Narrative Campaigning in Finum Mundi
To begin, these ideas are far from original and some have been shamelessly pilfered from the interwebs...
The campaign game principles in Finum Mundi are simple and are designed to produce as little record-keeping and paperwork as possible and to get to the tabletop battle as quickly as we can and have fun. Toy soldiers are the name of the game here and there is no need to weigh down the proceedings with boring paperwork. Better to have fun than be an accountant.
Finum Mundi Countries and Players
Each Player is the ruler of a country, of which there are seven:
Note: There are also colonies for those nations with navies.
Each country has an army whose organization is fixed and immovable (yet may be added to as units are painted and added to the collections). Players need not worry about organizing and re-organizing, since that would involve far too much paperwork. The armies are typically organized into four or five brigades of various troop types, the composition of which remain fixed.
Only two countries have navies, Nordstrum and Libagioni. These can also be part of a player’s strategic plans. In fact, there is no reason why these can’t be hired or used as bargaining chips by other countries. Oh, the possibilities…
Some countries have fortresses (easily distinguished on the map) and player’s can besiege their neighbours if that is their wont. But sieges can be costly in terms of manpower and time.
A player makes the strategic choices and sets the strategic direction for his country. Of all the countries, those that have players at their head are active and the rest are inactive. Inactive countries are managed by the umpire and are not so easy to conquer or manipulate as one might imagine. Inactive countries always have forces and defenses, so they are no pushover (and may a source for hiring mercenaries). Each country has a character and these are used by the umpire for the inactive countries to determine their responses. While an active player is not required to behave as the country’s character dictates, the character and behaviour of the player/ruler can often determine Victory Points and/or Prestige Points. *
*What are these? Good question, for which there is no definable answer. There are no particular rules for this (as could be said for much of this type of campaign). As many an Enlightenment philosopher was heard to utter, “this is entirely made up and the points don’t matter!” It would be prudent, however, to act as a gentleman ruler of the 18th century would (which can provide much fodder for the imagination).
The strategies open to Finum Mundi players are unlimited! A player may do whatever he/she wishes, all he/she has to do it get it past the umpire (which basically means attempting to remain within the confines of 18th century propriety). These strategies, submitted each campaign turn, are called intentions and may be no more than 140 characters (a la Twitterese) and specify the resources to be used, if any. Intentions may have conditions in them but not conclusions. For example, the Grand Duke of Gourmandie could submit a conditional intention thus: “I will attack Libagioni, if Libagioni attacks Das KaiserReich.” If the condition of Libagioni attacking Das KaiserReich is met, a battle would be forced between Gourmandie and Libagioni. If the condition is not met, the intention is effectively invalidated and a No Intention default is invoked. Intentions can also be quite simple: "I want to hold position and train the army” or “I want to forage for supplies in enemy territory." The former may gain some bonuses for the army at the expense of strategic movement while the latter may again gain some short-term bonus for the army but may incur the wrath of various other countries. A conclusion is simply illegal. For example, the KronPrinz of Das KaiserReich intends to “defeat a St-Julien army and annihilate it by pursuing it with all available forces." The "defeat" means it's a conclusion, which the KronPrinz player would first have to bring about on the tabletop. Thus, a no-no!
Note: Although a player’s army is organized into brigades that can be mentioned in a player’s intentions, a player is not required to do this. For example, a player could send “the light cavalry” to “scout the enemy capital” or order the “2nd and 4th Brigades to remain near the border as security against incursions.” Equally, a player can be rather vague: “I want to hold position and train the army.” There are myriad ambiguous details that could bog down this intention but it is easily adjudicated by the umpire’s secret and mysterious dice rolling and whims.
The umpire compiles all intentions, compares them, and decides if a battle will take place and what its nature will be. Those that do not involve attacks or possible battles will be resolved by the umpire’s whim and various mysterious die rolls. If no battle takes place everyone fills out a second set of intentions and so it goes until we get a battle, or the campaigning season ends. The umpire will concoct the supporting story (or narrative) that carries the players from one campaign turn to another.
A word about campaign turns and the campaigning season may be in order. Campaign turns have no set length and are determined as much by campaign events (based on intentions) as on the passage of time in the real world (i.e. that mundane world in which all the players and the umpire really exist) and the ability of players to gather and push toy soldiers around. The campaign season usually starts in late April or early May and extends to late November, depending upon the weather (the real world weather). The weather in the real world determines not only the start and end of the campaigning season but also the tabletop weather on the real day the battle is fought.
When the umpire determines that a battle is to be fought, the players involved will need to make a number of decisions. For instance…
How much of the army will be directed to this battle? This depends largely on the player’s submitted intention at the beginning of the campaign turn. If, for instance, a player’s intention was to “move cautiously into Libagioni with my light troops while keeping the bulk of the army in the capital to defend the homeland” and Libagioni’s intention was “to hold the majority of the army near the border to defend against attack,” a rather lopsided battle might occur. There is no need to take up space in the 25-word intention with specifics about particular unit movements (although nothing says a player can’t do this). The umpire will determine the best possible scenario based on the rival intentions.
Will the player/ruler be present at the battle? The short answer is YES. Unless something in the player’s intention prevents it: “The Kronprinz will host a grand review of the army in the capital, less 3rd Brigade sent to forage in the Gourmandie countryside.”
What is the plan of battle? If the player/ruler is present, this will be answered in person during the tabletop battle. If the ruler is present at the battle but the player him/herself is absent or if the player/ruler is not present at all, the plan (i.e. cautious defence, aggressive attack, probe, delaying action, etc) will be determined largely by the player’s intention for the turn and the country’s character.
Should I give battle? It is always to the player’s credit (and prestige amongst his peers) to stand and fight although at times it may be prudent, in the grand scheme of things, to retreat and give ground. The results will, of course, vary, depending upon the various intentions of the players and the strategic situation. It is safe to assume, however, that shying away from battle will bear rotten fruit.
It is important to note that one player/country could be involved in more than one battle in a campaign turn, depending upon intentions. It would be prudent, however, to remember that sending one’s entire army off to attack a neighbour, although aggressive and potentially glorious, would most likely leave one’s own country and capital city open for attack itself. Oh, the decisions to be made!
What Happens After the Battle?
This depends entirely on the outcome of the battle (obviously), players’ intentions, and the characters of the respective countries.
Non-Military Intentions, Economics, and Other Sundry Stuff
It’s important to note that a player’s intentions need not be entirely military in nature: “Gourmandie will raise taxes to allow the raising of a new militia infantry regiment.” Or perhaps, “the KronPrinz will hold a grand public celebration to commemorate the victory over Libagioni.” Both or either of these could have military, economic, and/or political consequences. Players are encouraged to be creative but within the bounds of 18th century propriety.
What if a player wishes to add to or upgrade his army? Upgrading is the simpler method. This can happen in a number of ways. The army can gain experience on campaign and in battle. Training can also help to improve quality and performance (but not so much as real campaign experience): “The army will hold training maneuvers in the environs of the capital.” Adding to the army is not as easy and could happen in a number of different ways. First, new units may be added at the whim of the umpire at any time (i.e. new units come off the painting desk in random fashion). Second, a player might ask if a new unit could be added. In this case, the umpire checks the available lead pile for possibilities and a negotiation may result. Keep in mind, however, that the interval between requesting a new unit and the realization of such a request (i.e. seeing the new unit in battle) is not guaranteed (as would be in real life). Of course, a player could just order the new figures required and send them to the umpire’s door!
You will notice there are no rules or guidelines for economics. How do you pay for the army? What is the basis for your nation’s economy? How do you pay for that celebration of the Duke’s birthday? There is no currency as such; rather, it is assumed that each nation has a stable economy at the beginning of the campaign. Losses or gains of territory could decrease or increase the stability and output of the economy. The ability to pay for new army units, treaty agreements, a new fleet, hiring foreign mercenaries, or your mistress’ new lingerie is entirely dependant upon a player’s military and political performance and intentions. If you want something, go and get it! But be prepared for the consequences, at home and abroad.