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Rules Variants

Diplomacy Rules For DBA Campaigns

By Stephen Montague

These rules are designed for use in DBA campaign games to reflect the restrictions placed upon commanders by politicians. Even if you are the despotic ruler of a country you still need to listen to what the people (or at least the important ones) say if you don't want to be assassinated. For instance Alexander the Great stopped his campaign and returned home because of pressure from his troops. These rules originated as an aid to solo campaign games but it seemed to me they would add to a multi-player game also. What follows is split into basic rules which are the solo campaign rules and advanced rules for multi-player games, finally there are some optional ideas.

Basic Rules

All countries are assigned a diplomacy rating which ranges from 1 to 6 what these values mean is shown in the table below.

1 Sworn enemies Hostile
2 Enemies
3 Hostile neutral Neutral
4 Friendly neutral
5 Allied Friendly
6 Closest Allies

These values are then placed in a table like the one in the example below.
Rome Carthage Syracuse Numidia Gaul Iberia
Rome - 1 2 4 3 4
Carthage 1 - 3 5 3 4
Syracuse 2 5 - 4 4 4
Numidia 4 5 3 - 3 3
Gaul 3 3 3 3 - 5
Iberia 4 3 5 3 4 -

To find out what one country thinks of another country read across the table. To find out what two countries think of each other read each one's rating. Note these two values are not always the same. For instance Syracuse is friendly to Carthage (5) but Carthage is neutral towards Syracuse (3).

To assign the initial values to the table you can either assign the value you think is historically correct or roll a dice. Unless you are running a strictly historical campaign I would recommend rolling the dice as it makes for a more interesting set of relationships. If the result of the roll is one country is hostile to a country that is friendly to it change the ratings to hostile neutral and friendly neutral. Another alternative is to make everybody neutral hostile and let events change the ratings.

The values change during the campaign just as opinion changes in real life. The changes happen in two ways: during the campaign season the actions of countries lead to reactions in others and during the winter season reflection on the events of the previous year lead to changes in attitude.

During the campaign season if one country invades another then the invaded country reduces its rating of the invader to 2 or 1 if it is already 2. Any countries that are friendly with the invaded country reduce their rating by one.

For example, Rome invades Syracuse. In the above table Syracuse has Rome rated as a 2. Now however it drops to 1 (note ratings can never be higher than 6 or lower than 1). Looking down the column for Syracuse the only friendly country is Iberia. Their rating for Rome was 4 but now is 3.

During the winter turn you will need to check who earned the most prestige points during the year. To do this add up the prestige points earned during the previous campaign season for each victorious battle as described under the results of a battle in the rules. The players increase the rating of the player with the highest total by one except for countries that are sworn enemies of the player with the highest prestige.

For example, Carthage has had a good year and beaten all their enemies and in the process the have amassed the highest total of prestige points. You then go to the Carthage column on the table and increase the values in it by one.

The reason for this rule is that nothing succeeds like success and when you are successful in war everyone prefers being your friend to being your enemy.

The other winter season check is to reflect the vagaries of politics and life and consists of a random roll. Unfortunately it is a laborious task as you have to roll for each number in the table. Roll a D6 for each number, apply the result of the following table.

1 reduce value by 2
2 reduce value by 1
3 no change
4 no change
5 increase value by 1
6 increase value by 2

As you can see, politicians may have had a major change of heart about some countries, or power may have shifted between political factions.

Having established the diplomacy ratings you use them as follows: to determine if a country will attack another, to decide if a country will send an allied contingent, to decide if a country will let another send troops through their territory or trace a supply line through it.

During the campaign season if a country hasn't attacked or been attacked and is hostile or neutral towards a country it can reach (i.e. within two movement stages) you should roll a dice and if the roll is higher than the rating for that country then you attack it.

For instance Iberia has to check to see if they will attack Gaul, if they roll 5 or 6 they will attack.

To decide if a allied contingent is sent or one country is allowed to use another's territory look at the ratings of both the country asking for help and that country's rating of the country being attacked by the one making the request. To decide what to do use the following table with the country making the request on the left and their target along the top.

Hostile Neutral Friendly
Neutral Yes Dice No
Friendly Yes Dice Dice

When rolling the dice to see what happens use the rating of the country that is being asked the favour has for the country being attacked and roll its rating or higher note this does not apply to tributaries.

For example, Syracuse asks Iberia to send a contingent against Rome. Iberia is friendly to Syracuse (5) and neutral (4) towards Rome so they have to roll more than four to say yes.

Advanced Rules

The main changes in the rules for multi-player use are that the ratings become guidelines for the players on how to act and the information is not available to everyone.

There are two reasons why players can't know all the ratings in the game: one is geography; the other is organisation. If your campaign covers a wide geographical area then it should be obvious that not all players states will have contact with all the other players states. For instance in a late Roman empire campaign, the Scots-Irish won't have any contact with the Blemye (unless one has expanded its territory a lot) but the Romans will have contact with both. The organisation of a state is important as only the more advanced ones will have the resources to send diplomats to other states. Hence countries are classified as either advanced or simple for deciding diplomatic status. Deciding which states are advanced and which are not should be based upon the actions of their historical counterpart.

For example, the Roman and Byzantine empires would be advanced as would their Persian and Arab neighbours. Early Germans, Picts, Moors would be simple.

Not all will be as clear cut as that. The way the rules reflect this is as follows. Simple countries can only know the diplomatic ratings of states that border their territory. Advanced countries can also know the diplomatic ratings of all the countries that border adjacent countries territory.

For example, the Byzantines are advanced so have ratings for their neighbours and the countries that border on them, so they not only know what he Pechenegs think of them but what the Russ think of the Pechenegs even though they don't have a border with the Russ.

Countries are also allowed to use diplomacy to manipulate their neighbours in true divide and rule fashion. To do this countries are allowed to send diplomatic missions. If successful these missions will persuade their target to behave more in the way the player wants.

The way diplomatic missions work is that during the winter phase the players nominate the places they want to send missions to (only one mission per target per player). The target country is the one that the player is trying to influence the player has to state what they want the mission to do. There are two things a mission can do, make country A friendly to country B or make country A hostile to country B. In both cases country A is the target country. Note the target country can be the players own country, in this case it represents the generals applying some political pressure. Having declared the targets and what the mission is supposed to do a dice is rolled to determine the result.

1-3 The mission failed; no alterations to the diplomatic rating are made.
4-5 Success! The target has its diplomatic rating altered by +/- 1 depending on what the mission was supposed to do.
6 A diplomatic triumph!!! The target has its diplomatic rating altered by +/- 2 depending on what the mission was supposed to do.

If several players send a mission to a country with the same or opposite objectives then the results are cumulative.

For example, the Byzantines send a mission to the Pechenegs to try to persuade them to attack the Arabs. It is a diplomatic triumph and it looks as if the Pechenegs will become hostile to the Arabs. However the Arabs have also sent a mission to try and make the Pechenegs more friendly to them. They gain a success so the Pechenegs become less friendly but don't become hostile.

I am not sure how many diplomats a state should have but one per three players in the campaign seems reasonable.

Optional Ideas

Spies -- Instead of advanced players knowing what other countries think each other automatically instead they need to use spies to find out. advanced countries are allowed to spy on none adjacent countries. To do this they get one spy point per country in the campaign. These points are then allocated by the civilised player during the winter turn to target countries and if he rolls the number of points allocated or less then he learns their diplomacy ratings. Note this information is not updated until another successful spying roll is made.

The following was suggested by Chris Brantley. Another possible way to use spies. Losses are not routinely disclosed after battles except to the participant. The only thing announced is that one side or the other prevailed (and perhaps that a general was killed). Spies could be used to determine actual losses, which might effect your plans to invade or otherwise take hostile action.

Following on from the above I would suggest if you have the energy to do it the umpire may wish to use false reports most of the time and the players can use spies to determine the truth. I would suggest the following table might be used to determine the amount of misleading information you will give to players

1 Very inaccurate in favour of losers.
2 Inaccurate about losers.
3 Accurate report.
4 Accurate report.
5 Inaccurate about winners.
6 Very inaccurate about losers.

For instance, Carthage was beaten by Numidia, Carthage lost three elements including their general while Numidia lost two. Using the above table the reports could go something like this:

  1. Carthage won a close fought battle over Numudia both sides had medium losses.
  2. Carthage was narrowly defeated by Numidia both sides had light casualties.
  3. Carthage was defeated by Numidia. Both sides suffered medium casualties including the loss of Carthage's general.
  4. Carthage was defeated by Numidia. Both sides suffered medium casualties including the loss of Carthage's general.
  5. Carthage was defeated by Numidia. Carthage suffered medium casualties including the loss of their general. Numidia's losses where light.
  6. 6 Carthage was defeated by Numidia. Carthage suffered heavy casualties including the loss of their general. Numidia had no losses.

The above example is fairly plain, feel free to make yours more interesting.

Closing Notes

Thanks to Chris Brantley and Tony De Lyall for their suggestions.

If you have any suggestions let me know especially about the advanced section which I would regard as experimental.


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Last Updated: July 6, 2000.

Comments welcome. Send them to Chris Brantley, IamFanaticus@gmail.com.