Runequest Thursday #142 - The Little War of the White Moon!

Clint Staples

If you read last week's RQT (Runequest Thursday #141) you know that the Brightwater Company has traveled to the White Moon to aid the goddess Annihila and her forces against the adherents of the old Blue Moon Doctrine, which coincidentally allow the Blue Moon folks far more power over the goddess in question. 

Annihila, weakened by some sort of infestation in the Smoking Mirror portal network that stretches over much of the Moon (and further afield - the Brightwater Company controls a keyed gate to the Moon, which allowed them transit to its surface), along with her loyal adherents, is hard pressed by an army of High Folk, Imperial allies from the Red Moon, a number of troll cults, and some lowland savages that have recently been brought to heel.

A battle is inevitable. But this column is subtitled "The Little War" for a reason.

At present, it appears that the battle is one that the White Moon cannot win. But the Goddess, along with her Moonwolf advisors, has devised a plan to weaken the enemy while strengthening Annihila herself. By sending out hit squads, each comprised of an Annihilator and his or her Silver Ring of Aspirants, to strike through each Smoking Mirror at the forces that control, and presumably, poison it, against the White Goddess. While these missions are being carried out, the Brightwater Company appears, a surprise to all except the White Goddess who facilitated their transit.

She has a request for them. Will they undertake another mission, one as crucial to the survival of the White Army as those of the Annihilators. One which is only possible because the Brightwater Company has arrived.

The White Moon army is pinned between the approaching forces of the Blue Moon, and a coalition of lowlander tribes that have recently come under Blue Moon Control. If the White Moon forces advance to confront the Blue Moon, they expose their flank to the tender mercies of three tribes of savages. If the army remains where it is camped, it will face the combined might of both the Blue Moon and the lowlanders. These lowland tribes have been enemies, and neighbors, for centuries, which makes their sudden alliance under the High Folk seem suspicious indeed. And when the High Folk are involved, the suspicion is always of sorcery. The Brightwater Company, with not only a former avatar of the White Goddess and current manifestor of the Argrath, but also including a sorcerer of skill, seems the perfect choice to scout the area and perhaps break up this alliance of the moment.

 

Now, let us step out of the narrative and returning to our stated purpose: The Little War.

By which I mean the war the PCs in the RPG will fight, within the larger scope of the War of the Moon.

 

Obviously a war is underway, and a battle is likely in the very near future. How do we deal with the heroes of an RPG fighting in a battle?

Here is the way I am going to handle it:

1) Give the Heroes a smaller task within the war to affect the future in a magnified way. You can see in the set up I have provided here, that the Heroes of Brightwater have an opportunity to do something that could destabilize the alliance of the three tribes of lowlanders. Even partial success could make a big difference in the course of the war, or at least the upcoming battle. If one or more of the tribes, or some significant portion of them, can be delayed, or deterred, the White Army suddenly has options for maneuver that were previously denied them.

A Crucial Point: It all rides on the shoulders of the Player Characters. And the situration is one that they can approach in a variety of ways. More on this in the next post, where they will be confronted by their options - whether they like them or not.

Another Crucial Point: How it plays out will provide the players other opportunities to affect the course of the war. So their choices will matter, to them, and to the upcoming battle, possibly the rest of the war.

As I mentioned last post, I am using the excellent Monster Island supplement from The Design Mechanism. I am modifying it to suit my current purpose (transforming the Island to the White Moon, for one, but others, like ignoring the Kaiju as entities, playing fast and loose with the Smoking Mirror network, and the High Folk as written), but it is an excellent resource and deserving of greater recognition - and PLAY!

2) Use the Warfare system I have worked out previously. The Warfare System is a way to allow PCs to take part in a battle without having to run them through the entire course of one. My intent here is to allow Warfare rolls to determine collectively, how the Brightwater Company does, as well as how each member does individually, then:

3) Involve my PCs in the midst of the battle (or wherever else they decide to be, of course), detailing smaller "encounters" within the battle.  Based on the rolls, what is available and what will be engaging, I will create a series of encounters within the battle to reflect the Brightwater Company's experience of it. This method was used to excellent effect in the old Lord of the Rings RPG by Decipher. My Warfare system allows for this sort of play, but could instead be used to determine the entire course of the PCs' interaction with a battle, if that is the preferred method.

It may be noted that I have not given away much about the mission the Birghtwaters undertake to destabilize the alliance of the Lowland tribes and the HIgh Folk. This is intentional, since my players read these posts and we have not played through it all yet. For those of you who are familiar with Monster Island (AND if you aren't go and buy the gosh-darned book already!), I have adapted a great set-piece locale from it "The Causeway of the Nightmarchers". The Heroes just survived my re-skinned Soul Harvester (the steampunkalicious description provided in Monster Island would not have worked for my version, so I portrayed it as more of a demonic construct produced by High Folk sorcery).

Stayed Tuned for the conclusion of the Causeway of the Nightmarchers.