Rebellions and Unfaithful Vassals

By Konstantine Triambelas

> Rules Variants > Resources > Fanaticus

This variant rule is intended to enrich a campaign, solo or otherwise, by introducing a rather unpredictable factor in Medieval politics/statemanship (and other periods, of course), that of the unfaithful, rebellious, or otherwise treacherous vassal (lieutenant/general/count etc.).

A big part of the warfare of the medieval era was civil, especially in the earlier middle ages before the consolidation of the power of central monarchies. The historical examples are numerous: the constant rebellions of Norman barons in England; the late coming of age of the French crown (not until the 1220's, I believe, with Philip Augustus); the difficulty of German emperors to control their nobility; the myriad conspiracies of officials and generals that dot the history of the Byzantine Empire; the constant coming and going of dynasties and rulers in the Islamic world. How can this be represented in a campaign setting while at the same time adhering to the spirit of the rules, short, precise and resolved on a d6?

One simple solution is to tie the likelihood of Rebellion to the overlords Prestige, as represented in this variant rule. In my campaign Prestige is mainly acquired through combat on the lines of the existing DBA campaign rules. You can choose your way to award Prestige to your nations/players/characters etc and you can invent other ways to apply it. Use your imagination but don't go overkill and clutter up your campaign with too many things to keep track of.

The more Prestige (measured in Prestige Points, or PP), the less the chance for rebellion since success in war quaranteed the victor if nothing else at least tolerated silence in his backyard. The player/nation is encouraged to acquire PP (i.e. fight and win battles) in order to have this nuisance abolished; if you sit there timidly and don't attack, chances are you'll be dealing with rebellions that will tie down your army at home (but you will still win some PP at the end).

Prestige Chance of Rebellion (1D6)
0-4 PP 1-4
5-6 PP 1-3
7-10 PP 1-2
11-15 PP 1

The Rebellion roll is taken once at the beginning (Spring) of each campaign year. Once rebellion is rolled for, a random province or town is picked among the most recently conquered but not necessarily confined to those only and one other than the one that the player's army is presently at. It can never be the player's capital.

A rebellious province will deprive you of its income (including troop reinforcements) for the time it remains as such. If the campaign year (Sping, Summer, Fall) ends with the rebellion unopposed (i.e. with the army not having yet moved to that location/town/province), a local ruler will emerge the following year as a sovereign. While incapable of fielding a full, 12-element army, he is independent in his foreign policy and can dispatch allied contingents (has to be different elements from the army list, NO 3x3Kn contingents!!) . The ruler/player can only subjugate him by invading and laying siege, the rebellious province requiring a 5 OR 6 to be taken, 4,5, or 6 if there's a second season of siege etc (pitced battle not being possible since the upstart cannot field an army), as per rules.

In other words, if rebellion brakes out you'll have to deal with it before the year is out or you'll have one of your provinces in limbo. You're safe (pretty much) since the rebellious commander cannot attack any other territories (but the rebel can provide allied contingents to your enemies, provided that there's land/sea access) and the only thing you're missing is the income of that area (which, by way, could affect your recruiting at the end of the campaign year). If you decide that you want to take this upstart sucker out along with his entire family down to his 16th cousin, you'll move your army there, end the year there (this means that you could move as late as Fall), and winter there as well (so you're limited as to where you'll start your move next year). You could move in, then leave for one turn and come back as long as you spend Fall there.

Every successful supression of rebellions increases your military reputation and is awarded with 2PP, thus decreasing your chances for rebellion the next year.

A Variant On the Variant

In his second year of rebellion, the new potentate could voluntarily accept an alternative overlord as provided in the Campaign rules. If you allow this, you should really deal with rebellions the first year since after that they could become vassals of your worst enemy or one already at war with you! This would/could tip the scales with the certainty of a 3 element-strong contingent at the side of your opponent(s) in every battle.

You can build on these things endlessly, the only limitation being record-keeping. For example, rebel sovereigns could build their army over several campaign years creating a mechanism to integrate new players into your campaign. Or there could be spies , i.e., paid out of your income who, among other things, would act as provocateurs to increase the chances for rebellion in the target province.


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Last Updated: 17 Dec. 2004

Questions, comments, suggestions welcome.
Send them to Chris Brantley at IamFanaticus@gmail.com.