"Fire & Sword Era" (background & interest-query)

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Abivard_MarshalOfMakuran
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"Fire & Sword Era" (background & interest-query)

Post by Abivard_MarshalOfMakuran » March 2nd, 2008, 11:12 pm

I am interested in creating a BfW era with some factions for a low-fantasy setting based very loosely on the Polish-Lithuanian Commonweath, Muscovites, Ukrainian Cossacks, Crimean Tartars, Swedes, Ottoman Turks, "and such" from around the years of 1579-1686.

"With Fire and Sword" or "Ogniem i mieczem" is the title of Henryk Sienkiewicz's first book in his famous literary trilogy. As such it is copyright material from 1884, so will probably have to be changed. But maybe it will make folks check out the book. Yeah right. Anyhow, this is not an attempt to recreate that one work, there are plenty more to draw upon for this era.

Is there any interest in this to make it worth people spending the required time on?
It would require as a minimum someone who could do some decent unit art... when it gets to that point.

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The core areas (i.e. ... most likely campaign locations)...

"The Commonwealth"
A mixed race created from the union of two sub-races ('Middle Kingdom' and 'Grand Duchy') when their royal houses were combined by a marriage of expedience, or necessity, several generations ago. They have long since mixed culturally and inter-married.
Its eastern border lies somewhere in the vast wild steppes, across which lie the lands of the Golden Khanate. Its southern border is the "little south river", across which lie the Three Princes. Its western border is not well defined but is claimed to be a populated river valley across which lies the Western Empire. Its northern border is the northern sea over which lies the North Kingdom. Its northeastern border is the swampland, forest and frozen rivers leading to the vast lands of the Third Empire.
The Commonwealth has taken opportunites to expand its borders eastward, into the wild steppes and at one point occupying the capitol of the Third Empire, but its marcher lords (also known as the Voivodes or the Princes, not to be confused with the land of the Three Princes below) are both a blessing and a curse - engaging in their own foreign policies and conspiring to keep the crown bankrupt and weak. Still... the crown army is a force to be reckoned with if often small and out-numbered.
The wealthier and more urbanized 'Middle Kingdom' originated in the spired cities occupying the lush river valleys in the center of the land.
The 'Grand Duchy' originally spread over the vast areas of forest, swamps and oft-frozen river valley plains on the northeastern marches and into the wild steppes to the east.
The Commonweath armies (both the crown army and the armies of the marcher lords) usually consit of a core of two seperate social classes of mounted troops, not related to the two races but to nobility or middle class origin. Both are somewhat-armored lancers with swords, pistols and/or bows. The noblilty uses equipment (weaponry, armor, arcane items used to strike fear into enemies) which is somewhat more technologically advanced, but their numbers are very few. Though even the cavalry of the middle classes are not large in number.
Ever the opportunists, and never large in numbers, they also employ a large number of mercenaries from some of their neighbors (especially the Golden Khanate and occasionally the Sietch and the infantry of the Western Empire). This is particularly true of the marcher lords in the eastern border lands who are ever in need of more troops to keep control over the wild steppes.

"The Sietch"
They came about as middle classes of the Commonwealth and elsewhere who escaped over the eastern wild steppes to the Sietch, their vast and lawless urban wooden fortress across the wild steppes on an island in delta of the "little south river" near where it empties into the southern sea, to find freedom to trade and tinker and avoid the oppression of the Commonwealth marcher lords. They evolved into a distinct race of their own and many have come back again to serve within the Commonwealth and keep shops engaging in much of the Commonwealth's trade and manufacturing.
Whereas the middle classes within the Commonwealth serve as cavalry in its armies, those which evolved separately free of the Commonwealth largely choose to serve, if at all, as infantry armed with axes and muskets, even when enlisted as mercenaries or allies back into the Commonwealth's armies.
Sometimes a wealthy individual will serve unarmored on horseback with his peers, arming himself with lance or bow or pistol or any variety of weapons which can be found.
More often their cavalry is provided by mercenaries or allies sent by the Khan or one of his Agas, drawn by the wealth and sometimes lawlessness of the Sietch - a social environment in which the Khan's men also thrive, until they tire of it - often at an inconvenient moment.
In a sense then the Commonwealth middle class cavalry are actually of the Sietch race, but these have different units and such, even when used as infantry mercenaries by the Commonwealth.

"The Third Empire"
This empire lies overland from the Commonwealth across forest and swamp and frozen river valleys to the northeast.
The Third Empire is so named because the Western Empire is considered the first empire while the now-defunct original empire of the Port City is considered the second empire (this is due to the chronological order of their founding, and the Third Empire sees themselves as the cultural heirs of the second).
It is a vast wild land of mixed plains and forests and many, even some great, rivers flowing both northwest and south, bordered on its far eastern edge by a great tall mountain range and to its south by the Commonwealth's eastern marches and the wild steppes over which lie the lands of the Golden Khanate.
It is peopled, not densely but spread over a truly vast area, by a folk which came many centuries ago from the North Kingdom. The Golden Khanate had conquered these poor peoples centuries ago and ruled as mostly-absentee landlords extracting harsh tributes. They have only freed themselves from this rule within the current generation.
The Third Empire is now ruled by the Tsar, a depraved and possibly insane tyrant who was once a innocent child and a hero as young man when he freed the people from the Khan's tributes, but began even as youngster to slip into the darkness amidst the boody slaughter of his family by the once-powerful but now brutally suppressed Dvor nobles. As if life for these people had not been bad enough, at one point, after the Tsar freed the land of the Khan's tributes, the Commonwealth's troops occupied the great wood-and-brick fortress of the Third Empire's capitol for a brief time, burning much of the town, though they chose not to remain over the winter. And now with the bloodthirsty being this Tsar dude has become... geesh, life is tough for these guys!
The armies of the Third Empire consist of unarmored (with some lightly-armored nobles, the Dvor) horsemen armed with bows and swords, and - a recent innovation of the Tsar - infantry armed with muskets.

"The Three Princes"
The land over the "little south river" from the Commonweath's eastern steppe marches.
The area on the south bank of the "little south river" itself is a branch of the dark but beautiful and tall three-legged mountain range which separates the three lands of Three Princes, but which is also home to dense fog, terrible thunderstorms and a variety of powerful chaotic beings and spirits, which keep all but the most hardy, or desperate, traveller away.
Beyond that are the plains and valleys occupied three nations ruled by the Princes, at least nominally. Not only do their noble Boyar families usurp one another for the three titles of Voivode or Prince but their three powerful neighbors (the Commonwealth, the Sultan, the Western Empire) play extensively in the "Great Game" of their politics setting up puppet princes from among the Boyars most favorable, for the moment, to them - a situation which seldom lasts for long.
The Three Princes have troops which are mostly unarmored horsemen armed with lances and/or bows. These are supplemented by Lvl-0 peasants armed with muskets or bows. They also hire mercenaries and adventurers from among the Khan's men and, rarely, the Western Empire's foot soldiers. Lastly, they are rumored to occasionally have access to the chaotic beings dwelling in their mountains, when they are not actually campaigning against such.
To the south of the Three Princes lies the "great southern river".

The surrounding areas (providing at least units and story hooks) ...

"The Port City"
The Sultan's lands named after their capitol port city on the southern sea which is far and away the most populous and wealthiest city in the world. Centuries ago this land was a great and wealthy lawful empire but the Sultan's warriors from over the southern sea gradually encroached upon it in times of weakness and decay and finally managed to lay siege to the port city itself, the only time the port city's massive walls had been breached in its long history.
The Sultan rules all the lands south of the "great southern river", and most of his dominion actually lies where it originated over the southern sea. Unlike the more fragmented power of the other factions/races, the Sultan's power is absolute and dissent is not tolerated.
The Sultan has for generations, since capturing the port city, been by far the wealthiest and almost certainly the most powerful single ruler west of the Golden Khanate (and the Sultan is far wealthier than even the Khan although they are considered to posses equal military might). When the Sultan's generals (the current Sultan is aging and never leaves the Port City anymore) lead parts of his vast armies north across the "great southern river" - as they might several times in ones lifetime - it is one of the few events that brings the Commonwealth crown and marcher lords together, and often even requires calling upon (or coming to) the aid of the Commonwealth's neighbors the Western Empire.
Many middle class, or even nobles, of the Commonwealth are taken captive by the Sultan's armies and forced by powerful mind-control magic to serve in his empire as slaves (like undead?).
Fortunately the Sultan's power and wealth is such that he is eternally at odds with the Khan (they share a distant border in areas far, far across the sea), so only a fraction of his vast forces can ever come north at a time.
The armies of the Port City are based on lance+bow cavalry, often armored and always very numerous. They also have hordes of slaveling (undead?) foreign-born infantry, actually very effective because of mind control magic, armed with muskets and swords. Topping this off there are troops from any client states among the Three Princes. Despite bad blood it is not unknown, though rare, for the Khan's troops to serve the Sultan as mercenaries.

"The Golden Khanate"
Their lands lie a dangerous journey east over the wild steppes even from the far eastern marches of the Commonwealth. The Golden Khanate are actually a people making up the far western fringe of a once very powerful far eastern empire of nomadic horsemen which broke apart into tiny satrapys generations ago on the death of "The Great One", a warrior-chieftan who some say is only a figment of legend (his body is said to have vanished on his death and no grave has never been found) but who is said to have united their tribes and in a generation built their entire empire.
Renowned less for heavy armor (some few however do wear at least some armor) and more for hardiness, swift movement amd ingenious tactics, some would say even ruthlessness and arcane trickery, they are also accomplished traders with a knowledge of the dangerous wild steppes and many have come west with caravans to set up shop and stay in Commonwealth lands, some even serving instead as mercenaries against various Commonweath enemies including even their own brethren.
They also enjoy trading with (or stealing from) the Sietch and provide allies, of conveneience, for them in time of need.
Many of the Commonwealth's neighbors to the west and north (particularly the North Kingdom) are less directly familiar with the Khan's men except by rumor and are terrified of their reputation, which the Commonwealth is only too happy to amplify as the Commonwealth enjoys some use of the Khan's mercenaries or emigres.
Perhaps in part because they prefer doing battle far away over the sea with the Sultan's forces the great Khans themselves only extremely, extremely rarely (but... perhaps not 'never') lead large armies west across the wild steppes from their lands, leaving affairs on this border largely in the hands of local tribal cheiftains, Agas, who are only too happy to supplement their nomadic life with raiding and looting their various neighbors then disappearing into the wild steppes.

"The Western Empire"
The Western Empire lies to the west of the Commonwealth at the source of the "great southern river". The border with the Commonwealth tends to be a bit blurred but can be claimed to be yet another (relatively small) populated river valley which flows north from the Empire's heartland to the northern sea.
The Western Empire is protected from the Sultan's armies by a vast forest which lies between the Empire and the lands of the Three Princes (the area to the south of the river here is much too mountainous for large armies to cross). The Sultan's generals must cross the land of the Three Princes to gain access to the Empire thru this huge forest just as they must cross the land of the Three Princes in another direction to gain access over the "little south river" to the wild steppes and the Commonwealth's eastern marches.
The Western Empire is a somewhat fragmented power, though not as crippled in this regard as the Commonwealth. But somewhat more urban and very populous.
The Western Empire is served by a nobility of very heavily armored cavalry which are armed with pistols and swords, emphasizing firepower however. To supplement this the Western Empire's large infantry army consists of a mix of pikemen, some armored, and musketeers (who are also given short swords). Imperial infantry, both pike and shot, are highly thought of by their neighbors and often serve as mercenaries in Commonwealth armies too.
That said, relations with the Commonwealth are cool, as both have several powerful noble families which engage in interfering with the other nation's internal politics, but despite the discontent they seem to be habitually allies of necessity (though there have been especially dire times in the past for each when the other has let them stand on their own against a powerful foe).
Centuries ago there had existed an arcane power split off from the Empire known as "The Order" (armored medieval knights, lance and sword, who can also work magic and raise undead) which had existed in great stone fortresses along the northern sea within the borders claimed by the Commonwealth and with which it had been in perennial conflict for hundreds of years. This, and the fear that perhaps "The Order" is not _truly_ extinct even after all these generations, is perhaps the origin of much of the animosity.
The Western Empire is bordered to its west by the "great western river" which flows into the northern sea.

"The North Kingdom"
The North Kingdom lies over the northern sea and is ruled by a military-genius-king known as "The Lion" who has an army much like the Western Empire's but its horsemen prefer the sword while the Western Empire's prefer the pistol, and its foot (perhaps the best foot troops in the known world) do not tend like the Western Empire's to show up as foreign mercenaries. In fact, within the current lifetime these people fought a huge and bloody decades-long but inconclusive and draining war on the Western Empire's soil, so they do not get along well. They also have a history of struggle with the Commonwealth and the Third Empire, as all the nations in the area attempt to compete for the lucrative trade in the ports of the northern sea.

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Possibly, even likely, if this takes off it could be expanded to include factions based on the French (of the Three Musketeers of Dumas) and the English (of the Cavalier and Roundhead era, the Interregnum, and the Stuart Restoration) and maybe even going back to the Dutch rebellion against the Spanish tercios and the Elizabethan era with the Spanish Armada.
Last edited by Abivard_MarshalOfMakuran on March 17th, 2008, 3:59 pm, edited 21 times in total.

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Post by Abivard_MarshalOfMakuran » March 2nd, 2008, 11:42 pm

[deleted - content shifted to appopriate posts]
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Post by Abivard_MarshalOfMakuran » March 3rd, 2008, 3:34 am

[post deleted - background moved to OP]
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Post by Abivard_MarshalOfMakuran » March 3rd, 2008, 3:39 am

[post deleted - irrelevant info]
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binaryquasar
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I like it

Post by binaryquasar » March 3rd, 2008, 7:48 am

sounds great I would certainly play an era of this type :lol:

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Post by turin » March 3rd, 2008, 8:27 am

IIRC someone else has already worked on a Napoleonic Era; while this would be slightly different, I'm not sure it's distinct enough to merit an entire new era.
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Post by Abivard_MarshalOfMakuran » March 3rd, 2008, 12:01 pm

turin wrote:IIRC someone else has already worked on a Napoleonic Era; while this would be slightly different, I'm not sure it's distinct enough to merit an entire new era.
By way of explaination... I would say totally different, this has more in common with a medieval era than with a Napoleonic one. The only Napoleonic thread in common is gunpowder, and perhaps the fact that Austria and Russia are represented albeit at a much earlier time (enough so to almost make them different countries - the Muscovy of Ivan the Terrible is not the Russia of the Romanovs nor is the Holy Roman Empire the later Austria of the Hapsburgs). The entire social fabric and flavor is completely different even where the geographic area and the "fact of" gunpowder has some overlap.

The (historic) Napoleonic era has little dedicated difference in infantry between melee and firepower types (the Old Guard shoot pretty well and the Voltigeurs can put in the bayonnet prety well) and the differences are more in large scale tactical usages and training, unlike the pike and shot of the Rennaissance or the archer and billmen/swordsmen of the middle ages. Nor does the Napoleonic era have the quirky caronnading pistolier cavalry (or, for that matter, horse archers - supposed Baskirs aside) unique to the Rennaissance. So there is much of the games ranged/melee dichotomy that this era can build on but with which the Napoleonic era has a much more difficult time. Also, the (historic) Napoleonic era I think requires artillery (what were they called, "the Emperor's daughters"?) to keep its flavor, Napoleon himself being an artillery officer. And I think that would very very tricky to handle well in BfW. Lastly, the mass conscription armies of the Napoleonic era and the similarity of troop types across nations are not at all similar to this era.

IMHO it also has much more extensive fantasy-magic tradition than does the Napoleonic era (Flintloque, TM, aside). Making it even more suitable?

All of which does not mean the Napoleonic era is not a great idea - after all Flintloque is a very fun and interesting RPG. Just that there is a lot of difference here.
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Post by Abivard_MarshalOfMakuran » March 3rd, 2008, 1:14 pm

Also, after the background material gets filled in and fleshed out enough, and we are ready to start on unit trees, then I would probably like to move this a new thread with a different, less pointed, title. If that would be okay?

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Post by megane » March 3rd, 2008, 1:31 pm

Abivard_MarshalOfMakuran wrote:Also, after the background material gets filled in and fleshed out enough, and we are ready to start on unit trees, then I would probably like to move this a new thread with a different, less pointed, title. If that would be okay?
You can change the title of the thread at any time by editing your first post and changing the subject.
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Post by Abivard_MarshalOfMakuran » March 3rd, 2008, 1:34 pm

megane wrote:
Abivard_MarshalOfMakuran wrote:Also, after the background material gets filled in and fleshed out enough, and we are ready to start on unit trees, then I would probably like to move this a new thread with a different, less pointed, title. If that would be okay?
You can change the title of the thread at any time by editing your first post and changing the subject.
Hey, neato, thanks for the tip! I will do that then as soon as I, or anyone else, can come up with a better title.

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Post by Abivard_MarshalOfMakuran » March 3rd, 2008, 2:03 pm

[deleted - content on armies of the Three Princes and Sultan added to the post above]

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Post by Abivard_MarshalOfMakuran » March 3rd, 2008, 3:40 pm

A thought - I am pretty sure I would like the Khan's horsemen in at least one Lvl2+ branch, possibly most of the branches (hmmm... no too unbalanced), to be able to use the ambush trait but re-name it and re-code it to be active in the _grassland_, pretty sure this by itself can be done in WML code (anyone have an idea) and if the AI has a tag for how to handle ambushers that does not always use them as woods types that might work just great. (?)

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Post by gotrek860 » March 3rd, 2008, 4:14 pm

IRC someone else has already worked on a Napoleonic Era; while this would be slightly different, I'm not sure it's distinct enough to merit an entire new era.
Yes napoleonnoth and I didn't like it. the napoleonic era isn't a good era for wesnoth.
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Post by Abivard_MarshalOfMakuran » March 3rd, 2008, 5:51 pm

gotrek860 wrote:
IRC someone else has already worked on a Napoleonic Era; while this would be slightly different, I'm not sure it's distinct enough to merit an entire new era.
Yes napoleonnoth and I didn't like it. the napoleonic era isn't a good era for wesnoth.
hmmm... does this imply you see the Commonwealth as essentially no different and hence not a good BfW era, or just a side comment here on napoleonnoth?

Any feedback positive or negative is always appreciated. Telling me the why's of the positives or negatives, if one can take the time - I know it is a pain and I am grateful - helps provide direction too.
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Re: I like it

Post by Abivard_MarshalOfMakuran » March 3rd, 2008, 6:01 pm

binaryquasar wrote:sounds great I would certainly play an era of this type :lol:
Hey, thanks, cool! Would you go so far as to test scenarios and critique stuff like balancing, tactical interplay, working with the AI, and graphics if someone made them up? Any interest in helping with any of that?

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