Battles and skirmishes in Empire are the uptime aspect of the extensive military campaign conducted by the military council, and player military units to defend or expand the borders of the Empire. The downtime campaign provides the scenery and context for the uptime battles at events, and the importance of the decisions made by Imperial generals as to which battles and skirmishes they will undertake at events.
Empire battles are always objective driven and highly likely to feature movement and manoeuvring, often through wooded terrain.
Play One, Crew one
The first rule of participating in an Empire battle is that if you play one, then you must volunteer to crew one. Requiring the players to volunteer is the only way that we can create truly dramatic battles involving hundreds of characters at once.
Every event features at least two battles, so there is always an opportunity for every player who participates in the battle as their character to volunteer for another battle at the same event. The basic rule is that we expect players to volunteer to monster the other battle on the same weekend as they play a battle, but we appreciate that players may have health issues that make that impossible at times. In that specific situation it is appropriate to make up the deficit at the next event by monstering one rather than playing.
If you are affected by health issues that limit the roles that you can portray on the battlefield, then please make sure you let someone from the Profound Decisions crew know. Everyone who plays their character on the battlefield needs to volunteer to help with another battle, but there are a wide range of different roles that are available. We need help with reffing, safety, water carrying, getting costume and make-up ready and similar. Everyone has a chance to get involved and help create a great battle for their fellow players.
There are additional battle safety guidelines for all participants in battle.
The functionaries of the Military Council will always know the primary objectives of a battle, informing the generals of what they are and a rough difficulty as worked out by civil service prognosticators. Battles are loosely graded as ‘easy’, ‘average’ or ‘hard’, though there may be variation between those difficulties depending on diverse circumstance (one hard battle may be more difficult than another). Secondary objectives may feature in many battles, these being plot or campaign relevant features. For example a notorious orc shaman might be on the battlefield whose capture or death would disrupt barbarian plans to perform rituals in the future, it might be possible to turn human slaves against their captors and so spread chaos through a region and so forth. Succeeding in those primary or secondary objectives will have significant effects on the overall military campaigns of the empire. Turning defeats into narrow escapes, reducing the casualties suffered by a campaign army, or removing skilled leadership from barbarian armies.
Each battle will be different, in some cases the PCs will arrive without sight of any barbarian opponents, in others they might arrive and be engaged immediately.
Functionaries in the Military Council and the Sentinel Gate will be able to inform Imperial citizens when a portal to a battle opportunity is available and for how long.
Those nations and banners going on a battle should be prepared to enter through the portal during that window of opportunity. While they may return from the battle at any time, the window to go to a battlefield is not long, and thus it is not possible to go back and forth, or to send later reinforcements if they should be needed.
On stepping through a portal to go on a battle or skirmish, players will then be timed out. Referees and other members of crew will assist players in going to the destination point for their teleport, on arriving there they will be timed in, arriving in the order and roughly the same formation as they walked through the portal.
You may return to Anvil from the point you arrived at your destination. It is not possible to then return to the battle once you have left. Again, you will be timed out on stepping back through the portal and make your way to the Sentinel Gate at anvil, on stepping back through the Sentinel Gate you will time in back at Anvil in the same condition as you left the off-field location.
Part of the social contract for Empire is that any player taking part in a battle as their Imperial character is required to take part in a battle as a barbarian character. Mustering for monsters begins at time-in at 10am, outside the monster tent.
Some events will have more than two battle opportunities for the generals to commit their nations to. When this is the case, you can select any one of the other battles you are not taking part in as your Imperial character to volunteer as a barbarian for. You may also choose to take part in more than one of those battles if you wish, and likewise can attend all of them if you have no intention of taking part in battles as your Imperial character but still wish to participate.
On arrival to volunteer as a barbarian you will be supplied with masks and armour where appropriate by PD and briefed on your role. While it is generally the case that groups of players are able to play together as barbarians, there may be times when we wish particular weapon combinations or armour to fight in specific units (e.g. all archers together). PD Crew will ensure the battle is explained to you and assist you in getting into your role as a barbarian character.
In some battles, barbarian reinforcements will arrive, this is to represent the barbarian numbers exceeding those of the number of barbarians we have available. To facilitate this, after you have died as a barbarian you should put your hand in the air, move clearly out of any engagement, and return to the designated place as explained to you by crew for that battle. To avoid breaking the immersion of the players you should wait until the current engagement is over - ideally when the players have moved on if possible.
While barbarians do have healers and will be using them, barbarian characters, unless otherwise informed, do not have a 3 minute death count. Barbarians can be considered dead (not terminal) one minute after they have been reduced to 0 hits. At that point you should move yourself out of the fighting area with your hand in the air and return to the reinforcement location.