Each general can issue a single set of orders for the army they control. The orders should describe a broad strategic plan representing what the general would like the army to achieve in a territory over the downtime before the next event.
A campaign is not a single battle, a campaign is a prolonged period of warfare that takes place over the whole territory in the three months between events.
At the beginning of an event the generals are briefed on the current status of their army and the outcome of the campaign, if any, that it was involved in running up to the event. They are also presented with a number of opportunities to intervene – usually battles or skirmishes, that might affect the current military situation.
Toward the end of the event, the generals are briefed with regard to how the actions of the characters (especially battles and skirmishes) have changed the situation since the start of the event, if at all. Each general must then submit an order for their army to follow over the coming three months.
These orders are then compared with the orders submitted for the barbarian armies to identify which forces are fighting and calculate the outcomes.
Generals may issue orders to attack or defend any territory their army can reach. To keep things as simple as possible, an army is assumed to move to any territory that the general issues orders to attack or defend before any fighting takes place. In effect an army can slip away at the start of a season before the campaign begins.
Most Imperial armies can move through three territories in a season (for example, an army in Bregasland may be ordered to defend Hercynia - it will pass through Kallavesa and Hahnmark before reaching Hercynia where it will join any campaign that takes place. However an army cannot pass through a territory it does not control - it will automatically stop and engage any enemy forces present if it enters a hostile territory - one that is controlled by an enemy power.
A fast army can move up to five territories each season, but must still stop when it enters a territory that is controlled by an enemy.
Note that the elite military unit resources controlled by players do not move like this. Military units can cross the entire Empire swiftly and quickly - so they can be freely assigned to an Imperial army, or sent to raid a neighbouring nation.
Orders should focus on what the general wants their army to achieve rather than how they do it. An Imperial army fights to the best of it's ability, the civil service control military logistics and supply lines and the Empire has battlefield captains and commanders who are well versed in tactics. The orders issued by a general determine the overall actions of their army in the field over the next three months; there is no option to submit specific tactics or arrangements of troops. The place for complex battlefield plans is during the events, where player characters fight barbarian enemies.
E.g. The Dawn general of The Hounds of Glory may issue orders for their soldiers to advance without concern for casualties with the goal of smashing through the Druj lines to join up with the Imperial forces defending the fortifications at the city of Holberg.
The type of orders that a general can give fall into six categories - three for attacking and three for defending, based on how aggressive or cautious the general wishes their army to be. The text for the orders is important - we use it to determine the narrative of the campaign outcome - and it influences the options that the plot team write for the battles at the next event - but the mathematical results are calculated based purely on the type of order that was submitted.
There is no "move order" for an army, even if an army moves to the centre of the Empire to resupply, it is assumed that it would defend the territory it has moved to if that territory were attacked.
- The general hands their a copy of their signed orders to the Herald of the Council
The Imperial general must provide the Herald of the Council with a signed copy of their orders. The General can submit their orders at any time. Traditionally they are written and sealed on the last day but there is no legal requirement for this - as long as the orders are received by the Herald before the end of the summit.
The civil service use the signed orders to make suitable arrangements and instructions for all the necessary logistical support, as well as ensuring that the correct orders are communicated to the army. Any attempt to change the orders once they are officially given to the Herald invariably leads to chaos and confusion which harms the army's effectiveness.
The orders for the barbarian armies are submitted by members of the military campaign plot team. The barbarian generals have access to magic and rituals - similar to those employed by the players - so the team also decide which rituals to use to strengthen their armies and to scry the Imperial forces. All these decisions are done blind; the people submitting them do not have any knowledge of the orders submitted or rituals performed by the players.
- Taking any attack action means a campaign will happen if the enemy is still in the territory.
All of these orders will always cause a military campaign to be initiated in the territory if there is an opposing force present. If an attacking force is victorious - they will capture land - the greater the victory the more land they will take in a season.
- Casualties suffered by this army are reduced by a fifth
- The ability of this army to capture territory is reduced by a fifth
A general may be keen to scout out a territory to identify enemy forces, or simply wish to make a probing attack to initiate a campaign. A cautious assault can also be useful to disrupt enemy supplies lines and prevent the enemy from resupplying.
Cautious assaults are less effective at claiming territory - the attackers are less able to overcome the defenders and drive them back - but casualties suffered will be lower. Urizen and Freeborn armies favour this strategy as it provides the most certain ways to identify the strength of the enemy position.
- There are no modifiers associated with this order
This is the standard order issued by Imperial generals who wish to engage the enemy forces in a territory. A balanced attack involves assaulting the enemy positions but seeks weak points in the enemy lines rather than attempting to smash through strong positions. Highguard armies favour this strategy believing that the natural efficiency best serves the manifest destiny of the Empire.
- Casualties suffered by this army are increased by a fifth
- The ability of this army to capture territory is increased by a fifth
A general who seeks victory at any price can order an overwhelming assault. The army will spend the season seeking out the strongest enemy troops and attempting to smash through their positions. This kind of attack is dangerous - casualties will be higher than normal - but the army will gain more ground during that season. Wintermark and Dawnish armies favour this strategy as it provides many opportunities for glory and heroism.
- No campaign will take place unless another army issues an order to attack
- Any victory achieved by the army translates into fewer casualties incurred rather than territory gained
Armies on defend are seeking to hold their position and fight off any attackers they encounter. If all armies in a territory have orders to defend the regions they control, then no campaign takes place and the side that controls the territory will be able to resupply their forces. If the defenders are victorious - if their side has a higher effective strength than the attacker, then their victory translates directly into reduced casualties for the defenders. The greater the victory, the less casualties they suffer. Defenders take less casualties than attackers anyway; all other factors being equal there is a small natural advantage that favours the defender.
- Casualties suffered by this army are decreased by a half
- The ability of this army to defend territory is decreased by two fifths
A general that wants their army to carry out a fighting retreat can issue orders to give ground. The army will avoid major engagements, while still attempting to slow the enemy advance using ambushes and the like. An army that is giving ground is much less effective at holding the territory against an attacker, but will see their casualties reduced accordingly. Navarr and Varushkan armies are both fond of this strategy. The Navarr consider it an effective way to bleed an enemy as they advance into a trap, while in Varushka the land itself can soon become the enemy of an unwary attacker.
- Casualties suffered by this army are decreased by a fifth
An army that attempts the solid defence of a region will seek to make best use of the terrain to bring the enemy to battle in a way that favours the defender. Casualties suffered are less than if the army simply attacks, even though an enemy army that attacks is just as likely to be rebuffed. The League traditionally favours a solid defence believing that the fortifications at Holberg have proven the advantage of this strategy over many years.
- Casualties suffered by this army are increased by a fifth
- The ability of this army to defend territory is increased by three tenths
An army that commits to a heroic stand will not initiate a military campaign - but they will make the enemy pay for every inch of ground they take. The army will take every opportunity to engage with the enemy side, they won't fight to the last man, but they will fight on even until the cause is utterly hopeless. Marcher armies favour this strategy, their natural belligerence makes them loathe to leave any battlefield while the chance of victory remains.