Thursday, October 13, 2011

Dungeonspiration: War! Good God, Ya'll

The Irish trounce Norway.
I've been playing Medieval II: Total War for the last couple of weeks.  Okay, it's like five years old, but I just heard of it.  Five bucks on Steam, and it is pretty cool.

A good chunk of it is devoted to various military campaigns, ranging from the Norman Conquest and The Crusades, to the Pacification of the Americas.  You juggle economies, manage spies and diplomats, and build infrastructure.  Yadda yadda yadda.  Fun for some, I'm sure, and fun for me when I was playing Civ II.  But I'm over that.  What I really like is the bit where you zoom down into battles.

I'm sure this isn't news to most video games players, but for those people like me who live under a rock, it's pretty friggin nifty.  You get to control all of your units in real time - and have the handy use of PAUSE as well.  The game allows you to build battle scenarios, but I much prefer to have it pit two random armies, kitted out with random but sensible units, and fight in a completely random place.  You end up fighting in plains, forests, or hills, during rain, for, or night, at river fords, forts, villages, towns, massive castles, or unassailable cliffs.

Playing these battle simulations gets my mind going about D&D and what most of those shiny weapons and armor were actually designed for in the real world - bloodletting on a massive scale - and how different types of units translate into the various character classes of editions both old and new.  It also gets me hungry to have large scale warfare occur in-game.

I've been building up tensions in the Labyrinth Lord game between the Lawful human forces and a Chaotic army headed by the great green dragon Abaraxis.  Small skirmishes have been happening, but the humans have been pussyfooting around, not really interested in attacking.  It's kind of a big thing to effect the campaign, and I've been pussyfooting around too.

The Egyptians fight Denmark in a river crossing.
Fighting these computer battles have changed my mind.  I have a much clearer view of what the armies look like in my head now, and what their capabilities are.  The humans have some wicked magic - but the dragons have the old AD&D fear ability going for them.  Imagine that hurtling out of the sky at a well formed phalanx of warriors.  So much for well-formed.

The PCs have been on the edges of what has been happening.  They haven't been too interested in getting involved, though.  That's perfectly fine.  The war is inevitable and will occur with them of without them.  The repercussions of the war - well - that will be nigh impossible to escape - whatever happens.  I still don't know how it will pan out.  Perhaps I should play it on the computer. :)

One of the more interesting thing about Medieval II: Total War is that The Boy is studying Medieval History right now.  He right there reading along about the state of Europe, the Holy Roman Empire, and the Crusades, then watching the game, learning names of cities and countries that don't even exist anymore, watching archers rip light infantry to pieces, seeing the primitive precursors of gunpowder weapons, watching siege towers take walls, and marvelling at the utter chaos as his father's troops are routed and run and run and run in every direction for what seems like forever.

I never would have dreamed I would have heard my son yell, "Get your arbusquers out of there! Can't you see the heavy cavalry charging?" :)

So go get out of the myopic view we can fall into sometimes in role playing games, and go play something on a grander scale.  It can give you a much more expanded viewpoint, with which you can look at your rpg campaign in a whole new light.

And watch out for the heavy cav - it's a killer. ;)

- Ark


  1. "Get your arbusquers out of there!" - Love it.

    I've been a fan of the Total War series since I read rumours of the first game in PC Zone. Also love Civ, Age of Empires, and all those Sim and Strategy games. Just been playing Medieval 2 myself lately. I was thinking you could easily adapt the Total War tech/build tree for the endgame/domain game part of D&D. Hmmm. D&D: Total War. Now that I would buy.

  2. My reward was a value that could carry me. Occasionally I had to find a player's shop must find a way to get value-ray games and magazines. But i didn't find this game.