Thursday, March 13, 2014

Anabasis

One charming trait of the denizens of the Autarch fora is their historical tendencies.  Kiero suggested Xenophon's Anabasis as a source of inspiration for a campaign which starts the PCs off as leaders of a force of foreign mercenaries stuck deep in foreign territory after the untimely death of their employer.  Turns out it's actually quite a pleasant read!  Notes so far:
  • Eulogies - Xenophon doesn't characterize people when they're still alive, but instead provides eulogies (or kakologies?  malology sounds good, but it's mixing Latin and Greek) for people after their death.  Book I, chapter 9 is a eulogy for Cyrus, while book II, chapter 6 is a eulogy for Clearchus and Proxenus and a kakology for Menon the Thessalian.  These characters have their natures hinted at in their actions previously, but they were not characterized directly until after their deaths.  I would argue that this is a nice form for OSR play - show me how your character behaves, rather than telling me, and when he dies, the party bard or chronicler will compose a verse summarizing his life and behavior.
  • Pursuit - Xenophon stresses several times so far that the Greeks, being all infantry with no cavalry, can't really win a decisive battle against the Persian cavalry.  Should they win the field, they will be unable to chase down and kill the routed enemy and thereby break his strength, and should they lose the field, they will be unable to avoid capture or slaughter.  Domains at War's pursuit phase models this pretty well.
  • Morale - I found it interesting that at the battle where Cyrus died, the Persian light infantry broke before even making contact with the Hellenes.  Also found it interesting that the Hellenes seem to have a high morale, and that Cyrus could go three months without paying them before they got uppity.
  • Great stock is placed in omens before battle, and in not angering the gods via breaking oaths.  If anything the Vagaries of War tables at the end of DaW:C do not go far enough.  Would be sort of cool to give the Fate spell from ACKSPC an extra use as explicitly reading omens before a battle, for a morale bonus (or penalty) or other modifiers.
More to follow.

3 comments:

  1. I was absolutely enamoured with the Anabasis when I read it last summer. It prompted me to roll up a unit of hoplites (and two barbarian archers) using 2nd edition Runequest and send them on a little solitaire adventure against some broo.

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    1. I know RQ is technically bronze age stuff, but the mechanics always feel right to me for games set(or inspired by) at any period in the classical world.

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  2. I really like the idea of character eulogies. Definitely makes death a little less of a lose condition if you like making everyone else listen to character backstories. :P

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