Thursday, May 7, 2015

Narrative Mass Combat: Part 1 - Groupings and Leadership

3 part post about Narrative Mass Combat. This helps in running Mass Combat since it gives some basic principles to consider.

I will give more specific examples and show how I use this foundation from recordings of my on going campaign. An open and system agnostic system.

Learning the Groupings and the Leaders

On a game table there is only a limit to the number of Players a GM can handle. This concept of groups and the tasks they can handle or, for training, the amount a trainer can train is called workstreams. If the GM considers how many players he can handle, this is an example of the kind of thinking that goes into workstreams or group tasks.

Key Concepts

  • Smallest group is a Team. Very similar to a Game Table or a Group of friends talking - typically 4-5 people. The team is found in military as Fire Team and lead by a Non-Commission officer called a Corporeal and in many Business Settings we have the team and have a team leader. These teams assigned for a particular task, project or department.
           A Household or Family is a Team with the head of the family the leader. A Clan or Tribe elder is the head of a group of households in as far as representing them and remembering their traditions, history, and rituals. Another leader of a group of households is a Bailey aka Bailif aka gobernadorcillo ("Little Governor") aka Steward.
  • A group of groups. The next size of group is Section or Squad. A Section is made up of number of teams, typically a couple of Teams. Depending on the size of the group Sections can be made of a number of Teams, but we do have conventions of just a couple of teams.
           Administrative groups have their own Teams which is separate from the Population they manage. The basic unit of many eras are Scribes. Other terms for such basic units are Pages and Clerks. Administrators have a lot of terms for them, a lot in the Roman tradition. Some religious orders draw their administration from other successful Administrative organizations. Christianity draws from Roman traditions, while in the east philosophical and religious organization are the pattern for bureaucracies - example is the Taoist and Confucian systems. 
           Religious Orders also follow some kind of grouping and leadership. Novices serve as team members while their leader is a rank higher having some some religious office. A Friar or Monk is part of a Mendicant order. They are in effect Novices until they gain rank and holy orders. To keep things simple, they are all Novices, even lay people, with minor differences in vows from their mendicant order or place in the community. Novices are separate from the Laity as they are the ones managing the laity.     
  • The group leader cannot be the leader of a subgroup. This is when the pattern becomes fractal and repeats as we Zoom out at larger and larger groupings. Each team will have a leader, and the one in charge of the entire Section cannot also be the leader of one of these teams.  The overall leader of a Section is a Foreman in worker groups, in some militaries we have Sergeants, in the Roman tradition we have Dekarchs, Decurions, and Conteberions.
           In religious groups there is the Priest with his team or his section and teams. Depending on the era Priests have varying degrees of importance and status. the "product" a Priest provides is sufficient for a community or wealthy patron. The size of novices and laity that support his activities depends on the status he serves. In the next level, bishopry, typically is at the level of generals and counts. The Bishopry or Patriarchy (Theophylact) are considered "princes" of the church. Its really up to the GM or the Setting how much influence they have.  
  • Conventions of Leadership and Groups change all the time. Different Eras have different conventions of conventional group size for a particular task. A platoon is a small group of 4-5 Squads under a Lieutenant (Pentakonarch) while a company is 8-15 squads under a Captain (Centurion, Chief, Captal, Hekatonarch etc...). 
         There are many forces that determine convention: the ability to support full time soldiers, traditions of leadership (the ability to create and train leaders), and the body of knowledge peoples possess about warfare. This also changes as armies lose their numbers over a period of a war. Note the repeated expression of the pattern found in the Section level.
          Typically a region provided 1 fighting man per household in earlier eras where these men were the Pater Familia of the household. This changed to almost 2-3 households per specialist fighting man (Heavy Infantryman or Archer) as soldiers became dedicated and specialized. light cavalry was supported by three times their infantry counterpart (6-9 households), while heavy cavalry twice that of light cavalry (12-20 households).  

The Komnenian Roman Tradition

  • The Tetrarch or Corpreal commands a team 4 men. 
  • The Dekarch or Sergeant commands a squad of 10 men. A learned Dekarch would be wise to have his 2nd of command lead a Tetrarch and another lead the remaining men of the squad. 
  • The Hekatonarch or Captain commands 8-12 squads. He will have a lieutenant, one of the "Primary" Dekarks, who will command his personal squad while he maneuvers his other squads. 
  • The Comes or Count (also called a Tribune) commands a group of 4-5 Hekatonarchs. The group is called a Tagma, or Bandon. This means he administers over a Tagma, a region of about 1200 households. 
  • The Doux (Duke) commands 3-5 Comes (Counts) or Tribunes. The region administers is of the same name as the force he commands: A Themata or Theme. This is made up of 4000 to 20,000 households. In earlier Eras this was much densely populated or bigger to make for the lower density. Alexios commanded about 8-12 Doux or Strategos. Sometimes he had problems with the Doux and separated the Administrative role from the Military leadership having Strategos. He lacked capable administrators and borrowed heavily to finance his armies created many "orphan" forces that did not have a Themata to fully finance the force. 
  • Rome's Pretoreans or Constantinople's Scholae are Battalion (Bandon/Tagma/ Marian Cohort) level forces that draw its finances from the households of the Capital. These "House Guards" are similar to the Houscarls or Huskalars. The important thing to remember is that these House Guards are client families of the ruling family, and are typically very loyal and dedicated. They are also very wealthy as the wealth of the households that support these have the Patronage of the ruling Family or Faction. This is a source of loyal manpower if the line of patronage in uninterrupted. 
The rule about the Group Leader has to delegate the leadership of all subgroups and cannot have a subgroup under him, creates "Hypo" (under) versions of his Title like Hypo Strategos or Hypo-hekatonarch. Of course its easier to just call the lieutenant the same rank as the sub leaders under the Group leader. 

Learning Notes
  • As the group gets bigger various rules get harder and requires dedicated people. At Company level you have an officer, an Optio, who is in charge of logistics. Other than the Lieutenants/Sub Leaders of the Group Leader, he has a Sub leader who is in charge of all support personnel. He may not command a sub group but all the support people counts as the subgroup under him. 
  • I should be able to move up and down the scale of group easily. Once I master how to break up a force into its subgroups I can better work with the numbers without being overwhelmed. Remembering I deal with the Sub-leaders of this groups helps both in visualizing the kind of entity I'm dealing with. That communication degrades per level the information disseminates. That the sub-leaders have to communicate it to his men. 
    • I realized how important training particular maneuvers are because it requires less interpretation when a command is given. 
  • In Part 2, we talk about some rules of thumb and generalities that give us an idea of what each Group Scale can do and expected to do. 

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