Friday, December 7, 2012

Foresthome: The Big Picture

Mystara Alphatia Foresthome South
Southern Foresthome Border Area

All things considered, I couldn’t resist going back to numbers defining Foresthome and its most meaningful neighbors, Floating Ar, Bettellyn, and to a certain extent, Randel.  Based on the survey posted on this blog (see upper right margin), there is interest in the politics of nations.  However, the latter can’t really be assessed without understanding relative economics and military capabilities.  So, let’s look at a few numbers:

1. Bettellyn: 2,116,776 (2.0% in armed forces)
2. Randel: 2,049,777 (2.3% in armed forces)
3. Foresthome: 1,794,868 (1.2% in armed forces)
4. Floating Ar: 913,640 (1.2% in armed forces)

Gross Incomes
1. Bettellyn: 557,174 (2.6 sp per capita)
2. Randel: 490,353 (2.4 sp per capita)
2. Foresthome: 235,113 (1.3 sp per capita)
3. Floating Ar: 131,601 (1.4 sp per capita)

Land Forces

  • 1. Randel: 37,317 warriors (incl. 26 level 7 spellcasters, 211 level 6 mage knights, 646 level 3 dragoons)
  • 2. Bettellyn: 34,691 warriors (incl. 112 level 5 spellcasters, 14 HD20 archons)
  • 3. Foresthome: 21,142 warriors (incl. 37 level 5 spellcasters, 10 HD14 forest giants, 45 HD8 treants; 9% of regular troops include fairy folk when in homeland forests)
  • 4. Floating Ar: 8,817 warriors (incl. 22 level 7 spellcasters, 13 HD7 griffins, 4 HD15 storm giants)
1. Bettellyn: 126 ships (incl. 31 skyships, 19 subs, 99 HP average)
2. Randel: 86 ships (incl. 10 skyships, 8 subs, 113 HP average)

3. Foresthome: 43 ships (incl. 6 skyships, no subs, 101 HP average) 
4. Floating Ar: 32 ships (incl. 29 skyships, no subs; 94 HP average)

Bettellyn is a powerful realm and a threat to both Randel and Foresthome.  On the other hand, the latter two are likely allied as a measure of self-defense, in which case they outnumber Bettellyn.  Floating Ar is the weakest of the bunch and, although they sympathize with Foresthome, they’re unlikely to commit themselves to a major conflict.  Foresthome faces one major challenge: protecting its western and northern lands against monstrous raids.  Nearly a third of Foresthome’s land forces must garrison this region.  Reducing forces there would almost inevitably invite attacks across the Snake River or from the Stone Crags.  The same can be said of Floating Ar’s concerns with the ogres.  Likewise, Randel would be reluctant to leave their capital undefended, right on the border with hated Eadrin.  News of a Bettellyn invasion into Foresthome’s south, would also be a clear signal for monstrous hordes to launch attacks across the Snake River.  An invasion is an opportunity for members of the Green Circle to eliminate opposing druids.  They may very well be the instigators of a monstrous invasion precisely for this reason.  Because they need to hold back troops and ships to protect their borders, joint Randel-Foresthome forces involved in a conflict would likely look like this:

Foresthome/Randel : 29,000 troops + 70 ships   vs.
Bettlellyn:                    34,000 troops + 126 ships

Using the general axiom that an invader ought to field at least twice a defender’s numbers, Bettellyn stands safe from attack.  Bettellyn, however, would have to fight a two-front war if it invaded Foresthome.  Randel is almost guaranteed to intervene against Bettellyn in this case.  On the other hand, the same may not be true of Foresthome, if Randel were attacked.  Therefore, if war were the order of the day, a savvy Bettellyn ruler would first invade Randel to knock it out before turning on Foresthome, negotiating all the while to placate Vertiloch.  Eadrin, on Randel’s southern side, would be unlikely to commit itself to any major conflict but could ramp up sabotage efforts and intrigue behind Randel’s lines.  The balance of strengths and the tension between realms on Alphatia’s oriental side create a political powder keg that a foreign power might be keen to ignite.  The risks for confrontation would be greatest if either or both rival fleets returned from imperial campaigns to Randel and/or Bettellyn.

This topic brings up an issue I had meant to examine earlier.  Hit Dice figures of troops given throughout all these articles and the mechanics generating them aren’t ideal.  The issue is that the number of troops generated from population figures is meant as HD and not individuals.  So, 29,000 warriors really means 29,000 HD—since a number of warriors have more than 1 HD, the actual number of individuals could become much less than 29,000.  If a budget’s top end is exceeded (which can easily happen), then the total HD figure may drop as well.  The process is confusing and impractical.  It stemmed from my attempt at retrofitting a system that did not account for HD at all.

I’m now in the process of reworking the military sheet to preserve original troop numbers and rely on budget figures to determine how many HD a realm can actually afford.  This also introduces the concept that armies could be underpaid or earn above-average pay, affecting their morale in combat.  Some could be slave forces (either very low morale, or elite troops like real world Mamluks), or unpaid tribal hordes seeking booty.  There will always be a minimum cost factor for non-regular troops, allowing for example a dirt-poor orcish tribe to wage war without too many problems (yet not freely).  This development is likely to take time because of the testing needed, and its retrofit to existing blog entries.  I most-definitely plan to complete it.  The good news is that it shouldn’t affect the total number of troops stated in earlier articles.  HD values on the other hand are likely to be very different.

Land Area (in square miles)
1. Foresthome: 253,576 (6% settled)
2. Bettellyn: 185,724 (8% settled)
3. Randel: 187,535 (9% settled)
4. Floating Ar: 43,637 (18% settled)

Population Density (inhabitants per sq. mile)
1. Floating Ar: 21 (7% urban)
2. Bettellyn: 11 (23% urban)
3. Randel: 11 (13% urban)
4. Foresthome: 7 (9% urban)

Relative economics of the four realms become much clearer.  Floating Ar is the smallest and most densely populated state, with a small elite governing masses of farmers, and an undersized army (1.2% of the population).  Ar loathes the idea of training their peasants in the arts of war and arming them, for fear the latter might turn against the aristocracy and demand concessions.

Bettellyn and Randel fit in the middle, although Bettellyn scores the highest rate of urbanization.  The truth is that the City of Citadel single-handedly accounts for much of this figure, and remains absolutely vital to Bettellyn’s economic superiority (2.6 sp per capita monthly state income).  Bettellyn could also easily increase by 25% the size of their military.  Both Randel and Bettellyn rely on determined, well-trained professional military.

As can be expected, Foresthome is the largest and “wildest” of the four realms, with vast amounts of forested land and a fairly low rate of urbanization.  Foresthome and Floating Ar both draw low monthly state incomes (respectively 1.3 and 1.4 sp per capita).  Foresthome’s armed forces are at best a motley bunch with diverging views and relations, paling in comparison with Bettellyn’s monolithic juggernaut.

 Another challenge for Foresthome’s troops is that a portion will most likely not fight outside forests, much less outside Foresthome’s borders.  The realm’s population demographics are as follows:

Humans: 83.3%
Fairykind: 9.3%
Elves: 3.1%
Greater Equines: 1.5%
Halflings: 0.8%
Bushmen: 0.6%
Gulons: 0.5%
Sasquatches: 0.3%
Other Woodland: 0.3%
Dwarves: 0.3%

Applying these figures to armed forces, this means out of 100 troops, 83 are human, and the rest remain either in the woods or in the Duchy of Westford (greater equines).  So if Foresthome fielded 10,000 troops, some 1,700 would not advance past the realm’s borders.  Furthermore, 22% of resident halflings and all of the dwarves are actually foreigners, presumably from Stoutfellow.  Among humans, more than 10% are immigrant Yannifey who may or may not prove reliable under duress.  In general, Foresthome’s military wages are likely below average.  Compared to the more affluent and near-fanatical warriors of Bettellyn, the picture does get substantially grimmer.  The chart on the left shows the location of land forces.

In the south, 6,500 naval and land troops face Bettellyn in Tenoboa, Tutlos, and Tares, with Lakim’s garrison available as reinforcement.  Tenoboa is a major military seaport.  Lakim is Foresthome’s main naval base on Lake Llyn.

In the northwest, another 7,700 watch for monstrous incursions, including garrisons at Haggleby, Stonerim, Everton, Sturgeon Bay, and local fortifications.  These are mostly land forces including the majority of Foresthome elves and greater equines.

The remainder, about 7,000 personnel, handles local law enforcement, sea, and royal ranger duties from another 15 towns, including Foresthome’s sprawling wilderness and its capital city.  Fortunately, Greenwood lies nowhere near any region at risk.  If need be, ships anchored at Shipswort and Lakim could be summoned for help.

Sail ships, including Foresthome’s 6 skyships, are based mainly in Tenoboa and Shipswort (in the northeast).  Galleys and three troop transports remain at the ready in Lakim on Lake Lynn.  Six longships hail from Sturgeon Bay, with another two in Everton.  Although sail ships and galleys could meet via the East Follow River, longships would have to sail a very long way and through foreign lands to do the same (via the Fris or Ambur Rivers, up north).  Odds of foreign warships being granted passage, short of an imperial warrant, are practically nil.  Nonetheless, Foresthome lines up considerable forces on Lake Llyn.  The League of Eight might very well also be hired, as well as an amphibious Brogga warband from the Principality of Llynsey.  Facing this, Bettellyn must rely on ships based at Corona Castle, Devouts’ Gate, and in faraway Citadel, amounting to about ten small galleys, two war galleys, and a few submersibles.  A handful of large galleys may also be able to supplement that force from Uffacos, provided they can get past Foresthome’s South Scion fortress.
 Lord Bosmeer is a military commander connected with Queen Aberria’s network of spies, presently in Haggleby and in the service of the Duke of Westford.  During a previous adventure at the DM’s option, he should be able to help the party from a very sticky encounter to gain their confidence (an encounter he’d possibly orchestrated in the first place).  Later on, he quietly resumes contact with the adventurers and hires them to scout the Imperial territories—a black ops mission, Foresthome-style.  Since these are forbidden lands, Lord Bosmeer will deny any involvement should the party be captured, which he makes amply clear to the party.  The adventurers’ objective is to follow the trail of retreating raiders, locate their camp, assess their numbers, find out who’s leading them, and return with the information.

Mystara Groaning Mazewoods
Groaning Mazewoods Area, map scale: 8 miles per hex
The trail takes the party to the Groaning Mazewoods*. The raiders' leader is a member of the Green Circle, a wicked druidess, part human and praying mantis, bent on eliminating opposing druids in Westford.  During Daevoria’s recent raid in Westford she kidnapped and tortured a local druid.  Brúnean now stands tied at a stake, exhausted and half-mad from cursed wounds, soon to be finished off by the tribe.  Soon after the party identifies her, Daevoria leaves a monstrous consort in charge of the clan and heads north into the wilderness with an escort of forest imps

(*) Which I managed to nicely misspell on the map!

Adventurers have the option to rescue the druid or pursue Daevoria.  Whenever they return to Westford, imperial agents or royal rangers may intercept and imprison them (or some of them).  Torture may ensue to force them to reveal their paymaster’s identity.  Some of the jail guards were bribed by a Bettellyn spy.  If Brúnean survived the ordeal and was incarcerated as well, he should die at their hands while members of the party are being interrogated.  Brúnean happened to have seen the spy’s face when he pursued him with the help of wemics, years earlier.  He does not know his present name nor his activities.  Aware of that fact, the spy instructed the bribed guards to discreetly eliminate Brúnean with a poisoned “healing” salve.  The bribed guards then help the party escape.  If questioned about the druid’s death, they incriminate a poor sap whom they conned into administering the salve in their place (probably already dead or dying from the poison).

The Bettellyn spy is none other than Lord Bosmeer.  He will pretend to have used loyal men of his to spring the party from jail when he meets the adventurers again.  He hires them once more, although by then a bounty has been posted for their capture.  This time, he sends the party north, past the Death Riders’ battle site, at least partly for their own safety.  Ultimately, his role is to unveil as much as possible of what troubles the Duke of Westford, so it may be exploited to the fullest when the time right. Lord Bosmeer’ is a ranger, a follower of Elarion who was granted a hunting falcon as a magical familiar.

Mystara Death Riders Map
Westford Northern Borders, map scale 8 miles per hex
The adventurers are to capture the renegade druidess alive, whom Lord Bosmeer suspects may be going that way.  If they can’t capture her, they are to track Daevoria down, identify whom she seeks, and return to report.  Naturally, the party will have to deal with decapus ambushes and renegade rangers bent on feeding them to their nightmarish liege, Queen Hafh'drn'fhalma.

Upon their return, Lord Bosmeer and a group of hired hands posing as Westford cavalry quietly meet the party at the border, preferably in a secluded spot.  There, he requests the party reports what they found out.  If he’s satisfied or unmasked, his hired hands attempt to kill off the party while he leaves.  The Bettellyn spy isn't an evil man, but he remains nonetheless trapped within the necessities of his mission and his duty to state and temple.  Atonement is a daily burden for him.  If he took delivery of Daevoria, he will take her along to question her.  She will not survive much longer.

Lord Bosmeer will learn at once if the party survives, with the help of his falcon familiar.  He is the only one who can prove the party’s innocence (all things being relative), or he could be used as a bargaining chip.  They can clear themselves of the pending charges if they can bring him to justice either in Haggleby (very risky), Greenwood (slightly less risky), Tares (where the League of Eight would be delighted to use him to blackmail someone in Greenwood), or Tutlos (where a certain clan of wemics still remember his face, having already chased him while he escorted Bettellyn missionaries).

If the party unmasks him at any time during the adventure, Lord Bosmeer flees to Stonerim with the intent to hire a vessel from the Company of Haggleby, and sail to any of the Floating Ar’s coastal towns, wherefrom he’d board a skyship bound for Citadel  (and so on. . .)

Happy hunting!