DBA Resource Page

Campaign Scenarios and Rules

Friends, Romans, Countrymen
A Campaign for DBA

By Mike Demana

Friends, Romans, Countrymen is a DBA campaign set in the Roman world of the 1st century B.C. The campaign rules and mechanics are written to require no gamemaster. Each player takes the role of a Roman magistrate out to win prestige and additional power by defeating Rome's (and his own) enemies. A campaign map is provided.

THE GOAL

The goal of the players is to accumulate prestige points through battle and control of various provinces. Prestige points are used at the end of the game year in Winter when elections are held in the Roman Senate. The elections (see below) determine which offices and provinces are awarded to which player.

THE PLAYERS

Each player is a Roman magistrate, the "paterfamilias" of his powerful Senatorial family and faction. His backing insures he will be given a title and province each year in the elections. The possible titles are:

  • Consul -- Every year, two consuls are elected. At the start of the campaign, Roman tradition held that no man was eligible to be consul within 10 years of the last time he held it. That quaint tradition will doubtless be broken (as it was in history) during the campaign. The consul was the senior Roman magistrate.

  • Proconsul -- When last year's consul was still in the midst of fighting Rome's enemies, his "imperium" was often extended another year. The consul must be left in command of the same province to be named proconsul. This can be extended year after year indefinitely.

  • Praetor -- Praetors were the most junior magistrates to hold imperium. They are basically governors of provinces.

  • Propraetor -- As with proconsul, this is simply a praetor whose term of governorship has been extended.

Along with the above title, the magistrate must be given a province to command. It does not have to be the same one as the previous year (unless proconsul or propraetor). As a matter of fact, this may be a way to tweak an enemy's nose -- send him off to govern an insignificant province if you win the elections!

However, the Roman Senate had lost much of its "teeth" at this point. If a player refuses to leave a province (and go to his assigned one, for example), there is little the Senate can do. It is up to the players to enforce the wishes of the Senate, if they want.

Also, although only two consuls are named each year, neither has to be a player. All could be praetors one year, for example. The players themselves actually represent a single man backed by his clients and faction. It is unimportant for campaign purposes whether he is with a group of strength points during a battle or not. Any accomplishments or failures of subordinates would reflect on the great man himself.

GAME YEAR

Each year is divided into seven turns, starting with Early Spring ending with Winter. The turns are Early Spring, Late Spring, Early Summer, Late Summer, Early Autumn, Late Autumn and Winter.

Winter is a special turn. It is when players receive reinforcements based on the value of the provinces they control. It is also when Senate Elections are held.

The only other turns that are in any way different are Early Spring and Late Autumn. Sea movement during those turns (and Winter) is penalized. See Sea Movement for a complete explanation.

THE TURN

Turns are divided into phases, with all players completing one phase before moving onto the next. The order is below:

  1. Planning Phase
  2. Reveal Orders
  3. Barbarian Activation
  4. Retreat Before Combat
  5. Combat
  6. Retreat After Combat
  7. Siege Resolution
  8. Receive Reinforcements (Winter Turn only)
  9. Elections (Winter Turn only)

The planning phase normally takes place in the days before the players meet to play out a turn. Players write down all movement that their strength points will do. These orders are revealed simultaneously. No changes can be made after seeing another player's move, of course.

If any player is invading barbarian territory, another player must be assigned to fight their side in battle. This can be done however the players desire.

The players then roll 1d6. Each player (highest to lowest) may then choose to attempt to activate a dormant barbarian nation. A dormant nation is any that has no player's troops already invading it, or that is not currently activated by a player. To successfully activate a nation, the player must roll a "6" on 1d6. Only one attempt per player is allowed per turn. If unsuccessful, other players may attempt to activate the same barbarians, though. A player who is successful must immediately nominate a region the barbarian invasion will arrive in next turn. Dicing for size of the barbarian group takes place next turn.

After this phase, players must decide if any of their groups that have encountered another group will retreat before combat. The player with fewer strength points declares first. If equal, roll to see who declares first. Groups may retreat into a city instead of one region away if they were stationary that turn.

A region that a group retreats to must be solely occupied by the player or unoccupied. Otherwise, no retreat is possible -- a group must fight if attacked. Combat between groups is resolved. If either one of the groups choose to attack, a battle takes place. See Combat rules below for how to resolve battles. After the battle is finished, the winner tallies up and records prestige points he gained. Both players record their losses.

Following the battle, the loser retreats one region away. As with retreat before combat, a valid region must be available. If not, all strength points in the group are lost.

After any retreats, players resolve sieges. Except in Winter, this ends the turn. During Winter, players tally up the economic value of all provinces and regions they control. They receive the appropriate number of reinforcements based on this number.

Following that, Senate Elections are held.

MOVEMENT

Movement is very simple in the campaign. A strength point may move one region (provinces are composed of two or more regions). Players are free to split up, combine or otherwise shift their strength points around on the map, provided no one strength point moves more than one region.

Another restriction is that a player may have only 12 strength points in a single region. Also, a player may never combine his forces with barbarian ones he controls.

Sea movement is slightly more complex. Sea zones are detailed on the map. A group may move from one land region to any other land region that borders the same sea zone. Some regions border on more than one sea zone, thus becoming more strategically important (and vulnerable?). The major restriction on sea movement is each player may move only one of his groups by sea per turn. Also, no barbarians except Mediterranean Pirates may utilize sea movement.

When a player reveals an order for a group to utilize sea movement, he rolls 1d6. If he rolls a "1" (or 1-2 in Late Autumn, Winter or Early Spring), the movement was unsuccessful. The player must roll again to see if he suffered losses in the attempt.

Roll Losses
1-2 0 Strength points
3-4 1 Strength point
5 2 Strength points
6 3 Strength points

CONQUERING BARBARIAN PROVINCES

A player may attempt to carve new provinces out of barbarian lands, thus increasing his prestige and eliminating a potential enemy of Rome. The map details the location of various barbarian peoples. Dotted lines form the borders of new, "potential" barbarian regions.

Conquering barbarian regions is a multi-step process. First the player moves a group of at least four strength points to a region that borders a potential barbarian region. The next turn his order is written as "Invade Gaul," etc. His troops are considered on the border, in neither the Roman region nor the barbarian one. The player rolls 1d6 on the chart below to see the size of the army that gathers to contest his crossing.

Roll Barbarian
Group Size
1 1 Strength point smaller than player's
2-3 Same size as player's
4 1 Strength point larger *
5 2 Strength points larger *
6 3 Strength points larger *

* Maximum group size is 12 strength points. If the roll would make it larger, the barbarian group is 12 instead.

If victorious, the player has "broached" the border. On the next turn, he may order his group into one of the potential barbarian regions. He rolls again to see the resistance. If he wins again, the region is pacified and added to Rome's empire. Once all potential regions of a barbarian nation have been conquered, the province is conquered and may be assigned to praetors, consuls, etc., in the elections.

Subsequent movement between the conquered region and bordering Roman regions or unconquered potential regions of the same barbarian nation is normal -- not subject to stopping at the border. It is only the first time a barbarian nation is attacked (and defeated) that players are stopped at the border.

Some smaller barbarian regions do not become their own provinces, but are instead tacked onto existing Roman ones (e.g. Iberia). The troop lists give the names and information on all barbarian nations.

Usually, once all a barbarian nation's regions have been conquered, it can no longer be activated by a player. However, there are exceptions detailed in the troop list.

ACTIVATING BARBARIANS

After activating a barbarian nation, the player nominates which bordering Roman region they will invade next turn. He rolls on the chart below next turn and that is the number of strength points of barbarians rein that region. Thereafter, he may freely move them one region per turn. They may not invade other barbarians.

Roll Size
1 4 strength points
2 5 strength points
3 6 strength points
4 7 strength points
5 8 strength points
6 9 strength points

The player chooses whether they will attack or retreat when they encounter enemies and if they will siege cities. The player only receives one half (round up) of normal prestige points in their victories. However, he receives no prestige points if he fights his own forces against them.

The only way to "deactivate" a barbarian group is by moving all strength points to the region they initially invaded. On the next turn, he can declare them deactivated, their forces dispersing back to their homeland.

CLIENT STATES

The regions of Nile Delta, Upper Egypt, Judea and Lycia are Roman client-states, rather than provinces. These were technically sovereign kingdoms. Roman players are not supposed to violate their territory (but a consul's gotta do, what a consul's gotta do...). Thus, the first time any player moves his strength points into one of the above regions, it is considered violated. Rather than fight the might of all Rome, it surrenders and becomes a normal region thereafter.

However, the player who violated its neutrality is censored by the Senate and loses one prestige point. If at any time in the campaign, a player controls Judea, Upper Egypt and Nile Delta at the same time, he may elect to organize them as a new province (Egypt). The player receives a bonus of one prestige point for this (removing a small stain from his name). No such bonus exists for Lycia. The player controlling it may nominate it as part of either Syria, Asia or Galatia (if it has been conquered).

COMBAT

All battles in which either side has more than 4 strength points present will be fought on a 4x2 board. Those with 4 or fewer use the normal 2x2 DBA board. If the battle features Romans attempting to conquer barbarian territory, one player must be chosen to fight the barbarian side.

One side must be established as the defender. If the battle is a Roman attempt to conquer barbarian territory, the barbarian is the defender. Otherwise, use the priority list below:

  1. If one side remained stationary this turn, it is the defender.
  2. If both sides were moving and one controlled the region last turn, it is the defender.
  3. If both sides were moving and one controlled the province last turn, it is the defender.
  4. Random die roll.

The defender then sets the terrain, using the stipulations below:

  • the area will be divided into equal 12" x 12" sectors.
  • at least half the sectors must contain either 6" of river or a 3" x 3" or larger piece of bad going.
  • at least 75% of the sectors must contain at least 6" of river or a terrain piece of at least 3" x 3". (NOTE: A piece may straddle two or more sectors but counts as "in" only one, whichever it is mostly inside).
  • The smallest, non-river terrain pieces must also be of roughly 3" x 3".

Each strength point in a group converts into 3 elements of troops for battle purposes. The troop lists give sample 3, 6, 9 and 12-element breakdowns. Use the largest sizes possible to assemble your list.

Only one general will be used per side. Add +1 to the command pip die if the army contains 8-11 strength points, +2 if 12.

Also, the following movement variant will be used -- called "Base Depth Movement." After moving all elements desired with available pips, the general may move any element that has not yet moved and is not in contact with enemy by:

A) Turning it around 180 degrees, OR

B) Advancing or retreating up to one element base depth in attempt to align its front edge with that of another friendly element. (Exception: Warbands and Scythed Chariots may only advance to do this, not retreat).

Use the following sequence to set up battles:

  1. Determine defender
  2. Defender sets up terrain
  3. Attacker rolls for his table edge (on 4" x 2" board, nominate one long edge 1-4, the other 5-6 and roll 1d6)
  4. Attacker places camp
  5. Defender places camp
  6. Attacker deploys half his elements
  7. Defender deploys half his elements
  8. Attacker places remainder
  9. Defender places remainder
  10. Attacker takes first bound

The loser is the first to lose 1/3 of its elements. Loss of camp counts as two elements. Unlike DBA, loss of the general's element does not end the battle. If both players reach 1/3 on same bound, use number of elements beyond 1/3 level to determine loser.

The defeated automatically loses two strength points, PLUS:

1 strength point if general's element lost
1 strength point if camp held by enemy at end of battle
1 strength point if defeated lost twice as many elements as victor
2 strength points instead of above if lost three times as many

Because the majority of actual casualties in an ancient battle occurred during the pursuit, the victor's losses are lower. He loses only one strength point per 6 elements lost in battle (round down).

The victor gains prestige points for winning a battle. If he won with his "activated'" barbarians, he receives half the points listed below (round up):

+ 2 prestige points if killing enemy general
+ 2 prestige points for occupying enemy camp at end of battle
+ 1 prestige point for each element defeated lost in excess of victor's losses.

SIEGE RESOLUTION

Sieges are handled very simply in the campaign. If a defender retreats into (or is already inside) a city, the enemy group can declare a siege on them. Each turn a group is besieged, a die is rolled. On a "6" or greater on 1d6, the defender surrenders. Add one to the die roll for each consecutive turn of siege. Barbarians (except Parthians) always subtract one from the die roll.

All surrendered strength points are captured by the besieger. Barbarians will slaughter or enslave all such strength points (i.e. they are destroyed). However, Romans may be more benevolent. A player may elect to set the some or all of the surrendered forces free. He may place conditions on their behavior (such as march or sail away to home province). These conditions must be obeyed for the next two turns. After that, the surrendered forces lose their "fear" of the victor and return to the control of the original owner.

CONTROL OF PROVINCES

Economics will be handled abstractly through the control of provinces, regions and cities. Control becomes important only at the end of the Winter turn, when reinforcements are tabulated (and elections held).

A player controls a REGION by being the only one with strength points present. The same is true for a city. Barbarians do not transfer control to the player running them.

A player controls a PROVINCE when he controls more than half the regions in it. A city counts as a separate, mini-region. Thus Farther Spain has the regions Lusitania, Morena and Baetica, which contains the city Gades. A player must control three of the above four places to control Farther Spain.

If two players control exactly half each of the regions / cities, they split the economic and prestige point value of the province. This is the only occasion when "half-control" is awarded. If one player controls two of the four regions in a province and nobody controls the other two, no one receives credit for it.

Barbarian regions that have been conquered have an economic value of one each until the entire province is conquered. After that, use the listed province value.

Client states that are under control of a player also have a value of one.

Province Name Economic Value
Farther Spain 4 (+1 for Iberia)
Hither Spain 4 (+1 for Iberia)
Narbonensis 4
Italy 5
Sicily and Islands 4
Macedonia 5
Asia 5 (+1 for Lycia)
Syria 4 (+1 for Lycia, Arabia Felix)
Africa 4 (+1 for Mauretania, Atlas, Gaetulia)
Potential Provinces
Egypt 5 (+1 for Kush, Arabia Felix)
Parthia 4
Armenia 4
Galatia 2 (+1 for Lycia)
Thracia 2
Illyria. 2
Germania 3
Gaul 3

REINFORCEMENTS

The revenue from control of provinces manifests itself in prestige points and also in the ability to replace troops lost in battle. Each Winter, players total the economic value of provinces, barbarian regions and client states they control. The chart below shows how many replacement strength points a player receives for his total economic value.

All players begin the campaign with 12 strength points. Any reinforcement strength points a player obtains to bring him to 13 or greater cost double. For example, over the course of the first year's battles, a player loses only one strength point. His economic value in Winter is 5, which gives him 3 replacement strength points. The first cost normal, bringing him back to 12. The second, which takes him past 12, costs 2. So, the player can afford to bring his total to 13 strength points.

Also, Romans and barbarians in the Mediterranean world traditionally went into winter quarters. This time was spent obtaining replacements and training them. Thus, any player who moves any of his Roman strength points (not barbarians ones) forfeits half of his replacement strength points (rounded down). If the player in the above example moved his Romans in Winter he would receive only 1 replacement strength point.

Economic Value Number of Replacements
0 1
1-3 2
4-6 3
7-9 4
10+ 5

ELECTIONS

The Winter Senate elections represent the vying for power and influence in Rome among rival families. Although the Senate did not actually do the voting (the Plebian Assembly did), all positions of power were normally filled by Senatorial families. Thus, in the campaign, they are referred to as the Senate elections because that is where the power struggle was.

The voting process is handled abstractly by the process of keeping track of prestige points. A player receives one vote for each prestige point he has earned over the course of the campaign. Also, he will receive a random die roll of additional votes.

In the first Winter of the campaign, it is 1d6, the second 2d6, etc. Remember, the die rolls are for votes, not prestige points.

At the beginning of the election process, the players tabulate their total votes. Each player then rolls 1d6, with high roller present first his plan for what titles and provinces will be awarded to each player. The second highest roller presents second, etc. After all have presented their plans, each secretly records how many votes for each plan he casts. He can cast all for one plan or split them up.

Votes are counted and ties are broken by random die roll. The new offices and provinces are then announced.

However, these may be nullified by a player who has control of the city of Rome. In effect, this dictator marches troops into the Senate and declares what the new offices / titles will be. Nothing can be done to change this player's decree -- force is final. Needless to say, this will not make him popular with the other players.

The new offices and provinces take effect at the beginning of Early Spring. Once again, it is up to the players themselves to enforce or not the results of the elections. When Caesar was stripped of his imperium by the Roman Senate, he voted for civil war by marching on Italy. This century saw the death of the Roman republic and the institution of dictatorship, and eventually empire. It is up to the players whether they follow the footsteps of history.

PRESTIGE POINTS

Prestige points are acquired based on the following:

Results of battle (see combat)

Value of provinces and regions under control (see list)

Other Modifiers:

+ 1 For each year in office as Consul
+ 1 For each barbarian region conquered
+ 1 For organizing the province of Egypt
+ 1 For successfully taking barbarian cities of Ctesiphon (Parthia) or Tigranocerta (Armenia) -- once per campaign
+1 For having strength points in the city of Rome during Winter
+1 For being the first to violate the neutrality of a client state
+1 For each province under player's control that was not awarded to him by the Senate (except for a barbarian one conquered this year)
- 2 For each time a player changes the results of the Senate elections by force

Points for control of provinces and regions are tabulated during Winter. However, players do not lose these points if they subsequently lose the province next year. All prestige point awards and penalties are permanent. It is best to keep a running tab on the number of points earned from turn to turn, ignoring provincial and region control until Winter


| Top of Page | Campaigns | DBA Resources |


Last Updated: Oct. 17, 2001

Questions, comments, and feedback are welcome. Sent them to Chris Brantley at IamFanaticus@gmail.com.