I’m admitting up front, this is a stream of consciousness post and shouldn’t be construed as hard and fast rules or even worthy of play value yet.
I have been thinking about a war supplement for a long, long time. I think I’ve come at the idea of how to do large scale battles from 80 different angles — and not a damn one of them did I think any dedicated DW player would enjoy in the least. Each one of them focused on trying to ascribe values to armies, and then backwards to steadings to try to grok some way to make it all make sense. And it didn’t. Not once.
Here’s the thing. I’ve been struggling with trying to understand why creating a supplement for war would be so tough. Why would something that’s been the origin of our overall game style be so difficult to replicate in DW? Well, last night it hit me — okay, more accurately at 4am this morning — because to accurately reflect all of the variables (troop types, quantity, quality, logistics, terrain, battlefield conditions and so forth) requires you to make a simulator. And DW is decidedly NOT a simulator.
So maybe the whole idea of a warfare simulator isn’t going to really ever work. Instead, perhaps war is just a front. Perhaps it’s a front with a countdown clock… or maybe even two — or a number line of positive and negative results. Call them the tides of war… One side for the “attackers” and one for the “defenders”. And perhaps actions taken, or thwarted, by the players helps move the clock back and forth? Maybe war is nothing but a backdrop — a set dressing. Heck, I could see the entire process of seeing what happen with the war effort this season with a couple of fate dice and some slight modifiers for what our heroes have or haven’t done.
Because, really, isn’t the goal of the game to tell really awesome stories? And really, do we want to stop to telling of really awesome stories in order to play out a turn of warfare? Or do we want to play to find out what the heroes do to pull their side out of the clutches of defeat?
So, perhaps “missions” are accomplished that impact the war effort with successes bringing a +1 forward to the next Tides roll. Perhaps threats emerge, like “if you don’t raise 10,000 coins, some of your troops will leave the battlefield and you’ll be at a -1 forward to your Tides roll.
How are you making warfare work for you games?