Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Roleplaying Warrior Societies

My view is that in a "warrior society" there is a premium placed on physical prowess at whatever skills the society values, (archery, horsemanship, etc). If you actually lived there your impression will be much like witnessing a whole town of football fanatics (American or soccer). There will be a hierarchy of physical skill and experience with most at the level that would be considered "backyard" football. Along with nearly everybody having the same childhood experience of training. (A society where 80% of the males joins youth football). The average skill level of the population will be shifted higher because of the emphasis on warrior training and ethos.

For most warrior societies it will seem more violent due to different safety standards. I.e. the backyard football is always full contact and never just "touch" football. True intent to maim (or kill) will be frowned on and the grounds for legal action or feuds.*

However the best of civilization is likely to beat the best of a "warrior" society" due civilization's ability to preserve and pass on knowledge. A warrior society acquiring civilization rapidly transitions because the relative abundance allow the mediocre warrior to flourish at other occupations.

With that being said, a civilized warrior society is usually the result of a conquering population oppressing a slave population like the Assyrians and the Spartans and usually is transitory compared to surrounding cultures.

I don't have any hard data to support this other than general knowledge of how skill differences work in a human population and a few historical accounts.

*One of the reasons I have such a generous negative hit points rule in my D&D campaigns is to allow PCs and NPCs to bash the shit out of each other and the result be unconsciousness rather than automatic death. My rule is -3 at first level growing by -3 per level until you reach your constitution. A character with a 15 constitution will die at -15 hit points at 5th level and that where it stops.


Grey said...

I'd say it depends a lot as to what stage of "decay" your civilized society is as to whether or not it wins. Rome is a pretty good example there.

Another factor would be how fast they can transition into a warrior state, which is pretty relative to the size of them. You may be able to transition quickly, but if 3/4's of the country is conquered when it happens it not a good state of affairs.

Lasgunpacker said...

Good post. An example that comes to mind easily is the English Longbowman, the product of a society where every male practices archery. You produce superior archers, possibly at the cost of development in other areas.

Anonymous said...

Lasgunpacker, I think that could be more accurately simulated with a more cmoprehensive civilization rule set. This way, you put resources into militia and you have less to put into agriculture, trade, industry, religion, art, social services, education, resource extraction, legal justice, fancy palaces, etc.

Bat's way of thinking about it lets you just worry about roleplaying without trying to balance everything else. A way to integrate your two ideas would be to pick a specific thing that the warrior society has to give up rather than small reductions in everything else. For example, maybe your warrior society has a strong militia quality but little to no art or resource extraction. They trade, in a sense, by exporting death and importing loot.

Lasgunpacker said...

good point 1d30, although larger political groupings may have to give up less to get the death and looting export, e.g. with the Roman Empire.

Another historical example could be the Swiss. Pike drill is another time consuming activity that pays off when you can send out mercenary companies in lean years.

Anonymous said...

True true. This is why the country-level game rules should have turns on a monthly level, perhaps down to weekly or even daily in wartime. This way, you plan ahead and do your agriculture in Spring to plant, go off to war in the Summer, come back to do more agriculture to harvest in Fall, and spend the Winter drilling and fortifying. Since you have units, that can be the activity of the military while civilian units do things at home.

Or if it's not unit-based, you allocate resource points to drill when you're not at war, that way you have the appropriate levels of knowledge, professionalism, and morale to fight effectively later. But those resource points spent drilling aren't being used in developing your weaving trade, for example.