise that hitching their wagon to your star is the way forward.

Initially however you lack both the prestige and power to attract anyone to your cause. While you possess three Manors, all that gets them to acknowledge is that you are one to watch. It is not until you reach the rank of Knight that they will consider supporting you, after a fashion, and not until you become a titled Lord will they actually commit and enter your service.

Why should you bother with them anyway? Besides their Borough Council votes, they also have manpower, which they might consider pledging to support your cause in the case of Well-Wishers, or who will commit to your cause in the case of Indentured Retainers. That is the essential difference between the two; Well-Wishers tend to procrastinate, are vacillating and unreliable, while Indentured Retainers are committed supporters.


During the campaign a player may attempt to recruit neutral Manor holders as Well-Wishers once he reaches the rank of Knight. Once he reaches the actual rank of Lord, he may attempt to recruit Well-Wishers, or turn Well-Wishers into Indentured Retainers. Maintaining their support has its costs though and while in reality there were a variety of ways service might have been gained, for simplicity we will stick to a system of payment per turn once they have been recruited (See Good Lordship below).

A player may be able to recruit either type just by virtue of the number of seats he has on the council, but typically his prestige, military prowess and the number of surrounding Manors he has attracted to his cause, will also count for a lot. Ultimately money can help too and even if you've lost a battle or two, you can always buy friends. Because negotiations take time and focus, as well as that they are generally prima donnas and want your undivided attention, you may only attempt to recruit or subvert one Well-Wisher or Indentured Retainer per campaign turn.

Besides their council votes, Well-Wishers and Indentured Retainers also have their own troops, which they may employ on your behalf; either as an additional raiding force, or as an additional command in battle. They also get their own rolls on the reinforcement table etc. Results however only apply to their forces in the case of Well-Wishers, but Indentured Retainers' rolls can be used to replace troops in the player's Lord's forces.

Good Lordship

Naturally none of this comes free and the player will have to demonstrate 'Good Lordship' by rewarding those who choose to follow him. Each Well-Wisher will expect to receive a Retainer's Wage each Campaign Month. Each Indentured Retainer will expect to receive a Dozener's Purse each Campaign Month. In both cases, failure to pay this amount will degrade their loyalty in the same way as if a player's opponent was attempting to suborn them himself.

Suborning Followers

Besides recruiting Well-Wishers and Indentured Retainers, a player can also attempt to suborn his opponent's followers. For the same cost as a Spy, a player can attempt to 'turn' one of them. This can be done any time, even as part of a Battle (as long as the specific individual's forces have neither moved or shot), which can make things interesting.

Other than in a battle, a successful test will turn an Indentured Retainer into a Well-Wisher and a Well-Wisher into a neutral Manor holder. As with recruiting a Manor holder, this may only be attempted once per Campaign Turn as an alternative to recruiting one.

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