Saturday, January 1, 2011

Imagination Campaigning

And now, back to our regularly scheduled program...

In between cleaning up the sample Crusader figures I ordered for myself as a Xmas present and designing their new uniforms (see here), I've been puttering around with a way to improve the quality of our forces as we play with them. Vidal and I agreed early on that all units would begin our little project with the lowest troop quality allowed in our rules of choice and work their way up through campaigning and fighting. It just so happens that recently Too Fat Lardies produced an American Civil War companion rule set to Sharp Practice called Terrible Sharp Sword which contains some interesting ideas for creating your forces and improving unit qualities as you game with them. Below is a distillation of these ideas with a few of my own added in. I hold no pretensions of originality (in fact, I have lifted much of it word-for-word from Terrible Sharp Sword) and these are just a first draft intended to be a starting point. You may notice that, as with most TFL products, not every eventuality has been catered for. A fair amount of gentlemanly agreement and fair-minded play is required. Besides, these are just a framework or set of guidelines. Enough rambling...

Note: Full understanding of these campaigning ideas requires knowledge of Sharp Practice but lacking that, most of them can be easily understood regardless.



All units begin as Poor. As they accumulate experience, winning or losing their battles, they will change in the way that they see themselves, and this will gradually change the way that they behave on the tabletop. Troops are categorised according to how much time they have spent in the field. Although most groups/units begin as Poor troops, skirmish and designated guard troops begin as Regular troops.

A unit must participate in at least two actions at its current quality level to be eligible to advance to the next highest Troop Quality level.  When this happens, roll 1d6: on a 5-6 the unit is advanced to the next quality level. If unsuccessful, roll 1d6 after each subsequent action, adding +1 for each subsequent action fought. (Note: Particularly notable achievements may allow players to advance a unit’s quality level ahead of schedule, if all participants agree).

Troop Quality
Poor troops are just seeing the elephant. They will tend to have lower Status officers and NCOs and lower standards of drill and musketry. That said, they are more likely to stand up to some punishment better than Good or Elite troops due to their inexperience. Poor troops ignore the first point of Shock received in Fisticuffs. If they win in Fisticuffs they must pursue a defeated enemy, attempting to close to engage in Fisticuffs on their next activation. This will break any Formation they are in. Big Men hit by musket fire from Poor troops will roll with a -1 on the appropriate chart. Skirmish troops may never be Poor.
Regular troops have seen some action and are more knowledgeable in the ways of war. They may choose to pursue an enemy defeated in Fisticuffs but if they do so, any Formation they are in will be broken. Regular troops may never have more than a +1 musketry bonus. Skirmish and guard troops may never be lower than Regular.
Good troops may achieve a +1 or even +2 in musketry and may be aggressive in Fisticuffs. Big Men hit by musket fire from Good troops will roll with a +1 on the appropriate chart. Good troops pursuing an enemy defeated in Fisticuffs may retain their Formation.
Elite troops are veterans really past their best. They are experienced troops and by now they should have good officers and NCOs and have a number of benefits; however, they are more interested in self-preservation than heroics. Elite troops automatically get a +1 in musketry (in addition to any other bonuses but may not exceed +2). It requires two Initiatives from a Big Man to get them to charge into Fisticuffs. They will never add fervour in Fisticuffs (except by using a Bonus Card) and will never pursue an enemy defeated in Fisticuffs. Big Men hit by musket fire from Elite troops will roll with a +2 on the appropriate chart.


Roll 1d6 for each unit. On a 6 or more these troops are Aggressive. Add +1 to the die roll if the troop type is considered naturally Aggressive (i.e. cossack-like mercenaries from the Eastern provinces, some light troops).


One Big Man is allowed per two Groups in a unit, rounding up for any odd numbers (recommended group size = eight figures). Of course, with Big Men we are not representing all of the officers and NCOs present, just the ones who are competent enough to have a positive impact on the battlefield. To reflect the variability between units, roll 1d6. On a 1, reduce the number of Big Men by one; on a 6 you add an extra one; otherwise, no change. To determine the status of the Big Men in each unit, consult the chart below. All ranks refer to a standard regimental organization but may be adjusted to national differences as required.

Big Man
The first Big Man is always the regimental colonel (or equivalent). Give him a suitable name and roll 1d6. On 1-4 he is a Status II Big Man, on a 5 or 6 he is Status III.
This Big Man is a Chef de Battalion (or equivalent) or Captain. Again, a suitable name will help, then roll 1d6. On a 1 or 2 he is a Status I Big Man, on 3-6 he is Status II.
This is always a junior officer (i.e. Lieutenant). On a roll of 1-4 he has a Status of I, on a 5 or 6 his Status is II.
Roll 1d6 to see what rank this man holds. On a 1-4 he is a Senior NCO (i.e. Sergeant); roll for his status as for the Third Big Man. One a 5 or 6 he is a junior officer; roll for his Status as for the Second Big Man, with a -1 on the die.
If you already have two junior officers, this Big Man is automatically a Sergeant. If you have two Sergeants already then roll 1d6. On 1-3 he is a Sergeant, on 4-6 a junior officer. Roll for Status as above depending on his rank with a -1 on the die.

Each Big Man may be fleshed out by using the normal characteristics rules in Sharp Practice.


For each Big Man who is badly wounded roll 1d6 at the end of the game. On a 6 the Big Man will be returned to the unit for the next game. Each subsequent time this is tested for, add +1 to the roll for each game played in the Big Man’s absence.

A Big Man who is lightly wounded will be available for the next game and be restored to his normal Status level.

If a Big Man is killed a more junior ranking Big Man may be promoted to fill the vacant role (or be appointed by the regimental colonel or reigning monarch, of course). In this case one of the Privates may be promoted to Sergeant with a Status I.

If a Big Man is absent from the force due to wounds one Private may be promoted from the ranks to become a Status I Sergeant after the battle; however, this man must return to the ranks once the Big Man returns unless other vacancies appear in the meantime.


As your force fights its battles it will, you hope, gain some victories; with these come Victory Points that may be used to enhance your force in several ways. How these points are achieved is listed below.

Your objectives are achieved and your enemy is obliged to withdraw
from the field

Your objective is achieved, but your enemy controls the field of battle
You failed to achieve your objective

The points are awarded to the force as a whole, not to the various elements within the force. This serves as the basic model for gaining Victory Points. Some scenarios may have variations on this theme. These points may be spent as follows:

Advance a unit to its next Quality Level without a die roll (assuming it has otherwise satisfied the requirements for such an advancement)
Increase a Big Man’s Status by one level
Add an extra Status Level I Big Man to a unit (NCO or officer)
Apply +1/die musketry bonus to a unit (maximum +2 per unit)
Add +1 to a unit’s Quality Level advancement roll
Acquire the unit commander a telescope


Negative things may also happen to your units if they perform badly in a battle.

Roll 1d6 for every unit that had at least one constituent group rout during a battle. On a roll of 6, the unit is downgraded one troop quality level. Add +1 to the roll for every constituent group in the unit that also routed (over and above the first).

A unit that has all of its Big Men killed or badly wounded in a single battle is automatically downgraded one troop quality level.

If a unit suffers 50% casualties in battle, roll 1d6. On a roll of 6, the unit is downgraded one troop quality level. Add +1 to the roll for every 10% casualties suffered over and above the initial 50%.

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