A Game of Foam: Character Creation, Mechanics, and Values
So you've decided to participate in A Game of Foam, or AGOF. This means several things. First of which, is that you are cool. The second, is that you will be wondering how the mechanics of interaction and advantage will come into effect and how this info might influence your choices.
At the basic level you will have a series of categories within which you can make any given reaction or action towards an NPC house or group, or a player character's House. Let's say your house's name is Rosewood. House Rosewood chooses to extend a proposition for alliance with another player's House against the NPC house Prospero. Rosewood could choose to send a raven plainly stating this. I would relay to the player's house that Rosewood has sent a Raven bearing the message, and relay that message verbatim. This is a simple version because it doesn't require anything tricky.
But imagine you have spies in your house posing as maids or other small folk and they aquire this information? How does this mechanic function? The answer is the 5 4 3 2 1 system of House stats. I have designed this to be as absoulutly simple and intuitive as I can possibly make it. There will be five categories and you may alot one of the 5 descending numbers to any category. This will determine what direction your House has gone in. My own House, Marsh, will be treated as essentially an NPC house and will never strive to have possesion of the games overall prize, the iron throne. House Marsh will be used to facilitate the storyline and game mechanic as well as smooth over any possibly unforseen hiccups in plot. House Marsh, is a merchant house. So its stats are:
5 in Merchant
4 in Subterfuge
3 in Keep
2 in Luck
1 in Standing Army
Awesome, but what the heck does that mean?
If you place a spy in someones home to intercept correspondence, spread false rumors, the scores that decide the outcome are the involved parties Subterfuge. Whichever highest wins that outcome. If you are attempting to assassinate/kidnap an opponent you must beat their Keep score.
Merchant: If you are marching an army you must have access to the supplies and caravans to keep that army in the field. This means that an army of 5 would need a 5 merchant score backing it to march. But then how do I march my five army when I can only have a 4 merchant at the most? Well you would need an ally to dedicate at-least 1 merchant to your army. If its revoked the army will lose ability to march at the 5 level and will drop down to 4. If your entire merchant backing is removed then the entire army is kaput.
Keep: this is your overall holdings, but especially your seat of power. A lord's little kingdom spanned a good deal of land including farms, mines, or lumber mills or what have you. While the keep score could effect all of these in the fantasy role-play since, in terms of practical game mechanic it especially concerns how defensible your family and yourself (when you are home) are against an invading Army/or assassination-kidnapping via sub. When attacked you weigh the keep score against the enemies standing army score. The sub must beat your keep to assassinate you or steal you or a loved one.
Standing Army, this stat is perhaps the most easily recognized stat and has alot of practical value.
One way or another this stat will guide much of the game. If you don't have a high standing army score then you will more than likely be needing allies, and soon. This is because with the Standing army you can sweep in and wipe-out a House and it's heirs. Once you designate the attack they cannot simply leave by a backdoor so this is very powerful. This is, of course, assuming the opponents score is lower than yours and he has no allies about to flank you in response, or march on your own keep while your Army is engaged elsewhere. The only limiter to an Army is the supplies they need to stay in the field and that is a direct correlation to merchant. 4 merchant backing equals 4 army fielded.
Finally we come to luck. Luck exists because I wondered what would happen if a House's army matched its enemy's Keep, or two armys or spy actions had the identical score. Luck, therefore, is your tie breaker. If two armies clash with the same score, the player House with the highest Luck will win. It might manifest as something like a stray arrow catching your commander or perhaps your enemy used horses that where in heat causing your mounts to go insane and break formation. It gives the victor that extra edge needed to win the day.
Now you know the stats, you have a general idea what they represent and how to use them. Now comes the next hurdle. Degrees. This is essentially a scale that determines how well an initiated action succeeds or fails and what the result of this will be.
If you send a standing army of 5 against an opponents Keep of 1 you will obviously achieve total victory, but what happens when the opponent has a Keep of 4? Surely that makes a difference? Yes it does. The number of that battle would be 1 because 5 army minus 4 keep is 1. Assuming there are no allies involved then you consult the below scale for the outcome.
The degree scale is as follows:
4 /3 You have entirely succeeded in your endeavor. Stormed the castle, captured the enemy or assassinated your foe.
2/1 You have succeeded but it was an imperfect victory. Perhaps the target of assassination survived long enough to call out to a guard and your assassin is captured. He is still dead but now you have a loose end. Perhaps your army has taken the castle but an heir has escaped?
Finally the last thing to mention is Allies, allies will make or break you and you cannot stand alone.
Outwardly all the houses are allied under the rule of whoever sits upon the iron throne. But beneath the surface is a complex web of alliances and enemies. I will keep careful track of every single PC House and NPC house and who they are allied with and who they are not. If you ally with a House you lose credibility in appeals to that houses enemies, and they yours. You also become a target of those enemies and so on. It becomes a highly complex ripple effect that will be delightful to observe.
But you have some allies now what?
Now you get into the habit of making/keeping them happy and vice versa. You deal with role-play scenarios that I will interject periodically. An example might be your daughter has been insulted publicly and on several occasions by your new ally's captain of the guard. That has ramifications no matter what you do. On the one hand, you don't want to anger your allies, on the other you don't want your house to reek of weakness or you may be attacked more often, turned down in alliances etc.
If you and your allies get along fine then you can actually get to the business of plotting and scheming. The NPC King allows justified warfare, and may or may not 'secretly' enjoy the infighting.
Battle mechanics with allies
If you and an ally wish to attack an enemy keep your score is increased but cannot exceed a total of 5. This total represents the effect an army of any size can have on a building under siege. Your luck scores also combine to form a total not exceeding 5. When meeting on an open field? IE: not attempting to lay siege to a keep? Their is no cap on the total. Allied armies can reach as high as possible. When you are informed of approaching armies you may send for help. When that help arrives with an army two things happen. The attacking armies must 1) splinter off enough of their total to at least match the incoming allies army. An example is a total of 5 attacking, Incoming ally has an army of 3. You must use at least 3 to fight him off. 2) in addition to the incoming army splintering your forces, the player's standing army, if available, may add their forces to the melee, further splintering your army. The incoming ally reinforces the luck score of the defender with their own.
Any mobile army that is foiled in an attempt to take a keep will be beaten into a retreat back to their own lands and will require one 'turn' to become available again. A turn will be designated by myself when they are completed. Example: new email > turn two has ended, turn three begins now< These turns will need to be tweaked in frequency as I get a feel for the time involved managing Player and NPC interactions, so I don't want it set in stone just yet.
Allies in Subterfuge
Ah subterfuge. Spies work so well together don't they? No, they do not. You may lend an ally the protection or use of your Subterfuge score as follows: Example: total subterfuge of 4, Can a Lord choose to aid ally with total score of 4? NO. Because the Lord would then have a subterfuge score of 0 while they are away. This is unacceptable and leaves you painfully exposed. Therefore, I will designate 1 point of subterfuge as trained household. That is, they cannot be donated to another player or used in another players household. But this means that if I have a Subterfuge score of 5 and I attack a four I stalemate? Nope. When a 4 vs 4 in spy occurs the luck score will determine success so you may still not win, furthermore if the luck score ties? And an ally can't tip the scales? The defender wins. Their isn't a tie in posioned dagger warware.You have that spy caught. The action didn't succeed. He may not reveal your identity but its a risk you take when playing that game.
Merchant and allies
The army might defend your keep cost free, but if it marches anywhere at all it does so with financial backing. Most of the time Merchant scores will be offered up to gather NPC/PC allies that need to have large armies fielded and have low merchant scores themselves so obviously merchant score is highly stack-able with allies.
Keep and allies
Allies cannot influence your Keep score.
Luck and allies
Luck is only added to allies in battle mechanics. It occumpanys your standing army in battles. See= battle mechanics above.